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by Peter Moskos

April 4, 2009

Say What?

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that, "A Philadelphia police officer has been put on desk duty after he was quoted spouting his disgust for the black residents in the community he patrolled." And people wonder why cops don't trust outsiders.

The officer is said to have used the "N word" (though not at somebody). I won't defend that. But I will defend other things the police officer supposedly said:

"People in this neighborhood don't care about each other," Thrasher was quoted as saying. "They'll shoot each other for drugs, for money, for bullshit. All they care about is their reputation. They want to look tough." True.

At another scene, where a man was shot in the back of the head by his daughter's boyfriend, Thrasher said: "These people are . . . disgusting. It's like they're animals." Sometimes.

My book, Cop in the Hood, is filled with quotes like this. It's not a white thing; it's not a black thing; it's a police thing. Police are coming across dead people with the brains blown out. People acting like fools. People killed for no good reason. What are we supposed to think?

So what's the bad part? To see these things? To think these things? To say these things? Or to say these things in front of a Temple University graduation student and then get quoted out of context.

Is it not enough that we ask police to police in these neighborhoods while dodging bullets? But now police have to act like the B.S. they see is normal or acceptable behavior? And you wonder why police hate outsiders and the press? This is politically correctness gone haywire.

The Guardian Civic League, an organization of black Philadelphia police officers, called for Thrasher's firing. Maybe Thrasher is a mean S.O.B. I don't know. I've never met the guy. Maybe he's a good police officer. Maybe he's not. But I guarantee you one thing: every member of the Guardian Civic League has said or thought the same things at some point.


dave h. said...

I know this over simplifies things, but this is what policing in a ghetto can do to people. If people don't like it (and I don't), we need to work on getting rid of ghettos. Ending the drug war and the prison culture in these neighborhoods (which is clearly promoted by the country's appetite for incarceration)would be a good start.

Sgt. T said...

Stupid shit like this is one of the big reasons I walked away from policing. You're always only one comment away from the career meat grinder. Black officers would repeatedly call citizens n***** to their face but the first time a white officer makes an questionable comment there are suspension days and letters in files. Standing in the middle of a slow-motion genocide, surrounded by people fixated with the choice of metaphors.

Anonymous said...

Dave if this was your quote, you should write poetry: "Standing in the middle of a slow-motion genocide, surrounded by people fixated with the choice of metaphors."
Nice job.