sfbayview.com imageAnother incident in a long trend of what can only be called police brutality. A diabetic Texas teenager was tasered twice by an officer after going into insulin shock and crashing his car. The reason for the tasering was that he was unable to obey the officer’s orders.

Stories like this seem to have become the norm with incidents of over-use of force being reported and constantly caught on camera. This as more and more departments are shamed by evidence and conviction, in some cases, of pedophilia, drug-dealing or even cannibalism as in a recent case.

The question being, what is happening with the policy makers and power structure that allows for this kind of trend to occur? For example: the Secret Service agent, Hector Cuellar, who was charged with sexual assault of a minor. If he is found guilty then one has to wonder how someone with that psychology is recruited to a high-up security agency and climbs the ranks enough to be assigned to the Vice President’s residence.

Not all law enforcement professionals are corrupt, most are decent people, but how did an element of thuggish criminality find its way into our institution of ‘serve and protect’. Combined with the emerging fact that many people in these positions don’t understand basic medical emergencies and we have situations that have proved deadly for too many over the months and years. Citizens with and without medical conditions dying in police custody or during police detainment.

There has been a rumor that some departments have a max I.Q. policy where candidates would not be hired unless they had an I.Q. lower than 100 points, for example. This story is unconfirmed, but it would help explain the ignorance being displayed by members of these departments. In the case of the Texas teenager certain officers will have to watch a 20-minute training video on diabetes. Will videos be enough when blind men are being tasered for having a walking stick and people having seizures are being electrocuted? As Jerry Murad, the attorney of the Texas teen said, “Instead of getting medical treatment, he was shot by a taser.”

John Darley’s Bystander Effect could somehow be linked to this phenomenon. Referring to the murder of Kitty Genovese in 1964, where it came out that 38 people witnessed the crime and did nothing, he said:

Preachers, professors, and news commentators sought the reasons for such apparently conscienceless and inhumane lack of intervention. Their conclusions ranged from “moral decay,” to “dehumanization produced by the urban environment,” to “alienation,” “anomie,” and “existential despair.” An analysis of the situation, however, suggests that factors other than apathy and indifference were involved.

Is there a moral decay, an apathy effect at work in our major institutions and society at large?






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