How to deal with Police Bashers
You must always be prepared for the sudden explosive expression of fear and outrage peppered with every obscenity and insult you’ve ever heard on every traffic stop you make. Generally it is fairly easy to stand back and let the person vent. After all, you have the power to write a citation no matter how much the motorist offends you and every cop in existence. Who cares?
But after a high speed chase, with the adrenaline pumping and your focus narrowed, it is much more difficult not to respond aggressively. Your body is crying for release and has a mind of its own. Experts recommend several approaches to the immediate aftermath of a high speed chase, and I don’t want to second guess them. Mainly, it is always important to know how these chases effect you mentally and physically. Once committed to a chase you must stay intensely focused, so it is hard to make a plan for what you will do once the chase is over. So plan in advance.
You know that there are several outcomes once you stop the vehicle. One is that the chase will resume on foot, another is that the subjects will still present a danger to you (start shooting etc.). Those more knowledgeable about police tactics can advise you on these situations. I can tell you, however, that if you make the stop and every indication is that the driver and/or passengers represent no threat, you have some time to compose yourself while still in your car. You can order the occupants of the vehicle to remain still with their hands visible using your PA system. Then you can wait for your back-up. Chew some gum. Do some deep breathing. Sing a little song. Attend to your pulse rate and wait until it goes down to under 80.
Then, approach the car. Not only will you be calmer, but so will the occupants. If they begin to bash you, the more measured your response the better.
Bashing by members of racial minority groups
Racism is a deeply rooted malignancy in our society. The “ghettoization” of a large segment of blacks and Hispanics has locked many into a dead end cycle of poverty, drugs and crime. It is a myth that the reason for this has to do with racial inferiority. The educational opportunities in the inner cities are dismal, the schools are falling apart, the teachers that last become cynical and more occupied by maintaining order than with teaching. Teenaged pregnancy brings more and more children into the cycle.
Police officers rarely choose to life in the ghetto. They are outsiders not only because of the badge and uniform but because they literally are outsiders. The majority of ghetto residents are good people who only want better for their children. They want you to protect their families so their kids half a chance to grow up and better themselves. But who do you see and when do you see them?
The criminals, the druggies, the drunks, the prostitutes, the pimps, the pushers, the abusive spouses and all the low life people may seem to be your “clients”. But in fact, your real clientele are the good people in the community. You often see minorities at their worst, they often see you at your most aggressive. They don’t understand that this “persona” is part of how you do you job. Nor do they understand that you have a compassionate side, a human side. Again, this is what community policing is meant to demonstrate.
When you find yourself being bashed by a member, or members, of the minority community, try to remember all of this. The more you understand their feelings the better. They may be judging you based on experience with officers who were, indeed, racist. Or they may have their own prejudices based on stereotypes perpetrated by their friends, associates, inflammatory rhetoric they hear on the streets and radio. You job isn’t to reinforce their prejudices and their stereotypes. Quite the opposite. You will help all of the law enforcement community if you defy negative stereotypes.
What about being a “rat”?
What happens when you see wrong doing by fellow officers. This is one the most difficult questions in law enforcement. When is it right to police your own fellow officers. There is nothing considered worse than a “rat”, no more thankless job in law enforcement than being a member of Internal Affairs (the “rat squad”). But the failure of the police to purge their ranks of those who abuse their powers, whether against minorities or other citizens, is one of the primary contributors to negative attitudes towards police. There will always be police bashers, but you add fuel to their fire if you help cover up serious wrong-doing by other officers.
Is it ever better to out-bash the bashers?
If the bashing is verbal, why bother? I have read about a hundred police bashing messages, some even in the Police Stressline Guestbook and the Stressline Forum. Crude, insensitive and vile anti-police messages posted in the Forum forced me to change it from being an unmonitored forum where your posting appeared immediately, to one where I have to approve all posted messages before they go online. I gave it about six weeks as a monitored forum and tried opening it again. Within a week he began posting there again so it has been monitored ever since. With the exception of what Steve, the author of the copkiller site who may be open to a dialogue, I have yet to read a police bashing message that didn’t contain numerous spelling and grammar errors. None of them had demonstrated any self-awareness. And if I had to guess as to the IQ’s of the authors, I’d say well below average.
So why on earth would you waste you time bothering to try to out-bash these people? If they are law breakers, be as objective as possible and go absolutely by the book. Don’t open yourself to a charge of discrimination or harassment, but of course, you don’t have to give them any breaks either. Generally, the less you say, beyond Miranda, the better.
Remember, most people like you and appreciate what you do
Dennis Miller, author the the best seller The Rants, writes about cops in the sequel, Ranting Again. He notes:
“Now before I criticize how other people do their jobs, I always ask myself, “Could I do it?” And the answer here is no, because the job of a cop can be more foul than George Kennedy without his BreathAssure. Hey, I just don’t have the temperament. The first time some Chiclet-brain I pulled over for a traffic stop gave me that “Hey, I pay your salary” rap, I’d be too tempted to flip him a quarter and say “here’s a refund f***wad and then start beating on him like he was a Hitler piñata at an (Israeli Secret Service) picnic.”
Miller ends his book with another appreciation to police officers and a cautionary note that misguided Liberals need to consider:
“Sure, I think cops can be brutal sometimes, because it is a brutal world we live in and make them work in. But while we are sleeping in our homes, they are out there on the dirty boulevard trying to make it safe for us in the morning. And for all you ACLU members out there without an A-C-L-U-E: when you hear a noise in the middle of the night outside your house and you fear for your life and call 911, just be glad it’s the cops that show up at your front door and not Alan Derschowitz, because, believe me, if it was Derschowitz, you’d end up more f**ked than a tour group in Amsterdam led by Wilt Chamberlain on Spanish Fly.”
You can’t please all of the people all of the time, and and there will always be abuses of police power which need to be remedied. But as long as you aspire to be a true professional, learn to listen and understand the police bashers and not be “robocop” on aggressive autopilot, you can be part of the solution. Otherwise, I shouldn’t have to remind you that if you sink to the level of the worst police bashers you become part of the problem.