Not So Peaceful

One mother failed her child, for which a cop gets blamed. One mother loved her child, for which cops get blamed. If you squint hard enough, believe hard enough, deny hard enough and grasp tightly the vision of a future where unicorns, left to their own devices, will merrily prance on rainbows rather than pull out a gun in the Disneyfied Times Square and shoot three random tourists, including a 4-year-old, maybe you can believe this is all the product of externalities. Nothing one does is one’s fault. There is no choice. No agency. No responsbility. What use is government if it can’t protect you from yourself, you friends, your mother?

And what use is government if it can’t protect you from itself?

A line in Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson’s “Mammas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,” warns: “Them that don’t know him won’t like him.” As a retired law-enforcement professional, it deeply saddens me to witness how my former profession suddenly finds itself in similar straits — reviled, the object of scorn and derision.

Dangerous tropes abound. False narratives proliferate. Bigotry and intolerance are suddenly acceptable, so long as the target wears a blue uniform.

This comes from former head of the New York FBI, James Gagliano, who concludes that he wouldn’t encourage his children to grow up to be cops. This is just as well for all involved if one subscribes to the apple never falls far from the tree theory. The problem is that we’re at a bad place, a stupid place, a counterproductive place for cops, and it was cops like Gagliano whose inane defense of cops no matter what, attacks on anyone criticizing cops, put us here.

The other day, a cop with whom I’ve sometimes endured, other times enjoyed, an ongoing conversation for many years, made an admission to me. He told me I was right.

For years, I challenged cop culture, the myriad self-serving beliefs that whatever they did, it was justified. The outrageous callousness. The premature leap to violence in the name of self protection. The use of force due to impatience and because they could get away with it. I was that crazy reformer cops hated. I was that guy to whom PBA president Pat Lynch was speaking when he said, “if you don’t like the way cops handle things, next time you’re in trouble, call a criminal.” I called bullshit.

I argued for years that cop culture had to change, that cops could not persist in their isolation from the rest of society where they were entitled to abuse their authority, to treat people like dirt, to be as vicious as they wanted to be and to lie about all of it. Cop brass saw the problem and need for change, but rank and file cops believe that the brass were co-opted by the politicians and lost touch with life on the streets. They lived in the gutter. They knew what they face. The brass didn’t.

No one who wasn’t a cop understood. I was constantly told I didn’t understand. The pundits didn’t understand. The politicians didn’t understand. The reformers didn’t understand. Nobody understood except other cops, and so cops didn’t have to listen to anyone. And they didn’t.

I warned them that if things didn’t change, and change dramatically, it was all going to fall apart. My interlocutor told me I was wrong then. But since then, things have changed. The loss of respect, of public cooperation, of any appreciation for what they do well even if they do a lot that demands criticism, is gone with a wide swathe of the public. Enough so that even a guy like Gagliani claims he wouldn’t want his kids to be cops.

Just ask LeBron James, who boasts almost 50 million Twitter followers: Even when a cop rightly used deadly force to prevent one 16-year-old girl, Ma’Khia Bryant, from stabbing another, he tweets that the officer should be held “accountable” and even the threat “You’re next.”

We have lost our collective capacity to view fatal police shootings through an objective prism. They all get lumped together, justified or not. The Floyd case put the entire nation on trial as indelibly racist. Yet the reckoning is itself based on a biased narrative.

Gagliani is right that the “reckoning” is based on a biased narrative. All cops are not bastards, although any cop could be a bastard at any given time. The same cop who will save a kitty stuck up a tree will toss some black kid against a wall and beat him to teach him who’s boss. But Gagliani isn’t right enough to make his point, not by a long shot.

Due process for police? Passé. Presumption of innocence? Police are guilty before they can be tried — guilty even before the clips of body-cam footage are posted.

I’m all for due process, even for police. I’m all for presumption of innocence, even for police. I’m all for withholding tentative judgment until the body-cam footage is disclosed. But for all Gagliani’s whining about the poor suffering police, he’s never expressed those otherwise reasonable sentiments toward anyone who isn’t a cop. He doesn’t love due process, or the presumption of innocence, or even withholding conclusions of guilt until the evidence is gathered and assessed. He loves cops.

But are his antagonists’ rationalizations any different than Gagliani’s? ACAB? Defund and abolish? If there were no cops, would our world be safer, happier, better?

Ms. Sinclair has spent the past 25 years working with Seattle’s at-risk youth and the homeless, so she says the way her son died “felt like a stab in the back.” Weeping on the phone, she says: “As a mother, I’m dying. As a community leader, I’m trying to rebuild strength.” The authorities’ failure haunts her: “I know my son needed the police at that time, and my son needed the paramedics. Why we would ever have an event where there was no police available? That’s lawless.”

Mrs. Sinclair’s son, Horace Lorenzo Anderson Jr., went to check out Seattle’s CHAZ, where the police were ordered to stay out.

He never came home. “Evidently it wasn’t so peaceful,” his mother, Donnitta Sinclair, says.

We need cops. Better cops. More honest cops. Less violent cops. Smarter cops. But without cops, it’s “lawless” and that can’t work either.

16 thoughts on “Not So Peaceful

  1. B. McLeod

    Here is where some of our leftist professional associations might be useful. The beginning of police culture is we have no draft for police. Every department has to start with recruits who want to be police, often because they crave authority over others.

    This doesn’t have to be. Although state and local governments lack a power to draft police, the professional associations that know police are wrong could step into the gap. For example, instead of some general “public service” or pro bono requirement for licensure, bar associations could back a licensure requirement that candidates for license must first complete five years of service as a beat officer in a local police department. Doctors and engineers could throw in too, and the benefits would be twofold. Society (and departments) would benefit from the service of highly educated officers who have not sought out police authority. Society would further benefit as an increasing number of professional people come to possess a realistic grasp of the inherent problems of policing.

      1. KP

        ..and an excellent imagination that would make a fine reality. If we can make jury service mandatory, cop service could be too, and its the best way to pick our politicians, all for the same self-serving reasons. Those that want power over others shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near it.

        “But without cops, it’s “lawless” and that can’t work either.”
        That line is rubbish. Without cops its cop-free, not lawless. In earlier days when there were fewer laws, there were fewer lawyers and fewer cops, and fewer politicians too, yet life went on OK. We have been cleverly brainwashed into believing ours is the best society possible, while the reality that it doesn’t work is right in front of us. What’s wrong with American cops is America, you have the rest of the world to look at and find out the differences.

          1. Guitardave

            Come on man…you know damn well the people involved in CHAZ are mentally deficient and psychologically sick, with more pathology’s than you can count on both hands. You point it out on a regular basis.

            Where me, and many others, grew up, there wasn’t any local cops. If you wanted one you had to call the state boys and wait an hour. It wasn’t chaos. Armed nut bags didn’t decide to ‘fill in’ for the cops, or any other such nonsense.

            You cogently and consistently document how fucked up the woke mindset is, how they lack any nuance, or any ability to think clearly and logically. These kind of sub-humans will destroy themselves soon enough. If they keep pulling this traffic blocking shit, while the cops stand by with their thumbs up there ass, they’re gonna get some outside help.

            Most people, ( or what we used to call ‘normal’ people) have a moral compass that mostly works. They police themselves. They like to lay down at nite and sleep peacefully, knowing they didn’t do anything unto others that they wouldn’t do to themselves.
            People like this would NOT devolve into shit-for-brain CHAZ madness, that the lying bullshit media try to scare us into believing by repeatedly smashing the ‘fear-blood-chaos’ button.

            Its a little bit depressing to see you not apply the nuanced reasoning you so adroitly apply to other subjects in this instance.

            Stop reading that lying rag every morning. Stop trying to fix the world and the minority of mush brained pols and academics who have fucked it up.

            Come on out to the country, and live with us ‘dummies’. We may not be able to converse with you on the intricacies of french cuisine, but we still know how to behave without having officer Tackelberry on every street corner looking for some action. Hell, there’s even some culture…good food, decent music from people you never heard of…stuff like that.
            I certainly wouldn’t mind having you for a neighbor.

            Rant over.

            1. John Barleycorn

              And here I thought even the “dummies” knew when to use a roux and when to use cornstarch.

              Please tell me you don’t use cornstarch to thicken your gravy GD, PLEASE!!!!

        1. B. McLeod

          There were fewer cops, but also fewer laws. In frontier days, the sheriffs only threw people in the tank for murders, mayhem, armed robberies and stealing horses or cattle. Also, pretty much everyone had weapons. That was why a town of a few thousand could work with a sherrif and a couple deputies. They didn’t have to worry about who was smoking weed or playing their stereo too loud or driving their buggy while intoxicated.

          1. SHG Post author

            Even in frontier days, there were bad dudes. And stealing a horse was treated rather harshly.

  2. John Barleycorn

    The SJ front pages need some charts and graphics to drive home the tender teardrops of delayed comprehension, that are riding shotgun with all these tenacious and belabored revelations.

    A cartoonist or three to set up the never ending drum-rolls wouldn’t hurt either…

      1. John Barleycorn

        …and this is the fate of of disaccharides not digested, a dream within the dreams of fanciful digestive comprehension.

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