I’ve seen a surge in views and comments over the last several days, most positive, but some of them negative. Most of the new responses have been directed at the post, “I’m Sick Of.” That post was largely just a collection of random heartfelt musings I had one night. It was not intended to have received quite the attention that it has in the last week, particularly when compared to other posts like “Dissonance” and “Bloody Sunday” which I feel are not only stronger posts but also much more important.
My intention with that post, as it has been with a number of other posts, has been simple. All police have been demonized in the last several weeks by the community, the media, and others largely using statistics they don’t understand to support arguments that aren’t related. Regardless of your opinion on racial profiling or officer related shootings, the fact remains that we’re human beings just like everyone else. For those with immense hatred of the police, that concept can be difficult to admit and god knows there are those with legitimate reasons to hate the police. It’s a lot easier to hate a monster than another flawed person like yourself.
I’m also completely perplexed by the notion that in a country with around 120,000 officers, that I’m supposed to be directly responsible for what every officer does in every corner of every small town or municipality. I am only responsible for one person and that person is me. What’s more, to people who have actually read my blog posts, they can confirm that I have been the first to condemn officer actions which I find to be personally reprehensible, though I also bear no direct or indirect responsibility to do so. Case in point:
Furthermore, I received a request to discuss the officers fired within the last week or so due to various bad decisions on their part. As continued proof of my objectivity, the officer from St. Ann caught on video ranting and raving about “fucking” killing people deserved to be fired, particularly when given his disciplinary record which involved pointing his gun at people in the past unjustly and in violation of policy. Video in question below:
However, just because he’s absolutely wrong and deserved to be fired, doesn’t mean I still can’t find fault with a media who feels the need to distort the truth by leaving out background facts to the case like that he apparently had a bottle of urine thrown at him. Those facts don’t excuse what he did, but his actions don’t excuse the media trying to make the story more juicy. It also can’t be argued that they were trying to fact check the urine bottle story since the media as a whole has been so quick to release every… single… solitary… rumor… put out on social media without any semblance of fact checking. In the case of the St. Ann Officer, both parties need to be found respectively culpable for their individual actions.
I think that’s a big portion of not only the problem with Ferguson but also larger problems within the country and around the world. These days, everyone seems to think that any wrong perpetrated against them, whether legitimate or not, presents a moral god-given justification to respond in any way they see fit. It’s a modern day version of Hammurabi’s code, except that the tit-for-tat notion of an “eye for an eye” has been much more greatly generalized to include whatever we internally rationalize as being a proportional response.
I’m going to discuss some examples of this concept in a format of:
- Side A:
- Side B:
It should be noted that for the sake of this argument I’m going to assume that Side A and Side B are both valid and truthful.
- Side A: A US Drone strike kills a Pakistani child.
- Side B: A Pakistani terrorist shoots a child activist in the face while on her school bus.
- Result: Both sides feel that they’re justified, but neither is right. For the record, both sides can be wrong. The above was an actual argument I heard for justifying the shooting of Malala Yousafzai.
- Side A: An officer arrests a press member without legal justification.
- Side B: The media reports on a different officer while conducting a lawful arrest but leaves out facts and states that he was doing so without justification or reason.
- Result: Both groups are wrong regardless, even though the media feels that the events in Side A justify their response in Side B.
- Side A: Let’s assume for a minute that Darren Wilson is guilty of murdering Mike Brown.
- Side B: The community committed acts of violence and looting that has been perpetrated over the last several weeks injuring dozens and killing several.
- Result: If the evidence shows that Darren Wilson is guilty, the violence and rioting that followed Mike Brown’s death is still not okay. Both parties can still be wrong. Both parties can still be guilty.
I know that this is a long winded version of the childish cliché, “two wrongs don’t make a right” but it seems like a concept we’ve forgotten. Partisan politics is a real problem in this country, but it seems that anymore partisanship has extended far beyond the realm of politics into everyday life so much so that violence, perpetrated against even people outside of the controversial issue, is now justified if you’re angry enough.
My Job Description
A number of individuals in the comments found fault with my post “I’m Sick Of” apparently because they feel that everything that I’m sick of is a part of my job. In the interest of clarifying what my job actually is, I’m going to take a moment to explain it.
What it is:
I’m a patrolman which usually means I drive around looking for things that seem out of the ordinary as evidence of law violations. Out of the ordinary can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Sometimes it can mean a door on a house sitting open without the lights on inside. Sometimes it can mean a prowler roaming through a backyard. Sometimes it can be someone sitting in a driveway that doesn’t belong to them. I don’t racially profile people because I think it’s morally wrong and what’s more it’s logically and statistically a waste of my time.
I also respond to calls for service. Sometimes these are dangerous but more often than not, they’re pretty mundane. A lot of calls involve people in disputes just wanting to be heard and I don’t mind standing around listening. I try to help where I can and follow a simple principle when dealing with various conflicts that, if I can’t make things generally better at least I won’t make them generally worse. However, sometimes matters escalate and sometimes arrest is warranted due to the severity of some act.
The bottom line is that I go out every night trying to help people. There are officers who are crooked. There are officers who are racist. There are officers who are stupid. There are officers who should not have badges, but you know what, I’m not responsible for them. I didn’t hire them. I’m not responsible for the HR decisions that keep them around in their jurisdictions. I’m only responsible for me. I go out every night and try to do the best that I can, given what I know to be my legal authority under the law and my moral obligation to do what I think is right. My philosophy is not shared by all officers, but once again, I’m not responsible for anyone other than myself.
That is my job. Everything I listed in “I’m Sick Of” is not. Everything I detailed in Dissonance and Bloody Sunday is beyond the call of duty. What’s more, witnessing the following list of crimes committed or attempted during the last several weeks, while being told that I cannot enforce the law and arrest people for these offenses because the crowd has legitimate grievances is also not a function of law enforcement.
Mike Brown died on 8/9/2014. Since 8/10/2014 the following crimes have been committed in the Ferguson area:
- First Degree Murder (RSMO 565.020)
- Assault 1st (RSMO 565.050)
- Assault 2nd (RSMO 565.060)
- Assault 3rd (RSMO 565.070)
- Assault against a law enforcement officer 1st (RSMO 565.081)
- Assault against a law enforcement officer 2nd (RSMO 565.082)
- Assault against a law enforcement officer 3rd (RSMO 565.083)
- Armed Criminal Action (RSMO 571.015)
- Unlawful Use of Weapons (RSMO 571.030)
- Arson 1st and 2nd (RSMO 569.040, 050)
- Knowingly Burning or Destroying (RSMO 569.055)
- Burglary 1st (RSMO 569.160)
- Burglary 2nd (RSMO 569.170)
- Robbery 1st (RSMO 569.020)
- Robbery 2nd (RSMO 569.030)
- Felony Stealing (RSMO 570.030)
- Property Damage 1st (RSMO 569.100)
- Property Damage 2nd (RSMO 569.120)
- Trespass 1st (RSMO 569.140)
- Trespass 2nd (RSMO 569.150)
If he was innocent and you have partaken in any of the above or attempted to justify any of the above, then you are a part of the problem and have absolutely destroyed his memory. This is what people will remember. This will be his legacy regardless of guilt or innocence on the part of Mike Brown or Darren Wilson.
A side note to the media: Many of the police departments you’ve been referring to as Ferguson Police aren’t Ferguson Police. In fact, the following police departments aren’t actually members of the Ferguson Police Department:
- St. Louis County
- Missouri State Highway Patrol
- St. Louis City
- St. Charles City
- St. Charles County
- Pine Lawn
- St. Ann
- Bellefontaine Neighbors
- Velda City
- Country Club Hills
- Woodson Terrace
- Moline Acres
- Beverly Hills
- Breckenridge Hills
- Creve Coeur
- Des Peres
- Flordell Hills
- Maryland Heights
- St. John
- Town and Country
- Vinita Park
- Webster Groves
- University City