July 27th, 2015
An Iraq vet finds himself on the business end of an unwarranted raid by the Fairfax, Virginia police. The worst part of the story is when he goes to talk to the police brass afterward and asks why the cops didn’t consult with the apartment complex’s security department before breaking down a door, pointing weapons at an innocent civilian, and then handcuffing him:
I noted that the officers could have sought information from the apartment complex’s security guard that would have resolved the matter without violence. But he played down the importance of such information: “It doesn’t matter whatsoever what was said or not said at the security booth.”
The best part is the kicker:
Rhoads, the Fairfax County police lieutenant, was upfront about this mind-set. He explained that it was standard procedure to point guns at suspects in many cases to protect the lives of police officers. Their firearm rules were different from mine; they aimed not to kill but to intimidate. According to reporting by The Washington Post, those rules are established in police training, which often emphasizes a violent response over deescalation. Recruits spend an average of eight hours learning how to neutralize tense situations; they spend more than seven times as many hours at the weapons range.
Of course, officers’ safety is vital, and they’re entitled to defend themselves and the communities they serve. But they’re failing to see the connection between their aggressive postures and the hostility they’ve encountered in Ferguson, Mo., Baltimore and other communities. When you level assault rifles at protesters, you create animosity. When you kill an unarmed man on his own property while his hands are raised — as Fairfax County police did in 2013 — you sow distrust. And when you threaten to Taser a woman during a routine traffic stop (as happened to 28-year-old Sandra Bland, who died in a Texas jail this month), you cultivate a fear of police. This makes policing more dangerous for everyone.
I understood the risks of war when I enlisted as an infantryman. Police officers should understand the risks in their jobs when they enroll in the academy, as well. That means knowing that personal safety can’t always come first. That is why it’s service. That’s why it’s sacrifice.
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