Following the Ferguson riots over teenager Michael Brown’s death in 2014 and the subsequent outrage over police brutality in the media and on social media in the past couple of years, men and women in blue across the nation have faced an eruption of hate.
While some find validation in the cases of similar occurrences since the Ferguson incident and have even posted hashtags and jokes online about the police, Chicago police officer of 25 years Dennis Liss finds little about the situation amusing.
“Most accusations stem from people who believe that they were unfairly treated,” Liss said. “When citizens don’t comply with directions, the officers are forced to take matters to the level that is necessary to effect an arrest or provide lawful police service.”
According to studies done by the Chicago Tribune, there have been 1,128 shootings in the city from Jan. 1 to May 1, 2016. Only three of these shootings have involved police officers. The number of shootings involving police has substantially decreased in the past few years with a decrease of 40% from 2014 to 2015.
Advocates of police reform and gun-control often site Chicago as source of contention in the debate. To Liss, one of the best precautionary acts is the use of body cameras to alleviate complaints of citizens and let the police do their jobs effectively.
In regards to actual violence perpetrated by police officers on civilians, Liss noted that it is a rare occurrence and is dealt with by the department.
“Honestly, in 25 years of service, I have only observed reactions to actions of offenders which I considered justified. I have heard of only a couple injustices to citizens that were addressed by the department, resulting in disciplinary actions against the officers,” Liss said.
“I think the police are often vilified, but it does also focus down on one the issues in some areas,” junior Ian Warrington said.
Videos of police-involved shootings have gone viral online and are found easily on networking sites like Facebook and Instagram.
“The media is looking for viewers and keeping the public attention,” Liss said. “The media never tells the whole story. The media creates hatred against the police.”
“There’s a little validity behind it, but since it’s the media, they highlight the bad things,” sophomore Will Warszewik said. “They should use violent police officer’s actions as an example without humiliating them.”
The debate on police violence, particularly in cities with crime rates as high as Chicago’s, doesn’t appear to be one that will die down any time soon, but it does offer differing perspectives to be studied and thought about by citizens, so they can make stances and offer solutions to one of the most pressing national issues of today.