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.”