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Old February 13, 2012, 08:38 AM   #1
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Thoughts, opinions, reactions to provacative article...

First of all, I hope this is appropriate for this segment of TFL. If not, I apologize and I'm sure our moderators will act appropriately and close or move. Secondly, I do not wholeheartedly agree with the author. I feel that there are gross generalizations throughout the article and all police officers are painted with a broad brush. However, there may be some credence of truth despite these biases.

I am personal friends with many cops of different municipalities in my area (city, county, state) and I have the utmost respect for all LEO. I have a brother, 64 years old and as law abiding as one can get, who had a bad experience during a traffic stop with police in the largest city in AL. I won't go into details but his treatment was totally unwarranted and unnecessary.
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Old February 13, 2012, 09:41 AM   #2
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Many cops actually do their job and are honest, or so I'm told. I knows they are out there, but I've yet to have a good experience with cops. I can only thank God this town has no SWAT team. I love it here, but I'd move away. The city's police force is getting corrupt. Not in the normal sense of being paid off or anything, but they just abuse their powers and ignore the real crimes. I've been hassled by the police (threatened to be arrested and my truck impounded actually for a traffic stop, I was ticketed for bs), my dad has, and my fiancé. The cop that hasseled me ended up hiding a minor in his house that ran away from home a few states away. He never got in trouble, but after that my ticket now no longer gets a court date. I was gonna stick it to him. Its been over a year now. I also know they like to leave their jurristiction quite a bit and act like the county police but they arnt. And the county police is a joke. I was threatened to be arrested because someone tried to wreck me and then chased me. The cops said I should of took things easier. Not even sure what that means. No one got in trouble though. Our Sherrif is currently under investigation for embezlement, I think like 30 some counts. And shooting a gun in a house over his sons head and he was drunk. The state police in this area seem to also be a joke. And I'm sure I haven't heard all of the stories, but I have first hand experience and none good. I've never seen or heard anything good about the police in this area. I'm sure there's a few honest cops, but ive yet to meet them.
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Old February 13, 2012, 09:42 AM   #3
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Unfortunately, only the sensational make the news.

Officer Joe who stopped me, was polite, informed me I had a tail light out and asked me to get it fixed soon, is not enough to make the news, or even youtube.

Bob Livingston is an interesting guy and the people who work for him as well.
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Old February 13, 2012, 10:40 AM   #4
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I'm pretty lucky, I've only met one dingus on my towns local police. Most have have been polite, professional, and helpful. Heck, when I was getting my pistol permit (yeah nj ) they were giving me buying suggestions. That's a rarity in NJ, and they follow the law to the letter and get the permits out like they are supposed to without adding additional requirements like the neighboring towns.
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Old February 13, 2012, 11:01 AM   #5
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The piece opens with a broad generalization:

Law-abiding citizens are no longer safe from police. Once the motto for police officers was “To protect and serve,” but now it seems to be “To harass, assault and attack.”
The article (and much of the site hosting it) suffers a lack of temperance and an excess of partisan rhetoric. I'm going to ask that we don't see that spilling into this thread.
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Old February 13, 2012, 11:12 AM   #6
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I couldn't finish more than half of the article. Talk about slander!

There are several issues with the police/civilian relationship.
1. People are always upset with those who break the law, but the second they get caught breaking the law themselves, many of them believe they have free rein to verbally assault the officer. Quite frankly, some of the people who get pulled over for minor traffic violations deserve to get kicked in the head for their attitude and mouth.

2. The quality of police officers heired in many places is questionable. This is why many departments now require degree's. Not that a piece of paper solves much, but officers with degrees are FAR less likely to use unreasonable force. The second part of this is their unions. It is such a pain in the rear to get rid of a bad officer because of their unions. My department has a dozen officers that should never have been hired, but Admin refuses to get rid of them out of fear of law suits.

3. Running the department: Pure and simple, if I work a 16 hour shift because my co-workers think its fun to abuse their sick time and admin refuses to discipline them for it, that speeding stop at hour 15 isn't going to be pleasant for anyone. If I have supervisors who talk down to officers, have no people skills, and play the favorites' game, it is not going to be a pleasant day. I could go on forever like this. the opposite argument is that those problems shouldn't be brought to the street. Well isn't that the pot calling the kettle black. Ever have a bad day at work and then snap at your kid at home for doing something you normally would have been more patient with? Welcome to the grumpy authority club!

4. Training! Officers are rarely trained to the standard necessary. We ask these people to preform a paramilitary job, refuse to fund them (this isn't just the economy, imagine tripling you local PD's budget just for training), and when we do raise the budget our Chiefs and Admin personnel think that if they buy their officers new cars, replace shotguns with rifles, buy cool computerized bla bla bla, that they will have a force of robocops. The truth is that an officer who is constantly trained (imagine a month of training then a month on the street repeated for an officers entire career) the officers are far more likely to be able to handle a situation properly. This is one reason we see departments hiring large amounts of ex-military personnel. They believe that this prior training negates the lack of training in the future, a horrible miscalculation.
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Old February 13, 2012, 11:31 AM   #7
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I agree with Tom abou the broad generalizations. Also, at least to me, it seems to paint every officer/agent with the same brush... I know there are bad officers, I see the news articles, and I have had an encounter in the past I didnt like, which lead me to go in to law enforcement to make a difference. To me, it sounds like the writer feels like alot of the charges are made up out of thin air. In reality, with the volumes of laws at the state, county, and town level in my case, there are many things that are either illegal, or a violation of town ordinace. Yes, many of the laws are either outdated, or just not updated to current standards.

While I know many people are not happy with law enforcement as it is today, I am afraid if the government decided to replace it with something new, it is doubtful that people would be happy with that either.
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Old February 13, 2012, 12:43 PM   #8
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I think the key point in the article is the militarization of the police. It comes down to training. Today they seem to put the recruits though a police academy enviroment that is more akin armed services basic training. This particular mindset and environment is intended to harden the soldier for a battle field environment where being courteous or caring isn't really a factor. Basic training in the military isn't appropriate for a civil servant and local police departments shouldn't allow it to even resemble basic. All they do is produce a hardened person that will tend to be more like a soldier than a civil servant. Yes it can be dangerous on the streets, but having instructors that act like a Marine Corps DIs isn't what is needed IMO.

It isn't uncommon in the military for the soldiers to have a disposition to looking down on civilians as weak, fat, lazy, and not their equals. As bad as that my be it is common. When many police go through this similar methodology it results in the same. There are officers that go about addressing citizens with the term civillian in a condesending manner. All the while they themselves are civillians themselves, yet it seems to elude them. To add further to the mindset, there is the "thin blue line" concept. It invites an us against them mentality. Which is counter productive to the capacity in which the LEO is serving. I am not saying that police are all this way, just that it has become far more common from my own perception and is counter productive to good public relations.

Police are taught to have control of situations that they find themselves in. If they perceive that it may be getting out of hand many resort to heavy handed tactics. Anytime a person begins to question their authority I'm sure alarm bells begin ringing in their heads. Many times people start with verbal disobediance right before they resort to physical violence. In the case of an officer he may be outnumbered and it leads him to using his enforment tools and what he has been trained to do, right or wrong.

While many departments have different procedures, many are similar. The best way to avoid being treated in a harsh manner is to make the officer feel as comfortable as possible. After all they know that a great many people today are armed legally and illegally and that has to make them very wary. They can never be sure that the person they are dealing with is reasonable or a seething maniac. It doesn't make their job any easier to be obtuse when they are trying to ascertain the situation.

Put yourself in their shoes. I'm sure you'd get scared and think about drawing a tazer, PR-24, ASP baton, or pistol on some of these people given the same circumstances. On the other hand the police shouldn't think that their badge gives them any special rights above and beyond what the citizen has. Both parties should do thier best to be as civil as possible. If there are questions to the legality of the officers actions it is better to take it up in court. Trying to do that on the street is a good way to end up on the pavement.

This motto of "to serve and protect" should not be allowed at all. It is their job to serve the general public, but not to protect us as individual, but rather to protect us by enforcement of the laws. If their job was to protect us we'd have to have an LEO in every household. Their job is to enforce the law, investigate crimes, and assist in apprehension and conviction of the offenders. Nothing more nothing less.

It may sound nice, but it isn't true in the sense that people perceive it to be used. Personally I think they should use "To serve the public and enforce the law." Granted it is nit picking to a degree. It however would be a great deal more difficult to misinterpret. If they were to be held to the misinterpreted notion of protecting the individual against crimes, there would be no end of law suites against the state on all levels.

Anyway these are just a few thoughts on the subject. We all owe it to ourselves, in whatever our capacity we are in, to treat eachother with mutual respect and not be uncivil toward one another. We all have our perceptions and none are likely going to be totally correct. We are all human and make mistakes. We would all do well to examine ourselves and act with the utmost courtesy to others if at all possible. The inner animal we all have is all too easy to let get the better of us.

Overall our police do a fine job and we as citizens should appreciate it and show it by not being a jerk. Even if we may feel that an officer is being as much of a jerk toward us. We do get what we give. Today it seems we are becoming less civil and this leads to the degradation of civilization. We are all better than this and we know it. All that is left is to show it.
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Old February 13, 2012, 01:17 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Slugthrower
This motto of "to serve and protect" should not be allowed at all. It is their job to serve the general public, but not to protect us as individual, but rather to protect us by enforcement of the laws. If their job was to protect us we'd have to have an LEO in every household. Their job is to enforce the law, investigate crimes, and assist in apprehension and conviction of the offenders. Nothing more nothing less.

It may sound nice, but it isn't true in the sense that people perceive it to be used. Personally I think they should use "To serve the public and enforce the law." Granted it is nit picking to a degree. It however would be a great deal more difficult to misinterpret. If they were to be held to the misinterpreted notion of protecting the individual against crimes, there would be no end of law suites against the state on all levels.
Slugthrower I wanted to say thanks for sharing your thoughts, but I also wanted to bring up another point as well.

It seems that, at least at some times, a person that recieves an "enforcement" of the law of some sort, be it a traffic citation, town ticket, or criminal violation, tend to take things in a way to personal nature, forgetting that while it was "That Officer" that did indeed charge them, "He" charged them acting on behalf of not only the government, but also to keep society as a whole safe.

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Old February 14, 2012, 05:44 PM   #10
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I think that, by and large, the problems that we see with police today are part of a bigger problem with society at large. It seems that a growing number of people are more than willing to trade their liberty in order to absolve themselves of as much personal responsibility as possible. As a result, our society as become "overly legislative" for lack of a better term which means that a large segment of us have been fooled into believing that all of society's problems can be solved through legislation.

As a result, the police are called upon to enforce an ever growing number of laws and, in order to enforce these laws, are given ever more discretionary power. As is commonly quoted, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, so the more power you give to the police, the greater the chance that said power will be abused. By expecting the police to enforce a plethora of frivolous laws, we place the honest cops in an extremely difficult position both morally and practically and the dishonest cops in a position to more easily abuse their authority.

The notion of "public safety" is probably the single factor that contributes more than anything to a police state. "Public safety" is really an unattainable utopian fantasy as nothing can ever completely guarantee the safety of everyone, everywhere, all the time. In order for the police to truly eradicate the threat which crime poses to society, if that is even possible at all, the measures necessary would require the police to be oppressive in the Orwellian extreme and pose just as great, if not greater, threat to free society as crime does.

Unfortunately, the pipe dream of "public safety" has created an "ends justify the means" attitude both within the police and among a large segment of society at large. It is no secret that a large segment of the police are extremely reluctant, if not flat out unwilling, to enforce the law when it is broken by one of their fellow officers. Not only is that attitude fairly widespread amongst police officers, but a large segment of society is willing to tolerate it because they've been fooled into believing that it is the price they must pay in order to have their precious "safety."

Corruption, if left unchecked, does nothing but grow in both frequency and magnitude. Immunity from consequence for relatively minor crimes such as a traffic violation eventually leads some cops to believe that they are above the law and someone who believes that is only limited by their own conscience. For every cop who finally gets caught and prosecuted for a major crime like drug-dealing, assault and battery, or murder, one has to wonder how many other minor crimes he or she was able to commit while both the rest of the department and the community at large looked the other way.

People who are given the power and responsibility to enforce the law should also be expected to set an example by obeying the law themselves. I truly believe that if not only the police, but society at large, became unwilling to tolerate the small crimes such as speeding, running red lights, or parking in no-parking zones which are commonly ignored when perpetrated by a police officer, that the larger abuses of authority would be far less common than they are.

I also feel that many amongst us needs to be reminded that we simply cannot rely upon the government, the police, or society at large to protect us and provide for our every need and desire. Attempting to legislate away every possible problem that society might face does not produce utopia, but rather robs us of our liberty and ultimately our ability to protect and care for ourselves.
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Old February 14, 2012, 06:45 PM   #11
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Old February 14, 2012, 11:40 PM   #12
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Webleymkv, very deep and astute observations concerning law enforcement and our society. You not only hit the nail on the head, you hammered it home...
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Old February 15, 2012, 05:51 PM   #13
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I don't worry about who gets away with a rolling stop or with running a few mph over the speed limit. Most of us have done that and been let off for it at some point by a friendly cop (and no I'm not a cop). I'm much more concerned with the hiring of officers that are not mentally prepared or mentally fit for the job. People with a chip on their shoulder have no business with a badge and a gun. We had a local cop like that around here up until recently. He acted like he was supercop and his word was law. We're sort of independent minded around here and such attitudes are not well received. After awhile he annoyed one too many people and the city council "suggested" that the chief of police retire and gave the officer in question 24 hours to resign or be terminated. Last I heard he was campus security at a nearby community college, which I thought was fitting. My point is; public opinion matters. You want to combat these issues at the grassroots level then you report any officer who acts in an improper manner. If enough people speak up then elected officials who ultimately control the police will purge the ranks to keep the constituency happy.

The place to take out your aggression for being bullied in school or not making the baseball team is not behind a badge. All too often it happens, however. Training is part of the problem as well. Police academy in this state (from firsthand accounts) is as physically demanding as military boot camp or worse. I'd feel much more comfortable with well informed officers who know the law and how to handle situations as ones who can run 12 miles and kill someone 18 different ways with a paper clip. Training someone to be a machine who is going to spend 99% of their career writing traffic tickets isn't terribly intelligent. The fact of the matter is, PT is cheaper and easier that actually training them to deal with real world situations. Mental training is far more time consuming and expensive. Not to mention the dropout rate would go through the roof. No one answer will solve the problem.
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Old February 15, 2012, 07:10 PM   #14
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I find there are generally two types of LEO. The ones who want to help people and make the world a better place and the ones who like to have authority over others. I find that most of the officers I have delt with are just trying to do their job to the best of their abilities.

Watch shows like COPS and imagine trying to deal with the scum of the earth they have to deal with on a daily basis. You couldn't pay me enough to deal with those people! IMO, as time goes by people are getting harder and harder to deal with. There is a general lack of acceptance of authority, something an LEO can't operate without. I think they generally do a good job. Only the bad cops make the headlines.

All I can really say is imagine this world without them.
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