Letter: We need better police training, more respect for each other

Posted 9/10/20

“Can we all just get along?” This quote was uttered by Rodney King after several days of death and destruction amid the 1992 Los Angeles riots. All of this chaos was precipitated by a …

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Letter: We need better police training, more respect for each other

Posted

“Can we all just get along?” This quote was uttered by Rodney King after several days of death and destruction amid the 1992 Los Angeles riots. All of this chaos was precipitated by a video of him being cruelly beaten by police. 

Mr. King was not a stranger to law enforcement in the L.A. area. He was well known for his past misdeeds, and he was also known as a physically big man. When the police stopped to arrest him that night, he apparently resisted arrest. The job of police officers is to police and not be judge and jury. But because of their frustration and lack of training as police officers, it led to the brutal and savage beating of Mr. King. And if it wasn’t caught on tape, his beating would’ve never been known.

One of the reasons that law enforcement personnel are sometimes frustrated with their profession is that they are placed in danger while apprehending a suspect that they witnessed committing a crime. The suspects are taken into custody and eventually seen by a judge. Sometimes the case is thrown out of court on a technicality. If this happens again and again, you can plainly see the anguish that police officers face.  

The second reason for failures of some of the police departments nationwide is that they are not properly trained. Case in point, when Rodney King was being arrested, no more than two officers should’ve controlled Mr. King with minimal bodily harm. I say this through experience. I was trained in JiuJjutsu for 18 years.

Having been trained in the art of self-defense with police officers, state troopers and prison guards, on their own time, you learn how to defend yourself, but especially learn how to control a situation without any unnecessary force on an individual. The “perfect storm” for police officers are when in the process of performing their duty, while apprehending a suspect, they become angry, afraid and frustrated. You throw in some form of prejudice towards the suspect and add that with poor training, and bad outcomes ensue.

It is well documented that people of color have been signaled out by the law-enforcement community for generations. The amount of police brutality that has been documented to minority individuals in the past few months has been largely because of the amount of smart phones that seemingly everyone has. Without them, many police brutality charges would go unnoticed.

I applaud the Black Lives Matter movement. However, I despise those individuals who take advantage of the protests around the country by wreaking havoc on local businesses by looting and by destroying property.

In conclusion, the need for police departments around our country to make sure that their officers are properly trained in tactics and public relations is crucial to diffuse unnecessary problems in the future. But we as a society also need to improve our respect for one another by trying to understand our preconceived notions that we have.

Can we all just get along?

Gerry Payette
Bristol

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.