Once upon a time in America some 60 plus years ago, law enforcement was seen as a very promising career choice. Police officers were regarded with respect and admiration. They were the good guys, seeing a police car coming down the street was a welcome sight, perhaps not as welcomed as the Helm’s Bakery truck or the ice cream man, but welcomed just the same. People smiled and waved to officers as they passed. Sometimes they would pull over and chat with residents or kids. Yeah it was a very different world back then. Perhaps the fact that there were a lot fewer people to police played a part in the positive image of the police officer, because other than that things were much the same as they are today. In fact police brutality was actually much worse then than it is today.
If you don’t remember how bad police brutality was it’s probably because we were only kids then and didn’t really pay much attention to the news. Besides, the television news industry was still in its infancy and coverage was weak and sporadic. Most people still relied on the daily newspaper as their number one source of news. Today reading the daily newspaper, if indeed you do, is more like reading a recap of news we’ve already heard about. We seem to learn about things nearly as soon as they happens through television news, radio, or the internet. Many of us are connected throughout the day with our smart phones or tablets and alerted to breaking news as it’s reported. We know what’s going on at any given moment and I suppose that’s a good thing, most of the time.
In the last four years I’ve posted several articles about cops who kill and the misuse of force by police officers under the color of authority. Although I am strongly opposed to police brutality and have said so many times, I’m always quick to point out that it is only a handful of rogue officers that sully the good name of law enforcement agencies across the country while the majority of officers are committed to protecting and serving their communities and do all they can to that end.
Of course we seldom hear about the good job police officers are doing or the sound decisions they make everyday to avert potential problem situations on the streets. The news media choices to focus on the negative instead. Truth be told, law enforcement agencies like the Highway Patrol, Sheriff’s Department and city police departments do a lot more good in the community than they’re given credit for. But the networks know that police brutality is big news and good for the ratings so that’s what they choose to focus on.
Certainly police brutality is news worthy but sometimes the coverage is overblown and actually promotes adverse reactions and more violence. Should news agencies back off? You bet! I think there are situations where they should indeed back off but of course that would be contrary to the newscaster’s credo. Can’t these idiots see when their reports make a bad situation worse and even incite people to react violently? I guess not, all they see is more potential news in the making.
Do you realize that there are more than 900,000 sworn law enforcement officers in the United States. yet we choose to focus on the few bad apples instead. The vast majority of policemen are out there doing a great job and giving their lives to protect and serve. So far this year 41 police officers have died in the line of duty. Causes of death include shootings, which is on the rise from previous years, auto/motorcycle accidents, vehicle pursuits, heart attacks and being struck by vehicles. Last year there were 127 line of duty deaths, 47 were shooting deaths. These are the officers we should be hearing about yet the news media would rather focus on those indited for questionable acts.
I don’t know about you but I think the time has come for the news media to focus on all the good that police officers do. Certainly the bad must be reported but moderately and truthfully rather than sensationalized. There are a lot of good cops out there risking their lives each and everyday protecting the public. They do so willingly and without prejudice. They still are the good guys. They deserve our respect and admiration. Next time you’re out and about and have the opportunity, thank a policeman for a job well done.
Just a Thought…