I write this letter to address some mixed messages you may have received recently from the general public. Due to incidences such as September 11th, where officers of NYPD were hailed and honored in the media as heroes, and because of the praise and defense your day-to-day actions have garnered from a few diehard supporters and naïve optimists, you may have gotten the impression that American citizens love and respect you for your service. This, however, is an unfortunate misunderstanding on your part. As it turns out, your profession is aptly labeled as “thankless.” You are neither revered nor esteemed for the routine tasks that you perform for so very little recompense. In fact, the reality is just the opposite. In this correspondence, I shall seek to explain that reality and offer a few tips for your future consideration.
First and rather obviously, criminals hate you. Whether or not you give them credit, they labor tirelessly to meet the ambitious goals set for themselves: money, power, fame, pleasure, and the rest – just like you or me. While their methods are perhaps unconventional, they work just as hard at committing crimes undetected as you do to thwart their efforts and incarcerate them. Why shouldn’t they hate you? You stand in the way of their “American Dream” and after all, don’t they possess the Constitutional right to be alive, free and happy? So it should come as no great surprise that you are loathed among the community of diligent, dedicated dirtbags. Shame on you.
Secondly and less overt, you are by and large distrusted by the average citizen, who has come to suspect your involvement in everything from internal cover-ups to organized prejudices to under-the-table dealings with any person predisposed to participate in bribery, extortion, etc. Because a percentage of your number – albeit comparatively minute – have been caught and convicted of crimes involving the blatant and shameful abuse of their authority, it is now widely held that such atrocities are not beneath the rest of you either. Instead, it is concluded that you are currently engaged in these activities and simply have not been, as you say, “busted.” As for the few who aren’t yet involved, you are still presumed to be inherently corrupt although your golden opportunity to prove it may not have arisen. All cops are lazy, racist, sexist, greedy, and depraved. They are liars, cheaters, exploiters, bribers, blackmailers and often, drug addicts, rapists and even murderers. Most are actively concealing these traits, but the rest just haven’t realized they have them. Rather than modern day knights, your rabble is simply a bunch of savages on a power trip.
Because police across America apparently are inept and incapable, I have put together a bit of helpful advice from abhorring fans.
1. Learn to listen. Unlike other occupations, policing is unique in that every civilian today apparently has the standing and expertise to instruct cops on how to do their jobs. In the olden days, an education in law took place at a college campus, was taught by professors or men of the trade, involved the reading and careful study of the laws themselves, and took many months to complete. Fortunately with the advent of TV and the Internet, such tedium and formalities are no longer necessary. Pay attention when civilians boss you around and criticize your job performance: after countless hours of watching Cops, Law & Order, and every fathomable spinoff of CSI, they are certainly as or more educated than you are in criminal justice. Suspects frequently remind you of this with statements like “I know my rights” and “you can’t arrest me for that.” Listening becomes particularly important when a story hits the news. Nevermind that it took officers days to investigate the crime, write a report and file the extensive paperwork – these citizens are so clever that they can tell you everything you did wrong after reading a third-hand synopsis of less than 5,000 words in the local paper. It is arrogant to think that you are the only experts in your field. These people do not have all the facts or actually know the department’s policies, but they believe that they do, and isn’t that what’s important? The police force will never be well-liked while ignoring input from Armchair Officers and Backseat Drivers who miraculously know your job inside out without ever having walked a single beat.
2. No more mistakes. It is a common expression that “everyone makes mistakes.” While this may be true, not everyone is allowed to make mistakes, and police officers ought to be aware of this. Normal people often screw-up on the job at least weekly, but it is impermissible for those in critical positions (i.e., medicine and law enforcement) to err. For cops, there is no such thing as an “honest mistake” and there shall be no mercy should any error occur: you will immediately be deemed either immoral, incompetent, or both. So what if your job requires crucial decisions in the heat of the moment? Who cares about the difficulty caused by conflicting party accounts or ambiguous statutes? After all, cops are not normal human beings but demigods, held to an unattainable standard yet offered no benefit of the doubt if the mark is missed. Moreover, policemen and women are not afforded the luxuries of “Miranda Rights” or “pleading the fifth” in the event that they are accused of misconduct by civilians; since cops always lie and civilians never do, there is no need to presume an officer is ever innocent A word to the wise: if you were not perfect, you shouldn’t have become a police officer. If you are perfect, you ought to have known better!
3. Stop the bigotry. The public has been monitoring your patterns of arrest, and the gig is up. It is plain that you pick on certain neighborhoods again and again, patrolling them constantly and arresting someone from the areas almost daily. Crime statistics, you say? Nonsense – it’s obviously racial profiling. Understand that if the general public isn’t thoroughly informed of the basis for every action you take, it can’t be legitimate. The shabby side of the city, where prostitutes prance and drug lords deal, are made unfairly uneasy by the prevalent presence of police. According to the armchair experts, the only explanation for this can be racism toward minorities, since they often comprise (statistically speaking) a large percentage of those parts of town. Can you offer justification for arresting greater numbers of African-Americans and Latinos? And don’t try anything ridiculous like “they happened to commit disproportionately more crimes than other nationalities.” I’m sure you’ve heard of “equal opportunity” and “affirmative action.” This means that to be fair, arrests must be made in exactly equal numbers across the board. For every black man you hook up, you are required to arrest one white man, one Hispanic man, one Asian, one Russian, one Greek, one Arab, one Native American, and so forth. Should you, in any given timeframe, have trouble catching an Eskimo or a Malaysian red-handed, you are to suspend apprehension of all other minorities accordingly. Keep this in mind when patrolling the projects – you can’t take those minority crack dealers to jail until you’ve met your Caucasian quota. Look on the bright side: you can arrest heterosexual white boys to your heart’s content.
4. Violence is not the answer. It is to be expected that you will encounter some wayward souls that, although involved in illegal activity, do not want to go to jail. However, by resorting to the use of a stick or pistol, you only sink to their level. Even if they put up a fight with anything from their fists to the .45 tucked in their waistband – police are supposed to be the good guys, and as such should refuse to employ more violence to solve a problem. Take the tazer, for instance: cruel and unusual, it should be altogether banned. What a barbaric thing to do to even your worst (6’ 7”, 400 lb) enemy, and civilized officers should be above such behavior. Practice peaceful alternatives, like positive reinforcement and role playing, and police brutality will not be necessary. When you’ve warned a suspect repeatedly to put his hands up, be certain you are communicating in a way he can understand. He could be a visual learner – needing signs and pictures to comprehend, or he could suffer from attention deficiency – causing him to react hastily without listening carefully. Just because he continues fidgeting in his pockets doesn’t mean he is up to no good, and it is presumptuous for police to jump to these conclusions. Even if the suspect pulls something from under his shirt, there’s no reason to assume it is a weapon. Before you ever consider drawing or firing in defense, the rational public expects you to be positive that the suspect has both the intention and the means to do you harm. Otherwise, police shoot some poor shmuck who was wielding a realistic looking water gun; had the officers waited patiently for the suspect to pull the trigger, they would have discovered as much (although bad luck for them should the gun prove authentic). It is unacceptable for a presumably innocent suspect to be gunned down in cold blood by cops who mistake a BB gun for a rifle from 30 yards. Perhaps that individual made some unwise decisions, but he didn’t deserve to die! Had officers used a tazer, at least the suspect would have lived to stand trial, but I forgot: tazer = bad, so scratch that idea.
5. Just give up. You work long, grueling hours, including overtime, holidays, weekends and snow days. Your salaries are often commensurate to that of public school teachers or retail clerks. You brave the elements, the ignorant, the obstinate, the adamant, the belligerent, the miscreant, and the media, together with their respective (or disrespective) friends, families, cheerleaders, chumps, lobbyists, lawyers, shrinks and sympathizers who pit themselves against you regardless of what side you take. You are routinely cursed at, run from, spit upon, shot at, stabbed at, lied to, lied against, fought, disobeyed, disrespected, and distrusted. Each time you don the uniform, you enter a totally unpredictable and dangerous work environment, literally risking death or dismemberment with every call to which you respond. Meanwhile, your family also suffers loneliness, worry, loss of sleep, measly income and sometimes they even pay the ultimate price. When you were little, you wanted to help people, and from a child’s untainted viewpoint, police officers seemed to do just that. However, if you wanted to also be treated with respect, you should have become a fireman or an EMT – all the praise with none of the scorn, while for you it’s vice versa. Why do it? Hardly anyone trusts you these days and those who do are labeled suckers. Anyway, if you’re half as bad as people say, we’re better off without you.
Hopefully you will find these helpful, although doing them may get you fired, killed or at the very least, render you completely ineffective at your occupation. Nevertheless, keep up the good work!