I’ll say one thing in defense of the men (and women) of the East German Stasi, the Soviet-era KGB, the Red Guards – and other such like throughout the history of totalitarian regimes: They had little real choice. It was either brutalize their fellow citizens – or join the ranks of the brutalized.
The United State is not quite there yet. It is merely at the late Czarist Russia – or Weimar Germany – stage.
Point being, one doesn’t have to sign up for law enforcement work as a Hail Mary way to avoid poverty, or the gulag . . . or the gas chamber.
So, what sort of person chooses to become a law enforcer – and remains one – when it is still possible to avoid such a dirty occupation? An occupation that, as a matter ofroutine, puts one in the position of rousting – and caging – people who’ve done nothing that can be characterized as causing harm to others (or their property)?
Who have merely run afoul of “the law”?
There seem to be four general types:
The well-intended type.
He thinks he’s going to go after Bad Guys – but finds the majority of his time is spent enforcing Bad Laws. Bad, because there’s no harm done. Well, no harm done by those he goes after. He, on the other hand, harms them. He extorts their money; he seizes their property. He throws people in cages who’ve done nothing more than cross an arbitrarily decreed distinction between one form of recreational intoxicant and another. Etc.
He is required to do things to other adults that he’d never dream of doing on his own absent the sanction – and the overwhelming “back-up” implied by his special costume, the gun on his hip and the sanction of the state – like hector other adults about things that are none of his business.
Like whether they’re wearing a seatbelt.
It may occur to him one fine day that the majority of the people he pulls over, puts in cuffs and takes to jail didn’t deserve it – because they hadn’t done anything (except, of course, violate “the law”).
At this point, he either has a come-to-Jesus moment and quits in disgust . . . or graduates to our next “type.”
The “just doing my job” type.
This is guy is a cynic – and a nihilist. He knows, at some level, that much of what he does is ridiculous – and even, perhaps, wrong. But it’s become his living, his meal ticket. He’s got 10 years invested and knows that to quit now would mean the loss of a juicy pension after another ten – not to mention the loss of the free car to drive and all the free cups of coffee (and free meals) that flow the way of a uniformed enforcer.
He does what he is told – and expects youto do as ordered. For him, all that matter is “the law” – regardless of the law’s inanity. He may even agree with you that a given law is preposterous. But he’ll ticket – or arrest – you nonetheless.
Because, of course, it’s the law.
He does not question anything he does – and shows either boredom or annoyance when you do.
The upshot is this type of cop is basically a bureaucrat and – usually – only bad to the extent that the laws he enforces are bad. There is a limit. He usually won’t exceed the law or go beyond what he is ordered to do. That would be against procedure.
He is rigid and thoughtless, perhaps – but not usually deliberately vicious.
Which brings us to our third “type.”
As the system becomes increasingly (and obviously) brutal – brutal people gravitate toward the profession.
This one enjoys wielding arbitrary, unaccountable power over others. Making them feel afraid. Humiliating them in front of their spouse – or their children. His greatest satisfaction lies in forcing people tosubmit. It makes him feel like the tough guy he’s not. And the surest way to arouse his fury is to question his authority – or refuse to submit.
This type of cop is narcissistic and entitlement-minded. He is incapable of feeling empathy. He may be an outright sociopath.
Given the opportunity he will assault – and possibly even kill – you. He’s looking for that opportunity. Here’s a recent for-instance:
The cops in this video are the sort who would have eagerly lined people up in front of a ditch.
Or manned an oven.
And they’re becoming typical types – replacing the dwindling numbers of our final “type” . . .