Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Cops, Culture, Dogs, and The Police State

Cops have a shitty fucking job.

They see the worst humanity has to offer, day in and day out, in a never ending cycle. Everyday they deal with thugs and drug dealers who keep dogs as status symbols, weapons, and gladiatorial athletes instead of beloved family pets. And they have to find a way to compartmentalize their job from their lives, for the sake of their health and sanity. It's not surprising many cops are said to only associate with other cops, nurturing an “Us vs Them” mentality.

We also live in a world that is quickly coming to resemble Orwell's mad dream at what seems like an exponential pace.

Facial recognition software, Armored Personnel Carriers, unmanned drones, The Patriot Act, the rise of the surveillance state, and Corporatic government that knows no bounds. Our ridiculous, never ending War on Drugs, and the heavily armed cartels on the other side.

This technology doesn't just affect the way we view cops, but the way they view us as well. In a world where a heated verbal misstep caught on camera can, coupled with a sensationalist, corporate controlled, 24/ 7 news cycle can cost an officer his job, the distance between cop and civilian increases.

It creates a distance in perspective between the two. They become more and more like automatons, and we become more and more like targets.

The militarization of police has been a topic of concern all my life. I think, for a long time, the grounds for this have not always been completely warranted. I believe as technology advances at such unprecedented rates, and we find more and more flaws within our systems of government and way of life, that the issues it brings become incredibly more significant.

But it's not just the technology, it's not just the potential Orwellian nightmare it represents around the corner.

Take into account the inherently aggressive, Type A personalities that are often attracted to police and military work, and the internal driving forces inside the worst examples of those in uniform. The need to exert power over others. The competitive urge to see action, and be seen as a gun fighter. To have those bragging rights.

I once overheard a conversation at a local IDPA match, where a cop did indeed brag about the number of dogs he had put down. It's not speculation, it's not something I made up. It happened. He talked about it with boastful pride, and good humor. I was disgusted, and had to walk away before I my anger got the better of me.

A simple Google search will pull up page after page of incidents where police have wrongfully killed a family pet. I'm not alone in worrying these are on the rise.

To be in a profession of arms, while the country has been in a shooting war for a decade, one can only suspect the need to prove oneself through violent action might be intensified, at least in certain individuals.

You may be wondering where I'm going with all this.

Culture changes. It ebbs, and flows, grows stagnant where still.

As our culture changes in the macro, police culture will change in the micro.

It will happen.

There is no way around this. You would have as much luck fighting an earthquake, or volcano.

I don't believe in easy answers.

I will never hold self-defense against anyone.

I worry greatly that incidents like the recent one in Austin are indeed on the rise, and what that means culturally speaking.

If that is the case, and it is indeed indicative of a harsher view of the world from a cop's perspective, then it is cause for worry.

What is more worrisome, I fear, is that the best chance we have of changing that cultural outlook, is from within the ranks of our nation's police.

I would be lying, if I pretended to know how that might go.

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