Bashing police for political gain…pathetic.

 

I loathe election time.

It’s a time for everybody to witness America at its worst, and this year’s offering is no exception, in fact, it’s the most perfect example ever of what’s wrong in this country.

The bottom line is this: with about 300 million people in this country, how in the world are the people offered up to vote for this year the best available options?

The Democratic front runners are life long politicians with no clue about what it takes to raise a family in middle or lower class society, and the Republican choices are just, well, wow.

Surely, there are rational human beings out there who would love a crack at running this country, but can’t because they aren’t wealthy enough to be considered.

It’s ridiculous, but I digress.

I’m mad at the Democrats right now.

Bernie Sanders is sick and tired of seeing unarmed black men being shot by police. One of the few things that he and Hillary can agree upon is that local police departments are unfair to black communities.

I didn’t watch any of the debate because I was working a night shift to supplement my already worked day shift, in order to be able to afford a decent, middle class existence for my family. I only saw snippets and read some recaps in the papers.

Maybe I missed mention of the six police officers who’ve died in the line of duty in just the last few days alone. Were these deaths mentioned at all?

It should be really interesting to see how low these two stoop in their bashing of the police to garner minority votes. The same police officers who are there to protect them and their families or shut down roads so that they can get to their engagements or debates or whatever safely have to stand in these auditoriums and listen to such drivel without snapping.

Police officers don’t make the laws. We enforce the laws made by people who are supposed to have the interests of the people on their minds when they do make them.

If the laws are so unfair to the black community, then talk to the legislators, local and state especially. If the sentencing of black people is so out of proportion, then talk to the judiciary about that. I don’t control who can afford a good lawyer and who has to use an over-burdened public defender.

All we do is arrest the criminals, black and white and every shade in between. If the number of arrests of blacks is so disproportionate to the number of arrests of others, then maybe the reason for that lies somewhere outside of the responsibility of law enforcement?

I know that where I patrol, most of the suspects described to us police officers by victims are black males.

That’s not racism; that’s a fact.

Many of the victims are also black, perhaps even most. I can certainly attest to my experience being that most of the victims of VIOLENT crimes in my area are black, homicides especially.

You gonna blame the police for that?

No. I don’t accept that.

Police officers are most concerned with violent crimes. Those are the ones we want to solve more than any other crime, so that the most violent offenders are removed from society. That’s who we spend a great deal of our time looking for. Of course encounters with those suspects are  more fraught with potential danger and violence.

I was given a gun the day of my graduation. I was taught how and when to use it in the months preceding that graduation for a reason. It happens.

I don’t have experience in patrolling rural America, so I can’t speak as to what goes on out there, but in urban policing, and I don’t suspect St. Louis is any different from other large cities, I am more hyper-vigilant about my safety in certain areas and around certain people. Any police officer who doesn’t develop that sense won’t last long.

It’s not racist for me to be more concerned about my safety when I patrol in North St. Louis than when I work a secondary job in the suburbs. There is more violence in one than the other.

A LOT more violence.

That’s not the fault of the police either.

Citizens of all colors want to be able to raise their families in relative peace and safety. I think a lot of people who’ve never lived in a violent neighborhood would be shocked to learn what lengths people go to because they fear being shot simply while sitting in their living rooms. I’ve been in homes where all the activities of the family, like watching TV, etc. are done on a second floor because of the fear that a stray bullet from the street might come through a first floor window or wall. There is often, literally, no furniture on the first floor.

That’s sad, but again, that’s not the fault of the police.

Violent offenders don’t normally just appear and then vanish after committing a single crime.  Run the record of people committing violent robberies or shootings, etc. and I guarantee you that most of the suspects have considerable arrest histories.

The system lets them back out onto the streets to rob and steal until they finally manage to kill somebody, where I work, that’ll probably be a young black man, until they finally get thrown in jail for life.

Again, that’s not the fault of the street officer. You think we enjoy having to arrest the same clowns over and over again?

No. And they’ll tell us to our faces that they’ll be out again. It’s frustrating, and they’re right, but we’ll keep arresting them.

That’s what police officers do. We arrest people who violate the laws that Bernie and Hillary and the Bush’s and people like them make.

Well, that’s not ALL we do. We’re also supposed to keep the roads safe and man large events in your town like ball games and street fairs and what not. All those events your cities and towns have that are so much fun? Yeah, most of your local cops can’t attend them with their families, because they have to work them. Nothing happens in a big city without the police having to be involved.

We’re also expected to psychoanalyze criminals and victims on the spot. Can you recognize mental illness in a stranger versus an LSD induced episode? Should it matter? If the person is dangerous, should I care that he’s bipolar or whacked out on drugs?

I sure don’t care initially. I care about going home safely after my shift ends, and I’ll not make any apologies for that. If a mentally ill person is allowed to get to the point where he’s on the street causing a disturbance and “in need of help,” whose fault is that? We don’t blame his family or his doctor or pharmacist for not checking in on him, nope. We wait until the person is out of control and then we call the police and demand they deal with the violent outburst without anybody getting hurt.

And that happens almost every single time, except for when it doesn’t. When it doesn’t, you hear about it and then you take sides. On the left are the police bashers demanding reform and criminal charges. On the right are the police apologists who support us blindly. Neither side is 100% right, and most of either side has never had to deal with the mentally ill while they’re having a dangerous episode in public. While in a police uniform.

Yeah, the uniform makes a difference. Almost always, it makes it more challenging.

The very legislators who bash the police are to blame for allowing mentally ill people to roam the streets of our communities because it’s too costly to address their needs in a proper facility. Many law enforcement officers around the country barely have a high school degree, let alone a Masters in Psychology. Many are paid under $15 an hour. Guess what sort of people are going to take a job with that much responsibility for such little pay?

Yikes is right. That’s a lot of responsibility AND power given to a person working for not so much reward. The end result of that isn’t always pretty.

The drug war belongs to the legislators as well. Make marijuana legal and guess what? Law enforcement officers will stop making marijuana arrests.

I’m not a police homer by any stretch of the imagination, but there has to be a stand made by the people who understand that the system is fucked up FAR beyond the police.

The police officer on the street is just an easy scapegoat for a system that fails to educate inner city kids or grant job interviews to people named LaQuita or Tyrone because of their names alone. That sort of racism is where society is really hurting the underprivileged.

Do you know who does give jobs to Tyrones and LaQuitas?

Large urban cities and police departments. This is why it pisses me off to no end that the implication is that it’s the black community versus the white police.

The law enforcement community absolutely includes blacks, and there are plenty of white criminals and their ilk who also hate the police.

I would challenge any private company in the St.Louis area to compare their minority hiring to the St. Louis Police Department’s. I work with great officers of every race, sexual orientation and ethnic background.

I wouldn’t have it any other way. Urban kids don’t want to listen to a 40 year old white dude, no matter how cool I totally am. A black officer from their neighborhood though? Yeah, that’s a person they can look up to and emulate and strive to be like, or even better, strive to be better than.

We have those men and women and they go into the worst communities every day and make a difference just by being who they are.

Do police officers fuck up sometimes? Absolutely, but it’s the exception and not the norm.

Black children getting second rate educations and limited opportunities at employment is the norm. Those norms are not police related, and I would argue that they are way more detrimental to the growth of minority communities than any threat of being shot by a white police officer will be in most of their lives.

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27 Responses to Bashing police for political gain…pathetic.

  1. Once again Don, you rock! Well said.

  2. julie says:

    Hi Don! I now recall why I enjoyed reading your stuff so much! You always teach me more than I already knew, and give such logical food for thought! I now have much more empathy for the “violent” neighborhoods as well. I have lived in my home for 39 years. In early November someone pulled up in front of my home and opened fire, putting a round through my kitchen window, and 3 or 4 through the exterior walls. They shot my refrigerator 3 times, my microwave took a bullet, shot my washing machine and a bottle of sloe gin. There was a bullet recovered from the microwave (about a quarter sized hole in the side of it) one from inside my freezer, and the police made a couple holes in my interior wall to locate another couple. My family was home, my son had just left the kitchen. He and I were sitting on the couch in the adjoining living room. I looked out and saw the vehicle. I wonder if it will ever feel the same in my home. Tell you what, I am still pretty happy to see the police on my street, even if it causes anxiety about what might be going on. It is believed the shooting was intended for my neighbor. That would have been plenty scary for us, but these stupid fucks can’t even manage to hit the correct house? So I get to deal with the clean up, the repairs, and the fear for my family? Sorry, that turned into a rant. I agree with all the points you mentioned. You sir, are correct. Stay safe and God Bless!

    • Good Lord, woman! Are you okay?? That’s scary and I’m sad to hear you went through it. It happens so often in some areas that they just accept it. When you try to tell them that it’s really not acceptable to have to live in fear, they’re just not convinced because it’s all they’ve known I guess. you be careful. I hope your neighbors moved?

      • julie says:

        As okay as we can be I suppose. Some days are still pretty bad, others are almost normal, which surprises me.
        This has never been “that” kind of area. There’s a grade school behind my house! That was great cause of concern for the police.
        No, unfortunately they own the place. If they were renting they could be evicted. So many people have told me to move! Really? And where should I move to? Someplace safe? And where might that be? I have felt “safe” right here for nearly 40 years! At least I know the normal “house noises”here! (And sometimes even the familiar noises freak me out)
        It was so loud! It smelled so bad! They shot my sloe gin! (That bottle had to be easily 20 years old!). You are afraid to go out, and afraid to stay home. What if it snows? It takes a while to shovel my driveway. Can you see me tossing myself to the ground every time a car passes? My daughter just told me the last time she shoveled a car passed and some kids hung out the window, maybe flashing gang signs! She hid in the garage and cried! And didn’t tell me for days? She didn’t want to make me worry? Are you kidding me?
        We are considering lining the front of the house with refrigerators…..

  3. Cheers Don. In Gaelic – Go n’eiri an bothar leat – may you have a safe journey (always).

  4. Carrie Rubin says:

    Wonderful piece, Don. I always look forward to your voice of reason. I’ll have to send this post to my niece (the police officer).

  5. You should moderate the next debate, Don. I’d watch that one. Well, some of it anyway.

  6. Lance says:

    I’m going to attempt something impossible; reasoned, intelligent disagreement over Al Gore’s internet.

    I don’t agree with premise that Bernie and Hillary were “bashing” the police. Are they pandering to minority voters, yes, but in doing so at least they’re the only political candidates talking about issues important to the minority communities they seek votes from. But they didn’t say “police suck all the time and criminals are all innocent”.

    I could throw out statistic and chart after talking point backed by research that shows the number of black men in prison. I could even insult your vast intelligence with interesting left-wing memes about the Bundy Ranchers being arrested while Tamir Rice and Sandra Bland are dead but let’s just talk, here.

    I work with police every day. I build communication systems and tower facilities so 911/Public Safety systems can do their jobs better. So for a dirty, filthy lefty commie socialist whatever the kids are calling people who aren’t right-wing conservative Republicans these days, I actually have a job that helps the police. What they tell me is much different that what you’re writing. They’re concerned about incarceration rates, the number of black people killed and the lack of accountability for the deaths that are suspect. What they tell me is one bad cop or one incident where a cop screws up is worse than 100 because it makes the news, the media that are social and people think there are hundreds of them going on at once. So Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland etc is a huge problem because public perception is everything with public officials. That badge not only makes them and you a target but also a scapegoat.

    Missing from your well-meaning and well-informed post is the accountability of police misconduct. That is also on elected officials but also you guys in blue because rooting out the bad among you is part of your job. Otherwise there would be no use for Internal Affair or whatever your department calls them. Sorry, I watch too much L&O SVU.

    Asking the police to be better at their jobs, be held accountable when they make mistakes and do better at maintaining public trust is NOT anti-police. The most pro-police thing is wanting you all to be better and more accountable. That makes y’all safer.

    As parents, we want our children to be responsible, kind and smart in their choices, If we let them off the hook because of whatever reason we fail as parents. This philosophy holds true with police.

    Look, these are the worst Presidential candidates in my adult life. There were 17, now 6, morons on the right and 3, now 2 ineffectual, vastly flawed morons on the left. I do listen to my friends of color and my co-workers in blue and they’re all saying things that need to be heard,

    Again, I’m just disagreeing, not finger pointing or diminishing. You have a damn hard job that I only admire, never look down on. Do you think I want to walk the streets, be underappreciated and have to deal with some left-wing writer boy coming at me bro over the internet?

    Hell

    No

    I appreciate what you do, I honor you and I thank you.

    Totally.

    *fistbump*

    • Thanks, buddy! I really do appreciate all reasonable, non-character attacking for no good reason comments. I’ve written in other posts about my thoughts as to weeding out bad cops. It has to be done for sure. I teach at the police academy right now, and I get to impart, well try to anyway, impart my hopes and thoughts onto the new wave of police officers in St. Louis. Part of that is always going to be to do the right thing and using discretion and being empathetic and compassionate.

      I’m neither right or left wing, so whatever the middle segment is called, that’s me. Shhhh, don’t tell anybody that I’ve never voted for a President before.

      At some point though, society has to address why there are these same recurring issues between police and the communities we try to serve. People being dealt with by the police are going to get hurt sometimes, and I think police departments need to do a better job of acknowledging that fact instead of hiding or making what sound like poor excuses for use of force. When use of force is justified, JUST SAY SO!!! We suck at just saying so though.

      Most officers are well intentioned and trying our best to do what’s right. I can’t describe for you in a comment how frustrating the job can be at times, and it’s for some of the reasons mentioned in my post. I don’t like to be lumped, and when somebody says, “the police,” I’ve been lumped. There are certainly going to be some bad situations, and even criminal ones involving officers. I hope the prevalence of video will help to address them, but we also need to give the officer a chance to defend him or herself and not kowtow to the anger of the public. It is what it is I guess.

      I’ve hoped for months now that the Ferguson mess wouldn’t allow us to return to where we were before. We need to learn from that, and part of that learning is educating both sides of the conflict as to what the hopes, rules and expectations of the other side are, if that makes sense. I think we can get there, but fanning the flames, even if you don’t believe that what they said was fanning, some people do, doesn’t help.

      I also think that accountability for the failing system needs to be borne by more than just the police. We’re the blue collar workers of the justice system. Change has to come from those who make all the rules and make all the money. I’d like to see their feet held to the fire more often.

      • Catching up on my reading after several months away … Don, what makes me crazy, and what I don’t understand, is why so many of these highly publicized killings of unarmed (black) people by police don’t go to court. I thought grand juries were supposed to decide whether or not there was enough evidence in a case to warrant a trial – yet time and again we see grand juries refusing to indict where there’s a TON of evidence – witnesses, video, a dead body with bullets in it. It leaves ordinary citizens like me feeling that the grand juries are subverting the justice system and giving police carte blanche to do whatever they damn well please, and that makes it hard to trust you guys – sorry, but it does! I agree with you that if deadly force is justified they should just say so – but sometimes it would be appropriate for them to say so in court, in front of a jury, to determine whether or not what they’re saying is in fact legally true.

        Seems to me the police should be held to a higher standard of accountability, because you’ve chosen to put yourselves into that position, you’ve accepted the responsibility, and you’re equipped and have received training to deal with dangerous situations. Don’t get me wrong – I think what you guys do is (usually) incredible; I’m so grateful for the law enforcement officers we have here in our town. But the fact that you’re willing to serve doesn’t mean you should get a free pass when you screw up. Do you have any insights into this that you’d like to share? I’d really love to know how you see the role being played by grand juries in regard to recent police shootings.

  7. Kate Hall says:

    Thanks for a great post once again Don. You always educate me. I love to read your point of view. Now go write something funny, dammit!

  8. lrconsiderer says:

    Thank you for this, because as an outsider looking in, all I have are the opinions of people I trust to hold good ones. You’re one of those, Officer Don, and I always, ALWAYS think it’s a wonderful thing when you write to share your viewpoint, some education, and a giant, dollop of common-sense which NEEDS TO BE HEARD!

  9. DON! This is so RIGHT ON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am sharing this on every possible platform I can think of. Great post. 🙂 🙂

  10. Well said, Don. On behalf of all of the police officers I work with…thank you.

  11. Shelley says:

    As always an educational read. I think all of your candidates should read this.

  12. jasteck says:

    Just retired after 32 years with Denver PD. The politicians only listen to the activists who speak the loudest and not the vast majority of citizens who are busy living their lives in a society made safer by officers who protect them 24/7. Stay safe as you patrol those streets and know that you are making a difference for a diverse group of people who appreciate everything you do. They’re the ones that count, not those that are only there to make headlines.

  13. Love you. I haven’t watched the debates. They make me too mad and I like being happy with my head under a rock. Except that sounds painful. Anyway, great points as always, you. xxoo

  14. Nicole says:

    Officer Don

    I came across your blog through pinterest. I want to thank you. You are appreciated, I don’t know you. A young woman from a small town, I want to say thank you. I do feel bad, that our government won’t doing anything about your brothers and sisters in blue being murdered. I look at this way with the officers in my town… 1) Be appreciated of them when you don’t need them, and greatly appreciated for when you do need them. 2) Cops are human, they make mistakes just like me. I never seen a perfect cop. As cops you see some unpleasant things. Your job is a stressful job I know. That’s why when I see a cop, I try to let him know he’s appreciated.. Some will let me hug them, some love the simple “Thank You!!”
    I believe that officers like yourself have big hearts , that it is your passion to be an officer. Thank you. I will pray for you and your family.
    Thank you again.
    God Bless you,
    Nicole

  15. markbialczak says:

    Hey, Don. This should be assigned reading for every political candidate, no matter the state or level of position for which they aspire. Great logical thinking from somebody who sees the system for what it is, my friend. (Sorry it tom me so long to get here. I’m glad I saved the email notitification.) Have a great weekend with the DOAT family, if you can find some free hours.

  16. AshD says:

    This blog is a really good breath of fresh air. I have spent nights peeling my eyes open to keep reading this thing…when I don’t read for a while I get hooked and find myself reading these with one eye open. I am a significant other to a recruit of 1502’s class. This blog has been a little bit of therapy to me for this new lifestyle my family and I are about to dive into. Thanks for the realness, the time you put into this, being a REASONABLE and PERSONABLE human in this crazy world and lastly for being funny (nothing in life is worth it if you can’t laugh…you clearly get it).

    High five from down low, (<— This was on Forbes "Worst sign off" lists so of course I'm using it)
    The New Girl

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