ATLANTA — With all the officer-involved shootings, and video evidence of excessive and deadly force, one may ask, “Are these rogue police officers racists, abusers, or both?” This is an uncomfortable question that requires examination. Progress and growth sometimes requires discomfort. So let’s get uncomfortable.
Just because someone is in the privileged position to not experience racism or bias, does not mean that these injustices are not happening. To deny this issue is dismissive and disrespectful to those that have encountered it.
This is why police departments must hire diverse trainers from all racial backgrounds to facilitate honest discussions about race and culture. To neglect this issue would be a disservice to police departments and would only prolong improvement.
De-escalation training should include the topic of “Symbolic Opponent Syndrome” within the curriculum. This is when an officer has a preconceived notion that places a suspect into a “criminal” category because of appearance, nationality, grooming or mode of dress. Please note that Symbolic Opponent Syndrome can affect officers of all races. Stereotyping and having bias can lead to wrongful arrest, death, and public humiliation.
Excessive force and its correlation with domestic violence is another topic that needs to be examined. Domestic violence is defined as abusive behavior that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Domestic violence can be physical, emotional, sexual, economic, psychological actions or threats. According to this definition, there are similarities between domestic violence and an officer’s abuse of power. Due to this, it is of great importance that police departments screen applicants thoroughly, by means of polygraph testing, personality assessments, and collateral information to identify potential abusers.
Abusive police are similar to domestic abusers because they freely exercise power and control and have the ability to intimidate, beat, or possibly kill a citizen. Institutional power makes abusive officers extremely dangerous in the line of duty and in their intimate relationships.
Police officers that engage in abusive behavior are more dangerous than most abusers. Police officers are privileged to advanced training, investigative techniques, and have a more in depth knowledge of the law compared to most citizens. They know how to justify use of force and have a better chance of avoiding criminal charges.
Due to social conditioning, an abusive officer can feel entitled and have less tolerance and patience. Disagreements with an intimate partner, children, or a stranger on the street can easily escalate. Citizens who lawfully assert their rights to an abusive officer may be perceived as disrespectful. This can lead to citizens being unlawfully arrested, beaten, or worse.
Some police officers have inferiority complexes, personality disorders, or a history of un-resolved trauma or abuse. They join the police force for the wrong reasons and can unjustly take out their frustrations on citizens.
Let’s be clear. All police officers are not abusers or racists. Americans should demand an ethical police force that is free of bias. De-escalation training that directly address these uncomfortable issues will help reduce officer-involved shootings, rioting, and lawsuits.
Police departments that are interested in de-escalation training that examine mental health, anger management, emotional intelligence, community policing, symbolic opponent syndrome, abuse of power, and cultural sensitivity can contact the Diversion Center in Marietta, GA. They have online and live training options available. – PRNewswire.