Monday, April 3, 2006

Angels or Devils

It seems that many people I encounter online regard the police from one of two perspectives:

1. Those who believe each policeman is a secret initiate into a new Nazi Schutzstaffel, complete with polished jackboots, who attends brainstorming sessions each day, in hopes of formulating a plan for framing elderly matrons for church arsons and the like. These guys take great pleasure in abusing their fellow man; heck, it's why they joined the force.

2. Those who believe each policeman is a saint, and if you just look hard enough, you'll see the little halo hovering over his head. Without exception, they wear huge "S" insignias on their shirts beneath their uniforms. And yes, they can fly. Their existence revolves around protecting and serving the public. It's why they draw breath.

But I subscribe to a different view. I believe the system itself is corrupt, rotten from top to bottom, but the police are a mixed bag. As individuals, some are lowlife dredged from sewers, thugs with badges; and others are honorable people who genuinely want to help the citizenry and make society better.

A couple of days ago, I saw an officer abuse his public trust. I was driving down the road, on my way home, when a police car zoomed up behind me, seemingly from out of nowhere, and tailgated me for the next mile or so. When I came to a stop sign and halted, he pulled up beside me and made a right turn, before I brought my car to a standstill. His failures? Speeding, not coming to a complete halt at a stop sign, and no turning signal. All of these are offenses that would buy me a ticket, were I in his place--or at least the potential for such an outcome is there.

Some might suggest: "What if he was responding to a call?" I can't rule this out as a possibility, but I offer this food for thought. 1. Sometimes people get in a hurry, and it isn't job-related; are police immune to this temptation? 2. Why were his lights and sirens inactive? In that scenario, I would've pulled over and let him pass me, with no complaint.

It irks me when people who have the authority--at their discretion--to penalize others for traffic violations commit the same offenses. And the likelihood of a reprimand or significant consequences for this is the same as Oliver Stone renouncing Marx and becoming a flagellant monk.

I realize this behavior is mild compared to some situations, but it gives those who do their best and present themselves as sterling examples a bad name.

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