The Cure for the Common Lazy Cop Syndrome


By Connor Roe, Summer Associate

Recently a 60 Minutes show discussed the history of the Taser. During the show, the host, David Martin, cited an expert who spoke about "Lazy Cop Syndrome". It's an interesting theory that states cops are more likely to tase a difficult suspect rather than use the skills they learned in training to subdue them. A perfect example of this would be the University of Florida taser incident. You may know it as the "Don't Tase Me Bro!" video on Youtube. In that video (that went viral quickly after it was posted), a student was being disruptive during a speech given at the school by John Kerry. Numerous cops dragged him out of the auditorium. If you've seen the video then you know this is when the student shouts his famous line, "Don't tase me bro!" You'll then hear the sound of a taser and cries of pains. Now the student was being unruly, I can't argue against that. But can anyone say that the only way SIX COPS could subdue him was to tase him? I highly doubt there was one officer in the auditorium who couldn't take him one on one. I would even venture to guess that there's not a single cop in this country that couldn't take this teenager on. So why break out the taser? Lazy Cop Syndrome. It's human nature to take the path of least resistance. People want to be successful without being stressed. More work equals more stress. The path of least resistance may result in success without the stress. The cops could have wrestled him into cuffs or dragged him out by force. They could've even spent time talking him down into a reasonable state of mind. The officers were taught all of these skills in the academy. But they were also issued a high-tech device that quickly subdues any suspect with little to no serious harm to any party involved. Needless to say, they took the path of least resistance and tased him.

However, technology could also be the solution to this new problem. As more and more police cruisers are being outfitted with cameras, officers are feeling more and more like they're constantly under review. Imagine if a camera was installed that watched you while you worked. Would you be as inclined to make personal calls, play solitaire, or take long lunch breaks? Of course not! When people are videotaped working, they work harder. In fact, this too goes back to human nature. People perform better when they're on camera. People are survivalistic. We will work harder in order to ensure our jobs are not at risk if the video tape is reviewed. A study was conducted in which many cops were interviewed after cameras were installed in their cruisers. Some officers even stated that they felt as if they were performing for the camera when they pulled someone over. Also in the interviews, a majority of the cops reported an increase in their professionalism and their performance. And it all makes sense. You never see the officers on the TV show "Cops" unjustly beating up on a person that didn't have it coming. Cameras keep everyone accountable for their actions. Suspects included.

As more cops are having cruiser cams installed in their patrol cars, it is likely that their will be fewer and fewer cases of Lazy Cop Syndrome.