Thanks to the entertainment sector, specifically television and movies, since the 1950's -many people all over the world have grown up with a particular positive impression of police that is engrained into their psyche. So much so, that Children's games from the past like "Cowboys and Indians" altered into "Cops and Robbers" further reinforcing this positive view of police in society and this image of police as heroes. "As a necessary force in combating the evil that lurks in the streets" as some have aptly put it, police are looked on as the "last line of defense protecting your homes and preventing chaos from occurring in the streets". However, running contrary to that line of thinking is that over the past 10 years, in most major cities in the First World like Toronto -violent crime rates have actually plummeted. In fact, further exacerbating this point of the police force as being an expendable instrument in society is the fact that in 2014 and the start of 2015, police unions in New York and Rome have taken entitled views of how important they are by going on work stoppages. Yet, the cities that the police govern and preside over, did not fall into chaos. It fact, it was "business as usual".
The Benefits of Fewer NYPD Arrests
NYPD Arrests Down 66% Since Officers’ Deathhttp://time.com/3649689/nypd-arrests-down-officers-death/
The NYPD is Essentially Refusing to do Its Job and Yet New York Hasn’t Collapsed into Chaos
NYPD ‘Punishes’ City by Not Citing, Arresting Citizens as Muchhttp://patriotrising.com/2014/12/30/nypd-punishes-city-not-citing-arresting-citizens-much/
New York police make good on their threat and abandon their city by not doing their job
So this begs the question, in a time of Austerity measures and Budget cuts, in societies where there is private security firms and security guards on most (if not all) private properties and CCTV placed almost everywhere you turn -have police outlived their usefulness? When examined closely, one discovers that the police are a part of the legal system building evidence for court prosecutors. Police are a "reactive force" not a "preventive force" (usually) and they often operate "after the fact" not "before the fact". If you are lucky, "during the fact" when collecting and building evidence for court prosecutors. Police powers lie more on their power of discretion in everyday situations, however, like sporting referees, many times police officers get it wrong at crucial moments. However, unlike game referees, often times, what they get wrong has huge life consequences, not game consequences. Police have more jurisdiction than security guards whose powers enable security guards to only act on private property not public/city property. Police can also act on "Reasonable Doubt" which Security Guards cannot this is the main difference between Police Officers and highly trained Security Guards.
However, does this power and jurisdiction justify their current unionized public salaries? Many people believe with bated breath that police are "overpaid public service sector workers". Police have discretionary powers that are universally applicable though they do not choose to universally apply the law. The "power of discretion" is used and abused by many police officers for their own ends. Police officers many times are trained in manipulative techniques and because of it, police officers prey on anxiety and fear that their power and most importantly their uniform and badge convey. Due to their monopoly of force given to them legally in order to "protect and serve", many times police officers operate similar to gangs. Police officer do not tell on one another and have a "code of silence" in place thereby allowing police officers to cover for each other. This makes many police officers and entire police units complicit in the action chosen and partaken in when one cop abuses his power that has been given to them by the general public. Many times, when it comes to public interactions with police officers, it is your word against theirs, unless a camera caught the actual situation play out in "real time" it is very hard to prove that the police officer is falsifying information against you. Just like criminals, this enables them to get away with many things and the saying, "wrong place, wrong time" also applies during interactions with police officers.
Due to the portrayal of police officers in shows such as "COPS", many people believe cops have more powers than they actually do and are going to "save the day". That is not the case. That child like illusion must evaporate in order for people to understand that most of the time, police do nothing more than gather evidence and build a case for lawyers to argue over and decide the timeline for someone's incarceration (if it even goes that far. Many times it does not because of the mishandling of evidence by cops which happens more times than you can imagine). Most police officers are more important in their own mind than in actual real life and often times this allows them to abuse their powers, especially their monopoly on force. More so, because many cops have alpha male and alpha female personalities, questioning their authority can often lead to more trouble than an individual bargained for. Police officers focus on the positives not the negatives of their jobs so that they can justify it to themselves. However, what their actions and choices do to people's lives due to their power of discretion and application of the law is something many police officers do not comprehend. Many police officers do not understand what role in society they are playing and the bigger picture because they are encased inside a "tunnel vision" of thinking, often "black and white", "right and wrong" and most often to fulfill monthly quotas and annual quotas. Many police officers justify their actions and choices, by arguing it "had to be done" and "that there was no other choice or course of action that could have been taken".
In countries like the United States of America where Police Officers are being Militarized the mentality of the Police vs. the Public can be seen more clearly. This is because many Police Officers in the USA also operate in order to find crimes and make criminals as opposed to stopping crimes and preventing criminals. This is because in the USA, the "prison industrial complex" and privatized prisons have taken hold in many parts of American society.
3 SIDE NOTES:
"Black Lives Matter" only now? Not before? Not with Chicago's high murder rates these past few years with so much of it involving black on black crimes? You think Al Sharpton would get national and media coverage with Corporations and the Corporate media backing him up? This is why Union leaders need to smarten up (especially police unions). By going on "work stoppages" and "work to rule" strikes and turning their back to the mayor and the public -they are shooting themselves in the foot.
(b) With phone records and online data being accessible to Private Investigators, the Police are not the only ones that can track, record, and get info on you.
(c) As individuals living in a society we have to look past the Mainstream media stereotyping of people and their stereotypical narrative because the Mainstream media loves perpetuating stereotypes and fear. What you hear on the news is often not the whole story but because of the media's constant repetition, you believe that it is the whole story.