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A Grain of Salt



By Patrick Tamayo

We rely on the police to serve as protectors, and deterrents of crime. They are first responders who are given the unachievable task of keeping everyone safe, a task that we are naive to think they can fully accomplish.

While police seem to be a necessity in our culture, the overwhelming sentiment toward them continues to decline as they continue to take actions that result in people losing their lives.

It seems as if we hear of police shootings almost daily, so common that they are often reduced to just small blurbs in news briefs if reported at all.

The community continues to shake heads in disbelief as lives are lost at the hands of police officers, and countless families are forced to grieve because police chose to use lethal force.

It is hard to imagine that anyone in their right mind would point anything even remotely resembling a weapon at police, but time and time again, people are alleged to have done just that.

We are always force-fed the police versions of events and, unless there is video evidence, we are simply supposed to believe the versions that are put out by high ranking officers and media relations personnel.

Having to rely solely on the police’s versions of events only leads to more distrust from the community.

As open and transparent as departments strive to be, police seem to always spin things in a way that makes it appear as if they had no choice, and the suspect was at fault.

Yes, our communities are filled with crime, and we need a system of policing with members who will protect society as a whole.

But when the actions of police appear to be just as criminal, who is tasked to protect us from them?

It seems that in many instances police are above the law.

Time and time again their actions are considered justified.

The defense of “fearing for their lives” is used repeatedly. As soon as that is thrown out there, it almost makes it sound OK.

But couldn’t one fear for their lives in almost any situation, especially those that police find themselves in almost every shift?

Police are under continuous stress. They are faced with the worst of society everyday. It is a thankless job and one that seems not to make a difference.

We expect police to deter and prevent crime but at the same time act in a professional manner.

How high can our expectations of the police be?

It is hard to understand the pressures that police officers face every time they go out into the world with giant targets on their backs.

Generations of people have grown to dislike the police and many of them can’t be blamed for their way of thinking due to how they’ve been impacted by police conduct.

This only serves as a disconnect between the communities and the police; the people they should be able to rely on for help and protection.   

We should be able to feel that the police have our backs, and that we can depend on them in the event we have to call on them. However, it seems that unless it is a major crime, police won’t even come out.

The sentiment toward police will not change for the better so long as people continue to lose lives at their hands, and their actions continue to be considered justified.

No amount of non-lethal training is going to keep police from fearing for their lives and resorting to lethal actions.

I will not pretend to know or even understand the pressures of dealing with the problems that police face on a daily basis, but communities should be able to have confidence that those people tasked with serving and protecting are not going to shoot without absolute provocation.

I understand the need for wanting to go back to their families at the end of their shifts and doing whatever it takes to accomplish that, but police must also be held responsible for their actions especially when the loss of life may be preventable.

Being exposed to unfathomable crimes and having to deal with the worst of society can eventually take its a toll on anyone.

We are gullible to think that all police personnel are capable of handling the daily pressures of their jobs without cracking.

People losing their lives at the hands of police is nothing new but when it hits close to home and when it appears to have been preventable only makes it that much worse.

There are no easy answers that are going to keep police from shooting people, however, what exactly is considered justified has to be much more clear.

The system is broken and there is room for reform. Surely, this is not the best way to police.

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