Articles are available for reprint as long as the author is acknowledged: Domenick J. Maglio Ph.D.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016


By Domenick J. Maglio PhD Traditional Realist

The major function of a police officer is keeping the peace by enforcing the laws and ensuring order. They are not designated to make laws or provide social services.  Judges, politicians, social workers and government bureaucrats are there to provide these functions. Many people would like the police to not only provide safety but to solve all of our inner city social ills.

Crime stopping is the primary function of police business. A dispatcher sends them into an ongoing criminal or domestic crisis situation. They are the first responders who put themselves on the line to prevent potential or ongoing violence.  Being a police officer is an inherently dangerous position.

In many, if not most, minority communities cops are considered the enemy. During the 50th SuperBowl halftime show Bionce’ saluted the Black Panthers and the Black Lives movement. Both of these groups are antagonistic toward the police viewing them as obscene killers of black males. Many celebrities are fanning the flames of the hatred of police officers. These messages incited black members of the movement to murder cops, even black ones.

In addition to this intense anger towards the police there is a new wrinkle in law enforcement: the cell phone. The video component of the phone is being used as a weapon to second-guess many police actions. Every police officer is aware he is under constant surveillance for all his actions. Many patrol cars have dash cams and many policemen wear cameras on their collars. Added to this new reality most officers realize politicians in this politically correct world are prone to throw the officer under the bus for being involved in a controversial incident. Firing of officers has happened on numerous occasions throughout the USA. These factors are inhibiting police officers from concentrating on the responsibility of protecting the public out of fear of reprisal while crime escalates.

This new reality of being second-guessed by videos is not as fair as it first seemed.
The limit of videos is they are taken by bystanders who focus directly on the officer often after the provocation took place. We are only witnessing the tail end of the dispute when force is being used to quell the perpetrator. These camera devices
such as the dash and body cam recorders record in a straight ahead narrow path. This means all that happens on the periphery is not included.

As any professional football enthusiast realizes, the angle of the camera can change a referee’s judgment of whether the ball was caught out of bounds or not. It also can determine if the touchdown was in the grasp of the runner when he crossed the goal line. These videos taken from different angles are necessary to objectively determine many difficult decisions.

The perspective of the viewer changes the accuracy of drawing a valid conclusion. The perception of the police officer is his reality when someone he perceives is attacking him. The officer has to maintain his authority or he will appear weak losing all credibility as an enforcer of the law. Once the incident begins the refusals by the civilians to comply with the officer’s commands usually escalates into a physical confrontation. Since both the cop and the others become physically involved adrenaline kicks in.  At this moment rational thought is difficult to maintain while instinctual survival behavior increases. Missing part of the unfolding event makes it almost impossible to determine if the officer was provoking or being provoked.

 “Monday Morning Quarterbacking” by the media, consultants and reporters is extremely unfair. They pontificate about other approaches the officer should have used instead of how he reacted in real time in a life and death situation. Although many of the proposed actions by the media might have been reasonable under normal circumstances but are not feasible in a confrontational situation. If the officer is attempting to get immediate control of the situation for the safety of everyone it becomes much more complicated. It is difficult to evaluate when a person is in the middle of what he perceives as a direct life and death situation.

When the perpetrator has crossed the line of not responding to the officer’s commands the officer’s responsibility is to establish his authority.  What seems like abuse to the bystander and media is often the officer doing his duty to regain control.

The major consideration should be if the person or persons involved were compliant or not. When the individual is following the reasonable instructions of the officer and is attacked by him the incident should be investigated and the officer should be prosecuted.  This situation is a clear abuse of the officer’s mandate and power.

Although before drawing a hasty conclusion from the video of the police officer’s behavior, there is more information needed about the incident. What was the initial reason for the officer’s intervention? How did the suspect react to the officer? What was the testimony of other witnesses? Did the officer or the perpetrator do anything to provoke or extend the confrontation?

Jumping to conclusions on television from photos or video is unprofessional, unforgiveable and shameful. Police officers have a right to due process of the law like any citizen. Maintaining the peace is vital for us all.

Domenick Maglio, PhD. is a columnist carried by various newspapers, an author of several books and owner/director of Wider Horizons School, a college prep program. You can visit Dr. Maglio at


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