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< Back to question What is the role of the police in America? Show more Show less

The American police force has the capacity to do most anything, but there is currently much controversy about what exactly they should be doing. Given the police’s almost boundless authority, defining their job is imperative to maintaining our constitutional rights while keeping everyone as safe as possible.

To hurt people & ruin lives Show more Show less

The police serve no purpose other than perpetuating a system of brutality and oppression.
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To bully and boost their egos

The police in America only serve themselves. Rather than protect the public, they protect themselves and hide their unethical behavior behind a veil of silence.
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Proponents


Context

With almost 1% of Americans in prison, we are at a critical juncture in terms of how to define our correctional system [1]. Should it expand, remain as is, or be reformed? There are people on all sides of the debate, but reaching a consensus is important so as to implement cohesive, effective policy regarding prisons and the police.

The Argument

The police today are seen as enforcers rather than as the protectors they were in the past. Public trust and confidence in the police has been decreasing for over twenty years [2]. We see evidence of police brutality and corruption on the news every day. The police have little accountability, and protect each other when they do wrong. They are an officially sanctioned gang – no different from the ones they try to disband. It’s unsurprising that community-police relations are so poor when new officers spend twice as much time learning to shoot as they do how to actually do their jobs. A good police officer should only rarely have to use their gun. The police in America today seem to have forgotten this[2]. The police in America do little other than collect their salary, and drive around harassing and intimidating people. Stop-and-frisks are the norm in some urban areas, and the police have no qualms about exercising their ability to do that. They don’t care about protecting anyone or keeping the public safe because they’re more concerned with the number of arrests they’ve made and if it’s enough for their boss. As if this wasn’t enough to prove that the police have no real role in America other than to be a vigilante unit. Fewer police officers doesn’t equal more crime because police officers don’t do very much [3]. The police face no penalties if they don’t do their job – protecting people. Several police officers who did not save children in a school shooting were not penalized for their inaction [4]. This means that the police police in name only. They only have to do what they want, and then get all the glory and valor but never the criticism and punishment. The police’s role in America may be to police, but there aren’t many police officers who are currently doing that. Until that changes, the role of the police is that of uniformed bullies.

Counter arguments

The police ought to be enforcers. Their job is to stop crime, which entails enforcing laws. The police don’t need to protect anyone from vandalism, but they do need to enforce its illegality by arresting graffiti artists. The fact that we hear about police brutality on the news doesn’t mean it’s the norm. It’s just that the most heinous and egregious actions of the police are the only ones that make the news. No one ever mentions how many crimes they’ve solved or people they’ve helped. Furthermore, the police absolutely have to protect people. There was one court case where the judge decided that the officers shouldn’t be convicted of a crime because they did their best to manage a school shooting without getting themselves slaughtered. Despite the tragic story explained above, the police do a lot of policing in America. Maybe people would realize they weren’t bullies if they remembered they were people too. The police often bully because so many people are so openly hostile to them. They’re only bullies when people force them to be, because sometimes bullying is necessary to maintain control of a situation and exercise their authority. However, this is not their primary role. Saying that bullying is their role is an overgeneralization.

Premises

Rejecting the premises


References

  1. https://www.prisonpolicy.org/blog/2020/01/16/percent-incarcerated/
  2. https://www.charleskochinstitute.org/issue-areas/criminal-justice-policing-reform/role-of-police-in-america/
  3. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/investigations/2019/02/13/marshall-project-more-cops-dont-mean-less-crime-experts-say/2818056002/
  4. https://mises.org/power-market/police-have-no-duty-protect-you-federal-court-affirms-yet-again

This page was last edited on Sunday, 9 Aug 2020 at 22:01 UTC

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