How police lost the fight for hearts and minds

As communication technologies improve, most Americans are learning that police forces include many psychopathic, murderous thugs. Videos of police committing rape, murder, mugging and other crimes under the color of the law are everywhere. It’s only a numerical minority of cops who commit most of the offenses, but the majority either abets them or look the other way. Some departments — usually in smaller jurisdictions — stay clean. Many — including pretty much all the major metro areas — do not. In the minds of a law-abiding person, cops become more dangerous than freelance criminals because they are better armed and armored, they have backup on call and the law favors them as well. Many of my friends who are police officers or sheriff’s deputies view other cops as the most serious threat to themselves and their families.

In Sprague DeCamp’s Lest Darkness Fall, a person shifted from late 1930s Rome to the 6th Century asks about police and gets this response:

Padway asked in Italian: “Could you tell me where I could find a policeman?”The man stopped his sales talk, shrugged, and replied,
“Non compr’ endo.”
“Hey!” said Padway. The man paused. With great concentration Padway translated his requestinto what he hoped was Vulgar Latin.The man thought, and said he didn’t know. Padway started to turn elsewhere. But the seller of beads called to another hawker:
“Marco! The gentleman wants to find a police agent.””The gentleman is brave. He is also crazy,” replied Marco. The bead-seller laughed. So did several people.

In the Third World, no one interacts with police voluntarily. In the US, at least in some parts of the past, police had the benefit of the doubt. That doubt is now gone and replaced with fear and loathing. Thus far, it hasn’t been replaced with an open season on them…it’s up to the police agencies to make sure that doesn’t become the next step.

In certain areas, such as Boston, the cops are trying to protect themselves by disarming the population and by showing up in force wherever they go. Other departments are doing their best to repair their tarnished image by actually acting ethically. Guess which approach I prefer.

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3 Responses to How police lost the fight for hearts and minds

  1. David Fox says:


  2. Mr Galt says:

    From what I’ve experienced, they are not so “clean” in small towns either.

    From stalking teenage girls to pulling over people for doing nothing wrong at all and trying to provoke a situation that can lead to an arrest (and a beating). All the while the local government types cover-up and obfuscate things that should by rights laid bare in the public forum.

    Sorry, no faith in small town locals here.

    • Oleg Volk says:

      Depends greatly on the small town. I know a PD in South-East Washington where the entire staff is alive only through the overwhelming patience of the locals. And I’ve seen departments in which the cops are decent enough for me to call friends and role models.

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