It all started on February 26, 2012 when a brutal police shooting made the airwaves and took the nation by storm. A 17-year-old African American boy from Sanford, Florida was shot to death by a neighborhood watchman, George Zimmerman. Ever since, there has been an influx of social media outlets and news outlets reporting on stores about various police shooting crimes that have happened ever since Trayvon Martin's case. Now in, 2016, there is still an uproar about these shootings and many questions and concerns about why they're happening. These senseless shootings have been creating a divide between the public and law enforcement and many wonder if the culture of law enforcement is heading towards the wrong direction. Even our very own President, Barack Obama has come forward to help us realize that Travyvon Martin could have been him thirty-five (35) years ago and reminds us that we must work on these issues and those in authority should be doing their best to provide a safe environment and community for the citizens instead of creating racial divides (Holder, 2013).
When we turn on the television, what we usually see is a story about another brutal police shooting or police attacking another citizen. The media does not portray law enforcement to be in favor of their communities and instead, law enforcement professionals are portrayed as dirty, bias, heartless men who are taking advantage of their positions and power. The media has helped create a racial divide with the titles of their articles and only reporting on incidents where a White police officer shoots an unarmed Black individual. It is never the other way around. Portraying law enforcement officers in a negative light in the media can obviously affect our perception of them. Community residents lose trust of the police officers, discourage cooperation regarding police investigations, and more. It can also cause officers to become very skeptical toward the public (McNeely & Grothoff, 2015). It doesn't help that the internet plays a major role in how law enforcement professional destroys and saves their reputation, as well as the reputation of the organization that they work for. There have been many cases where certain comments were posted online by officers and in return, they faced disciplinary actions (Waters, 2012). Media is extremely advanced and there are people who put their own investigating skills to work to prove that police officers aren't who they say they are; bringing up many comments they've made long before they became officers or known to the public. Everyone is made to believe that social media websites such as Facebook or Twitter are private but once those comments are out there, there is no turning back from it. Social media just isn't as private as everyone thinks it is. Once something is on the internet, it stays there forever.
Goals of the media and law enforcement
The goal of the media reporting on police brutality should be to make everyone aware of what is going on in our country but instead they are intentionally making attempts to sabotage law enforcement, as well as the victims, with their reporting styles. This is problematic because it is not effective and doesn't help improve the public's perspective of police officers. The goal of law enforcement is to protect every citizen the best way they can and as much as they can. However, it seems like we've coddled a lot of criminals who do attack police officers but we scrutinize the officers when they fight back and that seems to be the only part that is shown whenever a new police case hits the news outlets.
Terrorists and transportation
Terrorists usually attack on U.S. subway systems or buses and they'd set off bombs. Transportation is a very easy target for terrorists because there are many people traveling at the same time and they would provide greater destruction (Chakravarthi, 2006). For example, the Mumbai Train Attacks which happened on July 11, 2006 and seven bombs went off over a period of eleven (11) minutes on the Suburban Railway. Two hundred people were killed and over eight hundred were injured (BBC, 2015). Terrorists enjoy putting individuals in situation where they cannot escape easily or at all. There's also a great amount of money that is going towards mass transit and terrorists like to attack where financial buildings and systems are.
The police shootings haven't stopped but thanks to Facebook, there are many police officers and other law enforcement professional coming forward to tell us that all police officers aren't the same and to not fall for what we see in the media because the media will always try to bring out the negative in any story. There have been a few pictures, videos, and articles being shared with police officers doing the right thing in their communities. For example, Officer Lawrence DePrimo bought boots for a homeless in Times Square (Goodman, 2012) and the story melted the hearts of many. However, many concluded that the NYPD (New York Police Department) was just trying to save face. Overall, it is believed when it comes to law enforcement professionals and security forces, it's damned if they and damned if they don't. As long as the media exists and as long as technology keeps improving, those working for the criminal justice system will have to try their best to save their reputations.
McNeeley, S. & Grothoff, G. (2015). A multilevel examination of the relationship between racial
tension and attitudes toward the police. American Journal of Criminal Justice, 1-19. doi: 10.1007/s12103-015-9318-2
Waters, G. (2012). Social media and law enforcement. FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, 81(11), 1-
Obama, B. (2013). Travyon martin could have been me 35 years ago. Vital Speeches of the Day,
(2015). Mumbai train blasts: death for five for 2006 bombings. Retrieved from
Goodman, J. D. (2012). Photo of officer giving boots to barefoot man warms hearts online.
Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/29/nyregion/photo-of-officer-giving-boots-to-barefoot-man-warms-hearts-online.html