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Police slam elderly lady, taser Oakland A's fan - what's up?

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Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums has called for reform of how police solve problems in the wake of the Oscar Grant shooting.

I'm not sure if it's because we have more digital camcorders around than ever before, or there's something sinister in the way police are being trained today, or some combination of both, but we now have two disturbing examples of excessive force applied by the people we hire to protect and to serve.

The first and most recent example comes from a Walmart in Columbus, Ohio. In the video below this elderly woman named Virginia Dodson reportedly of 84 years old is standing in a parking lot and holding a knife. The reason for holding the knife was that Dodson's daughter left her in her car while she went back into the store. The elder Dodson, an Alzheimer's Patient, got scared because she was alone and cut herself out of the car seat belt, then got out of the automobile in search of her daughter.

Some young people had talked to Virginia in such a way that she brandished the knife. In turn they called 911. When the police officer arrived she walked up to Dodson and after asking her to drop the knife, violently slammed her to the ground.

Here's the video:

What's got me is that since it's obvious the female officer (proving that its not a gender-based issue) was strong enough to take her down with ease, why not just grab the knife from her instead? All of the other moves were excessive and caused Dodson to bleed. Thankfully she was rushed to the hospital and no charges were filed.

To me, police officers are supposed to be trained to be super people in judgment not just strength. Yes, I know that what they do is dangerous, but the job doesn't have to be a thankless one. Somewhere along the way, deep in our long term backslide in education spending and the decline of leisure time we produced a society of people impatient to study a situation then react in a non-violent way. Great classic books on negotiation like "Getting to Yes" have given way to the ideas of "Ask A Ninja". Police seem to be expected to strike and make arrests by any means necessary rather than intelligently work to resolve a problem without arrests or violence. Want another example? Take the case of the Oakland A's fan who was tasered by police basically for being a big mouth.

Why taser a man sitting in his chair? What was the deal? Well, he was drunk, unruly, and refused to leave the stadium upon Oakland police orders. But here's the rub, yet again: why the totally unintelligent way of just saying "Just do as I say?" Yes, you should always follow police orders, period. That's for you and me. But what about those stupid people who don't? Why is the answer hitting them or tasering them? Why not another kind of weapon: words? It seems like we're really going backward as a society if you or anyone else feels you have to defend such an action. Again, the police are supposed to be SUPER PEOPLE. People we look up to for their extraordinary decision making skill, not people we fear because of the idea that they may go too far and harm someone.

I miss the days of community policing, when officers on the beat knew folks in the neighborhood and at the stadium. Those guys and women were a unique breed of talkers that knew how to use their brains to solve problems. At least the one's I knew in Oakland; they're retired for the most part. It seems that we have a national problem of not teaching good negotiating tactics to officers, who because of that are more prone to take a physical approach to problem resolution.

We've got to insist on smart cops. In fact, I'll call for a "smart cop" movement: a detailed list of changes in law enforcement systems that will produce more of the kind of modern problem solvers we need today. The first change should be monetary bonuses of $3,000 per officer per event for anyone that manages to defuse a situation without violence. That's a great incentive for an officer to think twice before flipping an elderly woman to the ground.


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