“You only have power over people so long as you don’t take everything away from them.
But when you’ve robbed a man of everything, he’s no longer in your power – he’s free again.”
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago (1918-1956)
Today’s police officers have a serious image problem. Many of them look and act like cocky, bulked-up gang-bangers, who are juiced on steroids and growth hormones. Consequently, millions of Americans now have absolutely zero respect for cops.
Part of the image problem is because today’s police officers are a different breed. Once-admired neighborhood officers, who walked the same beat and knew everybody in the ‘hood, have morphed into arrogant, above-the-law “robo-cops,” who patrol in menacing cruisers, glaring at pedestrians who dare eyeball them. If these holier-than-thou badged ones step out of their iron steeds, they tend to strut, bully, abuse, brutalize and—far too often—kill what they derisively refer to as “civilians.” That would be us, the lowly taxpayers, who underwrite those cops’ paychecks.
Yes, there are still good police officers on the streets, those who take their oaths to protect and serve seriously. But they tend to be older gendarmes, who were bred in a training environment that emphasized“service” as opposed to raw, anything-goes “law enforcement.” The new-generation is a much different breed, a post-9/11 mutant raised on violent video games, weird MTV shows and bloody movies. Many have never been in a fistfight or played contact sports, tend to be utterly devoid of courage, and have a warped sense of entitlement.
To compensate for chronic fear and, in some cases, outright cowardice, the new crop of kid-cops resorts to a menacing appearance and overt intimidation. Look at how many cops intentionally emulate skinhead neo-Nazis by shaving their craniums bald, wearing dark, wraparound sunglasses, and tailoring their uniforms to fit as tight as a hooker’s skirt. Throw in the requisite bullet-resistant vest and a black belt laden with menacing weapons, radios and ammo pouches, and you have a modern American law enforcement robo-cop that would be unrecognizable to his gutsy, common-sense predecessor of the 1950s.
But the most disgusting, perennial characteristic of many modern police officers is their above-the-law, us-versus-them mentality. That, plus the Patriot Act’s permission to view citizens as potential terrorists, is responsible for an explosion in police violence. Cops are hopelessly out of control, killing an average of three Americans per day, every day of the year.
No, not all cops fit this profile, but the good ones are universally guilty of looking the other way, going along to get along, rather than risk being ostracized for doing the right thing. It’s the rare, exceptional, honest officer, who will blow the whistle on his brethren-in-blue, especially when the screw-ups hurt or kill an innocent “civilian.”
Frank Serpico, a gutsy New York detective, who was almost killed for simply not taking part in the corrupt street practices of his fellow officers, recently wrote, “We must create an atmosphere where the crooked cop fears the honest cop, and not the other way around. An honest cop should be able to speak out against unjust or illegal behavior by fellow officers, without fear of ridicule or reprisals.”
Creating such an environment requires excellent leadership, but good leaders are rare in most police departments. Poor screening of academy candidates, lousy, outdated training, a culture that ignores bad behavior, venal police unions, and a solid “Blue Wall of Silence” that protects even the most corrupt and worthless cops breeds exactly the same rotten characteristics in its leaders. Bad cops grow up to be bad leaders, and the system never improves. Garbage in, garbage out.
But the tide is shifting. Good cops had better grow a spine and start systematically outing their corrupt brothers and sisters en masse, if only for their own protection. Abused “civilians” are angry, and they’re ready to clean house. That doesn’t bode well for every cop wearing a uniform, badge and gun.
In January, a publication entitled, Restoring the American Republic, issued a “Message for Law Enforcement” that pulled no punches:
“Not every cop is abusive, but most of them cover up for those that are, making them just as dirty and giving police everywhere a more tarnished reputation in the eyes of the people. The more the Constitution is ignored by police…the more injustice will tear the fabric of society, until it comes apart. The thin blue line really doesn’t know just how thin it is, until the people at arms rise up.”
Restore Honor – Tip #2:
Police chiefs and sheriffs, fix your rotting cultures, by first ridding your ranks of rogues, then creating an environment that rewards good behavior. Cops that expose malfeasance in their midst must be honored, not shunned and badgered—or killed. To that end, warn the union’s thugs to back off and shut up, or you’ll get rid of every one of their leaders.
And, for God’s sake, clean up your officers’ appearance! Order cue-ball cops to grow some hair, ditch the bulked-up, robo-cop image and attitude, and adopt a sincere protect-and-serve mentality. Behavior that honors the Constitution and Bill of Rights will garner the respect of your bosses, the taxpaying citizens of your community. But you and every officer on your force must earn that respect and support. Right now, both are endangered species in most American communities.
William B. Scott