I believe it is true that law enforcement is being targeted more today than in the past.
I believe it is true that some, I repeat some
LEOs are responsible for this in some part, by their attitude towards those they are sworn to
But I also believe the problem goes much deeper. It is a runaway effect that goes something like this:
Joe Blow is an upstanding citizen; he works hard for what he has, pays his bills and taxes, and tries to live in peace. Bob Villain is a guy who has
never lived this way, and instead tries to get by the best he can... usually by stealing from others. One day, Bob is looking for a good time and sees
Joe's house. Bob thinks, "It's not fair that Joe has all those nice things and I can't afford to get a pack of smokes." So what does Bob do? He robs
Joe comes home and sees his house has been robbed. He does what he has been told to do all his life: he calls the police. A couple of officers come
out to his house and make out a report. Joe wants his stuff back, or at least wants the satisfaction of knowing that this dastardly deed will be
punished. No such luck. The police make out their report and leave, and Joe is left to clean up the mess.
So Joe buys an alarm system.
A couple of weeks later, Bob is out of money again. He revisits Joe's house and makes off with more of Joe's possessions. The alarm system works, but
it works too slow. By the time the alarm is triggered at the CO, a verification call is placed to the home, another call is placed to the police
department, and the police arrive at Joe's house, there is nothing left to do but make out another report. Joe comes home in the middle of it all and
the police, thinking that Joe might be the suspect, begin to question him.
Now Joe is outraged.
During the questioning, Joe makes a few angry statements... after all, he has been robbed twice and the only thing the police have done (in his eyes)
is accuse him of robbing his own house! The response is that Joe is threatened with arrest for being uncooperative.
So Joe buys a gun for protection.
A week later, Bob is out late at night and needs money again. He goes back to Joe's house and sneaks in. While he is again stealing Joe's belongings,
Joe wakes up and hears someone rummaging around in his house. Joe grabs the gun and goes to protect his belongings. He's scared, sleepy, and a little
disoriented, but he at least realizes not to just shoot at anything he sees. He catches Bob in the kitchen and yells for him to stop. Bob, trapped
with Joe between him and the exit, sees the gun and makes a break for it. Joe shoots, but misses Bob, and Bob escapes.
Joe is now terrified. Bob buys a gun himself, on the black market.
A patrol car happens to hear the noise and arrives at the scene in time to see Bob running away. Inside the house he finds Joe, shaking visibly from
terror and holding a gun. The cop draws his taser and tases Joe. "for his own safety". When Joe is able to talk, he realizes his mistake, but refuses
to even acknowledge it. Instead, he arrests Joe for discharging a firearm in the city limits and takes him to the police station to be booked and
released awaiting trial.
Joe now has a criminal record and has been robbed again for the third time in a month.
Is it any wonder Joe would become suspicious and distrustful of law enforcement?
Here's the same scenario not so long ago: Bob robs Joe the first time. Joe discovers the robbery and calls the police. The police can still do little
more than make out a report, but one officer promises Joe they will patrol the area tighter. Two weeks later, Bob decides to break in again, but this
time the police are already close to the scene because they are patrolling the area as promised, and manage to catch Bob exiting the house. At trial,
Bob receives a nice long sentence.
Joe is happy. He has been robbed, but the guy doing it is caught. Joe goes to sleep that night satisfied.
The difference? In days gone by, the simple act of adding a patrol to combat an escalating problem resulted in a resolution to that problem. A simple
statement conveying understanding of Joe's concerns ensured that the experience provided some satisfaction for Joe and prevented him from feeling the
need to escalate his attempts to stay safe.
Today, Joe feels disconnected, unimportant, and threatened both by Bob and by the very police that he has turned to. This leads to Joe's attempt to
protect himself, despite his lack of training. In turn, this along with a more callous approach by law enforcement results in Joe himself becoming a
In rural areas where I live, the situation would still play out as it would in even older times. Bob would have been picked up soon after the first
robbery, because a neighbor would have been able to give police a description. But even if that had not happened, Joe would already have a gun and
know how to use it, and even if he wasn't caught the first two times, Bob's late-night break in would have been his last action. The police response
would have been a formal investigation, but no charges would have been brought against Joe. Joe would have been satisfied in either case and life
would have returned to normal.
Resentment is the most dangerous thing police can face today. They are indeed people too, as has been stated. But they also are people with authority,
and as such have an enhanced responsibility to conduct themselves properly. They are understaffed, making it more difficult to add those special
patrols, but this is in large part due to an escalating atmosphere of mistrust, based on their previous attitudes and leading to more crime. They are
also outgunned in many cases, since the Bobs have become more bold in the face of a reduced probability of capture and punishment.
And so it escalates. Less compassion toward the law-abiding citizenry leads to more distrust. More distrust leads to more self-reliance. More
self-reliance leads to more weaponry, many times in the hands of those unskilled in its use since we have come to rely on police protection more in
society. More weaponry in untrained hands leads to more violence. More violence leads to more calls on police. More calls on police leads to more
pressure on the cops and therefore less compassion. It also leads to a lower probability that Bob will be caught, which leads to more crime. More
crime leads to more calls on police.
And so the spiral goes. The end result will be a complete breakdown of society. As the distrust of the police grows, so the police are required to use
more severe methods in dealing with the general public. Everyone is seen as a criminal first, because the odds are it is true. People begin to think
like a criminal, keeping quiet and in the shadows, further making it difficult for the police. Eventually the police will be completely unable to keep
the peace, and military-style tactics will be used. Indeed, this is already happening. Some will leave the Force, some will harden into little more
than criminals themselves, some will stay and try to fix things... and probably die in the process.
This is the death throe of a free society.
Nothing I have said here should be construed to in any way advocate the use of violence against anyone, including police. In that respect I agree with
projectvxn (expected) and WUK (
). Violence is not the answer. Also, nothing in this should be construed to mean I am against the freedom to
protect oneself using firearms. I simply acknowledge the present phenomena of a lack of training among large segments of society (which is
correctable). But I have doubts as to whether the only real solution can ever be implemented. It will be difficult, almost impossible, now and become
harder as time goes on.
The only way this spiral can be stopped will be a truce between the citizenry and the police. The police will have to give up their total control of
every situation and begin exercising judgment and compassion when confronted with victims. The people will have to give up their distrust of law
enforcement. The abolition of useless and anti-common-sense laws will go a long way toward accomplishing this, but I doubt that will occur. And even
if it does occur, distrust is a hard thing to put aside and police will still have to do their part.
Threads like this, which I agree seem almost desirous of more violence against police, are the exact thing needed if the goal is to accelerate the
spiral. Perhaps someone needs to read the first line of my signature, intact since the first day I joined ATS:
"Be careful what you ask for; you might just get it."
edit on 1/28/2011 by TheRedneck because: (no reason given)