PF Royce White was the 16th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft but repeated disputes over how best to handle his generalized anxiety disorder meant he never played a minute for the Houston Rockets (and eventually took the floor a handful of times for Sacramento before being waived at the end of last season). Writing for Medium.com, White insists, “our culture inspires and subsequently neglects serious mental illness in too many of its citizens.” And some of those citizens might well be wearing police uniforms.
As a conscientious citizen of this great nation, I have sympathy for our police. Their job is dangerous and often thankless, and many of them are overworked and underpaid in relation to the vital function they serve in our communities. Officers like Darren Wilson are humans; susceptible to the same stresses, fears, and other mental issues as any of us. Given the combination of their fallibility and the dangers of their jobs, it’s unfathomable that we still lack universal policies on psychological evaluations for police officers. It says something frightening about our culture that we’d rather increase the scope and sophistication of police weaponry than take steps that ensure the health of both police and those they serve.
These choices have dire consequences. It is obvious that some of our police officers now view themselves as soldiers rather than peacekeepers?—?a grave consequence of the increasing militarization of the police. The danger of this view?—?one that transforms communities into combat zones and engenders in police a sense of at-all-cost self-preservation rather than de-escalation?—?is that there’s an ever-increasing breakdown in trust and communication between police and citizens. Both sides have become inhuman in the eyes of the other, and no productive, progressive dialogue can exist within such a dynamic.