Monday, August 11, 2014

Comfortably Numb- Good initiative, bad judgement

I want to visit a subject sure to ruffle some feathers. My analysis is not here to make excuses or stand up for anybody. My only intent is to visit the facts as I saw them.

Lets talk about the good cops.

Yes, I know. There are no good cops because if there were they would stop the bad ones. I hear this a lot from people. This is the same as correlating high minority areas with crime. Is there truth to the statements? Of course. Are there much deeper socioeconomic and political issues at hand than simple faulty deductions? You bet your sweet ass.

Good cops still exist, but their numbers are dwindling. Let's talk about a couple.

"Me and Jesus were zone partners" 
This is your officer that's been around since Carter was in office. He's old school but professional. He has, against all odds, survived somewhere in the ballpark of three decades in law enforcement. He's close or at retirement eligibility but sticks around.

He doesn't leave because he knows how bad things are. He sees how corrupt the world he spent his entire life in has become. He sees the people he's worked with, been friends with, his entire career turn into criminals once they climbed the ranks. He has played politics wisely and gained some rank. But he is outnumbered.

He stays for the good cops under his command. He stays to try and inoculate them from all the bad they are surrounded by within their department. He stays to try and teach them the right ways, no matter how few officers listen. At least there are a few.

He will try and make things right, but he will try to do it from within the system. This is his fatal mistake. He cant buck the system too much. If he has enough rank to actually change something, there is a high probability that he is a political appointee as well. This means he can be fired without cause, at any time, at the whims of his political masters.

He knows if he leaves there will be a power vacuum. He knows that void will most likely be filled by another criminal with a badge. A dangerously incompetent yes man is the best outcome he could hope for as a replacement.

But he's not all integrity and professionalism, he is human after all.
He has a pension to think about.

Retired on Duty
This is the guy who has around eight years till retirement. He hates what he sees. He wishes he could walk away. But he's so close. So close to that promised golden egg.

This guy usually doesn't have much rank. Maybe a little, but not too much. He's probably got an internal affairs file with a few suspensions, but these suspensions tend to be bullshit. Politically motivated fishing expeditions to screw with the guy because he didn't kiss the right ass.

He's usually jaded, in a horrible mood, quick tempered and foul mouthed.
He's the guy that refuses to revenue generate. He wont give you a second look unless you are committing a crime with a victim. He doesn't even know where his ticket book is.
He's the guy that will run into a burning building to save a stranger.
He's the guy that will take a bullet for you.

He's also the guy who married the stripper from his zone partners third bachelor party. He usually has at least two ex wives and a clowns car worth of children from multiple waitresses and bartenders around his beat. If he is remarried, the wife du juor will have a minivans worth of her own shit machines in tow.

He's tried to make things right in the past. All he got for it was a personnel file four inches thick, a transfer to a shitty assignment with shitty off days, and a slew of suspensions. The whole while watching the dirty ones move past him up the chain.

All he wants to do is watch the seconds tick by on the clock for the next eight years. If he cant do that, he'd like to at least help some people. He's just as content changing someones tire on the side of the interstate as he is serving an arrest warrant on a child predator.

He has been beaten, not into submission, but into apathy. He needs the job to pay for the hordes of screaming mouths at home. He's tried fighting the good fight, but lost every time. He has a mortgage, two car payments, a motorcycle, child support payments and three maxed out credit cards.

And don't forget about that pension.

Family Guy
This one is self explanatory. Married to his first wife, popping out their first couple of kids. This guy has a lot in common with retired on duty (ROD). Except everything this guy does is for his family. He sees the abuses, but he also saw what happened to ROD when he tried to report it. He doesn't partake in the corruption, nor does he condone it. He feels powerless to stop it.

He cant get suspended, he wouldn't be able to afford jr's t-ball lessons. He cant get transferred, he would miss family board game night. He cant say anything to put his family in danger, fiscally or otherwise.

He goes to work. He follows the law. He knows proper policy and procedure. Hell, he's usually even a pleasant person to have a run in with on the side of the road. He'll usually cut you a break if you're not being a dick. He causes little harm, but makes no waves.

He's also invested heavily into his career in policing. He been around for a handful of years. He started young, hired in his early twenties. Now he's started a family. He could leave law enforcement, but then what? Policing is all he's ever known. Would anybody in their right mind leave a secure career with a wife and newborn at home?

Plus he's got to think about that pension, and future college costs.

Do you even gun, bro?
This one is tricky. This is not the time to debate foreign policy. Take the following for what it is.
Military combat veterans, in my experience, make some of the best cops. They also make some of the worst. I'm talking combat military occupational specialists. Infantry, reconnaissance, armor, medics, cavalry, etc etc. with real world experience.
But it only works if they understand that they're not at war anymore. That citizens are not the enemy. This is what differentiates the good from the bad.

The good vet joins the force for obvious reasons. They joined an all volunteer military with the good intentions of serving their country. They went oversees and did what they thought was proper. But they saw some things over there that made them start to question all the 'murica propaganda they had so eagerly bought into.

Now they're back home. No real tangible job skills except good under pressure and hell in a firefight. They also miss the structure. Law enforcement is an obvious choice. Of course they remember the bullshit they saw in the military, but that's federal government for ya. Right? Local government is much more streamlined. They want to serve their communities like they wanted to serve their country.

They soon find out they were terribly wrong.

The smart ones get the fuck out immediately. They see it for what it is.
They've been through too much to be tricked again.
Others stick around for a while, usually kept there by a perceived lack of transferable skills.
They'll handle the serious situations, at times having to become belligerent with superiors over safety concerns. After they safely handle the situations, the supervisor who almost got everyone killed will get the credit, and the officer will have a suspension for insubordination to deal with.

Whether they leave after a week on the job, or 15 years. They all finally come to the same conclusion.

Fuck your pension.

1 comment:

  1. Good analysis. Your descriptions fit well to describe typical FAA air traffic controllers, too. I am sure there are a few other corrupted bureaucracies out there.

    On a deeper level, the question: WHY do these work cultures become corrupted? In my FAA experiences, we were all being tested as soon as we reported to our work facility. All of the slower control facilities I worked at had lax timecard practices, and a portable TV to bring up into the control tower for slow times. We had to all go through on-the-job-training (OJT), so any newbie with difficulty in participating in the obvious improper, unsafe and/or fraudulent practices was a quick target to be failed. On the flip side, once the newbie starts drinking from the same poison koolaid bowl, he or she has to watch out not to piss off a supervisor or manager, since they have the goods on the newbie. So, it rapidly evolves into a culture all about self-service, distrust and apathy. And, yes, all that matters is the next paycheck and the eventual pension.