By Nathan Barton
It is easy to brand all police officers – and their cousins, government-employed security guards – as evil and total losers, who love to flaunt their power and ride roughshod over anyone and everyone.
Sadly, this stereotype is often true. But once in a while, there are cops who do NOT ruin the reputation of the other 95% of the force. How? By doing good. Going above and beyond the call of “law enforcement” duty to help people, to stand up for a principle, or to fight against other evil. Especially government evil.
Here are a few recent examples:
In Minneapolis, in Orono, west of Minneapolis, Officer Matt Siltala was supposed to issue a ticket (with a hefty fine) to an elderly woman whose grass was too tall. Instead, he mowed it for her. Even better, his chain of command endorsed his action and applauded him for doing so.
In Ridgetop, Tennessee, the city council ordered the police department of five men to ramp up the number of speeding (and other) tickets they issued. The town had a budget shortfall. Apparently, to a man, they apparently refused to do so. Although reports vary, the council reacted angrily by disbanding the police force, thus laying off the officers. Would that other towns do such good things in anger, instead of what they did!
We all know that police officers (well, most of them) love their families, love children, and love animals. We also know that police officers sometimes do protect people and even property, and save lives of civilians. But we also know that there are some police officers that do NOT protect people (sometimes because they appear to be cowardly, and sometimes because they are corrupt or just biased). And that there are some who steal property, instead of protecting it. Especially if the property belongs to “bad guys” as defined by the cops on-scene. Especially if the property is fancy cars, drugs, or cash. And we know that there are cops who TAKE the lives of civilians, and even children, for no good reason other than (a) they’re trained that way, (b) they are in fear of their lives, and/or (c) they were angry and it was easy.
But it is important to remember that not all law enforcement officers go around beating up people, being corrupt scumbags, stealing things, and killing people. There are some who take seriously their oaths to the Constitution(s) and to serve and protect people (not the powers that be or the other gangsters). There are some who love more than their own selves and their own families.
And there are some who have two brain cells to bounce off each other. (Despite efforts of many police agencies to keep from hiring and training people who are too intelligent or perceptive.)
That said, there are way too many officers (and civilian staff) in too many agencies who are more than just fallible human beings who make a mistake now and then. People who certainly cannot be trusted to have any authority over anyone, much less be given a weapon to exercise that authority with. (Yes, even police officers do have a right to defend themselves – provided that they accept the responsibility that creates.)
And there are some things that even the “good” officers do and are that brand them all as losers and dangerous to life and liberty.
- They tolerate the truly evil in their midst: they do not do enough to get rid of the corrupt, bullying, abusive, even killing cops that we see too much of.
- They obey, often without question (much less constitutionally), the orders of those above them. Especially the politicians who lust for power and money. And the senior police officers who kowtow to them.
- They enforce laws which often make no sense, are themselves not laws (because they are unconstitutional), and which cause harm to property and people.
- They exercise a monopoly of force or as close as they can get to it, and there is virtually no competition for the services that they provide.
Any one of these is enough to say that we want nothing to do with them. But as I point out in the last bullet point, we don’t have much choice. If I have a flat tire, I have choices: Firestone or Big O or Joe’s Shadetree. If I have a problem with being attacked by someone, or being robbed, I can’t go to the Yellow Pages and look up even two firms that provide “peacekeeping” or “criminal investigation” or “personal protection.” If I can’t do it myself or with help of a family member, I can either (A) go to a cop, or (B) do nothing.
Increasingly, in this nation, “doing nothing” is the preferred alternative. I can say on reflection that I have NEVER had a single item of stolen property recovered for my by police. Not in 50 years. Not in a dozen different jurisdictions. The closest we came is when my wife had $70,000 stolen from a bank account. The cops DID find who did it, and she WAS convicted and sentenced to prison and ordered to pay restitution. Before the sentence was suspended and she somehow managed to get away after she paid two monthly checks of $100 in restitution. Less than it cost to prove to the bank and the investigators that we hadn’t stolen the money ourselves in credit card fraud.
I have spent dozens of hours with cops and in court proceedings, just to get people to STOP stealing, or STOP vandalizing, or STOP other illegal acts which harmed me, family, or community. The cops I’ve worked with tried to help. I was lucky: they were professional.
No matter what kind of system of private police forces and volunteer and self-help in protecting ourselves against crime, it is hard to see how it could be worse than what we have.
Your thoughts, dear reader, are appreciated.
All cops swear to enforce all laws. Not all laws are just or moral. Therefore, all cops swear to do immoral and unjust things. Everyone of them. THAT is why there are NO good cops.
(See Robert Higgs quote, which my comment is based on)
I have known several police officers in person, and even went to school and played football in high school and fast pitch softball after school with a deputy sheriff and later he became sheriff. He was my best friends brother, a year older than me. Here in Michigan, there is a program at the state police academy where interested students in high school can attend a week long program in the summer between their junior and senior years of high school, to find out if they are cut out for the state police force. My friend attended and I also did a year later. He loved the police work and spent his entire career doing that, while I did not go in that direction. Although the academy was fantastic, and professional, and I learned a lot, I just could not get on board with the program of being shoved around the state at the whim of the state police force.
I think one major issue with all the nation’s police forces today is that we are a country in a state of war, and many returning veterans are going into law enforcement. That should not be a problem, except for the fact that the rules of engagement for war are much different than the rules of engagement on the streets of Grand Rapids or Duluth, MN. And while I am certain that the training that officers receive is quite good, in fact, I know that at least in Michigan, it is top notch, and the rules of engagement are stressed and imprinted over and over again, it must be very hard to overwrite something that you have had programmed into your psyche by having someone shooting at you, trying to kill you, for a year at a time. I know that my football coach was a marine in Vietnam, and he never got over his nightmares. He was also shot a couple of times, and he just about killed a nurse, who grabbed him by the shoulder while he was asleep in a hospital with a bullet in his knee. He hit her with both fists and knocked her over two beds and into a wall.
I have never had someone point a gun at me in anger, but I had someone point a gun at me while I was deer hunting, and he was just looking at me through his scope, so I believe. I was scared to death, and he was probably 300 yards away. So I can imaging just how having someone actually shooting at you, and hearing bullets coming close to you might be.
So perhaps some people, no matter how qualified they might seem to be, in every way, might not be the best fit for police work, even if they can pass all the tests, and all the psychological exams, etc. I think that most police go into the job with the best of intentions. And I will go so far as to say that probably well over half of them do a good job of putting the concerns of the public above their own safety and they try to treat people fairly, no matter the race, religion, or gender. But I believe that there is a unfortunately larger than expected group of officers who are overly aggressive, to the point of being hostile, and who are willing to stretch the law, as long as they are able to make it look like they are following procedure, and who don’t care about the rights of any civilian they come into contact with, be it the criminal or the victim. And it is those officers who cause the rest of the cops to have to work in fear of getting shot, or of not having civilians cooperate when they are trying to do their jobs. I don’t think that there is any cure for it, because the leadership most often has come up through the ranks, and it is the types that are dirty who tend to make the most noise and get the most promotions, based upon arrests, and tickets written, no matter if they are legitimate or not.
When I see a police car, go to condition yellow, when I see a cop out their car, I go to condition red. You cannot trust the person who has a badge and a gun and a government and courts that will allow them to get away with MURDER. You asked.