Negative Impact of Police Protests

October 19, 2016 By Debra Ann Faretra, M.A.

Debra Ann Faretra

Law enforcement officers enter the profession knowing they will serve a diverse society without bias or indifference. Officers always go to work without knowing who or what they will face during their tour of duty.

Criminal behavior elicits the presence of police, sometimes resulting in injuries or the loss of life. Police officers are also negatively affected, and can become traumatized when they encounter dangerous and deadly situations. This is not something they seek or want to have occur in the commission of their duties, as it has unfathomable consequences for them as well. For the notion to exist that law enforcement officers want to take any life is very disturbing in the least.

Officers are caught in the crossfire of protecting their own lives and guarding the public, while becoming targets for doing their jobs. A lack of personal responsibility and comprehension of the police profession is resulting in egregious allegations that are smearing this profession, and endangering lives. The police represent a heroic position to defend the innocent from becoming victims and assisting those in need on many levels. For them to be labeled racist murderers and to have a price put on their heads is only increasing tensions between communities.

People of the ghetto mentality are already challenged with having a lack of leadership, personal strength, and misguided perceptions. When hate groups and anti- police rhetoric spews from the mouths of our government leaders, it only leads these communities to further deteriorate. Police are then left with the backlash of all the resentment, and it's costing them their lives! In fact, any intellectually sound person would rely on factual statistics, instead of misconceptions and misguided emotions.

Police already endure massive amounts of stress, and an increase in traumatic events-terrorism, mass shootings, rioting, and mayhem-that has left them in a warzone. Their psychological stress is at its highest, causing them to become hyper vigilant. Expecting them to sacrifice any more than they have is unacceptable.

There are negative consequences when a person or group maliciously threaten the life of another, attempts to instill fear in innocent members of the public and law enforcement, as seen in the recent acts of rioting and protests. The characteristics of the aggressors are not easily forgotten, and become psychologically ingrained as threatening to the law enforcement community, and the general public. Is that the goal these groups are trying to achieve?

Police are being forced to suppress survival and tactical instincts during, or because of these violent protests. This is resulting in life threatening injuries and death. It is weighing psychologically heavy on these officers to perform their duties without the fear of negative repercussions.

The pressure that is put on them is at the risk of their own lives, primarily when they are asked to succumb to belligerent, noncompliant members of the public who are attempting to overpower their authority. Police are trained to handle many combative situations, but nothing supersedes the reliability of their instincts. People cannot dictate to law enforcement officers how to conduct their jobs in life and death situations, as things in real time are much different than when viewed from the safety of one's home. This interference from non law enforcement organizations and paper pushing politicians is not conducive to officer safety.

No one should expect police officers to denounce instincts alerting them to public dangers and human behavior. If so, they'll second-guess themselves, hesitating when challenged by suspects from racially divided communities, resulting in further loss of life.

Cops are being erroneously judged, their reputations tainted by morally corrupt organizations and some government officials who should concern themselves with the skeletons falling out of their own closets. Rather than exert energy on degrading members of the police profession, they should be more supportive for those who unselfishly sacrifice their lives for all. Overzealous and bigoted members of politics are gravely jeopardizing the lives of police officers and innocent members of the public.

Ultimately, the message to law enforcement is to not lose focus on the good of all members, race, gender, creed, and religion, regardless of the anti-police sentiments circulating. Good and bad exist on all angles, but good prevails.

Despite antagonism, there are still a large number of supporters in communities and politics who are pro-law enforcement, fighting to maintain the dignity and respect of this profession. Remain healthy; rely on spiritual beliefs, peers, family, and friends during these trying times. Use the multiple mental health resources available to the police community.