I'm a police recruit with a B.A. in the social sciences, and I read your blog a lot. Granted I am just a recruit and don't know anything at all, but I thought I'd send you some thoughts about your posts on Comey and his remarks.
I do not care at all about "scrutiny." I work for a large, liberal city. We all have dash cameras and are required to tape every call. Body cameras are coming shortly and everybody knows it, and I'm fully in favor of it. I don't care one bit if citizens film. We've talked about it in the academy, and it's part of our training.
What I do care about a lot more is the possibility of being the next Darren Wilson. Everybody in the academy watches every viral video and reads about every controversial police incident that happens in this country. Everybody knows about Ferguson. In Ferguson, a cop defended himself while trying to detain a robbery suspect. The Grand Jury agreed with it and the DoJ's own investigation proved it via forensics and witness interviews. And that cop lives every day of his life in hiding. Wilson has no job, no job prospects, a wife and kid he can't support, half the country thinks he's a murderer, and every news article about him states he is "the white police officer who shot unarmed black teen Michael Brown." His life is over.
So people are idiots if they think cops don't stand out there, see a black guy with some good warrants or who matches the description of a suspect, and think "this stop could cost me everything if he fights and dies - is it worth the risk?" To me, being fresh and new, I say it is. But I definitely understand it when the old guys sit around and say it isn't. Your data from Baltimore shows this quite clearly.
I think most cops recognize scrutiny is important and valid. But they also feel like this is a profession and we are entitled to some professional respect. Nobody tells nurses how to give medicine, or plumbers how to fix piping, but everybody feels the need to referee police use of force even if the extent of their expertise is watching NCIS reruns.
So while police need to be responsive to public opinion, the public also needs to defer at some point to people with technical expertise on use of force. Certain things cannot bend. If someone tries for my gun, I will kill or maim them until they quit, even if they're 18 and I originally stopped them for jaywalking. If the public refuses to accept that, police will pull back because the only other choices are to get fired or get hurt.
October 30, 2015
Cops on Comey
I love thoughtful cops. Especially those who can write. He emailed me this and agreed to let me repost it, anonymously. I wish him well and am happy to see people like this still becoming police officers.