Some very very quick thoughts…
Being a cop is a tough job. No doubt about it. And we need cops. We need good solid law enforcement.
Cops themselves have made their job and lives massively tougher though. Their own actions have caused people to distrust them, dislike them, disrespect them. And rightly so.
And in some ways they are quite similar to… Christians.
I know a lot of cops and am fairly close friends with three. I keep a patch one gave me on my desk as a reminder that there are some good cops out there. But overall our law enforcement community is a mess and bordering on disaster.
Besides the direct problems caused by their corruption, dishonesty and abuse, there’s a much greater negative impact. They are the front line for our system of laws that our country is based on. When they are so dishonest and untrustworthy that weakens and undermines our entire system of laws and justice. Why should I obey laws when cops don’t? It also tells others that lying, cheating and abusing others is OK and it engenders are me-first attitude.
Insular – They spend too much time among themselves and too little with others. This has resulted in an extremely powerful and reinforcing insular feedback loop. Constructive criticism? Not in this insular world. Everything they do is right.
They see themselves as God’s gift to society when in reality they are increasingly one of the primary causes of the continued downfall of our society.
Us vs Them – It’s Us (cops) vs Them (EVERYONE else – 99.8% of the population). This reinforces their insularness. Cops are quick to say that everyone is guilty of something that they can be arrested for. They need to recognize that they are themselves worse than about 90% of the population.
They need to change this to Us (good guys) vs Them (genuine bad guys – perhaps 1-3% of the population).
Justified – Lying on affidavits, planting evidence, abusing citizens. Dealing with the public is tough, especially when they distrust you so much. Building a case with all of the protections afforded ‘the guilty’ is tough. But we’re the good guys (see powerful reinforcing insular feedback loop above) so it’s OK for us to do these things to accomplish our goals – the end justifies the means.
We Deserve It – Pocketing some lures from a store that was robbed? The owner will think it was part of what was stolen and after all, Insurance will cover it. Getting a freebie from a prostitute for not arresting her, taking home a seized ice auger? We’ve a tough job, we don’t get paid enough, we deserve these little perks. And besides, we’ve been given the power to do these things.
Hiring Practices – Are we hiring the wrong people to be cops? A bunch of Type-A’s with the wrong motivations? Or are these the right people and we need to provide a much better and structured environment for them?
Do our expectations of LE enforcing personal morals and road safety as well as criminal behavior result in needing too many cops which necessarily reduces the quality of who is hired?
Some of the problems for law enforcement are at least somewhat the fault of our laws though. We use law enforcement for things that shouldn’t be law enforcement issues. Not an excuse for any of the above but something that needs to be considered if we are to ever have a relatively law abiding population and something other than a corrupt and disreputable law enforcement.
Enforcing Safety on Roads Designed To Be Dangerous – This is an impossible task and creates unnecessary conflict between LE and average citizens. Our traffic engineers design roads for Level-Of-Service or LOS – speed and low delay for drivers. And we then tell LE to enforce safety by ticketing people when they drive on the roads as they’re designed to be driven on.
Besides being an impossible task, this creates unnecessary conflict between LE and average citizens. This wastes LE resources that can be better used dealing with real criminals.
This also creates law-breakers. A road is designed (wide lanes, no crossings, etc.) for 70 MPH and posted for 35 MPH. We drive 45 on this road designed for 70 MPH. Or we don’t stop at a stop signed junction that gets only 1 car every 20 minutes or we don’t stop before turning right on red or … We breaking one law, why not another.
Other countries (and some parts of the U.S.) design roads to be self-enforcing. These are much safer and have fewer crashes, deaths and injuries. There’s not much for LE to enforce. This isn’t a source for conflict between LE and citizens. It doesn’t waste LE resources. It doesn’t create law-breakers out of all of us by having disconnects between design and expected action.
Enforcing Personal Morals (Vices) – Underage Alcohol, Pot, Prostitution, Gambling and other stuff. These are all things that normal, average good citizens, lots of average good citizens, choose to partake in. They may be stupid things for people to choose to do but they are not things that should involve law enforcement unless a genuine crime is involved.
These waste resources, are a distraction, increase conflict and are a source of LE corruption.
Many cops don’t see pot or prostitution as inherently bad (and they’re not) so they don’t have a problem abusing their authority by threatening to arrest a gal unless she gives him a freebie. When I was doing drugs two of my key suppliers were crooked cops.
Human trafficking for sex (as well as human trafficking in general) is a serious problem but instead of focusing on that and actually doing something about it cops find it more fun to watch video’s of guys getting hand jobs or sex in massage parlors from consenting adult prostitutes.
Crimes are those acts by which one man harms the person or property of another. Vices are simply the errors which a man makes in his search after his own happiness. Unlike crimes, they imply no malice toward others, and no interference with their persons or property.
– Lysander Spooner
Law Enforcement should be limited to things that are a crime – where one person or entity harms the person or property of another. These are where we need law enforcement and where law enforcement is the best option. There are much better options for the majority of road safety and personal moral choices.
An Interesting Resource: A Wink & A Nod – Teaching Our Kids To Be Criminals.