Unfortunately, policing is often done badly. The recent death of George Floyd illustrates once again that police officers are not only endowed with the same faults as everyone else, but also given a lot more power and authority to put those faults on display. They can be callow, ill-tempered, callous, or cynical. Some are even racists. Unfortunately, the act of giving someone a badge and telling him to keep order on behalf of the community does not make him less violent or cruel — but thanks largely to the near-certain intervention of police unions, it can make him less accountable.

This issue — including how central to question race is or is not — is more complicated than the terms of current debate would admit. For example, amid the media’s monomaniacal focus on race, no one is discussing how police in the U.S. are just flat-out failing to employ appropriate tactics for de-escalating even relatively low-risk situations, let alone more difficult ones. Over and over again, they can be found choking out low-risk suspects in trivial crimes or shooting pet dogs upon their arrival at a private residences. This speaks to a misguided goal — no doubt reflected in most state and local forces’ faulty police training — to try to “take control” of situations rather than to be satisfied with merely defusing them. Yes, there are and will always be cases where force and even lethal force is required and fully justified, but it’s probably no accident that police in other countries somehow manage to handle unarmed criminals with far fewer deaths.