Police work is a double-edged sword. We entrust these men and women to take care of us in the face of adversity, all the while on the turn of a dime they themselves could become our adversarial foes. The catalyst to being friend or foe is the human element.
Given the right circumstances, police are compassionate heroes. Given the wrong circumstances, police are the devil incarnate. Most tend toward keeping their wits about them in all circumstances, but there are an inordinate number who reveal their Mr. Hyde when their Dr. Jekyll would be better suited. That’s where personality most likely plays a role.
It’s more than likely that those police who give in to their baser instincts have an underlying defect with respect to their being suitable for the job. Perhaps there’s a tendency towards bullying. Or maybe they had themselves been victims of bullying…in the home, at school, in the workplace. It might be that they served in the military and are therefore predisposed to pulling the trigger, and asking questions later. Worse case scenario is that they are prejudiced toward people different from themselves.
Sometimes in the heat of the moment, police can simply lose control and go absolutely berserk. I often think about this when I remember the lickings my mom would give when I was a child.
One time in particular when she, a 200 pound woman, lunged at my teenage brother. With both hands around his throat, I thought she was going to choke him to death. I remember screaming for her to stop. She finally did, I guess realizing she was going too far. Whether my brother had done something so heinous which drove my mom over the edge, or whether he sassed her back…I don’t remember. What remains permanently carved into my memory is my brother struggling to get out from under the full weight of my mom as she lay on top of him across the bed, her hands squeezing the breath out of him.
My mom’s church-going friends, even the pastor himself, never, ever saw this side of my mom. Her Mr. Hyde. Only her children witnessed the ugly side of an otherwise upstanding, law-abiding, religious citizen. And we all kept her secret from the world beyond our front door. What else could we do? We were too scared to tell.
Police are human. Sometimes they can be scary humans. How do we prevent their Mr. Hydes from taking over…