Some people just shouldn't be police officers. It's a sad fact. They don't have the right temperament, the right attitude, nor are they capable of separating their personal feelings from their profession.
Of course there are a lot of people in law enforcement who do a great job. Here's a video of one from several years back. I think this was a state trooper from Maine giving a gentleman a ticket for playing his radio too loud. The guy fusses the entire time but the officer is never fazed by it.
And why? Because it's not against the law to fuss. In fact, it's protected by the Constitution. The thing is, if you do not want a job where people will dislike you, don't become a police officer. Maybe you'd be better suited being a clown for children's birthday parties. But don't strap on a gun and badge.
We've all seen the horrific video from McKinney, Texas, where Officer Eric Casebolt pulled his gun on several unarmed teens walking home from a pool party and manhandled an unarmed 15-year-old girl. Their crime: walking too slowly for him. He has since resigned. Hopefully he's working kid's birthday parties now.
And take Texas state trooper, Brain T. Encinia. By now we've all read about Sandra Bland hanging herself in her jail cell after being incarcerated for three days, and we've seen the video of the arrest. And while we can understand why Officer Encinia pulled her over, the rest is beyond our comprehension. How did failing to use a turn signal result in this tragedy? Why did it?
Officer Encinia is heard telling Ms. Bland that she seems irritated, Duh, you think? She just got pulled over for moving over for an emergency vehicle and that emergency vehicle's driver decided to ticket her for not signaling first.
There is nothing in the video that suggests this should have been anything other than a routine ticket and the driver should have been on her way. There was nothing that she said or did that should have resulted in her being forced from her car and arrested. Nothing. This is a plain case of a cop who shouldn't be a cop. Period.
I've been pulled over a number of times, and I can't remember one time being happy about it. In fact, it always ruins my entire day, even the times that I was actually doing something wrong. Since when is it mandatory to be in a good mood after being pulled over?
These two cases, and many more like it, were instances of white officers dealing with black civilians. It paints a picture of racial discrimination, and that's quite possibly accurate. But sometimes it's just a plain case of a person not having the right mentality to be a cop.
Most of us have probably had at least one experience in our lives with an out-of-line cop. Here's one of mine. Twenty-five years ago, I had a part-time job delivering newspapers in Montgomery, Alabama in the wee hours of the morning. As I pulled into a convenient store to drop off papers, there was a police car parked out by the road, two hundred feet from the building. I thought nothing of it.
As I was collecting the old papers and conversing with the clerk, an older black police officer came in the door and was noticeably upset. He demanded to know why I had pulled in between him and the business, explaining that a robbery could have been transpiring, which could have been why he was out there in his car.
I tried to make a joke about it and said, "So if this store gets robbed, you're going to be way out there?" Bad mistake. This officer had me assume the position, frisked me, all the while spewing expletives and threatening to arrest me for obstruction of justice and a host of other crimes. After about 20 minutes, he finally let me go. I drove away in a surreal state-of-mind wondering if this guy's wife had just left him or something.
I worked as a stand-up comic for many years and was surprised to learn that a lot of the comics I met on the road had no sense of humor at all. But when they got on that stage, they transformed into these gods of comedy. Even hecklers didn't bother them.
That's how cops should be. When they put on that uniform, they are no longer the same person they are in their personal lives. If they're a racist or just a jerk, that part of their personality should be left at home or in the locker room. Seriously, their job is more black and white (no pun intended) than most professions. If a person is breaking the law, act accordingly. If the person is simply getting on your nerves -- who cares?
Unfortunately, the job itself, wearing a gun and having a position of power over others, tends to attract the very people who should never be given a gun and a position of power over others. That will probably never change. I doubt there are enough stable people applying for the force.
I think all police cadets in training should have to watch the scene from Road House where Patrick Swayze's character is explaining to the bouncers that it's a job and nothing is personal. "Be nice," he explains and just do your job.
Maybe that's asking way too much. Officers of the law do not have to be nice, but they sure need to stop being a-holes.