Yes, that’s asking that police officers endure greater risks. Controlling an angry mob is far more challenging than controlling an unruly suspect, and, truth be told, I suspect that the “stand down” orders are in part explained by concern for officer safety. Most police officers don’t have comprehensive and effective training in riot control, and when poorly trained police confront vicious rioters, the risks skyrocket. In ordinary times, we’d think twice before asking men and women in uniform to accept such heightened dangers.
These, however, are not ordinary times. Extreme polarization threatens national unity, and few things fray civil society more than blood in the streets. It’s one thing to watch angry men and women yell at each other separated by a phalanx of police. It’s another thing entirely to see brutal beatings live and in living color.