Police Controversy Stirs Discussion at Big Spring: Opposing view points


Jenna Brobst, Reporter

Necessary Force:

There is a lot of bad press going around the United States concerning the police force in recent months. The media has been covering cases concerning police related shootings and events with closer scrutiny and the public has been mostly divided because of the conflict. One side claims that police brutality is at an all time high while the other defends the use of necessary force by police. One such case is that of Officer Ben Fields in South Carolina. Fields made national headlines last month because of a cell phone video that shows him in a classroom turning  a desk containing a student on its side and then pulling the student to the floor and arresting her. This video made it to the media and has fanned the flames of the divide.

Even closer to home, Officer Lisa Mearkel from the Hummelstown Police Department was charged with third-degree murder and voluntary and involuntary manslaughter after fatally shooting an unarmed man who had run from Mearkel during a traffic stop. Mearkel was acquitted of all charges, but told NBC News Reporters that “This has taken a toll on me that nobody understands.”

In today’s society, police officers are held to a higher standard than everyday citizens. However, because of this high standard, every move and decision that is made by officers of the law are highly scrutinized. Since the creation of the Police Force, there have been justified shootings by officers. Sadly, in this day and age, if there is an officer related shooting, the officer is usually taken into custody and charged with some degree of a homicide charge.

The fact that officers are being punished for following procedure and trying to serve and protect, as the oath they swore to uphold says, is absurd. The generations of today are brought up with little respect for police officers and for other humans in general. They believe that they are owed something from the world and that they are above the law.

Junior Taylor Henry agrees saying that, “People think that cops are jokes” and that “people just don’t respect cops.” Concerning the case of Fields, Henry said that she believed that the student involved had plenty of opportunity to listen to the officer. She stands by her belief that Fields was right in what he did, rightfully so.

It is time that people in the United States started learning respect and realize that it is not all about them. The police force of the United States is here to protect and serve the people in their communities and unless those communities rally behind their officer, said officers will not be able to do their job. Because how are they supposed to protect the public, when they need to worry about protecting themselves.


Police Brutality:

Recently many videos have been released showing police “brutality”, some of which are justified and the officer had to react quickly in order to protect themselves.  Then there’s the very well known videos such as the student who was flipped over and thrown on the floor while sitting at her desk, and the video of Zachary Hammond’s death.  For incidents such as these, there is no justifying what the officer did. He was not forced to make a quick decision, he was not required to use that much force, and they were not life or death scenarios, for the officer at least.  

One such video was the video of the South Carolina girl being flipped over while in her desk.  Yes, this girl refused to leave the classroom, and yes she was being insubordinate.  However, this is not reason to treat her in the manner that she was treated.  These police officers are trained to deal with situations where such as these where someone is resisting, it goes along with the job.  If this is how the officer treats every person that resists, then this officer should not have been assigned to a school.

There is also the video of the fatal shooting of Zachary Hammond who was shot in the shoulder and back of the neck while trying to flee in his car.  Again, he was disobeying the law and resisting arrest, and this may have been a scenario where the officer did have to make a quick decision and those who attempt to say this shooting was completely justified say he should have obeyed the law.  However, police officers’ jobs are not to deal with the law- abiding citizen; they deal with those who break the law and those who try to run on a daily basis.  An officer should not and cannot be allowed to preside as judge, jury and executioner over every man that tries to get away.

This problem needs to be addressed, officer training needs to be revised and should be updated to incorporate more taser usage, and they should be well versed in their takedowns and at the very least be taught to restrain themselves.  While not every scenario is the same and sometimes an officer will make a mistake, some displays of force are unnecessary and inexcusable.