As of a few days ago, I have changed my stance regarding the LEO – FSA distaste I have had in the past. My thoughts went from less “LEO’s suck” to more “LEO’s need PR work and community interactivity training.” THe reason for this change is because I think I have stumbled onto one of the main reasons that not only do the general population dislike LEO’s as of late, but also why LEO’s dislike the general population:
Follow me here and see if this makes sense:
When I was a kid, I remember (vaguely since it WAS a rough night) having a DPS officer in Texas stop and check on me when I was sleeping off a few drinks at a rest area. I was out drinking and then realized that I was obviously drunk once the last drink kicked in, so I stopped to sleep it off – not trashed, just too much to drink to be safe. Basically, the 20 minutes from last drink to BAC increase thing got me so I was probably under the limit when I left, but the last drink settled in and I didn’t want to risk it on the windy roads I was on. The DPS officer made a call, got another officer out there and they drove me home. They thanked me for realizing that I was too drunk to drive and for having pulled over rather than risk it. All was fine. Now I would have been charged with DUI and punished for stopping. This was actually the last “good” interaction with LEO’s that I can remember…..
Fast forward a couple of years: I had someone break into my vehicle and steal my CB, radio, gym bag and some college text books. The LEO informed me that I should have thought about this sort of thing before I bought a Jeep, didn’t take a report and then cited me for a cracked windshield.
Go another couple of years: My house was broken into and we made a report. During this report we got a lecture about not having more secure doors and windows in our military housing unit. We also were told that they don’t look into any of this sort of stuff because “you people” (referring to military) have too many things like this happen. I saw someone riding my bike that was stolen and called the cops to get it back for me. We stood out in front of the kid’s house and waited (because we followed him home so we could get a cop over to return my property). The cop showed up, went to the door, talked to the kid and the kid’s parents then came back to talk to us. He said that the kid did have the bike, the numbers on the bike matched the receipt and registration we had for it, but he was not going to seize it to return to us. No explanation. Just a “contact your attorney.” This was the same response when we saw someone wearing my wife’s leather coat and we called the cops. They followed the person to their home and verified that they had a whole slew of our stolen property. He did get my watch collection and a couple pieces of jewelry back, but told us that he was not going to do anything else about the rest. We had to contact our “attorney.”
Go a few more years and add all sorts of trumped up traffic tickets, harassment, lectures for being a victim of crime, etc…. I lost faith.
Now we see cops that look and act more like an occupying force than those nice DPS officers that drove me home for being responsible and sleeping off a couple drinks. The fact that most LEO’s attitude toward civilians has become more abrupt and less helpful, uniform changes to look more military, less involvement with the population on a daily basis, and the constant bombardment of videos that show cops being jackasses has really changed public opinion. I don’t know if these things can be fixed, but people I talk to seem to feel the same way. Cops are no longer our friends, but more authoritarian figures that don’t help the population. They only punish people through citations and lectures. It is sad when people I know from NYC, LA, Dallas, Seattle, and other large cities say that the last thing you ever want to do is meet a cop’s gaze or talk to a cop. It will only end badly no matter what is really going on……
I can tell you that any cops I have run into during classes, at functions, etc., all tend to have a weird chip on their shoulder where they constantly act like they are judging you. It is evident even before you know their profession. Most times I can spot a cop quite easily and quickly in a crowd due to this perceived superiority complex they radiate. This means that there is a reverse attitude from LEO’s.
LEO’s tend to deal with people at their worst. People fighting, on drugs, being bad, etc….. They must be getting burned out, but add the lack of support from their community? I bet they feel completely disrespected and “unloved.” This is how I felt while on Active Duty. We got VERY little pay, dealt with people telling us that we sucked, and everyone was out to take advantage of my young family. If it is even close to that for a cop, I can see the attitude to some degree…… Although while on AD, we were forced to be nice, polite, and not take our frustrations out on others. I don’t see that same enforcement with regard to the LE community.
Again, I think it was due to changes in policy/training/uniforms/methods that swayed public perception as well as how they interact within their communities than anything else. Hopefully, the cops out there doing their job are decent PEOPLE and not anything close to how they come across now a days. Maybe if they were forced to “help” people rather than “punish” people in their dealings? I don’t have the answer, but I do think that I am on to something regarding why the trust in LEO is at an all time low.