What Happened to Public Trust? An Examination of Outcome-Based Strategies to Enhance Ethical Policing

In Santa Ana, California, police served a search warrant on a marijuana dispensary that was operating improperly. After the business had been cleared of patrons and workers, a video surveillance system captured a police officer saying, “I was about to kick her in her (expletive) nub,” referring to an amputee in a wheelchair who was caught in the raid. No one is exempt from those momentary lapses when idiotic, emotionally driven internal thoughts are verbalized during private contextual moments; however, after watching this video, members of the public are left wondering how officers can get to such a point in their career. This is just one of many instances reported by the media that contribute to the strain in the important relationship between police and the communities they serve. Commentators might offer that the more than 929,000 U.S. police officers serving the country are overwhelmingly professional and caring and that the force applications depicted in the news are almost always lawful; nonetheless, the politics on these issues are convoluted and run the full spectrum of views. However, all can agree that meaningful strategies are needed to restore public trust in law enforcement.