Brian Encinia, What Have We Learned?

Brian Encinia. Does that name ring a bell? Probably not as much as Sandra Bland. If you have not been keeping up with the news, allow me to fill you in.

Ms. Bland was pulled over by Brian Encinia, a Waller County police officer, for illegally changing lanes. The routine stop was escalated and resulted in the arrest of Ms. Bland. While in police custody, Ms. Bland committed suicide (per the coroner’s report).

Citizens are questioning whether Ms. Bland’s death was a suicide or a murder. The fact that the public is questioning the cause of death is emblematic of the current state of affairs–a high level of distrust of government.

Why do we distrust government? Why are we questioning individuals who are trained to protect and serve?

When policies and practices result in death, there is usually a continual profiling of the victim. While there may be some profiling of the responsible public servant or organization, the imbalance of profiling is a major contributor to repetitive policy failures and public distrust. The public response to Ms. Bland’s death—doubt—is not a new phenomenon. In fact, Ms. Bland played a role in the organized response to recent cases of police brutality, excessive force and falsification of official records. Therefore, we know she was a fighter.

With a few clicks, we can find a plethora of information about Ms. Bland. However, what do we know about Brian Encinia? What type of police officer is he? Is he an aggressive person? Based on the video footage of the arrest, one might conclude that the officer’s focus on trivial matters contributed to the escalation of the traffic stop. If Brian Encinia had a higher level of professionalism and focus, Ms. Bland might have received a simple warning.

The lens I used to study the officer’s behavior is fairly crude. However, this is the type of study that should take place when the actions of a public servant result in a loss of life.

We are not learning from the past failures because we are too protective of those who commit to public service, which inevitably decreases the quality of performance, lowers expectations and increases public distrust.

My soapbox is rather short for this topic, because what needs to occur is evident…in my mind. For those interested in rebuilding public trust, here are a few things to consider:

  • Proper compensation – If we want to attracted good talent, we must provide fair compensation for public service…especially for those on the front lines. Otherwise, you get what you pay for.
  • Character Check – When there is very little distance between the public servant and the citizen, it is key to examine and cultivate the character of the public servant. If the public servant’s character is not in alignment with the mission of the organization, damage and/or loss will ensue.
  • Sankofa – Learn from the past. The standard reaction to policy failures is to manage public perception. However, if there is a policy response that is not focused on risk reduction, incidents will repeat and this repetition will intensify any existing distrust of government.

Submitted by Henry Smart, III


3 thoughts on “Brian Encinia, What Have We Learned?

  1. TM, thank you for the feedback and I will consider your input for the next piece. I could have been a bit more specific, but the context created in the start of the piece should make it very clearly about what level or type of government is being discussed. Thanks again!


  2. Good points about distrust of police but don’t generalize to ‘government.’ No doubt, bad acts by police will not infuse trust in elected councilors or city staff, but generally the public still continues to give good ratings (on National Research Center’s citizen surveys) to most public services (including police).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We distrust government agencies because every day we are given examples on the local, state, and federal level that many government administrative agencies need to be eliminated in favor of citizen councils that can review the acts of government employees. The EEOC, the DFEH, the Labor Commissioner are just a few of the agencies that do more harm than good at the expense of taxpayer dollars, and need to be eliminated. Let the public deal with the perpetrators directly. What kind of uncivilized animals do we exist with who cannot even respond to simple phone messages,
    emails, and letters over a twelve month period as [Hi Point Apts LLC] Walter, Cliff, and his clan do?

    It is recognized that the practice of …… discriminating … foments domestic strife and unrest,

    ….you are supposed to protect us civilians, not fight us!

    Liked by 1 person

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