*This is written about two videos in my CJUS class. To brief the content, they were two videos where police responded to someone breaking the law. In the first video, the police took an escalatory stance. In the second, the officer de-escalated the situation. We were to compare these two videos and discuss which ended better and why.*
In comparing the recordings from the first and second body cameras I believe severity wise the gentleman with a knife was committing the “worse” offense. While the man in the first video was breaking the law, endangering himself, & others by jaywalking. Such as, if a driver hadn’t been paying attention and hit him or noticed at the last second that they were going to hit him and swerved, causing more damage, he wasn’t posing an active threat. Meaning he was endangering but it was passive, more neglectful in nature. The second man though, had a knife and seemed agitated. Making him an active threat. He could have lunged and hurt someone. They both seemed to resist or evade arrest. The first gentleman ran from and then fought against the officers involved. The second seemed to just be walking, not running, but not allowing an arrest to happen at first. I believe that the tactic used by the first set of officers was less de-escalatory than the officer in the second video. The officers with the man who was jaywalking were louder, more impatient, and didn’t make any attempt to connect with or relate to the offender. The officer in the second video did. He was calm, more patient, and actively tried to talk to and relate to the man with the knife. While the outcome of any interaction is never solely in the hands of one party I do believe that the officer in the second video handled the situation much better. His patience and willingness to try to relate to the man with the knife helped calm the situation. But, I also don’t think that man really wanted to hurt anyone. I think he wanted to get shot, and probably killed, by the police. Which also influenced the interaction. The officers in the first video, while not actively attempting to be coercive at the very beginning, did very quickly switch to a more authoritarian stance. Like strict parents. Demanding that he look at them and repeating the same sentence over and over without ever finishing it because they felt that they weren’t getting the respect they were due. This behavior is very degrading, and can easily cause someone to become even more agitated. It’s also possible that the jaywalker wanted a story of sorts. People like to prove their viewpoints right, and if his view was that white cops harass black men then he would act in kind. Even without knowing. Same goes for the officers though. If they see him and think “here’s another one…” they’re coming into the interaction with that expectation. I think these videos are a prime example of why non-coercive measures are better than coercive ones. The officers in the first video ending up dragging the man to the ground and then, because all parties involved were wound up, the officer who’s cam you watch from starts beating the offender on the head and face. This is a prime example of a bad reaction to a situation. I understand that the man could’ve caused the officers harm. But there are better ways to handle the situation. Beating on someone’s skull the way he was can cause serious injury or death. And for both the officers conscience and the field day the media would have with it he should have not reacted in such an unprofessional way. The officer in the second video, I believe in large part because of how he related to the offender, had a very different ending. At the end of the interaction the man in question handed him the knife and willingly let the officer place him under arrest. In conclusion, while the officers in both videos were simply doing their jobs, because of the active effort of the second videos’ officer to relate and keep the situation calm at all costs, the second video had a better ending for all parties involved.