Thursday, April 10, 2008

i have met the police and he is us...

with apologies to walt kelly and pogo, that's the main feeling i got...from high school kids talking about joining the le academy at the town's community college to scared rookies who still looked like highschoolers, to road veterans, detectives, and especially the sarges, lt's, and captains that ran things but had time to hang out and chat with me about guns, family, and everything else for fifteen years...

nice guys like me mostly...i sold them academy gear, offduty guns, jewelry for their wives, games for their kids, listened to marital problems, job problems, disillusionment problems...

the most surprising thing for me as a recent blog visitor/writer is the vitriole that bubbles up fast and hot in discussions related to things like search warrants, and the types of crime and methods of enforcement targeted by them, and suddenly people are talking about jackbooted thugs and rampant individual corruption and evil.

in a comment at tam's deriding no-knock warrants served and executed badly with similarly bad results, i voiced that the men who make up those squads are just guys like the ones i knew doing what they were told, for better but often for worse...but tam begged to differ...

my responses to her responses give my opinion well enough, and i stand by them...because i know those guys...they are me, and they are us...but unless systemic change and redirected focus begins to reign in the trend toward acquiring and being pressured to use equipment, training, and manpower on an everyday basis against everyday people that is best used rarely and with great restraint, the polarization will continue, and guys?...the police?...he is us...and we can't fight ourselves and survive.

addendum: an excellent story at the lawdog gives genesis to what policing should be, reinforcing that the cops are or are supposed to be, just an extension of ourselves.

5 comments:

CTone said...

I kinda, sorta agree and disagree.

I think much of the strongarm tactics that police use nowadays hail from bad policies conjured up from the political "leaders" who were origionally voted into office to serve us. Now it seems like they only want to save us from ourselves.

Mrs. Johnson didn't sell drugs; she was good person who was killed by the few corrupt cops amongst the many good ones. They were exercising tactics that are the same regardless of the principles of the armed agent.

Ryan Frederick is a victim of the same policies. So is Sal Culosi.

I think that in their heart, most cops are acting sincerely, but just like in Nuremburg, one cannot claim to just be "following orders" when they negligently shoot an unarmed optician in the chest, or plant drugs in a house to get a "bust," no matter how righteous it may seem.

I don't think that SWAT tactics are taboo per se - they have their place - I just don't think that it's great policy to inject violence into an otherwise non-violent situation, and nowadays it seems that everything qualifies sending in the guys with armor and automatic weapons.

This is a subject of much interest to me, and I feel that we are heading fast into the wrong direction with tactics like this.

Do you read Radly's blog, The Agitator? He covers this stuff well.

CTone said...

My mistake. I meant to say "So was Sal Culosi" as Sal was killed by a SWAT team.

the pawnbroker said...

right the first time, ctone, sal was killed but his is still a victim...

i don't know if you took the time to follow the links and comments back to tam's original post, but if you start at the beginning and read the progression you will see that a comedic reference became a rant against the misuse and abuse of warrants...and fast became a pretty sharp disagreement about the reasons and the blame...and as i say, i have been taken aback by the them.against.us feelings toward cops as individuals.

the biggest factor in all of this is the subject of the letter from friedman to bennett...about 90% of this warrant activity to cease if this advice were taken...

Tam said...

I did not beg to differ. If that's how you read it, there is a misunderstanding.

I know cops, too, jtc. I've spent the last fifteen years behind the glass at a gun store myself and count many among my friends. Heck, I've walked the deer fields of Georgia with MattG and his dad.

What I said was that the cops in the Kathryn Johnson case are not just innocent guys like our buddies, haplessly caught in the gears of the machine.

Those PARTICULAR cops were dirty as the day is long. They were caught red-hand lying to gain a warrant and planting evidence to cover their mistake, and in the process, an innocent old woman paid for their deliberate, premeditated malfeasance with her LIFE.

Like I said, I have lots of friends who are cops, some of whom have been innocent guys caught in the gears, and I'm sure they don't want to be associated with those guys either.

John Carey said...

just stumbled onto your site, on other business. This subject is big with me, so here's MY windbag opinion:

Police forces have been transformed due to a massive infusion of military thought.

Police units are thought of as 'security' forces, not law enforcement.

If you have an adversarial encounter with the police, say you disagree with them about anything at all, you can expect intimidation and threats of violence, followed by a call for back-up. If you refuse to submit, you will be forcibly interred. You were a threat.

Your officers have been trained to this behavior. They believe they are correct in implementing it.

To say that an individual is not responsible for his behavior because he is indoctrinated into a system or even 'following orders' is false.

Police officers are sworn to uphold the law, but police DEPARTMENTS have no such obligation. They are pursuing privatized agendas while hiding behind the law as their defense.

I believe the term for this sort of behavior is 'fascism' - and it's here in America now.

JC