The mistreatment of police is becoming even more asinine than it already was. It seems as if rule makers are in a contest on who can get police hurt first. These types of incidents are occurring from one coast to the other. Unfortunately, it’s the police officer’s safety at stake when people play politics with the men and women in uniform, all to garner a headline. More reason as to why it is becoming more challenging to recruit and retain good officers. What other profession tells you that you can’t wear sunglasses or that when you get assaulted, because of your job title, it doesn’t constitute assault?
Well, following are just two of the latest headlines making their way around the country.
In North Carolina, Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker banned the use of sunglasses when his deputies are speaking to the general public (nor could they be propped atop the head). Baker says that the citizens should be able to see the deputy’s eyes while interacting with them. Not only is this rule silly, but it is also literally unsafe. People spit on officers regularly. Having someone spit in your face is so common, spit masks are given out to officers as essential pieces of equipment. There have been numerous times when police are fighting with an unruly suspect, and the suspect is subsequently pepper sprayed—having their sunglasses on keeps officers from having their eyes contaminated and potentially taken out of the fight. Not only are there physical dangers, but now Wake County deputies must worry about forgetting to take off their glasses, otherwise facing reprimands. Why would people want to serve under that type of leadership? Policies like these must be driving the applicant pool up, right next door at the Raleigh Police Department.
In the State of Washington, the King County District Attorney’s Office advised they would not seek to charge a suspect that assaults police if the suspect is charged with resisting arrest. So, if someone doesn’t want to go to jail for larceny, pulls away from the officer, and then strikes them, that’s supposed to be part of the job? No. That’s assault! Now, when the criminal element in King County gets wind of this policy —and the word does spread— criminals will know they get a “free shot” at police if they are “resisting arrest.” King County and Seattle will likely see a drop in police proactiveness and a rise in injuries—not only to the officers but the suspects as well. This rule change allows the offender to fight like hell knowing they won’t be charged with it, causing the police to synonymously fight like hell to physically subdue the suspect.
It’s easy to enact policies and law changes when you’re not the one having to adhere to or enforce said changes. Staffing in police departments has dropped significantly across the country. The problem is not associated with a specific area or particular department but on a national scale. Issues like the ones mentioned above only perpetuate that issue. We are losing quality men and women to other career paths when they read about these issues in the paper. This leaves police departments hiring (with no choice) men and women that at one time would not have been hired with a more competitive pool of applicants. It is thereby giving us a less capable police force. The scope of the staffing issue is more of a problem than is being discussed. Let’s hope the next generation of law enforcement is game for an uphill battle of challenges.