Monday, September 07, 2015
There are a lot of people out there who hate cops.
“So what else is new?” I hear you ask.
(Cops among the readership are probably just rolling their eyes.)
Of course there are people who hate cops. There are whole sectors of society that dislike and distrust cops. I’m talkng about middle and upper-class white people who hate cops.
I’m talking about respectable members of society with no criminal records, no contact with police beyond getting a traffic ticket, and no contact with the kind of people who engage in criminal enterprises and accept arrest and imprisonment as a business expense.
I am not talking about people who recognize and speak out against corruption and abuse of power by individual cops and broken agencies.
Any honest cop know there are such, though they’ll tell you they are rare. We can argue about whether they’re being too optimistic.
I’m talking about people who appear to hate cops on principle. I’m talking about people who state there are no good cops, because all cops are sworn to enforce all laws, including stupid or unjust laws.
That’s the rationalization at least. To me a whole lot of it looks like the adolescent resentment of authority that I remember from my own early years, only I grew out of it.
“You’re white and you’re not poor, of course you like cops!” I hear.
I have a confession to make. I once was enamored with the romance of outlawry, and my interactions with cops were not always positive.
And long ago in one of the Eastern European countries newly liberated from communist tyranny, I was once the recipient of a beating with honest-to-God jackboots and honest-to-God rubber truncheons.
I will further confess that I have a more than passing familiarity with criminals and ex-criminals. Respectable people are sometimes astounded when I mention that I actually know murderers, more than one in fact.
And I should mention that I’ve had extensive use-of-force training, including a fair amount of police training in the U.S. and abroad while pursuing stories.
That I think is one of the reasons these people irritate me so much. The fact that they make confident pronouncements about what cops should have done in the kind of hot situation they have zero competence dealing with themselves.
I’ve heard a professor of philosophy ask the old question, “Couldn’t they just shoot them in the leg?” (To her credit, when it was explained to her why this is uttely unrealistic she understood and changed her mind.)
I’ve heard others Monday-morning quarterback about police shootings where a cop shot someone making a sudden move who turned out not to be armed.
“Why can’t they wait until they see a gun? They’re out of control!”
I’ve heard police shootings condemned because a mentally disturbed person “only had a knife.”
(There is something called the “21 foot rule.” A lot of evidence shows knife beats gun within 21 feet. And mentally disturbed people too often have hysterical strength and sky-high pain tolerance.)
And I know of anti-cop sites which post article after article about “police brutality” with precisely one source – the accused!
“It’s people like you that justify police states!” you say.
Listen, I’ve lived in police states. And you know what – police states have lousy police. And I don’t mean brutal and repressive, I mean undertrained, incompetent and indifferent police. So-called police states are sympathetic to criminals and regard their citizens as the enemy. I have never once seen the level of courteous professionalism among cops there that I’ve seen here and in Great Britain.
Yes, sometimes you run into bad cops, sometimes you run into a cop who’s having a bad day, and sometimes you run into cops with problems they can’t leave at home.
But could it be that you’re more likely to run into a cop who deals with the scum of the earth on a regular basis and doesn’t know you from Adam? Who deals with people who’d cap your middle-class ass without a second thought because you dissed them, because you had something they wanted, or just because?
One last question. If enough people keep harping on this “there are no good cops” things, how long will it be before a lot of cops decide there’s no point in trying to be one?
P.S. I have been trying to point out to a number of people and organizations:
1) They need to demand the same journalistic standards they’d expect if they were being covered. Sites such as CounterPunch and Cop Block often publish stories of “police brutality” with precisely ONE source – the arresttee.
2) They need to learn something about use-of-force issues before sounding off about something outside their area of expertise. Rory Miller’s “Force Decisions” is a great place to start.
3) If they wish to be effective spokespersons against police misconduct they have to do their homework and stop posting every piece of dreck that supports their prejudices.