A few days ago I got a couple replies on my story, Cops have no Morals–which I’ll admit may be a somewhat inflammatory title–from a police officer. In the most recent (a response to my response), this is what the officer said:
Thank you for the honest reply.
I agree that not every offense falls into my personal range of ethics. However the majority of the offenses and laws that I enforce everyone agrees are necessarily and ethical.
The main reason I came to your post was I saw it linked on Reddit, a site that I often browse but seems to be infected with irrational cop hate.
Probably the worst side effect of the anonymity of the internet is how people demand the cops treat them fairly, be respectful and not lump them into broad stereotypes. However they then turn around (many times in the same post) and inflame peoples sensibilities by stating a personal experience where they felt they were treated poorly. They then state that all cops are this way and demand sweeping terminations or outright revolt.
It gets to me when I work all day going to domestics, arresting drunk drivers, directing traffic, freezing my butt off in the snow and not had an argument or bad experiences with anyone. Then I come home and just want to read some funny rage comics but end up depressed over how much the internet seemingly hates me.
All I ask, ALL is that you judge me by my actions and not the 1% of cops who cause trouble or break the law.
“You have to admit that if you were assigned to arrest someone for a crime you did not believe was wrong, or if you believed the person was innocent, you would still have to go arrest that person”.
This happens with marijuana laws, I just write people tickets as long as they are polite and cooperative about it. Now if your driving and smoking or selling to people under 21 I’m going to take you to jail.
I agree they should just duplicate the laws of alcohol and apply them to marijuana. So there we got that out of the way.
Same applies to speeding, I start writing tickets at 12+ which in my opinion is pretty common sense.
Do I honestly think your brand new car is dangerous and going to fly out of control when your doing 81 in the 60 in the middle of the night. No.. but you agreed to not speed when we gave you a drivers license so man up and take your ticket.
The guy you met in your story sounds like a jaded burned out drugs and vice cop. I wouldn’t want to work with him with that attitude and I don’t think his department would like him acting that way.
Please give your support to hard working average cops, when you meet the bad ones be polite and an adult and then go inform his department if you think they behaved inappropriately.
So I came up with another response that might not perfectly address all the issues in the comment, but I felt justified its own blog post:
Yeah, anarchists can get nasty with the name calling toward police. It doesn’t help our case and just makes us look like children. It’s a problem with most controversial issues, though and unfortunately comes with the territory. I posted the story to the anarchism sub-reddit and I don’t know if it got re-posted or something, but a police officer browsing the anarchism sub-reddit is kind of like an abortion doctor browsing the pro-life sub-reddit. You’re bound to find something offensive. You must understand that criminal justice is inherently controversial. I know this sounds harsh but you make a career out of pointing guns at people, taking away their freedom and destroying people’s lives. I’m sorry I have to put it like that, and you can argue that it’s a necessary evil, but that is literally what you do. You need to accept that not everyone supports that. While we anarchists may have serious difficulties communicating our position, it doesn’t mean our anger doesn’t have a valid source.
Unfortunately police are at more of a disadvantage than other controversial individuals because you’re so sheltered from the people who are morally opposed to the things you do. We’re too scared to say anything to your face and the media doesn’t take us seriously, so it comes out in anger and frustration over the anonymous internet. The only weapon we have against the guns and prisons are our words, and most of the time we don’t even have that.
I feel like most of us became anarchists as an emotional response to a traumatizing event caused by criminal justice. Police brutality and misbehavior is only a small part of the issue. Even when everything is done by the book there can be tremendous emotional damage. Perhaps they lost a loved one to the prison system, or were wrongfully accused of something. As another example, I had a gun pointed at me point-blank over a plant that grows from the ground. When you stare down the barrel of a gun into the eyes of someone who is ready and willing to splatter your brains across the pavement but society insists they’re heroes, it changes you inside. It can be hard to deal with and I’ve never heard of any programs to help criminals deal with this kind of emotional trauma and ensure they don’t take it out on society.
On a side note, you said that people should just report wrongdoing from police, but I think you know that’s not realistic. Police rarely abuse anyone who has not committed some kind of crime, and once you commit a crime, society pretty much discredits anything you say. If a meth addict accused your partner of planting evidence, I’m sure you would have a hard time taking him seriously. And look at cases like Rodney King. We can’t watch that video and still feel safe when we accuse police of wrongdoing.
If you read my article, 35 Ways Criminal Justice is Counter-Productive to Peace on Earth, you’ll see I have a list of specific reasons why I think modern style police-work is morally wrong on a fundamental level. Whether or not you think they’re valid, you should be able to tell that I’ve put serious thought into it. I didn’t just decide laws were evil over a couple traumatizing events. In order to truly claim that you care about right and wrong, you need to put serious energy into forming your moral opinions, being careful to hear both sides of the story, and your actions need to reflect your morality.