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The culture of silence and police brutality

Posted

Has 13 years experience.

Is police brutality within law enforcement akin to the culture of silence within the medical community?

Example: witnesses it, knows it’s wrong, could likely harm or kill someone, but afraid to speak up over fear of retaliation and/or association.

Or even worse: witnesses it, says something, nothing happens, people continue to be harmed/killed.

Seems like the same kind of human condition, just different fields.

Thoughts?

Edited by rebeccaUTA

Jedrnurse, BSN, RN

Specializes in school nurse. Has 29 years experience.

Actually, I think there's also a sub-culture of "Gotcha-ism" in nursing, the complete opposite of silence.

rebeccaUTA

Has 13 years experience.

Can you provide an example please? I’m not quite following. What do you mean by “Gotcha-ism”?

Jedrnurse, BSN, RN

Specializes in school nurse. Has 29 years experience.

1 hour ago, rebeccaUTA said:

Can you provide an example please? I’m not quite following. What do you mean by “Gotcha-ism”?

Oh, nurses who are constantly looking more at other people's work and reporting them, speaking about their perceived shortfalls to the rest of the staff, also the infamous gotcha-ism of shift wars.

I'm not advocating turning your head away from obvious nursing malpractice.

1 hour ago, rebeccaUTA said:

Can you provide an example please? I’m not quite following. What do you mean by “Gotcha-ism”?

Also, I'm sorry if I'm diverting the gist of your post...

KatieMI, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in ICU, LTACH, Internal Medicine. Has 8 years experience.

28 minutes ago, rebeccaUTA said:

Can you provide an example please? I’m not quite following. What do you mean by “Gotcha-ism”?

When a nurse runs with the speed of Olympic sprinter to report a peer to her boss, State Board, FBI, KGB and M16 for doing something that she imagines might potentially cause some unknown but veeeeeery important SAFETY ISSUE.

There was a recent topic here when a nurse reported other nurse for suctioning trached patient while technically off call because she thought that "something might happen". She never specified what so incredibly terrible "might happen" from performing routine care action which happens every 30 min or so but lashed out and insulted everybody who told her, in plain English, to just please communicate with that other nurse and stop counting beans in the pot and imagining things out of thin air.

The one common thing between police and nurses IMH(umble)O, is that both represent professions with high level of internal oppression. Both are mass occupations and millions of their members perform functions obviously critically important for society, often under unclement conditions and being subjected for many dangers they shield others from. On the other hand, frontline (and most numerous) personnel of police and nursing is routinely overworked, underpayed, poorly represented in higher professional circles, commonly work under most dangerous conditions and kept silent regarding their opinion about important professional issues. In addition to this, nurses, unlike police, are deprived of option to reflect their tensions onto someone else, as they are entrusted with human lives and safety of healthcare system. Nurses, while exposed to very high level of stress while performing their routine work functions, cannot use most of normal, human emotional defence mechanisms because doing so interferes with ethical code of nursing, or considered to be "immature" or "unprofessional". Therefore, they still continue to use all those defence mechanisms, only targeting exclusively persons they can affect - namely, each other, and, with any possibility, using universal rationale of "it might be an important safety issue".

LibraNurse27, BSN, RN

Specializes in Community Health, Med/Surg, ICU Stepdown. Has 8 years experience.

I don't have a good answer in regards to the silent brutality.

But in terms of deeply entrenched systemic racism, yes that occurs in every American system: police, housing, banking, hiring for any job, education, etc. Although discrimination in these systems affects black people in every aspect of their lives, the two that can actually kill them are the healthcare system and police.

There are many studies showing black pts are not taken seriously, get less pain meds than white pts with same complaint, etc. Look at black maternal and infant mortality rates.With police it is the most obvious because (some) actually straight up kill black people, often for little to know reason.

I respect police for their difficult job that I could not do. But those who kill black people for petty crimes or even for just walking, jogging, breathing! I have no respect for. Glad George Floyd's killer is actually charged with something. It's sad it took violent protests (after YEARS of nonviolent demonstrations) for people to pay attention, but I hope things will finally change. Sorry for rant, I am married to a black person in an area where police brutality is a huge problem so have a lot of feelings about this.

rebeccaUTA

Has 13 years experience.

17 minutes ago, LibraNurse27 said:

I don't have a good answer in regards to the silent brutality.

But in terms of deeply entrenched systemic racism, yes that occurs in every American system: police, housing, banking, hiring for any job, education, etc. Although discrimination in these systems affects black people in every aspect of their lives, the two that can actually kill them are the healthcare system and police.

There are many studies showing black pts are not taken seriously, get less pain meds than white pts with same complaint, etc. Look at black maternal and infant mortality rates.With police it is the most obvious because (some) actually straight up kill black people, often for little to know reason.

I respect police for their difficult job that I could not do. But those who kill black people for petty crimes or even for just walking, jogging, breathing! I have no respect for. Glad George Floyd's killer is actually charged with something. It's sad it took violent protests (after YEARS of nonviolent demonstrations) for people to pay attention, but I hope things will finally change. Sorry for rant, I am married to a black person in an area where police brutality is a huge problem so have a lot of feelings about this.

I agree with you 100%

TriciaJ, RN

Specializes in Psych, Corrections, Med-Surg, Ambulatory. Has 40 years experience.

I maintain that police brutality is a function of weak management. I've said on another thread that management has 3 functions: 1. Proper vetting and hiring 2. Proper training 3. Proper oversight.

Having worked in corrections I have witnessed first hand when "problem children" don't get dealt with appropriately until someone gets hurt or killed. The person's coworkers bring numerous concerns to management, the public lodges numerous complaints, yet instead of being appropriately dealt with, the bad actor is left alone, maybe gets slaps on the wrist, and even gets promoted.

Eventually the coworkers quit reporting concerns. It accomplishes nothing, and even puts a target on their own backs (sound familiar?). Eventually something happens that the public finds out about. Big scandal. At that point, management walks around making a big point of shaking their heads in bewilderment. They'll even ask out loud "How can we do something if no one tells us there is a problem?" Trust me. In this and every other case of brutality, management knew of a problem and chose not to address it. Now ordinary cops are bearing additional stigma. (I don't know why the other cops at the scene didn't intervene. They might have been complicit, or they might have given up trying by then. A real investigation would be helpful.)

I expect the problem to keep getting worse. High functioning and honorable people are going to choose other occupations. Who needs a job with so much peril and strife? That limits any available applicant pool, leading to less choosy hiring practices. More bad actors, more bad outcomes, more public distrust and anger....

There needs to be much more accountability for mayors and police chiefs. The buck has to stop somewhere.

10 hours ago, LibraNurse27 said:

I don't have a good answer in regards to the silent brutality.

But in terms of deeply entrenched systemic racism, yes that occurs in every American system: police, housing, banking, hiring for any job, education, etc. Although discrimination in these systems affects black people in every aspect of their lives, the two that can actually kill them are the healthcare system and police.

There are many studies showing black pts are not taken seriously, get less pain meds than white pts with same complaint, etc. Look at black maternal and infant mortality rates.With police it is the most obvious because (some) actually straight up kill black people, often for little to know reason.

I respect police for their difficult job that I could not do. But those who kill black people for petty crimes or even for just walking, jogging, breathing! I have no respect for. Glad George Floyd's killer is actually charged with something. It's sad it took violent protests (after YEARS of nonviolent demonstrations) for people to pay attention, but I hope things will finally change. Sorry for rant, I am married to a black person in an area where police brutality is a huge problem so have a lot of feelings about this.

I feel for you. I am a mom of a Korean adoptee who now has to deal with the fallout of Asian discrimination from Covid. We have devolved or never evolved.

thecrossfitrn, BSN, RN

Specializes in L&D Ninja.

I see what you're saying, and it's a difficult subject for me since I come from a family of police officers and my husband almost went that direction as well. When someone categorizes all police officers together as bad (not saying you are), it hurts my heart because I know the character of my family members.

However, what I've noticed is that it's similar to nursing unions in that the bad ones just never get removed or disciplined appropriately. It reminds me of this nurse I currently work with who is a complete bully, drives good nurses out because she can, and constantly breaks facility policy that puts patients at risk. She's been reported numerous times to upper management and the union, but they just won't do anything about it. You'd think someone with that type of documented history would be seen as a liability and removed, but she's still there today. I imagine it's similar with these bad police officers, as we usually find out later that they have a history of poor performance or inappropriate force, but are only removed once something horrible happens. It's a shame, and it shows a huge flaw in the system of how we allow people to stay in positions of power when they have no business doing so.

LibraNurse27, BSN, RN

Specializes in Community Health, Med/Surg, ICU Stepdown. Has 8 years experience.

21 hours ago, jobellestarr said:

I feel for you. I am a mom of a Korean adoptee who now has to deal with the fallout of Asian discrimination from Covid. We have devolved or never evolved.

Ah I am so sorry you are dealing with that, on top of everything else.

LibraNurse27, BSN, RN

Specializes in Community Health, Med/Surg, ICU Stepdown. Has 8 years experience.

6 hours ago, thecrossfitrn said:

I see what you're saying, and it's a difficult subject for me since I come from a family of police officers and my husband almost went that direction as well. When someone categorizes all police officers together as bad (not saying you are), it hurts my heart because I know the character of my family members.

However, what I've noticed is that it's similar to nursing unions in that the bad ones just never get removed or disciplined appropriately. It reminds me of this nurse I currently work with who is a complete bully, drives good nurses out because she can, and constantly breaks facility policy that puts patients at risk. She's been reported numerous times to upper management and the union, but they just won't do anything about it. You'd think someone with that type of documented history would be seen as a liability and removed, but she's still there today. I imagine it's similar with these bad police officers, as we usually find out later that they have a history of poor performance or inappropriate force, but are only removed once something horrible happens. It's a shame, and it shows a huge flaw in the system of how we allow people to stay in positions of power when they have no business doing so.

oh yes, I am in no way saying all police are bad people. Their job is so difficult and dangerous and I'm sure many of them do it for the right reasons. Agree with above that just as in nursing there are a few duds that make the whole profession look bad at times

rebeccaUTA

Has 13 years experience.

23 hours ago, jobellestarr said:

I feel for you. I am a mom of a Korean adoptee who now has to deal with the fallout of Asian discrimination from Covid. We have devolved or never evolved.

I’m sorry you and your family have dealt with that too. Complete ignorance!

GoodNP

Specializes in Cardiology, Research, Family Practice.

Nurses and police are both in positions of power over vulnerable populations.

Power corrupts.

Can't count the number of times I've seen a nurse on a power trip.

So yes, there are similarities between nurses and police.

Numenor, BSN, MSN, NP

Specializes in Internal Medicine. Has 9 years experience.

Police are fallible, the military is fallible and nurses/docs are fallible. When people are in positions of power there is often overstretching of that power. Tough jobs all around and the solutions are not easy. But the solutions are not to "disband the pigs" which is plastered around my liberal/Western anti gun city. The irony is palpable. Anti gun and anti police is a funny mix.

Anyways I digress, police killings are nothing new to any race but so far I have not heard any good arguments from protesters calling for change. At least nothing that is within the realm of feasibility. Powerpoints and diversity ad nauseum for nurses or police isn't going to do much.

If you have never had to subdue someone with Herculean strength due to drug use, then you aren’t in a place to judge the over abundance of caution that police are trained to utilize in restraining people. Generally it’s for the person’s own good. Mistakes happen, sometimes people die, especially when people do things that don’t follow their training.

I was trained to place a knee between the shoulder blades and apply pressure while using joint manipulation to restrain the hands until help could arrive. I have no idea how the officer in this particular incident was trained. I sure wouldn’t have put my knee on someone’s neck. I also don’t understand why the help that arrived didn’t help. But I do certainly understand how fear of being overpowered by someone on drugs can drive you to make mistakes.

People are quick to judge things they personally don’t understand.

That police had 19 complaints filed against him and some were for excessive use of force. If that is not an ignored problem, I don't know what is.

FolksBtrippin, BSN, RN

Specializes in Psychiatry, Pediatrics, Community, Nurse Manager. Has 5 years experience.

On 5/31/2020 at 10:12 AM, Jedrnurse said:

Actually, I think there's also a sub-culture of "Gotcha-ism" in nursing, the complete opposite of silence.

I have seen this more than silence. Nurses throwing each other under the bus.

Both are morally despicable.