Every week — actually, every day — innocent people across the country are harassed, abused, brutalized, tortured, and murdered by armed strangers in government-issued costumes. Most of the assailants are never held accountable. Often, they are placed on paid vacation (commonly called “administrative leave”) while their colleagues devise an official rationalization for their crimes.
Those who publicize abuses of these kind are routinely accused of focusing on a vanishingly small number of “exceptional” cases, thereby creating the erroneous impression that police misconduct is widespread.
When 11 police officers across the country are injured or killed in an unconnected series of shootings, many police officers believe that they are targets in a “war on cops,” and that alarmist impression is being propagated by police union officials who are always eager to exaggerate the very modest dangers of their profession.
“It’s not a fluke,” insists Richard Roberts, spokesman for the International Union of Police Associations. “There’s a perception among officers in the field that there’s a war on cops going on.” Although Steve Groeninger, spokesman for the D.C.-based National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, admits that “we don’t have any data,” he told MSNBC that “there seems to be a type of criminal out there looking to thwart authority” (by which he means any directive issued by an armed government functionary) and warns that “cuts in police budgets could exacerbate the danger,” according to MSNBC.
This is an interesting variation on a familiar police union theme. As I’ve pointed out elsewhere, some police unions are literally trying to terrorize the public into supporting their budget demands. Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts announced several months ago that because of budget cuts citizens shouldn’t expect police to respond to calls involving 44 kinds of crime, including burglary, grand theft, and other serious offenses. The hideously corrupt Camden, New Jersey Police Department adopted a similar policy after half the force was laid off. In Sacramento County, the Sheriff’s Office published an ad depicting what appeared to be a sexual assault on a child. “Don’t let them cut deputies and put your family at risk!” screamed the ad copy.
The essential message here was: Give us what we want, or people will get hurt. Now those of us who oppose the demands of police unions can expect to be told that we’re morally indistinguishable from cop-killers.
Anybody who takes the life of a human being through aggressive violence is a murderer and should be treated as such. That being said, this should be also: If the wildly exaggerated fear of being killed on the job results in increased attrition in the ranks of the State’s armed enforcers, one happy result will be a net decrease in the amount of criminal violence afflicting our society.