I Don’t Trust Cops   Leave a comment

This is Brad. My lovely wife consented to me posting if I didn’t get too crazy, so here’s me being light and humorous for a good cause.

I don’t trust cops. Maybe that seems odd to you because I have previously admitted that I am white. My “privilege” ought to make me mostly immune, right? White men never have anything to fear from cops. Right? That’s the mantra we’re supposed to believe. It’s important to say “Black Lives Matter” and it’s racist to point out that All Lives ought to matter.

Bull! There may be some black people who believe that and they sure want middle-class mostly-white America to believe it, but the fact is — cops are mostly about oppressing anyone who isn’t a cop.

Before I came to Alaska, I lived in a lot of places but I spent most of my teenage years in Staten Island and Ossining New York. Staten Island taught me early not to trust cops or Puerto Ricans. I’m sorry if you’re a Puerto Rican. It’s nothing personal, but a chick stabbed me in the back (literally) there. Why? I have no idea. I’m going to blame it on the color of my skin versus the color of her skin because I didn’t know her and I never received any explanation for why she would do that. So, I’m a little slow to warm up to Puerto Ricans. I know that about myself and I try to set it aside, but the fact is — once stabbed, twice shy.

The inner city can be a scary place and Ossining was filled with the children of residents of Sing Sing. Yes, that’s where the infamous prison is. In both places, I made friends by being one of the cool kids. We didn’t call it parkour yet, but we climbed walls, jumped alleys (not making that up), jumped over cars from our skateboards (not making that up either and unlike Tony Hawks, I did not need a ramp), and basically raised hell in the urban environment. To my knowledge, we never hurt anyone, stole anything or otherwise threatened anyone’s existence, but the cops hated us and my parents were called at least three times because I was having fun without official permission.

The thing is, most of my friends were white kids. It wasn’t a bigotry thing. I had a few black friends too (I was the cool white kid who could run up walls twice as high as our heads; of course they wanted to be my friend), but for some reason bussing integrated my neighborhood with Puerto Rican kids and not that many blacks. I can’t name a single black kid in my neighborhood who ever got in trouble for the things I did. They got in trouble for doing real shit — burglaries, burning down a fruit stand, strong-arming little old ladies for their Social Security. Maybe it’s just me, but I think those are real crimes that ought to be subject to police scrutiny. Parkour … not so much. Odd observation – the black kids that were hanging out with me … they didn’t get into trouble. Maybe they were better at outrunning the cops (although I was track team fast back in those days) or maybe the cops figured they were channeling their rebellion into healthier pursuits than armed robbery, but for some reason, they were exempt from being busted for having fun. Us white kids … no, we had to be controlled. Now, hanging out on street corner … for some reason, black people hanging out on street corners freaked the cops out more than our running up walls. Just an observation from my childhood.

I have a lot more stories, but Lela drew some lines around what I could share. I think you get the picture. I don’t like cops for a reason. I like to test the “wet paint” sign and if there are lines, I will waver over them just to see if they really have meaning. I’m not looking to hurt anyone, steal anything or damage anyone’s property, but I have difficulty following arbitrary rules that seemingly exist for no reason. If I’m capable of jumping over your car without even touching it, you shouldn’t object. And, the cops shouldn’t be able to arrest me for doing it if I didn’t do any harm.

So, what prompted this post was that I was stuck in traffic yesterday and watched as police pulled some guy over for a minor traffic violation. I had Lela verify this with a local reporter friend and it started as a brake light. I had all the time in the world thanks to construction delays to watch. First a single cop pulled the guy over and then two more police cars appeared. They all had their hands on their guns as they surrounded the car … for a freaking brake light. The one officer talked to the guy, who seemed nervous. Yeah, I’d be nervous too, guy, with five Kelvared cops standing around my car with their hands on their guns. Lela used her computer skills to check on the guy’s name and he got busted for possession of pot about 20 years ago. Pot, by the way, is now pretty much legal under Alaska law. Apparently the cop asked him if he could his vehicle. I’d have agreed in that situation too, dude. While the search was underway, the officer handcuffed this guy and humiliated him in front of everybody waiting for the construction to clear. And … then … then they uncuffed the guy and let him go. Lela says the police blotter recorded a citation for a brake light and noted his “cooperation” with “necessary protocols” and that the “suspect” appeared shifty. Yeah, the prospect of a traffic stop being escalated into being shot to death would make me appear shifty too.

For years now, I have been saying that cops ought to be treated like firemen. It’s not like they stop pretty much any crime from happening. It took them three hours to figure out what to do in Orlando and a couple of hours in San Bernardino. It took them two or three days of harassing innocent people to catch the Boston Bombers. When they are out patrolling the streets, if they don’t find trouble, they create it. They apparently feel they are authorized to mete out the death penalty for minor infractions and they don’t stop actual crimes. So why are they out there?

To oppress people and force us into compliance is what I think. You shoot one lawfully armed motorist and the rest of the country begins to rethink whether they should exercise their Constitutional right to bear arms or deny a Terry search. After all, are your rights worth being shot dead? Studies show that cops are a whole lot safer in the jobs today than workers in my profession. I’m an electrician. We are killed on the job at a rate nearly three times what cops are. Nobody authorizes me to shoot my coworkers for doing stupid, unsafe things on the job that endanger my life, so why are cops authorized deadly force?

Yeah, yeah, Lela already covered this.

I believe cops should stay at the police station and watch training videos in how to treat civilians with respect and due care, maybe with a perpetual loop that says “Ordinary people are not the enemy” over and over.

When the rare call comes in, they can be dispatched to the scene with body cameras that cannot be taken off or otherwise disabled. If they are involved in shooting a civilian, they should be tried for murder … just like you or I would be if we shot someone who didn’t draw a gun on us.

And while we’re at it, since we’re discussing who ought to be disarmed … the police kill far more citizens than all the mass shootings do … so, to be perfectly safe and fair, the police ought to be the first ones to give up their guns. Imagine the much more humble attitude they would exhibit at a traffic stop if the public was still armed, but they were not. Of course, there would be far fewer traffic stops if they had to remain at the police station until a call came in.

Just a prediction … if the cops stayed back at the barn until needed and didn’t have guns, but the public retained its right to protect itself … we’d see a huge drop in gun-related violence. I think it would reduce societal pressures incredibly. That’s just a theory based on a childhood of watching police oppression in action. Let’s test it. I, for one, would be glad to not see another cop for the rest of my life.

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