Every good police state needs plenty of police, so as the United States becomes more totalitarian it should be no surprise that the job of enforcing all the rules is becoming more lucrative.
Lines are typically long when police agencies begin hiring, given salaries that can easily top $100,000 a year and retirement packages of 90 percent of final pay, or even more. Cities always are promising to spend more on "public safety," which means more cops, bigger salaries, more outrageous pensions, more high-powered weapons and other gee-whiz gadgets to subdue the population.
The work isn’t particularly hazardous, despite the claims to the contrary, and for some reason the populace still gives the police a great deal of respect, despite the never-ending examples of abusive police tactics, the bullying of police unions and the increasing tendency of cops to view their "subjects" with hostility and disdain.
In California, where the state budget is still going bust, there’s always more money to lavish on law enforcement. There are so many more laws, thousands more created each year, that it is absolutely positively necessary to hire new enforcers.
This is one of the few growth industries in the state. It’s a fun job, too. As the Los Angeles Times explained, a recent Independent Review of the Los Angeles County Sheriffs’ department "has identified on-duty sexual conduct as a troubling trend, from consensual acts to improper relationships with minors, to the use of patrol cars to follow women."
Where else can someone get paid so well and have such on-the-job latitude? And there’s little or no punishment for such behaviors. For the worst offenses, the deputies were fired. In one case, the Times wrote that a "deputy caught in a u2018romantic relationship with a 17-year-old Explorer Scout’ was suspended for 15 days."
Imagine how a cop would treat an average citizen who committed such a crime, but being a cop means living under a double standard. As a cop, you can do the things "they" can’t. That’s a rush. It’s such a freeing feeling to live a life that’s accountable to no one, which is another reason to choose this profession.
It’s lucrative work not just in pay and benefits, but from a free-lance perspective. The Times points to a deputy who was suspended for 10 days for selling department equipment on eBay. One deputy, who was reinstated after being fired, extorted a $1,500 motorcycle out of its non-English-speaking owner for $300 after the owner was stopped for illegally riding it on the sidewalk.
Not bad extra money, and well worth the minor inconvenience of getting caught.
Plus, there’s all sorts of other enjoyable stuff one can do if one enjoys ordering people around. There’s little risk. You know your life was in danger when you shot that unarmed guy in the back. Your partner saw him threatening you, too, which is more than enough for complete exoneration. Then there are those car chases. The unnecessary ones are really a rush.
Even though they take the lives of 14 innocent Californians a year due, in large part, to police recklessness, who really cares? You can blame the guy you were chasing. Being a cop means never having to say you are sorry, never having to worry about the pain you caused.
So, as a service to readers in California and elsewhere, who want to take part in this burgeoning industry, and enjoy all the available taxpayer-funded perks, I offer 10 easy tips on how to be effective on the job.
Talk to the media and the public all the time about how you put your life on the line every day for their safety. This gives you the moral high ground, and protects you if and when a problem arises. Don’t ever mention that police are rarely killed in the line of duty. For instance, in one of the nation’s most dangerous cities, Los Angeles, a cop killed on duty recently was the first one killed on duty in several years.
Always look for the easy mark. It’s tough work finding real criminals and pulling over truly reckless drivers. You never know what weapons these scary people might be carrying. Under no circumstances do you want to endanger your life, and lose that pension. So ignore the real criminals and focus on generally law-abiding citizens who may have committed some small infraction. It’s safe, it’s easy, and the law-abiding citizen you harass will probably be respectful to you as you ticket him.
Remember that you are separate from the hoi polloi. The regular citizen is your potential enemy. Don’t be merciful. Never feel the regular citizen’s pain or care about their humiliation. You are the authority, and as those federal law-enforcement training programs emphasize, you are apart from them.
If you mistakenly shoot someone, remember to say what your lawyer tells you to say: "I felt that my life was in danger." Don’t hesitate to lie or have your colleagues corroborate your lies. Your chances of facing any serious consequences are slim to nil.
As the courts repeatedly rule, you are not required to help anyone in distress. That’s why you can ignore the eyewitness reports of a car going off the side of the road near Moreno Valley, Calif., and exert no serious effort to look for the car. When the mom was found dead and her young child found alive 10 days later, you can shrug your shoulders and not give it another thought given that you didn’t owe those people anything. As the California Highway Patrol argued in court, after officers were accused of letting a man writhe in pain until he died below a Sacramento freeway, law enforcement can at its own discretion help people or ignore them. It’s their choice.
When called to a truly dangerous situation, such as a workplace shooting or a shooting at, say, a high school, do not enter the building. Let the shooter or shooters use all their ammunition before you go inside. Otherwise, you will put your life at risk. It is always easier to wait until the shooter is done killing people than to try to put yourself in a dangerous situation.
Always use the badge to lobby for more restrictions on individual rights (i.e., stopping citizens from owning guns) and always lobby for more public dollars for public safety.
Don’t always respond quickly to calls from regular citizens. You have better things to do. If they get frustrated and take matters into their own hands, arrest them. That is easier than arresting the actual bad guys.
Lying in court is OK. No one will know and most juries don’t care.
When you are caught hitting your spouse with the blunt end of your service revolver, blame stress from your job. All those days of putting your life on the line finally got to you. Nothing a little more time off, a bigger pension and more generous police budgets won’t solve.
Those are the basics. Once you master those, we can go into the advanced course of evidence destruction, weapons-planting and buying city councils.
Steven Greenhut (send him mail) is a senior editorial writer and columnist for the Orange County Register.