A former black police officer with the St. Louis Police Department, Reddit Hudson, penned an amazing article laying bare some startling revelations about the state of policing in America.
As a former cop, Hudson claims that most of the men and women that he served with actually joined the force with the intent of making their community a better place.
“On any given day, 15 percent of officers will do the right thing no matter what is happening. Fifteen percent of officers will abuse their authority at every opportunity. The remaining 70 percent could go either way depending upon who they are working with,”said Hudson, attributing the theory to his friend K.L. Williams, who has trained thousands of officers across the country on use of force.
According to his report in Vox:
That remaining 70 percent of officers are highly susceptible to the culture in a given department. In the absence of any real effort to challenge department cultures, they become part of the problem. If their command ranks are racist or allow institutional racism to persist, or if a number of officers in their department are racist, they may end up doing terrible things.
It is not only white officers who abuse their authority. The effect of institutional racism is such that no matter what color the officer abusing the citizen is, in the vast majority of those cases of abuse that citizen will be black or brown. That is what is allowed.
And no matter what an officer has done to a black person, that officer can always cover himself in the running narrative of heroism, risk, and sacrifice that is available to a uniformed police officer by virtue of simply reporting for duty.
A perfect example of this is the recent acquittal of Michael Brelo. Brelo jumped onto the hood of a vehicle containing two unarmed occupants. After he and fellow cops already shot the car more than 120 times, from the hood of the car, Brelo pumped another 15 shots throught the windshield of the vehicle and into the victims.
He claimed that he feared for his life.
Even so, many American have been indoctrinated into worshiping authority and thus look at the cops as mythical hero-like figures. This was indicated by a recent Gallup poll rating honesty and ethical behavior in various professions which ranked cops in the top 5 just behind clergy ironically.
“This myth about the general goodness of cops obscures the truth of what needs to be done to fix the system. It makes it look like all we need to do is hire good people, rather than fix the entire system. Institutional racism runs throughout our criminal justice system. Its presence in police culture, though often flatly denied by the many police apologists that appear in the media now, has been central to the breakdown in police-community relationships for decades in spite of good people doing police work,” according to Hudson.
There are crucial aspects that must be recognized by the American public if there is ever to be the necessary systemic changes needed to make the system more just.
The public needs to come to an understanding that while there may be many well-intentioned officers, there remains a contingent of officers that willfully violate people's rights on a regular basis.
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Hudson provides a startling example from his days as an officer and claims that this is the status quo in American policing. He relays a memory of a call for assistance which turned out to be a simple foot chase. The suspect had evaded the officer who had made the call.
“The officer I was with asked him if he'd seen where the suspect went. The officer picked a house on the block we were on, and we went to it and knocked on the door. A young man about 18 years old answered the door, partially opening it and peering out at my partner and me. He was standing on crutches. My partner accused him of harboring a suspect. He denied it. He said that this was his family's home and he was home alone.
My partner then forced the door the rest of the way open, grabbed him by his throat, and snatched him out of the house onto the front porch. She took him to the ledge of the porch and, still holding him by the throat, punched him hard in the face and then in the groin. My partner that day snatched an 18-year-old kid off crutches and assaulted him, simply for stating the fact that he was home alone.”
Hudson took the initiative to pull his partner off the kid, but quickly more officers arrived on scene due to the initial call for aid.
“One of those officers, who was black, ascended the stairs and asked what was going on. My partner pointed to the young man, still lying on the porch, and said, "That son of a bitch just assaulted me." The black officer then went up to the young man and told him to "get the fuck up, I'm taking you in for assaulting an officer." The young man looked up at the officer and said, 'Man ... you see I can't go.' His crutches lay not far from him,” wrote Hudson.
“The officer picked him up, cuffed him, and slammed him into the house, where he was able to prop himself up by leaning against it. The officer then told him again to get moving to the police car on the street because he was under arrest. The young man told him one last time, in a pleading tone that was somehow angry at the same time, "You see I can't go!" The officer reached down and grabbed both the young man's ankles and yanked up. This caused the young man to strike his head on the porch. The officer then dragged him to the police car. We then searched the house. No one was in it.”
The reality is that this isn’t some type of isolated incident, as these situations play out all across America on a daily basis. In addition, the bad officers that engage in this type of behavior wield a corrupting influence on the rest of the department. These “bad apples” have an undue influence within their department's culture and almost always are supported by their union and ranking officers in their department, regardless of the conduct they engage in.
Another critical factor that stifles true reform is the mainstream media narrative of the “hero cop,” which allows for officers that abuse citizens under the color of law to hide behind the myth of heroism.
The police spin machine pushes a narrative which the main stream media readily accepts. The idea that police abuse is extremely rare, and that protests against police brutality are dangerous, is forwarded as reality, as the media rarely acknowledges the true nature of the systemic problems.
Instead, we hear a chorus of how dangerous policing is, never acknowledging that these men chose to become law enforcement officers.
These men signed up for this career, no one forced them into it and if they feel it’s too dangerous a profession they can certainly find a new one. To claim that the perception of danger felt by cops excuses their abuse of the citizens' civil rights is absurd.
While the media and police propagandists attempt to paint these sentiments as “anti-cop,” the reality is that these ideas are actually pro-police, as institutional reforms would strengthen community trust in police, while providing transparency and accountability.
Jay Syrmopoulos is an investigative journalist, freethinker, researcher, and ardent opponent of authoritarianism. He is currently a graduate student at University of Denver pursuing a masters in Global Affairs. Jay's work has previously been published on BenSwann.com and WeAreChange.org. You can follow him on Twitter @sirmetropolis, on Facebook at Sir Metropolis and now on tsu.