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Old September 5, 2002, 02:16 PM   #1
JasonReed
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Why do the police make us mad?

I actually posted this on a different thread, but it seems to be a theme that's coming up more often in the General and Legal/Political areas. LEOs are the good guys...we're the good guys...we're on the same darned side. Yet LEOs also inspire a ton of mistrust and anger on this board.

Giving it some thought I think what gets people fired up is the one-sidedness (bordering on helplessness) of any "civilian" encounter with the police. Many TFL members pride themselves on being able to take care of themselves, protect their families and property, and control their own destinies. But like it or not most of that goes out the window when your adversary happens to be a LEO. One hopes that the police will be respectful and professional, but if they aren't there's pretty much nothing you can do about it. Unless you have the whole thing on video it won't matter if the cop calls you an a$$hole, comments on your wife's cleavage, then shoves you across your own porch for no reason. You can file a complaint later but if you try to defend yourself at the time you will be overwhelmed by greater numbers, get your butt thoroughly kicked, and (again unless you have it on tape) will be successfully prosecuted for it. Is it fair? Prob'ly not. Is it life? Yep. You may have legal recourse after the fact, but on the street the LEO calls all the shots and you have pretty much one option: obey.

Our LEO TFL members often refer to how much they respect the citizens they deal with, but I'm not sure "respect" is the right word. Respect has to be a mutual thing, but what the LEO is really saying is "I'll respect you because I feel like it, and you'll respect me because you have to." So while we hope that all LEOs will act like the ones who post here, the operative word there is "hope". We're forced to trust other people to do the right thing. And as TFL'ers we just hate that.
Thoughts?

Edited for a more descriptive title.
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Old September 5, 2002, 02:46 PM   #2
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I'm not anti-LEO. LEO bashing is a bad thing. Not gonna do it. I appreciate the tough job our local LEOs do and have never had a tangle with one.

I will comment that my brother had a run-in with a truly Clueless Authority Figure (TM) a couple weeks back. The CAF was completely, totally, unmistakeably in the wrong. (See http://www.thearmedcitizen.net/cgi-b...c&f=1&t=001372 for the tale, which is amusing in parts.)

Told the tale to a LEO friend of mine, asking for his opinion. LEO friend replied, "Well, what the deputy did was probably illegal, and I'm pretty sure it was excessive force even if he wasn't trespassing, but it'd cost your brother a small fortune and a large hassle to get any action on it. That kinda thing happens pretty often, and they usually get away with it unless they pick the wrong guy to mess with ..."

<shrug>

There's your answer, right there, as far as I'm concerned. I can't afford to buy justice, so am completely dependent on the usual goodwill of our local cops. For some reason that bothers me.

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Old September 5, 2002, 02:46 PM   #3
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I have a pet theory for why LEO's are so mistrusted/disliked.
Part of their job involves enforcing laws that are distasteful, unconstitutional, or just plain wrong.

Legislatures write laws that, right or wrong, cops have to enforce. The cops enforce the law, and since they are the most visible representation of an unjust law/edict they have to take the flak and the spite.

Getting angry with a cop is kind of like spitting on soldiers coming back from Viet Nam. You really can't blame some poor slob who was drafted and then forced to follow the orders of politicians.

Same goes with LEO's. If an LEO does something that makes you mad, just remember, he's only the middleman. The people you should really be upset with are his bosses.

It's just human nature that people will lash out at the most visible representative of what upsets them, instead of getting to the heart of the problem.
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Old September 5, 2002, 03:00 PM   #4
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Good points.

I think there are also other reasons why LEOs are mistrusted here.

1. LEOs enforce law.

LEOs enforce the law, some of which the average citizen disagrees with. If a driver got caught doing 60 in a place where the speed limit has been reduced from 60 to 50, without the driver being aware, the LEO will still probably give you a fine, because that is what they have to do. Some people just get angry about this, but what do you expect the LEO to do? Fundamentally, it comes down to the LEOs doing the job they're sworn to.

2. LEOs see the bad side of things.

The average citizen goes about their daily life, largely shielded from direct exposure to the evils of our society. The average citizen sees things on TV, or hears about a friend who got mugged, etc., but our physical contact with crime is rare.
LEOs, on the other hand, see crime every day. Obviously this can have negative effects when dealing with other people. Being a little aloof, just giving a bad glare, speaking with unnecessary harshness, paranoia, and the dreaded "i-just-can't-be-bothered-any-more" mentality. This is not really the fault of the LEO, but things which may affect some LEOs through their careers. These are just the bad apples and probably should quit, but a few bad apples can make a whole batch look bad.

3. We don't see things from a LEO's perspective.

Most people don't seem to look at situations from a LEO's perspective. I think a lot of problems arising from encounters with cops can be avoided if only we understood what the LEOs are going through. Some people just don't bother to approach a situation from the boots of a cop, hence conflict occurs with little reason.

4. LEOs are a figure of authority.

Yes, they have authority as law enforcers. There is a disturbing number of people here, who seem to be very anarchistic in their politics, and will have nothing to do with any kind of authority. Some people just need to get a grip on reality.
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Old September 5, 2002, 03:08 PM   #5
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Caliban, you're right, but more often than not the cops are guilty of not engaging thier brain. "The law says this" is not always the correct way to handle things. No one is standing there holding a pink slip for them if they handle things with some common sense rather than a ticket or a charge. Unfortunately, common sense is not very comon in the LE field.
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Old September 5, 2002, 03:17 PM   #6
croyance
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I don't think that all LEO's are disliked, I think that some of them are.
While I believe that most LEO's are good people, or at least try to be, some are not. (Try to be is because we are all human, and we all have bad days.)
As you say, when they choose not to be, they have force on their side, be it legal, numbers, or weapons.
Quote:
You may have legal recourse after the fact, but on the street the LEO calls all the shots and you have pretty much one option: obey.
This does not make anything a LEO does right. It makes it even more wrong because they are abusing authority. And your advice, while pragmatic, is like telling a woman to lay back and enjoy it when she is being raped. Before anybody says I am going too far, there have been records of LEO's using their power to rape.
LEO's are more protected under the law than everybody else, except judges and DA's. The logic is that when you kill a LEO, you did not just kill that person, but a symbol of order in society - you are attacking the society itself. But there is no balancing provision under the law to more severly punish LEO's who abuse their authority.
On a less severe note, people have every reason to be irritated when a LEO tries to enforce a non-existant law, or when a LEO hassles them for legal behavior based on their (the LEO's) beliefs. Examples seem to abound in states that are hostile to gun rights - law abiding people get extra attention, time, and a lecture.
LEO's are also like going to a restaraunt, people remember the bad experiences more than the good, and the bad memories stick longer. People remember the hassle and expense of a speeding or parking ticket. They remember the stories in the news about bad cops, and don't think about the good ones. They don't think about the times they weren't mugged because a patrol car was in the area. They don't remember how the highway patrol was out when whether was bad helping motorists that ended up in the ditch. The list goes on.
I will also say that either the urban myth or reality does not help - the idea that good LEO's will cover for bad LEO's, or at least keep their mouths shut. I cannot personally say if it is true or not, but movies, TV, and news articles suggest it is. If it is true, are not the good LEO's who know accomplices to what the bad LEO's are doing? It should be their job to stop crime, yet they are not simply because the bad LEO wears the same uniform. Whether or not the "Blue wall" is true, the perception that it is condems all LEO's in the eyes of some.
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Old September 5, 2002, 03:21 PM   #7
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Cal:

Quote:
Getting angry with a cop is kind of like spitting on soldiers coming back from Viet Nam. You really can't blame some poor slob who was drafted and then forced to follow the orders of politicians.
Oh, come on, man. No cop was EVER DRAFTED into this! They know EXACTLY what they are getting into and EXACTLY what laws they are enforcing.

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Old September 5, 2002, 03:26 PM   #8
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The posts so far have pretty much nailed the issue.
However, cops do get fired for not enforcing certain laws, particularly Domestic Violence violations in some states.

Common sense is not common in society, if it were, cops wouldn't have near as much to do.

When someone with the legal authority to arrest you, makes a real or perceived error, we tend to react with anger and dismay, because that person has so much power.
The potential to misuse or abuse that power is frightening to us all and we become hyper-critical of their actions.

Also when the power is misused, it erodes whatever amount of trust exists between the individual and cops in general, creating the cynical "cop bashing" mentality that sometimes surfaces here and in society as a whole.

I think we all resent people having power or sway over us and cops are the most visible symbol of this.
I too have been guilty of lashing out without proof of wrong doing and I was a cop, until I took my early retirement and moved on.

I wish we would all, including myself, not post in anger or because we have an axe to grind with a cop from the past. Of course in a perfect world......
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Old September 5, 2002, 03:44 PM   #9
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Generalized cop bashing is ignorant bigotry.

Generalized cop worshiping is just ignorant.
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Old September 5, 2002, 03:46 PM   #10
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Why do the police make us mad?

My girlfriend is trying to apply for her CCW permit; the officer who is charged with dealing with the paperwork in the town has been avoiding her for a month now. He's failed to show up for scheduled meetings, he doesn't return phone calls and he will not allow her to simply drop off the paperwork so that he can submit it and get back to her. He's single-handedly preventing her from even applying.

Oh, wait... maybe i need to see it from his point of view.

~USP
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Old September 5, 2002, 03:52 PM   #11
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Police

After spending 32 years as a Police in a Big City, it is interesting to read some of the replys. I am amazed that you can even apply for a CCW in Mass.
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Old September 5, 2002, 04:00 PM   #12
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i've come to the stark realization that there are idiots in every line of work (yes i'm a little slow on some things). we expect that the field of law enforcement would have strict human resource control to ensure that the LEO are truly interested in the safety of the community and the protection of the law abiding.
sadly, this is not always the case. some people stereotype LEO into whomever they've had contact with. human nature is responsible for that.
the only dislike i have interpreted in these forums is from individuals who think that because they say they are good guys a LEO should trust them at their word and let them go about their business. whether its a traffic stop, home visit, whatever, people seem to think that if they claim to be good guys, everyone should believe them. well we dont believe people who make the same claim to us, do we? and we arent in the business of dealing with the scum of the earth day in and day out like LEO are.
my experiences with LEO have all been pleasant, whether or not i got a warning or ticketed, and even arrested. 5 years ago i was arrested for DWI, and the officers on the scene were very professional and patient with my drunk @$$. fortunately in my drunken state, i managed to be cooperative to them, which i feel they reciprocated. maybe thats because the officers up here are exposed to a lower rate of scum like those in la or new york or dc are.
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Old September 5, 2002, 04:29 PM   #13
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People resent cops because of all the preferential treatment cops get.

I can name one. CCW permits, or not even having to apply for one.
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Old September 5, 2002, 05:22 PM   #14
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croyance wrote:
"But there is no balancing provision under the law to more severly punish LEO's who abuse their authority."

Yes, there is. A state or local LEO who abuses his or her authority can be both prosecuted criminally and sued civilly in federal court for civil rights violations, because they are acting as an agent of the state. A private citizen is not subject to such prosecution or lawsuits. If I recall correctly, 42 U.S.C. 1983 is the relevant statute. Remember the Rodney King case?
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Old September 5, 2002, 05:45 PM   #15
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It all seems to have been pretty well covered already. I can add that I think most LEO's know that the brass will back them up if they make a mistake, so when a grey area comes up the LEO's conciouscly choose the hardline approach knowing full well that even if their wrong, they'll not be held accountable. An LEO who's held responsible for a mistake taints the whole department and the bad press makes even more people distrustful and consequently 'harder to control' as a populace.

Quote:
the only dislike i have interpreted in these forums is from individuals who think that because they say they are good guys a LEO should trust them at their word and let them go about their business. whether its a traffic stop, home visit, whatever, people seem to think that if they claim to be good guys, everyone should believe them.
So does this go both ways? LEO's commonly spout, "If you see the uniform, cooperate and obey, we're the law and the good guys!" or words to that effect. If me saying I'm a good guy does not in fact identify me as a good guy (And I agree, people can lie), then how in the world can a man in uniform be identifird as a real good guy? Bad apples wear the same uniform as the good apples.
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Old September 5, 2002, 05:53 PM   #16
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Why do the police make us mad? Pick at least one.

a.) Because we are stuck at an adolescent stage of development and resent all authority.

b.) Because we are sociopaths, and resent their interference in our criminal behavior.

c.) Because we suffer from police man envy, and wish we could run around with all that neat hardware.

Gary
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Old September 5, 2002, 05:55 PM   #17
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the system isnt perfect by any means. true, we civilians are expected to make the assumption that a LEO is really acting in our best interests, or we risk trouble for ourselves.

for me, the bottom line is this: LEO have to deal with the bullspit of all sorts of street scum; they shouldnt have to deal with any flak from me, spouting things like "trampling my rights how dare you copper" or what have you. if i can be courteous to them and they are only trying to do their job, great. if they overstep their boundaries, my resisting their efforts will only get me in deeper doo-doo, and unless i can prove them wrong to their superiors, my word against theirs wont work out in my best interests. but thats just me.
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Old September 5, 2002, 05:58 PM   #18
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Wow, this is amazingly civil... so far.

There are good and bad in every job/profession. Unfortunately when cops and doctors screw up, people tend to die. That makes it front page news.

When a cop goes bad, I love to see them get hammered, betraying the profession and those they serve is an unforgivable offense, IMHO.

On a side note, I sure wish I had worked at an agency where the brass backed you up. My brass hung you out to dry, especially when it was a sensitive "political" issue or involved non-whites.

My last reprimand, before I retired, was for being "rude" to a guy who was threatening to "kick my butt". I didn't arrest him, because I didn't feel threatened by his sad little threats, so it was deemed that I had no reason to be "rude" to him.
So in retrospect, if I had arrested him and/or kicked his butt, I would have been fine with having been "rude".
Honestly, he wasn't worth the paperwork to even arrest, so I was forced to write even more paperwork than an arrest would have created, to handle the complaint.

My brass really hosed me on that one. Gutless bastages.
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Old September 5, 2002, 06:08 PM   #19
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Wow, Gary. Awesome contribution to the thread. You think all that up at once?
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Old September 5, 2002, 06:34 PM   #20
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Quote:
Some people just don't bother to approach a situation from the boots of a cop, hence conflict occurs with little reason
True enough. When stopped for a traffic violation, stop and think about some of the stuff you might have seen on America's Wildest Police Videos. The officer approaching your car has no idea what awaits him. There's absolutely no plus side to antagonizing him.

My experience is that there are good cops and there are also cops on some weird testosterone trip who got in the work to prove something about their manliness or to hold power over others. The latter type worry me, but I have found them to be in the minority. I would like to see stronger mechanisms for weeding these types out, and sometimes I worry that the big city LE Bureaucracies of law and order statists are doing the exact opposite and encouraging the minority of Gestapo menatilities in the ranks.

As for the good ones, sometimes they can seem a little curt or short on sympathy, but remember the amount of crap they deal with on a weekly basis for little thanks and a lot of grief. Unless the cop's a saint, he's not going to be perfectly pleasant all the time (maybe they are supposed to be nice all the time, but I doubt any human being could do that job today and live up to the Andy Griffith ideal).

A good friend of mine who's an ex-cop made me much more sympathetic to the lot of a patrolman after he told me some of the stuff he had to deal with every day. Dealing with wife and child abusers who are out the next day to continue their abuse with occasional fatal consequences would certainly erode my tolerance for people giving me unnecessary grief when all I am trying to do is enforce laws that I might not even entirely agree with myself.
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Old September 5, 2002, 06:45 PM   #21
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i really enjoy watching those police video shows where the officer is as pleasant and nice as can be while the person they have stopped or are interviewing is a complete pain in the rear to them.
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Old September 5, 2002, 06:48 PM   #22
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I don't expect cops to be experts in customer service. They don't even have to smile, "make nice" with my pets, or give out lollipops to kids. All I want is professionalism and common courtesy. That means not being arrogant, using force ONLY when necessary, and basically behave like they all supposedly do on "COPS" the t.v. show.

That's all I want.
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Old September 5, 2002, 07:25 PM   #23
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Cops

Why do people have a general dislike for cops? Thats an easy one... traffic stops.

The contact most honest people have with cops is a traffic stop... While a traffic stop can be stressful for cops, it is usually offensive to the citizen.

First, I will agree there are people who are not mature enough to understand they got caught.... that simple. Most (including me) take a calculated risk we will not be caught speeding etc. Fair enough... if we do that we should also be willing to politely accept being caught... if you are a gamer fine...get an ambulance chaser and you have a good chance of beating the ticket in court... but don't give the cop a ration of feces.

OTOH, the cop has no reason to demean, insult or talk down during a traffic stop either... unfortunately that is often the case...as has been noted, cops are not drafted... they signed up ... so don't complain about the problems of the job...

The solution is to get police out of the traffic enforcement business... hiring traffic wardens (who would not need the same level of training as LEOs) would free police for serious work, and greatly improve their public image.

Oh.. also get the TV show COPS off the air.

FWIW

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Old September 5, 2002, 07:42 PM   #24
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what happens when a lesser trained 'traffic warden' pulls over a driver and is confronted with a situation he/she is not trained for? such as a hostage in the vehicle?
and if you are willing to risk not getting caught breaking traffic laws, you should also swallow whatever demeaning attitude the officer displays toward you. you have already proven that you have little or no regard for the laws, so why should you be treated with respect?
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Old September 5, 2002, 08:03 PM   #25
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Whatcha gonna do when they come4you

Lollipops? I never got any lollipops Makes me gag. Guess I'm a lolligagger

BTW, if it weren't for "COPS," I'd sell my TV

Now, if more Cops were like Harry Callihan, we'd have somthin' here. "Do ya PUNK? Well, do ya?" As Callihan walks away, BG pleads, " I gotta know..." Harry turns and pulls trigger in BG's face....CLICK(!)

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