Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Just before I sat down to write this I, on a whim, looked at my other subscribed blogs.  Just about all of them stopped 4 years ago like some mysterious force swept across the land leaving only a few scattered survivors in its wake.

I have annihilation fantasies.  It is one of those things.

So that Fergison thing is happening.  I've wanted to write about it ever since the first night of protests but I couldn't quite grapple onto what I wanted to say.  After all it would be easy to just go the, "pigs bad.  toys bad. capitalization and proper punctuation bad. lootars bad. everything bad."  But that's not what I do.  Well okay I do that sometimes but it isn't something I wanted to do right now.  To be honest I still want to write about the topic and yet I don't.  Well not really.  Instead I want to pull the camera back and take a look at the broader picture cause that's where its at.

Mostly though I want to talk about the problems with the police.  There are certain things that once you see them you remain effected by them for the rest of your life.  For me that is the French film La Haine which is about the day after a race riot in Paris and three unusually racially divers friends living out their day.  The movie has a lot of messages in it but the biggest one is the utterly unbalanced power relation between people, particularly poor people, and the police.  The other big issue is what to do about that power imbalance.  The movie doesn't give out any easy answers on everything and as the years roll by I find that the movie itself remains distressingly relavant.  I'm going to get back to this.

I'd like to pull back even further and talk about the Police's role in society.  Were I to ask that question to the class someone would shoot up their hand and say, "To serve and protect".  That's not really their role in society though.  That is how they achieve their role in society.  There is a difference between the two.  Their actual role in society is to preserve the order of that society.  That may seem strange but I'll break it down a bit.

The idea behind the police is that they will act as a neutral third party for when you've been wronged and they are the first step in the process of making it right.  So if I were to get robbed the police would dedicate resources to finding my stuff, returning it to me, and punishing the wrongdoer.  This work on all levels from robbery up to murder.  It is the comfort that there are people out there who possess the resources and the training to help me so I don't "have to take matters into my own hands".  We may give cops a lot of shit, hell even to much shit if that will make you feel better, but a cops response is almost universally better than taking matters into your own hands.  Look up the Hatsfields and McCoys feud that went on for years and caused a lot of death all because outsiders couldn't maintain order.  Or there is this wonderful man.  The point I would like to emphasize in this article is that he shot them while they were trying to flee.  They were running he was in no danger.  The woman surrendered and he decided to shoot her anyway.  Speaking of which to find this news story I googled man kills thief.  I had plenty of stories to choose from.

This is why we need the police.

The police may do some crazy shit.  But it isn't anything nearly as bad as what we would do to each other without them.  The interesting thing about the police is that we don't seem to need that many of them  On average we only have 17 police per 10,000 residents.  That's mostly for larger cities for smaller ones the ratio is even lower.  If we were to all violently rise up the cops would be fucked.  Even if we were to half assedly kinda rise up but not very violently we get things like Fergison.  However, in general we like our order.  It brings us comfort and security and the police are supposed to be here to help maintain comfort and security.  When things like Rodney King, The Zoot Suit Riots, Fergison happen it is because there is no longer any faith that order can be maintained.  When this happens it is a result of a cascade failure on the officers to do their job properly.  They have one job.  To maintain civil society.  To aid in the maintenance of civil society they both serve the citizens and they protect them.

So why does it go so fucking wrong?

I have opinions on answers!  YAY!

Lets do the easiest one first.  We need to stop using Police Officers as nannies.  This is a pro police officer point!  I wanted to start with it because it think it is the most critical.  Police Officers joined the force to uphold the law.  Yet they spend most of their time sitting around writing speeding tickets, checking for seat belts, telling kids to turn their damn music down, shuffling around drunks, and parking tickets.  This helps no one.  It doesn't help the public because it means that the public will be subjected to a parade to tiny annoyances that are going to fester until it turns into "fuck the police".  Our very own Gulf Breeze brags about how they gleefully pull over people going less than 5 miles over the legal limit and you know what?  Everyone hates them and their asshole cops.  Cause lets face it officers went through about two years of training.  They are men and women who are willing to put their lives on the line for us.  They will try their damndest to keep us safe and sitting around doing shit work isn't one of those things.

It eats at you.  Worst it eats at us.  After enough traffic stops, trumped up moving violations, or someone tut tutting us because our tags are expired we can't help but think that cops are not here to serve and protect but instead to harass and annoy.  Our respect for them wanes.  There are any number of ways to deal with this problem everything from a separate force akin to meter maids to a probationary period that officers go through before becoming full fledged officers.  The point being is that the people who enforce silly bs nanny laws can't be the same people who will be showing up to domestic disputes, helping car accident victims, et cetera et cetera.  These people are supposed to be professionals give them the respect they reserve and maybe they won't feel the need to take their frustrations out on us.

NEXT! I just flipped a coin and we got the brotherhood of silence thing that cops do.  The vast majority of cops are good people who are good at their jobs...even if you are black.  There is a long history in this country of cops abusing their power and these cops in particular have always been.  Nothing new.  Even if you were to take my above example you'd still get the bad eggs.  However, cops are hesitant to rat out other cops.  This is for two reasons.  One good one bad.  The bad reason is that it makes other officers not be able to trust you yadda yadda yadda I shouldn't have to spell it out.  The good reason is because officers are under an unreasonable amount of regulations.  Those regulations don't fit reality.  They don't even come close and hey sometimes shit gets a little bit to real and you gotta take actions that don't exactly fit within the regulations.  Me?  I'm a dishwasher at a corporate owned retirement home.  There are all sorts of silly rules that I should follow that I don't.  The difference is that officers literally make life and grievous bodily harm and possibly death choices.  They do so quickly and being raked over the coals for doing so sucks.

However, there is a cynic in me and I can't help but think that the "brother hood of silence" thing is mostly pushed by shit cops.  Just a gut feeling.  It also doesn't help that cops have no incentive to tell the truth.  Traditionally it comes down to the officer's word versus mine and he's been entrusted with the authority to maintain the peace soooo why would he lie?  It is his job not to!  Officers need a better way of reporting misconduct and police departments need more tools available to keep cops in line.

There is the training issue but I don't feel like going into that.  Police need to be trained better.  They need to be evaluated more often, and blah blah blah.  The media has latched onto this point you don't need me for it.

Lastly, there are quite a few cops out there who need a fucking attitude adjustment.   Do what I say and you don't get hurt is what a mugger say to a victim.  Also he "gaurntees that we will come out alright but it might involve some forced cavity searches.  Cause you know forced cavity searches.  I could go on with the butt stuff (which is sad) but the point is that this is not something an officer should say to a citizen.  It is time for Cops to relearn that they are not the boss of us.  We are allowed to film you no matter how much you may not like it.  You are not allowed to search my bag, my car, my house, or me without a warrant.  If we aren't breaking any laws and I mean real laws then back off and go do something important.  It is not up to us to just curl up in a ball and take it so that we can go through the proper channels later because it is your sole job to make sure that this doesn't happen in the first place.  It is not my job to placate cops with attitude problems.

Most officers are good people who do a good job.  However, sometimes they make mistakes, sometimes they are thrust into situations that they are under trained to handle, and sometimes they look the other way while their co-workers commit monstrous injustices.  When I originally was going to write this blog I was going to say if you look the other way while something horrible happens you are no better than a nazi but that's a rather pathetic take on a complex issue.  None of us know how we'd react until we are in that situation.  That said they need to do better because the buck stops with them.

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