Wed Feb 13, 2013, 06:23 AM
MrScorpio (62,919 posts)
Since we're having this discussion about the cops again…
I'd like to repost an essay that I wrote back in '09 (with an edit here and there). As a young victim of police harassment, the way that police conduct themselves has always held my keen interest.
Make of it what you will, some of the early part of it refers to other threads from that time, just to give you a taste of what was happening at the time.
I may have to do an update… Hmmmm, maybe.
Really, I Don't Hate The Police. OK?
Posted by MrScorpio in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Sun Jul 26th 2009, 06:17 PM
Frankly, I apologize to you if I gave you that impression. That being said, I will admit that I am wary of the police.
Now, throughout my entire life, I have been driven by a quest to fully understand my surroundings. In many cases, it has to be this way as a matter of survival. This is much more than a case of intellectual curiosity, but as a black man in America who has more than a keen interest in civil discourse and individual rights and responsibilities, I've taken to heart and faith an obligation to know the meaning of things.
Not for touting myself as a source of authority or reference, but as one who will recognize the truth when I see it.
I've been on DU for quite a long time, and as long as it's around, I would like to be around here longer. Be that as it may, I believe that I owe you an explanation for my recent posts regarding the subjects of policing and the Gates/Crowley incident.
First, I admit the my "Whiny B____" post (Redacted for the sake of a particular word's controversial nature), was a pure emotional outburst. I believe that in the thread I explained my motivation, and I'll leave that said as it is.
I must say, however that if I gave the impression that I was engaging in a generalize form of police hatred, I apologize. That was not my intention.
Moreover, up to the point in which I made that outburst, I was quite content to let the events play out without adding to the divisive nature of the debate around these parts. Unfortunately, my reaction to what I felt was an unfair criticism of the President impelled me to speak out on the matter. If somewhat bombastically.
Not long after I posted the first item, I've come to realize that I have an obligation as a good DU member in standing to engage in civil discourse, rather than throwing fuel on the fire of an already hot topic subject. I've posted a couple of more items that I hoped to inform rather than incite. I hope that I was successful.
That being said, I'd like to present an OP-ED. Which is something that I'm quite known for, and it's about time for another.
As I said, before, I don't hate the police, but I am wary of them. Many of us on DU may understand and sympathize with my wariness and I've noticed that others do not. But since I respect and admire all members of DU in good standing, I want to explain to you why.
This is because, through my personal observation from actual experience, books, news articles and various media, I've come to realize that the police operate quite in a different fashion that is portrayed in the generalized mythos surrounding their profession.
That is, that police when dealing with any circumstance within their jurisdiction has a generalized order of priorities under which they operate and enforce, but is not fully enumerated at the time of any incident.
The reasons that they don't take the time to hand you this list of priorities have practical applications, of course. Not to mention the time restraints required to sort out any particular situation quickly and effectively. But from my perspective, most of all being that that cops would not rather put themselves at a disadvantage of having everyone knowing what the rules are of the game while its being played.
If you don't know the rules, you see, how the hell can you win the game?
Cops are given badges, guns, TASERs, dogs, arrest power and bright, shiny vehicles as equipment to play the game. That's what they have. What you must have is a knowledge of the game's rules and the willingness to apply them for you own self preservation. You need your wits throughout an interaction with the police. Because, if you're not playing within the bounds of the cop's game, it could most definitely end badly for you.
OK, here we go... The order of priorities, from most important to least important, that cops are protecting goes like this:
2. Their fellow cops
3. The laws of the jurisdiction that pays their paychecks
4. Ordinary, law abiding citizens and the victims of crimes
5. The criminal element.
6. The Truth: To protect cops, applying the laws of the jurisdiction to separate and arrest the criminal element from ordinary "law abiding citizens" and their victims and put the motherfuckers in jail.
Now some may think that I'm being unfair by portraying cops as being self-serving. It's not unfair if you think about it. Of course, they have to look out for their own asses first. It's self preservation and no cop will last long without it. It's necessary for the business in which they are in.
The problem, however, is that cops are human and it takes a lot of courage, intelligence and forbearance to strike a delicate balance between priorities in their proper order. Many of them are just not up to the task, and these cops create an atmosphere of distrust and misunderstanding of the ones who do. A misapplication of the priorities has dire circumstances for all involved and lives are ruined and or lost. That is the difficult part of a cop's profession.
The other part of a cop's profession is something under which they have very little control. That is the labyrinthine nature of laws that apply to American jurisdictions. Unfortunately, local jurisdictions have decided that their main motivation for passing laws is not to protect the safety and security of the citizens over which they govern. The first priority is to generate revenue for the self preservation of their bureaucracies. And the main function of the police is to ensure that the citizens are impelled to keep the money rolling in through a system of fines, penalties and operating costs.
It's why I said that when you are confronted by the police, you should look out for your own best interests first, because that cop most likely is not.
The cop is first making sure that he or she (or their fellow cop) will not end up as a victim.
Secondly, the cop is looking for a way to apply the law. Most of these laws of course, are designed to restrict your freedom and separate you from your money.
Thirdly, your safety and security comes into consideration, but only if the cops thinks that you really deserve consideration.
If by your deeds, you show disdain for the order of priorities, you should expect to be quickly shuffled to the bottom of the deck. Most likely, with your face is on the pavement and in handcuffs, which is much more preferable than being dead.
And in the nature of their business, sometimes the truth has to be "managed" in order to ensure that they go home at night, even if you don't.
On another subject, that would require a very long dissertation in which I'm not willing to engage fully, but I do think that it needs to be mentioned, is the blatant militarization of police forces in America. A lot has been said and a lot needs to be said. But all-in-all, this militarization has played a part in creating distance between the actions, duties and responsibilities of those police departments and the needs of communities for fair and effective community policing. Whether it's the various "wars" on crime, drugs or terror, this militarization has resulted on a "war" on ordinary citizens and their individual and collective rights.
On the subject of racism. It's a sticky matter. Although, I will say that a lot of this depends on many factors, such as the general socio-economic makeup of a particular community, various institutionalized practices, general attitudes and willingness or unwillingness to apply egalitarian principles of tolerance and equality. All of this does not mean that cops are inherently racist. However, racist cops do exist. There is no disputing this. And like those cops that misapply the system of priorities, racists cops makes all other cops look bad.
The motivation for racist behavior by cops may have nothing to do with their opinions of minorities in general. I'm quite sure that some cops who have committed acts of racial profiling might even have friends or family from a minority group in their personal lives.
I have to say that rather than a form of racial discrimination, the underlying motivation for most profiling is based upon the opportunistic predation of less advantaged classes. Classes that are more vulnerable to that labyrinthine system of laws that jurisdictions pass to keep themselves in business.
The most egregious example of this form of class warfare is cited in the events surrounding racially profiled stops of minority drivers near the town of Tehana, TX. http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=389x6147456
It's an unabashed, over the top shakedown of blacks who happen to be caught driving through that jurisdiction while black and part of the American underclass. It's American law enforcement on steroids.
Hopefully, an outrageous situation to be rectified.
In conclusion, I have a few points to reiterate.
First, if you ever come across a cop for what ever reason, hope for you own sake that he or she is not having a bad day.
Second, let the cop know through your deeds (or words) that you do not constitute a threat to that cop's safety.
But lastly and most of all, LOOK OUT FOR YOUR OWN BEST SELF INTERESTS. I posted a thread yesterday on what to do if you're stopped or arrested. Please heed it. http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=389x6147456
Now, let the civil discourse begin.
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