Are We Living In A Scary Police State?

December 9, 2013
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This past Friday, a college student in Texas was shot dead by a police officer outside his home (near the University of the Incarnate World in San Antonio). According to testimonies from a neighbor and other folks who knew the student, Robert Cameron Redus was bright, friendly, and all around good people. News sites have reported that Redus was pulled over for driving erratically; once both cop and student pulled into the apartment complex lot, there was an altercation (of words, no real physical anything) and the cop, Chris Carter, emptied his clip.

This is mindblowingly scary for so many reasons. You already know my point of view on guns, Internet friends, but I’ll repeat the boiled down version: a gun is a killing machine and shouldn’t be put in the hands of anyone but a soldier who is literally at war, and even then why in the hell are we killing each other? And yeah, guns don’t kill people, people kill people, BUT WITH GUNS MOST OF THE TIME.

US Police

Another story that caught my attention recently is an older piece about a man being denied police work because his test scores were too high (they said the man would most likely find police work boring and quit, so denied him the job). Let’s you and me do the math here, friends. First, you have people under a certain level of testing intelligence. Then you give them work that some deem boring. Then, you give those people power and weapons (and a complex that creates an inner hero narrative juxtaposed against often dull work). The end result will almost always come out like what happened to Redus last week, and what continues to occur between cops and all manner of folks.

Believe you me, I’m not against the police, and don’t really think we’re living in a police state of any kind (that’s too weird and nightmarish for me to imagine). But the truth is police officers are given an intense power, both in mind and in a holster, and it’s terrifying to live in constant fear of disobeying these people who are often not educated quite enough in empathetic reasoning. I have a hard time imagining that the student was doing anything but being a bit annoying to the cop. Apparently, Carter radioed for help, which seems nonsensical because a police officer should have many levels of training in detaining someone without lethal force, right? A comment in the feed of one of the news sites that covered Fridays tragedy argued that you have to be polite to officers of the law, but should the alternative to always being frightened and polite to police be death by point blank gunfire?

The whole equation needs to be changed, in my opinion. The law is a powerful force, and is often put into corrupt and power hungry hands. Having a pistol in one hand and the abstract force of justice in the other probably makes it difficult to be empathetic and actually helpful. Last week, I read that a sexual assault victim was given absolutely horrendous, spiteful, downright ignorant treatment by police officers. I know the two instances, this one and the one above, are very different, but they all can be smushed into the same nightmare that is our system. Police officers should know how to handle situations better and frankly should receive better education in peaceful problem solving. That respect we allegedly give to the police should be shared both ways, so the police are not some army of gun toting ogres of the establishment. People should only be afraid of the police if they are expressly breaking the law; we shouldn’t fear for our safety every time we are in a bad mood and cops are afoot. I’d love to go a week without seeing a story similar to Resus’, but that’ll only happen when the dynamic between law enforcer and civilian isn’t one based on fear and hatred (and maybe fewer guns dammit).

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