Hellman: Police officers expect praise, we expect justice

Columnist Megan Hellman believes in harsher repercussions for police officers and disapproves of praising police departments. 

Megan Hellman

As police brutality is escalating, or the awareness of it is, more and more videos are surfacing of violent officers being applauded by colleagues and white community members, as well as officers voicing their objections to police department reformation.

Officers that unnecessarily abuse protesters under the protection of their badge are more than cowards, they are criminals. It does not matter whether you agree with the protesters’ viewpoints, police brutality is a crime. To let your own biases and prejudices obscure that fact is also a crime. 

For too long, police officers have been allowed and encouraged to commit crimes, knowing their badge relieves them of prosecution. That is an abuse of power and a threat to American lives. Frankly, it is disgusting to see upholders of the law deliberately break the law and receive applause for doing so. Any way you look at it, applauding criminals only encourages crime. 

It also does not matter if you have had positive experiences with police officers (which may be due to the privileges associated with your skin color). Positive experiences should not and cannot cover up the collective illegal racism and police brutality thriving in our country. It is not about one officer’s positive action canceling out the negative action of another. 

If an officer breaks the law, the repercussions should be more severe than that of a civilian. Otherwise, our policies create opportunities for police brutality and abuse of power, both of which are currently being exposed nationwide. 

I believe those who applaud the unjust and illegal actions of police officers are closing their eyes to the truth. They do not want to see the rampant corruption and racism against terrorizing people of color and their supporters, so they choose to look away. They choose to contribute to the problem by praising the antagonists. Applauding criminal officers is ignorant and ignorance breeds violence.

After watching another recent video, I would like to thank this New York Police Department officer for spotlighting the ignorance and expectancy of praise within American police departments. He becomes increasingly upset that “everybody’s trying to shame us [police officers].” He insists that police badges aren’t stained with racism and brutality, then demands, “stop treating us like animals and thugs. Start treating us with some respect [… ] It’s disgusting.” 

That video is the vocal equivalent of police brutality. Officers are now using their position to reestablish their demand for appraisal for blatantly breaking the law, assaulting citizens and targeting people of color. 

It is difficult to think about the disparities here. Thankfully, an edit to the original video expresses how twisted, immature and disgusting it is for officers to demand respect and praise when they have been treating Black and brown Americans like “animals and thugs” for centuries. Regardless of your personal values and beliefs, I implore you to watch and witness what I cannot put into words.

To put it bluntly, officers should be humiliated by their collective racist actions and roots instead of using their influence to beg for more gratitude and praise from legislators, media and the public. Exposure of discrimination, police brutality and lack of legal prosecution are only increasing with each day. The movement for justice will not be silenced by police officers becoming upset that the public demands accountability for their unlawful and discriminatory actions. Nor will the movement stand for the continual appraisal of inhumane police officers, which only encourage crimes against people of color.