"Something’s wrong when the law-abiding are afraid of police" is an Op-Ed piece in the Miami Herald.
I'd encourage you to read the article.
A few things that I wanted to comment on...
Two weeks ago, a black woman driving alone in Princeton, Louisiana, was pulled over for no apparent reason.
But she was not shot and killed. Or hauled from her car and body-slammed. Or even arrested for getting snippy.
The officer explained that she was driving under the speed limit, something he said drivers do when they are tired or inebriated. He said he just wanted to make sure she was OK.
“And as he said that,” said Ayanna Reid Cruver in a video posted to Facebook, “I just broke down crying,”
OK, first, I found it odd that the writer would use a story about a peaceful, proper encounter with law enforcement to start a tirade about bad cops. I mean, this is exactly the sort of interactions with law enforcement that we should expect. She had done nothing wrong, he had probable cause to make the traffic stop to check on her well-being, and that's the lead to a story about excessive police violence?
The officer, she said, begged her not to cry. He even gave her a hug. But Cruver was still so shaken she had to get off the freeway and pull over to compose herself.
Her video has been viewed 3.3 million times.
I'll start by saying that there are legitimate concerns over the police and excessive use of force. And I don't want to discount this woman's concerns.
She was so distraught that she had to pull over and compose herself, and one of the actions she took to soothe her fear was to videotape herself to post on social media? That doesn't smell right to me.
Consider the three cases noted above. Levar Jones’ assailant pleaded guilty in March of last year, but has yet to be sentenced. A jury cleared the cop who broke Lateef Jones’ jaw. Tamir Rice’s killer was never even tried.
Wait... Levar Jones' assailant pleaded guily, and that's evidence of a lack of accountability? The cop who broke Lateef Jones' jaw was charged with a crime and went through a trial. That the jury found him not guilty has no bearing on the accountability issue... HE WAS TRIED FOR A CRIME! How is that not being held accountable? Sometimes a jury returns a "Not Guilty" verdict. That's the court system for you. The office in the Tamir Rice case was not charged, because the District Attorney determined there was insufficient evidence to prosecute. Again, that's not inaccountability, that's the system doing what it does. How is this the fault of the police department, that another government agency (the local DA office) decided to take no further action?
It strikes me that this author wants any cop who uses (rightly or wrongly) violence in an encounter to be put in prison, bypassing the courts, no trial, no appeal, just send 'em away. That's no solution. That leads to a worsening social structure -- cops would no longer use any means of force to stop criminals, for fear of going to prison. "Oh, you're holding a knife to a child's throat? Well, I'll ask you nicely to stop, and if you don't, I'll ask nicely a second time."
The damage of such failures is bigger than those three cases or the hundreds that preceded them. Where there is no accountability, there can be no trust. When law-abiding people have legitimate reason to fear even a traffic stop, the world becomes more dangerous, both for police and the communities they serve.
This is true. The general public should NOT have to fear law enforcement for a routine traffic stop. At the same time, law enforcement should not have to fear the public during a routine traffic stop, but we've seen multiple instances where cops have been shot for no other reason than they were doing their job.
When he was stopped last year for speeding, Tony Lee, a Washington-area preacher, was happily surprised to find the officer friendly and professional. Talking with a friend, Lee, who is black, called the encounter a “blessing.” The friend, a white police chief in another jurisdiction, was angry at that, reminding Lee that anyone who gets a ticket — even a deserved one — has a right to be upset. “But,” said the chief, “you’re just happy you’re [still] living. That’s not the way it should be.”
On that, I agree. That's not the way it should be.