George Floyd, an African-American man killed as a result of police brutality, sparked not only nationwide protests in the US but also brought people's attention to policing system as a whole.
The police force is a body which is empowered by the state to ensure the safety of citizens and their possessions. They exist to enforce laws, and prevent crime and civil disorder.
This is ideally what the police should do. However, the reality is straying further away from this ideal. Misuse of power, biases and corruption are among the many vices that are making them the public's enemy.
In the British-ruled North America, policing was initially provided by the local elected officials. In the 1700s, there were slave patrols - responsible for preventing slaves from rebelling and escaping.
In 1789, the United States Marshals Service - the oldest federal law enforcement agency within the US Department of Justice - was established. In the Old West, law enforcement was carried out mainly by local sheriffs, rangers and constables. There were also town marshals responsible for serving civil and criminal warrants, maintaining the prisons, and carrying out arrests for petty crimes.
In 1845, the first official police force in the US was established in the city of New York. Based on the London police, the New York City Police Department adopted the dark blue uniform in 1853.
However, over the years, this uniform has become a token of fear in the minds of millions. Since the beginning of 2015, the Washington Post has documented 5,400 fatal shootings by the police.
A media review by the Bureau of Justice Statistics in the US found 1,348 potential arrest-related deaths in the 10 months from June 2015 to March 2016, which is an average of 135 deaths per month or just over four per day.
In the US, the police are called for problems which can be better handled by other authorities. Alex S Vitale, the author of "The End of Policing", said in an interview with NPR: "…We use police to criminalize them (homeless people), to control their behaviour and to reduce their disorderly impact on the rest of us. And this is perverse and unjust. So, then it places police in this completely untenable situation, because they completely lack the tools to make this problem any better. And yet we've told them it's their problem to manage."
Then, the author points to a vital problem: "Part of our misunderstanding about the nature of policing is we keep imagining that we can turn police into social workers. That we can make them nice, friendly community outreach workers. But police are violence workers. That's what distinguishes them from all other government functions. ... They have the legal capacity to use violence in situations where the average citizen would be arrested."
The reality is that the police will always perceive a situation from a police's point of view and that view is shaped by the word "enforce", which, most of the time, leads to violence. Add in lack of procedural transparency, racial and social biases, corruption, and lack of punishment for misconduct; even the friendly neighbourhood sheriff can act without thinking of the consequences.
Moreover, militarisation of police is negatively impacting the image of the police force as the preservers of peace and order.
The citizens are not enemies of the state, and the police are bound to fulfil their duties towards the citizens.
It is high time to focus on police reformation, to unburden them of many duties which should not have fallen on them in the first place. Now, we have to question ourselves: How much policing does a society really need?