Sandra Bland and Our Ill Equipped Police Force
Friends and relatives of Sandra Bland, whom authorities say hanged herself in a Texas jail after her arrest for allegedly kicking an officer following a traffic stop, are seeking more details of her death, saying the 28-year-old gave no indication she was in such an emotional state. However, Sandra Bland had posted a video to her Facebook page in March acknowledging she was suffering from “a little bit of depression as well as PTSD.”
In 2012, active-duty soldier James Brown reported to the El Paso County Jail to serve a two-day DWI sentence. Video of his time in custody has revealed aggressive force being used on him by officers, who ignored his repeated pleas for breath. Sheds some light on a death the county sheriff’s department claims was caused by a “pre-existing medical condition.”
If both victims deaths resulted from or were influenced by mental illness, even if there was no foul play involved in either (I think there was foul play involved in both), the last people we want interacting with these people are police as they don’t have the intelligence to form an understanding let alone procedure when dealing with these issues. This is purposeful, and again requires a renewed call for a more educated police force.
In All Seriousness, Cops Aren’t Allowed To Be Too Smart
The police screen out candidates for not being intelligent enough to handle all the duties inherent in being a 21st century cop. It comes as a surprise to many that many police forces also have a cap on the IQ or other intelligence measure of police candidates. There are various rationales for such a procedure with “mismatch” being most common. A too-bright cop may be a source of friction in a unit where everyone else has an IQ of 92 to 112. Overly intelligent people who see themselves as underachieving and overqualified are classic troublemakers; “sea lawyer” was an old naval term for a semi-educated man spouting sophomoric opinions on the lower deck, for instance. Such a character had just enough intelligence to make him profoundly dissatisfied with his own situation and spoil the whole barrel.
Back In The Day
Perhaps when policing was a more straightforward job, with many cops on the beat walking around the same neighborhood for 30 years, it made sense to weed out the overly imaginative and intellectually curious. But as technology and integration has advanced, the average policeman now often seems woefully unqualified for a job that seems to consist of 90% paperwork.
In the past policing was strictly a blue collar job with minimally educated men performing a largely physical, repetitive task for low pay. Almost everything about that has changed. We need a new type of policeman. But we have the same old battery of tests that produce the unimaginative, unsympathetic, uninformed, and underedcuated policeman that exemplifies too many modern cops.
In America, our detectives basically come up from the rank and file unlike Britain with its Herndon police college for detectives. So if you cap the smarts a patrolman can have you cap the intelligence that the future chief of detectives will have. Raise the pay of cops at entry level, and require minimum a bachelor’s degree.