Maybe. But being an innocent civilian confronted by police is pretty damn stressful, also—especially if you are black or brown. And if it seems as if there’s an uptick in incidents lately, it’s probably because of the sheer number of cameras around and more officers getting caught in the act, but the feeling isn’t purely anecdotal, and police violence isn’t something new.
In 2007, USA Today reported Justice Department statistics that showed a surge in cases of police brutality since 9/11. In addition, the Cato Institute’s 2010 National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project found that “the overall U.S. average police misconduct rate appears to be climbing in comparison to both last year’s rate and the previously reported rate 3 months ago … ” and “the number of officers involved in excessive force reports appear to be demonstrating an overall trend increase since the beginning of 2010.”
So where is the change? Right now there’s really none, and there will be none as long as so-called good cops stay quiet.
From my own experience taking numerous calls from Philadelphia police over the years, I know there are officers who want to speak out and take action to change the culture. But they’re afraid, afraid of reprisals from higher-ups, afraid of retaliation from their peers. Some were even afraid that cops wouldn’t back them up on the street.
The “bad police” culture is so broad and so deep that even the department designated to go after them is called the “rat squad.” Think about that.
Meanwhile, as we march for justice, police departments demand that we, the citizens, help them solve crimes.
So I’m challenging you, good cops—if you’re out there—show yourselves. You can’t solve crimes without us, and we can’t solve the problem of police brutality without you. We need you. Michael Brown needed you. Eric Garner needed you. Marlene Pinnock needed you. Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. needed you. Aiyana Jones needed you. Now more than ever.
If there are good cops out there, prove it.
Also on The Root: “Black and Unarmed: Men Without Weapons Killed by Law Enforcement”
Albert L. Butler is a Philadelphia-based writer and broadcaster. Follow him on Twitter.