In the past year, you hear all over the news about police officers killing people and not following proper procedure. I could make a case about the killings are about biases the police sees in people, either race, class, you name it; and it is likely true. I’m more focus on some of the police mindset.
This has come to my mind because next month, Fairfax County (to be accurate, the whole D.C. Metro area) will host the World Police & Fire Games. The event brings police personnel and fire fighters all over the world to compete in Olympic-style games.
Full disclosure: I did sign up to be a volunteer for the WPF Games.
While I’m hyped about the Games, last month, details came out that Fairfax Police officers tasered Natasha McKenna four times and a few days later, she was pronounced dead at her jail cell. When I heard about those details, I was wondering what’s going to happen at the WPF Games? I know Fairfax County Government and the organizers won’t cancel it, but with the sudden distrust of police, I wonder how spectators feel?
This is the weird part: what you hear in the news, some of the police department had to resort to tanks, teargas, tasers, riot gear, guns, and other weapons to “restore order.” The people, coming to Fairfax County next month, are basically athletes who happened to be police officers or firefighters. For the athletes coming, if they are athletic and smart, do they need the resources to unwanted weaponry?
The are two problems about the police:
1. The militarization of the police: I compare the militarization of the police to a football player. Without the helmet and pads, the football player needs to be quick on their feet of not getting hit. With the helmet and pads, the player becomes a moving weapon. They clothesline, launch, headbutt, and tackle because wearing the gear feels like they’re invincible. Same thing about the police. A great police officer would have negotiation, psychology, networking, and athletic skills before drawing their weapon. Now, the weapon is the first choice for some police officers because they think it guarantees safety and, at the same time, gives them power to push over people.
2. Budget Cuts: To me, this is the biggest reason why we’re having issues. Yes, there will be a few bad apples like the one in Ferguson, MO with their mafia setup, but if the local government cannot provide the quality people and/or quality training for their police department, then most likely, you have those issues arise similar to Ferguson, South Carolina, Cleveland, Baltimore, and Fairfax.
There is no easy fix to the issues for the police department. I wish we could eliminate bias, but that won’t happen because that will take a lot of time and resources to sway a person a little. I wish the police department would have a decent budget to maintain their people and train them, but if the government wants to provide them with tanks and military gear that the actual military don’t want, then we will likely see more protests and riots in other cities.
Going back to the WPF Games, while I think it’s going to be a big and wonderful event, does the recent events hampered it? The other question is what do other police officers, around the world coming to Fairfax, feel about a few bad apples in the U.S.? It will be interesting to see next month.