The problem with modern policing is the utter disposition of power that police officers have been deferred and granted, and the notion that because they are the authority and enforcer of law, they can be above the law when it suits them. This has led to such things as cops requesting military-grade equipment for no discernable reason, performing excessive raids that needlessly damage homes and hurt families, and even bringing cops in SWAT gear to people's homes because they Googled "pressure cookers" and "backpacks" around the same time. Honest attempts at bringing cops down to the level that they should be have always been fraught with problems, simply because the cops are obviously too unwilling to give up their power and presumed standing in the community.
It becomes worse when cops see an opportunity to retaliate against what they perceive as a threat to their power, often in the form of police brutality. In Davenport, Iowa, one Brandie Redell was caught shoplifting by a store clerk, using her daughter's stroller as a means to hide clothes, and brought to security. Davenport cops were called in, as required. While Ms. Redell was eventually arrested by the police for shoplifting, the cops proceeded to beat her for over the course of one minute, with her daughter briefly seeing this happen before being spirited away by a store employee. After the beating, Ms. Redell lost a significant amount of vision from her right eye.
The reason for this despicable act of brutality? When she called her boyfriend, James Gibson, police recognized him from working with him, and then proceeded to say "This is going to get ugly, real quick," commencing her beating. James Gibson is a community activist in Davenport, and works with the police on sensitivity training, teaching them how to deal with matters of race and just working with the general public. Because of Mr. Gibson being mentioned, police saw fit to beat Ms. Redell, who now suffers panic attacks around cop cars and police officers. After an internal affairs investigation, the two Davenport cops who beat Ms. Redell were merely disciplined, and are back on patrol. Redell was convicted of shoplifting, probably as a misdemeanor.
Redell claims that racism played a role in her beating, because Gibson is black. That may have spurred the investigation to essentially exonerate the cops of any wrongdoing. Race no doubt plays a role in this act of police brutality, but in a different way: What clearly happened to Ms. Redell was retaliation against Mr. Gibson. These cops likely hated the sensitivity classes and race training, and they probably thought that, because they are cops, they should not be told how to do their job, especially by some community activist like Mr. Gibson. That his girlfriend was caught stealing gave them an opportunity to vent their personal grudge towards Mr. Gibson, and to reassert that, as cops, they bow to nobody that is not a cop or authority. Such thinking, common in today's police, makes cops a threat to everyone they are around, regardless of their purpose.
(Image Sources: CBS, Chris Conner)