What to do during a police encounter...

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jks9199

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You know what, let's talk about "Public Servants" for a moment...

Cops are indeed "public servants" because they do work for the body public, as governement employees. But that doesn't mean they "work for you." You can't give a cop an order, any more than you can order the tax assessor not to bill you this year, or tell the road & sewer guys not to dig up your yard to fix a pipe. (As a parenthetical aside... ain't it interesting that we tend to only hear the "you work for me!" stuff about cops, not the tax man or water meter reader?) They provide a service to everyone, and that service is sometimes individualized, meaning that they come to your door and help you out. And sometimes, they do things you don't like -- give you a ticket, or even arrest you. So, even though they are indeed public servants, they aren't your personal servants -- the emphasis is on PUBLIC not servant.
 

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Being a police officer has become increasingly more difficult over the last forty years.

Personally, I wouldn't recommend it as a profession to anyone anymore. And that saddens me.
 

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You know what, let's talk about "Public Servants" for a moment...

Cops are indeed "public servants" because they do work for the body public, as governement employees. But that doesn't mean they "work for you." You can't give a cop an order, any more than you can order the tax assessor not to bill you this year, or tell the road & sewer guys not to dig up your yard to fix a pipe. (As a parenthetical aside... ain't it interesting that we tend to only hear the "you work for me!" stuff about cops, not the tax man or water meter reader?) They provide a service to everyone, and that service is sometimes individualized, meaning that they come to your door and help you out. And sometimes, they do things you don't like -- give you a ticket, or even arrest you. So, even though they are indeed public servants, they aren't your personal servants -- the emphasis is on PUBLIC not servant.
I can assure you it isnt just cops who hear that. Just to be more clear, the tax guy definitely hears it. As does the census guy, the civil servants who work for the city, the state and the federal government in social security, at the local welfare office, unemployment, etc. I know all of that either from personal experience or through very close friendships with folks who work in all areas of government.
 
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drop bear

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I can assure you it isnt just cops who hear that. Just to be more clear, the tax guy definitely hears it. As does the census guy, the civil servants who work for the city, the state and the federal government in social security, at the local welfare office, unemployment, etc. I know all of that either from personal experience or through very close friendships with folks who work in all areas of government.

Yep people used to say that to me when I bounced.

People are sad.
 

dvcochran

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Is that so? Just yesterday I read an article from Oakland about a group of current and former cops being disciplined for racist and misogynistic posts on Instagram. One was making fun of efforts to address excessive force.

You can easily find studies, articles, and anecdotes all highlighting individual and systemic racism in police departments all over the country.

or are you saying that race shouldnt have anything to do with it? Because if youre speaking aspirationally, I agree.
You can easily find just as many studies, articles, and anecdotes highlighting just the opposite.

You should really study Matthew 7:5.

No, I was not trying to speak aspiringly on purpose, but I will take it.
 

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You know what, let's talk about "Public Servants" for a moment...

Cops are indeed "public servants" because they do work for the body public, as governement employees. But that doesn't mean they "work for you." You can't give a cop an order, any more than you can order the tax assessor not to bill you this year, or tell the road & sewer guys not to dig up your yard to fix a pipe. (As a parenthetical aside... ain't it interesting that we tend to only hear the "you work for me!" stuff about cops, not the tax man or water meter reader?) They provide a service to everyone, and that service is sometimes individualized, meaning that they come to your door and help you out. And sometimes, they do things you don't like -- give you a ticket, or even arrest you. So, even though they are indeed public servants, they aren't your personal servants -- the emphasis is on PUBLIC not servant.

The relevant issue here is that cops are public servants. Like all public servants, the role of cops is to act as a responsible steward for the public trust. What that charge is depends on the role. Someone who works for the IRS has a fiduciary responsibility. Their job is to ensure (as best they can) that people pay their due taxes, and that the people aren't charged more than they are due.

People who work at the VA hear the "you work for me" thing all the time. The folks at the Veterans Administration have a pretty serious charge, to support and serve our veterans, and in particular, disabled veterans.

The public servants who work for the state's department of transportation have a serious charge. They keep the roads safe. During normal times, they have to prioritize which areas to maintain, which bridges get fixed. In crisis, they ensure the roads are cleared timely so that things get back to normal.

Cops have a serious charge, as well.

The issue isn't who you work for, as cops aren't unique in this area (even if you feel like you are). The issue is when a public servant (ANY public servant) betrays the public trust, either through abuse or incompetence. The real difference here is that, unlike the tax guys, when a cop fails in this area, it can have dire consequences to an individual. When an entire department fails in this area, it can have dire consequences to an entire community.

I've had a couple of concerning interactions with our local police. Going on a decade ago now, my son was thinking about the future. In our local high schools, a requirement to graduate is to do a day of job shadow. He did an overnight ride along with our local police and at that time was really interested. There were a lot of things that happened that really bothered him, but the worst was that the cop described to my son what he called the "walks like a duck" method. He would point out people to my son and say, "is that a duck?" Short version is that people of color were all "ducks."

Recently, my neighbor called the non-emergency line to complain about a violation of our local noise ordinances. A neighbor had a live band in his backyard that could be heard for miles around. It was literally so loud we couldn't watch TV in our house with the windows and doors closed. By the time the cop showed up, we were all milling around. There was a lot of crazy in that interaction, but the most alarming thing to me was that the cop said to my neighbor that by calling the cops, he had put his neighbor's life in danger... because now, the cop was going to go over there and this cop might have to shoot some people. It was a bizarre twist of logic.

But to the point, the issue is that these things have stuck with me, because they speak to the culture of the department, and insight into their view of their role in the community that is concerning. And it's easy to connect the dots between cops who express sentiment like those above and issues of systemic racism and a sense of entitlement.
 
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The issue isn't who you work for, as cops aren't unique in this area (even if you feel like you are). The issue is when a public servant (ANY public servant) betrays the public trust, either through abuse or incompetence. The real difference here is that, unlike the tax guys, when a cop fails in this area, it can have dire consequences to an individual. When an entire department fails in this area, it can have dire consequences to an entire community.

I've had a couple of concerning interactions with our local police. Going on a decade ago now, my son was thinking about the future. In our local high schools, a requirement to graduate is to do a day of job shadow. He did an overnight ride along with our local police and at that time was really interested. There were a lot of things that happened that really bothered him, but the worst was that the cop described to my son what he called the "walks like a duck" method. He would point out people to my son and say, "is that a duck?" Short version is that people of color were all "ducks."

Recently, my neighbor called the non-emergency line to complain about a violation of our local noise ordinances. A neighbor had a live band in his backyard that could be heard for miles around. It was literally so loud we couldn't watch TV in our house with the windows and doors closed. By the time the cop showed up, we were all milling around. There was a lot of crazy in that interaction, but the most alarming thing to me was that the cop said to my neighbor that by calling the cops, he had put his neighbor's life in danger... because now, the cop was going to go over there and this cop might have to shoot some people. It was a bizarre twist of logic.

But to the point, the issue is that these things have stuck with me, because they speak to the culture of the department, and insight into their view of their role in the community that is concerning. And it's easy to connect the dots between cops who express sentiment like those above and issues of systemic racism and a sense of entitlement.

We've moved rather astray of the original topic (I believe I can speak with a tad bit of authority on that), and are straying dangerously close to politics, so let's be mindful and respectful as we go on. That's not a Staff authority warning -- that's a participant in a conversation recognizing a concern.

Those are certainly concerning issues, and I can't address them particularly specifically. Cops are human beings. There is a wide range of biases and thoughts and opinions among cops. Some good, some bad. I would suggest that those are issues to discuss with a supervisor at that agency. Your son's experience, especially, because it may well indicate a bias. I hedge that because I don't have all the pieces, and there may be other justifications. More on that in a moment.... Your noise violation... They're a nuisance to everybody, and you have every right to function in your own home without that disturbance, and the officers should probably have handled it differently. (Again; sorry for weasel words -- but I don't have all the pieces.) In my experience, over several agencies, the usual pattern for a noise complaint is to contact the violator, ask them to knock it off, explaining that if it keeps up, they could be cited. (Specifics vary...) Usually, we avoid contacting complainants to hopefully avoid neighborhood feuds. But there are various factors, like time of day, specifics of local noise ordinances, history of complaints or permits obtained (yep; I've seen people actually get appropriate permits for a live band show in their back yard... which ties the cops hands a bit), and overall attitudes. If youre not happy -- let someone know. Talk to a supervisor about it; be willing to listen, because they might give you an explanation. Don't start with a complaint, and don't start out demanding that "something be done!" Quite bluntly, every supervisor and chief gets several of those a day -- often about things that they have no ability to respond to. I suggest starting along the lines of "this happened, I'm not sure why, can you explain?"

As to ducks... There's a great bit from the NYPD Blue series, where Andy Sipowicz is explaining what to look for to his son, who is about to go into the academy. "People, the things they, the times they do them, the places they do them." A good cop does know his jurisdiction, and who fits and who doesn't. And, in some places, a particular race may indeed either fit or not fit... If a white suburban kid is wandering around the Anacostia neighborhood in Washington, DC.... something doesn't fit. If a black kid from Anacostia is wandering around Great Falls, VA... something doesn't fit. It may or may not be criminal... but it's not normal. And then you have gang bangers... that certainly have a look, and are often racially segragated. So there may be justification or explanation. Or there may not. Either way, nothing will change if you don't tell someone. All that'll happen is the animosity will fester...
 

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I think I heard something.
 

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Steve

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We've moved rather astray of the original topic (I believe I can speak with a tad bit of authority on that), and are straying dangerously close to politics, so let's be mindful and respectful as we go on. That's not a Staff authority warning -- that's a participant in a conversation recognizing a concern.

Those are certainly concerning issues, and I can't address them particularly specifically. Cops are human beings. There is a wide range of biases and thoughts and opinions among cops. Some good, some bad. I would suggest that those are issues to discuss with a supervisor at that agency. Your son's experience, especially, because it may well indicate a bias. I hedge that because I don't have all the pieces, and there may be other justifications. More on that in a moment.... Your noise violation... They're a nuisance to everybody, and you have every right to function in your own home without that disturbance, and the officers should probably have handled it differently. (Again; sorry for weasel words -- but I don't have all the pieces.) In my experience, over several agencies, the usual pattern for a noise complaint is to contact the violator, ask them to knock it off, explaining that if it keeps up, they could be cited. (Specifics vary...) Usually, we avoid contacting complainants to hopefully avoid neighborhood feuds. But there are various factors, like time of day, specifics of local noise ordinances, history of complaints or permits obtained (yep; I've seen people actually get appropriate permits for a live band show in their back yard... which ties the cops hands a bit), and overall attitudes. If youre not happy -- let someone know. Talk to a supervisor about it; be willing to listen, because they might give you an explanation. Don't start with a complaint, and don't start out demanding that "something be done!" Quite bluntly, every supervisor and chief gets several of those a day -- often about things that they have no ability to respond to. I suggest starting along the lines of "this happened, I'm not sure why, can you explain?"

As to ducks... There's a great bit from the NYPD Blue series, where Andy Sipowicz is explaining what to look for to his son, who is about to go into the academy. "People, the things they, the times they do them, the places they do them." A good cop does know his jurisdiction, and who fits and who doesn't. And, in some places, a particular race may indeed either fit or not fit... If a white suburban kid is wandering around the Anacostia neighborhood in Washington, DC.... something doesn't fit. If a black kid from Anacostia is wandering around Great Falls, VA... something doesn't fit. It may or may not be criminal... but it's not normal. And then you have gang bangers... that certainly have a look, and are often racially segragated. So there may be justification or explanation. Or there may not. Either way, nothing will change if you don't tell someone. All that'll happen is the animosity will fester...
Im not too worried about it, but my Venezuelan neighbors whom the cop thinks he may involuntary shoot may have something to worry about.

Actually, truth is I live in a small, semi rural area. We have a few city cops but they are really county deputies leased by the city. I am realistic about anything positive coming to me or my neighbors if I were to call in a complaint. I would need to call the sheriffs office and that wont get me anywhere.

Regarding the duck thing, the area I live in is quite diverse, though it wasnt that way about 25 years ago when we first moved out here. I cant tell you what the cop said. I can only tell you that my son has never forgotten it and he never mentioned the police as a possible career again. Probably for the best.

anyway, this is a little far afield. I was really commenting on your post regarding public service. I wasnt disagreeing with you as much as I was pointing out that public service is all about stewardship of the public trust. All public servants are accountable for that. Even cops. I dont think thats political, or even all that controversial.
 

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What does it explain about modern US race relations?

I mean, I could suggest some wisdom from many sources, but they wouldnt shed light on this

The relevant issue here is that cops are public servants. Like all public servants, the role of cops is to act as a responsible steward for the public trust. What that charge is depends on the role. Someone who works for the IRS has a fiduciary responsibility. Their job is to ensure (as best they can) that people pay their due taxes, and that the people aren't charged more than they are due.

People who work at the VA hear the "you work for me" thing all the time. The folks at the Veterans Administration have a pretty serious charge, to support and serve our veterans, and in particular, disabled veterans.

The public servants who work for the state's department of transportation have a serious charge. They keep the roads safe. During normal times, they have to prioritize which areas to maintain, which bridges get fixed. In crisis, they ensure the roads are cleared timely so that things get back to normal.

Cops have a serious charge, as well.

The issue isn't who you work for, as cops aren't unique in this area (even if you feel like you are). The issue is when a public servant (ANY public servant) betrays the public trust, either through abuse or incompetence. The real difference here is that, unlike the tax guys, when a cop fails in this area, it can have dire consequences to an individual. When an entire department fails in this area, it can have dire consequences to an entire community.

I've had a couple of concerning interactions with our local police. Going on a decade ago now, my son was thinking about the future. In our local high schools, a requirement to graduate is to do a day of job shadow. He did an overnight ride along with our local police and at that time was really interested. There were a lot of things that happened that really bothered him, but the worst was that the cop described to my son what he called the "walks like a duck" method. He would point out people to my son and say, "is that a duck?" Short version is that people of color were all "ducks."

Recently, my neighbor called the non-emergency line to complain about a violation of our local noise ordinances. A neighbor had a live band in his backyard that could be heard for miles around. It was literally so loud we couldn't watch TV in our house with the windows and doors closed. By the time the cop showed up, we were all milling around. There was a lot of crazy in that interaction, but the most alarming thing to me was that the cop said to my neighbor that by calling the cops, he had put his neighbor's life in danger... because now, the cop was going to go over there and this cop might have to shoot some people. It was a bizarre twist of logic.

But to the point, the issue is that these things have stuck with me, because they speak to the culture of the department, and insight into their view of their role in the community that is concerning. And it's easy to connect the dots between cops who express sentiment like those above and issues of systemic racism and a sense of entitlement.
This explains a lot about your skewed posts.
 

geezer

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This explains a lot about your skewed posts.
Skewed? Perhaps. That doesn't mean Steve's wrong. My brother-in-law is a cop and he would pretty much agree. How law enforcement is perceived in different communities needs to be addressed. I'm fortunate that I'm a "clean-cut", well spoken, old white guy, and being polite and cooperative with law enforcement has always worked for me. Not everybody has that experience.

And, while we're on the subject, it so happens that due to my messed up ankles, I absolutely walk like a duck, all the time. But I'm pretty sure I'm not a duck and nobody has ever mistaken me for one! :)
 

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There are some nuances that vary state to state that could get you into trouble if you think that they can only make you ID yourself if you committing a crime.

Many states that have "shall ID" laws list 3 circumstances: 1) You did commit a crime 2) You are suspected of committing a crime and 3) You are suspected that you are about to commit a crime. These are based on a "reasonable suspicion".

Other states also have a "loitering" clause in their shall ID, which basically states if you are hanging out in an area that is not a general place or time to be there in that location, then you have to ID yourself while they are looking into why you are there. For example, hanging around a bank with no ATM at 2am.

So, going back to your scenario that you only have to ID if you are committing a crime. There is a retail fraud (shoplifting) call that goes out and the description is a white male wearing jeans and a dark colored coat that ran out of the store. You are seen a couple blocks from the store wearing jeans and a dark colored coat. They can stop and detain you and get your ID even if you didn't actually commit the crime while they are determining that because they have reasonable suspicion that you could have done it.
No. The Constitution is ABOVE ALL State laws, acts and statutes. Nuances affect those who allow public servants to talk legalese to them. Once they instill doubt in you, you're set up to put yourself under their jurisdiction, which can only happen if you consent. It's really simple. But Americans have allowed themselves to be subject to deception. This is the reason police departments and LEO are being held accountable through legal action. People are waking up and not taking the abuse.
 

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Yeah. But what if I want them to tazer guys for that kind of irrigating nonsense.

Technically they also work for me.
Then that is not only a crime, but the breaking of the oath to the Constitution, which is dishonorable.
 

Koryuhoka

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You are correct that they are a public servant.
On the rest of is you are incorrect.

Color has Nothing to do with any of this.
Someone on a prior reply assumed I was white. That was my reply. And I am not incorrect about the rest. The problem is that the image portrayed on TV, with all the cop shows, showing cops doing things that are illegal to "get the bad guy", has America conditioned to accept the abuse as "the way things are". And even cops believe that BS. But when they find themselves in court being sued, they realize that they are on their own.
 

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Skewed? Perhaps. That doesn't mean Steve's wrong. My brother-in-law is a cop and he would pretty much agree. How law enforcement is perceived in different communities needs to be addressed. I'm fortunate that I'm a "clean-cut", well spoken, old white guy, and being polite and cooperative with law enforcement has always worked for me. Not everybody has that experience.

And, while we're on the subject, it so happens that due to my messed up ankles, I absolutely walk like a duck, all the time. But I'm pretty sure I'm not a duck and nobody has ever mistaken me for one! :)
Not a cop thing, but a race thing. A friend of mine's 17 year old daughter is a lifeguard at the community pool in Tacoma. Literally yesterday, she was covering the front counter while her coworker at the pool took a break and some anti-mask/anti-vaxx guy comes in. We have a mask mandate in the State now, and so she asks him to put a mask on. Skipping to the end, the guy verbally threatens her, and for the first time in her life, she was called the n word. She was upset. My friend was very upset. To suggest that race doesn't matter is incredibly entitled and naive. It matters to the racists, and it matters to the victims of racism.

Getting back to the police, when someone has delegated authority over you in some way and they have a bias, that's a bad combination. Add a sense of entitlement to the mix and that's a recipe for disaster.
 

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The closest thing to abuse I've ever received from a "cop" was a meter maid giving me a ticket when my truck was definitely parked between the lines and the meter still had an hour on it.
 

Steve

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Someone on a prior reply assumed I was white. That was my reply. And I am not incorrect about the rest. The problem is that the image portrayed on TV, with all the cop shows, showing cops doing things that are illegal to "get the bad guy", has America conditioned to accept the abuse as "the way things are". And even cops believe that BS. But when they find themselves in court being sued, they realize that they are on their own.
An interesting read on this topic. How 70 years of cop shows taught us to valorize the police

This study is from 2001, so its a little dated, but man does it forecast many of the issues we've seen come to light recently. It's a long read, but the main findings are below:

https://www.policefoundation.org/wp...et-al.-2001-The-Abuse-of-Police-Authority.pdf
  • American police believe that extreme cases of police abuse of authority occur infrequently. However, a substantial minority of officers believe that it is sometimes necessary to use more force than is legally allowable.
  • Despite strong support for norms recognizing the boundaries of police authority, officers revealed that it is not unusual for police to ignore improper conduct by their fellow officers.
  • American police believe that training and education programs are effective means of preventing police from abusing authority. They also argue that their own department takes a tough stand on the issue of police abuse. Finally, they argue that a departments chief and firstline supervisors can play an important role in preventing abuse of authority.
  • Police officers believe that the public and the media are too concerned with police abuses of authority.
  • American police officers support core principles of community policing; they generally believe that community policing reduces or has no impact on the potential for police abuse.
  • A majority of African-American police officers believe that police treat whites better than African Americans and other minorities, and that police officers are more likely to use physical force against minorities or the poor. Few white police officers, however, share these views.
They spend a lot of time talking about their sample, response rates, and who they are at the outset. They also get into the troubling gap between cops who do bad things, and the "good" cops who know them but do nothing to report them, referred to as the code of silence in this article, or the blue wall in recent news.
 

ballen0351

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An interesting read on this topic. How 70 years of cop shows taught us to valorize the police

This study is from 2001, so its a little dated, but man does it forecast many of the issues we've seen come to light recently. It's a long read, but the main findings are below:

https://www.policefoundation.org/wp...et-al.-2001-The-Abuse-of-Police-Authority.pdf
  • American police believe that extreme cases of police abuse of authority occur infrequently. However, a substantial minority of officers believe that it is sometimes necessary to use more force than is legally allowable.
  • Despite strong support for norms recognizing the boundaries of police authority, officers revealed that it is not unusual for police to ignore improper conduct by their fellow officers.
  • American police believe that training and education programs are effective means of preventing police from abusing authority. They also argue that their own department takes a tough stand on the issue of police abuse. Finally, they argue that a departments chief and firstline supervisors can play an important role in preventing abuse of authority.
  • Police officers believe that the public and the media are too concerned with police abuses of authority.
  • American police officers support core principles of community policing; they generally believe that community policing reduces or has no impact on the potential for police abuse.
  • A majority of African-American police officers believe that police treat whites better than African Americans and other minorities, and that police officers are more likely to use physical force against minorities or the poor. Few white police officers, however, share these views.
They spend a lot of time talking about their sample, response rates, and who they are at the outset. They also get into the troubling gap between cops who do bad things, and the "good" cops who know them but do nothing to report them, referred to as the code of silence in this article, or the blue wall in recent news.
It would be interesting to see what the study would show now. Policing has changed a lot even since 2001. It's far more commonplace now for good officers to turn in bad officers. Hell, I retired in 2019 I've turned in, testified against, arrested, and gotten fired bad officers in my career and never once felt guilty and never once was treated differently by my fellow officers. But talking to the old-timers I know that would have been different in the 80's and even 90's.
We should always be looking for ways to do better in every profession and Law Enforcement is no different. I do think with the addition of Cell Phone cameras and Body Cameras Law Enforcement has taken steps to move in a more professional manner. I also see a change in the mindset of departments as they are starting to put a priority on victim-centered approaches to handling situations.
You will always have bad people in every job unfortunately that's the nature of humanity. But I think the days of cops coving up serious infractions and violence for other cops are working their way out of the profession. I personally never saw an incidence of excessive force by another officer that wasn't reported either by myself or other officers. And of those experiences, the number is less than 5 times in almost 20 years. That's 100,000s of calls for service so this narrative that cops are running around beating and killing people in the streets is not the reality I observed and I spent a majority of my career working in predominantly minority areas and mostly at night.
 

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It would be interesting to see what the study would show now. Policing has changed a lot even since 2001. It's far more commonplace now for good officers to turn in bad officers. Hell, I retired in 2019 I've turned in, testified against, arrested, and gotten fired bad officers in my career and never once felt guilty and never once was treated differently by my fellow officers. But talking to the old-timers I know that would have been different in the 80's and even 90's.
I really hope that's true. I think the trend is certainly in the right direction, though the entire issue of the "blue wall of silence" really came to a head a few years back. I'll try to find something more recent.

We should always be looking for ways to do better in every profession and Law Enforcement is no different. I do think with the addition of Cell Phone cameras and Body Cameras Law Enforcement has taken steps to move in a more professional manner. I also see a change in the mindset of departments as they are starting to put a priority on victim-centered approaches to handling situations.
You will always have bad people in every job unfortunately that's the nature of humanity. But I think the days of cops coving up serious infractions and violence for other cops are working their way out of the profession. I personally never saw an incidence of excessive force by another officer that wasn't reported either by myself or other officers. And of those experiences, the number is less than 5 times in almost 20 years. That's 100,000s of calls for service so this narrative that cops are running around beating and killing people in the streets is not the reality I observed and I spent a majority of my career working in predominantly minority areas and mostly at night.
I really hope that's true.
 
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