That’s a visceral title, I know. You may be tempted to not read further because you’re offended by it. But you come to MCPD to learn more about how LEOs operate and what our collect perspective may be.
It was a terrible piece of advice I received from the best training officer I had. I grasp the counterintuitive nature of that statement, believe me. He was referring to inmates in a custody setting. Sure, they had all landed in the pokey for a reason. I’m not what you’d call overly sensitive, but at the same time, I’d like to think that over the last 16+ years, I’ve made an effort to maintain my humanity in a job that does its level best to reduce it.
The training officer had a lot of experience and he taught me a ton about this job. At the time, I took his comment at face value. After all, he had seniority and had been doing the job much longer than me. Who was I to offer a differing opinion?
When you’re in training you have one job: Shut. Up.
You don’t have an opinion. You have too much to learn and too little time in which to learn it. So, pay attention to what is going around you. Take it all in. You can develop your own style as the years progress.
Consequently, I merely nodded my head in subservient agreement.
“Yes, sir. All of ’em. Pieces of shit. Copy that.”
The problem is it isn’t true.
More to the point, it serves as the battle cry of far too many police officers. We love the “Us versus Them” narrative because all too often we are pummeled by it and buy into it by virtue of exposure and training.
Don’t misunderstand. “Us versus Them” has an appropriate place. I whole-heartedly agree that it’s the good guys against the bad guys. Unfortunately, in today’s culture, it’s very easy to fall into the feeling that the “Us” represents cops and the “Them” represents everyone else.
When you start to let that feeling take root in your soul, you have started on a slippery slope that will not be beneficial to you professionally or personally.
Case in point: The picture to the right. These pictures were taken during the Baltimore riots in late April of 2015. Thankfully, my first thought was “Thank God there is still decency in the world.”
“I hope those bottles only contain water.”
See what this job does to you?
I’m proud of both the young men pictured above. More so, I’m proud of their parents for instilling that kind of behavior. If we had more parents like that, Baltimore wouldn’t be the pile of burning rubble that it is.
But I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you the cynical whisper in my head. Those whispers will be with me until the day I die. I could find solace in saying this whispers keep the saw sharp when I’m on duty…and I do. What I don’t want, though, is for it to be my reality and knee-jerk reaction.
It isn’t fair.
It isn’t positive.
And most importantly, it’s a lie.
If we (LEOs and civvies alike) don’t actively look for the good in our lives and in our community, we are relegating ourselves to a dire and unfulfilling existence devoid of compassion and joy.
It’s easy to look at Baltimore and paint a very negative picture with a very broad brush. I’ve posted before about the Silent Majority. I still believe in the inherent goodness of people. I also believe in the stupidity and selfish motives of a very loud (and small) group of criminal opportunists.
We can’t argue the presence of both of these groups in and around Baltimore (not to mention the rest of the country).
I encourage you to do your best to find something positive to focus on in a very difficult time and remember this:
Not every one of them is a piece of shit.