You win! This comment gets it’s own post.

As a writer, it is always gratifying to receive even negative feedback, because if nothing else, it means that someone is reading what I’m writing. Unlike some other writers, I’m planning on approving comments unless they contain personal attacks or identifying information. Some, like this gem, will get their own post in response. Why? Because if we can’t laugh at the crazies, we give them legitimacy they really don’t deserve. So let’s dive into the comment from “jamesb4102gmail.com”.

“JamesB410,” of course, starts off trying to build consensus.

Stop your whining! No one asked you to do this – you did it because you chose to.”

You will hear me repeat this many times, but let me say it for you, specifically, jamesb410. Police officers sign up for a $50,000 a year civil service job with a good retirement & benefits. Things they did not sign up for? To be thrown under the bus by local politicians and the professionally racially aggrieved for following the law & using force that was reasonable under the circumstances.

Maybe for good reasons, but often because you were picked on or something similar in the schoolyard during recess.”

Ah, the old 60’s radical chestnut that police are adult bullies, the Biff Tannens of the world, who gravitate to a career where they won’t be punished for acting out on their violent issues like the rest of us. The “bullies with a badge” trope is very strong within the “Copblock” community, and the rest of the comment reads like he copy/pasted one of Copblock founder Pete Eyre’s boilerplate rants.

“You know what makes a good cop?”

Please, enlighten us.

“It may sound silly, but watch the “Andy Griffith Show.””

You were right. That is silly.

“I know times have changed…”

It’s not necessarily that times have changed, “Jamesb410”. It’s actually that the “time” you want us to “return to” never really existed . “The Andy Griffith Show” was a TV sitcom from the 1960s, based on Mr. Griffith’s experience growing up in an isolated rural community in the 1930s.
Here, this might help http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Andy_Griffith_Show

I know this might be tough to hear, but it’s not a documentary. “The Andy Griffith Show” was an idealized fantasy that was already an anachronism when it was aired. It was never supposed to be a realistic portrayal of police work, just a platform for translating Andy Griffith’s stand-up routines into TV.

To avoid further disappointment, please don’t travel to North Carolina expecting it to look like California. Also, while the Marine Corps is more like “Gomer Pyle, USMC” than they’re usually willing to admit, that show is really not a realistic representation of the Vietnam Era military. Overall, all you do with the “Andy Griffith” argument is showcase your inability to separate fiction from reality

Also, “Mayberry” exists in the pre-civil rights, Jim Crow South. Did you notice that there are no black people in rural North Carolina? Where are they? Is Mayberry a whites-only town? Is Andy enforcing segregation?  Andy also gets away with violating the Constitution pretty often, and even commits a felony or two with alarming regularity. (see below)

“(A) cop, like Andy, should be one with his community. He performs a specific role, but as an equal, not looking down on those he serves. Not seeing them as potential criminals.”

I would like to explore this concept further, but you really don’t support it well in your response. Perhaps you can explain in a way that doesn’t use a 50 year old sitcom as a basis for your position.

“Not seeing them as a source of revenue for the local government.”

Ah, here we go.
High School civics class might have helped avoid this one. Here is a refresher for you; police don’t make the law, and like any job, they don’t have the power to say “I don’t agree with doing my job, so I’m not going to do it.”

First, let me agree that, in principle, refusing to violate human rights or commit crimes IS the noble thing to do. However, enforcing 20mph speed zones in front of schools is not, the last time I checked, a war crime. Nobody is being hauled off to Gitmo for a Drunk Driving. People who get speeding tickets are, generally, SPEEDING. It’s not like Nelson Mandela got 35 in a 25 citations for his outspoken, nonviolent opposition to Apartheid. It’s the adult equivalent of a note being sent home to your mom, it’s not waterboarding.

Here is how it works; Local and State legislators MAKE and PASS laws, and several layers of elected officials sign off on them before police go out and enforce them. Also, elected officials make government policy, whether city, county or state. I suspect that your ire would better be directed at the people who MAKE the policies you dislike, rather than the people tasked with carrying it out. A person who has such a strong moral objection to misdemeanor enforcement probably wouldn’t go into local law enforcement in the first place, but that’s just a guess on my part. Expecting them to quit well paying middle class jobs because you don’t like the policies they are directed to enforce seems a little out of whack. I suspect that if you told your manager that you’re not going to let people buy french fries with their combo meal because it’s not a healthy choice, and you’re taking a moral stand against obesity, you would be looking for a new job before you finished your carefully rehearsed rant against Ray Kroc and all he stood for. Please have some empathy and understand that employment works the same way everywhere – you do what you’re told the way you’re told and you get money for doing it. Refusing to do the job doesn’t make you a conscientious objector fighting for freedom, it makes you a dumb, unemployed person.

Having had this discussion with more than a few people who believe the things you do, I know we’re about to go down the “‘I was only following orders’ is what the Nazis said” rabbit hole. Conveniently, people making that argument ignore all of the checks and balances that are built into our system of government and go right to the nuclear option, equating police officers who won’t commit to civil disobedience or resign in protest on behalf of other people’s disagreement with government policy with genocidal maniacs. Of course, these people also think this is a perfectly rational argument, so they have that going for them.

“He doesn’t talk down to people or bark at them like a drill sergeant.”

Ever? Because verbal commands are one of the lowest levels of force an officer can use. Short, sharp commands are easier for people to process under stress. I agree that every situation doesn’t call for the full R. Lee Ermey treatment, but I have to tell you, it’s a very effective way to cut through chaos, get people to shut up and let them know who is in charge. Like anything else, you can dial it up or down from there depending on the situation. As the recipient of a written reprimand from a supervisor for beginning a citizen contact with the phrase “Listen, motherfucker…”, I can also tell you that not only does the civilian complaint process work, but police supervisors generally take that kind of thing pretty seriously. Even when the motherfucker in question deserved it.

“He uses discretion, not always going “strictly by the book.””

I always love hearing this one, because people who bring it up generally believe that “discretion” will always go their way. Know what they call discretion when they don’t agree with it? Corruption and the “good ol’ boy” system. Let me dumb it down for you – I cut you a break on a speeding ticket and I’m a hero. I cut another cop’s mother a break on a speeding ticket and I’m a gangster. In other words, people who bring this up want police to use discretion when it benefits THEM, but not when it benefits other people.

“Remember when cops used to drive drunks home, instead of arresting them, as long as they had not harmed anyone.”

You would be surprised how often this still happens, but it’s not news. Intoxicated people who end up in jail are often doing other things besides being harmlessly intoxicated, like fighting or urinating on other people’s private property. Also, thanks to lawyers, police can’t let drunk people go if they’re too intoxicated to take care of themselves anymore. It’s kind of like fishing; once an officer makes contact with a person, they “own” the outcome. Drop off a drunk at home, and that person falls down the stairs and breaks their neck five minutes after you leave, and you’re getting sued by the family because you “should have known” that they were so intox that they might get hurt. So the people you might want to blame for this phenomenon are lawyers, not police.

“Or maybe they’d let a drunk sleep it off in the tank, then release them in the morning with nothing more than a scolding.”

Wow. Nothing like a little Felony Kidnapping to top off night shift. I guess it IS ok for Sheriff Andy to violate the Constitution. Here is a hint – it’s really, really illegal to hold people without charges & then just let them go like nothing happened.

“Another thing a good cop did not do was shoot the family dog – they would go to the most extreme measures to avoid doing so. Now, it’s almost automatic on sight.”

Please show me some data proving that the practice of “shooting the family dog” is “almost automatic on sight”. Not “I heard Alex Jones say it on Inforwars”, I mean actual data. If we’re speaking anecdotally, I only shot one dog in 10 years on the job, and it had been hit by a car and was going to die. On the other hand, I saw numerous vicious dogs that were dealt with by animal control or less-lethal means (usually pepper spray). I also had a supervisor who had a permanent limp because he chose NOT to shoot a 75+ pound German Shepherd that attacked him & ended up knocking him down a flight of stairs, but I digress. Show me your data that police are “shooting family dogs on sight” any more often than in years past, and we’ll discuss it.

“Stop with the ‘roid-driven workouts and be in normal shape, not like some narcissistic body-worshiping fool.”

Let me see if I have this right; you’re angry that police officers are too fit, and are demanding that they be in “normal shape” (According to my friends in medicine, “normal shape” in the U.S. is “morbidly obese” everywhere else.) The good news is that it’s obvious that you don’t know me, because I often argue with my friend Tanaka that “round” is in fact a shape.  I thought all police were fat, doughnut-scarfing slobs? Which one is unacceptable, or is it both? Just, wow. This needs it own post.

“Stop.covering your bodies with tattoos, like a sideshow freak. Take off your sunglasses when speaking with people.”

AND GET OFF MY LAWN!
Are you sure that you aren’t a retired Navy Master Chief? “If the SEALs want to wear Maui Jims, that’s their business…”

“I could go on, but hopefully, I have made myself clear.”

You have not. What you have done is convince me that A) Nothing is going to make you happy, and B) You are disconnected with reality on a level that I can’t even hope to reach.

“Bottom line – see yourself as part of the community, not separate within your own “blue” group.”

Sure, ideally, but in an America completely balkanized along racial, income, political and religious lines, which community’s standards do you want police to enforce? After reading your comments, I suspect what you really miss is the bliss of your own ignorance about how the world really works. Maybe you still want to believe that the real world is Mayberry. Should this be the case, maybe read my first post about “Eloi Privilege” and get back to me.

Which community standards police should enforce sounds like an excellent topic for a post. Thanks for checking in,  jamesb410!

5 thoughts on “You win! This comment gets it’s own post.

    • Thanks! I appreciate the feedback, and welcome additional voices to push back against the wingnuttery. Please add anything else you can think of, or would like me to comment on.

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  1. Eric, Eric, Eric. Where do I begin? Allow me first to thank you for your service behind the badge. Secondly, I applaud your use of humor, sarcasm, and intellect in written form. Sadly this, like the Mayberry and Barney Miller days seem to be a thing of the past. Ah, if all officers could simply be Joe Friday and the fine young pair from Adam 12. I’d love it even more if the public were to take the Joe Friday approach. Unfortunately the facts, especially in a case like Ferguson, do not support the emotional outburst that many were determined to make.So, why give a rip about the facts?

    Well, for one thing, as you cogently refer to over and over again in all of the comments I have read this evening, is that our society is a system of laws with very special people to enforce them. Yes, every now and then we wind up with some “very speshul” people that are hired to enforce them. Thankfully, in most cases there are mechanisms in place to ensure that these folks don’t maintain that position for very long. Yes, sometimes the very mechanism and structure get in the way, but ultimately they wind up shooting themselves in the foot often enough to limp off to another profession.

    Eric, thank you for appropriately and accurately addressing some very real concerns. Thank you for shining a light into places that many do not want to. (That applies metaphorically and realistically) If you have not guessed by now I am a brother professional law enforcement officer. I emphasize the word professional whenever I get the opportunity because I believe it is indeed a profession rather than a job. Certainly there have been times when I have allowed emotion to allow my professionalism to slide a bit. Then again, the mf’er deserved to be told he was one. I always try, however, to maintain the oath that I took and represent myself, my family, my country, my community, my God, and my badge (not in any particular order there) to the best of my ability. I truly believe most of us that are in this line of work do the very same thing.

    I wish you much personal and professional success. I’d love to share a beverage with you sometime. Imagine how we could solve all the problems of society. First, just get rid of the hairballs, lol.

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    • Wow, thank you, Mike! Stay safe out there. I’m not on the line any more, but do miss the “brotherhood” aspect of it immensely. Nowadays I am toiling away in that most hostile of environments, Academia.

      Oh, the ridiculousity!

      IMO there is one thing standing in the way of law enforcement being a “profession” instead of a “skilled trade”. Money. Specifically, professionals get professional pay. Cities, especially big ones, don’t want to pay “public servants” as professionals – to an elected official, firefighters, police officers, secretaries, clerks, garbage collectors and the guy who fills potholes are all the same and interchangeable – they’re “people who didn’t go to college”. It’s an ego threat to a prosecutor to have cops that make as much as they do, because “I went to LAW school!”
      Congratulations. You went to grad school. Let me swing a dead cat and try to to hit any lawyers. For double points, let me swing a dead cat and not hit any corrupt politicians who are lawyers…but that’s just my opinion, worth what you paid for it.

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