The recent decisions of grand juries in Ferguson and New York not to indict police officers for the killings of unarmed black men Michael Brown and Eric Garner have sparked nationwide protests against the police. Americans are outraged by the excessive force and racial profiling of the police which seems to occur on an everyday basis in the U.S.
Redditt Hudson, a former St. Louis policeman, wrote an article in The Washington Post describing his inside perspective of the police and the dysfunctional culture that allows cops the freedom to engage in civil service however they feel, while granting them immunity and leaving no responsibility on the table.
“The problem is that cops aren’t held accountable for their actions," Hudson wrote, "and they know it. These officers violate rights with impunity. They know there’s a different criminal justice system for civilians and police.”
Hudson refers to examples of fellow police officers targeting black and brown people for minor offenses and using force when it was obviously not needed.
“I wouldn't say all, but many of my peers were deeply racist,” he wrote.
Hudson continued: “Too many times, officers saw young black and brown men as targets. They would respond with force to even minor offenses. And because cops are rarely held accountable for their actions, they didn’t think too hard about the consequences.”
Hudson gave the following story as an example of the excessive force he routinely witnessed:
Once, I accompanied an officer on a call. At one home, a teenage boy answered the door. That officer accused him of harboring a robbery suspect, and demanded that he let her inside. When he refused, the officer yanked him onto the porch by his throat and began punching him.
Another officer met us and told the boy to stand. He replied that he couldn’t. So the officer slammed him against the house and cuffed him. When the boy again said he couldn’t walk, the officer grabbed him by his ankles and dragged him to the car. It turned out the boy had been on crutches when he answered the door, and couldn’t walk.
Hudson reported the troubling incident to his superiors, but was told not to worry about it and get back to work.
Hudson also said officers frequently used excessive and lethal force in sitations that could have been easily defused. Even when someone is threatening to kill you, he says, you can almost always defuse a situation without taking a life.
"I’ve been shot at and attacked," he wrote, "but I know it’s almost always possible to defuse a situation."
Hudson thinks the problem is deeper than just training. He wants the justice system to be changed.
“We could start to change that by mandating that a special prosecutor be appointed to try excessive force cases. And we need more independent oversight, with teeth. I have little confidence in internal investigations.”
Many activists across the country are calling for reforms, including police body cameras and special prosecutors. If the police know they can get away with almost anything, it is time to change that.