Even in the few minutes it takes to check your email you have likely seen news ads reporting recent acts of police brutality striking again.
I cannot recall a time where I tuned into radio news on my morning commute and did not hear about a lawsuit rising against some police agency over one officer’s use of excessive force, all the while listening to callers voice how “all police are just bullies and thugs.”
I marvel at how I played cops and robbers as a child only to grow up and question the difference.
Recently, I listened to a news segment about how four Hawthorn, Calif., police officers beat a deaf man “for no good reason,” or so it was phrased. I felt enraged. How could people sworn to protect be the cause of such harm?
After a few minutes of internal conflict I resolved not to take the story at face value, but rather invest time in order to see the whole picture.
With little effort I was able to research online the Hawthorn police beating and was able to get a much better understanding of the situation.
I recognize that I was not at the scene where the incident took place and will never be able to know all of the details, however, taking the time to gather more information allows a more fair decision.
The 6-foot-4 deaf man was a rugby player in college. The officers on the scene saw a large man jump a fence and then fight against them as they were trying to stop him from running away.
The officers were trying to arrest the man and control the situation until further questioning could take place. Though this person was deaf, that does not mean the officers immediately knew he was not a criminal stealing property.
The truth is we live in a fallen world; there are times when good guys do bad things and bad guys go free.
However, many law enforcement officers have had to risk their lives to save the innocent. Domestic violence cases have been controlled and people have been helped because of the work law enforcement does.
The issue is not that people should ignore police violence. Police should be held accountable.
The issue arises when our accountability changes from paying attention to all of the details, and making a judgment, to blaming police because they supposedly “all have bad attitudes.”
There are more than half a million men and women who serve our country with a badge, people who wake up every day and put their pants on one pant leg on at a time just like the rest of us. The only difference is that in their line of work they have taken an oath to offer their lives to protect and serve the citizens of this country.
To lay down one’s life for another person is the greatest gift that can be given and a heavy weight. So instead of prejudging police violence stories that flash across your news feed, I suggest putting forth some effort to sort through the facts. A few extra minutes of time are the least we can offer those who risk their lives to keep ours safe.