It never fails. Some incident with the police – whether it’s a police shooting or the police shooting someone, the memes on social media go crazy on both sides – with many claiming that they “support the police.”
This is a stupid emotional attitude – on both sides.
I do not support the police. I support justice and the rule of law. I support inherent rights, and I support the original ideas of Sir Robert Peel, when he “invented” modern policing.
Policing is actually, contrary to what you might believe, a pretty easy job most of the time. Oh yes, it does and can have its moments and its dangers, but statistically, there are far more jobs that carry more risk of danger than policing. I am saddened every time a police officer is shot and killed (or injured), but there is a sense of sadness that goes beyond reality. According to a recent Time Magazine article, policing doesn’t even make the “top ten” of riskiest occupations. Logging is #1.
When was the last time you mourned the death of a logger who was working hard to bring you paper products, wood for your new deck, or lumber for the new housing development you plan on living in?
When was the last time you saw huge headlines in the newspaper, “Farmer Killed While Producing Your Food?” Yes .. even farm worker death rates far outnumber police killings in the USA. When was the last time you attended a candle light vigil for a dead farm worker?
I’ve actually worked on farms – and had a job in the field of “law enforcement.” For full disclosure, I was not actually a “cop,” but the job I had was described as “social policing.” We pretty much did whatever the local constabulary did: We responded to domestic conflicts, investigated criminal activity, arrested criminals, acted in a way to prevent criminal activity, and got into some pretty tense situations. I have been shot at, have had to fend for my life with combatants wielding knives, and have to deal with couples involved in physical altercations with each other. I’ve experienced arresting a husband or boyfriend for assault, and then having the spouse turn on me.
I know the fear that can go through a person when faced with death. I’ve actually known it many times throughout my life – as a child, I was diagnosed with several diseases for which, at the time, there was a chance I might not live. As a teenager, I faced fear in some situations I worked in – a hay wagon incorrectly parked and rolling toward me fully loaded and stopping only inches away – if it had continued, it would have crushed me between the wagon and the tractor wheel. That is when I actually understood and experienced the sensation of “having your life pass before your eyes.”
In that moment… I experienced and saw my entire life go zipping through my mind while I was certain I was about to be crushed. I think it was my brain’s response to the situation, and perhaps my sub-conscious mind was exploring every past experience to try to figure out how to escape the danger. As the wagon loaded with hay came to a stop due to a rut that the wheels got stuck in, my heart was beating like crazy as I was trying to prepare myself to either jump out of the way if I could, or experience what I thought was going to be my body crushed.
I understand fear and I understand danger and risk. I will never forget the day, a day just days before I was to have my last day working after I put in my resignation notice, of nearly having my head blown off at Lawrence Heights in Toronto. It was at the rear of 11 Flemingdon Park – a routine call about “disorderlies.” I had responded to such calls hundreds of times before, and had usually been able to build up some rapport with at least some of those involved and find a resolution. But that one night.. about two or three nights before I was to leave that job – instead of being able to build rapport, a shot rang out and the sound of a bullet hitting the overhang of the entrance I was standing under.
I was so shocked by it, I did not even report it as an attempted shooting. So many thoughts and emotions were going through me at the time. I did not want the group of disorderlies to detect any fear in me. I was also so looking forward to my last “day on the job,” and the idea of having some ongoing investigation that I would need to be involved in after that day was not something I wanted. So, I reported the incident as an unknown “projectile” in my direction instead of what I knew it to be – an attempt on my life.
Fear – that is the worse thing that you can project to those you are trying to negotiate or deal with. You have it, but you have to show strength. You only have a moment – less than a second – to process what just happened. And how to respond, along with a brief.. very very brief… millisecond to realize and be thankful you’re still alive.
I write this because I want it known that I do understand the experience of fear, of risk, of situations where one might experience the idea that death might be imminent. Some might call it “courage,” but it’s not really courage. In fact, most of the time, I’m so cowardly that I’d put myself in a situation where I felt I could protect myself and still see a positive resolution to a circumstance. Anyone who goes running headlong into a situation without thinking ahead of time is an idiot. They are not heroes.
I’ve seen a lot of idiots. And I’ve seen a lot of egotistical personality disordered people in the field of “law enforcement” that ought not to be working in that field. I’ve seen them exaggerate circumstances in order to justify their own far over-reaching responses to situations. I’ve seen police officers who make themselves appear “tough” because they knew their opponent was weaker than them, but when it came to a stronger opponent, act entirely differently. I’ve seen police officers and others in law enforcement roles act on “gut feelings” instead of evidence, and ruining other peoples’ lives.
Just because they can, and there will be zero repercussions for doing so. A police officer can falsely arrest a person, come up with some “justification” for it, forcing the other person to defend themselves in court, at great expense to themselves or the public, and found “not guilty,” and the police officer has to face zero consequences. It’s just another stat, and there is no personal responsibility.
While many police forces deny the idea of “quotas,” I can tell you from experience that instead of “quotas,” another term is used: Benchmarks. Police officers and others in law enforcement roles are often assessed on how close or not they come to “benchmarks.” If you are interested in prevention, it is truly a wretched idea to assign “benchmarks.”
If the philosophy is “prevention,” then, having benchmarks for tickets, summonses and arrests is a negative and indicative of failure of the philosophy. If it is my job to prevent criminal or other legal activity, then ever stat I have ought to be seen as a failure. If I have been assigned a “benchmark” of handing out 30 parking tickets a month, but I instead choose to advise people when I can that they need to park somewhere else, and they comply with my requests, so I have no need to issue a parking ticket, isn’t that a better outcome?
At one point in my career, I had a very inexperienced supervisor – who was promoted based on the fact he/she was of a minority group – and not on any idea of merit or experience – tell me that I “failed to use legislated authority.” In other words, I did not charge, arrest or issue enough “POT’s.”
I am not bitter about the fact this person was promoted above me; I never applied for promotion. But I point it out that there is so much insanity and poor thought and training that even goes into supervision of others in this field. When I was evaluated, I invited the supervisor to go out on a patrol with me and see if there were actually issues during my shift, and whether my philosophy of prevention and rapport building provided superior results and outcomes than the “benchmarks.” The supervisor declined my invitation.
I do not support this type of policing.
I realize that there are some pretty decent police officers out there. I realize that they sometimes face dangerous times. I realize that there are some police officers and law enforcement workers who are indeed courageous…. and who think rationally, and not just out of fear. I would like to support them, and will support them, when they also remove themselves from “The Blue Wall” idea. They need to take their fellow officers to task for the idiotic things some of them do, behind that “Blue Wall” and lack of accountability.
Just a few years ago, I had a most disturbing interaction with two members of the Orangeville Police Services, here in my small town. The incident left me fearful as well as quite anxious about any future involvement with them that might occur. It left me anxious for what might happen with my own sons, and other people who do not have the legal knowledge I have. I knew that the two officers involved were really looking for an excuse for a fight; they were not really looking for the idea of prevention and protection. Their actions were horrible.
I will tell you their names: Sergeant James and Constable Mulligan. I was accosted by them while walking home along a sidewalk. The experience was frightful to me, and when they finally released me to continue my walk home, the things that were yelled at me as I walked away made me fearful about any future contact with them. They also made me fearful during the episode of their “No, you are not under arrest but you are being detained” – the seriously were looking for a fight.
I put in a complaint. I requested a mediation meeting with the officers involved – but during that meeting, the officers lied through their teeth about what happened. It was obvious to me that the “internal investigation” into their conduct that night was a farce.
In my own experience, walking streets, patrolling areas, and sometimes needing backup – I can tell you there were times I nearly arrested my backup (who I did not have a choice about) for actually making situations worse. One incident in particular comes to mind – I was myself, backing up an officer at Moss Park on a domestic conflict and after some time, realized we had to make an arrest. It was one of those “last resort” situations. A struggle ensued, and we needed more back up. Oh yes.. it arrived alright… but instead of assisting with restraining the suspect, the “back up” decided it was appropriate to kick the suspect in the head, face, and groin area. It was the most disgusting and unnecessary thing.
At shift change time, “Buddy” was bragging to the others how he had “kicked the shit” out of someone that he was “helping” me with.
To this day, I regret that I did not press charges against my so called “back up.” Perhaps I was part of the problem.
Fear. I’ve feared for my life, but also experience the fear of being looked at in a “bad way” if I reported my peers for illegal and terrible activity. I don’t have an answer for that kind of fear, but I can say that I will be supportive of others involved in law enforcement for having the courage to stand up to the bullies they work with.
I do not “support” the police, but I support lumber jacks. Lumber jacks who have the most riskiest and dangerous job in North America.