Comment Of The Day: “A Cop’s Lament…and Threat (Plus A Poll)”

The article by the police commander who warns that cops might just decide that remaining on the job isn’t worth the abuse attracted a lot of readers very quickly. That’s a good sign; so are the results of the poll so far, in which over 90% have voted that either the warning ought to be taken seriously, or that his reaction is rational under the circumstances.

Don’t ask me about the two votes for not having any police. Maybe ex-anarchist commenter Fattymoon dropped by with a friend.

Here is Alicia (aka La Sylphide) ‘s very personal Comment of the Day on the post, “A Cop’s Lament…and Threat (Plus A Poll)“:

I know that what I offer here is anecdotal (and therefore criticized by some).

What this officer writes breaks my heart. I know my ex (a retired police sergeant) very well. We were married 24 years. I know his heart. I know the work he did. I know the programs he created and implemented starting from a place of nothing. I know the fellow police families we hung with and I know their hearts; the work they did, the neighborhoods they worked so hard with which to build trust, the tears they shed over lives they couldn’t save, the elderly they comforted, the bikes they fixed because the chain had come off, the calm they restored in the ER when bad news was delivered. This is my experience having been a police wife.

I also work as an actress in crisis intervention training; helping departments train their officers in how to handle members of the community who are in the midst of a mental health crisis. I see their faces when they look into my eyes while I rant and rave and cuss them out. I see their faces when they look to their fellow officers for help because they so desperately want to make the situation right. They want to learn, they want to be better, they want to be there for their community.

Are some officers cut from a different cloth? Yes – and for both good and bad. One night, my husband told me he was going to be late. There was a sniper on a roof top taking shots at civilians on the street. He came home later that evening to tell me that one of the SWAT guys had taken out the sniper. Shot from a building across the way, the sniper was found dead on the hotel floor, a cigarette still smoldering in his mouth. There was a part of me that was mortified. How could the SWAT guy calmly ride the elevator in the building across the parking lot, fully outfitted in SWAT gear, ready to take aim, knowing full well what he had to do? He knew he was about to take a life. How does one do that?!? How?? I’m not made from that cloth. But this officer was. And thank God.

Not too long after taking out a deadly threat, I’m sure that officer was back on the street helping a six year old with his bike because the chain had come off. (And before some people come in here and tell me it’s sentimentalism, I watched just a thing happen.)

41 thoughts on “Comment Of The Day: “A Cop’s Lament…and Threat (Plus A Poll)”

  1. Sir Robert Peel ‘s

    Principles of Law Enforcement

    1829

    1. The basic mission for which police exist is to prevent crime and disorder as an alternative to the repression of crime and disorder by military force and severity of legal punishment.

    2. The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval of police existence, actions, behavior and the ability of the police to secure and maintain public respect.

    3. The police must secure the willing cooperation of the public in voluntary observance of the law to be able to secure and maintain public respect.

    4. The degree of cooperation of the public that can be secured diminishes, proportionately, to the necessity for the use of physical force and compulsion in achieving police objectives.

    5. The police seek and preserve public favor, not by catering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolutely impartial service to the law, in complete independence of policy, and without regard to the justice or injustice of the substance of individual laws; by ready offering of individual service and friendship to all members of society without regard to their race or social standing, by ready exercise

    of courtesy and friendly good humor; and by ready offering of individual sacrifice in protecting and preserving life.

    6. The police should use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning

    is found to be insufficient to achieve police objectives; and police should use only the minimum degree of physical force which is necessary on any particular occasion for

    achieving a police objective.

    7. The police at all times should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police are the only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the intent of the community welfare.

    8. The police should always direct their actions toward their functions and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary by avenging individuals or the state, or

    authoritatively judging guilt or punishing the guilty.

    9. The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with them

    • “The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval of police existence, actions, behavior and the ability of the police to secure and maintain public respect.”

      Sir Robert Peel developed his ideals in a racially homogeneous society in which there was very little upward mobility. He also did not have to contend with race baiters like Al Sharpton and Leftist professors who incite student unrest and use them as canon fodder to achieve their theoretical utopian society.

  2. “… the police commander who warns that cops might just decide that remaining on the job isn’t worth the abuse ..”

    If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. Any cop who decides that remaining on the job is too hard for them should leave, immediately, without anyone criticising them for their manifest unsuitability for police work.

    Could I stand it? Almost certainly not. Certainly not for long, too psychologically stressful.

    • Zoe, have you ever worked closely with cops? I did, for years, when I was working EMS in the Boston area. The job was plenty hard and dangerous enough back then. It’s become exponentially harder and more dangerous since – especially lately.

      You say ‘if they can’t stand the heat…’, and to an extent that’s true. Problem is: adopt that approach and you’ll quickly run out of people who can and should be entrusted with the job.

      Yes, they could get out of the kitchen. Far better to turn off the goddamned oven.

      • Exactly, AIM. The, “if cops can’t stand the pressure for the crappy pay they get, they should get another job,” is awful. If cop haters really want that to happen, we’ll have to start importing Serbian or Russian psychos to staff our police departments, or something desperate like that.

  3. Alicia wrote, “I also work as an actress in crisis intervention training; helping departments train their officers in how to handle members of the community who are in the midst of a mental health crisis. I see their faces when they look into my eyes while I rant and rave and cuss them out. I see their faces when they look to their fellow officers for help because they so desperately want to make the situation right. They want to learn, they want to be better, they want to be there for their community.”

    Some years ago when I was active in the area acting scene I worked with a fellow actor friend who was on an area police force. He worked in conjunction with the area Police Academy regularly training new police officers how to test and deal with different levels of drunken civilians. We actually had our favorite liquor poured out into baby bottles and had mixers provided so the staff could accurately measure the amount of alcohol intake each of that actors participating ingested each hour. We had all kinds of predefined scenarios that officers regularly face to throw at them, it was a lot more than just testing to see if someone was beyond the legal limit but that was certainly big part of it. To give you an idea, some of it was similar to some of the direct confrontational training we had for United States Army Cadets during their advanced camp training; I walked out of there with bruises sometimes because it was supposed to get unexpectedly physical sometimes. Yes, the look on some of the trainees faces was interesting. They all got an immediate after action review with each encounter they faced and got to apply what they learned in relative short order multiple times until their reactions were consistent with what the training staff was looking for. These were very small classes (around five trainees) with lots of one-on-one attention. The training seemed to work well.

    • That’s great! We work with local social workers and hospital personnel who help guide the actor’s work. Unlike imbibing alcohol to give a realistic scenario, I am not in fact a bi-polar schizophrenic who is off her meds. Although, the social workers tell me my portrayal is spot on. I’m not sure if that good or bad.

      Like your situation, our scenarios are pre-defined but only the supervisors, the actors, and the social workers know in advance. The officer is simply told “you are being sent on a call to a laundromat where a woman has been seen pacing back and forth and is having a conversation with a dryer.” Unlike your situation, there is no physical contact. I would end up getting really hurt. And the object of the exercise is for the officer to learn to de-escalate using dialogue instead of physical contact. It’s great work on both sides as I don’t know what reaction I’m going to get from the officer. So, as an actress, I’m constantly shooting from the hip (no pun intended). The officer, in turn, gets to deal with me! Ha! It also helps that I’m not a cop. I don’t think like a cop. Departments have found that when they use other officers for this type of training, the officers spend most of the day trying to see how they can f*ck with each other and no work gets done.

      I’ve also worked in hostage negotiation which is another beast.

      Thanks for sharing your story!

  4. As I said in the thread, this is a perfect comment.

    Policing is a complicated, difficult, and dangerous profession. As professionals, the police deserve our support and trust, but they also must be held accountable to their profession and their community. I think most police are willing and able to accept that accountability.

    Police unions are a big problem, maybe the biggest problem. They act to protect officers with poor professional reputations from either getting retrained or fired. They act to protect officers from the consequences of bad behavior on the job, and ensure that they don’t lose their jobs when any other professional would.

    The biggest police reform we need now are to either bust the unions totally or remove their ability to retain bad apples or protect them from the consequences of their actions.

    • Glen
      While I tend to agree with you we have to recognize that mayors and chiefs are political animals who would sell out anyone if it kept them off the hot seat.

      We cannot afford rogue cops protected by unions but we cannot afford timid cops who won’t intervene if they think the politicians won’t back them at all under any circumstances. We need better review boards populated by reasonable people. Putting activists with an agenda on such boards is as bad as unions protecting their own.

      • “mayors and chiefs are political animals who would sell out anyone if it kept them off the hot seat.”

        Chris, that’s exactly what’s going on in the 77 Square Miles Surrounded By A Sea Of Reality as we speak:

        Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway APOLOGIZES After Backlash For Video To Madison Police Officers

        Her (GASP) unconscionable transgression? Issuing a “private” video expressing gratitude and sympathy for the Madison Police Department because they got pummeled with hatred and dangerous projectiles by, you know, like, peaceful protesters.

        One of the local Über Morons Savant (Brandi Grayson/Urban Triage) is actually referring to this as “White Supremacy.”

        Ferchrissakes!! The Mayor is LGBT/Progressive Dane; she’s so far left makes AOC look like a Goldwater Republican!

        The world (my portion of it, leastways) is being shaven by a drunken barber.

      • I understand, but we are faced with an intractable Gordian knot here. The unions perform a vital function, but by doing so in their current form, they make accountability impossible and foment unrest.

        The status quo is untenable. The unions are the most logical place to correct the problem, perhaps the only place that will actually do it. Plus, we don’t necessarily have to get rid of them completely. Arbitration could be the answer, taking the decision away from both the politicians and the union apparatchiks. But something has to give.

  5. Alicia (aka La Sylphide);
    Congrats on the excellent and obviously heartfelt COTD!
    Your comment accurately captured the attitude and dedication of the vast majority of those who choose a police career.
    One troubling thing (of many) that I noticed during my last decade of service was that many of the young people interviewing and being hired for law enforcement positions were very up front about the fact that they were not planning on spending a career in policing. They were interested in having the experience, in finding out “what it was like,” or perhaps just working with us until something better came along. For many, the job was a fairly well-paying alternative for someone with the required high school education and the ability to complete academy training. At any rate, the failure to dedicate oneself to a career signaled a lack of commitment to really learning the craft. Now to be fair, some of these changed their minds and became professed “lifers,” but many did not. I suspect these officers will be among the first to “walk away.”

    • My ex also noticed a change in attitude in new recruits. For one, the work ethic was non-existent. Being late for line up was met with a shrug of the shoulders. The incident I remember the most was a new recruit informing him that she “was not a social worker”. His response was “it’s ALL social work!”

      • The craziest single incident that I experienced occurred in our regional police academy when I was on the firearms training staff. On the first day at the range classroom (week five of the academy) when recruits were supposed to first bring their handguns, one male cadet arrived without his weapon. When questioned about this, he told the director that he was going to “take a pass” on the firearms training because he didn’t think he could shoot a person. The director asked him how he had failed to realize that the firearms training was mandatory and that he had no alternative if he wanted to graduate. The student really had no answer, and steadfastly refusing to participate in firearms training he exercised his option to withdraw from the academy later that day. It was about the weirdest attitude from a cadet that I ever encountered!

        • I’m laughing so hard right now. I know I shouldn’t be but it’s the gallows humor that comes with the job (or having been a wife to the job).

          When my ex was in street crimes (street level drugs and prostitution) he had the best stories. One night he called me to tell me he had busted up his wrist getting into a fight with a tranny hooker. My response? “That’s too bad, dear. Can you pick up a gallon of milk on your way home?”

          Good times, good times.

        • James,
          I’ve run into similar problems with some ridiculously absurd nonsense presented by Cadets and Privates in training to get out of some of the training, they were always met with swift attitude adjustments for their absurdity. It was extremely rare that they would be separated from the military but it’s not completely unheard of, I personally know of one that was separated from the military while attending BCT at Ft. Knox after being completely defiant about everything and going AWOL from training multiple times. The military doesn’t need people with this kind of mentality, it’s better to make examples of these trainees but if it continues then isolate and/or get rid of them so their attitude problems doesn’t poison the rest of the platoon being trained – never return them to the same training platoon.

          I’ve heard from reliable military sources that there are many “snowflakes” that get into training these days and start whining and complaining from day one. Some make it through training and then when they get stuck in their unit they start causing trouble.

    • James, what you describe is NOT dissimilar to what’s happening in many other lines of work. Many of us grew up with the idea that we’d really only have a small handful of jobs in our career; we might rise within a given organization, but we’d remain within that organization (or a similar one) for most of our working lives.

      GenX started questioning that, and many Millennials discard it completely. They are much more likely to bounce from gig to gig, even industry to industry, than their grandparents were. In my experience, many Millenials are very smart, but many also lack the fortitude and willingness to weather bad experiences with the idea that things will get better if only they stick it out. They’re more prone to leaving than learning how to deal with things.

      There’s another aspect to this, too. Police and fire departments have long been quite clannish. The old stereotype of the Irish NYC cop really no longer applies, but at one time, it wasn’t unfair: law enforcement was one of the few fields in which the Irish could find steady, secure work – and the sons followed their fathers into the field (many professional firefighters have also been second- and third-generation).

      But over time, it would appear likely that that’s happening less and less. For one thing, there’s a political imperative to diversify within these organizations. Second, while one may presume that many law enforcement and firefighter families are proud when their kids continue in the family business, many others most assuredly are not. Why would a parent encourage their children to go into a line of work that’s dirty, dangerous and exposes the worst of humanity, when they have the option of taking on work that’s cleaner, safer and probably better paying?

      • Why would a parent encourage their children to go into a line of work that’s dirty, dangerous and exposes the worst of humanity, when they have the option of taking on work that’s cleaner, safer and probably better paying?

        Indeed. I remain mystified as to how our cities staff their police departments.

  6. Thank you all for your incredibly kind comments. I was a bit surprised this morning to wake to “comment of the day.” It is a comment I honestly didn’t think too much about. I just wrote what came from my heart. I’m humbled that it has been so graciously received. Thank you again.

    Alicia

    • “I just wrote what came from my heart.”

      Yeah, we know. That’s what we like about it. Great job and congrats.

      –Dwayne

  7. I should warn you that I am both an extreme right-wing activist and a gay man who has suffered police wrongdoing. First was when our homophobic neighbors called the police because my husband Gary and i were having a loud argument. I had a large black eye because I had fallen off of a curb after a dinner the night before and the cops thought Gary had beaten me in the argument and arrested him. We are lucky because even thought we are gay we are white and when they learned that my husband is a local celebrity, Gary Stone the designer of the silent soil-powered alarm clock, they let him go. Then a few weeks later I was pulled over for DUI even though I’d only had six small cocktails that night, they were all white Russians barely any alcohol in them and I’m an enormously fat man who can drink a lot. Protect and serve much?

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