Revision needed on guns as answer to conflict resolution

The police don’t always get the best press.

In movies and TV shows, they are portrayed as highly overbearing, sometimes idiotic, useless and aggressive individuals blinded to the needs of others by their position of privilege or their own bureaucratic agenda.

They almost always deter progress rather than promoting it, and are often used as the punch line of a joke.

But in some cases, how the police are portrayed in the media is far too real.

Police brutality is something so ingrained in modern culture that we have become desensitized to it.

To see an accidental shooting or peaceful protest gone awry at the hands of a police officer in the news isn’t too far out of the ordinary, and continues to be a prominent issue in the United States.

Just last month, near the end of March, a man camping illegally in the foothills of Albuquerque was approached and shot dead by the Albuquerque Police Department, a department that has a reputation for being particularly ruthless.

On March 30th an initially peaceful civilian rally protesting the shooting turned chaotic after the police decided to disperse the crowd using tear gas.

The city is in an uproar about the lack of security their police force offers them, and is only one example of the many police brutalities that occur daily in the United States.

Even if police brutality cannot be found in all cities in the U.S., there is nonetheless a prominent disconnect between the civilian and police population in America.

Junior Alaina Davis reflects on her life growing up and the relationship she had with the police in her neighborhood.

“I grew up in a rather safe area, and the police were more a means of law enforcement rather than a group protecting civilians from harm. Persecuting people was the top priority and eclipsed their dedication to the city’s wellbeing.”

This kind of mentality transforms police officers from civil servants to vigilantes.

It is possible to have a police force that resolves conflict without violence.

For example, Japanese police are a model for peaceful conflict resolution.

It should be noted that gun violence in Japan in general results, on average, fewer than 50 cases a year.

This is extremely different compared with the U.S., where in 2008 there were over twelve thousand firearm-related homicide cases.

This difference lies in the accessibility of guns, which are largely illegal in Japan.

This trend, however, carries over into Japanese Police departments where gun use is most definitely allowed.

In Japan, however, there is a very strong emphasis on guns as a last resort.

Police officers receive more hours of gun training compared to their American counterparts, but are also trained in different martial arts to prevent them from first drawing their guns in a time of crisis.

Even though Japan is a much smaller country than the United States, our police force could learn a lot from their example.

But of course, what works for Japan, or any other country, might not work in America.

The American attitude towards brutality and ‘necessary’ violence is very difficult to define, but certain police behaviors that are decidedly legal in the U.S. would be considered illegal in Japan.

In some ways the Japanese government is much stricter than the American government, but it is also more effective at protecting its people from police-related violence.

For example, Japanese police officers are given guns to use while on duty, but it is quite common for an officer to leave it in the station while they go on rounds.

This protects Japanese citizens from police officers who react hastily, that might have otherwise misfired and hurt a civilian.

This example is tenuous however, since the decision to leave a gun behind is made by the officer and American police officers are stuck in the mindset that guns and violence are required to solve conflict.

Gun violence is a prime example of unnecessary police brutality.

Because we live in a culture that is accustomed to violence, it is expected that police officers carry a gun.

It is never questioned whether guns should be allowed as a tool utilized by the police.

Claire Grubb, a senior, argues that the mentality of a small but significant portion of U.S. citizens would not be swayed even if stricter gun control laws were enacted, due to the American conception that guns protect people.

“People love the second amendment, it is heavily rooted in our country’s history. However, the founding fathers wrote the second amendment in a time that was very different from our own when land owners needed to protect themselves from roaming militias,” Grubb said.

Because of this past mentality, people still believe that guns are necessary to protect.

Guns in the police force are here to stay, and it is important to seek alternative methods that will not only lower the amount of gun-related casualties but also will also satisfy the American people and change the way we think about violence.

Instead of thinking of violence as a necessary evil to protect people, it should be considered a last resort after all other avenues have been explored.

We need to be more vocal about what we can do to hold officers accountable for their actions, and what officers can do to gain the trust of the people they are supposed to protect.

I think by following the Japanese model of an almost anti-artillerist protection, the U.S. could not only change the mentality of many police officers, but could also lead to the creation of a more ethically oriented, highly skilled police force.

There have been programs created to pursuing these ends; for example in some states it is required by law to install cameras on police uniforms during duty to increase accountability.

Overall, America has become hyper-aware of violence perpetrated by police officers, and because of this awareness U.S. civilians can have a say in making their cities a safer place.