Videotapes Of Rogue Officers Bring Historic Low In Police Confidence


A year after Ferguson officer Darren Wilson killed the unarmed Michael Brown, the nearly 800,000 U.S. police officers are navigating new and uncertain terrain. While the danger of the job hasn't subsided, public admiration for police has dropped amid a string of video evidence showing officers acting with seeming disregard for human life, says the Christian Science Monitor. A June Gallup poll found the lowest percentage of confidence in police since 1993, after the videotaped beating of motorist Rodney King. While noting that the recent drop in confidence was likely due to events in Ferguson and elsewhere, Gallup said “trust in police … remains high in an absolute sense, despite being at a historical low.” It's been a tough year for the profession, as cops perform what Jonathan Thompson of the National Sheriffs' Association calls a “dangerous, risky, hard, ugly job.”

An average of 45 million citizen-police interactions a year have become complicated by a new look at how police use force, especially deadly force, especially in communities of color. Video images have raised new questions about the authority of the badge on the streets, and, at the very least, have given police officers pause in everyday interactions with citizens. Even the most ardent anti-police brutality activists acknowledge that the vast majority of officers are well-trained and decent. The past year has put a spotlight on potentially rogue officers who, by lack of training or by a crimp in their moral compass, have brought shame to the badge. “These incidents have gotten national attention and settled into the public consciousness in a way that has changed the landscape in ways we have not seen before,” says Laurie Robinson of George Mason University criminologist, co-chair of the White House Task Force on 21st Century Policing. “It's changed the landscape for policing, it's changed the landscape for criminal justice, and it's changed the landscape for public officials, who can't treat this as a crisis to get through, but who have to now grapple with this and pay serious attention to it.”

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