Remember that time when you got pulled over for speeding? The cop started to write you a ticket, but stopped when you told him that your dad was a cop.
Or maybe he wrote you the ticket, and then you went home and called your brother-in-law or your buddy from high school (who is also a cop) and he “took care of it” for you. Incidents like these probably make you feel pretty good about cops in general, don’t they? Yeah, well, they shouldn’t. Incidents like these just serve to illuminate one of the many reasons why cops suck.
Reason #1: Cops believe they are above the law
They may not all believe this from day one (although many do), but eventually they all become affected by it. They come to view themselves as members of a class above the average citizen — and maybe in some respects they are, because we as a society put them there. But the fact remains that all men are created equal and are therefore equal under the law. We are happy when a relative or friend who is a cop is successful at bending or breaking the law for our benefit, but then we turn around and demand punishment of cops that bend or break the law to the detriment of others. Why the double standard? Why is it okay for Uncle Joe to “fix” your speeding ticket, but not okay for some anonymous cop on the news to drop a dime bag in the back seat of a car he is searching? I think we rationalize it by telling ourselves that the driver of the car was probably a gang member or a drug dealer, and that we trust the officer’s judgement.
I think the danger in this mode of thinking is obvious. Not only do we establish a dangerous precedent of allowing cops to also be judge and jury, but we subjugate ourselves to them and their decisions. Combine this with the fact that the average cop spends his days answering calls from those that he already perceives as weaker than himself, and we run the risk of establishing or simply reinforcing some kind of “Superman” complex in a cop’s mind. I’m not at all surprised that this mindset develops in cops over time, and I’m not even placing all of the blame on them. Human nature being what it is, I would expect it to happen to virtually anyone in the same position. But the point is that it is immoral and does not serve the best interests of society for us to breed a segment of the population that does not feel it is subject to the same rules as the rest of us.
Reason #2: Cops are ignorant of the law
It is unacceptable to me, and should be to everyone else, that cops are ignorant of the very laws they are charged with upholding. We used to refer to them as “peace officers.” They had a duty to be informed of what the laws said in order to act as impartial third parties in resolving disputes. Keeping the peace was their primary function. At some point in the not-so-distant past, they ceased being peace officers and became instead “law enforcement” officers. Their duties changed along with their name. A peace officer could never be asked or expected to conduct a no-knock raid on a private residence — that is hardly a peaceful endeavor (not to mention all of the individual rights it violates). But today’s modern law enforcement officer is all too happy to participate.
How many times have local law enforcement officers been enlisted in raiding someone’s home under the auspices of the DEA, FBI, IRS, or ATF and some bogus search warrant? I assure you the numbers are staggering. And how many times, in all of those raids, have the local law enforcement officers asked to see the specific statute(s) authorizing the raid? Or even asked to read the search warrant? I have no idea, but my guess is that it doesn’t happen very often. If it did, you would find a lot fewer “law enforcement” officers participating in exercises that only serve to break the laws.
Police academies across this country graduate hundreds of thousands of law enforcement officers every year. They perform swearing-in ceremonies with a great deal of pomp and circumstance, during which each newly minted officer swears an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. I wonder. How many of those officers have ever actually read the Constitution in its entirety? I mean, I’m almost willing to overlook a lowly traffic cop in a small St. Louis suburb who isn’t aware that she is breaking her own state’s law when she demands that I surrender my license to her during a routine traffic stop (when, in fact, according to Missouri Revised Statute 544.045, “the person arrested may decline to deposit his license to operate a motor vehicle as security and instead deposit a bond…”). Almost.
If ignorance of an obscure state law is not sufficient for you as an example, consider this. Every person on this planet has a basic human right to self-defense, which is acknowledged in the Second Amendment to the Constitution. The Second Amendment is so often debated that no one can claim ignorance of it based on obscurity. But yet, many cops have arrested, or worse, killed, a fellow citizen simply because he or she was exercising that right. Were they upholding or defending the Constitution with their actions? Can we as a society afford to overlook a cop (indeed, hundreds of cops) that violate their oath to uphold and defend the Constitution? Is it unreasonable to expect that those charged with enforcing the laws be aware of the laws themselves? I think not. As the Supreme Court said in Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 US 800, “…a reasonably competent public official should know the law governing his conduct.”
Reason #3: Cops hide behind their badge
Every mentally competent person is responsible for their own actions. One is not excused from accountability simply because one dons a uniform and some sort of badge representing a make-believe authority. Indeed, even within the United States Armed Forces, where warriors are taught to act without thinking, a soldier is still only required to follow *lawful* orders. This principle was illustrated at the Nazi war crimes trial in Nuremburg. The defendants’ argument that they were “just following orders” did not absolve them from their responsibility for their own actions. It didn’t work for them, it doesn’t work for the US Military, and it definitely doesn’t work for a cop. Despite their job, and their alleged authority, they still have an obligation to discern between right and wrong and act accordingly.
Reason #4: Cops have no legal obligation to protect us
This is perhaps the most compelling reason yet. If you repeat a lie often enough it becomes the truth. The lie in this case is that “cops will protect you” and those repeating it most often are gun control lobbyists — their argument being that you don’t need to own guns, cops are there to protect you. Well, the truth, in reality and in a legal sense, is that this position cannot be defended. If you need further proof of this fact, read Dial 911 and Die.
I guess the most shocking revelation in this book, however, is the fact that numerous court cases have established that law enforcement agencies, whether they be local, state, or federal, are under no legal obligation to protect you from crime. I know that is hard to believe, but it is true. As early as 1856 (South vs. Maryland 59 U.S. 396, 15 L. Ed., 433-) and as recently as 1989 (DeShaney v. Winnebago County Department of Social Services, 489 U.S. 189) the US Supreme Court ruled on this matter. The US Court of Appeals has ruled the same way (Bowers vs. DeVito, 686 F.2d 616 7th Cir. 1982). You would be hard pressed to find a case that found a law enforcement officer liable for not having prevented a crime against an individual.
Given this, I find it reprehensible that cops not only allow but encourage people (activists and politicians alike) to serve as their apologists and make the case for them that a cop’s job is “so tough” that we as a society must provide them the tools they need to make their job easier and less dangerous. Since they are under no obligation to perform the job in the first place, and cannot be held personally liable if they fail, how dare they demand such things from us! If a cop is truly concerned with his safety on the job, perhaps he should consider a different line of work, instead of demanding more resources be culled from the very populace that he is engaged in harassing or terrorizing.