by Ari Rutenberg
With almost weekly reports of unnecessary shootings, it is obvious there are some big problems with the police in America.
One of the biggest problems is the police’s perception of what the public think of them. With public outrage reaching boiling point, the police likely feel they are the most hated people in America. This simply isn’t the case, as many people have great respect for law enforcement and do not think of them as killers. People dislike the police largely because of the serious issues they refuse to address.
Here are a few of those issues, along with some suggestions as to how to fix them:
1. Defending bad behavior
The police defend those in their ranks who commit blatant crimes and abuses of power. Almost without fail or exception. Shooting dogs, or kids, or a random person isn’t ok with Americans. So instead of trying to justify fatal or otherwise tragic police mistakes, try dealing with it honestly.
2. Unequal application of the law
When cops break the law, American’s expect the equal application of the law – cops need to be investigated and prosecuted just like everyone else. But American police break the law as a matter of routine for no reason, or for any reason at all, just going about their jobs on a daily basis. It’s crazy that someone can kill a random person, or shoot someone’s Grandma (even if that person is a drug dealer), and not get fired and go to jail. No civilian could ever say “but I was really scared” and get away with it. They’d get laughed out of court. But police get away with things like this all the time. Most Americans think the police should be held to a higher standard than the civilian population, not a lower one. Police should be exemplars of polite, decent behavior and pillars of civil society. They should follow all the laws (including traffic laws) except for dire emergencies in which they absolutely must break them. Not flash their way through intersections when there’s traffic, or park in a red zone when their getting lunch at Champagne Bakery Cafe.
3. Complaining about how tough their job is
They complain about how dangerous their job is, as if its supposed to be safe. American’s get that being a cop is a difficult and dangerous job. That’s why we give them special cars, batons, guns, body armor, and all sorts of special privileges to do their jobs. They don’t also get to be immune from the laws everyone else has to follow. If you’re not willing to take some risks, don’t be a cop. There are plenty of jobs where you don’t have to take those risks (but of course those jobs don’t come with guns and sirens). Though being a cop also isn’t nearly as dangerous as they claim. Jobs that are more dangerous include loggers, roofers, truck drivers, and living in Chicago. Plus most cops who die on the job die in car accidents. Because they weren’t wearing seatbelts. Macho nonsense.
4. Destroying lives of those willing to speak out
They destroy the lives of those in their ranks who DO try to call out the bad apples. They get them fired, and they lose their pensions. Here’s what happens when a cop intervenes with during a violent incident and tries to report a fellow officer for being a violent thug. Stories like that make it seem like they don’t really care about dealing with their institutional issues.
5. Rejecting monitoring
The police fight all attempts to monitor their behavior and check their power. They think they should have unfettered ability to do whatever it takes (legal or not) to do their jobs. The douchey guy who is the head of the NYPD patrolman’s union is especially good at this. Seems to think cops are all perfect and need no oversight, especially by civilian government, city council members, tax payers, or pretty much anyone who isn’t a cop. Maybe he’s right and we don’t understand what its like to be a cop. But no one ever understands exactly what it’s like to do a job they’ve never done. But the fact of the matter is that in this country, cops work for civilians, and they have to fit their jobs around our rules and not the other way around.
6. Inability to take criticism
They whine like kids whenever they are criticized. They act as if they believe they should be free from criticism, and civilian oversight. They seem incapable of having a civilized discussion about how to fix these problems. And they threaten to stop doing their jobs if they don’t get their way. If police in America were as outraged about abuses of power and crimes committed in their own ranks as they are when people riot and protest against them, we wouldn’t have riots in Baltimore. So to Pat Lynch and cops who don’t want to hear their nationwide employment performance reviews, don’t forget that you (cops) work for us (civilians). Your cops need to follow our rules, and we don’t want cops to be able to do what ever they feel like. We want them to treat us with respect.
7. Not taking responsibility
Police always like to say “a bad apple doesn’t make a bad bunch”, but they never throw out the rotten bastard criminal apples. Instead, they keep them around, and often promote them, allowing the rot to spread and multiply. Like this unbelievable coward who beat up a 4 year old. And to most American’s, that does make them a bad bunch.
Police in America think they are under assault, and treat any criticism as an attack. The truth is most Americans would prefer to have a good relationship with the cops, but they expected to be treated with fundamental respect and decency. And no progress will be made until police, as individuals, departments, and unions, are willing to have a serious discussion about how American’s want to be policed.