Studying criminal justice in a time of social unrest

Emily Dvareckas, Photo Editor

It has taken a while to write this opinion piece. I have so many opinions that change with each day. As I take in the changes, I have been trying to better understand how I feel, especially as I am a student in the School of Justice Studies in both forensic science and criminal justice.

As much as I respect law enforcement officers and have had pleasant interactions with law enforcement through my classes at RWU, I see problems. When I first heard the phrase “All Cops are Bastards,” I was taken aback. I didn’t understand how people could confidently believe that each of the hundreds of thousands of law enforcement officers are bad people.

I felt as if I was biased. I had never had a bad interaction with a cop. I’ve never been pulled over and harassed because of the color of my skin and I haven’t seen the violence that has swept our nation. So I wanted to educate myself. I asked what does “ACAB” really mean? Then I learned and I understood and I began to see where I agree. I’ve seen the injustice on the news, the absurd number of unarmed black men being murdered by the police and I start to think if I’m going into the right field of work.

I chose my career path because I want to help people, all people. When I look at the news, I see officers disrespecting their badge and disregarding their duty to protect and to serve their communities. I see this and wonder why I would want to be affiliated with that. But then I see the good side of the badge, the officers who became officers to help people and serve their communities. I also see my classmates, good people with good values, spending their time and putting in the effort to study criminal justice to one day work in law enforcement.

As with most careers, there are good people and there are bad people but with law enforcement, there is the addition of access to weapons. There are so many officers who never unholster their guns and fire them but there are also many officers who decide to use their weapons in an unjust manner, who are then treated as if it was their job to kill a man who could not breathe and was not resisting.

So, yes there are good cops but the bad ones show the problems with the criminal justice system. There needs to be change so the good cops can do their jobs to help their communities. I think the first step in the right direction is upping the education requirement in every police department in America.

A lot of departments now require an associate degree as a minimum requirement to become a police officer. It is proven that more educated officers use less force and that the ability to communicate goes hand in hand with less force.

I think the next step is reallocating some of the budgets for police departments. Police officers are trained for many situations but it will never be enough. Police departments should have social workers, psychologists and professionals trained in certain areas in order to help the police.

In closing, Breonna Taylor deserves justice and we cannot forget about her or the fact that her killers have not been charged.