Sunday, December 7, 2008

NYPD in hot water again - police sensitivity training desperately needed across the country

Some years ago, I was at a training with police officers in the Salt Lake City police department. The presenter spoke about his training and how police officers are trained to look at people. His statement chilled me - he indicated that everyone is an a#@hole and their job as police officers is to have people prove to the police that they aren't, but that police officers still expect citizens to be a@#holes. I recall sitting in weekly meetings with police officers, listening to them speak of arrests and hostile situations that they have encountered - without fail, when describing perpetrators, they spoke of their race unless they happened to be Caucasian - I shared this with the Chief of Police's Executive Officer, as it was troubling to me - the blatant racism subsided a bit, not as much as I would have liked, but at least I stood up for what I believed to be inappropriate behavior.

As I heard the news story this morning of yet another of NYPD's victims, I was reminded of Abdoul Louima - the Haitian immigrant who was sodomized and beaten years ago by the NYPD. This newest claim states that the defendant was smoking pot, though no evidence was found to indicate same - he was stopped at one of NYC's subway stations by NYPD officers and was allegedly beaten, sodomized with a nightstick by one officer, while being held down by two others, and is now even still in pain weeks later, using a crutch to walk.

After that training, I had a different view of police officers - I had never really been particularly of them as a rule, given that I am a minority and have seen my children profiled a few too many times. I believe that an a##hole is an a@#hole, you can give that person a gun and a badge, but they are still an a#$hole.

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