Policing in 2020: What’s it like to work in law enforcement right now?

U.S.

CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — Cities across the country have grappled with protests, exacting a toll on law enforcement officers. While the circumstances vary in Portland, Minneapolis, Kenosha, Rochester and Louisville, one thing remains the same: the scrutiny of law enforcement planning and execution of safety measures to keep citizens safe.

NewsNation spoke to two experts about what it’s like for law enforcement working in a protest environment when often it’s police behavior at the heart of the unrest. 

Jack Glaser, professor of University of California Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy said now is not an easy time to be a police officer.

“I think the most important thing for us to understand when considering what police officers experiences are right now is that they’re human beings with normal human emotion,” said Glaser. “So, they’re going to be affected by public condemnation, by antagonism, and by real concerns of physical harm.”

Dr. Phillip Atiba Goff, a professor at Yale University and C.E.O. for the Center for Policing Equity said the mission of law enforcement needs to be reimagined. He said part of the concern about policing in today’s climate is that law enforcement are tasked with issues they’ve never been trained for.

“They are showing up and their jobs are infinitely more difficult because now we have not only laid on law enforcement the burden of keeping us safe from street crime and the violence thereof, but the burdens of keeping us safe from the violence of poverty, the lack of investment in mental health resources, the lack of investment in better housing, the lack of investment in substance abuse programs, and by the way ‘I would really love it if you fixed this country’s history of racism,'” Goff said.

Goff said that implicit bias is a significant obstacle needed to improve relations between police and the communities they serve. 

“If you really want to fix the behaviors that we find objectionable in policing and elsewhere, fix the behaviors, measure them and hold people accountable for their behaviors,” Goff said.

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