Balko: Just A Smooth Talking Guy (Update)

On the one hand, he admits it.  On the other, he does so to deflate criticism that his position is biased.  But on the third hand, his argument, regardless of his bias, is utterly idiotic.

Yep, I admit it. I have predispositions. I’m a cop. Though technically retired, I’m still a cop. I’m biased towards the profession, especially since we have so few champions in the legacy wing of the media. And I’m sensitive to people who never in a million years would dare to experience what we experience on a daily basis. Yet they unashamedly use stats to paint a picture they want painted about who we are and what we face.

— Jim Glennon

Glennon doesn’t just preach to the choir of special blue snowflakes, who are under such horribly unjustified pressure by a public that doesn’t appreciate how they risk their lives for us.  No, this was an attack on a “smooth talker” who ” cites stats, many put out by the ACLU and other organizations not particularly fond of the profession of Blue,” like the dreaded National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, FBI and Bureau of Justice Statistics.

This was an article about that Blue hater, Radley Balko. who had the audacity to write “Once again: police work is not getting more dangerous.”  Based on statistics!

That being the case, statistically, he’s right. Generally, law enforcement is safer than it was 20 years ago. Fewer deaths, fewer pure attacks, and fewer assaults—or so the stats say.

People like Balko use stats certainly when it suits their perspective, biases and agendas. Just as I do.

But it’s different when Balko does so, because he isn’t a cop, and no one can challenge cops except another cop.

Many report that those working on ships, garbage haulers, people in the fishing industry, loggers, pilots, roofers, iron workers, farmers and truckers all have higher injury rates than cops. And that may be absolutely true.

But—and this is a big but—none of those professions incur injury and death through the murderous intent of other human beings or while in the act of saving the lives of complete strangers.

This is where the trope devolves into that hero fantasy.  Forget that cops are more likely to die on the job at their own hand, whether because they drive like crap or eat too many donuts and have a heart attack, they are busy “saving the lives of complete strangers.”  And yes, that does happen. Once in a while.

But — and this is a big but — that doesn’t make the times when you shoot first because the life you care most about saving is your own magically disappear.

Nobody forced you to become a cop. If the job is too hard, too scary, too burdensome for you, apply for the job of assistant manager at Dairy Queen.  And hope no one walks in with a gun to rob the joint, because you can die doing that too.

Did you think the cop job you sought was the one where you would never take a risk, never get hurt, never have to actually do the job?  Stop your sniveling, man. And stop repeating the lie that it’s all about being a hero. No hero killed Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Akai Gurley or Michael Brown.  Just cops. Cops who screwed up and took the life of a human being.  But then, their lives aren’t as important as yours in that fantasy world you wrap around yourself to feel more manly, more valuable, more important.

I’m no cop, so I can’t possibly understand, right?  On the contrary, I understand quite well.

I understand that when someone doesn’t show you the obsequiousness your fragile self-esteem demands, you think it’s just fine to threaten them, browbeat them, punch and kick them, tase them, arrest them and maybe even shoot them, because all they had to do is obey your command. Because you’re a cop, and your command is all that matters.

I understand that when you know who the bad guy is, that makes it righteous to lie about what some mutt did or said, to bury the evidence that proves you a liar, because whatever you do is right and just, no matter how much of a liar you may be.

I understand that you have to make “split second decisions,” and it’s very hard when you’re not the sharpest blades in the drawer, when you’re of limited education and when the eventual decision is primarily motivated by the First Rule of Policing; if someone is going to get hurt today, it surely won’t be you. But that’s understandable, because you’re a cop and no one matters more than you.

So do I get it?  Do I understand what it means to be a cop?

Those who sit comfortably and safely behind desks reading criminology surveys and each other’s blogs use stats to skew reality and bolster their beliefs. Mr. Balko: I’m talking about YOU.

These people waxing philosophical about the ills of law enforcement have never—and would never—put themselves in a position where they had to look into the face of pure evil.

How very melodramatic of you, looking into the “face of pure evil.”  Aren’t you the hero, and aren’t we the dilettantes who sit in our recliners eating bon bons and sniping at your real men. Your complaint isn’t with Balko, but with your own inadequacies as expressed by your appeal to delusion.  Your problem is that you just aren’t cut out to be a cop, if you have to whine about the job so unmercifully and pretend that you’re at greater risk from the “face of pure evil” than tripping over your body armor.

I’m not overly sensitive to criticism. I’m just fed up with the way the criticism is delivered and the hypocrisy of those delivering it.

Because nobody appreciates how hard it is to be you, and how special you are, and how hard it is.  Or maybe you’re so very oversensitive because you’re so very special.

Some are saying that we only lost 118 offices [sic] in the line of duty in 2014. ONLY?!

Tell that to the countless who have been scarred permanently by those 118 losses—the wives, husbands, children, colleagues, and so on.

And the people you wrongfully and needlessly beat, tase, threaten and kill have “wives, husbands, children, colleagues, and so on,” but that’s not all about you, so you don’t give a damn about them. And your critics are hypocrites.

So we’re on defense all the time in this line of work. We must be nice, no matter how rude or threatening others are to us. We need to use necessary and reasonable force, though no one can actually explain what that is definitively. At the highest levels of stress, we need to detect the indescribable and understand countless variables in a split second, knowing we will have to justify our actions to people who weren’t there but have the benefit of reviewing our behavior with the vision of hindsight.

If you’re not up to the job, then get another job. But don’t cash the paycheck while whining about how hard it is.

We don’t ask for praise or parades. But if you’re going to criticize, get a clue before you do it. Go through some dynamic training. Experience the reality of what we actually do.

But you do ask for praise and parades. Constantly. And we do experience the reality of what you actually do, every time a guy gets beaten for not adoring you enough.

Most people would insert here the standard caveat, that what cops do is hard work and we should appreciate them, distinguishing between the good cops who protect us from the criminals and the bad cops who abuse their authority and harm those they are sworn to protect.  But frankly, the incessant whining in the face of your hero delusion has grown tiresome.

You chose to become a cop. Nobody put a gun to your head and demanded you do 20 and out.  And if you don’t want a smooth talking guy like Radley Balko to cite statistics to show how full of shit you are, stop whining about how you put your life on the line for us every day. Enough with the lies, the whining and the hero delusion.  We’re not buying the bullshit anymore.

Update:  ExCop-LawStudent, who unlike most of us, has the experience Glennon accuses us of lacking, calls bullshit too.

Mr. Glennon, you can whine and throw your little temper tantrum all you want, but instead of bashing those who are calling for a solution, you should join in and help.  You need to teach officers that while the officers have a right to go home alive, so do citizens.

Look this isn’t difficult, and people with no police experience can see it as well as we can.  It’s time that you remember that police are under civilian control, and that if we don’t police ourselves, reining in the excesses, at some point the people will.  Make sure that you are on the right side.

Of course, ECLS credits Glennon’s purpose as benevolent, rather than apologist.  If that was so, there is nothing to preclude Glennon from recognizing all the validity of Radley’s arguments, and the facial falsity of his.  I don’t presume Glennon a fool, which limits the choices.

54 thoughts on “Balko: Just A Smooth Talking Guy (Update)

  1. JLS

    I’m so sick of you smooth talking fact citers.

    Going around talking smoothly and citing facts and not being cops.

    I noticed he deleted the comments which were all in support of Radley.

      1. JLS

        The VLC — vast libertarian conspiracy.

        You know this is a pretty good example of the same sentiment I’ve seen many times when cops try to write things. They are so utterly megalomaniacal now that their most basic and universally held belief seems to be that they are too good for this world and the American people are utterly unworthy of them.

        Again this goes back to the fact that an unchecked ego can take you to some crazy places. Most of these guys never hear anything other than flattery and hero worship and that has completely corrupted the institution. That’s why they seem so shocked and mortally offended when some smooth talker goes around citing facts while not being a cop.

        1. Not Jim Ardis

          For guys that claim to be so tough and fearless, they sure are scared of a lot of stuff…

  2. Nigel Declan

    “How long would it take them to decide to use force, and what kind of force, and how much force on an unarmed intoxicated felon who outweighs them by 50 lbs.?”

    The fact that, without any comment on the hypothetical felon’s behavior, including whether the interaction with police was in a situation justifying an arrest or whether his past record is indicative of violence (as opposed to mere criminal propensity), the writer asserts that the correct decision is to use force on an unarmed citizen, however intoxicated, tells me far more than any of his feeble plaintive cries. How long would it take Balko et al. to decide to use force? Hopefully long enough to determine whether the situation can be resolved without the use of force, which, based on this officer’s comments, is slightly longer than the writer feels is necessary. Making a split-second decision is not synonymous with making the fastest decision possible by ignoring the consequences of using force.

    1. SHG Post author

      Your words ring better than mine. In my mind, at least, I sound trite in addressing this nonsense, having done so too many times to respond with anything more than disdain. Thanks, Nigel.

      1. Patrick Maupin

        > In my mind, at least, I sound trite

        Doesn’t read that way to me, but the feeling itself makes perfect sense. Because, by now, you have fully experienced, not only the absurdity of the butt-hurt cop, but also the exasperation of the special education teacher.

        And trust me — from what I’ve seen here, that’s one job you’re not really cut out for.

    2. Donny G.

      Due to my lifestyle, I find myself faced with that exact situation on a semi-regular basis, and I’ve yet to need to throw a punch, much less use a taser or a gun. I mostly credit my basic human understanding of “This individual is confused and a bit volatile, but his motor skills are also impaired.”
      I suppose it comes down to priorities, mine being “Let’s end the night without anyone having worse than a hangover tomorrow,” and a cop’s being “Everyone is going to do exactly as I tell them or they’ll be hell to pay” or “Well I’m here, so SOMEBODY is leaving in cuffs”

    3. Patrick Maupin

      Making a split-second decision is not synonymous with making the fastest decision possible by ignoring the consequences of using force.

      There’s no split-second decision, or any real-time decision whatsoever. The course of action was predetermined.

  3. Peter Orlowicz

    I can’t help but notice Mr. Glennon’s argument ignores the Norm Stampers of the world, who have “dared to experience” what cops do on a daily basis, but still manage to find more points of agreement with Radley than with Glennon. But I suppose all of those cops are either traitors to the uniform or just out of touch from being behind an administrator desk too long. Sigh.

    1. SHG Post author

      The delusion doesn’t allow for dispute within the ranks. Best ignored, for then guy like Norm Stampers don’t exist.

    2. JLS

      “I can’t help but notice Mr. Glennon’s argument ignores the Norm Stampers of the world…”

      In the cop universe people like Norm Stamper are like Kirby DeLauter –they must not be named.

      BAM! Got in a Kirby Delauter reference!

  4. Jake DiMare

    Someone who thinks those of us who jockey a desk for a living have never ‘stared into the face of pure evil’ obviously has ZERO experience in marketing.

    1. Not Jim Ardis

      But he is right…

      I try very hard to not puy myself in a position where I am looking in the face of pure evil.

      I mean, I can’t be the only guy who trys to not interact with cops…

  5. AP

    “Most people would insert here the standard caveat, that what cops do is hard work and we should appreciate them”

    This point needs to be repeated. Many of us have developed this mindless habit of discussing police and what they do by starting off with the caveat that policing is dangerous and therefore deserving of our respect. This habit that must stop. Many jobs are dangerous. Talk to a firefighter or an emergency room nurse and even a 7-11 night clerk and ask them how safe they feel on the job.

    The idea that police have no “champion” on the media is absurd. If anything police reverence in media has increased especially after 9-11. You’re right police and their leaders do live in a fantasy world.

    1. James Nostack

      The thing that’s amazing is that Glennon doesn’t want “respect.” He wants cops to be able to make fatal errors in judgment, kill civilians, remain almost impossible to convict, not even get indicted, AND ALSO not be criticized.

      I mean, I respect a lot of people, but my respect stops well short of, “Sure, I’m okay with you killing me for no rational reason, never facing charges for it, and furthermore it’s an outrage you aren’t praised for your courage in doing so.” Obviously the flaw is within myself.

  6. John Barleycorn

    Technically Retired Cop Jim should try his hand at tending bar now that it isn’t his J_O_B to be saving the universe and all of its inhabitants every hour or so while in-between enhancing citizens perception of just how damned difficult the job is.

    Who knows he might even learn a thing or two about how rarely “necessary and reasonable force” is definitively needed.

    I doubt he would make it a week before he crushed someone’s skull for cracking a “dynamic training” joke at his expense after cutting them off.

    But you never know until you know….So, come on Jim “experience the reality”. I know a few, out of the way, establishments that will get you all the training you need for those split second decisions that you will have to make on your new job, that won’t ruin everyone’s day.

    1. EH

      Bartender Jim might learn how rarely force is needed, or he might find himself working at the least popular bar in town, where every shift is easy because everybody who goes there gets their skull cracked.

  7. Chris Simmons

    “Though technically retired, I’m still a cop.”

    And therein lies the problem. This statement is completely at odds with your point about policing ultimately being a voluntary job for which they receive a check. To a person of this retired-but-still-a-cop mindset, it’s beyond a job. It defines them at a core level. This is their “family” and whole purpose for existence. It lines up with the whole police/military parallel. And makes sense the similarities in the ways in which retired cops and, say, retired marines project themselves to the world. Being retired is just a technicality to them. And knowing this suggests to me that there is no way to talk sense to that. Even considering that a cop might have screwed up is akin to insulting a literal member of their family.

    1. JLS

      “Even considering that a cop might have screwed up is akin to insulting a literal member of their family.”

      Very much like a religious cult.

      A retired detective told me onetime that a local police force is a cult. I thought that sounded crazy and he was just exagerating or something but now it seems pretty clear that they’re more than a little similar.

        1. JLS

          “What makes the cult analogy more apt than the family analogy?”

          I guess because its perfectly natural to see your family in that light and come to their defense no matter what.

          Loyalty to a cult is not naturally occuring and something that has to be taught and continually cultivated through propaganda.

          1. SHG Post author

            I see elements of both in here, but it’s really not necessary to parse the definitions to decide which is best. Either way, it’s a important observation and helps to explain the nature of the misguided attitude.

  8. The Real Peterman

    “but none of those professions incur injury and death through the murderous intent of other human beings ”

    So what? Why is being killed by a murderer worse than dying from drowning or accidental electrocution?

    And correct me if I’m wrong, but farmers do save the lives of strangers–by preventing starvation. I dont know about you, but i dont trap my own food! Heck, garbage collectors save thousands of lives by hauling away disease-ridden waste for safe disposal, if not millions. The biggest differnce between today and a medieval heckhole is garbage-free streets, not police.

    1. Dan

      I’m the furthest thing from a cop apologist. But there is a difference worth pointing out, however subtle.

      We all need food. The farmer grows it in exchange for money.

      We all need protection from violent thugs or other miscreants. The cop purports to protect you from violent thugs in exchange for money.

      The farmer deals in crops and animals and the risks attendant thereto. The cop deals in violent thugs and other lawbreakers and the risks attendant thereto.

      Maybe I’m not explaining it well, but they’re different.

      That said, the cops still demand too much in the way of parades and praise, and by too much, I mean any.

      As Don Draper told Peggy when she complained that he gives her good ideas every week, but never says thank you, “that’s what the money is for.”

      1. Ken Hagler

        The difference is that if you pay a farmer for food and he doesn’t deliver, you can sue him. If a cop who lives off your tax dollars doesn’t protect you from violent thugs, too bad–he had no obligation to do so, as various people who have tried to sue cops for not protecting them have found.

        1. morgan sheridan

          And yet another difference is, if the farmer’s food is tainted and makes you sick or kills you, the farmer is farconsistently more likely to be held responsible for the damages to your health or for your demise.

      2. Patrick Maupin

        The explanation I received is probably not they one you thought you were sending. I notice how you didn’t have to use the word “purport” in the description of what the farmer does.

        Obviously, that’s because if someone dies from starvation, the farmer gets nothing from them.

        If someone dies from a bullet, it shows the need for more cops. Even if the bullet came out of a policeman’s revolver — it’s pretty obvious that if the police have to shoot people, it must be dangerous out there.

        In other words, the farmer has to deliver, but the cop has a sinecure. As all the fashionable psychological research shows, people at the top of the heap have a strong tendency to view themselves as better.

      3. The Real Peterman

        All I’m saying is, the retired cop quoted above says that other jobs may be more dangerous, but police keep you from dying, darn it, unlike those farmers! Which I believe is nonsense.

  9. 15Fixer

    I tried to be a cop once. Made it through all the testing and physicals just fine. Then I got the bad news … my IQ was too high. You have to be a cretin to be a cop.

    1. ExCop-LawStudent

      Yeah, we’ve all heard that BS story, and some of us have actually read the court’s opinion.

      What you don’t get is the back story on the case. The department was simply looking for a way to disqualify the applicant, and came up with a BS reason the court bought. They didn’t like him, he was too old and outspoken. That’s it.

      You might try talking to some police background investigators. PDs will come up with all sorts of excuses to DQ an idiot.

      1. SHG Post author

        In the effort to rationalize the unexplainable, we’re always left with twin choices. Either a guy like Gennon is a moron or a liar. While the low IQ story is insulting and less than accurate, I’m not sure it isn’t the better of the two options.

        And updated to include your post. More great work, though you avoid dealing with the choice above.

        1. ExCop-LawStudent

          You’ve dealt with police officers, especially investigators before. Are you prepared to state that they are, for the most part, sub-average cretins?

          Or do they play word games on the stand?

          I didn’t address it because I didn’t feel it was necessary.

          For example, in the sexual harassment trial, Glennon was asked on cross if he had stated that he “hated” Murray’s guts. His response was “I don’t know how to answer that,” knowing full-well at a depo that he had made that exact statement. Murray’s attorney had to drag it out of him.

          I don’t think that’s the action of a cretin, I see that as a sign of at least above-average intelligence, in that he knew it was going to be harmful and he wanted to paint the attorney as overly aggressive towards him as an officer.

          He’s a product of his experiences. As a young officer he’s peripherally caught up in an OIS. More than that, one where the officer walks on an “accident” (because we know that as of 1985, Lewis is still a sergeant at Villa Park, Chi. Trib. photo archive). He beats a lawsuit, where the plaintiff has pretty good facts on her side AND then gets promoted. He has no idea about police accountability, because he’s never been held accountable and he hasn’t seen it work.

          He’s convinced that the public owe police something, that a police officer’s life is more important that a civilian’s, and that if you haven’t been a cop, you should have no input into police work.

          All of that is a sign and symptom of police culture, not a lack of intelligence.

          That’s my two cents, anyway.

          1. Peter Orlowicz

            “…if you haven’t been a cop, you should have no input into police work.”

            This is really the most troubling thing to me. I think as long as you take the time and effort to educate yourself and come to an informed opinion, first-person experience is not required to criticize a profession. I know plenty of people who have very strong opinions on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan without spending a day in the military, and from my dispatching days I certainly remember plenty of cops who would complain about charging decisions by prosecutors despite the cops lacking a law degree. Denounce uneducated or ignorant opinions as you must, but the mere lack of firsthand experience is not and should not be a prerequisite for civic engagement on topics of public interest. You don’t have to be a lawyer to denounce stupid laws, and Radley doesn’t have to wear a badge and walk a beat before being a credible critic of police culture and policies.

            Then again, considering Scott’s perspective on practicing criminal defense lawyers versus everyone else in the world, he may very well disagree with me on that point. 🙂

            1. SHG Post author

              Heh. Being a credible critic is different than performing the job. Then again, it’s why I turn to ECLS when it comes to details of coppery with which I’m unfamiliar for his expertise. I may be a credible critic, but it doesn’t mean I have the training and experience to perform the function, any more than they have the training and experience to perform mine.

            2. ExCop-LawStudent

              Peter, that’s because cops are special. They don’t need to have worked all of the support jobs, they are the elite, the pointy end of the sword, so to speak. Of course they have a right to criticize others without having a clue about what the others jobs entail. The others are just support for the cops.

              See, if you were a cop you would know this…

          2. SHG Post author

            I’ve met some cops who were dumber than dirt. I’ve also known some who were quite brilliant. But you already know that.

            We also know how easy it is to lie and manipulate once one gets past the naïve notion of truthfulness and into the notion that effectiveness is all that matters. I know a lot of cops, most in fact, who believe that. They don’t consider it lying, but being effective in a gamed system. Their job is to put the mutt away, and the way they do it is to screw with the silly rules that mopes like me think matter. They say what has to be said, and they laugh at guys like me for trying to stop them.

            Does Glennon believe the crap he says? In a way, I’m sure he does. When confronted with all the reasons why its nonsense, he’ll give a sly smile and turn away, knowing full well that he’s full of shit, but also believing unquestionably that he’s on the side of righteousness, so it’s all good if it gets the right outcome. The end justifies the means. But you know this too.

            And that was the point of my tongue in cheek question to you: which is better, the dope or the liar? With all you know.

            1. ExCop-LawStudent

              Well, if it were me, I would ask them point blank if they are a liar or just stupid. Cops hate liars. A lot. With most, it’s a trigger word.

              I think you’ll be surprised at the response that you get.

            2. SHG Post author

              I did that to a agent once in a hallway. Had his partner not been there, I wouldn’t be here. But I’m not sure liar means what they think it does.

          3. 15Fixer

            I’d like to suggest something for cops to start doing … After they swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, they quit trying to give cute answers, they quit parsing the word ‘is’, and just tell the real truth, like the citizens are supposed to do.

            1. SHG Post author

              And why would they want to do that? There’s no incentive in the system for cops to tell the truth when it’s contrary to what they believe to be the proper outcome, getting the bad guy off the street.

  10. DaveL

    Let’s be clear about one thing. Police stations do not contain magical portals to a nightmare dimension through which officers pass in order to begin their patrol. When they talk about how civilians don’t know what it’s like “out there” or “on the streets”, where cops “look into the face of pure evil”, they’re talking about the same place where civilians actually live and work.

    1. SHG Post author

      If one is to accept their premise, the “magical portal” is the world through police eyes. It’s a dark, dangerous world where they are the heroes and everyone else the threat.

        1. SHG Post author

          To be fair, we all do that to some extent. Just not to the extent of using it as a justification for killing people. Like “the dog told me to kill.”

  11. Pingback: Half The Human Side Of Death | Simple Justice

  12. Pingback: Albuquerque Is Back, With Guns Blazing | Simple Justice

Comments are closed.