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Two Letters Re: Many Police and Firefighters are The Good Guys

Captain Rawles:
Having read the two opposing viewpoints on this topic, I would like to weigh in and offer some insight for what it’s worth.  It is always hard not to put people in a category, especially the protectors of our society, police and soldiers. 

I am also a retired peace officer and a military veteran, from a central California medium sized agency.  I have relocated to the American Redoubt because California’s politics and downward spiral into the gutter was more than I could bear, especially as a civilian.  Apparently thousands of my fellow retired officers agree because they live here too.  Maybe we are onto something?  Maybe we have looked into the face of the enemy and realized that the enemy is our own species.

Both of my sons have followed in my footsteps with the same agency, and like their peers, are doing their time until they can retire at the earliest opportunity.  I consider both of them, like myself, sheepdogs.

During my 30 years of service, I worked patrol, the jail, K-9, undercover narcotics investigations, criminal investigations, and internal affairs.  I was also a member of our department’s SWAT, and as a Sergeant and then as a Commander, supervised and managed various divisions including patrol, the jail, and investigations.  I have countless hours of in service training, including political violence and terrorism, and hostage negotiations.  I have a degree in Administration of Justice.  Most importantly, I have the experience of dealing with very bad people, some of whom have taken innocent life by violence, or who have abused and molested the innocent.

We can not lump firemen in with peace officers, nor can we include  dispatchers, or correctional officers, no offense to my friends.  It is a different mission, pure and simple.  Not to say that many of these folks do not hold the same “mindset”.  For that matter, there are a whole lot of official, powers-of-arrest, firearms-toting “peace officers”, who have never worked a night shift, served a warrant, written a crime report, made an arrest, or testified in court.  Everything from the state lottery, racing commission, the board of medical quality assurance,  and attorney general have “peace officers” on board.  Granted, I will give credit that many are retired or transferred from actual Sheriff and Police departments.  Suffice to say that there are few who have taken those scary walks in dark alleyways, with service weapon in hand, catching the bad people and protecting those who rely on them.

With that definition, let’s examine some truths, at least those that I know.  I have no experience with cities like New York, Chicago, N. Orleans, or for that matter some little po-dunk in whatever part of this great nation, run by “good ol’ boy” LEO’s who are not even close to being a professional.  But we are all aware of the stereotypical, including some Federal agencies.  The culture of those places is foreign to me and most of the guys that I knew and hung with from agencies all over the state.  I am not aware of any of those who I would call my associates being involved in graft, turning a blind eye, or being robotic pawns for a corrupt system, federal or otherwise.

 More importantly, arresting people simply because they can be arrested, or chasing them down with guns drawn for misdemeanors and infractions like some kind of blue androids is something that goes against the grain of real cops.  Are there idiots out there even in the ranks of police?  Of course!  There are some who lack common sense, who can not identify with their role, but who slipped through the recruitment/training process.  But looking at the totality of it, the lone rangers never last long, and are not trusted by the veterans, and in many cases are even shunned.  

It is important to remember, we are not in the same political climate of times past.  This is a different beast that has reared it’s ugly head, in a nation that is very, very divided, perhaps more so than at any other time in our history with the exception of the Civil War years.  Anyone doubting this can just go to an internet news release from any major news outlet, and scroll down to read the responsive comments.  In many cases it is outright vicious and ugly, and pretty asinine as well.  We have evolved into an “us vs. them” society.   Some days I wake up and wonder what happened.

Where do our police line up?  Well it is not with secular progressive liberal folks who want to disarm the general law abiding public, I can say that pretty confidently.  And our police are totally cognizant of the continual downward spiral and degradation of our society, from poorly educated young people to a morally bankrupt and drugged up populace.  They have seen the negative effects of a mamby-pamby outlook for punishing offenders, a re-hab mentality, redistribution of wealth in an entitlement-oriented world, and the worst, “tolerance”, of just about everything that they don’t believe is beneficial to our society.  Combine all of it and the result is, in one word, failure…big time.

Most cops can be labeled as conservatives.  A few liberal thinkers are here and there, but by and large, cops lean right.  They pay their bills, and are protective of their families.  Almost all believe strongly in the death penalty and strong punishment, and know that by the time cause is established in order to prosecute a suspect, most if not all suspects are in fact guilty, their right to a trial and multiple appeals notwithstanding;  furthermore, these people usually have more rights afforded to them than to their victims.  They also believe in SELF DEFENSE as part of right and wrong.  They know that folks should at least try to take care of themselves when possible, because cops do not live on every street corner and usually arrive on the scene after the fact, and sort out the mess.  They have a strong sense of protection.

Most abhor the politics, even their own employee associations;  a handful end up being the working stiffs for those roles.  Ask a working cop about gun control while he or she is on the job and they will often tap dance around the issue until they know they can trust the asker.  It is then that they will tell you that all “good guys” should have guns to take care of themselves and their families, and that they should use them well!  It makes a cop’s job just a little easier, and maybe insures that he goes home at the end of his watch, unharmed.

Their bosses at top management levels often side with the political current which may change with the wind, in order to get elected or maintain their appointed position.  The working guys and gals usually don’t trust these people either, and some are viewed as a sort of traitor.

The newer generation of police are up tight folks, and rightfully so, because they are constantly being recorded and watched, investigated by their own in addition to the standard watch dog efforts.

The old school, my generation, did not have all of this burden, and there seemed to be a tighter bond amongst us;  plus we had a lot more freedom on the job, sometimes even having a bit of fun with it.  General policies were fewer and less restrictive, and lacked the need for political correctness, and the penal code was a lot smaller!  Not taking everything and everybody so seriously was a huge stress reliever, which was needed in a field that suffered such a high rate of suicide and divorce.  Stress was there, just not talked about. 

For the most part, LEOs have a distrust for the media; being maligned  and given unwarranted “black eyes” for the sake of headlines.  Nor do they trust politicians, who have shown their propensity, time and again,  to lie like Russian radio stations.  In fact, cops tend to hang with each other, not John Q.  They hate going to non-cop events with a lot of crowds and fan fair, where they are usually the only ones introduced by their profession.  Most cops don’t even like to have their “code 7” lunch breaks in busy public diners.  When one does befriend a civilian, it is usually a tight bond that will last indefinitely.

But they do know that their uniform targets them, and in a strange way, they are proud of that.  They know that they are held to a higher standard.  They are take charge people and do not run from danger, but usually run to it.  They view themselves as guardians, and are loyal to codes that have definite lines that are never crossed.  Any that are not an alpha personality usually don’t last beyond a few years.

Cops view their jobs as babysitting an ignorant society hell bent on destroying themselves in a downward spiral of moral decay.  They see the worst of the worst, and at times end up at an interrogation table, “establishing a rapport” with people who they can’t stomach in order to get an admission. They don’t see themselves as “better” Americans…just separate and unique.  They are largely patriotic.  The older they get the more cynicism creeps in, but they see it as “it is what it is”.

Cops see the criminal justice “system” as broken and unfixable, and do not hold lawmakers, lawyers or judges in high regard, with the exception of the few who espouse like ideals.  Ditto to the run of the mill parole, probation, and social service types who have been educated to “save” society by way of rehab, again, a different mission than that of “enforcement”.  Of course there is always a contingent of these folks who hold similar conservative views and are tough on the bad guys, who remain friends to those on the line.

Young cops would work for free, to get a chance to chase the bad guys, roll “code 3” everywhere, and be the warrior they long to be.  These guys are the consummate young sheepdog, and live in an adrenaline-filled dreamscape of the chase.  You have to love them.  The older warriors are their heroes, and they pay attention to their lessons well.

The ever-fickle public they serve always wants the toughest cop on the planet to be the one who responds to their particular problem with a violent criminal or whose home is the target of an invasion. The darker the night gets, our sheep dog becomes everyone’s daddy.  But, he knows that his role is fleeting and that the same public will complain to high heaven in different circumstances.  I can’t count the times I was told that my badge was in jeopardy, and that I was reminded who paid my salary.  He profiles his targets carefully.  He does not believe in a gray world of no wrongs and no rights.  He knows that he must be the Rock of Gibraltar in the face of tragedy, especially for those who have been victims.  He has a soft spot for youngsters.  He doesn’t discuss his troubles with partners or sergeants.  He cries alone.

All of these sweeping generalities said, I would also say that when it all comes down to the wire, cops for the most part are not going to play the patsy for an oppressive government.  They are smart enough to realize that those persecuted would also be family and friends.

And most see themselves as quite apart from their brethren in federal or even state service.  They also know the lines of differentiation between themselves those agencies who have little or no discretion, or who have a limited worldview of “enforcement”.

In my humble opinion, our sheep dogs will, for the most part, line up on the same side of the fence as the general conservative and freedom-loving public when it comes to enforcing strict gun laws.  Why?  Because they have the discretion to do so, they have a lot of common sense, and the last thing they want to do is imprison folks for the sake of an unrealistic world view, which would include their friends and family and maybe even associates.  Discretion is the key word, and it is why we pick our candidates carefully.  Those who lack discretion never last in this career field.

Will they all just quit and toss their badges down?  No.  They will continue to do what they do best, which is to go into the night to protect us from the wolves, while we sleep.  There are enough bad guys, n’eer do well’s, and hell-raisers to keep the jails full.  And if we ever undergo a societal collapse where police personnel can no longer feed their family on a cop’s salary, then they will just go home, and be one of us, and take care of their own.  In fact I would go so far as to say that the majority of working peace officers would actually encourage folks to be self-sustaining preppers!

Some of the more trustworthy people I ever knew when I was working “the street” were just good, hardworking, honest people who would do their best to keep me out of a jam, and most of them were armed to the teeth, and I knew it too.  A smile always came across my face when one of these men or women would show up, because I knew that they would back me up even if the bad guys outnumbered us.  Sheep dogs are sheep dogs.  Period. – L.D.


Thank you, Mr. Rawles, for sharing your vision and maintaining a web site where we can gather great ideas on so many topics.

I also thank you for taking a moment to consider my thoughts in this reply to “A Prepared Sheepdog” on the ‘goodness’ of law enforcement.

My comments are not those of a LEO-hating perp, but are the development of a lifetime of objective witness and thinking about the police state and this condition we call liberty. I also point out that this issue is not solely about what LEO will do when the call comes to disarm Americans, but rather what they are doing now in regards to the liberties of Americans.
Mr. Sheepdog, the “the disturbing trend” is not one of “anti-law enforcement sentiment.” The disturbing trend is one where law enforcement is exhibiting a growing disregard for the liberties and Constitutional protections of American citizens. I agree, Mr. Sheepdog, that it could be considered “biased” to distrust an entire vocational group, but when it comes to law enforcement, the behavior of the entire vocation speaks for itself. I share a personal example, and then I explain what we are facing.

I have never been arrested in my life. I haven’t gotten so much as a traffic ticket in the past 17 years, and I earned that last ticket while exceeding the speed limit on an open interstate so I wouldn’t be late for church with my parents on Easter Sunday. A high-school valedictorian, honorable military service, deans-list, honor-society kind of guy who now works in an appointed academic leadership role for a well-known university. I guess I’m trying to say that I’m no thug, nor am I a liberal. I am an AR15 owning, Constitution-loving, amateur prepper, and I am deeply alarmed by the growing thuggishness of modern law enforcement toward everyone It seems that the concept of law enforcement is one of worship, where we have elevated men and women to a “can’t fail” cult status, most of whom have not even obtained a college degree.

I don’t challenge the idea that their job is difficult, but hundreds of occupations are just as emotionally challenging and difficult as LEO, yet we don’t see them committing crime after crime against Americans and falling back on the image of their job for exoneration.

About a month ago I was driving on an interstate almost 50 miles from the border when I was directed to “secondary” at a non-border checkpoint. I don’t know what made Customs and Border Patrol to think I was somehow in violation of whatever Customs and Border issues they were enforcing, but I didn’t argue and pulled into secondary. Maybe it was the trailer I was towing, but I had committed no crimes.

The first agent approached my vehicle and asked me where I came from. I told him that if he articulated some suspicion of a crime he believed I committed, I would answer his questions, but until then I wasn’t answering any and I would like to be on my way. I pointed out that I had not crossed any borders, and the road we were on didn’t even cross a US border. He immediately escalated the issue, demanding that I produce an ID. I told him I would be happy to show my ID, but I first wanted to know what potential crime they were investigating. No crime was articulated. He then threatened me, saying if I didn’t tell them who I was, he was going to take me inside and “roll me.” I told him to do what he had to do. He turned to the agent beside him and told him to “get the suit and the taser.”

He then took a couple steps back from my vehicle, and I think that is when he noticed my GoPro camera mounted on the dash, recording the exchange, because his demeanor changed. It appears he took a good look at the scenario, and I think he realized that he might be wading into some deep water without a life jacket. I’m not much to look at, easy to stereotype as an insignificant nobody, and I was dressed for driving in a faded print tee and some basketball shorts, but I was driving an impeccably clean and polished vehicle with a high-end trailer. And I was talking to him with respect, consideration, and intelligence.

Far be it from him and the crew, however, to lose such an encounter over something pesky like the Constitution.
In the next few minutes, there appeared a half-dozen agents all around me, one of them with a dog. Then for the next 30 minutes they attempted to make a case as to why I should give them personal information. Among their arguments; when I asked if I was being detained, on agent said “yes.” When I asked why, no one could give me an answer. My new question then became, “why are you detaining me,” whereupon the new answer became “we are not detaining you.” So then when I asked if I was free to go, the answer was “no, you are detaining yourself.” The angry agent actually said that several times. He even said that the burden of identifying myself fell on me, and that until I could prove to him that I wasn’t an illegal alien, he could assume that I was an illegal. I quickly pointed out that we are all “innocent until proven guilty,” that he did not enjoy the privilege of deciding who was guilty, and that in order for him to take action against me as a suspected illegal, both himself and every other agent who walked into view of my camera were going to have to articulate to a judge exactly why they suspected me to be an illegal, and that I would be happy to have that discussion. Several of the agents immediately walked away.

The next threat was that I would be kept there all night if I refused to tell them who I was. I asked them why they would keep my all night and refuse to let me go when none of them could actually explain why they even stopped me and were detaining me. Again, their response was to place the blame back on me, an important caveat that needs to be kept in mind. I asked the agent if by some chance I ended up before a judge, would he tell the judge that “I detained myself.” He refused to answer that, whereupon I announced that I was “undetaining” myself and I would like to be on my way. They refused to allow me to go.

Out came the information poster board; they held it up next to the driver door while standing around me now taking pictures of me. I told them I didn’t want them taking pictures of me, whereupon they announced they had just as much right to take my picture as I did to record them. I told them what they were forgetting was that I have a right to travel in my own country free and unmolested by law enforcement and they were infringing that right, and that I would never stop them and force them to sit there so I could take their picture, so their claims of having that “right” were unethical and flawed. No concession.

The poster they held up outlined the privileges as defined by the USSC and legislation. I then challenged them to show me on that poster where it said I had any obligation to submit to identifying myself when I had committed no crime. They truly were stumped…one agent actually studied the poster with a little look of surprise on his face because it appears that none of them were aware that nowhere on that poster did it outline the citizen’s obligations at a non-border checkpoint.

One agent suggested that I was in violation of a law by refusing to identify myself. I adjusted my camera (for dramatic effect) and asked him to clarify; “am I in violation of any law by refusing to identify myself?” He actually said, “yeah, you are in violation of a law. I don’t know what law, but there is one.” I then asked him if he planned to arrest me for a law that he really wasn’t sure about. Another agent attempted to bail him out of his stupid comment by saying, “you are in violation of yourself.” I calmly pointed out that his notion was absolutely ridiculous and that their nonsense had long lost any semblance of legal language.

Then the waterworks came on; the original angry agent started to emote about how I wouldn’t find a more avid follower of the Constitution than himself and he empathized with me. I told him then he should understand why I don’t think there’s anything noble or Constitutional about stopping without cause someone who is just driving down the highway, and trying to make them answer personal questions. This quickly devolved into the entire group of them standing by my door saying they would prefer to be chasing illegals in the desert, and catching big trucks with loads of drugs or illegals on board, and that they are “just doing” their job and this is not the place to make a statement. I pointed out that I had places to go, things to do, and making a statement was not one of them. My refusal to identify myself was based solely on a love for the protections of the Constitution. I reminded them that I had no plans to talk to a federal law enforcement agent today, but that they had stopped me, therefore it was illogical for them to shift the burden of this encounter onto me since they were the ones who initiated it. I reminded them that I told them many times that I wanted to be on my way, and it was their decision (not mine) to detain me that was interfering with whatever intentions they had to chase illegals in the desert or stop all the big trucks that were rolling by with illegals on board.

Interspersed with their ramblings were questions about what I had in the trailer, where was I going, and how much longer my camera was going to record. I refused to answer any questions.
They started to talk about how they don’t necessarily disagree with me, but that hypothetically “sometimes people don’t have control over the policies they are required to follow.” I reminded them that they swore an oath, they knew what this job was about when they applied, they know what the job is about now, and they don’t get to hide behind some curtain of “policy.” I pointed out that if I had a job that asked me to even lean a little on the citizen’s protections by the Constitution, I would walk away and find another more noble job…I didn’t care if it meant I had to scrub toilets at McDonalds, because scrubbing toilets is more respectable than collecting taxpayer dollars to then turn around and demand that these same taxpayers surrender their rights. They literally stuck their hands in their pockets, the feeling of shame and defeat was apparent. It was getting quiet.

Their last effort was to come and tell me that they ran my tags, which I pointed out they had no probable cause to do and I did not give them permission. They said given the fact that they could run my tags, they didn’t understand why I would refuse to ID myself. I then asked them if running my tags gave them the satisfaction they were looking for, then it appeared to me there was no reason for them to unlawfully detain me and I’d like to be on my way…whereupon the agent actually said, “that didn’t really go the way I intended.”

Finally a supervisor showed up. He asked me what it was I “wanted.” I just chuckled and told him I just wanted to be on my way, nothing more, they stopped me against my will, but his officers refused to either let me go or explain why they were detaining me. The supervisor tried to get me to identify myself again, and failed. He made the mistake of suggesting that since I was “so big on not letting people know who I am,” he was going to explain to me how things worked at a checkpoint. I pointed out that I was not at all about refusing to let people know who I am, but that I was fully against any agent of the government having the privilege to stop me a some indiscriminate point on a roadway just to try and force me to identify myself, because their behavior was totally against the spirit of the 4th, 5th, and 14th Amendment. I shared that his officers already told me how “a checkpoint works,” but that they were woefully unable to explain even basic understandings of the law or the obligations of the citizens.

This was around the 40 minute mark, which is close to what I believe is an allowable legal time frame for them to detain someone without either arresting them or letting them go. There was frustration evident on a couple faces, and half-hidden embarrassment on the faces of a few others, and they knew that they were going to either have to lose this battle now, or lose it in a very public place where I was going to hire a lawyer who was going to tear them apart even more skillfully than I had. The agent started making this incoherent statement about being “satisfied” that I wasn’t here illegally or carrying drugs and I was free to go.

The point is that in this story, the casual observer would surmise that only one of these agents were “bad” by virtue of behavior (his threats both direct and indirect), but the reality is that all of them were COMPLICIT in trying to negotiate a surrender of my Constitutional protections. This is the condition in almost every case of police impropriety. Maybe only one cop beat the handcuffed perp, but not a single one of the other officers did what they are actually obligated to do…which would be to step in, stop the “bad cop,” and actually even arrest the “bad cop” for doing something illegal. Such stories happen…well, never. When there isn’t a camera around, the investigations almost always find that there was no “wrongdoing,” but when something is caught on camera or is simply too much to sweep under the rug, only then do we hear about some kind of proper definitive action taking place, and even sometimes LEO misbehavior caught on camera is dismissed as “appropriate action on behalf of the officers.”

This tendency to subjectively exonerate police misbehavior is precisely why bad cops are chronic offenders. And the fact that the rest of the allegedly “good cops” refuse to hold each other accountable is exactly why there is a “growing trend of mistrust” of LEO. It’s this mentality which leads law enforcement to routinely abuse their position to bully people in ways that are both unprofessional, unethical, and likely illegal. And the public worship of LEO is likely just ONE reason they fall back to their position of always blaming their condition on others or refusing to acknowledge that there is even a problem with the modern condition of law enforcement.

The reality is that given the current condition of LEO, it’s not that there are a few bad cops, it’s that there are only a few good ones, but we can’t figure out who they are. I don’t care about stories where a cop bought a kid a burger or gave boots to a homeless man, because even the Yakuza ran large-scale charities for the people of Japan after the earthquake, but they are still bad people. No one says that “all cops are out to get us,” but many of us believe that very few of them have our best interests in mind and it’s not unreasonable for us to consider the police to be dangerous to our life and liberty until they prove otherwise. It’s the same reason cops put handcuffs on everyone they take out of a car and frisk them even if they have no intention to arrest them…it’s because it’s “cop safety first.” I feel the same way about modern LEO.

It’s encouraging to hear a LEO suggest that they would be reluctant to try and disarm civilians (although I’m not sure if it’s because they love the Constitution or because they know it will be a bloodbath), but the evidence suggests that actions are louder than words. Ruby Ridge. Waco. Milwaukee police, Lakeland, Ohio police, California police, New Jersey police, Hazelwood, MO, DC police…this is just a tip of the iceberg of cases where the law enforcement committed egregious crimes against citizens or confiscated legally-owned firearms and refused to return them, sometimes requiring court action to force them to respect the 2nd Amendment rights of the citizens rather than reflecting the ideology that all of the cops you know are advocates for the 2nd Amendment.

I worked as a paramedic during five years of college, and yes I encountered a few good cops along the way, but I saw an amazing amount of misbehavior by cops, from theft to narcotic use to domestic abuse to abuse of power. Not one time did I ever see one cop hold another accountable. You can tell me all you want about these good cops you work with, but what you can’t do is dismiss the observations by people who see the police as the front-line wave of erosion to our Constitutional protections, and I conclude by pointing out that you did exactly what every cop does who is trying to defend the damaged reputation of law enforcement; you placed the burden back onto the citizens instead of acknowledging that there is an insidious growing problem in the institution of law enforcement.

Look inward, Officer Sheepdog. Look inward. – S.P.