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11-30-07, 07:37 AM #1
How to deal with "police bashers"
While I cannot say that I wholeheartedly agree with a few of the conclusions that Mr. Brown draws here, this article does communicate some solid advice. Remember that this article is somewhat dated (1999), I thought it is still well worth the post.
How to deal with Police Bashers
by Hal Brown, LICSW
This individual's web site is out there. However, I have removed the direct link as of 4/23/99, because he won't let you into it if you use Microsoft Explorer, and forces you to either crash your computer or download Netscape. He is angry at Bill Gates, so apparently believes in controlling our access to a Gates product more than allowing free browser choice. He may know something about hacking as well. I wouldn't trust his web site not to download a virus. He may have thought twice about his inflammatory rhetoric after I referred him to some of the articles on Police Stressline and urged him to advocate for responsible and professional policing rather than just go on the offensive against all police officers.
The fact remains that he registered the domain name "copkiller" and it exists in virtual reality, reminding us of the us vs. them attitudes officers have to face all too frequently. There are many aspects of self-defense that you must carry with you besides what weighs down your duty belt. One is a knowledge of how to best approach and deal with people with a blind anti-police bias, so-called police bashers.
Look at the pictures below and tell me which of these young men you think is the author of the copkiller web site:
Here are some quotes from his web site:
"...by advocating the violent death of corrupt, murdering officers everywhere, I am not singling out any one person. While I'm aware that there are good cops (in fact, probably the majority of them), the code of silence that exists in today's police forces keeps them quiet when their worthless cohorts break the law. Am I advocating the murder of every peace officer in America? Of course not; don't be stupid. But anyone who has ever been beaten needlessly, harrassed, or intimidated by the assholes who make it onto the force knows that there is no justice for victims of power-abusing cops. Hence, my call to America: defend yourselves. When someone with a gun threatens you, cooperation is usually the best way to get out of the situation alive and intact. But as many victims of police brutality will attest, cooperation means nothing to thugs who are out to maim you in the first place. I fully advocate slashing the throat of any cop who uses undue or unlawful force against any citizen. Pick up your pride and strike back."
"Why does copkiller.org inspire such strong reactions to what amounts to a first-amendment issue? My theory is that it's because I present an ostensibly irrational solution in a rationally developed manner. Some people may feel extremely threatened by this, precisely because it makes sense. What do you think? "
Of course, being trained observers, you recognized that the pictures are of the same person. My point is simply that it is best to avoid stereotypes. I spent some time reading and posting on the New York Times forum about what people thought about the New York City Police Department after the Diallo shooting. As you'd expect, there was no shortage of police bashing there. So much so, in fact, that many police officers who initially posted opinions there had given up.
But many of the posts critical of the NYPD were from genuinely concerned citizens, not anti-police zealots. Some of the posts from police officers were so abrasive that they alienated these potential allies.
Who are the true police bashers?The first lesson in how to deal with police bashers is to differentiate the true basher who will never change his attitude from those who just want to be heard, who want the police to protect and serve all citizens equally. That they may be enraged over the shooting of this unarmed civilian is understandable. The fact that accidental police shootings in New York City and almost everywhere else has gone down as much as 50% in the last few years tends to be overlooked.
We all have either been in, or know of officers who have been in, situations where they had every justification in using lethal force; but choose to risk their own life to talk someone into surrendering their weapon. Unfortunately these instances are almost never publicized.
Hate, ignorance, or fear?Some people bash police out of hate, some bash them out of ignorance, and some bash them out of fear. It will be difficult if not impossible to engage the first group, the true police haters (some of whom are law breakers), in any kind of dialogue. But if you are patient, you may be able to educate the second two groups. If you are willing to listen, right there you are probably breaking the stereotype these people have of the police. It will help all of law enforcement if you can first listen, show some understanding of their viewpoints and try to see things from their perspective, and then explain how you as a police officer see things.
To do this you must lay aside your "cop persona" and be as nonauthoritarian as possible. This is an essential part of community policing. You are developing rapport with the citizens you not only are sworn to protect, but you are developing allies in your fight against the true enemy.
What happens when the average citizen starts bashing?You must always be prepared for the sudden explosive expression of fear and outrage peppered with every obscenity and insult you've ever heard on every traffic stop you make. Generally it is fairly easy to stand back and let the person vent. After all, you have the power to write a citation no matter how much the motorist offends you and every cop in existence. Who cares?
But after a high speed chase, with the adrenaline pumping and your focus narrowed, it is much more difficult not to respond aggressively. Your body is crying for release and has a mind of its own. Experts recommend several approaches to the immediate aftermath of a high speed chase, and I don't want to second guess them. Mainly, it is always important to know how these chases effect you mentally and physically. Once committed to a chase you must stay intensely focused, so it is hard to make a plan for what you will do once the chase is over. So plan in advance.
You know that there are several outcomes once you stop the vehicle. One is that the chase will resume on foot, another is that the subjects will still present a danger to you (start shooting etc.). Those more knowledgeable about police tactics can advise you on these situations. I can tell you, however, that if you make the stop and every indication is that the driver and/or passengers represent no threat, you have some time to compose yourself while still in your car. You can order the occupants of the vehicle to remain still with their hands visible using your PA system. Then you can wait for your back-up. Chew some gum. Do some deep breathing. Sing a little song. Attend to your pulse rate and wait until it goes down to under 80.
Then, approach the car. Not only will you be calmer, but so will the occupants. If they begin to bash you, the more measured your response the better.
Bashing by members of racial minority groupsRacism is a deeply rooted malignancy in our society. The "ghettoization" of a large segment of blacks and Hispanics has locked many into a dead end cycle of poverty, drugs and crime. It is a myth that the reason for this has to do with racial inferiority. The educational opportunities in the inner cities are dismal, the schools are falling apart, the teachers that last become cynical and more occupied by maintaining order than with teaching. Teenaged pregnancy brings more and more children into the cycle.
Police officers rarely choose to life in the ghetto. They are outsiders not only because of the badge and uniform but because they literally are outsiders. The majority of ghetto residents are good people who only want better for their children. They want you to protect their families so their kids half a chance to grow up and better themselves. But who do you see and when do you see them?
The criminals, the druggies, the drunks, the prostitutes, the pimps, the pushers, the abusive spouses and all the low life people may seem to be your "clients". But in fact, your real clientele are the good people in the community. You often see minorities at their worst, they often see you at your most aggressive. They don't understand that this "persona" is part of how you do you job. Nor do they understand that you have a compassionate side, a human side. Again, this is what community policing is meant to demonstrate.
When you find yourself being bashed by a member, or members, of the minority community, try to remember all of this. The more you understand their feelings the better. They may be judging you based on experience with officers who were, indeed, racist. Or they may have their own prejudices based on stereotypes perpetrated by their friends, associates, inflammatory rhetoric they hear on the streets and radio. You job isn't to reinforce their prejudices and their stereotypes. Quite the opposite. You will help all of the law enforcement community if you defy negative stereotypes.
What about being a "rat"?What happens when you see wrong doing by fellow officers. This is one the most difficult questions in law enforcement. When is it right to police your own fellow officers. There is nothing considered worse than a "rat", no more thankless job in law enforcement than being a member of Internal Affairs (the "rat squad"). But the failure of the police to purge their ranks of those who abuse their powers, whether against minorities or other citizens, is one of the primary contributors to negative attitudes towards police. There will always be police bashers, but you add fuel to their fire if you help cover up serious wrong-doing by other officers.
Is it ever better to out-bash the bashers?If the bashing is verbal, why bother? I have read about a hundred police bashing messages, some even in the Police Stressline Guestbook and the Stressline Forum. Crude, insensitive and vile anti-police messages posted in the Forum forced me to change it from being an unmonitored forum where your posting appeared immediately, to one where I have to approve all posted messages before they go online. I gave it about six weeks as a monitored forum and tried opening it again. Within a week he began posting there again so it has been monitored ever since. With the exception of what Steve, the author of the copkiller site who may be open to a dialogue, I have yet to read a police bashing message that didn't contain numerous spelling and grammar errors. None of them had demonstrated any self-awareness. And if I had to guess as to the IQ's of the authors, I'd say well below average.
So why on earth would you waste you time bothering to try to out-bash these people? If they are law breakers, be as objective as possible and go absolutely by the book. Don't open yourself to a charge of discrimination or harassment, but of course, you don't have to give them any breaks either. Generally, the less you say, beyond Miranda, the better.
Remember, most people like you and appreciate what you do
Dennis Miller, author the the best seller The Rants, writes about cops in the sequel, Ranting Again. He notes:"Now before I criticize how other people do their jobs, I always ask myself, "Could I do it?" And the answer here is no, because the job of a cop can be more foul than George Kennedy without his BreathAssure. Hey, I just don't have the temperament. The first time some Chiclet-brain I pulled over for a traffic stop gave me that "Hey, I pay your salary" rap, I'd be too tempted to flip him a quarter and say "here's a refund f***wad and then start beating on him like he was a Hitler piņata at an (Israeli Secret Service) picnic."
Miller ends his book with another appreciation to police officers and a cautionary note that misguided Liberals need to consider:"Sure, I think cops can be brutal sometimes, because it is a brutal world we live in and make them work in. But while we are sleeping in our homes, they are out there on the dirty boulevard trying to make it safe for us in the morning. And for all you ACLU members out there without an A-C-L-U-E: when you hear a noise in the middle of the night outside your house and you fear for your life and call 911, just be glad it's the cops that show up at your front door and not Alan Derschowitz, because, believe me, if it was Derschowitz, you'd end up more f**ked than a tour group in Amsterdam led by Wilt Chamberlain on Spanish Fly."You can't please all of the people all of the time, and and there will always be abuses of police power which need to be remedied. But as long as you aspire to be a true professional, learn to listen and understand the police bashers and not be "robocop" on aggressive autopilot, you can be part of the solution. Otherwise, I shouldn't have to remind you that if you sink to the level of the worst police bashers you become part of the problem.
"The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money."
- Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America
Tell me not, Sweet, I am unkind,
That from the nunnery
Of thy chaste breast and quiet mind
To war and arms I fly. - Lovelace
The opinions expressed by this poster are wholly his own, and should never be construed to even remotely be in representation of his employer, its agencies or assigns. In fact, they probably fail to be in alignment with the opinions of any rational human being.
11-30-07, 09:31 AM #2
Excellent postNo one has greater love than this, to lay down ones life for ones friends - John 15:13
"The Wicked Flee When No Man Pursueth: But The Righteous Are Bold As A Lion".
We lucky few, we band of brothers. For he who today sheds his blood with me shall be my brother.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~The opinions, beliefs, and ideas expressed in this post are mine, and mine alone. They are NOT the opinions, beliefs, ideas, or policies of my Agency, Police Chief, City Council, or any member of my department.
11-30-07, 09:47 PM #3
"I hate cops!"
Really? You know what I hate? I hate bread trucks. All they do is drive around town all day smelling like bread. Man I can't stand them.
That usually leaves them stupyfied, or so I'm told.
"Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear."
-- Ambrose Redmoon
The views and postings of NSB22 are in no way shared or supported by NSB22's employers.
12-01-07, 07:11 AM #4
12-01-07, 12:51 PM #5Being the best is not what always counts. What counts is always trying your best.
Remember who you are, and where you came from. That way you never get a big head.
May those that lost their lives in 9-11 RIP, for the things you did not many could do. You left so many behind so that you could save so few. For now we stand strong as one, and will not look back till the fight is done. (me)
The opinions given in my posts DO NOT reflect the opinions, views, policies, and/or procedures of my employing agency. They are MY PERSONAL OPINIONS only.
12-01-07, 12:54 PM #6
12-01-07, 02:06 PM #7
Don't forget bread truck bunny!
12-01-07, 02:57 PM #8
12-01-07, 03:03 PM #9"When I'm driving along and I see a sign that says, CAUTION: SMALL CHILDREN AHEAD,
I slow down, and then it occurs to me, I'm not afraid of small children"!
12-01-07, 04:12 PM #10
Great post, Countybear. I agree that Mr. Brown is a little left of center on a couple of things but the advice is indeed sound. One of the things that makes me most proud of Maclean is that he can handle this type of challenge so well. I have seen him talk his way through such a challenge and on the other side, the basher loves him.
I am afraid that I do not respond well to nasty criticisim....I have taken my share over the years and often held my tongue or I wouldn't have made it as far as I did but.......I would just as soon smack the asshole than reason with them. Mac does that so well....I don't know where he got it.
Reps on the way for this excellent post.
Car 4I would like my country back. I used to believe that one man could never destroy this country. Not so sure anymore!
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