Cops now feel as if they are the victim.
In today’s society, almost everything is driven by the media promoting it. Whether it be on television, the radio or on a mobile device, people use the media to collect daily information and headlines throughout the country. This influence is having a negative impact on the law enforcement field and their relationship with the public because of the way the media misjudges and accurately portrays incidents on the news. Those primetime stories that inaccurately portray a police officer’s actions just for a “juicy headline” is the reason why the media is an antagonizing factor within the police and community relations.
The media has a lot more influence than a lot of people think, everyone believes what they read on the internet and other news outlets. Social media acts as a driving factor of the crime between the public and law enforcement by not getting the right message across to its viewers which in turn can cause major controversy. In the article “Retaliatory violence between police and citizens is primed by social media” it unfolds the results of a new study that was published in the scientific journal in January of 2018 named PLOS ONE. This study was conducted to understand the ties between police officers that were killed in the line of duty, situations where fatal use of force was used, and all the buzz on social media regarding the Black Lives Movement. Veronica Pozo, who works at Utah State University and helped publish this study, stated that,
“Black Lives Matter-related tweets were associated with increases in both the numbers of minorities and law enforcement officers killed. This implies that that social media can rapidly spread a negative message and act as a contagion.”
This study shows a first-hand account of how people actions on social media really can influence crime in society. If these issues continue to be publicized in the manner they are today, there may never be a resolve with this conflict. But that is why we must stress that news outlets not stretch the truth for a better headline, the headlines clearly can have an important influence on individuals. This happened during the media coverage of George Zimmerman and his call to 911 before the incident with Trayvon Martin occurred. In an article posted by USA Today called “Media got Zimmerman story wrong from start” it says,
“NBC News edited Zimmerman’s comments during a phone call to inaccurately suggest that he volunteered that Trayvon seemed suspicious because he was black. In fact, Zimmerman was responding to a question (from the dispatcher) when he mentioned the teenager’s race. The network apologized for the error”.
This case was the result of hundreds of protests that swept throughout the country in what almost seemed overnight. This incident sparked a flame and police were afraid that it was going to be the start of more acts of violence against the police. By the news outlets changing Zimmerman’s comments to sound racist, all it does it just anger more people and cause unnecessary mayhem. Overall, the media should be very cautious about what they do due to the fact that their audience is so grand, telling untrue things to the majority creates uncertainty and at the end of the day gives law enforcement a bad name.
When signing up to be a police officer, you are signing a contract taking the risk that you can lose your life anytime on the job. Police officers pursue a job in law enforcement to protect communities so that the places they live in and the people around them are safe. At the same time, they are regular people just like everyone and they wish to go home at the end of their shift, they don’t want to cause harm on someone for no reason. In certain situations, things can escalate when a police officer gives an order, some people do not like being told what to do and then can lead to altercations. The number of crimes against the police have been rising compared and the numbers don’t like. In an article named “Why are ambush killings of police on the rise?, it released the results of a mid-year report from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund and stated,
“That 67, federal, state, and local law enforcement officers were killed as of July 20th, 2016, up 8 percent over last year; more alarmingly, some 14 officers were fatally targeted in ambush killings, a 300 percent increase”
This report was recorded starting at the beginning of the year and already 67 officers were killed halfway through the year. On the other hand, what is really concerning police officers is the dramatic rise in police ambush killings, a 300% percent increase will definitely get some people’s attention. Unfortunately, line of duty deaths are something that a law enforcement agency is always going to have to deal with, it is just part of the job. All of these factors are really something we should take into consideration because it can potentially affect the future of law enforcement. These rising numbers can potentially deter people from starting a career in law enforcement. In fact, there has been a recent drop in applicants in the United States and there are a couple reasons for this. An ABC News article called “Police face severe shortage of recruits” said that people are not attracted to “the job’s low pay, tarnished image, increasingly tougher standards for new recruits and limited job flexibility.” Their tarnished image can only be blamed on one source, which is the media because they create the image the public sees. With all the disregard for authority nowadays, at this rate nobody is going to want to be a police officer, it only makes sense. Therefore, as you can see by media broadcasting “lies” it sort of has a trickle down effect with crime and law enforcement. If these type of antics continue there will definitely be a major problem for law enforcement in the future.
A common misconception among the public is that the police are not allowed to make mistakes but the reality is that they are human too. Not everyone is going to be perfect at their profession and it is normal to mess up sometimes. In fact, there are rules that back policemen and the people for mistakes made by law enforcement. The Exclusionary Rule is a legal rule tied to the Fourth Amendment in the Constitution. In an article published by the Legal Information Institute it states,
“The decision in Mapp v. Ohio established that the exclusionary rule applies to evidence gained from an unreasonable search or seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment”.
This both protects the officer and the defendant by freeing of them of their mistakes from this situation. The officer would probably be disciplined accordingly for violating a constitutional right and at the end of the day the officer made a mistake and they’ll learn from it. This also protects the person because they are freed of the possible charges that would have been brought upon them, the law enforcement violated their rights and they were compensated for it. Policemen know that their mistakes can be costly but again, it’s just another thing that comes along with a career in law enforcement. When a police officer makes a mistake, it is very common in today’s society that everyone will pop out their mobile devices and start taking a video. The media tends to blow these things out of proportion and that is when things get out of hand and there is potential retaliation. We need the media, including social media, to spread more positive things about law enforcement officers rather than the slanders that are thrown all around the internet or else there may never be a resolve in the horizon.
To conclude, there is clear evidence that the media negatively portrays to the point where they can be named as an antagonizing factor within the police and community relations. The anti-police groups that spread through social media and news companies changing information for the better headline are two prime examples of how these media outlets can negatively portray law enforcement. There must be a stop and resolve between these two or else there is a lot of potential for things to get out of hand. At the end of the day it is clear to see who is the real “bad guy” in this situation and hopefully the right will be done and police officers can have the image they once held before.
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