Police Officer Blames Everyone Else But Police Officers For The Public's General Distrust Of Law Enforcement
from the also:-Ferguson,-because-#trending dept
Deputy Matt — the pseudonym employed by the law enforcement officer behind this op-ed — is here to blame everyone else but he and his fellow officers for today’s law enforcement-hostile climate. It all leads back to Ferguson…
When we finally located the son, who is of mixed ethnicity (dad is white, mom is Hispanic), he instantly began cussing and yelling at us. He took a fighting stance and said he was not going to do anything we told him.
Luckily, we were able to calm him and get him into handcuffs without any blows being thrown.
We asked why he was so hostile towards us. His response? Ferguson. The cops could not be trusted because of what happened in Ferguson, Missouri. He told us that he wanted to kill all white cops because of what “they” had done to Michael Brown.
From the strength of a single anecdote, a nationwide attitude is extrapolated. It’s not just criminals — who Deputy Matt fully expects to be less-than-submissive — it’s everybody.
Sadly, this feeling has not only infected the normal criminal element that I expect that behavior from, but even seems to be effecting [sic] middle class families as well.
As goes the middle class, so goes the country. Deputy Matt could learn something from reactions to Ferguson. He could. But he finds it easier to blame everyone else for the unpleasantness of his job. Cops are still the wonderful, self-sacrificing people they’ve always been, he says. It’s the American public that’s gone downhill.
The same people who we used to count on for support, the good, law abiding general public, are now reluctant to trust us.
We, the local cops they have seen and contacted in the past, have not changed. We have done nothing different.
The public is wrong. And why is the public wrong? Because it’s too stupid to avoid being led by the nose.
What has changed is the public’s perception of us, created by the reckless reporting by nearly every news outlet very early after the shooting of Michael Brown. The rush to be first with the story over the desire to be correct is having dire consequences nationwide, and quite honestly, has made my job more difficult and more dangerous.
While I have my own issues with mainstream media and its shallow coverage of certain issues, Deputy Matt’s problem seems to be that this one time, the slant briefly went the other direction. For the most part, the mainstream doesn’t cover incidents like these. And when it does, it follows safe narratives (rioters!) and grants way too much deference to statements made by law enforcement/government officials. Compared to the way those outside the mainstream cover incidents like officer-involved shootings, Deputy Matt would be better off not biting the hand that (more often than not) feeds him.
Going beyond the thinly-veiled insults (people are stupid and they get their information from sensationalistic sources) to the heart of Deputy Matt’s argument (‘It’s everyone else!’), I’m inclined to agree with the general push of his article: cops haven’t changed.
To Deputy Matt, this signifies the blame should lie with the public. To anyone who’s been paying attention over the past several years, the problem is that cops haven’t changed. Many still believe they can operate without scrutiny, oversight or accountability. The omnipresence of recording devices (operated by both the public and officers themselves) doesn’t prevent misconduct, brutality or unjustified killings. It just makes it more difficult to cover up. It also (very occasionally) forces law enforcement officials to hold officers accountable, but these are sadly still the exception rather than the rule.
Putting more eyes on officer behavior and tactics — whether it’s by bloggers and journalists dedicated to this field or by the thousands of hours of amateur footage hosted at YouTube — has resulted in a shift in the public’s perception. But Deputy Matt is wrong to blame it on the public… or mass media… or Ferguson. The problem is Deputy Matt and the officers he’s decided to speak for. They haven’t changed.
The cop who always laid a few extra licks on an “uncooperative” arrestee still does so… only there’s a good chance the punches/baton swings/taser bursts have been captured on “tape.” The cop who always performed a little extracurricular searching during routine traffic stops continues to do so… only now he’s being served with civil rights lawsuits and the dashcam recording of his illegal efforts is splashed all over the news thanks to the plaintiff’s lawyer.
If the public no longer implicitly trusts the police to be the “good guys,” the problem isn’t the public. It’s the cops who take money from citizens just because local laws say they can. It’s the multiple agencies who feel the only way to handle the drug problem is as violently as possible. It’s cops who shoot people’s pets, rather than allow the animals’ owners to restrain them. It’s officers who constantly “fear for their lives” endangering the lives of citizens around them with careless use of deadly force. This is what’s changed the public’s perception of law enforcement. Sure, some of it may be based on bad info and careless hyperbole, but a majority of the damage done to the reputation of law enforcement has been inflicted by the officers themselves.
Ferguson may have (slightly) altered the mainstream media’s approach to officer-involved shootings. The more apparent side effect has been a heightened awareness of the immense divide between the general public and those charged with policing them. In between, there’s a certain amount of hashtag activism and coat tail riders — some of which culminates in a teen arrestee miles from ground zero name-dropping Ferguson as an excuse for his anti-cop aggression.
But Deputy Matt’s complaint ignores even the slightest, most minimal bit of culpability on behalf of his fellow officers. This massive blind spot prevents him from seeing the truth directly in front of him: if the public — generally-speaking — no longer trusts police officers, it’s because — generally-speaking — police officers aren’t worthy of the public’s trust.