The recent shift is American policing is cause for concern. It wasn’t that long ago where a uniformed police officer could approach anybody on the street for a brief chat. Most citizens welcomed the interactions, others not so much. The cooperation between the two set an unwritten contract in motion detailing that once certain information was shared each would go on about their day. If, however the officer gained information that raised his suspicions there were procedural laws the officer followed to proceed up the ladder and eventually to arrest, summons or no criminal action. As the criminal case Terry v. Ohio explains: the officer has as much duty to prevent crime as he has to react to it. Obviously I will not go into the specifics of that case, but basically a cop saw a couple guys casing a store and when he conducted a threshold inquiry he learned they were planning to rob the clerk. The officer prevented a crime.
Unfortunately, as a recent cell phone video in Boston, MA illustrates cops shouldn’t speak with anyone without a smoking gun in the person's hand while they stood over a cooling corpse. The video is of a gang officer who is sitting in their parked, unmarked cruiser with his partner when a guy approaches them while filming with his cellphone camera. The citizen initiates the conversation and the cop reacts by asking him questions about who he is and where he’s going. Very reasonable. The cop never swears at the citizen nor touches him. In fact, since the conversation was initiated by the citizen he is free to leave at any time.
So, who suffers? If cops are alienated from society; from merely speaking to another citizen without being filmed, without being chastised by his superiors and even the Mayor of the city, they become reluctant to act. The new cop attitude is a complete reversal of the officers in the Terry v. Ohio case. Now, they may see something that is of criminal design and fail to act for fear the interaction will be posted on Youtube.
Thus, the citizens of the town or city are forced to become victimized before cops act. That’s now our reality in American Policing. My advice: Protect Yourself. Read my book by this title and implement the tips and tricks that recommend and avoid becoming a victim.
Blog posts are written by Rob Disario and include opinion editorials about policing and private investigations. Other topics include tips and tricks to protect yourself, thoughts for today, new products and product reviews. Rob's opinions are his own which are protected by the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States and do not reflect any other entity, affiliation or person.