Tensions between citizens and police officers have escalated to unprecedented heights within the past few years. To make matters worse, the media has shone a light on corruption within departments throughout the country, highlighting major issues like racial profiling and abuse.
Some blame President Barack Obama for waging a “war on cops” while others blame the media for skewing information to evoke a heated response from the public. However, one of the leading contributions for the continued abuse from a select few in blue is a flawed system, which allows bad officers to continue to serve.
Eddie Boyd III was the officer notorious for both pistol-whipping a 12-year-old girl and striking another child a year later before falsifying a police report. He resigned and was then almost immediately hired by another police department. Shortly thereafter, he transferred to work in Ferguson, Mo., where a fellow officer would fatally shoot Michael Brown despite him being unarmed.
Boyd’s case is unfortunately repeated throughout all 50 states and law enforcement agencies are aware of the problem. However, there has not been any substantial collaboration to create the change necessary to keep all Americans safe.
In Obama’s Task Force report last year, officials stated there needed to be a data partnership between the Justice Department and the International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training in order to weed out all those with cruel intentions or corrupt pasts.
The current database has 21,000 names on a list of officers who dishonored or abused their power, and according to Mike Becar, the group’s executive director, the organization is unable to fully handle the database and needs assistance.
Yet there has been no push for federal assistance to further develop the database. The result? Corrupt officials remain in places of power.
Timothy Loehmann, the Cleveland officer who shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice, had resigned from a police force after a supervisor recommended he be fired, according to the New York Times.
Yet he was still hired in Cleveland, and despite the controversy surrounding Rice’s death, still works for the department with only a slap to the wrist in the form of a delegation to desk duty.
Hector Jimenez, an officer who shot and killed an unarmed man in 2007, was fired and then re-instated. They say if you don’t pay for your mistakes, you never learn from them. That was clearly evidenced by Jimenez because seven months after re-institution, he shot and killed another unarmed man.
The obvious result would be blacklisting Jimenez, however the two-time murderer was rehired and given back pay.
“In Philadelphia, an inquiry was recently completed on 26 cases where police officers were fired from charges ranging from domestic violence to retail theft to excessive force to on-duty intoxication,” according to Forbes.
Shockingly, the Police Advisory Committee undertaking the investigation found that so far 19 of these fired officers have been reinstated.
Without a good database, corrupt officers will continue to be hired, keeping the job from someone who truly wants to serve and protect every citizen of this nation. The public no longer has faith in those claiming to protect them and it’s leading to violence nationwide.
Just look at the violent protests and acts of aggression toward innocent officers.
Tensions are rising and unless something is done soon, those apprehensions could easily boil over. If the government truly cares as much about both law enforcement and its constituents the obvious solution is to provide agencies with a database to weed out corruption.
A database may not keep every officer with malicious intentions off the streets, however it will ensure those with a problematic past can’t repeat their mistakes in a different setting.
Breanne Williams is a senior majoring in mass communications.