Police should recruit guardians, not warriors
Protesters block traffic in on Dec. 9, 2015, in Chicago. (Photo: Charles Rex Arbogast)
Protesters block traffic on Dec. 9, 2015, in Chicago. (Photo: Charles Rex Arbogast)

The release of the Laquan McDonald video in November shocked the public. It launched protests against the Chicago Police Department, and calls for Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the county prosecutor to resign. Readers are grappling with issues of police accountability and ways to ensure justice. Here are some of their reflections about how to do just that.

Letter to the editor:
In recent months, routine stops by police have escalated into deadly encounters. Some have been widely publicized because they were captured on video. The videos have shown police using excessive force and tactics that prompted widespread protests. The question being asked is, has this troublesome behavior been going on all the time and is just now coming to light because of the videos?

A related issue has to do with police recruitment and training. Recent events have shown that, despite the screening process, many individuals entering the force are not suited to be guardians of the peace.

MORE: To regain trust, Chicago police have work to do

A frame grab from a dashcam video released by Chicago Police. (Photo: Chicago Police via epa)
A frame grab from a dashcam video released by Chicago Police. (Photo: Chicago Police via epa)

Some bring to the force personality defects or harbor negative feelings toward certain groups that can influence whether an encounter ends peacefully or with conflict. This is especially true in the case of a person being stopped who does not instantly obey a command and the officer has a short fuse or a quick temper. That is a recipe for escalation. Couple this with the person being stopped having their own issues with police, and one can readily see how a minor event can become a major one.

Going forward, the use of dashcams and body cameras has to be the order of the day. Unprofessional behavior on the part of the officer, as well as unruly behavior on the part of the person being stopped, can be determined from the videos. A police encounter not captured on a body camera and/or dashcam should result in severe punishment for the officers involved.

Although most officers carry out their duties in a professional way, the few who do not tarnish the entire force, which results in distrust by the public the police have pledged to serve and protect.

Ned L. McCray; Tinley Park, Ill.

Demonstrators march in Chicago on Dec. 9, 2015. (Photo: Scott Olson, Getty Images)
Demonstrators march in Chicago on Dec. 9, 2015. (Photo: Scott Olson, Getty Images)

Letter to the editor:
In his commentary piece “How do we identify killer cops?” Gerry Spence needs to back up and refocus his energy. What were each of the “victims” doing when the police engaged? Were drugs, theft or violence involved?

Has Spence ever been mistreated by the police? Have you? My guess is, no. Likely, he follows laws, obeys authority, uses good common sense and is a reputable citizen. He should rewind his focus on each of his sensational, albeit misleading, examples. They weren’t just bystanders. Let’s fix that behavior first.

Ed Skibinski; Florissant, Mo.

Investigation follows video

In the wake of the release of the video of the Laquan McDonald shooting in Chicago, we asked readers what they thought about the federal government launching an investigation of the Chicago Police Department.

Letter to the editor:
It would seem that the police are trained to shoot to kill rather than shoot to disarm or disable.  An injured person can recover, and if a mistake had been made there is chance for correction.  A dead person is dead!!

Warren Harris; Maryville, Tenn.

What has your experience been with law enforcement in your community? Join the conversation. Send photos or comments via Twitter using #policingtheusa or emailing letters@usatoday.com. You can also call 540-739-2928 and leave a voice message.