Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Police Officers Love To Say That They Are at War, But There Is No Excuse For Abusing Language That Way

Re the petition to stop the “national militarization” of police departments (thanks to Instapundit):

Police officers like to say that they are in a war, a war on drugs, etc…

There is no excuse for abusing language like this (not even being a fan of over-the-top Hollywood movies): in a war (a real war), a soldier has reason to fear and reason to fight, as well as a reason to be heavily protected, as he is opposed to a (large, armed, and well-trained) force whose main objective is to win by shooting at you and bringing about your death.

The police officer fits in no category like that one, as the main object of (the rare, few, and usually disorganized) criminals is to get rich by breaking the law and, insofar as possible, avoiding any contact with the law (i.e., with any member of the police force whatsoever) and certainly avoiding a policeman's harm or death (which they all know can do nothing but make their main objective much harder).

In the civilian world, we are innocent until proven guilty, and the police officer, who is supposed to come from our "ranks", is supposed to reflect that by treating us as an equal.
The police are the public and the public are the police (1829)
What it all amounts to is that police officers who like to say that they are in a war are play-acting, a little more seriously certainly than Civil War reenactors, but play-acting (as tough gung-ho macho men) nonetheless as there is almost no way that a Hollywood film scenario will occur in real life.

Indeed, when things have truly gone bad, what has usually happened is that a police officer was shot by an entirely honest and law-abiding citizen awoken in the dark of night who — with good reason — thought that the over-the-top police action could only be the doing of criminals, say a home invasion by gang members, and reached for a weapon of defense. But more often, police-related deaths have been that of a basically harmless, run-of-the-mill civilian killed by one or more overeager cops.

Update: Andrew Klavan quotes Kurt Schlichter (thanks to Instapundit) as making the excellent point that
the military wins by increasing violence while the police win by decreasing violence.