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Why Do Police Abuse the People They Serve?

We might ask who taught them to be abusive.

5 min readJul 19, 2022


I can understand why some people might want to “defund the police”. I think we could do better, and I’m not sure that defunding the police will help. I think we could retrain the police. I also think we could get them into parenting classes, relationship classes, and gun safety classes. That could help to stem the temptation for abuse. A recent study suggests that police are not only abusive on the job. They can be abusive at home. From Yahoo Life June, 2020:

Research, slightly outdated and skewed by a culture of silence and intimidation, suggest that police officers in the United States perpetrate acts of domestic violence at roughly 15 times the rate of the general population. Because officers protect their own, domestic victims of violent cops often don’t know where to go. Sometimes they reach out to Alex Roslin, author of Police Wife: The Secret Epidemic of Police Domestic Violence, the American Society of Journalists and Authors-award winning book that constitutes perhaps the only major work on this subject.

That article highlights the work of Alex Roslin, author of “Police Wife: The Secret Epidemic of Police Domestic Violence”, which is probably the only major work on this subject. Roslin says a major study found that 40% of police officers had engaged in domestic abuse the previous year.

That statistic puts everything else into perspective. I still remember Rodney King. I remember the pictures of him when they were done with him. Over the last 30 years, I’ve seen horrific examples of abuse of people at the hands of the police. And now I think that Roslin’s estimate of 40% is too low.

We have glamorized law enforcement abuse in the movies, in TV shows, and in the news. I remember Dirty Harry. I remember RoboCop. The French Connection. Training Day. I didn’t watch cop TV series, probably for a good reason. And not a week goes by that some trigger-happy cop blows someone away. American police kill about 1,000 people every year.

But all of that ties into a culture that is completely and totally convinced that if we apply more punishment, more threats and more fear to the crime problem, the problem of crime will go away. It doesn’t. It didn’t.