By Eugine Chung
With the tragedy of the Michael Brown shooting and other incidents of cruel police brutality on the news and on the Internet, for many Americans, law enforcement has been symbolic of cold-heartedness and unjustified force. However, placing a blanket characteristic on a group of individuals only perpetuates the very issues of stereotypes and stigmatism we are so against.
Of course, it is important for individuals to expose injustice, especially within law enforcement, which is supposed to be the country’s sense of security in creating law-abiding citizens and ensuring justice. There are faults in any system, including the police force, and it has been proven through revealed police brutality and unfair advantages, such as civil forfeiture, which allows police to apprehend assets from suspected individuals without actually charging or putting them on trial for any wrongdoing.
However, pigeonholing a dynamic mass of individuals, some who have truly risked their lives benevolently for the sake of protecting civilians, fails to give gratitude to those individuals who deserve it.
For instance, last December in Alabama, 47-year-old Helen Johnson had been caught stealing eggs in order to feed her niece, two daughters, and two grandchildren who had been starving for a week.
Instead of arresting the woman, police officer William Stacy delivered two truckloads of food for her and her family during Christmas.
Also around Christmas, the Lowell Police Department in Michigan stopped motorists to hand out a total of $8,000 worth of gifts to approximately 50 cars.
“It’s important for police departments to take time to show their citizens how much they care,” said representatives of the Lowell Police Department to Telegraph.
So much negativity permeates media, which only allows the cycle of animosity and tension to grow. There is nothing wrong in revealing the injustices of society because that is how the public becomes more informed and change is properly enacted.
However, it is just as important to understand the dynamic nature of any issue, person, or entity. Polarizing views to only negative aspects of any person or group can be restrictive and unfair. Conversely, over-glorifying individuals is just as detrimental. Nevertheless, the recent anti-law enforcement sentiments may have caused harm to many noble individuals who do deserve respect and appreciation.
Just as the police force has been under fire for unjustly showing prejudice to particular groups, we unknowingly have also stereotyped law enforcement as brutish, mindless villains. But that’s being hypocritical. While the public should always strive for justice, cooperation and honest assessment can fill the gaps that have barred so much progress in the law enforcement system. A step towards change is not attacking fire with fire, but taking a step back: not stigmatizing, but understanding.