I'm really glad my husband doesn't work for that department. I'm not saying that our department doesn't have it's own problems, I'm sure it probably does. But all of the negative media attention surrounding APD sways public opinion and sure must make things hard on those officers. I wonder how many times officers receive comments in reference to the recent events during their normal course of duty.
In most instances of use of force by police I fall squarely on the side of the police. These officers' first duty is to make it home to their family and they need to do whatever is necessary to make that happen. However, there may have been some questionable instances involving APD recently. I maintain that I do not have all the information pertaining to those instances, and very few people do. All I know is what has been put out by the media. I maintain objectivity and am open-minded to change my mind given more information. But that's not the point. Police are held to a perfect standard by the people they serve. This is rightly so since mistakes on their part can have dire consequences. It's comparable to the standard held to doctors and surgeons: people's lives can be on the line with the littlest mistake. But doctors, surgeons, and police officers are human and are susceptible to imperfections just like the rest of us.
It's impossible to police a city the size of ABQ without a substantial number of police officers. In order to get the number, standards have been lowered. Some people are carrying a badge and a gun around ABQ who probably should never have been hired in the first place. With less-than-qualified police, they are unable to respond appropriately. Without the numbers, they are unable to respond appropriately. So, instead of lowering standards, how about raising incentives for people to choose law enforcement as a career? Our police officers, the good ones, are underpaid for the work they are expected to do. How are you going to hold a man to the standard of a surgeon when you treat him like much less?
There are plenty of incidents to site, but the one that seems to have been the catalyst for the sudden call to action is James Boyd. All I know of James Boyd is what has been portrayed on the news. I don't know why he was so upset, or what he wanted. I don't even know if police ever asked him what he wanted. He was obviously in need of something. I know he was mentally ill, which makes him more difficult to deal with as he may not have responded to rational requests. I don't know if any of the police officers asked him what he wanted. Police wanted him out of the area because he was illegally camping. Did they offer to take him to a shelter? Did they ask him if he had family and if they could call someone to come get him? Maybe he had warrants and needed to be arrested, but for deescalation purposes just removing him from the area would have been sufficient for the time being. Did they offer him a sandwich or a blanket? Did they try anything to distract him from his knives and his purpose? I don't know the answer to any of those questions. Maybe they did all of that. I maintain that I do not know the whole story and cannot, in good conscience, condemn the actions of the police unless I do know the whole story, but these are questions that I'd like to know the answer to.
Yes, there are bad cops out there. There are cops who are incapable of handling the pressure and they make bad decisions, but most of them are hardworking, honest, loyal, upstanding enforcers of the law. But they are all painted with the same brush when we highlight the mistakes of a few. Are we throwing out the whole bushel for one bad apple?
APD is working on some major changes. I hope the media covers APD's success as they implement those changes as thoroughly as they have covered all of the negativity surrounding these incidents. And know, please, that for each incident you see where a police officer has made a mistake, a dozen others have gone above and beyond to help someone in need. Hundreds of others have deescalated situations which could have gone just as badly. Thousands of others have kept the peace, interacting with the public in a peaceful and professional manner.
Support those who are defending you.