Part of the Problem

Monday, May 4th, 2009

Snap of a mini-van bumper sticker sent in by a reader.

Once again, cops aren’t soldiers. American cities aren’t battlefields. And U.S. citizens aren’t potential combatants. This isn’t pedantry. It’s about the mentality with which police officers approach their job, and about what sort of relationship they’re going to have with the people whose rights they’re supposed to be protecting.

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62 Responses to “Part of the Problem”

  1. #1 |  lordy3 | 

    “that doesn’t happen. on a personal level, the amount of “innocent” gun violence is almost zero. shootings are generally personal or business. it can be drugs, it can be love, but its rarely random.”

    Hey dsmallwood (post #32)

    This is horse shit. I’m not saying that there is a criminal around every corner, but depending on where you live, and the amount of money you make, violent crime of a random sort is very real. It might be “drug” or “gang” related, but people get caught in the cross fire all the time. In Chicago, for example, a huge portion of the people killed are 18 or younger. Are all those kids staying out of trouble? No, but some are, and the ones who aren’t may be in gangs, but in some areas that’s about the only option if you don’t want to be targeted yourself (that’s not a justification, it’s just a fact).

    It’s easy to sit and say that most people who get killed put themselves in the situation when you probably live in a pretty comfortable area, at least relative to where most violent crime takes place. I’m making that assumption because you have the luxury of sitting around and commenting on the web, as do I (sorry if I’m wrong). But just because it doesn’t effect you doesn’t mean it’s not real.

    And to be honest, the reason it’s somewhat contained is because of what these cops are doing, right or wrong. Again, that’s not a justification, just the way it is.

  2. #2 |  MacGregory | 

    Most civillian cops I know that are National Guard or Reservists are Military Police when they are called to duty. Which makes me wonder: what percentage of our current civillian police force got their start as MPs?

  3. #3 |  Mario | 

    “All that said, there are good cops. Though I worry about them less for the criminals they face than because of what their fellow cops will level at them the first time they speak out.” — JT

    Excellent point. My understanding is cops have less antipathy for criminals than they do the so-called “rat bastards.”

  4. #4 |  Ian L | 

    #35 jayduba: you really think all cops are just bullies who get off on the authority? And you think no one should whine about what they put up with? I suppose you never complain about whatever job you have? I sit in front of a computer all day. The only danger i’m ever in is of getting carpal tunnel syndrome and i find stuff to whine about.

    I’m sure some cops are bullies. But i dont think it’s as many as you think. I’ve only had interactions with police a handful of times, mostly the ‘traffic ticket’ type interactions. ALL of the time they’ve always been polite and professional.

    #37 Radley Balko: I’m not saying the analogy between police and solider is perfect. But i do think there are some similarities. I dont know anything about the PBA so maybe there are some other issues with them that make this bumper sticker worse if you know about those issues. For me, not knowing anything about them, i dont find the bumper sticker all that bad. Sure, it’s not a perfect analogy. But when i look at it, all i see is someone trying to say we have two guys wearing different uniforms and they are both supposed to protect me and they both might get hurt while doing that.

    #38 clubmedsux: I never said anything about putting cops on a pedestal or not holding them to standards. It just seems to me people are more likely to complain about cops without considering anything that cops have to deal with sometimes. I’m not saying cops deserve special treatment. And i’m not saying any of those other jobs are less important or dangerous. (piloting is a more dangerous job then being a cop?) But it’s clear to me from some of the replies here that some people consider the cops to be nothing more then criminals with badges. Thats the part i disagree with. Sure some cops are bad – in any profession some will be bad – but for the most part i think most of them are decent.

  5. #5 |  John Wilburn | 

    #54 Ian L –

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 10 most dangerous jobs in America are: 1 – Fisherman, 2 – Pilot, 3 – Timber Cutter, 4 – Structural Metal Worker, 5 – Waste Collector, 6 – Farmer / Rancher, 7 – Power Line Worker, 8 – Miner, 9 – Roofer, 10 – Truck Driver.

    Police Officer isn’t even on the list…

    Cops that indicate that they have to make, “split-second, life-and-death decisions” on a regular basis, are either delusional or watching entirely too much television…

    According to Pshrinks, cops ARE in the highest risk category for Alcoholism, Drug Abuse, Divorce and Suicide…

    It would also be helpful (in reducing the fear that citizens have for them), if the police would stop; 1) murdering unarmed citizens, 2) raiding the wrong addresses, and 3) shooting dogs that bark at them…

    Learn from history; the last time Nazis were out of control, it took over 30 million human lives to rein them in…

  6. #6 |  Danno49 | 

    Jesus Christ. It’s not that difficult to understand, is it?

    To reiterate points already made here and elsewhere on this blog many times over . . .

    No one here is saying that all cops are bad or bullies or anything else negative.

    Speaking for myself, it’s the attitude in general that I have a serious problem with. Equating police officers to soldiers is indicative of how the LEO community has been viewing the general populace over the course of the last few decades. This is a very dangerous mindset and continues to lay the groundwork for future trampling of our rights as citizens. It will only get worse.

    When you are likening yourself to a military organization but your job is to ‘Protect And To Serve’ (like it’s written on the fucking cars) – don’t you think that initial mission could get perverted into a mission like an occupying army would have? Say, ‘To Seek And Destroy’? That is more in line with the military does. Fuck that. Not the police. But that is happening and we are seeing the consequences of this frame of mind almost every fucking day now. Innocent citizens (police officers are citizens too) are dying because of it.

    You folks who don’t see this as a big deal can’t see how disturbing this whole trend is? How fucking serious as a heart attack it is?

    What will you do when the police break into your house by mistake and kill your dog, or God forbid, your spouse? No, no. That won’t happen. That shit only happens to other people. People in the news. People you don’t know. But it will NEVER happen to you because you’re a good citizen.

    Wake the fuck up.

  7. #7 |  dsmallwood | 

    #51 | lordy3 |

    “horse shit” is a little strong. my post was anti-name calling.

    but i will answer your statement with a question … even if the violence is inescapable because of where i live and my relation to drugs (please see my second post), how does a SWAT team put an end to the problem of “people get caught in the cross fire all the time” ?

    do we put a shotgun armed police officer on every street corner?

    that is called a police state. i doubt anyone here likes that.

  8. #8 |  jayduba | 

    Ian L Sitting in front of a keyboard. So you realize the most danger you’ll ever be in is when you encounter a cop when he’s having a bad day.

  9. #9 |  Toastrider | 

    >> how does a SWAT team put an end to the problem of “people get caught in the cross fire all the time” ? <<

    Let all the people carry guns too. Peace through overwhelming firepower.

    But you’re missing the point. The problem is not that there are bad cops, per se — bluntly put, it happens. You get bad apples in the barrels sometimes. The problem right now is that nobody is taking action against those bad apples. The police close ranks, the offending personnel get slaps on the wrist, and nobody bothers to ask ‘Gee, is this a chronic issue?’.

    What’s more, this sort of thing is permeating our justice system and corroding it like acid. Read up on the Duke lacrosse case, and realize that if the defendants hadn’t had good legal representation, they’d have been crushed underfoot. And as I commented to a friend, ‘That moron Nifong just guaranteed a review and appeal of everybody he convicted over the last twenty years’. And they’d be right to demand one, because of the sheer scale of what happened!

    The rule of law does not mean ‘you have to play by the rules’. It means ‘EVERYONE plays by the rules’.

  10. #10 |  omar | 

    The rule of law does not mean ‘you have to play by the rules’. It means ‘EVERYONE plays by the rules’.

    Even if your job is dangerous, or you had a bad day, or if your buddy is the one breaking the law. Doubly so for the people with the power to enforce the law.

  11. #11 |  Connor | 

    I disagree with the position that the main problem is just a few bad apples. The problem is in the upper ranks that develop policy. Of course the average rank-and-file cop wants bigger and better toys and maximum ass-kicking potential. The purpose of management is to train these guys and direct their efforts towards the proper mission. It’s the chiefs of police who are the problem, not the beat cops.

  12. #12 |  Psychopolitik 2.0 » Could’ve fooled me… | 

    […] sure about that?  If approaching the rest of the population in a manner akin to an occupying army ISN’T […]