Police Brutality: It’s in the Training

Chas Sharrard | The Pontiac Tribune

As police brutality in America garners more attention from the corporate media, one thing that hasn’t been looked into enough is police training.


POLICE BRUTALITY IN AMERICA

Over the last few years police brutality has become so common that videos of murdered Americans now flood our Facebook news feeds on a daily basis.

Whether it’s highlighted due to cell phone cameras making it easier to catch officers in the act, or the current societal happenings have led to the sudden awareness of police brutality despite claims incidents are down— we can agree that there is a problem.

Police reactions to a variety of situations recently caused the overall protocol of law enforcement to be called into question by concerned citizens.

FAULTY POLICE TRAINING

Under current law police officers don’t need to see a gun before taking deadly force to apprehend a suspect.

This is a policy that by design; is unjust in the fact that an average citizen should have to be a confirmed threat to an officer’s life in order to justify the use of deadly force.

Actions such as, but not limited to these clues of a weapon can include: has someone called to report a weapon? Does the suspect continuously touch a certain part of their clothing as to check for something concealed? Failures to follow commands or adverted movement are all legal justifications of capital punishment, completely demolishing any chance of due process of law.

The problem is, these are not good indications of a threat to life.

Police are trained to treat every situation as though it could be their last. This is the very attitude that many claim led to the deaths of more than 1,100 American citizens last year; caused by the hands of police officers.

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/sep/04/police-deaths-2015-law-enforcement-safety

We know that less than 100 officers died in actual physical confrontations in any given year (with 2015 being one of the safest years for police officers in the last quarter century).

Despite that fact, America’s largest police departments– such as the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD)– came up with training techniques like video games and live role play exercises to put officers in “real life” situations as they may theoretically play out.

A sample scenario:

A middle age woman is stopped in a routine traffic stop. The officer approaches the passenger side of the vehicle and asks for the driver’s license and registration. After fumbling around in her glove box for a minute she pulls a pistol on the officer.

There are quite a few similar exercises that include “suspects” belonging to demographics that statistically aren’t threats to law enforcement.

These exercises and tactics are employed in a majority of US police departments’ training procedures but gets little attention in the corporate media.

If all Americans are going to be preemptively perceived as a threat to an officer’s life, at the very least they should be granted the right of knowing why the men and women who protect and serve are trained in this manner.

REPRESSION TAUGHT BY THE MASTERS

Consider the current “self-preservation” tactics taught to police– with elements of espionage and militarization that flourished after 9/11– and it becomes difficult to discern our justice system from those of quasi-police intelligence states, similar to allies such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, or even Israel.

In fact, we can single out Israel right off the bat because around 300 high-ranking sheriffs– from New York and Maine to Orange County and Oakland, California– have traveled to Israel for privately funded seminars in what is described as counter-terrorism techniques; sending officers to an occupied police state under constant “threats” of terror attack.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/in-push-to-reform-police-work-officers-examine-their-own-biases/2016/01/06/b196ab66-a361-11e5-9c4e-be37f66848bb_story.html

Israel has a notorious reputation of human rights violations. The brutal anti-terror tactics used there have been questioned by world leaders from across the geopolitical spectrum.

Even the UN is critical of Israel; just this past week a UN human rights official stepped down because the Israeli government would not provide him access to the occupied territories of Palestine. Israeli security forces have been accused of detaining children as young as 11-years old, choking children in custody, throwing stun grenades at them, beating them, and threatening interrogations without the presence of a lawyer or their parents.

The officer involved in the Texas pool party incident was using a method of self defense known as Krav Maga, which was developed in Israel. Using escalation methods taught to combat terrorism in Israel for breaking up predominately black pool parties in America will not work– that’s why that officer lost his job due to public outrage.

If any of these tactics sound familiar it can– at least in part– be contributed to the increasing influence of these security-state policing tactics now evident in America today.

Facing increasing scrutiny; both the US federal government and local police jurisdictions appear to have begun limiting and even decreasing the amount of military tactics, technologies and weaponry available to police departments across the country.

This may sound like good news, but if you study American policing you’re already aware that not all reforms are necessarily improvements.

“SOFTER” POLICING

While little has been released about the exact nature of police training, there is a lot of emphasis– due to recent controversy and public pressure on police departments— on non-lethal means of take down, such as hand to hand techniques and tasers.

Politicians ensconced in controversy, such as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel– under scrutiny for an alleged police shooting cover up– believe supplying more of officers with tasers would reduce the number of fatal incidents.

Are tasers really non-lethal?

The answer is no; tasers were responsible for 48 deaths in 2015 as of November.

Problem is, the number of Americans to die from “non-lethal” methods seems outrageous in comparison to other modern Western nations. Even media originating from the United Kingdom–  where the population is 56.9 million– reports about how in just 24 days, American police somehow manage to rack up a body count that their police haven’t matched in 24 years.

POLICING IN THE FUTURE

Thanks to smartphones capable of uploading high quality videos directly to social media, police brutality is clearly not going to go unnoticed by the public eye anymore.

Reform is on the mind of more people than ever before. Even officials at UN meetings are talking about the cruelty of police officers in America, not to mention the largest number of people incarcerated in world history.

Mass incarceration– while morally wrong– keeps society repressed from making any real progress by keeping a quarter of the US population behind bars.

Policing policies must drastically change and it is up to Americans like you to make sure such reform actually benefits the people.

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