Well, it's happened again: I've been unfriended on Facebook by a cousin over a difference of opinion. She thinks there are "good cops", the best of them being her husband who was killed — adventitiously — on his way to work; I hold that if there are any good cops they are overwhelmingly outnumbered. I think the thing that pushed her over the edge was me suggesting that — if things keep going the way they're going — 'cop' is finally going to break into the Top 10 Most Dangerous Jobs
We have crossed a Rubicon-of-sorts with the recent spate of execution-style slayings and attacks on what seem to be random police officers. These were (we think) just ordinary cops going about their ordinary days when they were set upon by some disaffected someone and killed for wearing their gang colors — blue, usually. Almost everyone seems genuinely surprised. Why would anyone kill a cop 'just because'? Just because that broken taillight just cost you $145 and a mark on your license? Just because it's the end of the month and Corporal Smith needs to write four more tickets or he'll get a letter of reprimand in his personnel jacket? Just because you're black or Hispanic? Just because the window tinting that's legal where your car is registered happens to be illegal in this county, mister? Just because the family dog is now dead because the cop investigating the burglary down the street feared for his life?
The justification for this, of course, is that these officers don't make the laws; they just enforce them. That's their job. They're LEOs, law enforcement officers, and they're just following orders. Besides, if they don't do it, somebody else will, see? And you wouldn't be complaining about any of this if you just followed the law in the first place. If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. It's that simple.
So, when officers are ordered to disperse the crowds of unruly DAPL protesters, they trot out their water cannons and douse those protesters with water in sub-freezing weather. That'll send them scurrying to find warmth and dry clothing! No protesters equals no protest. Let's finish this project and go home! First amendment? What first amendment?
You and I have a hard time imagining being soaked-to-the-skin in 26 degree cold, but I think there is probably no one who thinks it would be classified as 'humane treatment'. If the police are going to treat the people inhumanely, why would they expect better treatment and more respect in return? Does the Golden Rule have an exception for police?
That's the Rubicon. Police expect to get away with inhumane treatment — racial profiling, excessive use of force, automatic forgiveness when they make an error like SWATting the wrong house at 2:15am and making the whole family stand outside in the snow in their pajamas while search teams ransack the house looking for drugs that aren't there — and they expect that everyone else will still tip their hat and wish them "Have a nice day, officer". That's the Rubicon they have now crossed. Alea jacta est. The die is cast. The bell has rung, and it cannot be unrung.
We have to come up with a solution or we're facing a very unhappy future. By 'we', I mean we the people and we the police. Both communities have to buy in to whatever the solution turns out to be. The alternative? Well, there are something like a half million police in this country, and a hundred million armed Americans who are not police. Do the numbers. If, as I believe, the bad cops seriously outnumber the good cops, those good cops won't be able to do anything except resign and retreat. Not doing so will be extremely hazardous, since in extremis the assumption will be that anyone in uniform is automatically 'bad'. This is such a bad scenario that I can't imagine any cop wanting to even contemplate it. No, the solution has to be something else.
One possible solution is to disarm the police — don't laugh. Citizens will then be expected to come to the aid of a police officer when asked. Interactions between police and public will thereafter be voluntary. If you are stopped on the street by an officer, you will not have to fear being shot, but you may be arrested if the officer can make a good enough case to those citizens assisting. If the officer cannot make a good case, you continue about your business because the officer can't hold you at gunpoint. This is actually the America our Founding Fathers envisioned. They lived in a world without police — at all. There were constables, but they were no better armed than anyone they would encounter in the normal course of a day, and their duties were strictly peace-keeping, not law-enforcing. The difference, of course, is that peace-keeping benefits the community, and law-enforcing benefits the State.
If we seek a peaceful future, our police must lead us there. If they can't or won't, then we will need to be our own police or we will need to get ready for war.