Cops, they say, are mostly good, honest, upright citizens. Who else would volunteer to put their lives on the line for others, run towards danger instead of away from it? The ones who kill unarmed black folks? They were either justified in their actions, or they’re just…
Excellent article!! May I riff?
You write, “Who else would volunteer.”
That’s an excellent question and one I’d like to speak to. I was a soldier for years, both in the Marine Corps and the Air Force. And every year on Veterans Day, people thank me for my service — as if it were some selfless act I undertook, as if I were a volunteer who signed up for the purest desire to serve my country.
That’s NEVER how it works — not for soldiers and not for cops.
I needed money for an education and I needed a job. Sure, service was in the mix, but I made the choice to sign up for countless personal and practical reasons. So do cops, many of whom I’ve known throughout my life.
Hell, one of my lovers used to be a state trooper.
I’ve never once met a cop who became a cop solely for the reason that they wanted to brave danger to serve their communities. All of them had complex reasons too.
Education, employment, location, opportunity … you name it.
And here’s something uglier. As my state trooper friend and lover often tells me about his colleagues, many cops join the force because they’re well suited to bullying and violence. They like it. He even says some of them “get off on it.”
You know why he left the force and became a trauma nurse? He says it’s because the bullies and sadists infect everybody else on the force and then rise to the top.
I have no trouble believing that. It’s human nature, after all.
So why do people put their lives on the line to become police officers? For LOTS of reasons, some of them noble, some of them neutral, some of the dark and evil.
We won’t make any progress unless we stop pretending noble motives predominate.