Republished from a forcescience.org email blast:
Capt. Charles (Chip) Huth of the Kansas City (MO) PD (above) posted his thoughts on how a mind-set of moral superiority in LEOs may unwittingly be damaging efforts to build community trust. A certified Force Science Analyst, Huth is well known in training circles as a dedicated advocate of what he terms “respectful policing.”
With a quarter-century in the law enforcement trenches, he’s a former team leader for his department’s Street Crimes Unit Tactical Enforcement Squad and is co-author of the book Unleashing the Power of Unconditional Respect: Transforming Law Enforcement and Police Training. He’ll shortly be publishing a new book, tentatively titled Outward Mindset Policing. Here’s a lightly edited version of what he wrote on LinkedIn:
A few years ago, I was sitting in an auditorium with hundreds of senior military and police commanders at Ft. Leavenworth, KS, listening to a motivational talk by a well-respected national speaker. Remarking on the nobility of military and police service, he told the group, “You are simply a better class of people.”
Coming from a man I know to be intelligent and deeply passionate, the comment appeared designed to inspire, but it caused me to reflect deeply on its unstated message. I began to wonder about the possible implications of telling a group of strong, dedicated people, who swear an oath to defend the Constitution, that they are essentially better than those they serve.
What concerns me is the manner in which some officers internalize this message. There are unintended consequences of seeing ourselves as better than the people we serve. When we focus on the imagined superiority of our group—the elite, the entitled, we who are deserving of special consideration because of our superior character, ethos, and sacrifice—it can manifest as disdain for others we view as less deserving.
This mind-set invites contempt and abuses of power, the likes of which have been captured on video and played out in the national media of late, helping to fuel anti-police sentiment. Further, when protectors deem those who are protected as less worthy, it represents a direct threat to democracy.
It has become popular in police training circles to use metaphors to characterize law enforcement’s relationship with the public. Among the most popular of these is the “sheep/sheepdog” allegory. Trainers who favor this framing explain that many members of the public are like sheep that operate in constant fear of predators, while LEOs serve as the sheepdogs that protect the hapless sheep from the wolves (criminals) that stalk them.
While this contrasting might seem harmless, it actually objectifies both the police and the public they are sworn to serve in ways that undermine police effectiveness and helpfulness.
A sheepdog’s job is to ensure the integrity of a herd. When the herd gets out of line, the sheepdog drives the sheep by growling and nipping at their heels, adopting a posture characteristic of a predator. This transformation puts the sheep in a perpetual state of fear of being singled out and attacked, thus providing an extrinsic motivation for them to fall in line. Sheep are afraid of sheepdogs just as they are afraid of wolves. They don’t trust them and comply only because they are motivated by fear of consequence.
Sheep aren’t equipped to fight their antagonists, so a growling sheepdog may not invite escalated dangers among the herd. Not so with people, however. Among those being growled at are people who are capable of resisting. The sheep/sheepdog allegory completely misses how growling sheepdogs can motivate and escalate resistance.
Furthermore, characterizing people as helpless sheep creates a false sense of reality. It helps foster a “sheep” mentality that indirectly states, “If you have a problem, do nothing. Call 9-1-1 and let the professionals handle it.”
The fact is there are many people in our communities who are impressively tough and capable. Even though they do not serve as officers or soldiers, they are quite prepared to protect themselves and others. Even people who lack this capacity still possess the power to keep their eyes open for suspicious people and dangerous circumstances and report what they see to authorities. Given these capabilities, we should be doing all we can to develop partnerships with these folks, not alienate them.
We are more shepherds than sheepdogs: deeply caring and respectful of the people we serve and willing to die to protect them from evil. We make a conscious decision to sacrifice based on love, honor, and obligation, not just training, instinct, and conditioning as in the case of a sheepdog.
The hyperbolic use of the term “warrior” represents another way law enforcement culture has worked to emphasize distinctions between the public and the police. Metaphors can illuminate, but if taken overly seriously, they can also mislead, and the warrior archetype is one of the most misunderstood models in present-day society.
While noble ideals like service and sacrifice were often revered in ancient warrior cultures that are celebrated in current law enforcement training, other elements of those same cultures would be disastrous if applied today; for example, the eating of pig’s blood gruel, shame-based ritual suicide, and strategic murdering of slaves to prevent rebellion.
It is as difficult to imagine today’s police officers celebrating such things as it is to imagine ancient Spartans petitioning their labor organization to block the implementation of mandatory physical fitness standards!
Elevation of the warrior ethos as ideal without thinking more carefully about the components that we subscribe to and those that we don’t can blunt the effectiveness of warrior-focused training approaches.
For many people who promote external concepts of warriorship in law enforcement, the battles they can’t seem to win actually are internal rather than external. For example, they often are overcome by justifications for not training their bodies and expanding their minds. They fear the influence of alternative perspectives because, deep down, they question the strength of their own convictions. They create a fool’s choice in their minds between being compassionate and being tough and capable.
Yet unless you are an active member of the military, the warrior ethos is most practical when applied in the context of fighting internal battles against our individual biases, fears, prejudices, and loyalties that cloud our ability to see and act on what is right. Indeed, in some of the oldest warrior literature the “enemy” the text referred to was understood to represent these types of personal shortcomings, and the battlefield was considered to be one’s own heart.
Admittedly, the warrior ethos can be a powerful force in motivating officers to remain mentally, physically, and spiritually trained and prepared to act skillfully and courageously in challenging circumstances. But it is generally not helpful when used to characterize a police officer’s outward posture toward the public he or she serves. Historically, warrior cultures have not always functioned with their societies’ best interest in mind.
As society’s protectors we are not better than the people we serve. Our own acts of misconduct demonstrate this. And the frequent acts of police heroism don’t make us better, either; our communities are filled with heroes who don’t wear uniforms. We, the police, are part of and a reflection of our society. If law enforcement officers and organizations happen to behave better (and sometimes they don’t), it is because policing organizations are generally well led and driven by an others-centric professional ethos.
Any police officer who is at war with his or her fellow community members is at war with him- or herself. Such officers perhaps have elevated the metaphors they have been trained in above the fellow community members they are sworn to serve, and these closely held metaphors may be blinding them to the equal personhood of those with whom they interact.
In order to foster a safe and responsible society, police need to see themselves and others as they are—as people. The work of terror organizations, extremists, and mass shooters is facilitated when society is divided into marginalized and dehumanized groups.
One of the biggest challenges our society faces is carving out a legitimate place in modern law enforcement for the aspect of the warrior or sheepdog or other ethos that enables officers to rise to the challenge when they find themselves in “kill or be killed” situations.
I am not arguing that we should turn away from training that prepares officers to respond effectively to violent attacks. Rather, I am arguing that we should prepare our protectors in the capabilities needed to effectively deal with the worst of circumstances while doing so in ways that don’t set them up to respond poorly in other, non-threatening circumstances.
The mind-set that can serve officers well when overcoming deadly attacks is counter-productive when applied to the majority of law enforcement/public interactions. Training built on misleading metaphors sets officers up to provoke aggression in situations where patience and deliberate thought would be more effective.
Believing that one is prepared to deal with formidable threats can be comforting on many levels. However, comprehensive safety isn’t achieved by platitudes, overly simplistic metaphors, and aristocentric idealism. Comprehensive safety is achieved by a strong commitment to mental, spiritual, and physical preparedness that facilitates the confidence to build and leverage trusting relationships with the people who need the police the most.
We haven’t seen the last of unprovoked, violent attacks on members of the public and law enforcement, and a principal aim of policing agencies should be to recruit more and more community members to be vigilant and feel a sense of partnership with the police.
Law enforcement in a democracy is at its best with an ethos where officers see themselves as an integral part and reflection of the best nature of the society they serve, not as a morally superior caste set above that society.
What a breath of fresh air!
Can we clone him?
“What concerns me is the manner in which some officers internalize this message. ”
If you want to see what that means, you can find some examples posting comments at officer.com or policeone.com.
The police comments on those sites were so embarrassing and counter productive that they restricted access to police only many moons ago, no?
Nah, although there is a ‘police only section’ for talking specific tactics- shop talk, if you will.
The real problem is that many of the sites don’t do much in the way of verification for its posters, so someone can post as “a police officer” without actually being one if they manage to fit in well enough. I found that ‘officer.com’ was particularly bad with this…
If you want to see a real example, google “Anthony Abatte” + “Chicago Police”.
THAT is where police painting themselves as a superior caste ultimately leads.
A whole on-duty precinct turned out at court in support of a drunken criminal assaulter of tiny female bartenders. They even (temporarily) demoted the precinct captain because of publicity over that one.
There was another incident in 2006 where three of them assaulted two men, including a marine veteran, after one of them complained about a cop’s personal car blocking a driveway, then falsely arrested the victims for attacking them, along with arresting a couple of witnesses for not lying for them.
And note that the Abbate (note corrected spelling) civil trial established THROUGH A PREPONDERANCE OF THE EVIDENCE that there exists within the Chicago PD, a “BLUE WALL OF SILENCE”.
To give you an idea of the attitude of the rank and file toward NON-CRIMINAL citizens, virtually EVERY cop who commented on the beating (see video link below), followed AT MOST a single sentence of crocodile tears about the beating with PARAGRAPHS of whining about how the video was being shown, “too much”. They sounded like the Brown family’s lawyer whining about how the Ferguson cops were “smearing” Michael Brown’s “reputation” with UNEDITED VIDEO OF HIM ROBBING A CONVENIENCE STORE. But hey, it’s hardly surprising when criminals act alike.
More importantly, Abbate’s cop friends engaged in a conspiracy to intimidate the victim, her employers and her co-workers in order to coerce her into not pursuing criminal prosecution and a civil trial.
Through the entire incident, the Chicago PD acted little different from any other criminal gang, like the Disciples or the Latin Kings.
THAT is what happens when police are held not just to a low standard, but no standard at all. A culture develops in which they view the public as mere prey.
I should point out that Chris and I are talking about Chitcago, a mob town where the police department is just the most dangerous of the many organized crime rings.
While much of what we say applies to placed like Los Angeles (city and county), New Orleans, New York, Philthydelphia, and pretty much the entire state of New Jersey, it does not apply to the entire country.
Well, he’s making a tenuous start—but at least it’s a start. What he’s trying to identify is police tribalism. Change the culture of the tribe and the problem goes away. But saying this is easy. It’s the doing part that’s hard.
Indeed. This is the same tribalism that exists in many professions — teachers are about as clannish. I know both teachers and LEOs are underappreciated, underpaid, and put up with some of the worst society has to offer. But in the end, we’re all here to serve one another (or at least our clientele) to the utmost of our abilities. If we expect praise, we’ll just be frustrated.
While I’m not a cop, I am a shepherd, and the “shepherd” analogy is even worse than the “sheepdog” one. A shepherd most certainly sees himself as above his sheep, moreover he actively exploits them for economic gain.
A better analogy is the livestock guardian dog. It is raised with and lives with the sheep full-time. It identifies itself as being part of the flock. Many even look like sheep, at least as much as a dog could look like a sheep. They don’t try to push the sheep around. They just stand their ground when a predator threatens.
Kind of like a cow donkey…
Exactly. They use donkeys with sheep as well, also llamas. I don’t think cops like being told they’re llamas, though.
I’m not sure they’d like being called cow donkeys, either… Honestly, I wouldn’t care… I get the idea, and it’s not an insult…
Indeed, there are two very different kinds of sheepdogs, which is why the analogy is too often misunderstood.
Border Collies are great herding dogs. When well trained, they can move a flock in any direction their shepherd desires. They are the ones who coerce the sheep through fear.
Conversely, the Great Pyrenees is a livestock guardian dog. This is the sheepdog that fits the metaphor. But the Great Pyrenees can’t do what the Border Collie does, and vice-versa.
There’s no analogy along these lines that’s going to work. Ultimately, a sheepdog is still not a sheep, and a sheep can never become a sheepdog. That’s where it all falls apart. Cops are people and citizens and civilians. They just happen to do full-time what the rest of us do (or are supposed to do) in the background. There is no other difference.
The point you made about ‘what we should all do in the background’ I think is the best point to be made. We as a nation used to police ourselves. Yes we had a set of Lawmen but they could call upon the local populace for assistance any time if needed. In essence, deputizing a posse to handle dangerous situations. Try this today and see how quickly the police are skewered on the 6o’clock news.
“We are more shepherds than sheepdogs”
Considering what shepherds have been doing to sheep for a thousand years, I’d say you’re probably correct.
And the sheep didn’t get kissed either.
As a shepherd myself, I protest. Whatever my sheep have been telling you, it’s a damned lie!
Did that get you excited? 🙂
Here are some solutions to reign in the “bad apples” of the “thin blue line”:
1. Eliminate both “absolute” and “qualified” immunity for all public officials–not just police and firefighters. Include prosecutors, judges, other court officials, CPS and building code enforcers.
2. Eliminate all public-sector unions. Especially police and firefighter unions. Unions are not needed in the public sector, as WE, the taxpayers pay their salaries and benefits.
3. Require all public officials to be “bonded” and carry “malpractice insurance” as a condition of employment. No bond or malpractice insurance–no job.
4. Prohibit “internal affairs” investigations for all cases but those involving disputes between police officers. All investigations should be handled at the state level.
5. Prosecutors must be subordinate to the grand jury. Withholding evidence that could prove or disprove misconduct by public officials should be a prosecuted as a felony.
6. Any awards to citizens as a result of “official misconduct” should be paid out of the offending department’s pension funds. You can be sure that if police pension funds were threatened, you would see a “clean-up” in a hurry.
7. Require body and dash cams to be used at all times. No citizen interaction permitted without functioning equipment. Obtain equipment that cannot be turned off. All interactions between officials and citizens must be put on the internet “cloud” and must be publicly accessible. Tampering with equipment should result in permanent dismissal.
8. Establish a 50-state publicly-searchable database of police, fire and public officials who should NEVER hold a position requiring the “public trust”.
9. Police must be restricted to the types of firearms that the citizenry is “allowed” to possess. This would help “encourage” anti-gun states (New York, New Jersey, California) to “loosen up” their restrictions on civilian firearms ownership–magazine capacity limits, etc. Citizens deserve the same (or even better) firepower than police…
These solutions would go a long way in curbing the abuses that presently exist.
I’m on board with that. Sounds good.
I wouldn’t mind trying these out except for perhaps #6. It might conflict with #3. I also posit that portions of judgements paid from pensions should be limited to the amount of the offending officer’s pension and perhaps some small portion of their commanding officers pension. Group punishment for individual acts isn’t ethical even for the police.
#6…threatening the entire pension fund would force ALL cops to behave themselves and encourage their brethren in blue to do the same.
#3…the “bond” would be a condition of employment and would make it easier to insure that truly “bad” cops do not get picked up by another department. Private insurance companies would be more vigilant than the present system which is a part of the “old boy” network. As it stands today, many “bad” cops who are terminated for misconduct do not lose their state “law enforcement certification”, which enables them to practice their “bad habits” in another community.
Sounds good…Needs re-enforcement…
1.) Full independent civilian review boards for ALL rank and file Law Enforcement Officers…(re: Including Sgt’s., LT’s, Chiefs of Police, Superintendents, and/or Administrators….)
2.) Make sure “Police Body camera, and PD Cruiser cams” fall in line with State and Federal wiretapping Laws…As well as 4th 5th, 6th, and 14 th AMENDMENT Privacy concerns…How they may be used against a US citizen…
3.) Nationwide addendum to US Bill of Rights that makes It a “Capital Crime” for any Politicians, Police Officers/Departments, Government agencies, private organizations, Businesses, etc…From infringement against any Lawful US citizens constitutional rights…With enforcement of fines, imprisonment, and minimum of 250k compensation to victims….
“2. Eliminate all public-sector unions. Especially police and firefighter unions.”
That problem will take care of itself when those grossly underercapitalized public sector ‘Civil Serpent’ pensions begin to implode in the near future.
Scratch that. When they begin detonate like a Teller–Ulam design multi-stage thermonuclear device.
“Police must be restricted to the types of firearms that the citizenry is “allowed” to possess.”
Be still my beating heart!
I really, Really, REALLY like that idea! Someone (Hello, John!) contact the Trump transition team about that idea.
Zero exceptions, unless 75 percent of the public agrees via public referendum.
Could it be doable?
Not a slight of your suggestions, but I believe history shows that any proposition put to the electorate by referendum, no matter how ridiculous, is “doable” if you can find some billionaire willing to throw enough money at it. California and Nevada, q.e.d.
I’m talking Federal law to trump state laws…
No sane person would be a police officer under the regime you have constructed. Maybe that’s a feature of your idea, but I don’t think the results will be pretty.
Unions aren’t needed in the private sector either, private sector unions should be outlawed as well along with striking and picketing, punishable by jail time and hard labor.
Unions are Communist, corrupt, outlived their purpose and must be destroyed.
Ever notice that police unions are “fraternal”? This should tell you something. The “thin-blue-line” is a gang, little different than street gangs–at least when it comes to “covering-up” questionable behavior by police. In today’s day and age, “officer safety” trumps de-escalation of force. This, in part, is due to the militarization of the police along with training in Israeli police tactics. This becomes a problem, with the “us vs. them” attitude that is fosters, along with the fact that Israel is a very different place, being on a constant “war footing”, and by necessity, its police tactics are very different. There are too many instances of police being “given a pass”, even when incontrovertible video and audio evidence is presented. Grand juries, guided by police-friendly prosecutors, quite often refuse to charge those police officers who abuse their authority. Police officers, who want to do the right thing, are quite often marginalized and put into harms way, by their own brethren…When a police officer is beating on someone that is already restrained while yelling, “stop resisting” THAT is but one reason police have a “bad name” in many instances…
What else is new? People think I’m anticop when I point out my bad interactions with various cops(over 45 years). I’m not…I’ve had great interaction with different po-leece. Worked out with them many times,went to church with cops and had one as a friend. They’re just guys(or gals) with a job. The sheepdog thing doesn’t work very well. Look at Chicago-I can’t believe more cops don’t get shot and neighborhoods aren’t in flames. If revenue enhancement and intimidation are your reason for being a cop you deserve whatever bad happens to you. They do THAT in Cuba.
From a former LEO I thought this was an excellent article. The mindset of “make sure you go home at the end of the day” always bothered me. I think this mindset leads to an overemphasis of self preservation and over reaction when in contact with civilians.
Great article and I agree with much of it. Unfortunately it does not address the fact that there will always be discord between the police and the public so long as 90% of police activity continues to be the collection of revenue for the state. Furthermore, I believe this is disillusioning to police officers themselves as they sign up to be society’s protectors only to find they are glorified tax collectors.
Great article. One thing I notice is that 99.9% of LEOs only ever associate with other LEOs. Makes me think they see 2 classes of people, LEOs and POSs.
“You know the score, pal. If you’re not cop, you’re little people.”
— Blade Runner
A a member of the Military, I can relate to some of the things he spoke to directly. I do not like the term “Warrior” or “Hero” applied to the military as a whole, as we are not all warriors or heroes. We are Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines. We don’t require another title or adjective to describe us.
As to police, I agree that only those who have earned it should be described as heroes or warriors, and there tends to be an institutional thought process that LEOs are better than society as a whole, when they are really the same, just with a different occupation. I don’t deny that they have different responsibilities than the average citizen when put in the context of public protection, but when put in the context of personal protection, they are no different than anyone else. Additionally, I absolutely do not agree with carve-outs for law enforcement personnel when it comes to gun laws (I’m looking at you, CA, NY, NJ, etc.); and I agree 100% on the view that they should not be allowed unions. They are public servants paid by tax dollars, not abused factory workers who need protection from a corporation that does not care about their safety. (I also think private unions have outlasted their usefulness but that is another topic.)
As a member of the military you should realize that your job is to prepare for, and fight wars. I don’t care if you’re a supply Sgt. in maintenance unit, you should certainly have a warrior ethos. Do your job like someone’s life depended on it, because it does. And then there is the fact that when everything goes right to shit everyone is an infantry rifleman. So embrace the “warrior” label. It’s OK. It’s your job.
“Hero” is a bit different. Every single member of the military is a warrior, but not everyone is a hero. I think the term is over-used, but mostly by the media.
I’ve worked with guys who have had nothing but disdain for the people of the communities they’re policed. They’ve said nothing but horrible things about, and to, these people both in public and private. They’ve looked down upon them with the same complex that Huth is describing. It was sickening. These guys didn’t care about the job they did. They didn’t care about the department they worked for. They didn’t care about the community they worked in. They only cared about themselves, their CBA, and their paychecks. LE agencies can weed out these cops, but, as long as a CBA protects these bad apples, the cancerous message they spew will continue to infect the new recruits joining the department.
Here are “police” practices that deserve to be exposed:
#1. During a traffic stop, the police officer will touch the back of your car. The reason for this “touch” is that, quite often, the police officer will have a small quantity of narcotics (marijuana or cocaine) on him (in his hand) that he will rub on the car in order to help “justify a search”. When the dog is brought in, it will react to “cues” from its handler as well as the drug residue on the vehicle and help “justify a search”. This tactic is mostly used against young people. Drugs can also be “planted” on a “suspect”.
The “touch” used to be a way for police officers to “prove” that they had an interaction with a citizen, but no more . . .
#2. Many (if not all) cops possess a “throwdown” weapon. This “helper” is obtained from a criminal who is then “let go” without his weapon and is always used to justify a questionable police situation and to “sanitize” a “crime scene to absolve police on the scene of criminal police behavior.
#3. If you are in the back of a police car, LIE DOWN on the seat. Police use the concept of “screening” to abuse their unwilling “passenger”. This involves, driving at high rates of speed, violent turns and other antics to get the passenger to “hit the screen” separating the front from the back with his face. Hence the act of “screening”.
#4. If you are being handcuffed, quite often the police officer will wrench you arm behind you, forcing you to “turn around”. Another “trick” is a foot to the instep, forcing the individual to involuntarily “pull away”. The officer will then add a charge of “assault” to whatever other charges they concoct against you (just for being forced to turn around). They “pile on” charges, hoping you will plead guilty to at least one.
Remember–NEVER CONSENT TO SEARCH . . . You must be polite, but firm in your refusal. You can state that “you NEVER consent to searches” as well as using these “magic” words–“am I free to go?” The police officer MUST answer your question . . . If you are being detained and an illegal search takes place, you have legal recourse.
Unofficial quotas DO exist, both for tickets (revenue enhancement) and observation of criminal activity and apprehension, although most (if not all) departments and municipal leaders deny it…
Remember–police are not your friends . . .
That being said, not all “law enforcement” is criminal, but the “thin blue line” that they so jealously guard (and “look the other way” when rogue cops abuse their authority) does much to taint ALL “law enforcement” with having ulterior motives.
There is absolutely NO JUSTIFICATION for targeting police officers…however, one can wonder if the violence perpetrated against police officers is “blowback” for police abuses…the “perp” who attacks cops sees the uniform and not the individual wearing it…
#1. totally false. It’s done to leave fingerprints on the car. That way, if you’re shot and the driver takes off the officer can be placed at the vehicle by the prints.
#2. This is movie myth. I have never known anyone who carries a throwdown weapon, modern forensics would easily out a gun like this.
#3. Yes, this is a practice that has gone on in the past, but, with nearly every production car now having a “black box” and more and more police cars having GPS tied to the mdt, that’s become a thing of the past.
#4. They like the tack on resisting arrest as a means to protect against any excessive force claim. You can use the force needed to complete the arrest but you can’t use more. The resisting arrest charge, if you’re found guilty of the original charge, negates the excessive force complaint or charges.
Yes, you are correct. Never consent and don’t think you can talk you way out of anything. You should always have your cell phone video rolling too.
Yes, some of the violence is very much blowback from years of police abuse of populations that have otherwise been ignored.
The video camera is the best weapon you can use against abusive police and police department policies.
” It’s done to leave fingerprints on the car.”
Close, but not quite.
It’s to leave the officer’s DNA on the car as physical proof…
Which academy did you go to that taught you it’s to leave DNA? First, as part of the hiring process you’re fingerprinted. Second, the amount of DNA left behind in a finger print is very small. Third, fingerprint identification can be done in less than an hour. DNA testing takes a week or more especially if you have a weak sample. Fourth, skin cells? Not enough of them from a touch on a car that’s going race down the highway with 80+mph winds dusting the trunk or tailgate. Fifth, car body panels are about the most perfect surface you can leave a finger print on.
” Second, the amount of DNA left behind in a finger print is very small.”
“Fourth, skin cells? Not enough of them from a touch on a car that’s going race down the highway with 80+mph winds dusting the trunk or tailgate.”
8. That’s all, 8 little, tiny individual skin cells. They stick just fine, thanks to human skin oils.
You really need to update yourself on what’s state-of-the-art in DNA forensics.
It’s called “Touch DNA” Turnaround time is now a few *days*, not over a week.
“Touch DNA doesn’t require you to see anything, or any blood or semen at all. It only requires seven or eight cells from the outermost layer of our skin.”
#1…If you read my statement, I did state that the “touch” was used to prove the officer’s interaction with that particular citizen, BUT it has been used to “justify” an arrest after getting a “drug dog” to react…there are documented cases of this occurring.
#2…Not “movie myth” as you have stated…In many police “training sessions”, it is unofficially and covertly suggested that new police officers obtain a “throwdown” weapon or drugs, in order to “sanitize” a questionable situation…there are documented cases of “throwdowns” being used as well…one recent case shows a police officer toss a “throwdown” weapon, to implicate the suspect, unaware that another citizen was recording the incident.
#3…there are many departments who do not use GPS…the practice still exists among rogue officers.
#4…some rogue police officers LOVE to “pile on” charges, hoping a few will stick. The public use of cell phone cameras is helping to make the public aware of such shenanigans by the “thin blue line”.
Slager was not charged with tampering, and his defense destroyed the myth that he “planted” the taser, along with the rest of the prosecution’s case for 1st degree murder. The jury has been going for 3 days on whether to convict on the last second voluntary manslaughter charge, with one juror saying she can not and will not vote to convict. Basic facts; you lack them.
“In many police “training sessions”, it is unofficially and covertly suggested that new police officers obtain a “throwdown” weapon or drugs”
Can you cite where this has occurred and when? I’ve never been though a single training class or continuing education class where anything close to this was suggested. In fact, the current theme in training has been that cameras are everywhere and you won’t always see them. Everyone has them in their pockets (cell phone) and the video can be live streamed and archived off the phone. The days of thinking no one is watch are long past.
Anyone who thinks they can’t or won’t be caught on camera only needs to look as far at the Shawn Glans case.
Like a P/O’s making up law to intimidate a citizen…Or Fabrication of criminal charges…Throwdowns! Yup, worked in private security many years ago…One of our Supervisors, a LT., was an active full time Patrol officer in RI. …I remember him saying he always had throwdown items…Such as drugs, a pistols without serial numbers….He used to brag a lot…He definitely scared me many years ago…The thin blue line…Since it was many years ago…I do remember he was fired from his security position because he was imprisoned for injuring an innocent motorist he tried to frame with said items during a bad traffic…I believe the citizen was an upstanding teacher…Who absolutely didn’t fit the fabricated charges…The judge saw through him…That was the last I heard of the P/O…..
Ahahahahahahaha… oh my god, does anyone actually believe this drivel?
wow. The only thing accurate in there is that the police are not your friend.
One only has to look at New Orleans after Katrina. How police presented themselves was truely horrifying to me. That’s when I realized it isn’t just a couple bad apples, but only a few good eggs. The rest are in the middle and cover for the bad apples, just putting themselves in that same rotten bushel.
We have too many beat cops and not enough exceptional police officers. This country needs to fire a quarter of our police force and use the funds to help compensate and train the real good ones. Our nation needs quality not quantity compensated accordingly to the dangers of their profession.
I have just this one tiny little itty bitty request.
Stop pointing the goddamn freakin guns until justified to shoot.
Someone actually gets it…and i have always hated the sheepdog analogy. The sheepdog is there to control the sheep as much as he is to protect them!
From a pragmatic side, if you terrorize the citizens, your family better in a well protected compound somewhere.
What a bunch of crap.
A comment my former CO said was the Corps doesn’t recruit scrubs. For the most part I agree. 23 year years after leaving and contacting my former Marines, 99% have been successful in their civilian careers, have strong families and well adjusted.
Three of my brother in laws are LEO’s and haven’t spoken more than 3000 words to each of them in 15 years of knowing them (I’m older). It’s not that they think they are better, its just the crap the have to put up with dealing with both management and the dregs of society. The thin blue line separating us from the shit they have to deal with.
Let me preface this by saying that my Father was a MIL/LE Veteran of over 50 years and, thus, I am well schooled in the culture. Indeed, this story may be surprising for some of whom have not had any familial or close relationship to LE philosophy but not for many of us who have such interaction…This is not in any way meant to imply with a broad brush that such applies to any and all LE entities in the U.S. On the contrary, I have seen several different Big-City PD’s and several smaller Sheriff PD’s and only a very few instances of the ‘Better-Than-Thou’ attitudes have been encountered. However, when associating with such said Officers, unfortunately the characteristics spelled out in this article do indeed exists. The only way to root out such malfeasance is to go on the record as this Officer did and bring it to the both the respective Force & Peoples attention for to let it fester and perpetuate IMO is not in many ways different from fostering if not outright advocating a Police State Environment. LE is not unlike any other aspect in life whereby you have a few bad apples that will always be present–obviously, it’s the potential scope and gravity of the justifiable use of force and power here that make such exponentially worse.
I have always viewed law enforcement as a job. Albeit a difficult one with a much greater chance of being killed or harmed or facing criminal charges for a mistake or intentional malfeasance. But still a job. Do your job to the best of your ability professionally. If it is too stressful or you feel underpaid or underappreciated, quit. Seek other employment. I have two very good friends who are police officers. They are both great men and excellent officers. I would never want anything to happen to them. That being said, I was beaten by two local cops while handcuffed when I was kid. Law enforcement is like any other profession. You have good ones and unfortunately you have shitty ones.
Screw the metaphors, similes and analogies. Let’s get down to brass tacks (How much for the ape?)
Here’s the deal. Police training as far as I can tell is by and large, quite frankly, shit. My friends and friends/relations of friends who have gone through the Academy in recent years all report three facets that don’t change:
1) The intentional fostering of an us vs them attitude among trainees. This pervades the entire situation as far as I can tell. From teaching overly-aggressive tactics to the use of terms like “tango”, “friendly”, “civvie” etc. This can be seen in an emphasis on using a gun but nearly 0 training on how to apply a CAT or SOF TQ to yourself or anyone else. “Sure we’re operator as fuck and will boot down your door at 0300 but getting wounded doesn’t happen and dealing with the wounded? That’s for those EMS pansies.” seems to be a pretty common attitude. Even worse is the absolute reliance on gear that’s being taught rather than reliance on a set of skills that’s being augmented by gear. Cell phones, radios and NVGs are awesome but when all that shit fails…
2) A general lack of standards in terms of discipline or… well anything else that matters which is ironic because…
3) Wanna be military drill instructors. That is, Academy instructors who all think they’re wearing a Smokey and apparently all think they rate Tier 1 operator status. They run the Academy *cough* like it’s boot but 95% have never been in any branch of the service and therefore know fuck all about what they’re doing. They’ll flip shit about little stuff (as you’d expect) and then allow all sorts of tomfuckery on the serious matters. Mismatched laces on your running shoes, oh, you’re so fucked. Stupidity on procedures, seriously harming another trainee during “hand to hand” (sorry bros, a girl with 6 months of serious martial arts training will kick your candy ass into your next pay cycle) training or dumbassery with your pistol? Eh, whatever.
Then there’s the physical standards… holy Christ have you seen some of these dudes? Hit a city like Denver and at least 1/3rd of the cops are flat-the-fuck-out obese. The only things homeslice is going to successfully chase down without a cruiser is a cheeseburger and a malt and extra large fries. Hell he might need the cruiser to run down that malt.
I don’t like to bust on cops for the simple fact of the matter is that I know a couple dozen of them. The old guys are awesome. Generally my friends and acquaintances are retired military (or fairly smart/educmacated and shiznit) and therefore didn’t fall for the bullshit in training but for every one of them there were at least 10-15 people who were 18-19 year old kids that got the old heave-ho at MEPS and decided to become a cop instead. They don’t know any better than the training and the training is setting them on a collision course with the rest of us and/or to get them fucking killed.
The one other thing, which sort of irks me about this whole issue, is the attitude related to #1 that seems to pervade a lot of this due to training. “We train hard”… Um, OK great. What did that cost you? “Cost? What?”.
Yeah motherfucker, you got that expensive training and that $40 TQ holder because the rest of us went to work and paid for it. Call me an asshole all you want but I’d say that free stuff should come with strings attached to it (which it doesn’t). Sure you get free training… sign this 6+2 contract first. Don’t like being a cop? Tough shit. Embrace the suck until your contract expires. Oh, and don’t get all uppity about some class you took either because you didn’t pay shit for it and probably can’t actually fail it even if you try.
Don’t get all high-horsed about having your lights on when I pay your fucking electric bill. That’s all I’m saying.
Great Fear and Loathing reference. “Now tell me about the fucking golf shoes!!!”
All the metaphors are crap. It’s a job, but it’s kind of a crazy one.
Cops are cops because they run towards life-threatening situations, rather than away from them. This isn’t just true of cops. Firefighters, sometimes EMTs, and sometimes even private citizens also do it (the Whitman clocktower shooting comes to mind). But it is the reason cops are around.
I’m a retired sheriff’s deputy and a veteran, for most of my thirty years on I’ve been very uncomfortable and lastly resistant to referring those I served as civilians. When I packed a green DOD id card I wasn’t a civilian ,once discharged I returned to being a civilian . The use of this descriptor and any other that places LEO s in what they perceive to be a superior position only reinforces an already widening divide. It’s just a job,do it well and live your life.
May I please have a police force that considers itself my backup, rather than my protector? I should not be protected from the dregs of society. Dealing with such realities is my responsibility as an adult and a citizen. I should never ask a policeman to do for me what I would not do for him, just as if he were any other neighbor. If he has a professional role, it should be to investigate crimes, to pursue justice in the wake of violence, and to be on call when I call for assistance in defense of myself or others. If I am not willing to fight for myself or others, he should not fight for me. If I am not willing to kill, he should not be willing to kill for me. If I come home to find my door broken ajar, I’ll retreat to cover and call for a policeman, but when he arrives, he should look to me and say, “Well, lead on!” For me to let him clear my house while I wait safely outside would and should shame me as a man. For our society to have created this practice should shame us all. Rather than a warrior class of police, may I please have a society which is a neighborhood of warriors, with police hired from amongst my neighbors? It is not the job of the police to keep me safe. It is the job of the police, and military, and government, to keep me free.
A breath of fresh air
“… a mind-set of moral superiority in LEOs may unwittingly be damaging efforts to build community trust.”
Hail, king of the obvious. 😀
Sadly, he is one of a minority of LEO’s who get the concept that the “us vs. them” only serve to further alienate people.
End the “war on drugs,” guns, all of the other useless and destructive prohibitions. No victim, no crime. (And I don’t mean the precious snowflakes who consider themselves victims if they don’t like the conversation.)
End asset forfeiture, at every level.
End any police “immunity” from illegal/immoral acts against others.
And yes, end the idea (training or other source) that police are somehow better than others.
You know what would help that “community trust” even more? Yeah, better communities. Sorry, someone had to say it.
One step towards better policing would be to stop hiring low IQ Psychopaths.
On a related article enough with police referring non police as civilians – the police are civilian law enforcement officers. Civilian is the opposite of military. It’s just a nit but emblemmatic of the bigger problem.
In the military we were encouraged to sneak up on people and shoot them in the back. That’s sort of discouraged in civilian life. Let’s not blur the two.
It strikes me that even trying to diffuse the situation of looking down on others he still continues a bad metaphor. Shepards are still better than sheep are they not? Not that I don’t think we have sheep in society, it’s just more constructive to consider yourself an equal among equals.
Ties in perfectly with the oft-expressed claim that police are para-military forces. Talk about trying to attach an elitism to a group who are no more than uniformed civilians.
Believe it or not what the author is asking for is very difficult and in many cases impossible.
In some LE units, in some parts of this country, if you stay long enough it WILL affect you for this worse. A person has to swim upstream everyday not to become like his/her environment; I am not the first person to notice how over time one often looks like the very thing one fights against.
If you were in a unit that dealt w/ the worst of humanity, including gangs that try to kill you, then your options seem few. You can go to another unit, quit being a cop entirely, get killed, show up but don’t police (active duty retired is a military term that comes to mind), or stick around thinking you will be the exception – but will end up becoming a bully w/ a badge.
We all seem to be overlooking an important fact of police life. Other than coworkers (mostly other LEOs) who do you think the police spend their day dealing with? Imagine dealing with those who feel it is acceptable to violate laws, in varying degrees, all day, and doing so every day, for years. Imagine how those types of people react to being stopped by a cop and how they lie and “:justify” their behavior. Imagine constantly having to deal with domestic violence day in, and day out. Don’t you think you would start to get a rather jaded view of “ordinary citizens” after a while?
I’m 71, I’ve been stopped by cops three times in my life, once was a case of mistaken identity, once was when I unknowingly made an illegal turn, and once when I was wrongfully stopped in a rural speed trap. In each case, the officer and I got along without any trouble (even though I was mad at the guy who wrongly accused me of speeding). In 2 of those instances, I was carrying a handgun (legally). Again, it was never an issue; in fact, in both cases, the officer thanked me for telling him (I wasn’t legally required to do so), and in the mistaken identity and illegal turn cases, I was let go without any further action. But my LEO friends (yes, I have several) tell me that I am unusual in their world, and that the vast majority of the time they are interacting with very different kinds of folks. Yes, they come to look down on those folks – Heck I look down on those kind of folks myself, but I don’t have to deal with them as much.
I’m a psychologist, and I often deal with people who see and hear things I don’t think are actually there; I’m pretty used to that – that’s just “my day.” So, when Bluetooth technology was still new and relatively rare, I mistook a number of shoppers in the grocery store for psychotics. It’s uncanny how much a woman staring at the asparagus while talking on an invisible (under her hair) Bluetooth resembles a psychotic talking to her voices. I initially made wrong assumptions about what was going on, based on what I was used to seeing every day (which led to at least one embarrassing incident). So do cops. Only they don’t generally deal with psychotics, they deal with criminals, and keep in mind that criminals lie, a lot. So it’s a very natural tendency to start looking at everyone like they might be a criminal, and not taking anyone at their word. I understand idea that it is a tendency that needs to be recognized and countered, if only for the LEO’s well being, but it’s also important to keep in mind just how strong and insidious the tendency to start viewing everyone like a criminal and a liar may actually be in the cop’s world. I agree it’s a tendency they need to try and recognize and avoid, but we should all consider just how hard it is to do that before getting on our high horse. When it comes to misinterpreting the world through our own experiential lens, we all live in glass houses, and we should all be wary of throwing stones.