Sunday, March 02, 2008

Good Cop, Bad Cop

If invited to a social gathering and upon arrival I should discover there is a police officer present, I leave. I do not ever socialize with cops. I do not engage in illicit or illegal activities, but cops are paid snitches that spy on everyone except their own. Never trust that a police officer will casually overlook that which he is trained to spot or to forgive his own ingrained sense of suspicion. That I should find fault with anyone as cynical as myself in this regard seems duplicitous, but as my attitude does not really influence other people’s lives nor do I possess the power of state authority to act upon those impulses, my skepticism is of little real consequence.

Now, you may think that I am being overly harsh and general. Maybe you’re right. Yet, consider this for a moment. When was the last time you heard of an active-duty police officer speaking out publicly against the conduct of another police officer? This is the only profession where one employee cannot even with good cause speak out against the malfeasance of fellow employee or service provider without jeopardizing his own career status. If I call a plumber and ask which plumbers NOT to use, he or she will likely tell me who is crooked and who is not. There is no ‘thin blue line’ in the plumbing profession that protects the bad ones. So, why do we allow this for cops?

I know there are good, honest people that work in law enforcement. However, when those ‘good’ people see their fellow officers break the law or violate the civil rights of citizens, where is their outrage? What keeps them silent and ineffectual? If they are sworn to ‘serve and protect’ the community, does that not also include protecting it from other police officers gone awry? Maybe they forget, amidst the tumult of doing their jobs, paying their bills, upholding their own egos, and trying to protect each other that they must, while being in the public employ, do what is right and not what is merely safe for their own careers.

As a result, the professional courtesy that police officers, prosecutors, and judges extend to each other violates the bounds of community trust or benefit and most often results in the violation of civil rights and liberties of the common citizen. Sometimes, it means that someone dies in the name of the law and the law doesn’t hold itself accountable. It is time for the ‘good’ cops out there step up and go after their own rogue brothers in uniform. We cannot be expected to trust law enforcement if they cannot or will not police their own.

I am all in favor of legislation that would punish police officers (prosecutors and judges, too) with double or triple the penalties meted out to common citizens when caught breaking those laws they are entrusted, by oath, to enforce upon society. I’m sick and tired of reading about cops who run numbers, deal drugs, use drugs, shoplift, beat suspects, or whore out their own cocaine addicted wives and still end up with no jail time and take their full pensions upon ‘retirement’.

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