Those Damned Cops: Some Reflections About Life
A Flash From the Past
I was ten, maybe eleven at the time. After fifty-odd years I still remember it clearly.
We had this little family tradition . . . every Sunday the three of us, Mom, Dad, and yours truly, would climb into the car (a Mercury, I believe) and we would go for a Sunday drive. The destination was never terribly important. It was just a time for the three of us to spend some quality time together, and I remember enjoying those Sunday drives quite a bit.
This one trip, though, was not pleasurable.
We were maybe fifteen minutes into the drive when my dad stopped at a four-way stop. There were no other cars in the intersection so he proceeded on, and thirty seconds later the siren sounded behind us and a cop pulled us over.
That’s when it got interesting.
The cop said my dad didn’t properly stop at the stop sign. The cop said he witnessed a “California stop,” a slowing, yes, but not a complete stop. My dad, God bless his soul, who was always a split-second away from losing his temper on a great day, was not pleased at all, and some rather colorful language followed.
Dad lost the debate. A ticket was written for, I think, thirty-five bucks, a princely sum for 1958.
The remainder of our Sunday drive was not pleasant.
The Next Day
But the fun had just begun.
Dad took the next morning, Monday, off from work so he could go down to the Courthouse to pay the ticket, and for some totally irrational reason I will never understand, he wanted his son with him when he paid it.
Into the Courthouse we marched, my dad a 5’8” fireplug of aggression and me, a 5’ bundle of fear.
Up to the reception desk Dad marched, and that reception desk was manned by a middle-aged woman who pleasantly asked what she could do for us.
Well my dad certainly did tell her, starting with what she could do with the traffic ticket, something about shoving it where the sun don’t shine, and while she’s at it, Dad said, she could shove that ticket up the arses of every other cop in the joint, and the woman was all “I’ll have you know my late husband was a cop” and Dad was all “well then why didn’t he make an honest living like the rest of us,” and before I could find a hiding place there were six cops joining us at that desk and dad cussing at them all.
Life was never boring when I was with Dad.
I don’t think my old man ever got over that ticket. For the remainder of his life he had a natural distrust and dislike for the police, despite the fact that he was, in fact, in the wrong in that traffic ticket incident. The cops were out to screw the little guy and that’s all there was to it.
Fast Forward to Last Week
There were two stories on the news which caught my attention.
A black man was killed in some eastern city, shot by a white cop, and an investigation was under way to see if racism was involved, with the NCAAP leading the way, and protestors coming out of the woodwork, denouncing racist cops and the undercurrent of racism across America, especially among police officers.
And then there was a story about a cop gunned down while investigating a home-invasion call, the suspect opening fire as he was fleeing the scene, the cop dead, leaving his widow to care for their three young children.
Two stories, separated by three-thousand miles, about the police.
There are approximately 900,000 police officers in the United States in 2018, which computes to about 17 for every 10,000 citizens . . . or one officer for every 388 citizens.
Before I begin my rant, a rant which has been building for quite some time, let me give you just a smidge of personal background.
I did not like the police during the late 60’s. I was marching in the protests for a solid three years, and more than once I called cops “pigs” and felt very justified in doing so.
And I’m a Liberal, and everyone knows that Liberals are just whining bastards who rail against the Establishment, believe a Police State is only one Homeland Security decision away, and are always front and center screaming racism and police brutality whenever the opportunity is presented us.
So it is the result of great soul-searching that I scream, at the top of my lungs, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
Stop with the media circus over police brutality and police racism.
It’s all just so much bullshit!
Let’s just use simple math for a moment to make a point.
If there was one racist shooting per week, one unjustified, racially-motivated shooting of a black man by a white cop each week, that would total 52 racist cops in one calendar year.
Fifty-two out of 900,000 does not indicate nationwide racism among cops.
Meanwhile, Officer McCartney is being buried this week, dead as dead can be because he was upholding his sworn duty to serve and protect.
An Interesting Sidebar
When Officer McCartney’s body was removed from the crime scene, a procession followed the Med van carrying his body back to the Morgue. After his body was released from the Morgue, his fellow officers carried his casket to the funeral home, and fellow officers stayed with that casket throughout the ensuing days and nights so that McCartney would not be alone in his death. Meanwhile, citizens set up a vigil outside the funeral home. Tabernacles of flowers and thank you notes appeared on street corners, all manned by citizens of McCartney’s jurisdiction.
In one of the most Liberal states in the nation, my state, the State of Washington.
What’s My Point?
Stop with the divisive labeling.
Not all cops are racists. Are there racist cops? Of course there are, and that needs to be addressed, but to jump to the conclusion and labeling that all cops are racist is ridiculous.
Not all Liberals are cop-haters.
Not all Republicans are evil.
Not all blacks are innocent.
Not all . . . not all . . . not all!
I’ll tell you two truths as I know them:
I am damned glad there are police officers, and
All-inclusive statements about any sub-section of society are harmful to us all.
I’m Just Too Damned Tired of It All
I was watching a documentary the other night about the year 1968.
On April 4th of that year, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. I remember it as if it were yesterday.
That same day, Robert F. Kennedy was scheduled to give a campaign speech in Indianapolis. While flying to Indianapolis, Kennedy learned that King had been shot. As he deplaned he learned that King had died. By the time he climbed up into the bed of a pickup truck to give his speech, the crowd had swelled to several thousand people, many of whom were black, many of whom were armed, and many of whom were angry and ready for violence.
Kennedy gave the greatest speech of his career, a totally impromptu speech, on the fly, one white man speaking from his heart. He spoke about hate. He spoke about loss. And he spoke about the only chance any of us really have of coming together as a nation, and that one chance is love.
As he was concluding, he issued these remarks:
"What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness, but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice towards those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.”
And that is my simple message, and the reason for this reflection about racism and the police.
All things are possible through love!
May the gods have mercy on our souls if we do not learn this lesson soon.
2018 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)