David Westphal: Did all the crime shown on ratings-driven TV news change what we demanded of police departments?

Tweets from David Westphal, former newspaper editor and reporter  at the Des Moines Register and the McClatchy Washington Bureau:

What has caused U.S. police departments to become so militaristic, so autonomous and unaccountable? Even as violent crime in the U.S. was dropping so precipitously?

Here’s one possibility: the very rapid increase in crime coverage, particularly by local and national TV, that has occurred over the last 30 years — even as violent crime was falling by 50 percent nationally.

Our communities are hugely more safe than they were in 1990. Yet you wouldn’t suspect that watching the ratings-driven nightly news. So perhaps not shocking that citizens and elected leaders believed drastic steps were required of law enforcement.

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