Get to Know a Cop Today

I figured last week’s headline (Black Skin Gives Better Protection than White: Study — AFP) would raise a few eyebrows. Well, not the headline, really, but my lead-in “slug” for it: “Except From the Police”.

I did get one fairly outraged letter:

I personally am offended by your comment on this headline. I am a police officer and work in an all-black neighborhood, but myself and my partners do not find it necessary to beat people or profile to do our jobs effectively. If you took the time to truly get to know some police officers and understand the job, I think you would find your ‘funny’ comment itself to be a great misrepresentation of the truth. You have let yourself become a victim of media influence. (However, I feel that you will actually read my opinion and take it seriously, unlike any so-called mainstream media would do.) I thought you were more intelligent than to make a comment like that without thinking that perhaps you were generalizing the characteristics of a whole group of people based on a few bad ones. –Greg, Tennessee

Take the Time to Get to Know Some Cops?!

I was the Public Information Officer for the Search and Rescue team — I had a lot of nifty equipment, and took this photo myself.

I asked Greg if it would it surprise him to learn that I am a former peace officer myself. He was.

I started as a police cadet in Menlo Park, Calif., and got out of the biz some years later, after a stint as a deputy sheriff in Humboldt County, Calif., where I did search and rescue work. The photo (right) is from my neglected personal site: that’s me, in uniform, at the left, holding the camera.

It’s absolutely true that most cops are terrific, hard-working men and women who are trying to make their cities better places. True is, in its essence, biting social commentary. I knew I’d hear from a lot of my black readers that my comment is right on — and I have; it’s the way many of them truly feel, and a lot of the time those feelings are based on real-life experience, not paranoia.

I’ve said many, many times that while True is entertainment, part of its mission is to make people think and talk about the issues raised. We all belong to groups that have done something worthy of being laughed at — which is a damn sight better than crying!

If we can learn to laugh at ourselves when those things are illuminated, we get closer to “getting along” with others (as one black man who tussled with the police once urged).

Greg did tell me something I didn’t know: last week was Police Memorial Week, dedicated to the memory of officers killed in the line of duty. Thus I do have one regret with the headline: its timing.

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3 thoughts on “Get to Know a Cop Today

  1. I’m fairly Establishment and a taxpayer. In other words, I pay for, and expect, police protection. And as a voter, I have my voice in City Council in how I like to see a police department operated. For the most part, I think cops are normal people doing a dirty job for less than stellar pay. Even when I get caught screwing up, like a speeding violation, I can’t complain. It IS what I pay them for.

    Of course, you do run into a few badge-heavy swaggering Barny Fifes who think they’re the Lone Ranger intent on saving the world from itself. They’re a small minority and eventually they do end up getting what’s coming to them.

    But I was curious, so I looked it up on the USDOJ site. There are 653,500 police officers in the U.S. If only 1% of them are abusing their authority, and they exercise that abuse with 10 citizens a day, that amounts to well over 16 million people each year. Enough to populate 2 or 3 small states.

  2. @Mike from Dallas
    Actually, that’s too low.
    At 1% and 1 case of abuse each day it’s 2.38 million per year.
    Or 23.8 million per year if it was 10 cases per day.

    The way I would figure it: 1% of 653,500 is 6,535. Average work year is 5 days x 50 weeks = 250 days — fewer when they work four 10-hour shifts/week. But let’s stay with the higher number. 6,535 x 250 = 1,633,750. But, sadly, long-time reader Mike won’t see this: he died a couple of years ago. -rc

  3. Thanks for your thought provoking commentary.

    Did you intend to create the additional enigma of the photo (which “includes you”) which you “took yourself”?

    Initially the apparent impossibility made me chuckle but after thinking it over I was able to resolve the anomaly (hopefully correctly).

    However, it further enabled me to reflect on taking the time to digest information instead of jumping to incorrect conclusions and assumptions — which, I’m sure you’ll agree, form the basis of many of the rants you receive.

    Keep up the good work.

    Not much mystery here, even for the 1980s: remote control! 🙂 -rc

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