About That 'War on Cops' …
William Norman Grigg
Recently by William Norman Grigg: Fewer
Snouts in the Trough, Less Crime in the Streets
– actually, every day – innocent people across the country are harassed,
and murdered by
armed strangers in government-issued costumes. Most of the
assailants are never held accountable. Often, they are placed
on paid vacation (commonly called "administrative leave")
while their colleagues devise an official rationalization for their
very conservative estimate, at least thirty citizens are killed
in police shootings every month, many of which occur during paramilitary
raids conducted, Soviet-style, at daybreak or nighttime. Innocent
people are frequently found among those killed, wounded, or brutalized
in those raids; one recent example is 76-year-old
New York resident Jose Colon, who was shot in the stomach by
a SWAT operator who pulled the trigger trying to operate a flashlight
on his tricked-out pistol.
The grim but
inescapable fact is that the average American is much more likely
to be killed by a cop than by a terrorist.
publicize police abuses are routinely accused by apologists
for government enforcement agencies of exaggerating the problem
by focusing on a vanishingly small number of "exceptional"
cases. When police are on the receiving end of criminal violence,
however, those same apologists demand that we allow such exceptions
to define the rule.
On the basis
of recent trends, we can assume that two dozen or more Americans
have been shot by police since January 1, 2011. In the same period,
roughly half that many police have been shot, 11 of them either
injured or killed during one unusually bloody twenty-four-hour period.
This unconnected series of shootings has led many
police officers to believe that they are targets in a "war
on cops," and that alarmist impression has been diligently
propagated by police union officials who are always
eager to exaggerate the very modest dangers of their profession.
not a fluke," insists Richard Roberts, spokesman for the International
Union of Police Associations. "There’s a perception among officers
in the field that there’s a war on cops going on." Craig W.
Floyd of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund described
a "very troubling trend" of "officers ... being put at greater risk
than ever before."
"I think it's
a hundred times more likely today that an officer will be assaulted
compared to twenty, thirty years ago," agreed J.B. Smith, Sheriff
of Smith, County, Texas,
in an interview with Tyler's NBC affiliate KETK. "It has become
one of the most hazardous jobs in the United States, undoubtedly
– in the top five."
where the risk of death on the job is concerned, law enforcement
doesn't crack the
top ten list of most dangerous occupations, as designated by the
Bureau of Labor Statistics. In fact, none of the jobs on that
list involves people employed in the coercive sector. Commercial
fishermen, loggers, commercial pilots, farmers, and roofers all
face a higher risk of work-related death than that confronted by
the State's armed enforcers, for whom "officer safety" is job one.
like others retailing the "war
on cops" meme, recited the durable canard that police "work"
is more dangerous today because they confront a more violent breed
of street criminal. Five years ago, Joseph McNamara of Stanford's
Hoover Institution, a former NYPD Deputy Inspector (and, unfortunately,
an advocate of civilian disarmament), pointed
out that police "work" may be safer
now than ever before.
In 2005, McNamara
noted, fifty-one officers died in the line of duty "out of some
700,000 to 800,000 American cops. That is far fewer than the police
fatalities occurring when I patrolled New York’s highest crime precincts,
when the total number of cops in the country was half that of today."
is a war on the streets of America, McNamara allowed, but it is
one waged by the cops, not on them:
the police culture in our country has changed. An emphasis on 'officer
safety' and paramilitary training pervades today’s policing, in
contrast to the older culture, which held that cops didn’t shoot
until they were about to be shot or stabbed. Police in large cities
formerly carried revolvers holding six .38-caliber rounds. Nowadays,
police carry semi-automatic pistols with 16 high-caliber rounds,
shotguns and military assault rifles, weapons once relegated to
SWAT teams facing extraordinary circumstances. Concern about such
firepower in densely populated areas hitting innocent citizens has
given way to an attitude that the police are fighting a war against
drugs and crime and must be heavily armed."
police agencies were always designed to control the public, rather
than to "protect and serve" it. As sociologist
David Bayley memorably put it, "The police are to the government
as the edge is to the knife." Thanks in no small measure to the
proliferation of independent media, the public is coming to understand
A large and
growing segment of the public likewise has become palpably disgusted
with the casual elitism of the armed tax-feeders among us, who see
themselves as a caste apart from, and superior to, those from whom
they extract their livelihood. The police unions and media organs
that take dictation from them insist that the purported "war on
cops" is being fueled
by a growing public "disrespect"
for the "authority" of police.
palm-sized shield worn on a police officer’s chest should be viewed
as a badge of honor, not a bull’s-eye," sobbed the
editorial collective of the Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader
in a lachrymose house editorial that typifies media treatment of
the supposed "war" on police. "Sadly, recent deadly shootings around
the nation and alleged threats directed at Luzerne County law enforcers
reveal a troubling lack of respect for officers’ authority and responsibilities,
as well as their lives."
in question were allegedly made by 45-year-old
Scanton resident Ray Mazzarella, who was arrested and charged
with several counts of making "terroristic threats" for inflammatory
comments he had posted about the local police chief on his Facebook
page. Were the rational for Mazzarella's pre-emptive arrest applied
consistently, scores or hundreds of police officers would have to
be locked up and put on trial for equally inflammatory statements
posted on chat boards frequented by LEOs. Of course, by even making
that point I'm undermining public "respect" for police "authority"
– thereby, one supposes, abetting violence
against our sanctified protectors.
the rest of the article
Norman Grigg [send him mail]
publishes the Pro
Libertate blog and hosts the Pro
Libertate radio program.
© 2011 William Norman Grigg
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