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It Needs to Be Said Once and For ALL: Police are *NOT* Infallible!

Updated on August 5, 2011

Well, well, well. Who'd a thunk I'd have found another excuse to wax on about the corrupt, inept and stubborn arrogance of police culture, and of too many officers within that community who broke their promise to protect and serve.

If only for self-preservation, and because it's true and thus only fair to point out, I of course do not malign every person who wears the badge. I might even concede that more than half are probably decent and law-abiding folks themselves. Statistically, that has got to be true, and frankly, who could sleep at night if the pathetic and disgusting examples of police misconduct that have of course made news were the norm? I know that isn't the case, as it is as true now as it ever was in the news media that "if it bleeds, it leads".

Then, however, perhaps that is as it should be. Why do we consume the news? To point and laugh at "how screwed up the world is" as we delude ourselves out of accepting any personal responsibility for that state of being? I should hope not. Do we "tune in" and "turn on" to hear that today was boringly mild and partly cloudy, that the McKenzie's washer is on the fritz or that Mom or Dad had a good day at work? No. Face it - "that ain't exactly news!". We watch the news, read the paper, visit and have access to our email and the web via our cell phones, et cetera, HOPEFULLY so that we can *act* on the information and circumstances in our lives and world.

And so here we are, in the "enlightened" northeast, in perhaps the most liberal state in the union, in 2009, and black men are still being harrassed for doing nothing wrong. And this time the man is a college professor! He was arrested on suspicion of breaking and entering. His own home! Even after he produced 2 forms of identification verifying that fact.

What was the charge? DISORDERLY CONDUCT! Now, having had my own soap opera with another inept and incorrigible police department in what I must now concede isn't as safe and accepting a state as I thought my liberal, northeasterly Massachusetts has been for all of my modest 37 years (30+ in this my home state - my HOME!), I think I know pretty damned well how it went down. Because what we citizens do not know by and large is that the "letter of the law" - indeed the very rule of law, and our very precious Constitution that is supposed to instruct and police the police - is but a "guideline" in the actual practice of (excuse me while I choke on my laughter!) "law enforcement".

Once a cop has jumped to his conclusion, there is no parallel with the 'scientific method' or any other similarly rigid scrutiny.. Huh? That is the process where you are supposed to observe, collect data, and base your conclusions on what the data tells you. It is poor science (and frankly, lazy and dishonest!) to fudge the data to fit YOUR conclusion.

The same is true in police work, on writing a resume, or controlling and keeping order within a classroom. You deal with the facts as they are. Just because you WANT to believe that Johny, who pissed you off earlier when he wouldn't stop talking during your lesson, did indeed take Susie's pencil - unless you saw the thing yourself, or find said pencil in his possession and other REAL evidence and data that leads you to that conclusion, you have no business and NO RIGHT - to presume his guilt and act accordingly. Not even if disposing of the situation quickly means you can get out to your precious smoke break 5 minutes sooner!

And if you're a cop, you have a similar obligation to SERVE the public and the law. Yes, you are bestowed the authority to prevent crime and capture and process accused criminals, but with that authority, and the deadly force with which you are authorized to act under circumstances deamed necessary by your judgment, comes an IMMENSE and unshirkable responsibility to be DOING YOUR JOB - that means making good and fair and judicious decisions and actions THROUGHOUT YOUR SHIFT. You do NOT have the right to indulge your fatigue or impatience or annoyance. NO YOU DO NOT! You are on the clock and you are getting paid to do a job YOU sought and swore to do correctly.

Oh, and that means that your pride has to take a back seat - no - a flying leap! You do NOT have the right to bully the citizenry. You do NOT have the right to intimidate another human being just 'cause he, for God knows what reason - like what - having long hair, or being the wrong race, or not peppering his dialogue with you with "yes, sir", and "whatever you say, sir" - is "antagonizing" you.

I work with children. Needy, loud, impulsive, short-sighted, and medically and developmentally compromised CHILDREN. Yeah - I get frustrated at times. I may even become impatient. Maybe - once in awhile - I might even feel or get a little mad. But do I ever, *ever*, EVER, *EEEEVER* have the right to take that out on the kids?

NO!!! One time would be too many, and it would be fitting to throw me out on my ass for foresaking such a beautiful and special privilege. Such an opportunity. Such a *trust*.

Well, guess what. A cop is in a position of public trust as well. And, I know full well, that the stakes and stresses can be great and dire in that particular profession.

Tough shit.

You chose a tough job. We citizens didn't MAKE you go to the police academy. Joe citizen is not the one who causes your spouse to wait up nights praying the phone doesn't ring. Most of us are just as deeply concerned about and committed to our own families and loved ones.

Oh, and guess what else? Sometimes - sometimes - police and teachers alike will have to deal with a vulnerable and even fragile population. Just because Jimmy is mean and tough and a smart-ass and bully who doesn't do his homework and sticks his gum under his desk when he thinks you're not looking, does not mean that you ever EVER have the right to regard Timmy with the same cynicism and contempt! Even Jimmy is worthy of your best effort, but you can be forgiven for the fleeting thought that the punk needs more time in the "wood shed" at home. But, to terrorize and intimidate and be mean to ANY of the children (the people!) in your care and charge, is inexcusable. And to traumatize TIMMY?????? Because you're pissed off that another IEP meeting has been more lip-service than student-service? Because you're fed up that the copier is busted - again? Tough shit. Again - Timmy didn't make you (or I) go to "teacher school"! You (we) chose that ourselves! It is OUR responsibility!

The same goes for cops. Whether you are a Cambridge cop harrassing one professor Henry Louis Gates for daring to contradict you and (gasp!!) ask for your name, badge number and other credentials, or whether you are one Sergeant Anne Holland or Officer Christopher O'Sullivan of the Massasoit Community College PD who make up the law as they go along, issuing ex post facto no trespass orders, make false arrests, fail to give the Miranda warning, extort monies out of the "suspect" in your custody, and falsify police reports to reflect your own conclusions - DESPITE WHAT THE DATA *ACTUALLY* SAYS, you are equally out of line and shamefully derelict of your duty.

You have no right. You have NO excuse. You are in the wrong. Or, as President Obama himself put it "(they) behaved stupidly". Indeed. The Cambridge police are offering no apologies for their disgraceful treatment of professor Gates. The Massasoit police are still denying (me) the lawful access to their (no, the community's!) campus, and continue to violate my constitutional rights (and simple decency!) as they continue to subvert their duty.

Mmmm-hmmm. Yeah. Both departments can stick their heads in the sand or their fingers in their ears and yell "La la la!!! Police good, everyone else bad!". Sure, you can go ahead and do that. The system is such that you may even be allowed to indulge in such narcissistic grandiosity and contempt for the people you're supposed to be serving. You can if you want to.

But, you're still wrong. I know it. And you know it, too.

Experience with the police

Other than for an (alleged) traffic violation, have you ever been confronted or stopped by a police officer?

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