When I was young I thought cops were cool. They had a respectable and honorable job to keep people safe and fight crime. Now, I think their tactics are unfair and they abuse their authority. The police should consider the consequences of a generation of young people who want nothing to do with them — distrust, alienation and more crime.
Last May, I was outside my apartment building on my way to the store when two police officers jumped out of an unmarked car and told me to stop and put my hands up against the wall. I complied. Without my permission, they removed my cellphone from my hand, and one of the officers reached into my pockets, and removed my wallet and keys. He looked through my wallet, then handcuffed me. The officers wanted to know if I had just come out of a particular building. No, I told them, I lived next door. …
For young people in my neighborhood, getting stopped and frisked is a rite of passage. We expect the police to jump us at any moment. We know the rules: don’t run and don’t try to explain, because speaking up for yourself might get you arrested or worse. And we all feel the same way — degraded, harassed, violated and criminalized because we’re black or Latino. Have I been stopped more than the average young black person? I don’t know, but I look like a zillion other people on the street. And we’re all just trying to live our lives.
Young, Black and Frisked by the N.Y.P.D. – NYTimes.com. This essay is rightly focused on the profiling problem — and as someone on Twitter pointed out (maybe @binarybits) it’s rather disturbing how many people in the comments take the police’s side on this matter — but I would also note that these anecdotes illustrate the way that cops increasingly are opting for dramatic tactics as a first recourse. Making people stand against a wall to be frisked, ordering them to get on the ground, putting guns to their heads … maybe it would be worthwhile to try talking to people first.