Why Trust in Police Has Been Eroded

imagesThe following article appeared on the Vox website December 10, 2015 and is a fair presentation of the situation in which our nation’s police find themselves whether they work north or south, east or west, or in rural or urban environments.

As we views these troubling videos, those of us who are committed to helping police improve need to ask “What now needs to be done?” The answer and actions that follow will make all the difference in the coming years.

How this vital problem is addressed will mean the difference between having an embattled, militarized police or one that works with the community in building trust and support on a daily basis and is seen to be respectful and controlled in the use of force — especially force which is deadly.


“The past year was enormous for the Black Lives Matter movement’s protest of police brutality, with activists pushing prosecutors across the country to take excessive use of force by police more seriously and, in some cases, file charges against cops. And as Gallup found, public confidence in police has generally declined (my emphasis).

“Behind this trend is one critical factor: video. The proliferation of video through smartphones, dashboard cameras, and body cameras — and social media’s ability to send a video into viral overdrive — has played a major role in holding police accountable, especially this year. At the very least, video has helped weaken the infallibility that seemed to surround police — a sense that allowed officers’ testimony to be viewed as more credible than those who lodged complaints against them (my emphasis).

“‘Before you had complaints, police stories, and witnesses’ stories,’ Athena Mutua, a civil rights scholar at SUNY Buffalo Law School, said. But video, paired with its spread on social media, ‘was important in getting protesters taken seriously.’

Americans' confidence in police is at a 22-year low.
“In the past year, there were several videos that stood out — showing different kinds of use of force that protesters described as excessive, and helping expose the racial disparities in America’s criminal justice system.

For instance, an analysis of the available FBI data by Vox’s Dara Lind found black people accounted for 31 percent of police killing victims in 2012, even though they made up just 13 percent of the US population

police shooting by race

But we’ve known about these statistics for decades. It’s only recently that they got a serious amount of mainstream attention — and, as Mutua explained, video played an enormous role in getting that attention (my emphasis)…


CLICK HERE to view the seven videos that stood out in the past year and contributed greatly to the erosion of trust in our nation’s police.