Oh, hello! I didn’t see you there, fellow human being with a pulse and probably a family or other such persons unknown to me that have a reasonable interest in your continued existence. You sure are lucky I didn’t blow your face clean off your body via the gun on my hip, what with my being a cop and all. Heh, we police really don’t like being sneaked up on, you know?
Really, we don’t like anything that might be out of our control. As my colleague, Sunil Dutta wrote in a wonderful op-ed in the Washington Post, just step back and shut up if you don’t want to be shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground. It’s that simple:
“Even though it might sound harsh and impolitic, here is the bottom line: if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you. Don’t argue with me, don’t call me names, don’t tell me that I can’t stop you, don’t say I’m a racist pig, don’t threaten that you’ll sue me and take away my badge. Don’t scream at me that you pay my salary, and don’t even think of aggressively walking towards me.”
While true, the burden of preventing your own extinction at my hands rests with you and you alone, it’s not like we police don’t take extra steps to find peaceful solutions to crises. As Dutta writes, we cops everywhere show restraint daily and “resolve incidents that could easily end up in serious injuries or worse.”
Like when Lt. Ray Albers threatened to “fucking kill” a protestor in Ferguson, Missouri, for instance. Albers could have very easily “fucking killed” that person with his gun. But Albers did not “fucking kill” that person with his gun. And what was that guy even protesting anyway?
“Sometimes, though,” Dutta adds, “no amount of persuasion or warnings work on a belligerent person; that’s when cops have to use force, and the results can be tragic.”
Such was the case with Eric Garner.
Or When Officer Daniel Andrew of the California Highway Patrol beat the shit out of a 51-year-old homeless woman. Daniel could now face “potentially serious charges” for his role in defending himself against someone’s grandmother, but has been on paid administrative leave since his act of self-preservation. Politics!
And look, we aren’t so blind as to think all cops are good cops. I’m with Dutta when he acknowledges some of us are bullies, arrogant and corrupted by power.
But you should know, it’s not like we’re allowed to use excessive force with y’all! As Dutta explains, “The moment a suspect submits and stops resisting, the officers must cease use of force.”
So I’m really not sure what you’re all still so upset about.
[Photo Credit: Charlie Reidel/AP]