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What Happened to the Good Cop?

I remember as a kid living in Raleigh, North Carolina, the police rolling through our neighborhood. All us kids loved when they did. What happened to those days?

I remember as a kid living in Raleigh, North Carolina, the police rolling through our neighborhood.  All us kids loved when they did.  When these officers came through we would flag them down, and every time they would stop. These cops would roll down their windows, ask us how we were doing, and take a minute for a nice little chat. Best of all, they had basketball cards!

Basketball is king in North Carolina. Duke, the Tarheels, NC State, Dean Smith, Coach K, Jimmy Valvano, Bobby Hurley, Christian Laettner, and many others were our heroes.  The cops who gave us their basketball cards were our friends.

Today, California cops have blindly opened fire on 2 pickup trucks that resembled the description of an ex-cop who is telling stories of police abuse. In both instances, the police fired on the cars of innocent people unrelated to their case. Two were injured and sent to the hospital, while the police attempt to silence one of their own who knows too much.

Monday we heard a story from Cleveland, where over 50 officers chased a car, 13 officers, fired 137 rounds into a car killing both unarmed occupants inside. The police in this case were so violent and reckless they also managed to shoot their own patrol cars with friendly fire in the process.

I do not write this to bash the police. Many officers are good people who would never take part in incidents such as these. My assessment as an outsider looking in and from my conversations with off duty police, facebook observations, and other 2nd and 3rd hand accounts is that the culture of the police has dramatically changed in the last 20 years.

It seems that there is a huge Us vs. Them mentality in today’s police force. No longer do they assume you are a nice kid hanging out on the corner with your buddies, talking about basketball, now you are a street thug looking to push crack onto the first unsuspecting middle school kid who happens by. Every person with headlight out on their car is a terrorist or DUI.  Anyone who dares question their authority is resisting arrest, threatening, disorderly, trespassing, or any other vague criminal sounding term used to violate the rights of the ‘accused’.

It’s not entirely hard to understand. Cops are called on to deal with many of the worst people in society. They do have to risk their lives occasionally in a domestic dispute where one person may be attempting or already injured another, who may be armed, and may not care whose life they take. It happens.  Additionally, when you do have to deal with those types of people as part of your job instead of say kindergarteners, I can see where a cop might tend to become jaded.

That however, is the problem. When you begin to see everyone as a scumbag, you begin to treat everyone like a scumbag, and then in turn, they will act more like scumbags.  I am sure that the majority of the people that police encounter are not murders, terrorist or wife beaters. Most of the people the cops run into on a daily basis are good, hardworking folks, who may be late for a meeting and driving a few mph over the speed limit. They may not even realize their headlight or turn indicator isn’t working properly. When they were on their way home after a long week in the office and rolled through that stop sign in their neighborhood, it wasn’t to disrespect you or the law, they just wanted to see their kids a moment sooner.

These circumstances do not violate the rights of anyone. No one is harmed if you roll through a stop sign.  No one is harmed if you go a little faster than the sign says you are supposed to.  No one is harmed if you decide after a long week at work to relax in the hotub on your back porch and smoke a little weed.

There was a time not too long ago when the police were ‘Peace Officers’. At that time their motto was ‘To Protect and Serve’. Who is served by a speed trap? Who is served or protected when a cop is hiding on a residential side street waiting for someone to roll through a stop sign? What happened to the cops who drove through neighborhoods handing out basketball cards? Why do cops use the term ‘Law Enforcement’ now? Is that all they care about? Is that the new mentality? “I am here to force you to do exactly as we say you should! Stop Resisting!”

We do not need more law enforcers. Many of these silly laws were written for no reason other than to collect revenue. Today’s cops do not seem concerned with ‘protect and serve. Their motto is now ‘collect and arrest’. Law enforcement is just a fancy name for tax collector or revenue generator for their jurisdiction. Sure, it makes some people feel safer, but they have not yet been on the other side of the blue lights. Meet the quota, or get penalized. Cops have no choice but to write bogus tickets and create scenarios that would not normally exist to meet the stats their superiors require.

I hope one day the ‘law enforcement’ mentality, the ‘do as I say’ mentality and the ‘everyone is a criminal’ mentality goes away. I would love for the police to once again become Peace Officers, friendly neighborhood guys who take the opportunity to talk to the kids in the neighborhoods they patrol.  I still have good memories of cops from my childhood, but the more I read and see today the faster those memories are being wiped away. 

When I have had need to contact the police I am happy they were there to answer the call, and happy there were able to assist with my issues. The police I personally know are not bad people, and I am sure that the people who know the cops involved in these recent incidents would say the same thing. I long for a day when we can all be treated equally. When cops do not do for each other what they would not do for any of us. If a cop or his wife would be let go for speeding, the same courtesy should be extended to the taxpayers that pay his salary.  I hope the Us vs. Them culture can one day be overcome and we can all be part of society together instead of against each other.

It is my hope that my children will one day reflect on their childhood and remember the cool cops from their neighborhood, church, and school that took the time to talk to them, and do not remember all the violence, corruption and abuse that seems to be more prevalent today.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Kathleen Allen February 12, 2013 at 05:16 PM
I can't speak for other communities, but Norcross must have plenty of Good Cops, because when I participated in College & Career Day at Norcross Elementary School a few weeks ago, the vast majority of young boys in the four classes I visited declared that they want to grow up to be police officers. Their enthusiasm speaks highly for the Norcross Police Department and officers who patrol our neighborhoods!
Kenneth Stepp February 12, 2013 at 10:41 PM
Nathan There are a few things that have changed since you were growing up. Unemployment is abnormally high, Crack & Meth, Liability in a litigious environment, and population growth. Being a LEO (law enforcement officer) is as much a calling as a career. Because of the changes in the job and the dangers all around, the ranks do tighten a bit. The us vs them you speak of has always been here. It has to be. Never before has the LEO put so much on the line for so little. The risk reward of the job is out of whack. When we see trouble or hear a shot fired we run, or duck for cover. They move towards that shot, noise or person. I call it an "Unnatural Act Of Courage". These are not super humans. They are parents, spouses, and neighbors. We have always asked far more of them than we do ourselves. We have come to expect more out of them than is natural in my opinion. I know there are some that really should not wear a badge, there has to be. Simple math dictates it. However I believe that is a very small fraction. I know a lot of LEO's and respect them greatly. They are put into impossible situations on a daily basis. Integrity and adherence to the oath of office is a part of their DNA. As someone that works with them daily, I see them differently I guess. I'm always impressed by the type of men and women they are. Unfortunately that fraction gets the headlines. http://kennethstepp.tumblr.com/post/41778138973/cost-of-the-call-law-enforcement-unnatural-acts-of
thcooper69 February 13, 2013 at 08:37 AM
times have changed and drugs and illicit behavior have become commonplace ,SOME PEOPLES music glorifys dope slingin gang bangin and pullin tha trigger with no thought or conscious ,a cop has a target on his chest and THERE MUSIC .preaches hate. most chilren today are being raise with no morals and THERE crimes in tha news jus show it . THAY have no respect for the law ,and there momas raised THEMB that way . when taking religion out of schools ,it took all hope for society as a whole as peeps moral compas has gone south .and as u can see were all having to live by tha gun instead of mayberry rfd . nightly shootings and stabings has become presidence in downtown and as urban sprawl spreads ,so do its inhabitants causing mayhem and crimes .it all goes hand in hand but the main cause is THERE music, like adding a fan to tha flames . ban that and it will be a start in turning society around
Nathan Horton February 13, 2013 at 01:33 PM
Restricting the freedom of speech will do nothing to help this country.
Nathan Horton February 13, 2013 at 01:36 PM
There are no doubt a lot of good cops still around...They just don't seem to be the same type of officer friendly they once were.
Kenneth Stepp February 13, 2013 at 11:15 PM
Kind of like book burning. I think that's in the same category with banning music. Just as wrong, just as unconstitutional. Everyone has equal rights under the law. Just because I don't like or understand the art behind the music, doesn't mean someone else can't.
Tammy Osier February 13, 2013 at 11:53 PM
Then you don't know the cops I do. I worked with some of the finest Georgia has.They're out there.
Meinert February 16, 2013 at 02:03 PM
I concur with the observations that 'times have changed'. "Growing up as a kid in Raleigh" tells all. I surmise that the author is about 45--which means that he grew up in a small city of less than 400,000. That is essentially Mayberry, compared to Atlanta with its millions of residents. The same officer that waved to youths passing by in Raleigh, now has a fear that those youths might open fire on him. I too remember the Mayberry days of yester-year. I would love for them to return. Until then, I'm grateful for the those officers' courage. And like another post above, it is the parents' fault and the parents' duty to correct their childrens' behavior.
m February 17, 2013 at 03:27 AM
How can parents correct their children's behavior? They're all at work.
Chris Murphy February 17, 2013 at 03:03 PM
The author mentions a few "harmless" activities: rolling (i.e., running) stop signs, "going a little faster," "smoking a little weed,"etc. Those aren't "harmless," or as other apologists have viewed them, as "victimless." One of the reasons there aren't more people- and kids- walking is that drivers don't give a shit about laws that make using a street or road predictable- a walker is liable to get hit unless they exercise the care and awareness used by NFL running backs. That reefer you're fond of most likely came from a country- Mexico, Jamaica, Honduras, ad infinitum- that is now basically a narco-state, unsafe for all those but the elite, and the most protected traffickers. I'm no saint- I've done all the above, and worse. But with time- and plenty of favorable, but also caught-in-the-act behavior by myself- seen how we, the citizens, have put the cops in an untenable situation. You want to get high in your hot tub, but dammit where are the cops when 3 guys with hoodies are checking you out as you get to your car on a dark, unlit street? We ask for judgement far above their 'pay grade.' Obey the laws as written and stop asking for special treatment. You see a cop, keep it to, Yes, sir (ma'am, miss), No, sir, Thank you, sir. Then maybe they can find the time for some pleasant conversation. Until then, they have 5-10 more 911 calls waiting for them on their in-car computer screen.
Amy February 17, 2013 at 04:34 PM
I think the Gwinnett county police are pretty nice. I've never gotten a speeding ticket I didn't deserve, and the one time I got it, I had a rental car with Dekalb county tags. They are a little prejudiced against certain counties. I hope the police training in LA stays there, they suck!
Tammy Osier February 17, 2013 at 11:59 PM
Little foxes destroy the vine, meaning those "little" pranks or "harmless" activities lead to bigger things. Not to mention that someone has to clean up or deal with the idiots who smoke a "little" weed most likely get behind a wheel or are useless to those around them because they're always stoned. What gets me is JAYWALKING!!! This ain't Mayberry, but I ses it so often, and if I were not obeying the speed limit and watching the road could easily hit a pedestrian. Notice how often you are seeing pedestrians killed these days. Gwinnett and surrounding areas are not small towns anymore.
Attorney Martin Hilliard March 01, 2013 at 05:46 PM
If this were only true, we'd live in a whole different world. What little boy doesn't want to grow up being a police or fireman?
Attorney Martin Hilliard March 01, 2013 at 05:49 PM
I agree with you 100 percent!
Attorney Martin Hilliard March 01, 2013 at 05:58 PM
I'm always in interested in just how people perceive the law and Judicial system and reading the above comments just tells me that most are still cluless as to the real world happenings in the day to day workings of our system and the players in the game. (pun) I am by no means 'knocking' anyone for their thoughts or feelings with any issues they may have, but unless you work with these people on a daily basis, you'll never know just how nasty is can be and is.
flyinby May 01, 2013 at 07:52 PM
Court OKs Barring High IQs for Cops http://abcnews.go.com/US/court-oks-barring-high-iqs-cops/story?id=95836 A man whose bid to become a police officer was rejected after he scored too high on an intelligence test has lost an appeal in his federal lawsuit against the city.The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York upheld a lower court’s decision that the city did not discriminate against...

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