Policemen Are NOT Your Friend

English: Professor Alan Dershowitz of Harvard ...

English: Professor Alan Dershowitz of Harvard Law School. עברית: הפרופסור אלן דרשוביץ מבית הספר למשפטים של הרווארד. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Ever since we were kiddies we’ve been taught that the police were our friends; we could go to them, talk with them and if we were lost or in trouble they would help.

I’m amazed at the number of people who hold on to that childhood believe and believe that if they just cooperate with the police the police will help and protect and everything will be just fine.

These days most police departments look like some type of military organization. They’re like little armies. In cities like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles or Washington DC they’re not very “little” and usually have the manpower and fire power of a combat division.

Most police departments are staffed mainly by former military personnel and they operate with the organization, the discipline, the structure — and mentality — of the military.

In some instances the police are necessary and provide a valuable public service. A good, honest, professional, well-trained cop is worth his — or her — weight in gold and is an asset to any town.

But, sadly, there are good cops and bad cops; just like there are good doctors and bad doctors. Even the bad cops are not necessarily “bad” every moment of every day.

But too many cops today seem to share the belief that they are engaged in a “war”: a war against crime and a war against terrorism. They tend to share the view of the military, it’s “us against them”; they they are the good guys and everyone else is the “enemy” which must be defeated and destroyed.

The problem with cops thinking they are in a “war” is that in a war there is only one rule: WIN! Do whatever it takes, but WIN! That attitude suggests that police are above the law and that they are the law. That attitude says that is is alright for cops to break the law or do whatever it takes to accomplish their mission.

Alan Dershowitz, one of today’s great legal scholars and appellate criminal lawyers started a major controversy several years ago by stating publicly something that many judges, police, defense attorneys and prosecutors know. The police on occasion lie.

That doesn’t mean that every cop lies about everything every day though and that’s not what Dershowitz is suggesting.

He was simply acknowledging that everyday in towns all over America some cop makes the decision that some person he believes to be guilty of a crime is going to “get away with it” if the cop plays by the rules and obeys the law himself.

Faced with that prospect, the cop makes a conscious decision to lie or plant evidence where none exists. The cop might even hide or destroy evidence that might undermine the case showing the person to be innocent!

Something more disturbing that the fact that some cops may lie is that it seems to be increasingly ok with the public.

As a society, America seems to be approaching a point where we want the cops to suppress crime and terrorism at all costs and increasingly don’t care what they do — or how they do it — just so long as they get the job done.

If people weren’t so afraid, maybe they could see the danger in that attitude and realize that it’s their rights, not just those of “criminals” or “terrorists” that are being sacrificed.

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Jerry Nelson is an American freelance photojournalist.  When not traveling, he can be found on the streets of Buenos Aires as Lead Photographer for BuenosTours, the largest private tour company in South America.  Connect with Jerry on MosaicHub, Facebook or LinkedIn today.  Have a story that needs to reach national media?  Email him today.

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