The other day, via my direct business email address (as opposed to the “Contact Us” generic email link on Officer.com), I received the following email. After reading it I was originally perplexed as to whether or not I should even reply, and if I did, what kind of response I should give. After thinking about it for about a day, I decided that I was going to reply – and that I was going to do so publicly. So, here is the email, as I received it, and my response. The original email is italicized. My response is in standard text.
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I warn you beforehand that the tone of this E-mail will be hostile. If you routinely ignore this type of communication out of cowardice or simple unwillingness to answer hard and hostile questions then you might as well toss this now. If you are willing to answer then be prepared to defend your colleges against 30 years of regular mistreatment of me by so-called "police officers".
Mr. Shultz (if that’s your real name), first off, thank you for your email. Anytime we get feedback of any kind, it is always appreciated. Further, I appreciate your upfront warning that your email will be hostile. Thankfully, words have never hurt me so the warning was unnecessary. I’ve yet to receive an injury from the written word and, in fact, I’ve never received an injury from the spoken word either; at least not a physical injury. With those two expressions of appreciation out of the way, I will admit that I found your email offensive. I’ll detail why with each segmented response further down, but I will admit to feeling insulted right off the bat when you insinuate that I routinely ignore unfriendly emails.
As a professional, I’ve never had the luxury of ignoring that which I didn’t like. Whether I would want to out of cowardice or any other motivation, I’ve always had to answer emails and “official” communications; those that I receive through a professional channel. That said, I admit to deleting some emails I receive simply because the contents of the email demonstrate that the author is borderline in sufficient intelligence to have typed the email in the first place. Far too many folks have access to computers when their IQ is room temperature at best. I also admit that I did consider simply deleting yours, writing it off as a hateful attempt to hurt someone you can’t reach, but I gave that a second thought and here is your reply.
Obviously, as this proves, I am willing to answer – and in a public way no less. I am prepared to defend my colleagues (which is what I ASSUME you meant by “colleges,” which is actually where people get higher education after they’ve graduated from high school), but I cannot defend my colleagues against the accusation of 30 years of mistreatment of you. I can’t defend them, and wouldn’t presume to, for several reasons, not the least of which is that I have zero evidence of any mistreatment by any law enforcement professional, against you. To the best of my knowledge, you have always been treated in a professional and courteous fashion and your simple claim of mistreatment carries as much weight as pixy dust sprinkled by Tinkerbell.
I can’t figure out what you mean by your phrase, “…so called ‘police officers’.” They either are or they aren’t. If they aren’t then they may have been deputy Sheriffs or other sworn law enforcement official. Your phrase usage indicates that you may be in denial about the mere existence of such a profession. I can’t help you with that. If you deny or refuse to accept reality, that’s something you need to address with your psychologist or psychiatrist.
There does not seem to be much of a way for civilians to ask questions about why cops are so arrogant, paranoid, and just all around nasty, trigger-happy, and contemptuous of civilians generally. I have had NOTHING but trouble from practically every cop I have met in my adult life, which comprises about the last 30 years.
Actually, there are several means of asking such questions available to the general public today. People can call an agency to ask such, post questions on an agency facebook page, tweet to the agency’s twitter account, send an email, write a letter… Well, you get the idea. We have more communications tools than ever before in recorded history. If a citizen wants to ask a question, there are plenty of ways for them to do it.
Now, if your only question is “why cops are so arrogant, paranoid, and just all around nasty, trigger-happy, and contemptuous of civilians generally,” I’m not sure I can help you out. That’s a personal perception unique to you and, as I can’t read your mind, don’t have your level of education (whatever it may be) and haven’t lived your life, I can’t begin to try to explain how police officers act as perceived through your eyes.
What I CAN tell you is that EVERYONE is arrogant sometimes and cops, being human, are sometimes arrogant. If you’ve experienced nothing but arrogant cops, then it must be something in you that simply brings out that behavior in them. In other words, you do something that inspires them to be arrogant. That’s actually pretty cool. Most cops, in my experience (which spans well over 30 years in the law enforcement profession) strive to be low key and unobtrusive. That’s nearly the opposite of arrogant, so if every cop you meet is arrogant around you, it must just be your winning personality that brings out the best in them.
Paranoid? Why would any cop ever be paranoid? I mean, just because a police officer dies, on average, at the rate of one every other day in America, that’s no reason for any cop to wonder if today’s the day, right? Being realistic, “paranoid” isn’t correct. “Risk adverse” is more accurate. Cops do everything they legally can to minimize the risk that they are exposed to because they want to go home to their families at the end of their shift. If YOU choose to interpret that careful behavior as paranoid, once again I can’t help you. It’s your perception.
As to the “nasty, trigger-happy, and contemptuous of civilians generally,” part: This obviously isn’t true. If every cop you ever met was trigger happy, you’d have long ago been shot full of holes. If every cop you ever met was truly nasty, not only would that indicate a severely poor hiring protocol for law enforcement nationwide, but it would also indicate that you’ve been mistreated EVERY time you’ve encountered an officer. Wait, you claim that you have. My bad. Read more further down. And “contemptuous”? I’m impressed. You misspelled colleague but got contemptuous right. Kudos to you. Cops are not “contemptuous of civilians generally.” We ARE contemptuous of criminals generally. Why wouldn’t we be? We have to deal with them all the time and we never see any reason to hold them with the least bit of regard. That pretty much defines considering someone contemptuous so unless you consider yourself a criminal, you shouldn’t believe that all cops view you as contemptuous.
Every cop I have ever met seems to automatically assume that he/she is my master and I am their slave, and they have all behaved in EXACTLY that manner.
That is a truly sad state of affairs and you have my sympathies. If you’ve had anyone at all, police officer or otherwise, treat you as a slave, you need to work through the court systems to get your civil rights re-recognized. After all, slavery was done away with 150 years ago (this year we celebrate that 150 anniversary) and NO ONE has the right to treat you like you’re their slave. During these periods of time when you were performing personal services for them, on demand, held captive and denied any freedom or compensation, were you aware of the illegality of their acts? Did you make any attempts to call for help? Escape? Demand your liberty?
I suspect that what you meant is that the law enforcement professionals you’ve encountered have all treated you as if you were under their control during a detention and investigative process, after which you were either arrested or released. THAT is not slavery. Once again we see where YOUR perception of a situation is the problem; not the behavior of the officers.
Yet whenever I have tried to ask questions of cops through these so-called forums, I have been blocked in one way or another. Could it be that you people can't provide me with satisfactory answers as to why you all behave this way, or you simply don't want to, or feel that you don't have to?
Well, you see, our forums are privately owned and state very clearly that they are pro-law-enforcement. We reserve the right to ban anyone who comes to them insulting the police, displaying a criminal attitude, or in general being a negative and insulting individual. If we’ve banned you from our forums it’s been a result of YOUR BEHAVIOR (I’m beginning to see a theme).
As to whether or not “we people” (a general term, often indicative of a prejudicial outlook held) can provide you with satisfactory answers as to why we behave in any way… why should we? Here’s reality, Mr. Shultz: We don’t have to justify our behavior to you. Our behavior is required to be within the law and all agency standards. The law combined with those standards set up an atmosphere of operation that requires every police officer to act with far more civility than many people ever experience or attain. Now, when a respectful and polite person asks why we do something a particular way or asks why we behave the way we do in given circumstances, we usually have no problem explaining it to them politely and helping them to understand. In fact, having more civilians that understand why we do what we do empowers us in the long run. One day THAT civilian might be on a jury that judges our actions and having their understanding is to our benefit. On the other hand, if some impolite, insulting, brash individual braces us – virtually or in reality – and demands we explain to them why we behave the way we do, normally we feel a tad peevish and are not inclined to be very cooperative. So, if our response to YOUR BEHAVIOR (there’s that theme again) is unacceptable to you, maybe… just maybe the solution is for you to change your behavior?
I am sure that if I receive a reply to this at ALL, it will contain the phrase, "you must have done something wrong or you wouldn't have been treated that way." I am so tired of that hackneyed defense that it makes me want to just puke every time I am exposed to it.
Please note that I haven’t used that phrase and won’t. I don’t want to be responsible for you regurgitating anything you’ve consumed. I commend you on your proper use of the word “hackneyed” though. I had to look it up on dictionary.com.
Reply to me if you DARE, and tell me why you assume that just because an individual resists you physically when he/she is being bullied and/or harassed, that he/she is "trying to grab my gun" and use that as a convenient justification for the murders you commit on a daily basis in this country?
Well, I did DARE. You’re welcome. And, since you asked specifically as to why I make an assumption in a given set of circumstances… First off, since I’ve never bullied or harassed anyone, I can’t vouch for why they would be physically resisting me. Every person I’ve ever had to restrain physically was being taken under arrest and their resistance was, therefore, illegal. I never assumed anyone was trying to grab my gun unless they actually reached for it, and – lo and behold – I never killed a single one of them. So your demand for an explanation about why I’d do something I’ve never done presents a difficult challenge.
I do take exception to, and am insulted by, your accusation that I commit murders on a daily basis. Given my age, were that to be my behavior, I’d have murdered well over 9,000 people and I’m absolutely positive that someone would have noticed. All joking aside, I have to ASSUME you meant “you” as all police professionals, and I don’t believe for a second that WE have collectively murdered 365 people every year either.
Perhaps you’d benefit from some religious education? Did you know that there’s a distinct legal and moral difference between the crime of “murder” and the action of “justifiable force” which sometimes (sadly) results in a death? Do some research. Let me know what you find. This is proving entertaining as hell, so I do hope you’ll not only read this but see fit to respond.
And please don't insult my intelligence by telling me that you people don't kill at least one civilian every day because I can read newspapers as well as you. You people have killed over 5000 citizens of this country since 911 and if only 10% of these killings are unjustified(and I am sure the number is higher than that) then that means that over 500 innocent people have been murdered by uniformed criminals. That's an average of about 3 people a month over the last 14 years.
Once again we see the term “you people.” Now it’s beginning to get a little insulting. I feel like maybe you’re harboring some prejudice towards me and my brothers and sisters in the law enforcement profession. I have to say: It’s a bit disconcerting that you’ve got such a closed minded outlook and refuse to accept anyone different from yourself.
I’m glad you can read. “…as well as you,” MIGHT be up for argument. Then again, I don’t read newspapers so I’m sure you’ve got me beat. Tell me, have you ever taken the time to verify every “fact” you read in one of those newspapers? I’m betting that if you actually cared enough to do some research, you’d find out that “news” papers rarely actually deliver impartial reporting. What they do is write articles that are mostly the truth embellished with a LOT of opinion, and carefully worded questions that imply some criminal wrong doing on the part of the police. After all, doing that increases their readership and helps them increase the value of their ad space so they can make more money. People like you (not “you people”) read those newspapers and believe everything that is written AND implied. Tell me, how does that help you to be informed accurately?
Tell me why for instance that every one of you freaks out so badly when someone decides to get out of his car during a traffic stop? And before you even start down that path, I can tell you that 99% of excuses for this adolescent tantrum that I've seen most of you throw when that happens are based on assumptions that are ridiculous on the face of them.
This is actually an easy question to answer. “We” freak out when people get out of their car because cops have been murdered by people who have gotten out of their cars on traffic stops. The person gets out, raises a gun and shoots holes in the police officer and his/her cruiser. The simple answer is to not let people get out of their car. Further, since when that person steps out of their car they’re usually in the travel portion of some roadway, they jeopardize themselves in doing so. Since we took an oath to protect them – even from their own stupidity – we have a duty to order them out of the roadway and back into their car.
As to comparing our behavior to an “adolescent tantrum,” I have to cite you again for being insulting. While no human is perfect, I do believe I’ve avoided adolescent behavior for the better part of a few decades now and I can definitively say this: NONE of my behavior on the street was ever driven by out of control hormones, a lack of understanding of how the real world worked, or simply not getting my way. Law enforcement professionals don’t have “adolescent tantrums.” We DO react to perceived threats in a trained and logical fashion with as much courtesy and professionalism we are capable of given the circumstances.
My question in reply to you would be: Why would you insist on getting out of your car if you get pulled over? And if your only answer is, “Because I want to,” I’d suggest you go look up the definition of “adolescent.”
Apparently nobody has ever told you, or you didn't listen when they did, that assumption is the mother of ALL screw-ups.
Yep; I’ve heard that somewhere before. Then again, if you hold a belief that something specific might occur after another set of circumstances are already in place because past documented history has shown this pattern of behavior and course of action to be predictable, you’re not making an assumption. You’re acting on learned knowledge and past experience. There’s a huge difference.
These are NOT, by a long shot, the only questions I have about the collective behavior of the Gestapo, they are just two of the more prominent ones I could think of right off the bat. As I said, I don't expect a reply, and if I DO get one I am sure that it will consist of nothing but excuses, but as much as I despise each and every one of you, I WILL listen to your side of this assuming, of course, that you HAVE a side.
Gestapo is definitely an insulting term. If it were true it would require either every law enforcement professional to be a member of the Nazi Secret Police OR “brutally oppressive.” Since I’ve spent a 30+ year career never once having been accused of brutality, I have to call you on this one. You’re just using the term to be insulting on purpose. Then again, that’s an assumption on my part. You could just be so ignorant that you don’t know the proper usage of the term. Since I looked it up and provided you the applicable use above, you’re welcome.
And if you are thinking of advising me to contact my local chief of police and arrange to do a "ride-along", forget it because I will NEVER willingly get into a car with a cop for ANY reason whatsoever. In fact I go out of my way almost every day to avoid coming within 10 feet of any cop. I will go to a store that is literally miles out of my way just to avoid entering any establishment that has a cop car parked outside it.
Mr. Shultz, you can rest assured that I would NEVER suggest you get into a car with any law enforcement professional for a ride-along. It would be highly counter-productive to you both. That said, I somehow suspect that you will end up in a police car unwillingly simply because your behavior is so… um… volatile – based on your communication to me.
I tell you this to make you understand the depth of the repugnance and pure hatred that I experience every time I SEE one of you. And just so you know, I have no conviction record. Every time you people have harassed/bullied me, you have ended up dropping the charges and my record has been expunged.
Wow. Once again I actually do feel insulted (but not hurt). I don’t know that I’ve ever been called repugnant before. That’s a new one. As for being hated, let me share something with you that I learned long ago:
Hatred doesn’t hurt anyone except the person holding it. You see, for your hatred to be of any concern to me, I’d have to care what you think or feel. Since I don’t know you from Adam, and couldn’t care less what you think or feel, your hatred holds no value for me; it carries no weight; there is no impact in it. Since it burns in you, YOU are the only person affected by it.
Congratulations on never having been convicted of a crime. John Gotti managed the same boast for a long time. (If you don’t know who he was, look him up.) And, yet again, I see the “you people.” Do you realize that you sound just like some racist butthead being critical of someone of a different skin color?
OK ,now you know where I'M coming from, so let's just see if your education and bookwriting expertise will allow you to penetrate 30 years of mistreatment and convince me that you and yours are not the drooling, hydrocephalic, Neanderthals that I think you are.
Yes, sir, I think I’ve got a good understanding of where you’re coming from. You hate cops. You provide no reasonable justification for your hatred, but you express it quite well. You make plenty of accusations with no substantiation, but you hold ALL cops guilty of YOUR beliefs, including the hundreds of thousands of us you’ve never met but already judged.
Just for the record:
I’ve got no drool on my chin or elsewhere. I stopped drooling about the same time I started walking.
I have a healthy brain and tissue. There is no extra water on my brain (but kudos again; I had to look up hydrocephalic.)
Finally, while I might take offense to being called a Neanderthal in one common usage of the term (ignorant or barbaric), I take quite a compliment from it in another common usage of the term: a person with very old fashioned ideas.
I like to think that my ideas – or more correctly – my values ARE old fashioned. I like to believe that my values and foundational beliefs are honorable, admirable and based on a set of morals that I’ve earned as well as learned. I am thankful that I belong to a fraternity that not only demands a high level of professionalism, but expects an above average level of morality, ethics and plain, simple common sense.
Mr. Shultz, I invite you to email me again any time. Feel free to send along any other correspondence you may compose full of insults, unfounded accusations, obvious bias, childish prejudices and unsupported hatred.
You see, no matter what you send along… my response will always remain the same. Thank you for your email. Let me reply in as professional a manner as I can. Please have a safe day.
Editorial Director, Officer Media Group
Police Lieutenant & Training Commander
Certified Anti-Terrorism Specialist