27 May 2004

"We will bury you - but only after conducting a rigorous study to ensure that you are fully biodegradable!"

While considering this image of the former Vice President of the United States apparently auditioning for a walk-on in a Riefenstahl film while giving a speech laden with biblical references and impugning of his opponents' patriotism, I can only think:

Dude, what happened to the beard?

Captions, anyone?

Ofc. Krupke at 6:04 PM
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26 May 2004

Today your humble correspondent was pulled from the street to attend a training class, one of several the SCPD runs for those too junior or unlucky to get out of it somehow. The topic was "Police Ethics", and the class consisted primarily of viewing an episode of "A&E Investigative Reports" that someone had taped off TV circa 1992 (one of the featured interviewees was a dapper young U.S. Attorney named Rudolph Giuliani). "Bad Cops" was the title, and curiously, the LAPD was not mentioned. The program examined several cases of cops gone way, way wrong, talking about the lure of drugs, peer pressure, the "blue wall of silence", the "us vs. them mentality", and also included a few vox-pops of people stopped in the street and asked what they thought on the subject of police corruption.

It was during these man-on-the-street interviews that I noticed something. I don't like dirty cops (and these guys were way dirty), and I really don't like the pressure they bring on good cops in order to avoid getting caught. I can't imagine I would ever do the things they did. I had little sympathy for them. And yet, as I watched the citizens saying things like, "Yeah, it makes you have to wonder who the cops are really protecting," I felt an instinctive, visceral clutching in the back of my head:

Oh, you have to wonder, huh? How dare you throw accusations at me? You haven't been where I've been. You have no clue what it's like out there. You've never walked up on a robbery alarm at one in the morning in the middle of the ghetto with a loaded shotgun in your hands, half of you hoping you'll find a bad guy waving a gun, and the other half praying you won't. Just once I'd like to see you pin on a badge and -

And there it is: Blue wall. Us vs. them. Just for a fleeting, irrational moment. But it was there.

A cop's collective identity goes deep; after all, people don't say "we worry about the bad cops," they say, "we worry about the cops." I know I've been the subject of (to put it mildly) exaggerated Internal Affairs complaints, and I will be again. We don't want to protect the bad ones. We want to protect ourselves.

The rest of the class was a lecture by the Chief of Police, which consisted of about 10% war stories about corrupt acts he had come across in his career with various agencies, and 90% bragging about how great it is that he pays us so much so we don't have to be corrupt.

How reassuring.