What does the guy robbing my car and Colin Kaepernick have to do with each other? Read on…as one who was the victim of a robbery a few weeks back, I am forced to engage with law enforcement out of necessity- but more on that and Colin a bit later. First…
One does not have to read too many of my blog entries to understand my general feeling toward contemporary law enforcement. Suffice it to say, I am not a big fan of the popo in general. To summarize in a sentence, my belief is that contemporary law enforcement in the United States -in particular the uniformed officer on the street- is generally populated by undereducated, ignorant and aggressive human beings who otherwise would likely be unemployable in most other industries –outside of something construction related.
But how do I really feel?
Hey I did not say all…believe it or not I have several law enforcement friends (Shane, you know who you are)…and they generally agree with me.
However, the problem runs much deeper than the character of the individuals with the guns. The entire system is inherently flawed as we hand over badges, guns and power to 21 year-old kids whose brains are still 4 years away from being fully developed. In other words, we begin a cynical and egotistical brainwashing process that will stick with them the rest of their careers.
Where I reside, they go a step further…they give said guns to kids and then mandate that they go work in a prison for the first several years of their tenure –only to hang out with hardened criminals for a time to ensure their already jaded and cynical view toward humankind is fundamentally wedged into their psyche.
Had I not been afforded a college education and was subsequently given a gun at 21 with said power -and then hung out with the dregs of society for a few years- you can bet I would be the same unemployable negative human being.
The system sucks.
The second major problem with contemporary law enforcement rests in the idea of incentives. It is fairly well proven that human beings respond to incentives. I would argue everything we do in life is the result of an incentive. No reward? No reason.
I would also argue that the incentive for police brutality is the means by which these (usually) men can work out their personal, emotional anger issues against helpless victims. When I asked a white neighbor of mine many, many years ago why he was quitting his job and joining the LAPD, his response was, “So I can kill some niggers.”
Absolutely true story.
Ok. Incentive understood, racist asshole. But more on incentives in a moment…
A Possible Solution
I have a very simple solution that might solve some of the issues we face today yet gets “poo pooed” by the “popo” as being somehow unrealistic: Simply require that anyone serving in law enforcement must have a 4 year college degree. So simple.
Why do we require a college education for those who educate our children, yet for those with the power to kill our children, we do not?
Oh, and it is not just me who believe this…a recent study out of Michigan State University found compelling evidence that those officers with a college degree are far less likely to use violence in the course of their duties. You can check out this MSNBC report as well.
I am not suggesting this as a 100% certain cure-all for the excessive violence and issues we face today; I am saying the evidence suggests we would likely see a significant decrease. Why?
A college degree says far more about the character of the person and who they are over what they may know. I would argue that achieving a college degree fosters the following:
- It demonstrates one must possess patience and tenacity.
- It demonstrates drive and determination.
- It demonstrates the ability to follow instruction.
- It demonstrates the ability to cooperate with others.
- It demonstrates the ability to submit to leadership you may not particularly like or agree with.
- It demonstrates the ability to finish what you start.
- It demonstrates the ability to submit to someone else.
And, at least theoretically, acquiring a degree should teach an individual critical thinking skills, reasoning and problem solving all the while opening up minds to a far wider scope of humanity in general -exposing one to differing ideologies, beliefs, and cultures. And unlike one of the most common current forms of preparation, military service, it helps to build mental health, not work towards declining it.
A college education would also make the rookie officers a few years older, which would be beneficial as well.
My Recent Experience
Now, back to the asshole who broke into my car and stole nearly $2000 worth of goods (which includes having to re-key all my cars and house). What is the incentive for law enforcement finding this guy? What is in it for them? If the answer is, well, nothing tangible…finding a two-bit thug will not result in any trophies, raises, bonuses or career advancements. The result?
Nothing. A finger has not been lifted.
I had to plead with law enforcement just to file a report, after 3 trips to the Sheriff’s station. I have called the officer who eventually filed the report several times…nothing returned. After a week of NOTHING I saw some Sheriff deputies eating lunch and approached them with what happened…even had pictures in hand of the guy in the process of robbing my car. Did you get that last part? Pictures of the crime in progress, you read it right. (Read: Protect and serve me….please!)
“Go to the station,” they told me without missing a bite of their pastrami.
I went to the station.
“Go home and call this number,” they told me. I did. I got an answering machine. No call back.
A few days later, I finally got an obligatory call back when they told me there was nothing they could do.
“I have pictures and video of the crime in progress and the precise timeline of where he went to use all my cards. This is a drive down the street for you. We can have this guy this afternoon,” I said.
He told me to bring everything I had into the station.
Weeks have passed.
Nothing. And I had already done all the detective work heavy lifting.
I wonder what he would do if this were his car or loved one’s car? I think the time and resources might magically become available.
Of course this fine officer of the law probably does not realize that by letting this guy go it may very well be his car next time -and that most big time criminals started out as two-bit thugs.
Did I mention I live in one of the safest cities in California? It is not as though these officers are too busy catching rapists and murderers. Please…
I did mention undereducated, ignorant and aggressive earlier to describe our people in blue….can I add “unmotivated to help the good guys” to that?
Suffice it to say, my latest experience only solidified my feelings toward law enforcement.
I will continue to pay my taxes (their salary) and obey the law. I can also guarantee that the next encounter I have with law enforcement will be about robbery…the extortion and robbery of the police enforcing silly and chickenshit traffic infractions in the name of public safety as they rob the taxpayers. Is it not interesting how remarkably efficient and motivated they can be when there is something in it for them? Just try parking in Pasadena for 46 minutes in a 45 minute only zone…you will experience how remarkably efficient law enforcement can be when it wants to be.
Move over, Colin Kaepernick, I am standing with you my brother. Yes, I realize you are standing up for a system you believe oppresses black people and people of color (and last time I checked “white” was a color)…good for you and agreed.
But this “privileged” white man, although not getting the shit kicked out of him by a rogue cop yet, though the day is young and they have not yet read this blog, agrees we have a corrupt and flawed system that needs serious change. I seriously doubt sitting on the sideline will do much good, though maybe, just maybe, with such protests, blog writing and expressions of such sentiment through various channels, the winds of change will turn the tide of our flawed system as we change the cultural narrative.
I completely understand that law enforcement at any level is a very difficult job…though is this not all the reason we need to have our best and brightest doing it? Please, what am I missing here? If you are in law enforcement, can you please show me what I am missing? Where am I off base? I really want to know and understand….argue with me and/or enlighten me, PLEASE.
To borrow from the great Martin Luther King, I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and law enforcement will live out the true meaning of its creed: “To Protect and to Serve…The Public.”
From personal experience and working within the law enforcement environment, they (law enforcement) play by their own rules and take care of their own. (Unless burning a fellow employee will assist in any kind of promotion.)
Three years ago, after a long term relationship had come to an end, I made the mistake of going alone to my ex’s house to pick up the last of my belongings. Long story short, he beat me up and choked me. I eventually ran out of his house and called 911. I’ve never been hit by a man or by anyone. I was so scared, I could barely talk. Confused by what had happened, I couldn’t think straight. I had red marks and was truly shaken up. I remeber that he only had a pair of shorts on, no shirt, and not one mark on his body. I wanted documentation of this incident, because I thought futuristically this man is going to kill someone. ( a female)
While deputies talked with the both of us separately, his roommate came home and lied about being there. I don’t know what was said, but guess who got arrested Jimmy? I did!! I was charged with PC 273. 5(a) Domestic Violence. A felony.
I felt such an injustice as I cried and felt the pain from the kicking to my ribs and thighs. Being driven away in handcuffs after getting the shit kicked out of me. It was so confusing. I called for help, I got beat up. It was so confusing for me that I couldn’t even fight back. I was the one on his living room floor getting chocked. Isn’t that what you do when someone beats you up? You call the police for help?
When I think about it now, I think because I insisted a report be taken, I got arrested.
While in jail, I asked for a supervisor to speak to. I wanted to show them the bruising on my legs, forming knuckle marks. The redness on my neck from the chocking. No one would listen. No supervisor ever came to talk with me.
Upon my release, I took pictures of all my bruises. Law enforcement was told I had “fallen down”. I filed complaints on the deputies for the way everything had been conducted. By mail, I was told pretty much that my complaints were unfounded.
Why do we call for help? Why do we trust that they will help us and not themselves?
Luckily, the District Attorney never filed and charges were dropped.
I still have law enforcement friends and I worked very closely with many of them for 15 years. I’ve seen the good cops, bad cops, false reports, reports that disappear, the list goes on.
They play by their own rules and yes it can be very disappointing.
So just a word of advice, if you are disappointed by the San Bernardino Counties Deputies, don’t ever 911 in Riverside County.
Take care my friend,
Thank you Bobbie….though I must say your story is very depressing and not a fun read 🙁 It seems quite a few people have such horror stories. I really appreciate you reading and consequently sharing your stories and commentary….though your story is nothing short of tragic.
Oops, I meant Don’t Ever CALL 911!! In Riverside County!!
The main reason why law enforcement probably seems lazy, is because in the American society people will generally only apply the minimum amount of effort to keep a job. This is especially true for people who are not enthusiastic about their jobs. There is room for advancement in law enforcement, but it takes a lot of work, and not everyone is up for pushing themselves so hard. I do not see how a college degree can guarantee a good worker, because I know plenty of people who practically bought their degrees. If you raise the requirements for being a police officer, then you are likely to end up with fewer police.
I know what it is like to have your own property stolen, many possessions of mine have been stolen as I was growing up, but you can’t just entirely blame law enforcement for an inability to find a criminal. Criminals are not always in a police database somewhere. If I gave you a photo and video of a person and said they were seen in Yucaipa for example, unless you have a way to match someone’s appearance to that of information in a database how are you supposed to find someone without searching that general area with you own two eyes. If someone was not arrested prior, or the video/photograph is not at a decent angle and resolution, then there may be almost nothing law enforcement can do to speed up the process. The reason why they are apathetic to help you is because they think the person who stole from you is probably a drug addict, and will probably get arrested for something else anyways.
I am not trying to defend police and say the system is great or anything, but there are reasons why people behave this way. I am not in law enforcement, do you can consider some of what I say as speculation. The unfortunate reality is that anything that’s stolen from you is gone forever, and you may not be able to witness justice being served, because that thief may be arrested for something else and you may never know. This is not a situation that produces results equal to the amount of effort expended, if that where the case there would be no theft. Are the officers “helping” you incompetent? Maybe. Is it justifiable for you to be upset? Most people would say yes, but that does not mean the reason why you are having a problem is because of undereducated law enforcement. There are always many nuances to any problem. Who knows for sure why you might be having issues? I don’t so much disagree with you, as I think maybe you are wrong, or maybe you are right, but there may never be a system that can battle crime extremely efficiently.
We presume innocence of criminals until proven guilty, because it is better to let a guilty man go free then imprison an innocent man. If we instead presumed guilt we might be able to catch more criminals, but that is a system no one wants to be a part of. The solution you are offering barely even touches upon everything the system does, and it is just inevitable people will get away with crime. If a higher education requirement does lower the numbers of active officers, will they be able to enforce the law as well as a larger number of lesser educated officers? Who could possibly know? no matter what you try to change there will be consequences, but theft can be a difficult crime to follow, because it is not always easy to prove someone else has your property, but if an officer witnessed the crime in progress it might be easier and more effective for them to take action. A cop on every block might be able to stop more crime as it happens, which is one advantage of numbers, but no one wants to live in a society like that either.
I have heard many solutions over the years for fixing the police, but they always have major problems. One thing was privatization of the police force, but that just makes law enforcement into a bunch of gangs. Another was more extensive investigations of police departments, but that has the problem of there not being enough people to always watch over someone else’s shoulder. The most ridicules solution I heard was complete abolishment of police, and I do not even need to explain the absurdity of that. No matter what you do there will always be an inferior system, so pick your poison. What problems can you live with? I understand how you feel, but as long as incompetent people exist, there will always be incompetence in law enforce.
Thank you Harley…I believe it is laziness because they could absolutely find the guy if they wanted to. I have precise times and locations he used my card…he can go to Shell or Chevron and request surveillance footage (I did this though because I was not law enforcement they would not release it to me). They could get his license plate and nail the sucker, no problem.
I would suggest for good reading the California penal code, Particularly code 837. I have to agree, Ive dealt with heavily (granted it is hard to homie holster a DShK) armed individuals in Bosnia and made frequent contact with armed individuals working in the forest service. My first reaction was never to yell “GUN” and start shooting. Why? Because proper training. I utterly reject that shoot fast and first is a model for civilian operations. I agree with you on the 4 year degree, The BASIC principle is this.. The organization that will restrict and impede your rights protected in the constitution BY FAR, is the police. There for they should be under the strictest oversight. Remember all citizens within the state of California hold police powers. The only thing that separates you from an police officer is he can cite you on bail and release you. All the extra goodies are special protections carved out for them selves.To quote Bill Maulden “The two groups that always turn collaborator first, were the police and the hotel concierge’s.” Your rights are very likely tertiary to their power.
Odos….you know I always love your different take on things. You’ve called me out on bullshit before so I am pleased we can find some common ground. 🙂 “The only thing that separates you from an police officer is he can cite you on bail and release you.” AND he can lawfully carry a gun and use it for both legitimate and illegitimate reasons.
Yes, yes, yes!!!! To all of this!
Wait…is this an argument?? 🙂
So great to see everyone’s take on this topic! This blog discussion reminded me of my favorite little hippie band from Canada called Walk Off The Earth. Their song “Red Hands” fits into this discussion pretty well I think.
Are you now in Austin? I must give that song a listen very soon.
It is interesting a topic such as this less than a decade ago would have provoked a very different reaction from me. I was married to law enforcement and therefore was very much submerged into all that the life encompassed(or the attitude). Back then my immediate reaction would have been one of defense and disputes. Since the decay of that life which lead to a long drawn out custody battle and divorce. I am all to familiar with the exact personality for which you described. That “attitude” and now being on the opposition of that attitude, it was the epicenter to a long line of issues I experienced on a personal level and even as a citizen looking to law enforcement for help.
I could give a laundry list of issues similar to what has already been discussed. Distress calls unanswered, lack of concern filing reports, slanderous and presumptuous comments and many other ultimate abuses of power. My past has changed my present, now faced with the topic at hand my reaction/stance has evolved into a much different animal.
I agree to all points in regards to reshaping our law enforcement. A four year degree, emotional intelligence training, perhaps some sort of paramilitary training? Sure! Any and all of these would benefit law enforcement and ultimately citizens. Repairing the system so it works for all.
We can all agree in a blog and validate each other’s stories. But as community we are faced with a real issue that seems to be growing or rather more publicized than every before. I’ll admit I’m a skeptic. My question is how? How does an issue move from a blog to action? What can be done to raise enough awareness and generate enough support to get a movement off the ground? A real collaboration on this would be received as a radical challenge against law enforcement. I am not convinced enough of a following is possible.
We have each experienced the personality type involved and our opinion or any action would be seen as an anti police rebellion. The ego and the ones who love them, I fear couldn’t easily perceive the picture being painted. Anyone who would drink the kool-aid against the brotherhood would be grouped into a category of anti law enforcement, far from the real desire of wanting a better law enforcement. Taking the time to listen to reason any intelligble person would recognize such action as civil change.
A few of my favorite people are law enforcement but I believe they are an exception to the rule. If we could make a clone force of these guys we would be doing the right thing. Perhaps we can in the future with the rightness of reform? However I fear the prognosis is unlikely…
There are some things we disagree on. I feel that it is bullshit how they went about handling your situation. However I do not agree with your possible solution.
I do not feel a required 4 year degree should be necessary. I also feel the military is much better preparation for being a law enforcement officer than 4 years in college would. I find this logic flawed, it’s very similar something I noticed in the military. The platoon commander is an officer (usually a lieutenant) and has a 4 year degree and is put in charge of a platoon of Marines. The second in command is the platoon sergeant (enlisted). The difference is the platoon sergeant has been in ranging anywhere usually from 4 – 16 years. The lieutenant usually has only been in for his 1st or 2nd year. The platoon sergeant has been everywhere and done everything. The platoon commander has been no where and done nothing. The only thing standing between them is a 4 year degree and for some reason the person with the least experience is put in charge of us. Even the regular troops have more experience than this lieutenant and would be better fit to be in charge, but yet this person with a 4 year degree is put in charge, and I’ve personally seen and corrected these so called leaders on certain situations myself because these people don’t know any better.
I am in my second year of college and feel that I learned way more 2 years into my military contract. Things learned in the military also carry over to the law enforcement side, such as weapons, tactics, first aid, etc. Things that may be learned in a college but never used or experienced.
When I was overseas, we were on week 2 of a mission, and 15 hours into the day. I am 19 years old, and put behind a machine gun and given the responsibility of keeping everyone around me safe. I am tired, and I’m expected to stay awake and watch over everyone for the next 6 hours in below 0 degree Fahrenheit temperatures and carry on the next day. I know no one with a 4 year degree with the discipline to carry out this simple task I did at the age of 19. There are many other things I could bring up but I thought I’d keep it simple. I feel a 4 year degree can’t replace EXPERIENCE in a field. So I disagree with your solution. I’m not even gonna jump on the COLON Kaepernick situation. (yes I spelled his 1st name like that on purpose.)
I argue that a candidate to become a Police Officer should not be any younger than 25 years old at the time of the acceptance of his/her application. I’ve seen this in real life, a Law Enforcement Officer, who can give me a vehicle code citation, who is too young to rent a car. WTF? That’s as silly as being served alcohol by a bartender too young to drink.
I argue that a candidate to become a Police Officer should not have an education any lower than a Bachelor’s degree. Education is America’s Golden Standard in all else. Why not eligibility for becoming the most powerful official most Americans will ever encounter? How many of you have met a politician as compared to crossed paths with a cop?
I also argue that they should patrol in groups no less than two, because two consciences are harder to corrupt than one. I realize there is the phenomenon of “group think” but remember that the only way to keep a secret is by having only one person keeping that secret. The ancient city state of Sparta had two Kings for a similar reason. No one has ALL the power or ALL the say or ALL the secrets in any given situation. I think more cops on the streets in groups of no less than two will have the added benefit of keeping them “human.” First two cops arrive their “back” arrives and that makes it four. If that four try to keep a dirty secret, one will eventually crack. There is always the “weakest link.” The more consciences present, the more likely one is a “good conscience.” As our military experiences have taught us, constant fatigue of “combat” without respite makes those “soldiers” more prone to committing atrocities. Law Enforcement is after all, Para-Military. Spread the workload (and emotional burden) to many shoulders.
On that same note I argue that cops should have short three day work weeks and occasionally have long four day work weeks. They should have overlapping shifts therefore there are always two shifts on duty at any given time. They should be mandated to take thirty consecutive days vacation every year. This will keep them “human,” connected their community giving less chance for the “us versus them” mentality to take root in their psyche.