survey

As video recordings of police encounters have risen exponentially over recent years, we’ve witnessed a wide range of behaviors in cops. While some do act nobly — such as saving a life or de-escalating a situation — far too many cops behave in inexplicable, even barbaric, ways that result in rights violations, brutality or death.

An interesting report is providing quantifiable insight into this phenomenon. The Pew Research Center conducted a survey of “7,917 sworn police and sheriff’s officers in 54 departments with at least 100 officers.”

The results, while predictable, provide rather troubling data for the law enforcement profession.

About one-in-five police officers nationally (21%) say their job nearly always or often makes them feel angry and frustrated – feelings that are linked to more negative views toward the public. These frequently angry, frustrated officers also are more likely than their colleagues to support more physical or aggressive policing methods…

Cops who feel angry and frustrated:

  • “are twice as likely as all other police to say officers have reason to distrust most people”
  • “have become more callous toward people since taking this job”
  • “are more likely to have physically struggled or fought with a suspect in the past month”

The mental states of these officers have real effects on the public, which they are sworn to ‘protect and serve.’ But how can angry, frustrated cops protect and serve a community when, according to the survey, almost half of them don’t even believe the people share their values and beliefs?

Angry, frustrated cops are also “roughly twice as likely as those who are not frequently angry or frustrated to agree that police have reason to be distrustful of most citizens.”

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Naturally, this suspicious, negative view of the public transforms into more aggressive behavior that is the cause of so many unnecessary tragedies. Indeed, angry and frustrated cops are “significantly more likely than their colleagues to favor the use of aggressive tactics in dealing with some citizens.”

About seven-in-ten officers (71%) who are frequently angry and frustrated agree that aggressive tactics are more useful than a courteous approach in some parts of their community. By contrast, about half of officers who are not frequently angry or frustrated say the same (48%).

Frequently angry and frustrated officers also are more likely than other police to agree that some people can only be brought to reason the hard, physical way (56%), a view shared by 37% of officers who are not frequently angry or frustrated.

Pew Research notes that those in the law enforcement profession experience much more frustration than those in other professions, finding that “29% of the public but 51% of officers say their job nearly always or often makes them feel frustrated.”

If you’re always feeling angry and frustrated with your job, seek another line of work — especially when that job means you can injure and kill people with the backing of the state.

Granted, some of the things cops have to deal with can certainly be disheartening. Witnessing some of society’s worst undoubtedly weighs on the mind, but perhaps enforcing unjust laws is an even bigger burden. Namely, the War on Drugs.

The War on Drugs is a war on people.

Many of the “crimes” that put people in handcuffs are simply the possession of a substance arbitrarily deemed illegal by the state. In fact, in 2016, drug cases represented the largest percentage of federal offenses – at 31.6 percent of 67,742 federal criminal cases. Not to mention the countless thousands of ‘drug offenders’ in state or local prisons.

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There always has and always will be demand for psychoactive drugs. Prohibition is obviously a failure that has never brought a single benefit — except to the police state and the prison-industrial complex.

The drug war’s roots in racism, suppression of dissent and corporate profiteering are well documented. It has now morphed into an extremely lucrative extortion racket known as civil asset forfeiture, or policing for profit.

With all of this awareness among the populace, countless police officers surely recognize the futility and brutality of the war on drugs. Even knowing this, some are still compelled to “just do their job.” This pitting of morals against duty can certainly cause mental issues.

Lawmakers have an opportunity here to ease the frustration that pervades police forces. Abolish unjust laws.

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Justin Gardner is a peaceful free-thinker with a background in the biological sciences. He is interested in bringing rationality back into the national discourse, and independent journalism as a challenge to the status quo.