Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Polite society

I was wrong, what I wrote in the previous post.  And what I wrote hurt people who are very close to me.  I rarely offer a retraction, or an apology, because I write from the heart and take the stance of "this is how I feel, take it or leave it."  But I was wrong.  For all my readers and friends who wear blue, I apologize for my words, which cheapen your sacrifice.  For a very important friend, I am ashamed that I put you in a position where you feel like you have to choose, that I didn't consider you, and that I upset you.  For that I am truly sorry.  You are my best friend and confidant, and I would never have knowingly hurt you.

Police don't exist in a vacuum.  For every bad cop out there, there are thousands of great cops.  These police do the grunt work of keeping our society safe.  Sure, there are the bad eggs, just like there are in the military.  We have our fair share of assholes in green, and they have there share in blue.  The thing that binds us together is a love of country and hope for our country.  Those thousands of good cops deserve the same benefit of the doubt that we give soldiers.  When someone screams about the police stepping over the line, we need to examine the evidence at hand, and examine the situation with the belief that the police are trying to do the right thing, and that we may not understand the whole situation.

The few bad cops that do exist, when found, should be prosecuted.  That is why we have laws.  We should not celebrate when anyone serving our country, in green or blue, is killed, even if they were in the wrong.  Take, for example, the Haditha marines.  Had they been in the wrong, as originally accused, would we celebrate their deaths if they were killed in the line of duty?  Absolutely not.  And most police, and I am sure even the ones led by sheriff dupnik, thought they were doing the right thing.  They thought they were protecting us.  At some level there was a fuckup of collossal proportions, but at the end-user level, where  the rubber meets the road, there were just a group of police trying to do their jobs.
I've raided houses on bad intel.  I've been in a situation where I had a weapon pointed at an old woman and a young boy leapt out in the dark and grabbed the barrel of my rifle.  I don't know if it was the grace of god, good training, discipline, or plain indecision, but I didn't shoot.  If I had, it would've been tragic, but I'd have been in the right.

Police operate in situations like that every day.  They have a heightened level of awareness, because if they don't they risk not coming home to their families.  In some cases, police operate in a deadlier environment than we do in Afghanistan or Iraq.  Granted, they don't often have to face IEDs or mortar fire but they deal with a population that is at best wary of their actions, if not always openly hostile.  They deal with situations where their lives are on the line and every detail of their actions will be scrutinized by a public that assumes their guilt, instead of the guilt of the choir boys they deal with.  They don't get the benefit of a supportive populace or friendly operating environment or public that honestly believes that they are doing the honorable thing--they don't get the benefit of the doubt, and they should.

I can't imagine operating in those conditions.  The closest I can come to understanding that is seeing the way we, as a nation, treated our returning Vietnam veterans.  Those soldiers had to operate in a very difficult combat environment, and felt like no matter whet they did, they would be eviscerated in the media.  Truth be told, I wouldn't operate in an environment like that, not as a soldier. 

For some reason, we tend to treat our police that way--with scorn, derision, and suspicion.  Maybe we are prejudiced because bad cops make the headlines, while good cops don't, unless they are killed in the line of duty.  Maybe it's because 70% of all crime dramas deal with bad cops or other public servants, and more Americans seem to get their education from bad TV than they do from real life..  I don't know.  The more I think about it, the more my friend has every right to be pissed off at me for jumping on the cop-bashing bandwagon.

The police are on our side.  Give them your respect, because they earn it every day.  They risk, everything, every time they put on a uniform and go to work.  Like everyone else, sometimes they make bad decisions, but generally they don't.  What the vast majority of them do is strive to maintain that polite society that we all want.


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