It’s no secret that I am a bitter, shriveled old man who’s outlook on life flirts with anarchism. With all the police violence in the news recently, I keep hearing that we just don’t understand what police go through, that we should walk a mile in their shoes, that they suffer all measures of abuse from criminals, that they never know if they’re going to come home after work. We should try to understand their position. Now before you keep reading, understand that I’ve had this conversation with more than one police officer, and after some contemplation, they have generally agreed with the premise of what I’m about to say.
I’ve tried. As someone who has friends and relatives that brave the risks of working in public safety, I’ve tried more than a few times. I’ve done all sorts of mental gymnastics in an effort to at least present my own subjectivity with a somewhat balanced data set. And after all that, I’ve come to the following opinion.
I don’t really care what police go through day to day. They chose to take an oath to protect and serve, and they chose in good faith a very difficult difficult path that demands exemplary behavior all the time. There is a reason they are often referred to as the community’s finest. As part of this, they are empowered to use lethal force at their discretion, and with that comes a much higher standard. You see, I’m not allowed to kill someone and then get put on administrative leave, only to have my actions internally reviewed by an organization that stands to lose face if the outcome is less than flattering.
I have absolutely no doubt that there are some very good police officers out there who are doing the right things every day and holding themselves to their oaths, probably far more than we will ever know. But until they clean their own house they are complicit in every instance of abuse in the same way that any other citizen would be. If you are a police officer, and you witness a crime by a fellow officer, you’re not serving nor protecting anyone except a criminal by staying silent. You have to change, and until that happens you cannot hope to regain any level of public trust.