5 Reasons police lose control and kill

5 Reasons police lose control and kill

5 Reasons police lose control and kill

In the same week, we saw it on video, Walter Scott, an unarmed black man in SC fleeing was shot in the back and killed by a policeman, and in CA, Francis Pusok, a white man stealing a horse was beaten, kicked and punched by a total of 11 (white and black) County Sheriffs while he lay flat on the ground on his stomach.

What we are seeing on video is multiple examples of excessive force, brutality and homicide by law enforcement officers – trained people who swore to uphold the law and to protect and serve the innocent.

Since as far back as 1972, it has been commonly believed that “the typical policeman is cynical, suspicious, conservative, and thoroughly bigoted.” However, in all the studies conducted in over six decades and across 3 continents, there is no definitive police personality profile that has ever been identified.

So how do we explain without condoning violent police behavior – excessive force, shootings, beatings and killings?

1. Inadequate psychological screening – The existing psychological screening test for candidates for law enforcement focuses on the type of candidates that should be excluded rather than giving equal focus to the type of candidates that should be included.

2. Tainted working personality – We often forget or ignore what police actually experience and witness daily on the job and how that trauma changes their natural personality and view of the world: rape, parents abusing their children, murder, torture, suicide, dead bodies, human misery, and people being extraordinarily cruel to each other. The result is a tainted working personality of an officer who is now distrustful of outsiders, cynical, conservative (i.e. resistant to change), suspicious, pessimistic, pragmatic, prejudicial, and isolated.

 Click on play button below to listen to Patrick Wanis on KTAR News explaining the reasons people become law enforcement officers and why police lose control and kill

3. Stress, PTSD and brain functioning – In order to be able to handle the trauma of police work, officers dissociate and shut down their emotions, and often are unable to express emotions other than anger and rage. They need training in Emotional Intelligence.The stress of law enforcement also results in psychological problems – PTSD and neurological loss of emotional control. In 2012, a study of 464 police offers over a period of 5 years linked officers’ stress with increased levels of sleep disorders, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, brain cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and suicide. Almost 1 in 5 active duty police have PTSD.MRIs of police officers’ brains revealed a link between experiencing trauma and shrinking of the prefrontal cortex which controls emotional and cognitive decision-making, memory, fear, and stress regulation.

4. Refusal to ask for help – In the same study of 464 officers, it was also revealed that the police culture expects that they be superhuman and thus they fear asking for help if they suffer from a chronic disease or health problem because they can lose financial status, professional reputation or both.

5. Corruption of power – In 1887, Lord Acton wrote: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” We see the same principle in action with politicians, CEOs, priests and other people who hold positions of power – unless they are able to monitor and manage their own behavior, the temptation and seductiveness of the advantages gained from exerting unchecked power take over and corrupt once good men and women.

Finally, there can be no justification for the violence such as the 11 officers (black and white) beating, kicking and punching a white suspect while he is on the ground and not moving. The solution to preventing more cases of police brutality is to enhance candidate screening, create new training program to assist officers to handle stress and emotions and to have greater checks in place to prevent the ‘incrementalism’ of police misconduct.

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