“May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one.”

"This report is maybe 12-years-old. Parliament buried it, and it stayed buried till River dug it up. This is what they feared she knew. And they were right to fear because there's a whole universe of folk who are gonna know it, too. They're gonna see it. Somebody has to speak for these people. You all got on this boat for different reasons, but you all come to the same place. So now I'm asking more of you than I have before. Maybe all. Sure as I know anything I know this, they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, 10, they'll swing back to the belief that they can make people . . . better. And I do not hold to that. So no more running. I aim to misbehave." ~ Captain Malcom Reynolds

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Perception is reality

Yes, there is an unfortunate growing gulf between police and citizens in a lot of this country.

But before we point fingers, let's think how much of that lays at the foot of the citizenry.

Every time you tell your kids "If you don't eat your dinner the police will take you to jail," or point to me walking through the store and say "If you don't listen he'll come get you," you have another child growing up thinking we're the enemy and not someone there to help them.

Every time you see us walking in your store or office and point to someone saying "Take him!" or "He did it!" you reinforce the notion of "us vs. them."

Every time you're at a stoplight with a deathgrip on your steering wheel, afraid to look at the marked car next to you; or you walk down the street and pretend the cop walking the beat doesn't exist you do your own little part to widen that gulf.

We're people. We have a tough job - and sometimes it involves doing things people don't like. But we are doing it as your representatives, enforcing the laws that you as a society have asked for. Yes, there are bad apples - just as there are amongst the other parts of the world. Trust me, we like them much less than you do. But just keep in mind that the vast majority of us are simply doing our best to do what's right, even knowing the looks and comments we get.

So, instead of griping about a separate police state, how about taking a few minutes to say hi and get to know one of us? You might be surprised.


Jon said...

As a citizen, there's always a *little* bit of trepedation when it comes to dealing with law officers. It just always exists. But said law officers are people too. And dealing with them as people while they go about their jobs makes everyones day better.

My trepedation is always "am I doing anything he's going to pull me over for?"

And, if the answer is yes, and he or she pulls me over - so be it. Thats their job. I find when I make it as easy on them as they make it on me... everyone goes home agreeably (even if I occasionally end up with a citation I don't want ;))

Keith said...

Here's the problem, Captain. I know that the laws are written by a bunch of idiots. I also know that there are so may laws now that no matter what, I've probably broken one and probably more without even knowing it. I also know that there are some real bad apples in the ranks of the police. There are a lot of real GOOD ones too. But if the guy behind me making me grip the steering wheel too tightly is one of the bad ones, it's going to be a long, ugly day for me.

So, yes, I'll grip the wheel too tightly and hope that you don't decide it's my unlucky day.

I wish it were different, but it ain't. So we just have to deal with it. Sorry.

Gothelittle Rose said...

Keith has a good point, in a way, in that it is more lawmakers than police who are responsible for at least some of the fear. I'm fine with policemen and my son adores them.

The problem is that there *are* so many laws that I don't know if I can walk down the street without breaking three that I've never even heard of. This creates an atmosphere where it seems that the main way to keep from being arrested for *something* is to simply not draw attention to yourself.

I'm not saying that policemen go around looking for people to arrest, because I don't think they do. But it takes only a nosy neighbor to get you in trouble with the law. (As a homeschooler, I've learned this. One fake neglect call from someone who doesn't approve of your existence can ruin your whole *year*. If you are lucky.)

None of this is the policemen's fault at all. He's just the guy who shows up because he's been told to do so.

If you come to my house with a social worker, I'm going to be as polite as I can, and I don't *want* to cause trouble. But I am going to stand on my rights as much as I possibly can, and if you enter my house, it will not be with my consent. It's not because of you. It's not because of your uniform. I have no beef with you. It's because I don't want this encounter to result in monthly DCF visits and a Social Services record for the rest of my life just because my neighbor doesn't like me.

And again, that's not the policeman's fault. It's this increasingly controlling, red-tape-bound society with laws that nobody can even keep track of, never mind follow.

Disclaimer: Though I know of countless cases where homeschoolers have had to deal with this, including court cases won on the Fourth Amendment afterwards, I personally (thankfully) have never had to deal with it.

Captain Tightpants said...

I don't disagree on the overabundance of laws (and more frequently regulations which have the force of law) and the way that they are changing our world.

But the fix with that is all of us - not the police. We need to quit electing people driving for a nanny state. We need to quit allowing them to pass such rules, and we need to roll back the stupidity where it exists.

Gothelittle Rose said...

(Is "Captain Tightpants" what I call you now? :) ) I totally agree with you.

lelnet said...

I will only say this...if you dislike the bad apples even more than we do, you need to work harder to get rid of them, and the "blue wall" mentality that protects them. We didn't invent the blue wall. We didn't create the culture where even a bad cop will be defended to the bitter end against even an honest citizen. And if _we_ were to force _your_ cars to the side of the road in order to threaten to sodomize and then murder you, _we_ would face consequences rather harsher than a paid vacation.

I do believe that most cops are basically good people, trying to do a good job. If this were not the case, we would already have a state of open warfare between the police and the rest of the citizens in this country, simply because the provocations would be too frequent to be ignored. And I do not blame the police for the fact that the average citizen unknowingly commits three felonies per day...that's all on the legislative branch, and if we truly lived in a just world they'd all hang for it.

But as long as the majority of cops who are basically decent continue to provide unlimited cover for the minority who are most emphatically not, the tension and mistrust will remain.

Phelps said...

I'm with Matt. If I had any confidence that when a bad cop starts slapping me with chicken-shit offenses because he thought I looked him crossways and it wouldn't end with the entire department closing ranks behind the thin blue line against me, I would be a lot less worried.

I have absolutely zero confidence in any department's internal controls.

Gothelittle Rose said...

Perhaps I am lucky, I don't know, but I personally have never come across a problem cop. The few times I've been pulled over, they've been serious but friendly, calm, polite, and honest.

Dori said...

"The average citizen unknowingly commits three felonies per day"...wowie.

As someone who has never committed a felony (alleged misdemeanors, maybe...though there was never any proof regarding the noodle incident) I don't know if that makes me below or above average.

I was raised in a police state country. Merely making eye contact with an officer was cause enough for questioning. Complete opposite of what I experience on the streets of this country. I'm on the captain's side on this one. Perspective is always a good thing.

Jeff said...

I thought what you had to say was very much on the mark. I was raised with the idea that if you need help seek out a police officer as they were always someone to turn to not turn from and with that approach I’ve never had a bad police experience.
If you are the type of person that white knuckles the steering wheel and find you label all cops a threat unless proven otherwise then try reversing your thinking as you could surprise yourself. Try and keep the glass is half full not half empty point of view. Sure there is going to be bad apples, they appear in all other walks of life so why not police but I firmly believe they are in the minority not the majority. A bit of empathy would also be of help. Imagine yourself in the cop’s shoes. He doesn’t know who you are or what he is walking in to and yet he gets up and does it every working day. Sure he might not be Mr Sociable but who knows what he has had to see or deal with before he got to you.
So hi Captain good to meet you, all the best and keep safe.