It’s no secret that a lot of people don’t like law enforcement officers, and many people have a strong aversion to police that makes them shake when they simply see an officer. For some, it’s PTSD from a bad experience in the past, and for others, this fear stems from anticipating the worst outcome based on stories they’ve read about and seen on social media.
While there are police officers who abuse their authority and exert excessive and even deadly force on citizens without cause, that’s not the norm for the profession. It just happens to be the type of situation that gets published on social media enough that it goes viral. Most people only get their news online and if they don’t go looking for the positive stories, they’re not going to see that those viral incidents are the outliers that are usually promoted to intentionally make people hate the police.
Of course, even one incident like that is too much, and nobody’s arguing that it’s ever acceptable. That’s why the National Police Association (NPA) works so hard to restore a positive perception of police in society. However, the way social media skews the behavior of police officers plays a massive role in public opinion, and unfortunately, it diminishes the respect people have for law enforcement as a whole. This is how anti-police rhetoric is born.
It’s unfortunate, but understandable how this happens. People naturally apply their limited perspectives to the entire profession, and that’s where things start to go wrong. When all people know are viral videos of police engaging citizens improperly or even violently, they will naturally start to believe that all cops are bad.
How can they believe otherwise when all they see are cops tasing people for no reason, illegally detaining citizens, and using excessive force that sometimes ends in the citizen’s death?
What you see on social media isn’t the whole story
Police officers deserve more respect, and the profession as a whole is not what it’s been made out to be by viral videos. In any profession, there will always be people who do bad things and abuse their authority and power. It just happens to be that law enforcement attracts more people who have that tendency.
However, the majority of police officers are not bad people and actually went into the profession for all the right reasons (source). They want to help people, fight crime, and aren’t afraid to put their safety at risk to accomplish that. It’s a tough profession, and here are just some of the reasons police deserve more respect for the job they’ve taken on:
· They put themselves in the line of fire. Police officers respond to situations involving shots fired all the time. Whether it’s an active shooter or someone in the area shooting into the air out of anger, they choose to show up and confront these people, putting their lives on the line.
· They risk their lives every day. Police officers never know what they’re getting into before they arrive on the scene. What dispatch describes may not be the whole story. They deal with things unimaginable to most people. Often, situations are more intense and dangerous than initially reported. Sometimes non-violent situations turn dangerous fast. This is what they agree to when they sign up for the job. Most people run from danger.
· They do a lot of good for the community. Behind the scenes, police officers do a lot of good work for their communities that often goes unnoticed because it’s not as viral as violence. For example, here’s a collection of heartwarming stories about police officers doing amazing things for the people in their community. For instance, one officer coordinated a birthday party for a kid whose guests never showed up, and another carried a woman with MS down a flight of stairs. If officers were out to hurt people, they wouldn’t perform so many acts of kindness for community members. It wouldn’t be in their nature to do things like that.
· They deal with bitter people. It can’t be easy for police officers to pull someone over for a routine traffic stop for say, speeding, only to encounter someone who insists on pressing their driver’s license and insurance information against the window instead of handing it over. While it’s true that it’s their right to do this, it’s often combative enough to put officers on edge. People claim it’s for their safety, but many people do it just to be obnoxious.
Law enforcement officers deserve more respect
Police officers do a lot of things regular citizens would never want to do, but they also put themselves in danger daily just to keep society safe. For that alone, they deserve total respect.