To Protect And To Serve…Themselves

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…

The Problems

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.lapd-door

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.

Brilliant.

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.

Shocking.

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.

I did.

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.”

 

 

 

 

Ferguson

Ferguson.

As in Ferguson, Missouri. That last time I witnessed such huge a racial divide among Americans was the O.J. trial with Rodney King just a few years prior.

Unfortunately, Ferguson and these other deplorable events only symbolize and brings to light what brews in the minds and hearts of some people 24/7, 365.

It seems that everyone has a strong opinion on the shooting of an unarmed African American young man and the subsequent rioting and pandemonium -along with the ultimate finding of innocence for the police officer who shot Michael Brown, Officer Darren Wilson.

I will offer you my take in a moment, though allow me to meander a bit here, first. I will Golden Snake, if you will.

I have “friends” (Facebook has really changed the meaning of the word thus I use quotation marks to qualify the meaning) who are on both sides of this issue. My more conservative friends tend to side with the police officer while my more liberal friends tend to side with the victim of the shooting –I find this disturbing.

This is all so predictable. The gun toting, law and order, ‘US-of-A-is-number-one-crowd’ so predictably sides with the police. The bleeding heart, ‘Give-me-your-tired-your-poor-USA-is-evil-crowd’ so predictably sides with the rioters and the victim in this case.

I find this bias all so VERY troubling…it is as if our ability to view reality is skewed by our deeper philosophical beliefs and predispositions and, subsequently, we have collectively lost the ability to critically think, discern, and evaluate such instances in a fair and objective manner.

It would seem we want to make events fit our reality rather than allow events to inform and guide our reality.  We will stretch, reshape, and contort pieces of such events and shove them into the puzzle of our personal mental schema in order to create a simple and uninterrupted map of our values and beliefs. In other words, we interpret events to fit our personal predispositions, bias and prejudices.

Critical thinking can be such a bitch.

Of course, we all have our own personal biases and prejudices. I, for one, am not a fan of law enforcement –I think you would only have to read my blog for 5 minutes to figure that out. It has been my experience that law enforcement in America has turned into an aggressive, bullying, “us vs. them” system that is running amok and out of control. Are there good cops? Of course.  Yet I contend most are not and have little to no concern for the greater public interest and welfare.

There. I said it. Now back to Ferguson. Appreciated the opportunity to meander.

You might think that I would obviously then side with the victim in this case given my prejudice. Perhaps, but it is not due to my prejudices. Acknowledging my personal beliefs and prejudices does NOT automatically mean I believe that an asshole cop overstepped his bounds in this instance. In fact, I believe he did not. First we have to be able to place our own personal shit aside and judge cases based on their own merit.

So what is my opinion in regards to Ferguson? I thought you would never ask.

We do not have a law enforcement racial problem in our country nearly as much as a law enforcement power problem.  Does racism in law enforcement exist? Of course it does. When one of my old neighbors told me they were quitting their lucrative job to join the LAPD, specifically in the city of Compton, I curiously asked him why. His EXACT response? “Cause I want to kill some niggers.”

Yep, racism exists. Particularly among hot headed, testosterone-driven, suburban white dudes.

Yet, it has been my experience that police officers love to use their guns, batons and flashlights –on anyone at anytime and therein lies the problem –racism only exacerbates a more fundamental problem.

One might opine they are assholes first and racists second. They seek violent opportunities first and foremost. By the way, I do not buy the “few bad apples” argument. This is a systemic problem that is growing worse.

Countless numbers of non-African Americans have either been killed by law enforcement or just gotten the shit beat out them (please do not click link if you have sensitive sensibilities) for no good reason. Whether it be cops high-fiving each other after punching out a Caucasian women or killing a Caucasian homeless man with their fist (while he was crying out for his father, no less) many police officers use their badge to work out their personal dysfunctional anger issues.

Tell me, and if you are in law enforcement, please respond. Why in the HELL did the police officer have to shoot and kill and a young unarmed man, hands in the air, EVEN IF the police officer felt threatened?

Could not a stun gun have been used just as effectively and save a young life? Pepper spray? If I have an ant problem in my home I purchase ant spray and solve the problem…I do not blow up the damn house. Both would work, yet the latter is entirely unnecessary.

We do not solve problems by utilizing the most extreme measure first. If my car breaks down I don’t run out and buy a new one…I fix the problem.

Not to equate a human life with ants or a car, but I think you get the point

I am not suggesting the officer was not following protocol…apparently he was.  Yes, I side with the victim yet I also side with the officer in that he was doing what he was trained to do. My point is that this shooting protocol is what needs to change. The entire system needs to be changed. Officer Darren Wilson was doing what his training taught him to do. But come now, death in this instance? Absolutely pointless, meaningless, and unwarranted.

In another case of police violence, the officer who killed Eric Garner in New York City with a choke hold, was exonerated while the person who shot the viral video of this chokehold was found guilty of an earlier gun possession.  Hmmmm.

I guess police officers do not like it when you film them doing their job…poorly.

A racial problem? Perhaps, but far and away it is much more a power problem.

A couple of years ago I had a former California Highway Patrol Officer in one of my courses. After listening to one of my rants concerning law enforcement he claimed that I had no idea how hard a job it is. To which I responded that I agreed with him –it is a very difficult job -which is why I believe all officers must have a Bachelor’s degree and/or be at least 26 years of age before we give them one of the most powerful positions in society.

Will this solve the problem? No, but it certainly would be a good start.  It is very difficult to be EDUCATED and a power hungry racist.

What saddens me is that most protestors see the problem as skin color first and power second. If we all wait for members of our personal ethnic background to be viciously attacked to have our voice be heard, the problem will never be solved. White people need to stand up for black victims and vice versa. We all need to stand up for reasonable and civilized enforcement regardless of the ethnic background of the victim. Until then, our numbers will be weak and ineffective.

I was having a conversation with a friend last night who said she has had nothing but positive encounters with police in her life…which thrilled me.  As one who has needed protection in her life, I get it and am so grateful to hear that. Yet, why have I -a hardworking, tax paying, law abiding citizen (and one who apparently does not need much protection)- NEVER  had a positive experience with a police officer?  When we see a police car on the street our reaction should be one of relief and solace; why the hell is it the other way around? I see a police car and I feel they are out to get me for some chickenshit reason.

We are a crazy gun loving culture and law enforcement reflects this. Did the Ferguson officer do something wrong? Morally yes, yet legally no.  It is this type of “shoot first, obtain facts later” protocol and policy that needs to change.

As much as I hate to acknowledge it and wish it were not so, rioting works in the short term. It gets people’s attention and is an outlet for people so frustrated they feel they have no other alternatives. And until law enforcement changes their “shoot first, ask questions later” policies, I am afraid Ferguson is just the beginning. With new videos of police brutality popping up everyday, the problem is no longer hidden behind the closed doors of the good old boys club. We now see you and we are appalled.

Jimmy on the News: Flying Solo

In his quest to find the best format for mildly entertaining and educational “podding” Jimmy sits alone in his mancave and opines about today’s headlines. He discusses the downing of a Malaysian passenger jet, a celebrity “package,” rogue police officers, the types of people who use facebook and the overall general absurdity of today’s news. Once again, you can now find all Jimmy’s podcasts on Itunes so you can listen anywhere at any time. Just type in the key word “jimmysintension.” Enjoy!