08/25/14

Taking One for the Team

My dad was a beat cop and career FBI.

ben

I was preached the perils and uncertainties of law enforcement my whole life. You just don’t know what you’re about to face in a car stop or home search or raid. And, so the justification follows that police should be accorded some measure of grace when they act preemptively or out of self preservation, in the chaos and melee of the arrest. I mean, I would. But, I’m also frightened of small dogs and that movie Cloverfield. I shouldn’t do any job that requires more courage than is necessary to use a public urinal or maybe ask politely for a refill at Chili’s. I’d never be a cop.

But, in the Michael Brown shooting and aftermath it has struck me that this rationalization of force seems wrong. The default is off.

In the ambiguity of a criminal altercation, especially where there is no apparent threat of deadly force, the safety and health of the suspect still remains paramount. They are a citizen. Due criminal process. The police officer’s own self defense and preservation cannot be the priority.

Officers have to be ready to have the crap beat out of them on occasion.

If you can’t resist an assailant with something less than your firearm, then either you take it like a man in the face or else change professions. You don’t get to open fire. I guess you could also baby cry, like I would. That’s another option.

There is great disagreement over the details in Ferguson. But, even assuming Brown is in the vehicle window punching officer Wilson in the face, as his defense would contend, well then maybe that’s the price we have to pay sometimes to live in free society fearless that our own paid law enforcement won’t shoot us unless absolutely necessary.

I’m not a Ferguson protestor. Don’t lump me in. There are reasonably two sides to this story almost for certain. I’m just saying government has to take the high road here.

And, for all my law enforcement buddies, I’d qualify further. These are instantaneous choices made under pressurized circumstances. But, our justice system will vindicate your sacrifice, whether it be partial or complete. And, the moral leverage in taking the a$$ whooping will do more to reinforce the rule of law than any disproportionate and questionable show of deadly force you could justify or explain after the fact.

Cops choose to do this perilous job. And, they talk a pretty tough game. I should know. They big willie me all the time. Wait. That didn’t sound right. But, either you’re big enough to take some physical punishment in the name of protecting all our citizens, even when they don’t deserve it, or maybe you’re just not that big.

Performed by theipoetlaureate. Music produced by dj transform. Lyrics here.

Today’s blong here:

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