This is a response to Cops Really Piss Me Off. It is rare that I write two blogs in one week, let alone two days in a row, but I felt the need to respond in a blog, because there was not enough room in the comments section. I am not necessarily addressing the blog itself, because the author of the blog had a legitimate gripe about some of the things that cops do, but there was one individual who commented in the blog that really pissed me off for some reason, so now as punishment to you all I have been compelled to blog about it.
Disclaimer: If I piss anybody off I am sorry.
Let me address one huge myth about police work. We are not all egotistical, self absorbed, arrogant, above the law pricks. I know that many but not all of you feel that way about the police. That bad impression comes from TV shows, a biased media, ignorance of police work and a few bad officers who do fit the bad cop stereo type. Some of you folks need to understand that the vast majority of men and women who become police officers do it because they want to help people and contribute to society. A very small few people do it because they are on a power trip and like the feel of the authority and want to carry a gun. I wanted to be a police officer since I was five years old. I lived most of my life wanting to be a cop. When I was in junior high and high school, I did not drink, I stayed away from drugs and I did not hang around other kids who wanted to go out and cause trouble, because I knew that it could have caused me grief later on down the line. I am not saying I am any better than anyone else, but I was smart enough to keep my nose clean. So, for those of you who base your knowledge of the police by watching TV, quit watching CSI, Law and Order, The Shield and reruns of NYPD Blue, Third Watch and Hill Street Blues. Educate yourselves by doing a ride along with an officer. Many departments allow and encourage the general public to sign up so they can ride along with an officer while he/she is on duty. Many departments have citizen academies. These academies are geared towards the average citizen, which means they go through an academy similar to what the police go through, and they get a real eye opener to police training, tactics and what officers go through on a day-to-day basis. These are just two examples.
A comment was made about scum bag cops who “have shitty low paying jobs.” What kind of crude uninformed remark is that? It is usually made by people who have absolutely no knowledge of police or what they really do. Or it was made by individuals who may have had a bad experience with the police, either because they were arrested and got pissed off because they broke the law and did not get away with it, or maybe the officer was a jerk. But, that is not a reflection of all police officers, and for those of you who think it is then you truly are misguided and misinformed. Cops are no different than anyone else. We have bad days, we go to work on no sleep and mostly caffeine. We are hated, scrutinized, put under a microscope, Monday morning quarter backed and second guessed. If we make a mistake, the media is all over it, if we save the day nobody cares. If we gun down a crazed gunman, the media accuses us of being trigger happy, the family who hasn’t spoken to their thug son in years comes out and sues the department, and the officer who actually shot the gunman is investigated by his own department, and is treated like a homicide suspect. If an officer shoots someone, their gun belt is taken away, and they are either suspended with pay from active duty or put at a desk job. Many police officers in the United States have lawyers they keep on retainer just for this reason. If a criminal is arrested, but then set free, the media and uninformed public blame the police. Don’t blame the cops, go protest the courts that set the criminals free. We get just as frustrated as the rest of the population. We investigate, we arrest and we present the case to the district attorney or county prosecutor, depending on where you live. They make the final decision whether or not to prosecute, then you either have a judge or jury who may find the defendant guilty or not guilty. And many times it is not bad police work by the cops, it is a good scumbag defense attorney who knows how to put the police on trial and cast just enough doubt in the minds of a jury, or it is an ultra liberal judge who feels the three time arrested child molester has learned his lesson and needs another chance. We are accused of being above the law. Absolutely not true. Some officers feel they are and abuse their authority, that is true, but for the majority of officers we know right from wrong and we live by those rules. In fact, we are held to a higher standard than average citizens. There is not widespread corruption in all agencies as portrayed on TV, and yes there are agencies that become corrupt. New Orleans is the most recent example, but they are trying to clean up their act.
The subject of pay was brought up, and I know that some agencies do not pay their officers very well and other agencies pay quite well. Most of the larger agencies here in Arizona top their officers out at anywhere from $70,000 - $80,000 per year, and that is without any over time what so ever. Even if the job didn’t pay well, most men and women do not become officers to get rich. I knew when I started I was not going to become wealthy, but pay was not the reason I became a cop. I wanted to help and put scumbag murders, child molesters, thieves and rapists in jail. And let me tell you after 10 years of police work, I have put my fair share of criminals in jail.
I could go on all day, but I am running out of steam. So, one final paragraph. When a person becomes a police officer they go to the academy wide eyed and ready to change the world. Then through out their career, the majority, but not all officers become jaded, bitter and distrustful of the general public. This job can and does taint anyone who becomes a cop. It cannot be helped. You can only see so many dead children, battered wives, sobbing fathers whose child was just killed in a car wreck, injured people, and you can only deal with so many thugs, scumbags and people who have nothing better to do than bitch about the police before you start to turn your feelings off and not care. The job changes us. I tried to fight it, but it was subtle and crept up on me, and before I knew it I was hating the public and no longer cared that the neighbor lady’s cat was taking crap in your yard or their dog was barking and keeping you up all night. If you run into a cop who may or may not be acting like a jerk, just remember the officer probably did not start out that way. We are a product of the environment in which we work.