In recent times (and mostly due to a push by the news media) there has been an effort to try to reduce deaths when police take suspects into custody. There have been several high-profile cases of officers who were involved in deaths being prosecuted, in situations they might not have been before, with very long prison sentences to try to send a message to all the others, punishing them exactly the same as someone who committed ordinary murder.
Supposedly people think this will help reduce the deaths of suspects being taken into custody.
Police across the country are terrified of prosecution. They are afraid they might make one small mistake and could find themselves being prosecuted for murder. In some of these situations, it can be easy to make a mistake when struggling with a resisting suspect. There is not always a "perfect way" to take a suspect into custody who is fighting, especially suspects on drugs who may not be thinking rationally.
Because of this many cities are having difficulty attracting police officers. Potential applicants do not want to work there; they do not want to work in a situation where they fear the possibility of being sent to prison for over twenty years because they make a mistake on the job.
What this is going to result in is cities having to hire lower quality applicants. People who might not have been their first choice, but the city could not get anyone better. People who might not be cut out for the job. I read at least one city is considering hiring officers with a former criminal record. This could lead to more deaths.
I read in Russia, out in the rural hospitals, there are many nurses who show up to work obviously intoxicated with alcohol and this has led to many patient deaths. There is such a shortage of nurses, due to the low pay, that hospitals have little choice. Nurses showing up to work half drunk has almost become normalized, and alcoholism is very prevalent. If these underfunded hospital automatically fired everyone who showed up to work drunk, there would not be enough nurses, and more patients would die, so they are in a bit of a bind.
You can see the analogy here.
Look, I'm definitely not one of those people who automatically take the side of police in every situation. I do not believe police should be given blanket immunity because "they were just doing their job". (Nor am I a fan of giving police officers special privileges other normal people do not have) But the current situation has reached almost ridiculous levels. If someone makes a small mistake that was not difficult to make, and they weren't setting out into the situation with the intent to commit murder, they should not be punished as if they committed an ordinary murder. Police officers can find themselves faced with difficult situations every day. There is really no magical way to take somebody into custody who is fighting without hurting that person. In a few rarer instances, there is a chance that could result in death.
Imagine, as part of a job, being forced to buy a lottery ticket where if you "won" you would be sent to prison for twenty-five years. What type of publicity would that create? How popular do you think that job would be?
You would only get people who were more desperate. Maybe people who do not fear prison as much in the first place. You're going to get lower quality applicants.
It's true that some cities pay high salaries but these tend to be the same progressive cities where police know they would be most in danger of prosecution if anything went wrong. That the city wouldn't hesitate to throw them under the bus. Just to try to avert negative media coverage, so some mayor or politicians could get reelected.
There already exist several cities in the US where corrupt cops are plentiful, so it is definitely possible for police forces to get bad people on them. If police feel they have to lie to cover up for each other, because they do not trust the justice system, that is also not going to create a good working environment and could lead to higher rates of corruption. It might prevent an officer from getting fired who should get fired. Good honest people are not going to want to apply in that work environment.
Despite what some people think, it's NOT so simple as just "If you don't want to go to prison, don't make a mistake".
Nor is it always true that "only people who are guilty can be prosecuted and sent to prison." Officers often have to use physical force that could result in a small risk of the suspect being hurt of killed. Sometimes officers have to shoot a suspect when they believe their lives could be in danger. It's a decision that has to be made very fast in the moment, sometimes after the officer is physically and mentally tired out from a struggle, so sometimes the officer might not always have been correct in his assessment or decision.