As I am observing the latest round of bad cop hangings in the national media, it seems to me there are some values-based differences that are leading to problems. We have most Americans believing that police officers are authorities that deserve respect. So, when they ask you to do something reasonable, you do it. Then we have a few subcultures, African-Americans and Anarchists, that apparently believe compliance is optional. In every bad encounter I have seen so far, the tension STARTS with the subject refusing to do something reasonable that a cop asks him to do or say – like May I see your driver’s license? or What is your name?
What is a police officer supposed to do if a person refuses to follow directions? What does his training tell him to do? My guess is, his training tells him to make people comply. Do we want to live in communities in which following orders from police officers is optional? I don’t. I want my fellow citizens to do what police officers tell them to do. If we want therapists policing the streets we should hire therapists and stop calling them cops.
Police are undoubtedly reacting to the loss of control they are feeling, given that we have so many anti-authority personalities running the streets.
So, in my opinion, the core social problem is anti-social behavior that stems from subcultures that teach disrespect for authority. Our first order of business should be to address the social conditions that are creating a disrespect for law and order, before we address police training methods that are leading to over-reactivity.