Should being an a-hole to police get you locked up?
Remember, being an a-hole isn't technically a crime. But many people have talked their way into handcuffs. Police can always get you for something.
I ask this because my wife seemed vaguely bothered by this concept. But it doesn't bother me.
John Van Maanen wrote the classic academic piece appropriately titled "The Asshole." Some of it is a bit dated now (it's from 1978), but the core concept holds true. Police label people as suspicious persons, know-nothings, or assholes. Assholes are likely to get locked up (in Van Maanen's time, beaten).
More recently Southpark's Cartman said, "This will teach you to question my authoritay!" And Chris Rock's "How Not to Get Your Ass Kicked By the Police" always deserves another viewing.
Now Rock, like Van Maanen, talks about getting your ass kicked. But the same applies to getting arrested for some B.S. charge. I honestly don't know how police could do their job if they didn't have a "catch all" offense to lock you up (but of course you need smart police officers to use and not abuse this discretion).
Seems like you should treat everybody with respect--strangers, waiters, employees in stores--but of all people you should treat with respect, a police officer with a gun, handcuffs, and the legal authority to put your ass in jail should be pretty high on the list.
In the old days, if you were a jerk to the police, they might beat you. That doesn't happen much anymore. Ultimately cops have handcuffs. Handcuffs--and not, as Bittner once said, the use of force--handcuffs define the function of police.
But what are you supposed to do as a cop if somebody will not respect your authority? Look, if I tell a drug dealer to leave a corner and he says, "f*ck you." He's got to go. What is a cop supposed to do when verbally confronted? You can't through down and play the dozens.
Every police/public confrontation ends up in one of three ways: the suspect must 1) defer to police authority, 2) leave the scene, or 3) get locked up. Right or wrong, there really is no other choice. Not that I can think of.
Generally, I had a pretty high-tolerance (at least by Baltimore cop standards) for taking sh*t. I'm a pretty mellow guy. Sometimes I would just laugh. I did not have a chip on my shoulder and I didn't want to lower myself to ghetto standards. Other cops would be quicker to take things personal.
But if you questioned my authority? Well, ain't nobody gonna punk me. Not when I was working. Cops can't lose face. Period. To do so is dangerous if you ever have to walk those streets again.
I didn't see it as my job to teach people respect. It was usually too late for that, anyway. But if you wouldn't respect me, you would at least obey me. If I had to get in your face, so be it. Better to feared than loved, cops will tell you. I don't buy that. Better to be obeyed than feared, I say. When people are afraid, they strike back when cornered.
But sometimes you have to make people think you're crazy. Make them think you hate them. Make them afraid. I reserved that act for special occasions.
[Why do you think so many cops shave their heads? I did, too. Looking like a skinhead might not be good for community policing, but it can make a criminal think twice before wanting to fight you.]
As a cop, I didn't want to be loved. I didn't mind being feared. I did want to be respected. But all that really mattered to me was to be obeyed.