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  • October 2009
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Its been a bad month for the cops….

This post was prompted by observing that for the first time since I began blogging, posts about police misconduct have jumped to the #1 most-read posts on the whole site. While these posts are important and have always had a small number of regular readers, it is very strange to have them jump from the lower levels of the list to the top, so I spent a  bit of time trying to figure out why.

Turns out here are a lot of reasons.

  • A “school Resource Officer” (A.K.A. “cop”) beat a special needs kids senseless because the kid’s shirt wasn’t tucked in, and it hit the press (it was caught on a surveillance camera).
  • The National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project released its monthly report, with some rather alarming statistics, such as the fact that cops are 8 times more likely to commit homicide than civilians, and four times more likely to commit rape. Of course, their sentences are only half as long when they’re convicted.
  • This month, three more police departments are facing investigation for massive wrongdoing: Dolton, Illinois; Greece,  New York; and Spring Lake, North Carolina. In all three cases, the misconduct includes falsifying evidence, brutality, and perjury by police officers.
  • “School Resource Officers” are also having their time in the spotlight, with 5 cases of school cops being involved in pornography and sex scandals with the students they are supposed to be protecting, and a case of a cop using a taser to prevent a kid from making a cell phone call in the hallway at school.

The scary part is that these are only the events that actually made the news. Considering how hard it is to get police misconduct reported by the press, I have to wonder how much more there really is.

So think about it: when a cop pulls you over, or approaches you on the street, what is your first gut reaction? Do you feel safe and secure, or are you afraid and nervous? So who’s protecting who here?


2 Responses

  1. This IS a hard question. I’m often belligerent when I get pulled over, unless, of course, I know that I was doing something wrong – “Do you know why I pulled you over?” “Why, YES! Yes, I do!” – then I’m okay with it. More often than not, though, I get the distinct impression that Officer just wants to show me who’s boss, to whip out his (or her) proverbial dick and challenge me to a duel, and I have no patience for that shit.

    The thing that worries me about the sort of thing you’re illustrating here, though, is the question of oversight. Are there good cops? ABSOLUTELY; I personally know of one or two, and I’ve known a couple of students who wanted to go into law enforcement, and they were all about the public service. I can easily see how cops get jaded, though (much like teachers do, in fact) because they’re asked to do an incredibly difficult (and often dangerous) job for little recognition and a lot of risk (not to mention the regular doses of disrespectful bullshit they (we) get to manage ON TOP of their (our) regular duties). It’s kind of an impossible situation, really, but that doesn’t excuse the bad behavior of those who don’t have the capacity to cope with all the job entails.

  2. I more or less agree – but there are a couple of misconceptions: being a cop is a lot LESS dangerous than being a civilian – the concept of cops having a dangerous job is not supported by any statistics, and is actually contradicted by most dept of labor statistics. Almost ANY other job carries a higher risk of death or injury – including office work.

    Yes, there are definitely good cops out there. Unfortunately, the system tends to encourage them to stop being cops, leaving the corrupt thuggee type as the career cop. Kind of like teachers – the good teacher that lasts more than a few years is rare….

    Disrespect and bullshit are (for the most part) earned by the cops. If a cop isn’t on a power trip, and behaves in a rational manner, (s)he will usually get a similar response. Once again, the issue here is the fact that (in general) when cops are interacting with the public, they’re (using your analogy) whipping out their dicks, not really doing anything productive. If that is the norm, how can a cop rationally expect any other response? Of course, the cops know that when the situation escalates, they will never be held accountable, so we have a never-ending cycle where the decent cops get burned out and move onto something else, and the crappy ones keep getting their rocks off by being thugs….

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