Most people are afraid of the police, for two reasons.
First, while the vast majority of cops are doing their job in the most fair-minded way they can, there are actual bad cops and it’s very hard for even a well-managed police force to get rid of them. This is because police are almost always unionized and the police unions fight every attempt at firing an officer. Just how bad can an officer be without getting fired? Per USA Today, “Less than 10% of officers in most police forces get investigated for misconduct. Yet some officers are consistently under investigation. Nearly 2,500 have been investigated on 10 or more charges. Twenty faced 100 or more allegations yet kept their badge for years.” Basically once they’re hired, they’re on the force until retirement for better or for worse.
Second, and probably even more importantly, police are put in an impossible situation by ever increasing reams of law. Government at every level passes more law every year, and many of those laws are incredibly intrusive by their nature, particularly laws related to the War on Drugs, which among other things authorizes even the search of a person’s, uh, buttocks (with a warrant, which is often granted).
So what can you do? Other than voting for candidates that are trying to do something about these issues, your best bet is to at least know some basic rules for dealing with the police. The videos below were selected for that purpose.
The organization Flex Your Rights is probably the best source on this, with a large number of authoritative online videos on this subject. Here are a couple of the better ones that they offer.
Comedian Chris Rock offered this very practical advice in a short skit.
This advice is a bit more controversial, as not talking at all to the police as suggested might invite trouble, but with 12 million YouTube views it’s certainly a popular angle.