The most recent ambush and brutal murder of two patrol officers in Las Vegas is particularly disturbing to me. Officers being killed in the line of duty is not new. Even the targeting of specific officers involved in under cover or anti-drug operations is more common than most may think. Having some psyhopathic anti-government whack job engaging in a gun battle on a traffic stop has been occurring for decades. Being a cop is dangerous, you have always had to keep your head on a swivel. But, walking up behind a random patrol officer and shooting them in the back of the head while they are re-filling their drink cup is. It bares more resemblance to the fiction seen in cop shows these days. Occurring in reality it is a truly sad commentary on the state of American society today.
I get it, cops can be evil, just like any other human. Power can be misused or abused by government, one need only look at our current president to see that. I am not sure our federal government has ever demonstrated a more clear disdain for the rule of law, certainly not in my lifetime. I certainly share some of the concern as to how warrants are served, force is used, and the task of law enforcement is performed. But the solution is found at the ballot box, not a pizza parlor in Las Vegas.
The vast majority of police officers are good people doing a difficult job. They throw on a uniform, jump in a patrol car and do nothing more than respond to requests for assistance. Most of what they do, or don’t do is strictly proscribed by law, policy, and or the result of numerous law suits. Officer discretion these days amounts to the route they take to a call in their patrol car. They are not driving around looking for rights to violate or people to oppress. Especially at the local level most share the public’s concern as to where law enforcement is headed these days. Truth is 99% of those officers and agents working the streets of America are hard working honorable people just like everyone else.
So, why is ambushing and murdering police officers any different? While the government abusing the rule of law is historically a disturbing precedent and indicative of a degradation of freedom, targeting those who represent it for nothing more than wearing the uniform is not normal. Contrary to the prevailing dogma, it is not some battle or war against those “oppressed” by the cops. It is a broader commentary on society and does nothing but set in stone an “us and them” attitude further polarizing society. At some point this divide will become so wide there will be no closing it. It is time we as a society took steps to stop it. At least for now we still can, it just means the majority needs to take hold of the fringe. Thanks to the power of the Internet the fringe has more power than ever, to be ignored at our own risk. Not quashed or silenced, but over taken with a loud and clear expression of the values that made this country great.
Police agencies need to aggressively deal with excessive uses of force and abuses of power. Time to stop hiring based on test scores. Instead lets hire ethical people with strong values. Common sense used to prevail, time to return to that, and a recognition the ability to use power and force does not necessarily mean it is required. Use it when necessary, but not at every turn. It is a tool, not a doctrine.
The brutal and sociopathic murder of an officer eating lunch is disturbing, at least to any normal human. Yet, the Internet is populated with people relishing this murder. Somehow these officers “deserved” it, because of something law enforcement did? It is a “revolution”, or “response” to the oppression of the evils of government. Calls for the further murder of cops are seen, tolerated, even encouraged on supposed “police” related sites. I guess it drives hits, and we all know how important that is (sarcasm). Its easy to write it off as computer ninjas, Zombie killers, or anti-government zealots. Problem is we have been doing that for years, and it is manifesting itself on the streets of America, the murder of these two officers being a perfect indication. We need to ask ourselves if this is the America we want? If not, what are we going to do about it?
My current profession involves writing, training, and teaching to a largely civil and armed citizenry. Most are hard working and honorable people who value the rule of law and work to protect themselves , along with theirs and others rights. Most quietly observe the abhorrent and presumably anomalous behavior of the “few” decrying it as abnormal. Its time we stopped quietly complaining and took action. Despite what may be occurring today we remain a government of the people, and the silent majority these days can no longer remain silent. Its time for those in the media, Internet, and the like to stop glorifying outrageous behavior for the sake of hits, arguments, and sales. The rest of us need to get off the couch and vote out those willing to usurp power and vote in those who understand governments limitations. Maybe ethics and morality are not such bad things here either, it certainly seems to be absent now. Either way, it is time to get off the sidelines, if we are not careful we will get exactly the America we allow, not the one we want.
When it comes to the relationship between police officers and the public the best course has been known for years. For decades those of us working the streets were keenly aware it is a joint effort. Long before the advent of “community policing” street officers knew what community meant. Police are the public, and the public are the police. Its time we remembered that. Rather than taking sides and blaming each other while arming for some final confrontation it is time we joined in fighting those who seek to increase the divide. Allowing actions taken like that in Las Vegas to stand as anything other than the acts of a psychopathic and perverted ideology do nothing but feed the fire, setting sides, and encouraging more abhorrent behavior.
It seems this is not new, as a few saw this a century or more ago.
Joseph de Maistre – “Every nation gets the government it deserves.”
Alexis de Tocqueville – “The best laws cannot make a constitution work in spite of morals; morals can turn the worst laws to advantage.”