In 2017, police face more danger and less cooperation than ever.
While on the job today, officers are met with a growing avalanche of mistrust, hostility, and outright resistance from members of the public. In a recent survey, police across the country reported feeling more scrutinized, second-guessed, and threatened than ever.
As high-profile shootings have sparked widespread protests and calls for police accountability, there appears to be a growing national sentiment of outright hatred and resistance of law enforcement. While some groups present reasoned, salient arguments for police reform, the importance of trigger discipline, and improved police-community relations, others have lashed out and taken to the streets in protests, repeating the rallying cry of “What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want it? Now!”
As more Americans are simmering with discontent over police use of force, officers are starting to feel as though they are being punished for doing their jobs. President Trump has publicly expressed his support for the police on numerous occasions, bolstering law enforcement and expressing his concern that criminals will take advantage of the fact that police are walking on eggshells, warning Americans that this must be stopped.
The country’s anti-police attitude makes it difficult for law enforcement to carry out their duties—officers are now struggling to keep communities safe at a time when public citizens are more willing to question the methods they use to do so. In a recent interview, Todd Axtell, Police Chief of St. Paul, Minnesota, spoke about this issue, saying “These are challenging times for officers, whose job it is to confront chaos with calm, run toward danger and assist people in the throes of life’s worst moments on a daily basis. Even though the profession is a calling for most of our officers, the job can wear you down”.
A June Gallup poll found that 57% of Americans have “a great deal or quite a lot” of confidence in police, but that confidence dropped among liberals and people under 35 years old.
Some argue that today’s public scrutiny is a positive for law enforcement, claiming that it will lead to more efficient and effective policing, and that unprincipled “bad cops” need to be exposed to scrutiny so they don’t make all cops look bad. Others say the scrutiny is harmful and unnecessary, and that measures such as body and vehicle cameras for police are Orwellian and a waste of taxpayer funds.
Ultimately, police work is a challenging profession that is easy to criticize from the outside. Many citizens do not understand the full scope of the challenges faced by our country’s law enforcement. The job is an unpredictable one by its nature, and officers are placed in uncertain circumstances every time they put on their badges and leave for work.
It takes a lot to be a police officer, and now, more than ever, we need to stand with law enforcement and let them know they have our support.