Monday, August 1, 2016

Police Serving Justice

Part of the problem with these police shootings we've been seeing has to do with when police stop policing.

In dealing with citizens, you police them. You handle them, you manipulate them for their own and for other's best interests.

You do not just serve justice. You Protect & Serve.

Where does it say serve justice in that? I'd argue there's too much serving justice far too much of the time. When a cop approaches someone and thinks they have a gun, or sees they do and maybe they don't, when the cop stops policing, doesn't take the time, take enough time to verify what they are actually dealing with, when they aren't positioned well enough for there to actually be no doubt as to what is going on, then at that point, they are no longer policing.

Simply yelling at someone is not policing. Yelling at them appropriately, well that's another matter and that's, policing. Though avoiding the yelling is always nice. But once an officer pulls that trigger, they have gone from policing to serving potentially lethal justice.

Now within that realm, one well placed shot is policing on another level. A second shot then approaches (or achieves if not already) serving lethal justice and more shots... definitely is. Typically anyway.

Police need to be safe, to protect themselves. The problem is that police should not protect themselves at all costs. That's a fact. Police rush into firefights to save the innocent. Firefighters enter a blaze to protect and serve and sometimes, both police and fireman, die and they do it willingly.

And therein lay the conundrum. Once you stop policing and shift to serving justice, you cease to be a police officer and become something... more.

A militant, a martial person, a manslaughterer?

Now that's okay. Under certain circumstances, it's necessary, even preferable. But we have to make that distinction, we have to accept that reality. Yet when we do that, we also have to accept the other more important reality, even if by a little bit.

Someone tasked with using lethal force to police, has a higher responsibility to a civilian than to themselves. That's the job. Along with, if and whenever possible, going home at night to get up the next day and start it all over again.

Personally? I wouldn't want the job. Though I admit that at seventeen I did apply to the Tacoma Police Department. I was 350 out of 650 applicants on the testing phase and the fastest time that day on the obstacle course by far, by about fourteen seconds to be exact. That year the six slots went to all minorities.

Which, good for them, just, bad for me. Maybe.

A few years later I went in as Law Enforcement (no, not Security Police, that's another AFSC entirely) in the Air Force. I applied to the OSI and got accepted and got out and went to college. But I've always been, even in high school, on the cop's side (except of course when they were beating in the long haired heads of  my friends over something stupid like pot). I've had a good experience with cops since forever.

My older brother, didn't. He had a bad experience through the 1960s and 70s. But I learned from his mistakes and he told me how to act around cops. I used his suggestions and avoided so many issues. I got thrown in jail once, for an afternoon. I was seventeen and actually didn't do anything. But thirteen of us at a house in Bremerton Washington one day went to jail.

One guy of four of them who lived in the house I was visiting, took responsibility for the six ounces of pot they seized and they let the rest of us go. I was under age anyway. And again, I didn't do anything. I was just sitting down stairs and whatever it was happened upstairs but they took us all in anyway. I'd been visiting my girlfriend waiting at a friend's house who had introduced us. I was in twelfth grade in Tacoma at Lincoln High School. She was twenty at a college in Bremerton.

Cops ruined my day that day, made me miss my last class which I would have been back in time for, and I never did get to see my girlfriend. But I understand the police, from both sides. That's really my point here. Most of them whom I have met under any circumstances, we're okay guys. The one who smacked me around in Wildwood, New Jersey for no apparent reason wasn't such a great guy and when my cousin and I complained at the police station the Sergeant there agreed and said that guy was a bad cop, they all knew it, but no citizens would file a complaint against the fat jerk.

I was sixteen and when my mom, our mom's, found out what had happened, well, they weren't letting us go anywhere back near that police station. We were crushed that night in Cape May. But we got over it.

Yes, I'm white. I was 6'2" most of my life, around 6'1" now for some reason (probably not the sky diving accident years ago though). I have a privileged life, though back int he day with long hair it didn't' always feel like it when cops were dealing with you. But I seemed to have a way to calm them.

One time at about eighteen I got pulled over by a State Trooper late at night, getting into a freeway and really nailing it. The Trooper told me I was speeding, I said it didn't go very much over sixty MPH (speed limit was fifty-five). We disagreed, I disagreed with his assessment of my speed and he said, "Get out of the car!"

My friends shrunk into their seats. It was dark, we were between lights which were very far apart on that new stretch of freeway in Parkland, Washington just of 112th street. We talked, he realized my 1967 Camaro Z28 (it was two years before they used that model designation but that's what it was, then called, an RS\SS), and he told me to get into his Patrol car, while my two guy friends worried for my safety.

But when the cop found I was taking Criminal Evidence for Police (with a classroom full of off duty Tacoma Policeman trying to get promotions, and one other long haired kid like me, both of us at first terrified in that class, I could see it in his eyes when we learned who all these older looking dudes in suits were, detectives mostly) at the local community college and had applied with the police department, he tried to talk me into being a State Trooper. By the way, that turned out to be a great class. Though all the really cool things happened during the day classes and I was at night school.

I have to tell you, taking a class in criminal evidence, saved my butt over my life time more than once in being aware of things others tend not to be. Today because of so many police procedural cop and CSI shows on TV, people are more aware but there is still a lot of ignorance out there about what really is.

My point in all this talk is that I do understand police more than many civilians. I know I'm white and not black and I've had it easy compared to many. I've also experienced what it is like when things go wrong with police to some point anyway, and I can see how badly it could go. Now a days I'm even concerned about getting shot by "friendlies".

I also know how so much can be avoided if the situation is handled better than it gets handled, both by police but also by civilians. We need to recognize the good cops, the ones trying hard, those who make mistakes only someone gets hurt or killed, that we're all human on both sides of the fence but that there does seem to be a systemic problems going on in many jurisdictions.

I believe we're work out way through this. It will take time. The answers are out there. But it's going to hurt before it gets better.

One both sides of the fence. Still.

Protect & Serve.

And, respect your local police. There's no easy answer. We all need to work on it.

Including Congress. Including the NRA. Including Conservative's denials. Including Liberal's shutting out conservatives because their way of thinking is so disconnected with themselves, just as it is the other way around. We need to soften this disparity and disconnection. We need leaders who will do that for us and the country and therefore, themselves.

There is too much of "it's all about me" out there in the world. We need a paradigm shift in our national thinking, about guns, about people, about money, our priorities, about "us" against "them. We need to see guns as what they are, killing tools. And to understand why they are being used indiscriminately.

If we all had the right mindset, if we had a fully functional economy, we could all own guns and not go around killing one another. But that's in a perfect paradigm and humans are anything but perfect. So it just goes to figure that having so many guns is asking for problems. It's what we used to call, common sense. WHY do we have military style weaponry out in public hands. Even in the military when you're off duty (unless you're in a live, active war situation) you turn in your gun. Because, it's common sense. And the law.

When a gun runner was asked on a Vice network show recently what the main reasons were for killings on the street, the illegal firearm entrepreneur said, "Pussy and pride." Someone looks at someone or their woman wrong, and someone ends up dead over it. Issues about self-respect, lack of reasons for self-respect, lack of respect for life and weapons, have led us into a very bad place. Bad economy, little prospect for bettering one's life through education or work, a concept of instant gratification and wealth, we have a lot to fix and atone for.

Until we start up a way of thinking where we all think it's all about us, we'll continue to see this as it is now. With so much hurt and pain. But let's not forget, so much normality, and good things. People walking safely down many streets, crime and murders being down and we have to keep that up, support those doing the good works, fighting the good fights.

Let's just not lose track of reality. We're a strong county. Humans are a strong species. When it pulls together. We can be a stronger country, a stronger world, once we all realize that. But to get there we have to deal with issues as they really are and not how we believe they are. We have to dig and see the facts, even if it goes against our desires, beliefs, understanding or cognitive dissonance.

I do believe we'll get there. Just hang in there with the rest of us. Push for being positive whenever possible. Don't let people push fear on you. Stand up and tell them to sit down! Find the positive solutions. Think outside the box. Do not be led astray by your leaders. When they go off track, even if you love them; dearly, shout it out, let them know. Stand up for people, not just your group, your country, your state, your political party, or your gang.

We're all in this together. Dammit! Okay?

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