Is it possible to admire and respect police for the work they do AND criticize them when they do wrong?
Yes, I believe it is. Not only do I think it’s possible, I think it’s the responsible thing to do.
I do rail against bad cops often, I grant that. I don’t as often praise them. I do occasionally, but not as often, and I’ll grant that, too. For this reason I often get accused… by people with the extreme “cops-can-never-do-wrong” mindset people, imagine that… that I am somehow “anti-cop” or a “cop hater”. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have immense respect for police.
Police do a hard job. Long hours. Dealing with the dregs of society. Dealing with outright dangerous and dishonest people. They run the risk of dying during a simple traffic stop, for example, or when they respond to a domestic dispute. Every… single… day. For this reason alone I can understand why they often get jaded. For the most part, after many years, it’s all they see.
Police put their lives on the line often for our safety and benefit. Spare me the crap about logging being more dangerous because it has a higher death rate, police work is still dangerous, and it’s also different because they’re willfully putting themselves in that scenario. Loggers may be more likely to die, but the trees aren’t consciously and literally gunning for them.
Die-hard supporters ask who we run to when something bad to use happens. Generally the police. Of course we do. The majority of us do. That’s what they’re there for.
It is often pointed out that most people wouldn’t do the job, as a defense for why they should be blindly respected. That’s true, too, I wouldn’t do the job. Most people wouldn’t. But there’s many jobs I wouldn’t do, just as I’m sure there are other critical jobs that most police officers wouldn’t do, so I’m not even sure why that’s considered a valid point.
When a police officer does do something wrong, and the other debate points have been exhausted, the apologists will fall back on the “police are only human” angle. And here’s the whole crux of the issue. As a group, most police are honorable and respectful, just as most people in general are honorable and respectful, and deserve our admiration and cooperation. Most police are in it for the right reasons, and do good work. However, police ARE only human, and as such are just as prone to be corruptible or dishonest as anyone else. Using 10% as just an example benchmark, the way I figure it, if 10% of the general population is dishonest, then 10% of police are dishonest, as well. They’re only human.
Funny that the “human” aspect doesn’t go both ways, but I digress.
Anyway, it’s often pointed out that the bad cops and bad incidents are few. Some say a very small number, almost insignificant. Ok, let’s go with that. I buy that they’re relatively few. Sounds like all the more reason that we should easily weed out the few who are bad, doesn’t it? Yet we defend them to the ends of the earth, and meaningful consequences only happen when public light is shined and public outrage becomes too much. And don’t tell me that there was never a bad cop before cell phone video.
If they’re so few, then one would think that the good cops would want to actively drive the bad ones out, for the simple reason that their own jobs are made harder, and their own lives put unnecessarily at risk by creating a bad public image and distrust, when it so easily solvable. Then they go out and do ‘community outreach’ programs to show neighborhoods that they’re just good people like them. Well, don’t contribute to or create the problem in the first place. That would help immensely. That would do more, actually, than showing up at a middle school once a year to show off your equipment. This ‘thin blue line’ makes no sense at all.
In conclusion, I said it before and I’ll say it again, I greatly admire and respect the police. But I also don’t kid myself. There are bad ones out there, too, and it’s the bad ones that are screwing it up for everybody. There’s lots of pro-police rhetoric out there, and that’s fine. Mine would be just another voice in the noise if I joined in. There’s not enough talk highlighting when cops do go wrong, and that needs to be fixed. For everybody’s benefit… including their own.