Reasons for Poor Police-Community Relations

As I see it, there are three primary reasons for the current anti-police sentiment felt across America. (Officers who actually commit crimes also contribute to this, but I feel that is another discussion–not to mention, obvious). Lately, this acrimony has been expressed by some restaurant employees refusing to serve police officers or writing disparaging messages on their coffee cups such as, “FTP” (F**k the Police).

The first reason is simple: a combination of ignorance and antipathy. There are people who simply do not want to know the truth about police cases where officers are cleared of wrongdoing. They prefer to remain ignorant and angry. They do not like the police, they do not want to like the police, and they do not want anyone else to like the police.

They buy into myths such as, “Hands Up Don’t Shoot,” which, according to former Attorney General Eric Holder, who had contributed to trying to paint the officer guilty, never happened. While some police critics may come around as they mature and gain life experience, as a group these people are simply cop-haters—enemies of the police.

The second reason is when governments pass unnecessary and redundant laws, which are often politically motivated. Most of these types of laws do not address legitimate public safety issues. Whenever government passes a law that doesn’t protect Peter from Paul but protects Peter from his own decisions, a collision course between cops and ordinary citizens has been assured.

The third reason is caused by police officers themselves. Many, perhaps even most, people can recall a negative contact with a police officer at some time in their lives. Just like most folks can cite a negative experience with an employee at the post office, a restaurant or movie theater. However, negative experiences with police officers tend to remain long after the contact than with other “service providers.” The petty tyrants among police officers can cause a lot of problems for people but also for their fellow cops.

When dealing with people, I always tried to keep in mind that our interaction set them up for their next meeting with a police officer. If I were rude or unprofessional, people might expect that behavior from the next officer as well.

I’m not saying that professionally acting officers ignore when people disrespect them. People should be treated in a manner befitting what their behavior has earned them. This third reason results from when officers are rude or unprofessional with people who are being cooperative. Think about it. Do you have a negative story about interacting with the police? I do—a couple of them.

Of course, having been a cop for so long, I have many more positive contacts that mitigate the few petty tyrants. Unfortunately, the average citizen does not have this advantage. They might have one, two or a handful, at most, contacts with the police, and probably for something relatively minor. This can affect how they think about cops, generally.

In these instances, the contact can have a significant impact on people’s views on law enforcement. Cops should not join the cop-haters and politicians by helping to create this negative environment. The first two groups do it out of ignorance, hate or for political gain. Let’s not add insult to injury by aiding our own destruction.

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