Police are “society’s sheepdogs, [who] willingly and selflessly protect your flock — with your lives if necessary,” trumpeted retired SWAT officer Robert O’Brien in a recent column for Police magazine. “You are our nation’s domestic warriors and heroes.”
They are the heroic “sheepdogs”; we, the public at large, are merely helpless and contemptible sheep.
O’Brien spares no superlatives in hymning the innumerable virtues of his tax-devouring fraternity, which he describes as “a thin blue line [that] strengthens into a solid steel band of brothers” in the face of danger and adversity.
While O’Brien’s self-aggrandizing rhetoric is at once florid and fascist, Police Associate Editor Dean Scoville, a retired patrol supervisor for the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, eschews verbal adornment in expressing his thuggish and authoritarian views.
Scoville is peeved by the publicity earned by a recent incident in El Monte, in which a suspected gang member was kicked in the head by a cop following a vehicular pursuit. Although he led the police on a dangerous chase, the suspect, Richard Rodriguez, was face-down, hands-out, and unresisting when he was booted in the face by Officer George Fierro.*
As far as Scoville is concerned, kicking an unresisting suspect is just good old-school police work. The real scandal, he whines, is a “conspiracy” by what he calls the “f___ing news media,” who are supposedly “putting the boot to our collective heads” by dwelling on the episode.
Fierro’s only offense, Scoville sneers, is “Working in the wrong era.”
“There was a time when post pursuit ass-kickings were obligatory,” Scoville writes with the gleeful abandon of an adolescent eager to show off his mastery of newly learned vulgarisms. “Cops knew it, suspects knew it, and there are enough old times on both sides of the fence that will verify the assertion when I say that what this officer did was NOTHING compared to what would have happened in another place and time…. I’m nostalgic for the days when the pursued feared the judicial system if for nothing but the inevitable ass-kicking and street justice.”
Actually, it’s quite common to see tax-fattened functionaries in police uniforms inflict reflexive criminal abuse of the sort that makes Scoville go all girly with admiration. See this, for example, or this, this, this, this, this….
“Perhaps matters of practicality shouldn’t even be considered in a profession that embraces terms like `war on drugs,’ `war on organized crime,’ and ‘war on gangs,’ but is not allowed the means to fight them as such,” complains Scoville, who apparently lusts to turn the entire country into a patchwork of “free-fire zones” and “strategic hamlets” — or perhaps even unleash a domestic version of the Phoenix Program in order to “win” those “wars.”
*In the original version of this item, I mistakenly identified the officer who delivered the kick as Lt. Dan Berlingham, the El Monte police officer interviewed by Dean Scoville. I regret the error, and appreciate the correction by sharp-eyed reader Kimberly G.
(Thanks to Rad Geek for bringing the Police magazine essays to my attention.)12:37 am on May 31, 2009 Email William Norman Grigg