FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Law Enforcement’s Dirty Little Secret

by

The recent Philando Castile tragedy, where a black man in Minnesota was killed by a police officer as he was sitting in his car with a woman and a 4-year old child is just one more in what seems an endless list of examples of unprovoked deadly violence by the police. Castile was shot 7 times. A jury eventually acquitted the officer.

Armchair sociologists tell us that the primary reason cops kill unarmed (or armed but non-threatening) black people is because cops are, at root, “racists,” and that the reason juries acquit these trigger-happy officers, even when the evidence overwhelmingly supports a guilty verdict, is because the jurors themselves are, at root, racists.

Although no one is going to suggest that racial discrimination isn’t alive and well in the U.S., a couple things fly in the face of that “White cops kill blacks and Latinos because cops are racists” premise: (1) Black and Latino cops regularly engage in this same kind of savagery, and (2) cops also kill, harass, bully, and beat the hell out of their share of white people as well.

I had a friend who was a reserve officer in the LA County Sheriff’s Department. After college he considered becoming a full-time policeman but, from what I could gather, he decided that being a career cop job didn’t pay enough or offer sufficient opportunity for advancement.

The reason he wanted to become a policemen in the first place was because, in his words, ever since he was a kid, he’d “always wanted to be a hero.” Alas, pragmatism won out over idealism. Instead of joining the force, he went into white-collar management, and confined his “heroism” to being a reserve sheriff deputy.

Not that I’m an expert on law enforcement mentality, but his explanation for why police engage in “brutality” surprised me. In fact, because he had such high regard for policemen, it stunned me. While he didn’t deny that race was a factor, he claimed that most of these questionable killings were examples of nothing more complicated than old-fashioned “cowardice.”

He was adamant about it, insisting that there were too many cops out there who were simply “scared shitless.” Too many cowards out there too scared to do their job the way they knew it was supposed to be done; the way they were taught to do it. In his opinion, urban police departments are overloaded with “cop wannabes” who have no business being cops. Quote the raven.

As for juries acquitting these guys in the face of overwhelming evidence, he was convinced it was all based on the notion that being a policeman was so unbelievably challenging and dangerous (“Hey, I sure wouldn’t want to be a cop….”) that it was incumbent upon us to give them every benefit of the doubt.

But that spoke to his precise point. Indeed, that was his whole reason for viewing cops as heroes. The definition of a hero is someone who risks his or her personal safety for the sake of duty.

When you err, you’re supposed to err on the part of heroism….not err from the fear of possibly getting hurt. That’s why being a cop is dangerous. Shooting a man in the back, or shooting him 7 times point blank as he sits in a care—and claiming you “feared for your life”—isn’t being a hero. According to my friend, that ain’t even being a real cop.

More articles by:

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is How To Win Friends and Avoid Sacred Cows.  He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

July 27, 2017
Edward Curtin
The Deep State, Now and Then
Melvin Goodman
The Myth of American Exceptionalism
Nozomi Hayase
From Watergate to Russiagate: the Hidden Scandal of American Power
Kenneth Surin
Come Fly the Unfriendly Skies
Andre Vltchek
Philippines: Western Media is Distorting Reality, People and Army Unite to Battle “ISIS”
Robert Fisk
Out of the Ruins of Aleppo: a Syrian Community Begins to Rebuild
Andrew Moss
What is Adelanto?
Thomas Mountain
Free Speech or Terror TV? Al Jazeera’s Support for ISIS and Al Queda
Robert J. - Byers
Jamboree Travesty
Thomas Knapp
Send in the Clown: Scaramucci Versus the Leakers
Rob Seimetz
Because the Night Belonged to Us in St. Petersburg (Florida)
Paul Cantor
Momentum Not Mojo
Patrick Walker
In Defense of Caitlin Johnstone (Part Two)
July 26, 2017
John W. Whitehead
Policing for Profit: Jeff Sessions & Co.’s Thinly Veiled Plot to Rob Us Blind
Pete Dolack
Trump’s Re-Negotiation Proposal Will Make NAFTA Worse
George Capaccio
“Beauty of Our Weapons” in the War on Yemen
Ramzy Baroud
Fear and Trepidation in Tel Aviv: Is Israel Losing the Syrian War?
John McMurtry
Brexit Counter-Revolution Still in Motion
Ted Rall
The Democrats Are A Lost Cause
Tom Gill
Is Macron Already Faltering?
Ed Kemmick
Empty Charges Erode Trust in Montana Elections
Rev. William Alberts
Fake News? Or Fake Faith?
James Heddle
The Ethics and Politics of Nuclear Waste are Being Tested in Southern California
Binoy Kampmark
Slaying in Minneapolis: Justine Damond, Shooting Cultures and Race
Jeff Berg
Jonesing for Real Change
Jesse Jackson
The ‘Voter Fraud’ Commission Itself is Fraudulent
July 25, 2017
Paul Street
A Suggestion for Bernie: On Crimes Detectable and Not
David W. Pear
Venezuela on the Edge of Civil War
John Grant
Uruguay Tells US Drug War to Take a Hike
Charles Pierson
Like Climate Change? You’ll Love the Langevin Amendment
Linda Ford
Feminism Co-opted
Andrew Stewart
Any Regrets About Not Supporting Clinton Last Summer?
Aidan O'Brien
Painting the Irish Titanic Pink
Rob Seimetz
Attitudes Towards Pets vs Attitudes Towards the Natural World
Medea Benjamin
A Global Movement to Confront Drone Warfare
Norman Solomon
When Barbara Lee Doesn’t Speak for Me
William Hawes
What Divides America From the World (and Each Other)
Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity
Was the “Russian Hack” an Inside Job?
Chandra Muzaffar
The Bilateral Relationship that Matters
Binoy Kampmark
John McCain: Cancer as Combatant
July 24, 2017
Patrick Cockburn
A Shameful Silence: Where is the Outrage Over the Slaughter of Civilians in Mosul?
Robert Hunziker
Extremely Nasty Climate Wake-Up
Ron Jacobs
Dylan and Woody: Goin’ Down the Road Feelin’ Bad
Dan Glazebrook
Quantitative Easing: the Most Opaque Transfer of Wealth in History
Ellen Brown
Saving Illinois: Getting More Bang for the State’s Bucks
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail