Good Cops

     I’m with the police chiefs on this one.
     Not on any particular case that’s been in the news recently, just with police chiefs in general.
     I was a city editor for many years before the great die-off of newspapers, and I knew many police chiefs.
     I liked every one of them. I believe they all wanted to do good, to protect you and me, to keep their cops in line and to enforce the law fairly.
     Police chiefs need a wide range of talents – manifold and peculiar talents which are rarely granted to any man or woman.
     In some places – I am thinking of Chicago and Los Angeles – cops may rise to the top through corruption, glad-handing and vice. But I do not believe that is usually the case.
     I think most police chiefs are exceptional people, whose officers are thrown into horrible situations every day, which would traumatize most of us for the rest of our lives if we had to live through them just once.
     A severed arm on a freeway. A man holding his wife at gunpoint. A crack-addicted little girl with a razor in her hands. Six gunshot victims dead in a house.
     There are a lot of bad cops out there. Courthouse News reports lawsuits against them every day.
     I believe, and my police chief buddies agree with me on this, that many people who want to be cops should be disqualified simply because they want to be a cop.
     I am thinking of George Zimmerman here. But not of Darren Wilson.
     I think Rudy Giuliani was despicable for saying that President Obama wants us to hate cops.
     President Obama wants us to do no such thing.
     I liked Giuliani until this week. Now I consider him a mollusk. He should crawl back into the slimy shell he came from.
     There are thousands of bad cops out there. People with bad attitudes and guns. Racists and sexual predators. But most cops aren’t like that.
     I’ve lived in Mexico. I know what it is to live in a place where most cops are corrupt.
     That is not the case in the United States.
     I’m white. I’m a man. I’m educated. Cops never pulled me over to try to have sex with me, or to steal my money, or to put me in jail because of my race.
     Chicago cops did, however, pull me over and search me, repeatedly, to try to steal the drugs they thought I had, and to file bullshit charges against me because I had long hair.
     Of course police abuse people. Of course a lot of it is racially based. Of course there are racist, abusive and sadistic cops out there on the streets.
     Who can rein them in?
     The police chiefs.
     The FBI says that U.S. police officers kill about 400 people a year.
     Independent monitors say the number is closer to 1,100.
     About 55 police officers are killed in the line of duty every year.
     That’s a ratio of 20 to 1.
     But I’m still with the police chiefs on this.
     Clearly, police commit unjustified killings – and are not prosecuted for it, because they have a badge.
     Just as clearly, virtually all of the weekly killings of cops are unjustified.
     Trayvon Martin was innocent. But he was not killed by a cop. He was killed by a wannabe cop.
     Nationwide protests this year, emanating from Ferguson, Mo., have stirred up hatred of police.
     I understand that. Police and other law enforcement agencies have killed hundreds or thousands of innocent black people in the United States.
     But in these days, many of the people – most of the people – who police kill are not innocent souls like Trayvon Martin. They are people with guns.
     It is unfair to the memory of Trayvon – and it is unfair to police – to equate every police killing since then to that killing, which was not done by police.
     Sorry, but let’s be fair – to police and to all of us, black and white.
     All police killings are not the same. And some of them are justified.
     If someone pulled a gun on me – black, white, or green – I’d shoot him first if I could, if I had a gun.
     As I said, I’ve lived in a country where most police are corrupt.
     I’m glad to live in a country where most police are not.

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