These stories of police corruption come from north and south, from many different cities and neighborhoods.
This isn't police corruption, it's police brutality, which is a separate issue. I have friends and family members who are police officers, the lion's share of them are decent people, but knowing them and the small handful of their colleagues who aren't decent people I can proffer a few opinions on what drives behaviors such as these:
1. There's a siege mentality in modern law enforcement, manifested as "I'm going home to my family, no matter what it takes." Do you have to worry about getting shot at your job? Probably not. LEOs have to worry about that every single time they pull someone over. Is it a soccer mom, a businessman, or a three strikes felon who doesn't want to go back inside? They don't know.
Police are safer than they've ever been. The job isn't even in the top 10 most dangerous jobs. Yes, there are people who shoot at an officer who pulls them over. There are also people who shoot at the guy working the 2AM shift in Mapco. But I don't walk into Mapco at 2AM and have the guy pull a gun on me "just in case".
2. Modern media reinforces #1, by making line of duty deaths/injuries more accessible than ever before. Follow the "Officer Down Memorial Page" on Facebook; there's a line of duty death in the United States nearly every day of the week. Statistically speaking law enforcement is safer today than it has been in a long time, but in a large country statistically rare occurrences happen with distressing frequency and modern media ensures that we know all about them.
Right. In other words, a big part of the problem is cultural, both within law enforcement and from without. I know cops, too, and they're always talking in hushed tones about how it's just becoming so much more dangerous. A big part of why is that they don't feel they have as much support from the community as they used to. And a big part of that is a) municipalities using cops for revenue enhancement (see Ferguson) and b) cameras are now exposing just how much corruption there is in law enforcement and the justice system as a whole. See recent videos of a judge asking a prosecutor if she's going to charge a police officer with perjury after he obviously committed perjury as a good example.
3. The War on Drugs provides such a profit motive that criminals are encouraged to arm themselves and resist violently, which in turn drives the militarization of law enforcement while reinforcing the siege mentality. The War on Drugs also alienates the police from our poorest and most vulnerable communities. The same thing happened during prohibition, this is not a new societal phenomenon. Nor can you blame the police, they enforce the law, legislators write it.
Research shows that most raids on "drug houses" either turn up "no weapons" or a handgun. There's very little violent resistance.
4. There are a handful of people in law enforcement who have no business being in law enforcement, or any other field that requires them to interact with human beings as a matter of course. They have chips on their shoulders, the stereotype is the kid that got bullied a lot in high school, now he has a badge and a gun, so don't you dare fuck with him. These people are a minority, out of the dozens of LEOs I know I can only name one that falls into this category. Short tempered and thin skinned are bad personality attributes for LEOs.
Let me give you an example of why you're wrong. And I could come up with a hundred (literally) but I just need one. Take the David Bisard case in Indianapolis. You can look it up in Google, but short version: Bisard got stone drunk before work one day, jumped in his squad car, someone mentioned that they were doing a simple drug arrest on the radio, Bisard said he'd be right there, they said they didn't need him, he came up to a stop light where a bunch of cars and a couple of motorcycles were stopped, he hit the motorcycles going on top of one (killing the rider) and seriously injuring two other people. At that point he jumped out of his car and began screaming at the dead/dying guy under his car telling him that he should have got out of the way.
In all, 19 police officers of all ranks showed up at the scene. None of them had any idea (this is sarcasm) that he had been drinking. Finally, 3 hours after the accident and after they had stopped for snacks another officer took him for a blood draw at a clinic.
According to state law at the time the blood draw wasn't legally valid because none of the officers thought he was drunk and so, for it to be valid, it would have had to be done at the hospital where the people are "certified". In case you're wondering, his BAC was .20% 3 hours later. Yes: .20. His blood was an alcoholic drink.
Had any of the officers stepped up and said "yeah, I suspected he had been drinking" the blood draw would have been legal. They didn't search his car, his duffle bag, etc.
The prosecutor knew his job. He ran right to court and claimed he couldn't use the blood draw so there was just no way to make this a drunk driving incident. The people of the city had had enough bullshit by this point that in an election months later they put in a new prosecutor who made it plain that Bisard was going down if he got elected. He won handily and fought like hell to get the blood draw accepted in court.
Meanwhile, someone at the police department (they have no idea who (again, sarcasm)) took the blood samples in the evidence room out of the cooler. Bisard's lawyer would later claim that the evidence had been ruined and just couldn't be used because of that. His lawyer, by the way, paid for by the Fraternal Order of Police.
Bisard's world came crashing down during his trial when he wrecked his father-in-law's truck while stone drunk. He begged the officer to just take him home, but the officer was an honest man (note it's taken me this long in the story to get to an honest police officer - we've had 19 other officers and a prosecutor so far) who took him in. At that point the FOP could no longer hold the ruse that Bisard was being set up and they quit paying for his lawyer. Someone paid for a lawyer, though, as he never lost legal representation.
It's really easy to say there are a few bad apples. I hear that all the time. But let me tell you something - the guy who covers for the bad apple is worse than the bad apple. The original prosecutor, the 19 guys who never thought to see if Bisard was drunk - treating it as an "accident" instead of a "crime scene", the people who tried to destroy evidence - all of them are bad apples. Everybody in that department covered up for Bisard - after he killed a person and permanently injured two others.
If you think that's rare, look up Stephanie Lazarus - she's an LAPD cop who murdered someone in cold blood and got away with it for 20+ years. The only people harassed were those who investigated her.
I could go on and on. Thank God we have more cameras now.
5. Reinforcing #1, the media and body politic never make a story out of LEOs doing their jobs correctly. They only make the news when they screw up. There was a police shooting captured on body cam a few months ago. It was a clean shoot, so naturally it got perfunctory treatment by the national media, not the 24/7 coverage that we would have seen had it been unjustified.
Regarding racism, I haven't met any genuinely racist LEOs, even from category #4 above. I have encountered a certain level of cynicism, best demonstrated by a quote I heard from a LEO friend, "Law enforcement is a customer service orientated business; unfortunately, all of the customers are assholes."
Yeah, we know that no particular cop is a racist (I hear this all the time from apologists) but the numbers tell a different story. Blacks are more likely to be pulled over, more likely to be searched, more likely to be harassed, etc. Something's not right.