Mr./ Mrs. President, as you already know, our police officers have always been there for our country, and they do great things for us. They have protected Americans from criminals and kept us safe since this country started, but something seems different now. It seems like part of our police officers have gone rogue and are acting only on their emotions with less concern about others. Many officers have been accused of using excessive force and being too brutal. Some officers have even been proven guilty of beating and killing black men for absolutely no reason. This major change in our police force leads me to the question: Will Americans change how they view and trust our police officers based on the reports of police brutality?
When you hear about police brutality on the news, what do you usually hear? A white cop shooting a white man? A black cop shooting a black man? No, you hear that a white cop shot a black man. This is making many Americans think that all police are racist and they target blacks over whites, but if you look at the facts, this is not the case. The FBI released a report that shows 708 people have been killed by police officers so far this year. Of those 708 people, 325 of them were white, 173 were black, 111 were Hispanic, 27 were described as other, and 72 are still unknown. As you can see, the number of white deaths are almost double that of black deaths, which just goes to show you that racism probably isn’t the biggest factor in police shootings. However, racism is a highly argued topic, so the media ties it to police brutality to make more interesting stories and get more views. Many of us believe anything we see on the media, so it doesn’t surprise me that some people stereotype all police officers as racist based on what they see on the news instead of what the facts say.
Have you ever watched or heard about a court session over an officer accused of brutality? Well, if you haven’t, then you only need to know about one to get the idea of how they all go. The officer is asked about what happened, and he will say one of the following: “I felt threatened.” “I felt afraid.” “The victim struggled with me.” “He reached for my gun.” Whether they are guilty or not, they will most likely say something along those lines. Attorney Benjamin Crump writes; “If I had a dollar for every time the reason given by the police was that “They reached for my weapon” or “They attacked me and I felt in fear for my life,” I wouldn’t have enough room in my pockets” (TIME). Basically all police officers accused of police brutality will say one of these things, but that’s what makes it hard to tell if they are guilty or not.
A major factor in determining if Americans will change how they view their police force is trustworthiness. Many citizens just don’t trust police anymore because reports of police brutality have been so common and we have evidence that it happens. It’s hard to trust someone that says “It was self defense” when we have a video that shows it was clearly not, and they had no right or reason to do what they did. An officer committing police brutality makes you think of them differently, but once there is proof that they lied about doing it, it’s easy to lose all trust you have in them. If you were to watch a video of police brutality and then hear the officer's story, then it would be hard to look at a police officer the same way again and put the same amount of trust in them.
While a picture or video can show us what happened, it doesn’t tell us everything. As Filmmaker Errol Morris wrote in TIME Magazine, “Photography doesn’t offer proof of anything. It merely supplies additional evidence, which otherwise might not be available.” His point is that a picture or video will never tell us 100% of what happened because something that occurred off-camera could have triggered the officer’s reaction and caused him to be brutal and possibly use excessive force. Although photography is an excellent source of evidence, it can’t prove anything, it can only support one side of the story or the other. However, a video is enough for some people, and they draw conclusions based on the video and think they know exactly what happened: The police officer was racist and thought the victim was up to no good, so he did what he thought he needed to do. Most Americans aren’t considering what happened off-camera and what we don’t have proof of, so they decide that police are untrustworthy and brutal and completely change how they view our entire police force.
Although some police officers have been convicted of crimes of brutality, Americans can’t deny the fact that most of them do their job and protect us. Because the media broadcasts issues of police brutality so often, we have video evidence that it happens, and we have proof that some officers are racist and are using brutality against others, it seems clear that more and more Americans will continue to change their view on our police force. However, I do not think that it is right to judge all officers based on the actions of only a handful of them, and I recommend that you do not influence Americans in any way to change how they view their police officers. It is each person's individual choice to decide how they view their police officers, and it is up to you to tell the truth and be honest about every case of police brutality no matter how it makes you look. If you do that, then it will benefit you more in the long run than if you were to try to make our police force sound different than it really is. It is also in your best interest to serve justice to the officers that have been proven guilty of their crimes, and to let America know the full truth about it’s officers so we as individuals don’t lose sight of why our police officers are here and everything they do for us.