LA Cop Tries to Blame Police Brutality on Its Victims

A Los Angeles Police Department officer says that the people they stop are just as responsible for ensuring that things don't turn ugly as the officers are.

In a recent Washington Post column, Sunil Dutta said that people misunderstand the role police officers have in society and exaggerate the motives behind why officers use force to respond to those they detain. He says police officers aren't killers who wake up with the intent to shoot and kill people. Dutta recalls the times he "withstood curses, screaming tantrums, aggressive and menacing encroachments on my safety zone, and outright challenges to my authority."

But this is the most powerful point he makes in his piece:

Even though it might sound harsh and impolitic, here is the bottom line: if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you. Don’t argue with me, don’t call me names, don’t tell me that I can’t stop you, don’t say I’m a racist pig, don’t threaten that you’ll sue me and take away my badge. Don’t scream at me that you pay my salary, and don’t even think of aggressively walking towards me. Most field stops are complete in minutes. How difficult is it to cooperate for that long?

Does Dutta have a point? As we know, most police officers just want to do their jobs, which are inherently dangerous. According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, 1,501 police officers lost their lives in the line of duty in the past 10 years. In 2013, 100 officers were killed. And there have been an average of 58,261 assaults against law enforcement each year in the last 10 years, resulting in 15,658 injuries. The safety risks police officers face on the job are real and cannot be ignored.

That said, Americans still have concerns over the ways police officers conduct themselves.

A recent a USA TODAY/Pew Research Center Poll reveals some telling indications of how many Americans feel about the cops they encounter:

• 65% overall say police departments nationwide do an "only fair" or a poor job in holding officers accountable when misconduct occurs, compared with 30% who say they do an excellent or good job.

• By 65%-32%, respondents say police do a fair/poor job, not an excellent/good one, in treating racial and ethnic groups equally.

• By 61%-35%, they say police do a fair/poor job, not an excellent/good one, in using the right amount of force in each situation.

Respondents were split evenly when asked if police departments nationwide do a good job in protecting people from crime.

Dutta is correct: officers have a right to be treated with respect as they conduct the challenging duties of their jobs. They also have a responsibility to improve their own conduct. Preventing tragedies like Michael Brown's killing isn't a responsibility left only to the people officers are sworn to protect.

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