Last year, the death of five police officers in Dallas, Texas lead to questions about the nature of relationships between the police and the citizens they are supposed to protect.
Retired Police Chief Donald Grady gave us a framework rarely discussed in conversations about the police, especially related to racial targeting, police brutality, lack of cooperation with the police and the mutual paranoia between the police and the policed. Grady’s unpacking of this relationship boiled down to a phrase I haven’t heard before or since: Democratic vs Authoritarian policing.
Grady’s unpacking denoted the idea that as long as police remove themselves psychologically from being citizens of the communities they police, they are able to consider themselves in opposition to the citizenry creating the Authoritarian perspective of policing. This psychological stance makes it easier for the police to take the role of policing in an us-versus-them mentality which increases violence against citizens since the police consider themselves an occupying army in enemy territory.
Which is exactly the opposite perspective one needs to provide police protection. Instead of seeing the police as protectors, they are considered by the general populace as a different class of assailant, one sanctioned by the government. Democratic policing denotes the perspective of being a member of the community, a citizen who sees their role as protecting each other not drawing a line that separates the police from the citizenry.
In 2016 there were at least 1162 documented police shootings in the United States as documented by the Killed by Police Facebook community which unofficially tracks these shootings by local news reporting. Another group, Mapping Police Violence, says 2017 will likely equal the numbers from 2016 if the trends are any indication.
We want to hear from you: Do you feel safe when you interact with the police where you live? Have you had any experiences with your local police department? Was it amicable or terrifying?
What steps do you take when you’re stopped by the police, especially if you are a member of a minority? Do you call anyone? Do you record the stop?
Is your experience with the police a democratic one or an authoritative one? How does the area you live in deal with negative interactions with the police? Are there local policy groups citizens can interact with to help regulate police behavior?
Depending on where you live in the country, your experience may vary widely, so feel free to keep things general if it makes you more comfortable in talking about your experience.
When you’re ready to submit, click the red box, below.
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