Police officers need to interact with the laws of land before they enforce them.
My journalistic work with Techbook Online in 2014 enabled me to uncover and learn a lot as it relates policing in Philadelphia.
For starters, I learned that the Philadelphia Police Advisory Commission, though perceived as an after-thought agency by taxpayers, has defeated the FOP Lodge #5 in court on every occasion.
In addition, I learned that the Philadelphia Police Department doesn’t have any dashboard cameras in their cruisers, though they are experimenting with body-worn cameras, and have been, according to an inside source, since the 2011 eviction of Occupy Philly from Dilworth Plaza.
But the most important discovery I made was that Philadelphia police officers aren’t required to know or study the law they’re enforcing, and that could very well be the case for officers across the country.
To say that I was shocked by that truth would be an understatement… I was dumb founded… no words expressed my confusion.
It’s not that anyone lied to me, because no one ever said: “Hey our cops are knowledgeable of the law.” But my expectation was that the training officers received involved some introduction and memorization of society’s legalities.
While standing across the street from a South Philadelphia convenience store that activists were protesting for selling toys guns that are against a city ordinance – law enforcement, unaware of the ordinance, showed up not to investigate the illegal activity of the shopkeeper, but to remove protesters from blocking the entrance – a police officer tells me that “cops violate citizens rights all the time, simply because they don’t what their rights are.”
How could this be? I asked that question to the officer and several people afterwards, and their replies were similar: why would you expect cops to know all the laws on the books.
My reply was straightforward: “The same reason the government expects citizens to know and follow all the rules on the books.”
To mitigate future instances like the one that took place in front of a South Philadelphia convenience store, communities should demand that law enforcement officers spend significant time studying the law during their training, while being consistently updated and educated on new legislation passed by lawmakers once on the force.
To me, that’s just the minimum of what should be done in terms of law-related education for police officers. If you disagree, considering this: it takes years to practice law and only months to enforce it; how can that be okay?
I’m not suggesting that police be required to complete up to 10 years of schooling before being considered for employment, but I am implying that we reform the system to ensure police officers are given the opportunity to interact and comprehend the laws of land before they hit the streets to enforce them.
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™