The Four Obstacles

images (3)THE FOUR OBSTACLES WHICH HAVED TENDED TO ARREST OUR NATION’S POLICE

[An excerpt from the preface of the book Arrested Development: A Veteran Police Chief Sounds Off About Protest, Racism, Corruption and the Seven Steps Necessary to Improve Our Nation’s Police, by David C. Couper]

“My vision for police is that they can be fair, effective and humanitarian. They can protect our civil rights, work with a variety of people, and take arrested persons into custody with a minimum amount of force. This may differ quite radically from what you may think police should do.

“So, what kind of police officer am I talking about? This is what I told citizens who sat on our police selection boards when they asked me that question. Most people don’t have a clue about police other than what they have seen on television and in the movies.

“I asked them to imagine this scenario: it’s after midnight. You are at home waiting for your teenage daughter to return from a date. It’s now well past her curfew time. You are thinking about calling the police to report her missing when suddenly she bursts through the front door. She is crying and looks terrible. You notice her blouse has been torn and she has red marks on her face. Your worst fears now have been realized. She has been raped! Now think about the kind of police officer you would like to come into your home and talk with you and your daughter about what happened. That’s also the kind of man or woman I would like on the police department.

“Five years ago, when I started writing this book, there wasn’t much progress going on in policing. It seemed that police were once again in a rut left by that fateful day on September, 11, 2001. That day changed just about everything in policing. It changed our nation’s police for the worst as they lost their essential role to protect their citizens and their rights. Rather, they became caught up in “homeland security,” outfitted themselves in robot-like body armor, and procured the latest chemical agents and military equipment.

“These technological advancements were not only to have been used to control violent people who resist arrest but also those who were not. Often they are used to punish those who are merely voicing what they think was wrong about our government and its policies—a right guaranteed by our Constitution. What many of us see is a slow but steady shift of our nation’s police toward militarization. In 2011, it was most evident in how many police departments responded to the Occupy Wall Street Movement.

“Today, I can look back over a half-century of experience working closely with people. I see police continuing to struggle with four recurring and major obstacles which have literally “arrested” their development:

  • Anti-intellectualism.
  • Violence.
  • Corruption.
  • Discourtesy.

“Quite frankly, if these obstacles aren’t overcome, we are going to experience serious trouble controlling our police. In this book, I specifically identify what’s wrong with police today. I also provide an overview of police  history and my time in Madison. I believe police can change and I provide seven absolutely necessary steps that they need to take in order to improve. And then I’ll tell you about one of the most critical things police do in a free society and how police can do it better – the handling of public protest.”

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