I apologize for the graphic image, but it pales in comparison to what a local Miami family is experiencing right now. Yesterday, a Miami police officer shot a family dog who apparently wanted to jump up on him to greet him, according to the family. The full story, including video, can be found here.
Someone recently wrote “Firefighters don’t go around looking for fires, cops shouldn’t go around looking for crimes.” I’m trying to find a flaw in that statement and I can’t. Can you?
I’m confident the vast majority of cops are good people. However, even good people make bad decisions. An officer should not be respected because he wears a badge. At the same time, he should not be discriminated against for the same reason. Respect and honor are earned based on the actions of the individual.
To me, there is a clear problem. The system of checks and balances has proven to be insufficient. I’ve personally experienced the lack of accountability of local government officials here in Boynton Beach. I’ve also personally experienced the abuse of power by police.
The humanity of police officers is both an asset and a liability. The officer in this case was trying to do something nice for a resident. That’s the good in humanity. He wasn’t trained to deal with the given situation. That’s the human liability. Humans can only handle a limited amount of information and responsibility. Local government is demanding too much from our officers. It’s physically impossible to be trained to perfection in all aspects of their job.
Humans, given the means, will abuse power. This fact was proven in the infamous Stanford prison experiment. The reigns need to be pulled-in on the freedoms of police officers.
The system of accountability in place for both police officers and officials appears to be a makeshift structure meant to pacify lawmakers and the governed. How many times have we heard “an internal investigation will be conducted”?
What’s the solution?
I don’t see a single solution to all these problems. But, if we break down the problem into smaller parts, we can build a solution.
Problem: Police Brutality
Solution: Each and every officer wears a camera that records both audio and video that will immediately be made public. The camera must be activated before any and all interactions with citizens. If an interaction is not recorded, the officer is punished. Additionally, there should be no more internal investigations. A third-party agency should be established to conduct all complaints against police.
Problem: Insufficient Police Training
It may sound strange, but I believe we can apply a software philosophy to a societal problem. In the UNIX operating system, the focus is on small programs that solve one problem and solve it well. Officers should be grouped into specializations. Only the most experienced and highly-trained should be allowed to carry lethal weapons. Those officers are then dispatched to situations which are more likely to require the use of lethal force (e.g.: domestic disputes, burglary, etc…). The misuse of lethal force results in the permanent revocation of firearms.
Other specializations could include traffic enforcement, ordinance enforcement, etc… Officers with these specializations do not carry lethal weapons, but carry tasers and mace.
Supporting Infrastructure Solutions
The specializations would lead to an increase in expense which could be offset by the reduction of patrols. Police should not go out looking for crimes. As in this case, the patrolling led to a crime committed by the officer. The internal investigation may come to a contradicting result , but regardless of what any organizations say… this is a crime from which the family and the officer may never recover.
I’m not a political scientist and have no special training to offer a solution to these problems. I do, however, see a problem. As a whole, we need to voice our opinions when we disagree with how things are being run. We’re getting pretty good at that with the availability of social media. But complaining doesn’t do anything. Taking to the streets to protest is a good solution to raise awareness but will backfire when idiots start to riot.
We need to take it a step further and offer solutions. I’m sure many will disagree with my proposed solutions. I won’t be offended by this. But it would great if those who disagree were to offer alternative solutions that would work even better.
This post is not about the cop that shot the dog, this is about the system that allowed him to do it.