I have read and heard enough ignorant cop-bashing this week that’s prompted me to write a defence…here’s the reality.
Speaking as an ex-cop:
1. Sweeping generalizations about any group of people is evidence of high-level ignorance.
2. Opinions are the backbone of a free-speaking society but opinions must be based on strong evidence to have any credibility. Surviving the street-reality has to be experienced to be fully understood.
In my experience, uniformed ignorant cop-bashing has three primary sources:
i. Those who got rejected – didn’t get hired as a cop. Sour grapes.
ii. Bad conscience – have something to hide.
iii. One bad experience.
Are cops perfect? Absolutely not. In fact, many have pissed me off. I pissed myself off. After 15 years, I decided to make a career change not because I hated policing…I needed a bigger challenge, needed a change of scenery, needed to experience something different that the dark side of society that has to be experienced to be believed. And needed to gain freedom from being controlled. And, coaching student-athletes on the football field and in the gym is far more rewarding than dealing with death and conflict for 30-40 years of the only life that I will have on this Earth.
Like it or not, policing changes people. Frontline policing is street-survival. The street environment will change any rookie – guaranteed. Policing is a high-risk activity. Cops get killed – that’s the reality. It serious business. Making tough calls in the blink of an eye, facing risk and uncertainty, is one of the biggest occupational challenges that any professional faces. If we expect robotic perfection, it won’t happen. There’s a steep learning curve to solving major crimes, to prevent the horrific pain that humans inflict on each other. Anyone who doesn’t believe it should go out on just one 12-hour patrol. Experience the nightly attempted murderers aka drunk drivers, speeders, and reckless drivers who cause unspeakable carnage. Experience responding to domestics – try to save innocent family members from abuse and violence they experience within the confines of their own inner circle. Experience responding to the break & enters in progress – try to catch the evil of society who invade the privacy of homes and businesses on a daily basis across this continent. Experience responding to 911 calls, having no idea whether an armed, deranged lunatic is waiting to kill you and anyone else who crosses his path.
Is this sympathy for cops? No. It’s reality. The past week of cop-bashing isn’t new. I’ve heard it for 35 years. Debate is healthy. We all need two sides of an argument. If reform is needed in the criminal justice system, let’s fight for it. But let’s do it intelligently. Let’s be informed, let’s have an intelligent forum, an intelligent debate. Let’s identify both weaknesses and strengths, let’s effect change to make our world safer and better especially for the children who need our protection but let’s be informed.