A cop only needs “reasonably objective” belief that his or another person’s life is in danger in order to use lethal force, or in other words, he’s got to believe you pose a mortal threat in order to shoot you. So the hinge of this swinging door is “reasonably objective” which is entirely based on the cop’s perceptions, beliefs and bias’s.
The question is, where do these perceptions, beliefs and bias’s come from?
- The first obviously is the cops upbringing, his place in society and the people he grew up around. If a cop grows up in a racist household then there’s a really good chance it rubs off on him.
- The second is the where he works and the people he works for. If the police force or sheriff he works for continually reinforces the fact that being a cop first and foremost is unsafe and they need to be hyper aware of their surroundings, that death is on the other side of that open police cruiser door, chances are the cop will be a hair trigger away from violence.
- Finally, the third is from the media who unwillingly or willingly promote the fact that being a cop is a dangerous. Massively so, and that cops lives are in danger every second of every day.
Now, it’s tough to do anything about the first situation but in the case of the second and third, it’s easy to see why they are that way and what we can do to try to change them.
In the second, when police departments train their cops and promote that violence is just a second away, they are intentionally instilling that fear in order to create a feedback loop. They specifically seek out candidates for being cops who are especially susceptible to that fear. People who have inferiority complexes, guys who feel powerless in their daily lives and who seek the power of the state and the gun as a replacement.
The feedback mechanism is created in order to constantly enforce the notion that police departments need more resources, more and better (more lethal) weapons. It’s why police departments have grenade launchers and tanks. Without a credible threat of ever increasing violence, police departments have no reason to grow or increase their weaponry. They also have no reason to push for ever more laws and regulations for them to enforce. They have no reason to support the state in its quest to control as much of its citizens lives as possible.
Again, finally, we know that media outlets need to sell advertising space so they need as many eyeballs and the attention of as many people as possible. They know puppies and kittens don’t get them that attention so they promote things like “The War On Cops” which is factually the opposite of what is actually true (it’s never been safer to be a cop). The media slant is pervasive and broadly broadcast so it’s a part of everyone’s lives.
All of that fictional fear creates cops who needlessly and tragically base their daily decisions on something that doesn’t actually exist and then they make split second decisions on these perceptions, beliefs and bias’s.
It’s not about racism, black or white…it’s about institutional enforcement of the police state that is killing unarmed men. If police departments stopped teaching fear, the media would have nothing to report, if the media has nothing to report then possibly families and communities would drift away from instilling racism in their kids…who might one day be a police officer.
Nothing will change quickly but understanding the “why” will get us to understand how to do the “how”.
And we know, more than anything, the “how” has to be done.