Protect and Serve

By David Escobar

 

               When contemplating the lengths of our lives, I’m sure we can all think of a time where we’ve experienced a crime in some capacity. Maybe, you go to sleep wondering if you’re listening to gun shots or fireworks, or it’s possible that you have been in a situation where you didn’t have to wonder. In all these cases of crime, most people would pair the thoughts with the idea of a police officer stopping the crime, and that’s what they’re there for, to resolve these issues, to “protect and serve”. However, some people disagree with the use of this slogan. Some people believe that the police abuse their power and that a rash of “police brutality” is sweeping across America.

     Recently, in Greensboro, North Carolina, a man named Dejuan Yourse sat on his mother’s door step, waiting for her to get there. A person unfamiliar with Yourse called in a possible burglary to the police. Officer Travis Cole responded to the call, matched Yourse’s identification to the address of the house, but still decided that he was guilty of attempted break-in, and very forcefully detained him. All reports show that Yourse remained calm and peaceful, and only experienced anger after he had been detained for no justifiable reason. In the event of a minor misdemeanor, officers are not allowed to arrest the perpetrator, according to modern law, the ability to arrest is only warranted when the officer visually sees a substantial misdemeanor occur. No clear distinction between minor and substantial misdemeanor has been made public.  Yourse’s arrest was based primarily on suspicion. Cole did not see the man commit any unlawful act. Officer Cole either forgot or didn’t care about Yourse’s rights. Cole seemed to be trying to spawn conflict in a situation that it wasn’t present, and in doing that, he created conflict himself. The reality of this situation is that an innocent man, Dejuan Yourse, was handcuffed and punched, for “attempting to break in” to his mother’s home.

     After Yourse’s experience it would be understandable if he took the side of “#BlackLivesMatter” advocates, who claim there have been way too many unjustifiable deaths related to police brutality. A study from The Washington Post revealed that, in 2015, there were 1100 police shootings that left a citizen dead, the number of police officers killed in the line of fire was 46. This statistic of citizens being shot is widely made up of criminals, but does include citizens like Michael Brown and Alton Sterling, who were unjustifiably killed by police. Officers are supposed to make law-respecting citizens feel safe and secure, yet many Americans say that when confronted or questioned by a police officer, they fall into a state of anxiety in hopes that they won’t be unjustly charged or apprehended based on an inaccurate profiling. There are numerous cases very similar to Yourse’s that have been caught on tape, and they make many Americans question the motives and actions of officers, which slowly diminishes some of our ability to feel secure.

     This leads the public to wonder about the law enforcement system and the way it’s implemented. However, despite the widely publicized evidence of police brutality, it is important to remember that it is a very small percentage of actual serving officers that are guilty of this behavior. Most cops aren’t biased and shouldn’t be held accountable for the poor decision making and unethical behavior of the small percentage of biased police officers we see portrayed in mass media. While there are instances where a police officer, just like any other imperfect human, displays bias, most of these shootings spawn from the high stress job they’re working.  All in all, police brutality is a real issue. Perhaps, newly designed training programs that put officers in simulations where bias may be an issue, will help solve this civil rights issue. If anything, it should definitely lower the number of incidents we see. Our country has proven to be adaptable to the issues of our time, and made reforms to improve on its faults. Those who see police brutality as a major issue, should push for changes in our police force. Improvements have been made in the past, almost always spurring from constructive dialogue and work towards a greater future.