Too many cops are making the ultimate sacrifice these days, which was the inevitable result of bad public policy and a sustained political drubbing of the criminal justice system by dangerous dreamers and even more dangerous politicians. That sad ilk has spent much of their time, under cover of a pandemic, cozying up to criminals of every sort, and pushing nonsense on the public camouflaged as reform. Policies that keep violent criminals on the street are now coming to fruition, and here’s the bad news: it’s only going to get worse.
It’s difficult to dissect the motivations behind all of this, but it seems clear that the people behind the no-bail, defund, and judicial reform movements are either matter-of-fact in love with criminals, or are completely delusional as to what a violent criminal actually is. It’s also possible that they just don’t care, and are playing a very dangerous game with public safety for political gain.
I wish that wasn’t true but it is. I learned recently that in the State of California, where in many places criminal street gangs are at the level of a third world insurgency, law enforcement is virtually hamstrung to do anything about it. That looks like a lot of things over and above mere no-bail policies, but here’s another thing to ponder. Imagine being a homicide detective and having probable cause to arrest a half-dozen, or more, gang members for a murder, but being unable to arrest them because they are juveniles, and new rules for prosecution require the DAs office to bring the case to court in two weeks. No DA in the known universe can bring a homicide case to court in two weeks, particularly a complicated gang murder, and in the meantime known killers walk the street—virtually untouchable and free to caper at will.
Law enforcement doesn’t do itself any favors because they also don’t loudly, and repeatedly, tell the general public the conditions they are working under. They don’t do it enough and they should because, at this point, why not?
It gets even worse from there, but I don’t want to stray too far into the weeds. My heart and mind can’t take it. And anyway, there is too much happening in the world. For one thing, Joni Mitchell has emerged once again from her bat cave in the Greek isles to join Neil Young on stage in his crusade against Joe Rogan and Spotify. The bonds formed over cocaine abuse should never be underestimated. They are apparently incensed that Joe Rogan has bucked the system, hunts his own meat, has eaten Ivermectin and beaten Covid, has a wildly popular podcast, and discussed all of these things out loud. And also because he smoked weed with Elon Musk on the air. Or something. It’s hard to know, except that the battle against irrelevance is on-going, and as a figure in The Madness of King George once pointed out: Character is required to endure the rigors of indolence.
A quick sidebar: I stopped watching football a couple of years ago for a lot of reasons, but I was reminded of another one recently. It occurs to me that a sport may be judged to a great extent on the number of people required to officiate it. In football there are 8 officials. That’s relevant as a cultural read on Americans because its roughly equivalent to the ratio of lawyers to mere citizens in the United States. And it also accounts for the barrage of penalties that, combined with commercial interruptions and now endless references to sports betting websites, make the game virtually unwatchable. So American football has joined baseball on the list of things I no longer care about.
These days I have returned to the English Premier League for sports entertainment, which has only a couple of rules, requires one referee, is free of commercials, and even with added time lasts scarcely more than an hour and a half. Also, the crowds sing songs and wave colorful flags during the entire game, which is quite pleasant and refreshing.
Elsewhere, I see that Shuffling Joe, now gifted with the distraction of a Supreme Court nomination, a position for which he has also illegally declared (see, Civil Rights Act of 1964) that only a Black Woman will be considered, has decided that banning “choke-holds” by police is going to solve the problems inherent to police work. That’s funny for two reasons: first, it’s not going to solve any problems, and secondly police departments don’t teach “chokeholds.” They do, or at least they used to, teach carotid restraints–which is not a chokehold and which is also a fundamental use of force tool in an officer’s kit bag.
Also, I grow weary of this new predilection for whimsical banning and mandating. Does this sort of governing have an expiration date, or is it just how we are going to do things now?
And when did Neil Young turn into a gigantic cartoon frog?
Folks who believe that carotid restraints should not be taught to cops have never been in an eight-minute fight with a parolee on Angel Dust. That probably goes without saying, but it needs to be said. And PCP, if you don’t know, does wild things to a human being. It creates immunity to pain and chimpanzee strength, so the usual pain-compliance techniques don’t work. I don’t care how good you are at securing wrist locks and finding pressure points, if old boy is on PCP it ain’t gonna work. It also stokes the body temperature so the user almost always takes their clothes off, and is usually sweating profusely.
So let’s consider, and perhaps stipulate that you have a legal reason to contact and detain a chimpanzee on the loose. In our study, said chimpanzee is known to police, wanted for a gang-related attempted murder, has reportedly just given his girlfriend a knockout beating, and has been brachiating around a neighborhood smashing windows and threatening old ladies and declaring loudly that he is “Not going back to prison!”
Naturally, it’s on your beat, which means you have been tagged and you are It, so you roll in and there you are, in the dark, facing down a naked Chimpanzee with head tattoos who is slathered in butter, impervious to pain, and wants to fight. You try to make contact but are now on foot, away from your car, following the Chimp down the block. You give “uniformed presence” and “de-escalation” tactics a whirl but that’s clearly not making an impression. So maybe you think, “Now I shall employ my taser on The Chimpanzee.” So you pull your taser and fire the darts and nothing happens. You stick another cartridge on its nose and fire again and it’s a good hit but The Chimp is unresponsive and is rapidly closing the gap.
Mindful of the 300 cell phones and Ring doorbell cameras now filming you from every angle on the block, mindful of the fact that every chip you have ever won in your life has now been pushed to the middle of the table, perhaps you remember the force continuum and your bat belt, and you say to yourself, “Egads! My taser has failed. Now I will deliver baton blows!” Of course, because you are on film, probably even streaming live on Facebook, and because you want people in a neighborhood three blocks away to hear you saying it when this all ends up on television, in an IA investigation, in court, or all three of those places at once, you are shouting “Stop Resisting” at the top of your lungs. But The Chimpanzee is still coming. So you whip out your cheap Chinese collapsible baton and after a few well-placed strikes at the knees it breaks and he now has his hands on you and your baton has vanished. You are in a yard sale fight, alone because the citizens (who minutes before were deluging 911 with calls about The Chimpanzee) have all become cameramen, vocal critics, and expert Nazi Hunters, and not one of them is going to do anything to help.
Also, your radio just went clattering across the asphalt.
Dispatch is sending cover units but they too were on Priority 1 calls and might as well be on the moon. If you were not in the throes of tunnel vision and auditory exclusion you might even hear them trying to find you—you are in an alley, away from your car–but just now the Chimpanzee is trying to bite off your nose.
I don’t care how tough you think you are, or how many black belts in Gracie Jui-Jitsu you have—you are about to get your ass kicked by an enraged ape. It is a moral certainty that you are now in a fight for your life. That’s true if you are a 6’2 215 pound specimen of fighting manhood, but I’d like you to imagine instead that you are 5’3 125 pound female rookie who struggles with the dummy drag, has never trained arrest and control techniques at any speed over 50%, whose gun has lint in the chamber, and whose only real fight was in the “Will to Survive” melee at the police academy. You weren’t sent to any of the available training that would likely have kept you from this predicament in the first place because the training budget (always the first casualty of budget cuts) was zeroed out, and also because the department is down thirty officers and struggles each and every night to find enough cops to cover the graveyard shift. The gang and street dope teams were disbanded long ago, and through all of that you’ve learned that “Minimum Staffing” isn’t what policy says, or what is rationally required to police a city of 150,000 people, it’s whatever the Deputy Chief says it is, and also, the ape is now trying to take your gun. Also, and it’s somehow relevant, you’ve learned that fudging your time sheet is a termination offense but last week you walked in on a Division Commander horse-fucking the PAL Coordinator in that little closet where they keep all the photocopy paper and “Salmon Sheets”. But you wisely kept that to yourself, and now here you are, on your back, staring sixty or more years of abject policy failures right in its hateful primate eyes.
It’s true that you are in a jackpot, but just now, Shuffling Joe, from the lofty heights of the White House balcony, and in the infinite wisdom of leadership-by-pander, is whispering in your ear to forget about the carotid restraint. Because the truth is you are a cop, and saving your life is not a priority to anyone except you, and what if, just what if…The Chimpanzee goes to sleep and doesn’t wake up?
Well then, you are probably going to prison.
And why? Because George Floyd.
And let’s stipulate to something else: George Floyd should not have died that day, and probably would not have if he had not been on drugs and/or if he had just complied with lawful orders–and also if Derek Chauvin wasn’t a callous cocksucker of a human being. But he wasn’t murdered—which requires a different kind of intent–and he was also an enormous asshole who—it’s a safe bet–would have lived the rest of his life without once contributing even a single thing to the greater good. There would never have been, for instance, a George Floyd Community Center for Pregnant Teenagers. We would not have seen George Floyd mentoring young boys out of gang-life, or donating turkey dinners to the poor at Thanksgiving, or driving nails at Habitat for Humanity. We would never have seen George Floyd paying his child support. George Floyd would also not be paying taxes (he was the end user of taxes) but there is an excellent chance he would have stuck more guns in the bellies of pregnant women, used enough crack, heroin, and meth to kill a rhinoceros, and would be the first guy in line every morning at the needle exchange. And he most definitely would have tried to pass more Xeroxed sawbucks at the neighborhood Stop and Rob while high on his favorite narcotic cocktail.
All of which is, in a nutshell, how we now govern America. Not only that, but we tear down statues of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt to make room for George Floyd monuments. Wrap your head around that, and give proper obeisance to the President of the United States, who lives in thrall.
I have a hard time with it, and it’s something I think about each and every time I hear sirens echoing around in the woods, see a State Trooper on a traffic stop, or watch a black and white hauling balls to a call for service. I worry for them because the job they are doing is now graded on an impossible rubric concocted by lunatics and idiots.
But then again I’m just a decidedly average American abandoning old notions and old loyalties and now pulling for Chelsea–and sometimes Liverpool–in the Premier League. They are a fine team with an admirable coach and they also employ Christian Pulisic, an American who is wicked on the left wing, with a deft touch and a finely weighted pass, and that’s my bit for hot dogs and apple pie.
I’m also, it turns out, on a somewhat desperate search for a durable tarp, something to cover my horse hay against the rain and snow and that wont shred into confetti at the first hint of those dastardly Cascade winds. Mostly, I keep my hay inside the barn against the elements, but we are in a cycle of drought and so last fall I put in nearly fifteen tons to hedge against rising prices and poor availability come spring. I’m certain of very little in life, but I am quite certain that in the coming months prices will be higher, and availability will be lower, which was already a thing before record inflation and empty shelves—and I do mean empty—became an enduring reality at our local market.
And finally, and just for the record, there is no such thing as a “routine” traffic stop. Each and every one of them is a Pandora’s box, and the next journalist or reporter who uses that phrase should be…I don’t know, counseled or possibly just throat-punched. And maybe think about that when you rest your weary head at night, knowing that while you are sleeping soundly and dreaming of umbrella drinks on a white sand beach, somebody’s good son or daughter is out there alone, stopping a stolen car full of hardened felons with guns, drugs, and absolutely nothing to lose.