Following the death of George Floyd at the hands of four police officers, there's been a national debate about the role of the police. Calls have ranged from reform to defunding police, and even totally dismantling the police.
As part of this debate, a Twitter thread by Sean Trainor, a professor at the University of Florida, has gone viral. Trainor detailed the police ride-along he had gone on with a high school classmate when he was "younger and dumber."
"It was one of the most chilling and radicalizing nights of my life," Trainor starts his thread by stating.
"Two memories stand out to me," Trainor explained. "The first is how my classmate spent most of the night: rolling around suburban Maryland in a patrol car, punching license plate numbers into a database, looking for excuses to pull people over."
He also explained how his friend looked for people who looked “out of place which typically meant black or brown drivers."
Trainor detailed how his friend would respond to other traffic stops.
He went on to detail one stop in particular that stood out. The white driver, an ex-convict with an expired drivers license, had just gotten out of prison.
As the traffic stop went on, more and more cops arrived.
"Not surprising, the situation kept getting more intense," Trainor explained. "The guy who had been pulled over looked increasingly stressed as more cops materialized. And the cops responded to his stress with heightened levels of aggression."
"Eventually the scene came to a boil. I don’t know exactly what happened. I seem to recall the guy taking a swing at a cop or raising his voice. Regardless, he wound up face down on the curb, his hands cuffed behind his back."
Trainor concluded that the night had been "devoted to manufacturing crime."
He added: "My classmate wasn’t an exception to his department’s rule. He wasn’t a “bad apple.” As he told it, he was doing exactly what his department expected him to do. He saw himself — in fact had been trained to see himself — as a dog protecting sheep from wolves."
"What I learned that night is that behind every Derek Chauvin or Darren Wilson — behind every dramatic eruption of violence — is a whole universe of pervasive, mundane, and wanton cruelty. The cruelty isn’t an accident; it’s the point."
After the thread went viral, Trainor concluded that "policing in the US is an awful institution that needs to be dismantled or fundamentally remade. But so do many other institutions, including the institution I work in: higher ed."
Unsurprisingly, the thread led to some mixed opinions on social media. "I have family who are law enforcement I know this guy's story is true because I've heard it a thousand times," one user concluded.
While another added: "I have spent more hours riding with cops than I can calculate and this is exactly what most of it was like. It made for a very icy quiet ride when I mocked a lieutenant after he told me he had a good sense for when something was "off" about a car and that's why he ran the plates."
While also noting: "I've also been on the flip side of that. My first ride along we got sent to two 5150s, a meth house cleanup, and a domestic violence call. That shift convinced me that doing that every day would break me."