NEWSFLASH: 99.999999% of the time, cops are doing the legal, right thing. This is usually where you get the, “Yeah but” arguments. As in:
“Yeah but, on YouTube all you see are videos of cops beating people up”. First, you are only seeing a short clip of what transpired, not what lead up to it. It most likely stemmed from an attempt at a legal detention where the suspect escalated it by fighting, trying to flee, resisting, etc.
Two, its YouTube!!! No one is going to watch a YouTube channel where officers deliver toys to poor children on Christmas (which we do, by the way). Its entertainment! That’s why there are TV shows like Cops as opposed to shows like Accountants or Software Engineers…
“Yeah but, I get harassed by the cops because I’m (Canadian, Left Handed, Seventh Day Adventist, pick one)”. It might surprise a lot of people that when conducting traffic stops we don’t often see who is in the vehicle. We see a violation such as speeding, tinted windows, etc. and that’s why we make the stop. Usually, when stopping people, most officers provide an explanation why. “I stopped you because you failed to stop at that stop sign”. If you fail to listen to the explanation or choose to believe it was for some other reason, that’s on you.
So what’s the take away from all of this? Simple, mind your own business and let me do my job. You think we’re violent, racist, dirty, etc. That’s fine. To be honest, at this point in my career, if that’s your point of view then I don’t care what you think. I’ve been dealing with the terminally ignorant my whole career so I’m not going to let your misinformed opinion get in the way of me doing my job. I have a higher calling, to keep everyone safe and to keep the bad guys at bay so damn your opinion.
I’ve been doing this for 17 years and I know more about human nature and people’s penchant for violence than you’ll ever be able to comprehend.
And for the folks who do support law enforcement, I apologize for the shotgun blast I just wrote. I know, from experience, that you are the overwhelming majority. Unfortunately, social media and main stream media don’t care about your opinion. It doesn’t sell advertising space. Mouth breathers chanting, ‘F— the police!” do.
To my fellow veterans who I know have mixed feelings about law enforcement allow me to provide two examples that may hit home. Example One, all the folks who never spent a day in uniform discussing the morality of war or the, “right or wrongness” of current or past conflicts. You know the type. They say things like, “We should have never been in (Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam) in the first place.” We? What’s this, “We” business? You got a combat veteran in your pocket?
Example Two, the politicians who tell you your favorite firearm is a weapon of mass destruction because it has a scary looking pistol grip or a mass-shooter enhancing flash suppressor on it. Cue California Senator DeLeon with the most ignorant explanation ever of the deadly ghost gun.
In both examples, misinformed outsiders are passing judgement on topics they know very little about generally based on hearsay and faulty logic.
That’s my world every day.
So, in closing:
Don’t tell your dentist how to fill a cavity (if you do he’ll probably give you more laughing gas to shut you up).
Don’t tell the cook how to prepare your food. (and for God sakes, don’t send it back! As a cop, I’m keenly aware what disgruntled folks can do to your food and spitting in it is on the low end of disgusting spectrum).
Obey the law and don’t blame me for intervening when you run afoul of it.
And, most importantly, don’t tell me how to keep you safe.
You might be told to kick rocks…
This article first appeared in The Havok Journal 29 August 2018.
Nick Perna is a Police Officer with the Redwood City Police Department in Northern California. He has spent much of his career as a gang and narcotics investigator. He is a member of a Multi-Jurisdictional SWAT Team since 2001 and is currently a Team Leader. He previously served as a paratrooper in the US Army and is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He has a Master’s Degree from the University Of San Francisco.