Public Safety ‘Equal Justice’ Warriors Symbolize What Lacks Among Politicians

By: - October 15, 2018

Since childhood I witnessed and envied the camaraderie among police officers, firefighters and soldiers. I especially gravitated toward NYPD cops working the Brooklyn beat. Something always stirred. I knew it immediately: I’d be a policeman. I wanted to be a part of such a group which, despite the floor dropping out on a daily basis, took the fight to the bad guy posturing in a fast-moving metropolis. Working together to get the job done. Overcoming adversity millisecond to millisecond. The excitement perpetuated by eventually becoming a cop and experiencing those goosebumps from thrills and chills born of life-saving feats and cornering monsters mounted, even with a few cancer curveballs thrown in along the way. My blue family carried me through that ordeal as well; I never had to ask/want for a thing. Meekly, they just made it happen.

Indeed, sometimes the outlook for cops looks bleak. A modernized and increasingly populating society (not necessarily including more cops) can expect the ratio between police and citizens to be imbalanced. Thank goodness for the majority of law-abiding folks who wish to always do the right thing. But the polar opposite type of “citizen” has no desire to do right, no will to exist peaceably, and every intent to malign social settlements. Cops come to the rescue, and some even find themselves engulfed in the fight of their lives…for their lives. For yours.

Among law enforcement agencies in the United States there are a handful of numerical codes that, when spoken via police radio, are designed to summon back-up to help quell troubles brought about by the monster(s). My department had a hierarchy of codes to request additional officers, from the subdued “routine back-up” code to the Defcon-1 “trouble, send help” signal. In my neck of the woods, “10-24” was the polar opposite of the “routine back-up” code; it meant a life-or-death encounter was in progress and the cavalry was necessary forthwith. Unless already on a “hot call,” every cop dropped whatever less-important assignment they were working and raced full-bore to the scene, ready to get their hands dirty.

There is an odd thrill, a bittersweet experience, in being a cop rocketing to the aid of other cops. You know the emergency-mode velocity is one danger while propelling to another danger. Without sounding reckless, when it comes to rendering aid and salvation, you do what you gotta do. You also know that the preciousness of life can be extinguished while en route to whatever violent encounter is unfolding. And, yes, sirens do catapult adrenaline—although it varies among cops, for me it wore off after about two years. Albeit never one for stunt junkies, I must admit the exhilaration from being in that driver’s seat is unparalleled.

I’ve been on both sides of that police radio blast—both calling for exigent help and responding with same. The feeling that brothers/sisters are on the way, especially when you hear the fast-approaching sirens soon followed by the flashing red/blue strobes painting the night air, galvanizes family bonds and co-preservation. It is reassuring.

Like the military, an unforgettable credo in law enforcement is cohesion. If it is not a team effort coalesced by camaraderie, it has the appearance of an atrophied body of do-nothings.

Recently, the Senate debacle stemming from Judge Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings illustrated the polar opposite of embodied camaraderie and oneness. Both political parties perched together, in one room they’ve shared countless times, evinced vileness, counterintuitive behaviors, basically…oil/water principles. If ever there were a time when America’s politicians demonstrated why most folks detest politics, this was a glaring illustration. Defiling American governance seems to be the new normal. The rhetoric played out. The adolescent theatrics culminated in a walk-out, snubbing others’ perspectives. To those elected officials who were put there to mete-out nation-based resolutions and felt it appropriate to depart the formal dais and go whine in the hallway, doing so is nothing shy of renouncing due process and careless flushing of tax dollars.

There’s no secret or ambiguity regarding the notion of sore losers huffing, puffing, and browbeating since their political candidate failed to secure the U.S. Presidency. Tectonic shifts immediately shook the foundations of American governance, and it persists like it’s nobody’s business. Throughout this week’s reports, the inundation of elements factoring into potential civil war indicate that the divide is not just a sound bite but a palpable reality.

Do cops have their differences? Of course. Usually police officers differ on things such as tactical maneuvering or expanding forensic processing of a crime scene or proficiency in defensive tactics—nothing earth-shattering. Even though all police recruits are taught uniform police principles while training at the police academy, some come out and hit the streets with rebellious do-it-my-way ideations. As a field training officer (FTO), I saw these sorts and refit them back into the police mold for which they were hired, fulfilling my professional responsibility. Despite this, however, each and every copper had humility and dignity, set aside differences, and courageously prepared to enter a fray from which they knew they may not reappear. No matter the outcome, esprit de corps was/is the muscle of the law enforcement family.

Cops have the shared values of law-and-order, due process, and equal justice. That is not necessarily the case among many of our nation’s elected officials employing what Senator Lindsey Graham called “garbage tactics.” Check out Jon Harris’ analysis published by OpsLens. Or Daniel Greenfeld’s piece titled “How Democrat Rage is Destroying America.” Both are fine explorations of our seemingly crumbling political hub, those who occupy it, and a growing cultish reverence.

Divided We Fall

This morning, I read a piece about how Americans have become vastly radicalized, how divided we are as a nation, and the imminency of civil war we mentioned earlier. Michael Snyder encapsulated it this way: “At one time we were a nation that was united by shared values, a shared purpose and a shared destiny, but now all of that has been replaced by anger, frustration, bitterness, strife and discord. The left hates the right and vice versa, and both sides are becoming increasingly radicalized. And without a doubt we are in a life or death battle for the future of America. Eventually one side or the other will emerge victorious, and their ideology will become dominant in this country.” The emotional dynamics Snyder lists are basic human constructs; I believe he means to say some have supplanted virtues which ordinarily culminate in balance and centeredness while others portray angst and anti-everything other than what they posit is the only way: their way. No middle-ground. No compromise. No give-and-take. Just take for the sake of taking, trading inherent perils to law-abiding citizenry for social justice accomplishments.

Existentially speaking, Snyder points out that there can only be one winner. In the case of the national political arena, we the people have every expectation that, although some bickering may arise, negotiations will result in what is best for the majority. We are seeing less and less of that expected fulfillment. Chairpersons presiding over federal committees are undermined and overtaken by pushy mouthpieces and bully tactics determined to squash dignity and toss flashbangs at decorum. Again, it is painful/embarrassing to watch, leading to the apathy poles denounce when it threatens their chances at retaining powerful seats.

In terms of law enforcement officials supporting each other and the public safety cause on behalf of citizens, the radicalization Snyder talks about is increasingly touted in anti-this or anti-that, condemning police for even sneezing on duty, while others’ freedom of speech and freedom of expression telegraph arrogance and boldness under the gigantic lens of public view. Call it rude and offensive, but cops also defend one’s constitutional rights to display idiocy, providing it doesn’t physically harm anyone. It may hurt someone’s feelings, but that is allowed.

“A man was wearing this shirt last night at a bar in Lakewood, Ohio. I was not present but my friend was and they sent me this shot in disgust. It is absolutely absurd how some people choose to represent themselves out in public. The majority of our country loves and supports our law enforcement officers and that is what truly matters.” (Credit: Brie Dior/Law Enforcement for Life!)

After Snyder’s article, I pored over the words recently written by one of my former police chiefs. He offered: “I don’t know how many of you watched ‘Bull’ last night but I did. When it first started I honestly thought Here we go again, another TV show trying to divide America by race again. The story line was about a white female police officer who shot a black male (who was intoxicated) who forced his way into a ladies’ rest room she was using. It looked like a struggle for her service weapon that was on the sink but his attorney, who was suing the city for 25 million dollars, insisted it was because he had to vomit and the men’s room was occupied. I ran the scenario through my head adding many different factors and taking away some to try and figure out what happened. It did not turn out as I thought it would, at all, and if you watched it I’m sure you experienced the same feelings. Now, why am I taking the time to write this today?

“During the show a black trial prep lawyer on Bull’s team had a conversation with his black daughter about ‘The Talk’ his father had with him when he was 14, about interactions with the police. He made it sound like all black fathers had to in order to protect their sons from the police. It made it sound like the ‘talk’ was because of race and that upset me more than a little. I was a police officer for 40 years. I worked ‘the ghetto’ and I worked the rich neighborhoods. I have 2 sons and 4 daughters and I can tell you that I had the same ‘talk’ with both of my sons at about the same age. Why? Because I knew that even though they weren’t driving yet, many of their friends were. I also knew that they may choose a friend who may have issues with the law. I knew they most likely wouldn’t know it because I had faith in their choice of friends. I knew at that age we all made mistakes and the chances of being pulled over in a car or stopped as a pedestrian were not only possible but likely.

“I told them almost the exact same thing the prep lawyer was told by his father at that age. I hope every parent would tell their sons and daughters. The officer is always right on the street. If he or she is wrong, that’s what the court room is for.

“Don’t speak unless spoken to, and then answer honestly and respectfully.

“Be respectful, compliant, and immediately obedient. No matter what kind of day you had and no matter how angry or scared you might be, the officer may be just as scared and/or had a worse day…the officer is always right on the street.

“If your friend has a mouth or attitude, distance yourself immediately—physically and verbally. The officer will maintain control and you do not want to get caught in between.

“I really wish we could stop trying to divide Americans and try to unite Americans. I guess our Founding Fathers knew what they were talking about when they coined the phrase (no pun intended) ‘United we stand, divided we fall.’ I think the liberals trying to destroy our republic know that too.”

Inherent in the chief’s message is respect for law and order and due process. Also paramount is working together instead of clobbering each other with hurtful words and laying the groundwork for an all-or-nothing brawl.

Even if there are enough elements forming the foundation for civil war, I submit the police are as readied as can be. After all, their already difficult job has been challenged and tested beyond belief, especially by those radicalized politicians priming the nation’s roughly 900,000 police officers for the next wave of absurdities thrown their way. many believe politicians are perpetuating angst-driven constituents, basically congealing elements of a needless battle versus amicable dividends. It sure seems crazy nowadays.

A June 2016 article in the New York Post exposed a flip-flop thesis formed by the American Journal of Political Science, claiming “that liberal political beliefs, not conservative ones, are actually linked to psychoticism.” According to Danika Fears’ report, “psychoticism is associated with traits such as tough-mindedness, risk-taking, sensation-seeking, impulsivity and authoritarianism.” Although not every one of those components is necessarily bad, we’ve witnessed all of those factors among many politicians throughout myriad hearings and media spots. Throw tantrum in there and you have the political cherry; for cops, it’s merely on to the next call.

Police instill equal justice; many poles indoctrinate social justice…or at least bully for such, hence divvying the American pie as they deem suitable for personal desires and political power. Never mind right vs. wrong.

In his book “Character and Cops,” Edwin J. Delattre wrote: “How people behave…usually matters more than what they say. Even children sense hypocrisy. Officials whose behavior belies their words get the contempt they deserve from their colleagues. Moreover, moralizing can be offensive and tiresome and may sound self-righteous.” Delattre added, “…immaturity and self-indulgence are incompatible with the trust of public office. We all have weakness, of course, but we also have obligations to root them out when they impair our capacity to serve faithfully. Individuals must do this for themselves, no laws or policies can do it for them, although specific institutional policies may either encourage our best or indulge our worst selves.” How would you apply that to the recent Kavanaugh nomination hearings?

“If he wishes to establish himself in the good will of the Country, the only durable as well as honorable plan will be to establish a character that merits it,” James Madison once stipulated.

Like mortally wounded soldiers being carried or dragged from the smoldering battlefield, I’d prefer a noble co-warrior whose cause was identical to mine be the one removing me from the arena of operation (depicted in the feature photo), not a termed individual who has misguided ideations and a self-serving agenda to achieve.

I am not suggesting cops are perfect organisms, but they are far more disciplined and constituted than many so-called nation builders. Tacit adherence to rule of law and equal justice or cacophonous diatribe clawing for social justice. What’s your flavor?