Copping to cops

 
 
 
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Some people want to make cops out to be the villains. The oppressors. The enforcers of the “police state. And there’s some truth and validity to that outlook. Myself?? I mostly look at cops as the referees. The umpires. Somebody has to make those judgment calls.
 
People see cops as heroes or villains and everything in between. I mostly see them as social garbage-collectors. They get called in to try and clean up society’s messes.
 
I once read this survey of cops where the cops themselves claimed that 20% of the cops weren’t fit to be cops. They were too dumb or lazy or had bad judgment or were lousy at dealing with people or had weird attitudes. I mean cops are basically just a cross-section of human beings — the good and the bad and everything in between.

So I keep that survey in mind, every fifth interaction I have with a cop.

The cops main job — like the sports referee — is to maintain the social order, and enforce the rules and the laws. And I guess therein lies the rub. Because many people on the bottom of society feel the laws are written specifically to oppress them, and benefit the rich. But it’s important to remember: The cops don’t write the rules. They only enforce them. Though they do have a certain amount of lee-way as to precisely HOW they enforce them. And the cops have to make zillions of judgment calls every day they’re on the job. And sometimes they have to make split-second judgment calls while in the middle of highly stressful, and even dangerous, situations. All the while knowing that every judgment call they make will be second-guessed by somebody.

 
The better cops know that there’s “the letter of the law” and “the spirit of the law.” And have an intuitive sense of when to apply one or the other. It’s like a basketball referee — technically they could call a foul on every play. But the good ones have a feel for the flow of the game, and they interpret the rules with that in mind.
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Many people think the job “inordinately attracts people who are bullies or thugs and like to beat people up.” And I’m sure the job certainly attracts a certain amount of bullies who enjoy wielding power over others. But it also attracts many other types. My older brother was a cop for a couple of years when he was a young man. And he was what you might call a “boy scout” type. He legitimately wanted to help protect the people from the bad guys and all that.  Then there are others who want to be a cop simply because they’re attracted to the excitement. And then there are others that see it simply as a decent job where they can make a living and support their families. 
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I don’t know, it’s a complicated subject. Of course I’m mostly like Bukowski:  “I got nothing against cops. I just feel better when they’re not around.”
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