Those with axes to grind have no idea what it means to be a cop
The recent complaint against the Buffalo police filed with the state attorney general, and the reaction to the Wardell Davis nonprosecution decision are but the latest charges against law enforcement by those with an apparent large ax to grind. They include activists, law professors, football players, social justice warriors, columnists, lawyers, politicians and anybody with a gripe against those in uniform. There seems to be no subject, tactic or incident these self-appointed experts won’t accuse the police of doing wrong. Checkpoints. Stop-and frisk. Community policing. Neutralizing dangerous dog. Marijuana arrests. Drug enforcement tactics. Use of force, etc., etc. The police apparently perform none of them in accordance with the learned view of those who know better. Although their vocations are varied, these experts are joined by one common characteristic: none of them have any idea what it means to be a cop.
They don’t know what it’s like to patrol streets seeking out potential trouble while the radio or computer hums what seems like a steady stream of activity. They don’t know what it’s like to chase a lawbreaker through dark yards and alleys, unsure of the danger just ahead. They don’t know what it’s like to ascend a stairwell into a dark attic knowing a dangerous fugitive is hiding there.
But all could get some of the knowledge they don’t have, if they so choose. All have the ability to call their local police department, request a ride-along, and see and experience what the police deal with every day. All could find a cop to converse with and engage, and find out to their surprise that police officers are earnest people trying to make the community they serve more livable.
All citizens can agree that a level of outside police oversight and monitoring is necessary. As citizens themselves, most law enforcement officers would at least grudgingly concur. Those groups mentioned above should also be commended for the passion on the issue and their willingness to engage in civic life. And no one should deny their right to petition their government for redress of what they feel are serious grievances against the police.
But they should understand what they don’t know about their chosen subject, and take some steps to gain the knowledge they lack before so confidently passing judgement. They might find it a rewarding, if a bit scary, experience.
Gary M. Brignone