"What's up" is probably a combination of factors:
1) The increasing militarization of our police (black battle rattle body armor, helmets, armored personnel carriers for even the smallest department). SWAT responses for what would have just been a 1-2 officer response in the past. Drones in the air. With the donning of the gear comes a change in mindset from "to protect and serve" to "gonna get some".
2) Lax oversight in terms of "use of force" reviews. There has always been a "thin blue line of silence", in which law enforcement officers (LEOs) were expected to back each other up in the case of a civilian complaint. The increased use/availability of personal video recordings by civilians might be the only thing standing between personal freedom in a LEO encounter gone bad, versus being jailed/convicted as a result of life altering trumped-up charges.
3) A sense of entitlement on the part of LEOs. Sort of a "might makes right" situation. On the minor end of the scale, this might result in a uniformed officer (or off duty cop) driving in a manner that would result in a civilian being ticketed/arrested. On the larger end of the scale, this may result in a LEO being judge/jury/executioner in any LEO/civilian encounter. It's left to the surviving family members to prove the LEO wrong. Good luck with that.
4) A very strong distinction between "us" and "them". Rather than your local police officer feeling that he is "one" with the community in which he serves, there tends to be a strong distinction made between cops and non-cops. Sort of a "cops are good", "non-cops are a threat." This impacts the behavior/perceptions/actions of LEOs against non-LEOs. For an interesting book on the effect that this us/them perception has on the beliefs/behavior of LEOs, I encourage folks to read "Signal Zero" by George Kirkham. Signal Zero: George Kirkham: 9780345257710: Amazon.com: Books This book, released in 1977, details the experiences/thoughts/actions of a criminology professor who goes through his local police academy and starts working in a high threat urban environment. He is painfully aware of his change in attitude with time.
5) The political nature of the prosecuting attorney (or as I affectionately call them...prostituting attorney) position. Nobody will get elected/re-elected by promising to enforce the laws fairly. Elections are won by claiming to be "tough on crime", a high conviction record, and by throwing people in jail. Too bad if you're chosen as the random criminal "poster child." Guilt doesn't matter...all that matters is getting a conviction.
6) The incestuous relationship between criminal defense attorneys, prosecuting attorneys, and the entire criminal injustice system as a whole. "Justice" does not matter. Being "fair" does not matter. Many defense attorneys have worked in the past as a prosecuting attorney. The "system" all depends on processing people through the system as rapidly as possible (much like cattle in a slaughterhouse). Numbers matter, not people. There is not enough time or financial resources available to fairly handle each case, hence the increasing number of "plea bargains" or "pretrial diversion" cases.
7) The ever-increasing number of laws, resulting in more and more US citizens being charged for "criminal" offenses. You ARE a criminal, each & every day of your adolescent/adult life. Guaranteed. It's just a matter of a LEO deciding to choose you for extra-special attention, then "shopping" your case around to a city/county/state/federal prostituting attorney willing to pick a suitable charge (out of the thousands & thousands & thousands of laws on the books). Been there, done that...burned the T-shirt. Remember...ignorance of "the law" is no excuse. See: Overcriminalization , and The Criminalization of America | JONATHAN TURLEY for some cheerful reading. Another cheerful thought is "'There is no one in the United States over the age of 18 who cannot be indicted for some federal crime,' said John Baker, a retired Louisiana State University law professor who has also tried counting the number of new federal crimes created in recent years. 'That is not an exaggeration.'" This is from The Many Failed Efforts to Count Nation's Federal Criminal Laws - WSJ.com .
8) "Mens rea" no longer matters. mens rea legal definition of mens rea. mens rea synonyms by the Free Online Law Dictionary. . All that matters is your local LEO happening to notice you, write you up for something, then shopping your care around to the various prostituting attorneys until somebody decides that they can make a case. Whether you knowingly intended to break "the law" does not matter.
It's a painful realization that a "free" citizen of this wonderful nation is subject to summary execution or (to a lesser extent), life-altering criminal charges on the whim of those in power.
As a child, you're taught that as long as you "follow the rules", you'll enjoy a happy productice life as a member of our society. All it takes is a single random painful encounter with our criminal injustice system to experience an "awakening."
Take the Red Pill.