(In light of recent events, I wrote a civilian letter of support to the LAPD. As seen on the LAist website.)
Imagine you are working a customer service job where the majority of your customers hate you. A small number of people respect you but for the most part every customer you encounter gives you attitude and may even go as far as to take a swing at you. Only your fellow coworkers truly know what you go through on a day-to-day basis and they are the only ones you can rely on for understanding. Each day you go to work you get always a fuck you but never a thank you. That’s what I imagine it’s like to be a police officer in the city of Los Angeles.
Despite trying to always do the right thing and enforcing the laws that are put in place they are constantly the target of unjustified hate. I can only imagine how difficult it must be when all of the bad guys hate you and all of the good people are uneasy with your presence. Cops develop a hardened cynical resolve because of the way people treat them. They may come off as controlling assholes but it’s because that’s what they are trained to do for self-preservation. Much like a blowfish you have to make your presence seem bigger because sometimes it’s just one officer and a car/house full of suspects potentially all with weapons.
A police officer’s job description is simply “to protect and to serve”. Their job is to enforce the laws that are put in place even though they themselves may not agree with the law. Many of them personally don’t care that you are smoking weed, rolling through a stop sign, or are part of an unlawful assembly but their job is to enforce these laws. You can’t love them for protecting you from a home invasion but then hate them when they pull you over for speeding. You can’t have it both ways, they are there to protect us.
If you are talking to a cop you probably fucked up. You broke the law. You and only you are at fault.
Cops don’t pull you over randomly or come to your house just to say hello, they are there because you did something wrong. No one in the police department, or the world for that matter, is “out to get you” so how about taking responsibility for your own actions.
I don’t want to hear about how this one time your cousin got arrested and the cops were really rude and yelled at him and handcuffed him all like rough and stuff. Let’s take a step back, why were the cops there to arrest your cousin? What did your cousin do wrong? How did he react when they came to arrest him? Many people probably have had a bad encounter with the police and the fact is there are a few bad apples out there that ruin it for the rest of them. No one likes to think about this but there are also bad doctors, bad actresses, and bad cappuccino makers. There are bad people in every single field of work. With regards to the police department though they are under a constant PR microscope with people just itching to have their prejudgments proved to be true.
Many in society view the police department as just stormtroopers carrying out orders from “the man” but the fact is they make just as much (if not less) money than you and me. Tragically, because of pop culture it has actually become cool to hate cops. In general when people are frustrated by their situation (even if self-inflicted) they will project their anger and hatred on others. For many, the police department is the easy scapegoat.
As a paramedic I love the cops. I am happy to have their presence when I respond to any kind of violent crime such as a gun shot wounds or stabbings, I am happy when they block traffic for me on the freeway, and I am happy when they cite people for not using a child car seat.
Cops are people too with jobs just like you and me and your anger towards them may be misguided. Have some self-accountability and stop generalizing all of them and their actions when they are just trying to do the job they were hired to do. Put simply, if you don’t want to run in to the cops, then don’t break the law.
[Photo: Downtown Los Angeles]