When my son learned to drive, I was the one that taught him. The very last thing that I went over was how to interact with the police. Have your license, registration and insurance ready, rest your hands on the steering wheel. Be polite and look at the officer when answering a question.
We then role-played where I was the cop. After handing back his info and telling him he was getting a warning. As I was turning to go, I said one more thing: You don’t have any drugs or weapons in the vehicle?
You may say well, you don’t trust cops. I don’t trust people. What I do know is that certain jobs or even activities, tend to attract a certain type of person. People that like to tell others what to do with little accountability for their own actions is a recipe for abuse. My advice to my son, limit your interaction with the police. Never consent to a search and ask if you are free to go.
Unless there is child abuse involved, whistleblowing is frowned upon almost universally. Don’t expect the good apples to report misdeeds, they’re more likely to seek a job transfer to a different location. This doesn’t just apply to law enforcement, it seems like it is part of our internal operating system as a species. A function and a bug, whether intentional or not.
When you are given special privileges, you might start to act special. If there are no repercussions or the consequences are minimal, there is no deterrent for bad behavior. The deck seems to be stacked. Qualified immunity, chokeholds, the lack of transparency about the conduct of public servants. There is a large section of our population that fears the police and rightly so. Power corrupts.
Look, I did a deep dive into the city budget seven years ago. What I found was that you were more likely to get drug tested if you worked in the water treatment department than the police department. The only thing that came from that article was that the website Transparency Frederick never posted another budget online. Nothing happened, no one cared.
So what are the options, ‘cause the police probably aren’t going to change. Ultimately it is an “us versus them” scenario and we, the public, are them. Unless qualified immunity is on the table and good luck with that, it is a near hopeless battle.
Ending the drug war or phrasing it a different way, ending the war on our own people would go a long way toward ending violent interactions with the police. Alcohol is already legal and if we were really concerned about people harming themselves with what they consume, we would be arresting people over a certain body mass index.
Active policing may have to go away. Fire, EMT’s, and social workers don’t go out patrolling for work opportunities. They respond when needed. At some point, the community has to be the deterrent. The criminal may not fear the police because they don’t fear the community will turn them in. The system is beyond broken and we may have reached critical mass.
I may be wrong, I won’t be protesting during a pandemic.
This is all I got “power to the peaceful.” But I want to leave with a word of caution, peaceful protests can only be rebuffed a finite amount of times. Meaningful change will be the only peaceful option in the end. Surely, a road less traveled.
John writes and lives in Frederick County.