These comments are from a man who was a bail bondsman for 10 years, and acquired extensive experience dealing with police, courts, and district attorneys offices:
In my 55 years, I have had a few contacts with LEOs, sometimes as a victim and a few times as a minor suspect/traffic violator. Mostly, my exposure to LEOs has been in my role as a bail bondsman for over 10 years back in the late 80s. I have no personal axe to grind, and if I did, it’d be a quite old one. But I still pay attention and I have observed a marked deterioration over the years of the honor, dignity and humanity of police officers everywhere. Having to deal with them on a day to day basis was a large part of why I quit the bail bond business 20 years ago. My opinion then was that most of the people I was bailing out of jail were better human beings than the cops I knew at the time, and it’s only gotten worse.
In my own experiences, my status as victim or defendant didn’t seem to make much difference in the way I was treated or the professionalism displayed by the cop(s) involved. Ideally, it really shouldn’t. Having said that, about 60% of the time, the cops were either totally disrespectful assholes or corrupt, lying, arrogant bullies. 20% of the time, they were merely useless, incompetent and disinterested cowards(like the ones who watched me from the comfort of their cruiser while I got beat half to death in a parking lot by two guys, then just drove away), or the one who I had to literally beg to take fingerprints from the sprung bedroom window in my burglarized house. (I’m sure those prints never made it farther than the nearest trash can and I ultimately had to track down the perp myself with tricky “reward” posters for a particularly valuable piece of merchandise.)
Another 20% of the time, the cop(s) displayed the honesty and professionalism expected of them and it’s a sad testament that those were the ones I really remember because of their rarity. Unfortunately, with one exception, the last time that occurred was about 1985.
There is a problem with the cops nowadays that I lay squarely at the feet of the militarization that comes from our “drug war” mentality and a generation of kids who grew up watching S.W.A.T. and other popular entertainment that lionized law enforcement while demonizing the majority of the citizenry. There is a whole generation or two of people who grew up conflating the roles of police and the military. They didn’t understand the difference before they joined, and they either still don’t understand it, or don’t accept it after they graduate the academies.
Years ago, many cops entered the field as a service to communities that they, and generations of their families grew up in. A lot of them were following family traditions and it wasn’t unusual to see 3 generations of the same family on the beat in the same town or even neighborhood. Police work was a matter of family honor and tradition. Sure, there was still corruption, maybe even more than there is now. But compared to today, it was petty, at least at the street level. “Testilying” has become a fine art, a dance between DA’s and LEOs that 95% of gullible juries still swallow whole, and it’s more blatant and results in more serious consequences than ever before. Before, excepting the organized, racially motivated incidences, police violence typically took the form of Officer Jones delivering a beating to a local thug to elicit a confession or to teach him a lesson. And the thug usually knew he deserved it and the two would be on speaking terms the next weekend. Now it involves explosive violence, pursuit rage, lethal weapons and multiple assailants; and still that same old impenetrable Blue Wall refuses to yield.
We are a transient and mobile society now. There is an “us against them” mentality. Cops look on everyone as potentially hostile scum and jump to conclusions and generalizations with even more frequency than during the bad old days of the ’60’s when minorities were routinely abused and having long hair was tantamount to a “Harrass Me” sign pinned to your forehead.
I am convinced that today too many cops enter police work for all the wrong reasons and, with few exceptions, the departments do an abysmal job in weeding out the control freaks and those with anger management and other psychological problems. Maybe this is due to recruitment problems or maybe it’s the influence of police unions. The bad part of this is that, over time, it’s becoming the norm. This militarized, violent, “us against the world” mentality has been institutionalized. Cops do not see themselves as public servants charged with protecting a majority of the citizenry from predation by a minority of criminals. They see themselves as sharks circling around a vast school of “trash” fish, waiting for the first opportunity to thin the ranks. Or a pride of lions encircling a herd of gazelle with the aim of dispatching the ones they see, in their subjective and prejudiced opinions, as detrimental to the herd. And the ends justify any means. Planted evidence, testilying, coerced confessions, subornation of perjury, illegal searches, whatever it takes to nail a suspect they just “know” is guilty. In too many cities, the cops are seen by the citizens as no less than an occupying force. Even many of the totally law abiding are beginning to feel this way. Their level of disgust continues to rise every time they hear of a pack of flak-jacketed, jack-booted, helmeted storm troopers bashing down the door of some pathetic, unarmed crack-whore, or worse yet, a totally innocent citizen who happens to share a similar address to the one provided by some burned out informant making an illusionary attempt to cut a deal. Or maybe they watch as a middle aged woman on the side of the interstate frantically rushes to re-pack a van full of cargo, in a rainstorm, after being tricked into thinking she was legally obligated to consent to some trooper’s fishing expedition.
Too many cops today become cops as a power trip. Thousands of punks want to become police officers just because they’re too cowardly for military careers and too stupid to be good criminals.
For anyone else who thinks a college degree is helpful, think again. In my state, a degree is required to become a State Trooper. It is not required for my county’s deputies or my city’s police. Florida state troopers are perhaps the worst, most abusive, rednecked goons I’ve ever had the misfortune to know. And vice cops, most of which have degrees, are some of the most morally bankrupt, corrupt and despicable cowards you can imagine. Yes, cowards! Don’t believe the propaganda. Cops who answer domestic calls encounter 10X the danger of vice cops, or especially the jack-booted drug cop thugs. Your typical vice cop would tremble in his boots to answer a domestic disturbance call or to pull someone over in traffic. After dealing with these people for over 10 years, the only cops that I have any consistent level of respect for are homicide detectives. Most of them have some native intelligence and got off the street before they became cynical assholes or drank themselves to death.