When I look at the news today and see the way police are being vilified by left wing America-haters like Antifa and Black Thugs Matter, I think back to the New York Police Academy, where I trained for four months in the mid-sixties to get prepared for facing the world as a law enforcement officer.
During the academic portion of the training, we had an instructor named Lieutenant Levine. He was about 50 years old, with more than 20 years on the job. I had just turned 21 and was probably the youngest in the class of approximately 35 recruits under the age of 30. Having been raised on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, I had no connection to the middle class until I began training with guys who grew up in single-family homes in Queens, Brooklyn, Long Island, and Staten Island.
In addition, many of them were motivated to be cops because of family members who had been, or were still, working for NYPD. Most of my family members were actively trying to stay away from cops. It’s not that they were criminal types, but the neighborhood lent itself to activities that would not be viewed as legal by the local gendarme patrolling his beat. When residents of that tenement-filled district needed a quick loan but didn’t have the collateral to impress a bank manager, they simply turned to the loan shark in the area. They knew the rules and paid the exorbitant vigorish, realizing that failure to do so would result in a visit by some burly characters with bent noses. Moreover, the Louisville sluggers they carried had nothing to do with baseball.
Then there were the bookies and numbers-runners who were always keeping an eye out for the patrol car as they were taking two-dollar bets on the horses and quarters on the 600-to-1 odds that someone would pick the lucky number that day. Although these were low-level misdemeanors, cops had the job of enforcing laws that were essentially “victimless.” As a result, people would occasionally get arrested and become embittered toward cops for stopping them from enjoying the extraordinarily little recreation available in those depressing urban zones. Similarly, when cops turned off fire hydrants, being used to lower the temperature of the multitudes of city-dwellers during scorching summers, they were despised for doing their job.
Anyway, to get back to Lt. Levine, he not only taught us about the penal law but gave us a healthy dose of his philosophy about police work. He told us that our lives were about to dramatically change from everything we’ve experienced prior to becoming a cop. “When you put on that uniform, badge, and gun,” he said, “You will have entered a realm in which people will view you with suspicious eyes. Your family, friends, and neighbors will suddenly think of you as an official authority figure, causing them to refrain from speaking freely around you.” He went on to tell us that everyone who ever got a traffic ticket will bring it up at social functions and add how innocent they were of the charges.
“Generally speaking, people don’t like authority,” he said. “They feel resistant to anyone who they perceive as having power over them.” He went on to say we’d be popular only when we showed up at a scene in time to assist a crime victim. However, if we got there too late, we’d be chided with the old adage, “there’s never a cop around when you need one.” He wanted us to know that there’d be times in which we’d be exposed to mild aggression and even hostility at social gatherings by those who see an opportunity to show their contempt for cops without risking consequences.
His comments were discouraging and unexpected from a superior officer who was, ostensibly, preparing us to do our job as reasonably as possible. Maybe he was trying to test our resolve to continue, or maybe he was just unloading decades of his own unpleasant experiences on a new crop of rookies. In any event, I learned how right he was when I began to see the looks on the faces of older family members when they heard I had become an enforcer of some of the laws they were used to violating. When I walked into a room occupied by my aunts and uncles, some of whom had encountered brief visits to the hoosegow, the robust chatter suddenly morphed into a morgue-like reticence.
It didn’t take long before I viewed it as more humorous than troubling. Yet, as I recall the prophetic words of our pessimistic lieutenant, I can’t help appreciating how right he was about the public’s instinctive resistance to authority. It was pretty bad during my 20 years, but thankfully, that was before the iPhone intimidation being forced on cops today as they deal with vicious invective from those who feel they have law enforcement on the ropes.
I don’t believe that cops have changed much since I was chasing the bad guys. What has changed is the leftist admiration for lawbreakers and the concomitant contempt for the guardians of public order. God willing, that will change when sanity is resurrected in our country.
This was an excellent, well written, captivating read.
Thank you Bob Weir.
That very last phrase says so very much…
“when sanity is resurrected in our country.”
In my opinion, the people who push this cultural insanity are so mentally depraved that they have lost any sense of reality and their humanity.
They want a chaotic society that doesn’t arrest them for the evil they do. The criminals and the freaks are taking over the country with the help of our leaders, who want to destroy this great country, using the selfish degenerates to attain complete control.
It has been said that “insanity is a sane response to an insane society”.
Police officers are not drafted and they’re free to leave their positions anytime they see fit. How about not enforcing unpopular laws that were passed by people who simply couldn’t resist keeping their boot on someone’s neck? Maybe then people will start respecting the police again. Until then the police don’t have anything to do with right and wrong they just enforce policy laid out by politicians. The word police is derived from the word policy.
Well, many of them are leaving thanks to public attacks and ridicule, which is dangerous for society. Judging all police officers by a handful of bad apples is ludicrous. Most police officers deserve respect. They have low paying, difficult, dangerous, thankless jobs. The LEAST we can do is appreciate what they do for us. Without them, life would be dangerous and chaotic, which has already begun. There are bad apples in EVERY walk of life. What worries me more is the multitude of poisonous apples in our government.
Wrong the word police is not derived from the policy. To police is to maintain law and order, but the word derives from polis—the Greek for “city,” or “polity”—by way of politia, the Latin for “citizenship,” and it entered English from the Middle French police, which meant not constables but government.
For many years, from a teenager on up, if a policeman stopped me for speeding, I felt very nervous. Not because I feared them being unfair but because I knew I was in the wrong. I revered them as I would my Daddy. I have a cousin who is a recently retired police officer. Couldn’t think of a better man to be on the force. Of 26 cousins, he’s my favorite. He was a sweet, kind child and he is still a kind person. But he’s what we call a “big boy”, as all the Jones boys were, over 6′ and strong as an ox, and I doubt many messed with him. No one in the family felt uneasy around him. But the family were good, honest people…so what was to fear? It always amazes me that he has seen so much evil in life, but he took it in stride and didn’t let it change him. He’s the grizzly bear when help is needed but a teddy bear at heart.
You are correct. Contempt by elected leaders for the very order that gives them the privilege of leading. We must elect and support leaders who lead using compromise and respect for everyone, regardless of their opinion. We as citizens must respect authority figures if we expect our nation to heal and thrive in the future.
“A Policeman’s Life Is Not a Happy One”
Oh no. Anyway…
Let me show you a world where Police and prisons aren’t needed. You may think it’s impossible, but people were saying abolishing slavery was also impossible before 1865.
In this world people have their needs met and don’t need to harm or steal from others to survive. We work together to make sure everyone has enough to eat, a home to live in if they want or some other suitable living arrangement, free education. People have control over their own bodies, identity, and beliefs. We produce what we need when it’s needed and not for the sake of someone’s profit.
When harm occurs we practice Transformational Justice so that everyone affected has their needs met by community in such a way that makes their situation better than before. Of course for the victim, but also for the abuser. It is no secret, but we don’t talk about it, that we are all victims of cycles of harm. To resolve and break these, we cannot use retributive violence as punishment.
The reason I am talking of harm and not crime is because the latter are arbitrary constructs of the power holders and are used for the purpose of them maintaining said power. In many states still it is illegal to engage in “homosexual activities” or sodomy, yet these people aren’t hurting anyone if all are consenting.
From your own account, the police haven’t changed much since the mid 60’s when they were indiscriminately killing marginalized folk. You’re describing right around the place and time the Civil Rights Movement and Stonewall happened. You’re probably even one of the cops that were terrorizing Black and Queer folk. And if you aren’t, you probably know cops that did that you would say “he’s a good cop”. What about the Harlem race riots in 1964? Assata Shakur in the New Jersey Turnpike? I say police haven’t changed much since they started as slave catchers. What about all the Indigenous y’all have killed and are still displacing, murdering, raping, and kidnapping? What about all the harmful, irreversible resource extraction projects on Indigenous Lands that y’all are protecting? In MN on Pipeline 3 there was a sex trafficking ring with police involved with construction workers kidnapping Indigenous.
All police know is eat donut, kill and oppress minorities, and lie.
Police directly killed the most people in history last year in the so called USA. Over 1100. It’s been 1000+ on average since 2014. That’s 3+ a day on average.
The killings of family dogs/pets by police is also epidemic, it’s *roughly estimated* that is over 25 a day or about 10,000/ year.
Police are the weaponized enforcement arm of the state. They do not exist for the benefit of all people. They protect the property and interests of the owning class because that’s who’s paying them, they oppress and harm others based on a variety of reasons such as race, nationality, sexuality, gender, and social/ financial status. This is all interrelated of intersectional.
Capitalists get away with destroying the planet because they’re protected by the police.
Police do not prevent harm, they perpetuate it. People convicted of non violent crimes go to prison and are forced to be around already violent people, thus sometimes forcing them to be violent to defend themselves. Prison is also a good place to learn more about committing criminalized activities. Especially since most of them are lacking in finding for further societally accepted education or education at all.
Prisons with forced labor are a continuation of the plantation. Tons of companies use cheap prison labor like most fast food restaurants with potatoes, actually, here’s a recent article
“report published by the American Civil Liberties Union in June 2022 found about 800,000 prisoners out of the 1.2 million in state and federal prisons are forced to work, generating a conservative estimate of $11bn annually in goods and services while average wages range from 13 cents to 52 cents per hour.Sep 27, 2022”
Prisons don’t exist for the reformation of the individual, but to provide cheap labor and a means of population control. Prisoners experience rape, degradation, all kinds of torture and even death at the hands of prison guards who often, much like police, do not see any meaningful consequences for their actions.
Then there’s all the for-profit privately owned prisons where judges have owned stock and kept sentencing (in one case) juveniles to keep the prison and his pockets full.
The best thing a cop can do is not be a cop.
And that’s being really polite.
Police, as ruled by the Supreme Court multiple times, are not obligated to protect any particular individual for any reason at any time, even when the person is experiencing or under threat of harm. The only people they have “duty of care” for is the people in their custody. One of these rulings was from a school shooting in FL around 2005. Police stood outside while 6 people were murdered. The judges ruled as above.