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Calling for backup

Criminal Justice Fall 2014


Colton Chacon

A popular topic of conversation lately is police brutality. It seems that news broadcasts
and social media sites are flooded with stories or articles about another situation in which a
police officer gets into a confrontation with a citizen or potential criminal. The officer usually
ends up having to use extreme or even excessive force in order to subdue the citizen or stop the
criminal. Some of these situations have even ended with the police officer shooting, and killing
the other person.
As a result of all of these events taking place, and being broadcast all over, there is now
some unrest in the communities where they are taking place and a more popular feeling among
society is mistrust in the police force and the criminal justice system as a whole.
This report will communicate to the reader; why it is important not to fall into this recent
trend of cop hating, information that has been gathered over the course of the semester on the
actions and protocols involved in police work, and finally what can be done by the citizens of the
community in order to shift this recent opinion about the criminal justice system from hateful, to
grateful.
While it may be easy to fall into the recent trend of hating police officers, and join the
masses of people who are becoming critical of the actions taken by the police force in some of
the recent situations around the country, and bashing on police officers personally, it may not be
the best idea for progressing as a society.
There was a point in time when the structure of the police department was not geared
around the current to protect and serve motto that we are used to hearing, and the members of

Calling for backup


Criminal Justice Fall 2014
Colton Chacon

the police force were not part of the community. Older systems of policing were centered
around patrolling the streets in order to remind the people of the community to behave according
to the laws, and to be ready to catch the criminals who chose not to. Older models of policing did
not promote officers regular interaction with the people of the community, nor did it focus on
making sure that the men and women employed by the police department reflected members of
the community. They were, more or less, babysitters to the people and government enforcers
of the law.
We should consider ourselves a very lucky to live in a time where the police force is
made up of our own neighbors, family, and friends. These same people come from similar
backgrounds as us, are from the same areas as we are, and are familiar with the past and current
situations within the community. These are regular people, like ourselves, who have chosen a
career which happens to be very dangerous, simply because they believe in serving the people of
their own community, and protecting them from the dangers of those who may cause harm.
If we choose to follow along with the cop hating trend that seems to be overwhelming the
country right now, and join along with the voices of the critics that are picking apart the actions
taken by certain officers in certain confrontations, then arent we ultimately saying to these
officers who could, in fact, be our neighbors, our family, and our friends, that we no longer
approve or support what it is that they choose to do for the community. This may also be viewed
by the people swearing to protect us that we no longer trust them to do just that. This could
ultimately divide us as citizens and officers and may result in troublesome and dangerous times
in the community, and it will later be discussed as to why this could be.
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Calling for backup


Criminal Justice Fall 2014
Colton Chacon

Let us, first, take a look at some of the protocols and procedures used and practiced by
officers of the law, as has been gathered throughout the semester. A large part of how the
criminal justice system works relies heavily on discretion. Discretion can be described as: the
power or right to decide or act according to ones own judgment. Police departments rely heavily
on the discretion of its officers on duty in every situation and especially confrontations that may
arise in the community. A lot of this discretion is influenced by the training that these officers
have undergone throughout their time in the police academy, and also the protocols set in place
by the department for each given situation. We learned in our criminal justice course that in
confrontations with criminals, in which the criminal becomes aggressive with the officer,
protocol is to subdue the criminal by whatever means necessary until the threat is stopped.
Officers are trained that, should they find themselves in these types of confrontations, they are
also to take into consideration the threat that is posed by the aggressive individual to themselves
and also to the community and the immediate surroundings. They must also use their discretion
in order to make sure that this threat is stopped, and must use whatever actions are needed in
order to do so.
This means, for example, if an officer comes upon an individual who they believe to be
committing a crime and, in their approach for apprehension, the individual decides to pull out a
knife and charge at the officer, it us up to the officer to use their discretion in assessing the
situation quickly and taking whatever actions are necessary, not only to stop the criminal, but
they must also consider in these actions the threat that the criminal is, or could be to society if

Calling for backup


Criminal Justice Fall 2014
Colton Chacon

they do not stop them immediately. If the officer decides that the best action for the situation is
to grab his firearm and shoot the individual, then that is what is to be done.
This is where some people, especially lately, tend to disagree with the actions of the
officer, the protocols put into place by the department, and become ultimately critical of the
criminal justice system. While this may not be the ONLY option for controlling this type of
situation, it can be said that it is, arguably, the best one. Imagine, if you will, that the officer in
that situation were to use his wand, or baton, in attempting to subdue the criminal, and was
unsuccessful in doing so, at which time the criminal over powers the officer and gets a hold of
his gun. If he were to shoot the officer and then go on to nearby areas and shoot the people he
sees, the damage that has now been done is significantly greater than the situation in which the
officer shot the criminal and ended the threat.
This is clearly just one, and somewhat specific, example of a situation that can come
about while officers are in the line of duty, where they are trusted, not only by the local
government, by ultimately by us as community members, to use their discretion to perform in
their line of work.
The criminal justice system is not a perfect one, by any means, and it could be argued,
that some of the officers employed by our government can make bad decisions and possibly even
abuse the powers of the law upheld to them by their positions, but this does not mean, that the
departments by which they are employed agree with these actions in any way, nor do they
condone them among any other officers.

Calling for backup


Criminal Justice Fall 2014
Colton Chacon

In light of having this information and, as it was before referenced, we can now continue
to discuss the importance of not conforming to the popular notion that police officers are bad,
and what we can do now as citizens in order to squash this ever growing opinion, and promote
peace amongst officers and civilians going forward.
Although it may be easy to jump on the cop hater bandwagon, and criticize the actions of
certain officers in given reported situations, we have to remember that the criminal justice
system as a whole, is put in place in order to keep the peace among the community, not to
promote chaos, and if we do not trust in this and also support the people that make it up, then we
can never hope to achieve any higher levels of peace or safety amongst each other.
Therefore, we must make sure that we are educating ourselves in how OUR criminal
justice system works, so that we may fully understand what is happening when situations arise.
We must also communicate to each other what it is that we know, provided that we have the
facts, so that others can be confident in their knowledge of the actions taken by officers in the
line of duty. It is ultimately up to us as citizens of the community to understand what goes into
policing it and keeping us safe so that, instead of criticizing the actions of the officers who swear
to serve us, we can become backup in supporting them to catch criminals and keep our
communities safe.
In conclusion, we may not always agree with the policies of the police departments or the
officers of those departments, but I believe that we still need to stand behind them in hopes that
we can promote a stronger sense of community and presence of justice against crime. Otherwise,

Calling for backup


Criminal Justice Fall 2014
Colton Chacon

if we arent in support of law and justice, then we are ultimately supporting crime and chaos, and
nobody wins in that situation.