We have been demonizing the police ever since the Obama administration. There are about 700,000 police officers in the United States. They engage in about 60 million police interventions each year. Very few, only a tiny percentage, go bad. According to Washington Post data, more unarmed white people are killed by the police than unarmed black people.
When an unarmed white person is killed by the police it’s almost never reported and given little emphasis when it is.
But the situation is very different when it’s an unarmed black person. Then it’s immediately attributed to racism and given tremendous coverage.
Yet Whoopi Goldberg, unaware that more unarmed white people than blacks are killed by police, asks if “we need to see white people beaten up” to get police reform: (video takes several seconds to load)
The police have a very difficult job. Few of us would want to do what they do. They are frequently exposed to violence. They work under high risk and high stress. And their job is even more difficult in communities with high rates of violent crime. We need the police and qualified police officers.
Even if we don’t defund the police, demonizing the police is disastrous. Because we’re demonizing the police, officers are demoralized and leaving the force in droves. This leaves police forces significantly understaffed. And you can be sure that there is pressure to take less and less qualified people to staff the force.
It’s obvious that the five Memphis police officers who beat Tyre Nichols to death were not qualified to be police officers. Clearly, they are the kind of people who should ever be on a police force. They deserve to be demonized. They deserve condemnation. But too many people, like Whoopi Goldberg, ignorantly condemn all police officers. Even Joe Biden has done this leaping to the conclusion that racism is always the reason when a police intervention against a black person goes bad.
This sets up a vicious cycle, call it a death cycle, where every time a police officer engages in misconduct, people like Whoopi Goldberg condemn police generally. This makes it increasingly difficult to hire and retain qualified officers increasing the frequency of police misconduct and, in turn making it more difficult to hire and retain qualified police officers. It needs to stop. As long as we are forced to hire fewer and fewer qualified people to become police officers, no amount of police reform will solve police misconduct.