Poll finds CWU students have become desensitized to police brutality


Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia

Morgana Carroll, News Editor

A poll of 85 students taken on campus last week by The Observer showed that the majority of CWU students believe they have become desensitized to seeing news about police brutality. 63 out of 85, or 74.12%, of students polled said they feel they have become desensitized.

Some students said they feel this is the result of social media and how they have more accessibility to the news of police brutality. 

“We’re so used to hearing about mass death that death doesn’t mean much anymore,” Quinn King, an undeclared first year, said.

Lecturer in Law and Justice Todd Mildon said that he thinks the reason for desensitization is how accessible information is on social media. 

“It could be a feedback loop,” Mildon said. “People become desensitized to violence and they become more likely to commit violence because it has less of an emotional consequence.”

Some students said that despite police brutality becoming almost routine at this point, they still are not desensitized and their reactions are as strong as ever.

“I have a lot of empathy, so everytime this happens again, I get really upset,” Senior Elementary Education Major Lee Schwartz said. “I just want it to finally stop.” 

The poll also revealed that of the 44 people who said they had heard about what happened to Tyre Nichols, 33 of them had found out about it through social media. Four had found out through mainstream news, and seven had found out through other means.  

63 of the polled students said they think that society has become complacent to police brutality, while 22 of the polled students don’t think that society has become complacent.

Some of the students who answered ‘no’ said that while they feel like a large part of society has become complacent, there are still people who protest and make demonstrations after instances of police brutality.

Aiden [Collins] Schoch, a third year in law and justice, said that he feels like society has become complacent because of how helpless people feel to make lasting change.

“I think a lot of people feel powerless,” Schoch said. “As important as individual action can be, a lot of people feel like it isn’t enough.” 

Mildon said that it is important for society not to get desensitized to police violence. He said the consequence of becoming desensitized is a tolerance of immoral acts, as was historically the case when many Americans were desensitized to slavery and segregation. 

“One of the ways that we ensure that violence does not become more common is for all of us to be more outraged by it than we are when we become desensitized,” Mildon said. “In order to protect our own society, we have to remain vulnerable to the emotional impact of violence around us.”