Recent incidents show the human cost of portraying the police as villains

/

 

 

Police officers often face unhappy, hostile, and even violent people in their normal day-to-day activities, but recent interactions between cops and the public show that officers have never faced a more challenging environment as many have been killed, ambushed, attacked, or verbally harassed since the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests kicked off last year.

 

Quick Facts

 

 

Bodycam footage of a traffic stop in California shows just how much some Americans hate police officers. As the officer approached the woman’s vehicle, she asked why she was being “harassed.” Before the officer could finish his explanation she interrupted and answered her own question: “Because you’re a murderer.”

 

The officer politely tried to explain to the woman that she could not be on her phone while driving. When the officer asked for her license, she remained belligerent and informed the officer that she had left it at home. She asked that the officer call his supervisor, “because you’re a murderer.”

 

She claimed that the officer made her think that he was going to kill her. “I’m sorry you feel that way,” the officer responded. “Well, it’s not just a feeling, you’re a murderer,” the woman said.

 

The driver, who proudly explained that she is a teacher, claimed that the officer was threatening to kill her and her son, who was also in the car. When the officer asked if the car was hers, she said he was accusing her of stealing the car because he was “jealous.”

 

After the officer’s supervisor arrived, the driver, who is black, called the officer a “Mexican racist.” She added, “You’re always gonna be a Mexican. You’ll never be white. You know that, right? You’ll never be white, which is what you really want to be.”

 

The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department claims that the woman has since filed a complaint and has a history of false complaints.

 

While this account was disturbing, it was not nearly as bad as the cop killing that recently took place in New York City. Jessica Beauvais is suspected of a drunk driving hit-and-run on NYPD officer Anastasios Tsakos. Only hours before she allegedly struck Tsakos with her car, she posted a two-hour livestream on Facebook discussing police violence, which she began by playing the N.W.A. hip hop song “F*** Tha Police.”

 

During the livestream, she remarked, “Like N.W.A say about the police—if you’re going to kill me, at least I get to take someone with me. I’m one of those people. If I’m going to go, someone is coming.”

 

Shortly afterward, she struck Officer Tsakos with her car so hard that it sent the officer flying 100 feet, killing him. When apprehended by police, the suspect claimed she heard a “thump” but didn’t know why she was being pulled over. She allegedly told officers that she had consumed alcohol and smoked marijuana leading up to the incident.

 

Officer Tsakos was a 14-year veteran who leaves behind a wife and two young children. He is one of 120 police officers who have been killed so far in 2021, a number that, if it continues, will be on course to break the all-time record.

 

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea responded to questions regarding Beauvais’s podcast saying,

 

“I’ve been pretty vocal about it…We had ‘Kill cops’ graffitied last week, not for the first time in New York City. We had the attack on the crime scene detective unprovoked … this week. You’re seeing a constant rhetoric … whether it’s at some of these criminal groups that walk around Manhattan — I’m not calling them protests at this point … they’re going around and committing crimes, and I think it’s long past time where leaders across this city stood up and called it out for what it is.”

 

One frustrated Georgia police officer posted a viral TikTok video expressing his disappointment with the way cops are treated. “I am tired of every time I wake up in the morning someone polarizes the fact that maybe law enforcement is just not a good thing. All of us are not bad,” Kelvin Dingle said.

 

Dingle told Fox News, “That day, I just honestly had enough.” He added, “My heart was broken with the things that I saw just traveling home.”

 

He said that when he started as a cop 20 years ago people had a different attitude about cops, but believes that has changed in the last two years. “This is something new. It’s a new attitude.”

 

Another officer who went viral for criticizing comments made by NBA star LeBron James regarding the police shooting of Ma’Khia Bryant was suspended. The 16-year-old Bryant was attacking another teenaged girl with a knife when a police officer shot Bryant and stopped her from potentially killing the other girl. James infamously posted a since-deleted tweet directed at the officer who shot Bryant, stating, “YOU’RE NEXT,” and including an hourglass symbol and the hashtag #ACCOUNTABILITY.

 

In the light-hearted video, Officer Nate Silvester pretends to wait to intervene in a knife fight so he can first call James to get the athlete’s advice on how he should handle the situation. After Silvester was suspended, his friend Gannon Ward set up a GoFundMe page for the officer, which has received nearly $500,000 in donations.

 

 

Who is to blame for anti-police sentiment? Look no further than the media, politicians, and celebrities like James who are exploiting tragic and complex situations to boost ratings and boost their own profile and following. For this reason, the public is sorely mistaken about the frequency of incidents in which police shoot and kill black people. The media provides wall-to-wall coverage of police shootings of black people but largely ignores crime and killings of other ethnicities. The media especially contributes to the public’s distrust not only by its disproportionate coverage but also by what information it reports and doesn’t report when presenting the news.

 

NBC, for example, has drawn criticism for its deceptive representation of the police killing of Ma’Khia Bryant. In its coverage, NBC Nightly News left out the portion of the call to police dispatch wherein the caller says, “These grown girls over here trying to fight us, trying to stab us,” which is heard in the footage that CBS Evening News aired. NBC also made it appear that the knife Bryant was wielding was on the ground whereas in the CBS footage it is clear that Bryant was holding the knife and attempting to stab another girl.

 

Politicians such as “Squad” member Rep. Rashida Tlaib inflame tensions with police with comments like those she made about the accidental police shooting of Daunte Wright. Tlaib tweeted, “It wasn’t an accident. Policing in our country is inherently & intentionally racist. Daunte Wright was met with aggression & violence. I am done with those who condone government funded murder. No more policing, incarceration, and militarization. It can’t be reformed.”

 

Celebrities like James play their role in creating anti-police sentiment as well. Not only was his tweet inappropriate and ignorant, it could be considered a threat. From what information we have available to us, the officer acted to save the life of another person, not out of racism. When someone with a following the size of “King James’s” makes such a bold statement, many people listen without investigating whether what he said is actually true.

 

It is a difficult and dangerous time to be a cop, as it always has been. Cops are not particularly well-paid and have a thankless job. They put their lives on the line each day to protect the community and to save the lives of people they don’t even know. If this continues, officers may decide it is no longer worth it and there will be very few good cops left. And then who will the community call for help and protection?