By T. Lefever
When I first found out that there was an article presenting ideas on how to better society written by a Copwatch member, I thought, “Good for him. At least he’s trying to do something constructive”. As a current police officer, it didn’t matter to me that the main framework of the article posited that cops are not needed and that society is better without us. I expect Copwatchers to share that sentiment in the way that Redsox fans hate the Yankees or how dogs hate the mailman. What I don’t expect out of their mouths is anything other than, “Am I being detained?”, “What is your name and badge number?”, and “You don’t have to answer any of their questions.” Somewhere between the author mentioning “patrols of local women” to reduce cat-calling and “the decriminalization of almost every crime” as means to phase us out, I began to long for the days where all I would hear from a Copwatcher were the short list of robotic statements mentioned above.
Let me give you some context. I worked for several years in a high crime area of a major American city where there happened to be a Copwatch headquarters smack in the middle of the most crime ridden neighborhood on my beat. It was made clear to me that their role was to play agitator and obstructionist the very first time I met them. In my experience with this bunch, they were always good to show up at the scene of your arrest with a camera rolling when you had Joe Blow in custody with his stolen gun and 11 individually wrapped hits of crack ready for sale to any poor SOB in his own neighborhood willing to buy it. They were always good to show up and film the armed carjacker sitting on the curb in handcuffs so that they could spin the cancer within the community that you just temporarily sent into remission into just another case of “police brutality”.
I’ve had experience with Copwatch inciting a riot in the street where a steel hammer, rocks, and bottles bounced off of my patrol car as I drove by. Unfortunately, one experience I have not had with Copwatch is the pleasure of following a good lead that they could provide thanks to their ever watchful eyes in that neighborhood. When a Marine on leave was shot in the neck and killed while trying to protect his girlfriend from a robbery by two local kids across the street from the Copwatch Shack, they must have been off that day. When a cop was ambushed by shotgun fire across the street from the Copwatch Shack, they must have been off that day. Whenever an opportunity to provide justice and healing to an embattled community presented itself, the Copwatch that I knew must have been off that day. Even worse, the local kids wore “Free So-and-so” shirts for literally years, martyring their murderous friends. But let’s take a look at one Copwatcher’s sunny view of a future without police.
I once showed up on a call where a woman essentially blamed my partner and I for something that she witnessed happen on a bus to someone else across the country about ten years before either of us were even born. Essentially, the author is doing the same thing to police in attempting to make three of the six “points” in his article. Criticism of the court system, the way mental health is evaluated and administered, and the manner in which politicians handle their relationship with the public somehow get used as examples of why we don’t need cops.
According to the author, our nation’s judicial system needs to get in-line with Columbia, a nation that was run by a murderous sociopathic drug dealer not too long ago, the notoriously bloodthirsty Irish Republican Army, and “hippy-communes”. How dare our “adversarial court system” issue stay away orders to wife beaters, monitor parolees, and jail societal parasites? Why have law and order when you can plant a car bomb in Mike’s Chevy for smacking around your sister instead? I don’t even want to know what they do to rapists on hippy-communes.
I’ve heard the argument for better mental health evaluation for gun owners but Mr. Martin goes off the rails when he states that there would be no need for police if we treated cases of mental illness more efficiently or if mental health was not “used as a trap door for social control”. It’s a case of lazy thinking at best or a feeble attempt to continually denigrate police officers at worst on his part.
In what I almost took as a joke, the author calls for “decriminalization of almost every crime” but only really talks about the decriminalization of marijuana. If you decriminalize everything then there is technically no crime and no need for police who are tasked with preventing crime. Can that really be your argument? We can talk about marijuana being legal, but know this. When it is legal, cops still won’t be able to smoke it. Society expects more out of us and getting high when you’ve got to carry a badge and a gun the next day will always be a no-no. What we can’t talk about ever is making theft, assault, rape, murder, etc…legal. Society has set that bar low enough that everyone should be able to meet it or face the consequences.
There was an obvious pattern at play in this article. The author brings up some programs and practices that either sound like they could or actually have worked when used in conjunction with police. The problem is he just removes police from the equation. He touts the use of unarmed mediation/intervention teams and civilian patrols in place of police officers rather than two used in unification. He advocates the implementation of ex-criminals in crime dense communities as mediators and role models in place of police and other people who have tried to make themselves better without stepping on the heads of everyone around them through criminal enterprise. Gang Units across the country have worked with ex-gang members to put on seminars for kids to provide clarity on the realities of a self-destructive dead end lifestyle that gang affiliation carries for far longer than I have been on the beat. Police Athletic Leagues around the country have taken teens in a downward spiral of criminal and gang activity and turned them into Olympic caliber athletes. Take police out of the equation and let’s see how that works out. Hint: It doesn’t.
I want to conclude with a quote from Edmund Burke, who said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Police officers across the country take an oath to protect and serve their communities. We pride ourselves on being the sheepdogs protecting the sheep from the wolves. An extremely small number of us have been wolves in disguise and we deal with them accordingly. I have never met a Copwatcher that understood that.
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