Thursday, July 30, 2009

Old cops, new cops, police stops, contempt of cop rot…

posted by Bill Arnett @ 9:15 AM Permalink

…just bugs the hell out of me as a former Air Force Law Enforcement Specialist (the DOD job equivalent of a precinct police sergeant) who was either better trained or just learned my lessons better than this modern group of so-called professionals calling themselves cops today. I don't mean to use such a broad brush, but it seems lately that arrests for 'disturbing the peace' or 'resisting arrest' (especially when no underlying charge legitimizing the arrest is cited) or, more properly, 'contempt of cop' are becoming more prevalent than ever.

The arrest of the professor in his own home for refusing to stop yelling at the cop is a prime example. One thing I learned from my training was that I truly was out there on the street to 'protect and serve' the public, and as that was the case, you just didn't go arresting a citizen having a bad day that wanted to yell at you, curse you, gesticulate wildly, or talk in a foul manner. None of those things were grounds for arrest and people generally calmed down when they finally figured out they could not p*ss me off, no matter how much trash they talked to me. I was a professional, out doing a professional job, and had too much pride to go making up bogus crap on which to arrest someone.

That's because I was taught the power of the pen. IF it became necessary to arrest someone who had violated the law I simply made extensive notes on the subject's conduct and attitude, and I found that this could do far more damage to the individuals career than any number of arrests for obviously questionable charges.

Foul language after being arrested for DWI? Conduct unbecoming an officer/NCO. Major scene on the street? Conduct of a nature as to bring disrespect upon the military, both violations of the UCMJ, potential career enders, and almost certainly a letter of reprimand which could end future promotions or ability to reenlist.

I know I'm speaking of military things here, mostly, but the concept remains the same. It was inexcusable stupidity to arrest the professor in his home, and contrary to the assertions that once the prof stepped outside his door he was in 'public' and subject to the complete control of the officer is pure horse puckey, the man was still on his own private property, the cop still did not have a warrant or any reasonable suspicion that the man had committed a crime; his feewings were hurt because the allegedly bad man yelled at him. And without a complainant to support the accusation of 'disturbing the peace' the professor could have been out on his lawn with a brass band playing to welcome him home and no crime would have been committed.

And 'verbal assaults' are not a crime - they are expressions of free speech and something the officer is required to respect, not make an independent judgement as to the individual's rights to express him/herself as they please, on their property or not.

As a child I was always told I could trust the police. That statement is no longer true in my opinion. You never know when you might say or do something that will cause an ill-trained cop to arrest you, knowing that he will 99 out of a hundred times get away with it as the arrested person will be so relieved at having the 'charges' dropped that they won't pursue a complaint against bad cops, not knowing that the cop himself had committed a crime by making a bogus arrest 'under color of authority' (Penal Code section 142 in California).

I am so disgusted and dismayed by the epidemic of this 'god-complex' that makes some cops think they can get away with any abuses. Just like the four officers who were caught on their own patrol cars recording monitor conspiring to make up lies to justify the arrest and prosecution of a woman whom the cop had hit from the rear. an accident for which the cop was clearly at fault, but who would rather lie, make up charges, and enlist other officers in his conspiracy to avoid censure for wrecking his patrol car. DISGUSTING! And the four cops are on 'administrative duty' drawing full paychecks despite taped evidence of their crime. The Chief there should have had four badges and guns confiscated and if not firing the officers outright should have put them on suspension without pay until Internal Affairs confirmed they should all be fired, minimally, and prosecuted, optimally.

I guess I've ranted enough, and for those cops who might read this and allege that 'being a military cop just isn't the same as being a civilian cop' I can only say, YOU do the duties comparable to those to which I was assigned, like working Town Patrol in the Philippines where in Angeles City there were 3,500 licensed bars, hookers, robbers, pickpockets, hustlers, thieves, bar brawls, shootings, stabbings and rapes every damn day of the week, or being a cop in Vietnam, or modernly, Iraq or Afghanistan in a hot war zone, then come talk crap to me.

In the meantime there is obviously a serious need for both better cops and especially better trained cops unburdened by feelings of a 'god complex'.

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At 1:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, don't even get me started ... .

As a qualifier, only one time in my whole life have I ever personally known of a cop actually preventing me from losing money/cash value/property as a direct consequence of his/their own involvement.

That was way back in 1983 when a Burbank patrolman knocked on my apartment complex door at around 3:00 in the morning to inquire if I had in fact given two midnight requisitioners, whom they found at my alley-access parking spot, a claimed permission to remove the fromt windshield from my Pinto. I gleefully told the cop "No."

Since that time, I've received at least an equal number of citations for illegal conduct I wasn't committing than I've ever been guilty of.

But what has ultimately broke the bank for me was the last two times in traffic court when both times, the pigs (and I mean it with all the bile that is emplied) flat-out perjured themselves in order to sustain my "guilt."

From 1997 at least, the whole traffic court circumstance (at least in Pasadena California) has been degraded into nothing more than a extortion racket so that the state continues to have at least a minimum of money rolling in so those worthless punitive tax racket whores (especially the Highway Patrol fucks) can send their pig-puke children to college.

Everytime I hear about a uniformed law-enforcement type getting slaughtered on the road by some alleged crook, I just see it as one less organized extortion slut masquerading behind a tin badge that will never have a future administrative opportunity to victimize me.

(Since I do in fact know that there are yet a small majority of honorable law enforcers, I quite liberally assess free indulgences against the above knee-jerk [with an emphasis on jerk] reaction.)


At 4:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Folks have disappeared.
Give a cat a badge and a gun and nine times out of ten, he thinks he is the law. You were the tenth.

At 12:12 PM, Blogger Bill Arnett said...

My thanks for the gratuitous insult "Anonymous," and I'm sure you are every bit as forthright and intellectually honest and informed on every matter upon which you chose to comment without identifying yourself or your major accomplishments as a cop that make you qualified to pass judgement upon someone like me, who has actually been there down in the mud, the blood, the guts, and the gore!

Either that or you are so obtuse as to confuse yourself into thinking that you, as a deity totally unfamiliar with the dangers of putting your life on the line for others, are just plain damn weird, to quote Samuel L. Jackson from "The Spirit."

You have obviously never packed a gun and/or worked in every unique duty section the Air Force has, earning promotions so far ahead of your peers that you were the youngest person to achieve the rank of Staff Sergeant ever, up to that time in the P.I. which I earned at AGE 20. ( I have no knowledge regarding other promotions after I left the P.I. and the military, but I know that record stood for several years.)

Had you been born by then (the Vietnam Era)? Still hangin' onto Momma's apron? Ever risked your life with enthusiasm to save the lives of others? Ever been under fire? Ever taken a job so seriously that you made sure you were the best by sheer hard work? Ever qualify expert with every variety of weapons available (I used to win small fortunes making bets with my commander as to who would have the best scores). Ever evacuated 210-260 people every twenty minutes, depending on what kind of aircraft was on the ground, and stood watching the faces and hearing the voices of the million or so Vietnamese we had to leave behind?

I guess your fixation on little pussy cats has a higher priority and takes precedent with you.

And once again, DanD, you have completely grokked the thrust of my post and responded with thoughtful comments without a hint of condemnation or snark towards me. I suppose there is a slight possibility I could have misinterpreted the comment of Anonymous. What do you think? It can be read two ways: that I was just the tenth cat thinking I was the law, which is an insult to someone who fought to enforce, not make, laws, or as the tenth cat I obviously exceeded the other nine cats in training, competency, compassion, and a true sense of right from wrong.

And after leaving the service I jailed several hundred felons and countless misdemeanants as a professional bounty hunter and bail agent for fifteen years. I'm sure you would be quite unable to even locate a bail skip, much less kick in his door at 3 a.m., arrest him, and pack him off to jail. But that was just me having fun.

Thanks again, Anonymous, I wear ignorant, goofy comments as badges of pride 'cause I KNOW the things I have done in service to my country, the law, and my fellow citizens. I'm s-u-u-u-r-r-r-e you can say the same [end snark].

I write and post under my true name and don't lend much credence to others who would insult under cover of Anonymity. Cutesy, throwaway comments should embarrass their author.

At 6:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Actually, I'm not absolutely sure what the untagged "Anonymous" to this comments thread was driving at. However, if I presume a "no-snark" meaning first, then what he said could be interpreted as; "... nine times out of ten a gun and a badge (predominately) produces a 'bad-attitude' cop," and he was -- maybe -- identifying you through your own post as a "10th exception" to that rule. While I think it may be a liberal exaggeration, because of the kind of people they are choosing to be cops nowadays, the point remains.

Also, since composition clarity and sentence structure do not seem to be his strong suits, that particular Anonymous will ultimately have to clear things up.

Where I'm coming from, as with cops, I also (predominately) have a selectively bad opinion about bounty hunters.

As far as I can assess, I think that "Dog" the "Bounty Hunter" types are nothing more than (constitutionally ambiguous) chemo-high seeking thugs (whose chemical of choice is adrenaline) who have turned the (not really too) constitutionally gray, entertainment circumstance of crooked video bounty-hunting into a lowest-rent, quasi-white trash version (as far as TV is concerned, anyway) of gangster rap ... but without any low-talent cadence-mumbling being involved.

Now Bill, it does seem to me that your expressed desire to serve as a law enforcer ideologically developed in you as a "public-service" calling. That you did military law enforcement first (AF) lets me believe that you were "best-trained." As for bounty-hunting? Well, I suppose you could also wrap a public-service apology around that job description too.

I only know one thing, I will do my damndest to severely cripple any over-confident handjob kicking my door down at 3am in the morning (devoid of an alternative-seeking warning) because he thinks he got the right address of a bail-jumping perp. If anything, I figure it would improve the bounty hunter's manners the next time around. I just hope I could write his apology in his own blood.

The way I see it, even though they are not cops, it seems that the adrenaline-rush-seekers of the bounty hunter industry have created for themselves an even greater police power role of "citizen's arrest" apprehension than even bonified police officers enjoy.

Technically, the Hessians hired by King George (18th Century) to apprehend America's "bail-jumping" revolutionaries were also nothing more than bounty hunters. That the profession hasn't changed much in well over 200 years attests to its popular appeal. This is also, however, why our "Founding Fathers" primarily created for themselves a republic (first) and not (just) a democracy. They knew how fickle popular appeal really could be.

As it is, emulating a public servant as police officer means that a cop will feel it is his responsibility to help a child across the street ... the bounty hunter might do it only because he thinks that the kid has an "easy-access" key to a house where a bail-jumper might be hiding.

As with practically all public-service functions, they are populated by good people, and bad people. The question remains, who manages the hiring? With police officers, it's other public servants. With bounty hunters, it's just whoever may qualify for a license.


At 9:59 PM, Blogger Bill Arnett said...

Thanks for the temper check - I know this is a touchy subject for me so I like to check myself. Comprehension can sometimes be a little difficult, writing as well since they doubled my morphine again.

Thanks, DanD

And if I owe Anonymous an apology I do hereby extend one.


At 12:06 AM, Blogger The Sailor said...

My personal feeling and experience is that the Daryl Gates Skool of Kops has been adopted around the country.

When I was a teenager you'd sometimes run into an abusive cop, but usually you could reason with them. And the dialogue went both ways.

When I lived in LA under Gates rule there were 3 major gangs. The crips, the bloods and the LAPD. The crips & bloods never fu**ed with me, and I lived, worked or passed thru their 'territory' every day.

The LAPD theory of policing was to 'control the situation' which meant starting out every contact with a citizen with the cops thinking you're a scumbag, even if you're the victim.

Shouting at people having what is probably the worst day of their lives only escalates the problem.

A sympathetic ear can do wonders, even if you're hauling them off to jail.

Being reasonable is not an invitation to weakness, it's a show of strength ... especially when they know you can call in a SWAT team.

At 9:58 AM, Blogger Bill Arnett said...

I'll never forget Old Bob, as we called him, a Nevada State trooper standing 6'7" tall, weighing about 300 lbs.

If you were a kid known in the neighborhood where I lived in Las Vegas you could never forget any encounter with Old Bob, especially if you were stupid enough to drag race or even just go speeding around the neighborhood.

He pulled my over one night doing about 80 mph in a forty zone, so I was already scared spitless when he hit me with the reds, but when I saw it was Old Bob I KNEW I was in for it.

He knew my old 55 Buick Special on sight as his son and I went to school together and I usually gave him a ride, but I was still trembling in my boots as Bob approached.

When he got to my window, before I could start sniveling, Old Bob reached in through my window, grabbed my jacket front with one of his ham-sized hands and literally YANKED my ass out of my car through the open window!

Still holding me suspended about two feet in the air (and still using only one hand) he got nose-to-nose with me and told me, "Bill, if you ever do something this stupid again I'll not only impound your car, I'll write you the longest ticket in the history of Nevada. DO YOU UNDERSTAND, BOY?"

I was almost in tears of fear as I swore on my life I would never, never, EVER be so stupid again. He gently lowered me to the ground and sent me home, following all the way. His final words as he drove away were, "You KNOW I KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE!" Believe me, I never got stupid in "his" neighborhood again! His son and I remained good friends, still riding to school together.

It taught me a lesson I never forgot. He could have written me up and impounded my car, but he loved all us neighborhood kids and felt putting the fear of god (him) into us served the public interest better, and he was right, as none of us guys ever got pulled over TWICE by Old Bob. We weren't THAT stupid, so his job was done, no one suffered unnecessarily, and it was actually one of the major events in my life that made me aspire to be a cop and to be the best cop I could, just like Old Bob.

At 10:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

(Damn gout can be painful.)

Nice little epic Bill.

I figure that there are two basic types who become police officers, people such as yourself who were inspired by a positive cop-model (hell, even Joe Friday was considered a "positive" role model ... and essentially was) when young and then properly trained; and then we got the cowardly bully-types who like the protection of the shield and the power that a gun enhances, especially in those "under-color-of-authority" moments.

In the meantime, there are a whole plethora of collateral motivations (even economic ones) that cause people to prefer a para-military paycheck. As you've been there and done that extensively, you should write a book.


At 12:51 PM, Blogger Bill Arnett said...

One thing, DanD: I have a great deal of pride that no bail skips I chased were EVER injured (except one idiot that thought he could jump out a second floor window and take off running - after he broke his leg jumping), 80% came back voluntarily if I could just get them to call (my partner called it 'long-distance brainwashing', if I could keep him/her on the line for an hour he/she would tell me where they were, in two hours I could convince anyone to return voluntarily), and when I set-up and coordinated a bust it went down so hard and fast that no one had time to get hurt. A point of pride, dontcha know. I always believed, and practiced: NO ONE GETS HURT FOR MERE MONEY. I'm just drawn that way.

At 7:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe you Bill, in a small way, you remind me of on of my dad's troops at Rein Mein in Germany.

As far as I can assess, you represent what was America's (dominant) military conscience 30+ years ago. Back then, on a sliding scale, we really did have some "good" warriors.

But Vietnam was the beginning of an era that was particularly designed to transform America's volunteer military (and yeah, even the conscripts were still (indentured) volunteers in that they did not [too violently] rebel against their conscription) into a commodity of global mercenaries.

As far as the corporate universe is concerned (with S. Butler spinning in his grave) that transformation is functionally complete.


At 10:12 AM, Blogger Bill Arnett said...

That's what perplexes me nowadays, DanD. At the time I didn't feel like I was doing anything special, I was just doin' my job. I guess the ethics just aren't the same anymore and I'm 'old school' all the way


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