What Ignoring the Problem Gets You

What happens when you ignore a problem for an entire year? The problem doesn’t go away:

Despite ongoing national scrutiny of police tactics, the number of fatal shootings by officers in 2016 remained virtually unchanged from last year when nearly 1,000 people were killed by police.

Through Thursday, law enforcement officers fatally shot 957 people in 2016 — close to three each day — down slightly from 2015 when 991 people were shot to death by officers, according to an ongoing project by The Washington Post to track the number of fatal shootings by police.

The Post, for two years in a row, has documented more than twice the number of fatal shootings recorded by the FBI annually on average.

Why hasn’t anything been done to reduce the number of people being shot by police? Because the politicians rely on the police to be revenue generators and too many people worship the police as heroes.

I’ve written a lot about how being revenue generators makes politicians wary of curtailing bad law enforcement behavior. To summarize that point, the politicians don’t want to risk upsetting their biggest revenue generators because they might generate less revenue. If police officers are punished for shooting an innocent person during a no-knock raid they might be less inclined to go on the next no-knock drug raid and that would cut into the State’s civil forfeiture profits.

Hero worship is another problem. Whenever an individual rises to the status of hero they get a tremendous amount of leeway. Obviously bad behavior is explained away by the hero’s worshippers. After all, the individual is a hero and therefore can do no wrong. Ever since 9/11 law enforcers have been elevated from civil servants to heroes.

We see this come into play whenever an officer is in the news for doing something questionable or outright terrible. Cop apologists crawl out of the woodwork and find any excuse to justify the officer’s actions. Did the officer shoot a carry permit holder during an otherwise routine traffic stop? While the carry permit indicates that the victim wasn’t a felon or domestic abuser the cop apologists will still cite mundane nonsense like traffic citations as justification for the officer’s actions.

This hero worship also influences the actions of those who are tasked with holding law enforcers accountable. No politician, even a lowly municipal one, wants to be the person known for going against a hero. It’s bad for their public image and reelection efforts. So most of them are willing to turn a blind eye towards any issues involving law enforcers.

I imagine 2017 will also see approximately 1,000 people killed by police. Until law enforcers stop being revenue generators and stop being viewed as heroes the motivation to curtail their bad behavior won’t exist.

One thought on “What Ignoring the Problem Gets You”

  1. You may be right, but I’m going to go out on a limb and predict more like 800 in 2017. Cops are increasingly coming under video scrutiny, both from business-owned security cameras and from normal people with cell phones. The extent to which cops scream and moan about being watched suggests to me that their trigger-happy behavior may be scaled back somewhat.

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