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Despite improved police transparency, change is still needed

Police brutality has completely saturated the news recently. Videos of police brutality aren’t just making it to watchdog websites anymore but are receiving national attention.

I have mixed emotions about these situations. I worry about the fact that most of these brave men and women are risking their lives for us every day to keep us safe, and that they might be afraid to exercise the law when they need to most. It won’t be long before we start realizing that this increased scrutiny, bordering on outright hatred, creates another problem for law enforcement. I fear that we will get to the point in society where we will diminish the effectiveness of our police force. The only thing I can see happening if we can’t allow our police to do their jobs without constant fear is a major increase in crime across the board. You can’t be a cop if you’re constantly afraid to do your job.

On the other hand, it’s about time cops were held to the same standard as regular citizens.

It’s about time cops were held accountable for all their actions, too.

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Nobody thinks police should be above the law, including most police, believe it or not. A cop who breaks the law should have to face the same issues anyone else would if they had broken the law. Police officers should be held to a higher standard in fact because they should know the law. Police brutality is a problem, and I am glad the media is focusing on it. The addition of body cameras and higher transparency of many police departments has been a welcome addition to the police-citizen relationship.

The major upside to these recent incidents and the attention they’re garnering is that police are finally embracing transparency.

I remember when high-ranking police officials would utter the same line: “We can’t comment on an ongoing investigation.” And that was generally the end of the conference.

Today, we’re seeing chiefs and commissioners come out to release videos and exact details of incidents that garner attention. We are seeing police departments spending money on body cameras and community outreach, instead of quasi-tanks and assault rifles.

The bottom line for me is that we should hold police accountable, but we shouldn’t jump to conclusions. We should give police the same benefits we want them to afford us. Police deserve a fair trial and police also deserve to be safe and do their jobs unobstructed. However, when they are found in the wrong,  they should be sent to prison the same as you or I would.

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