I love my friends. They keep me hooked into what’s going on in the world, both internal and external. And they’re a wild, random, brilliant bunch, spanning generations. So I wasn’t expecting to be wrenched out of my casual preparations for an afternoon of writing by a FaceBook link to a Salon article about the “Rise of the Warrior Cop” I certainly wasn’t expecting the tears.
Regardless of what I want to believe, or the political party I might follow, we are still left with the reality of this current crisis of faith in the very institutions charged with protecting us.
For the record. I’m not a Republican. I’m not a libertarian. I write gay romance and focus on the ‘Happily Ever Afters’ not ‘black helicopter’ conspiracies.
And I believe this shift to a paramilitary-style force has been an organic process (in the same way that creeping black mold is organic ). If you pinned me down, I’d lay the blame for this squarely on the uncivil war that has been waged across this country by a handful of cynically talented white men using the megaphone of media to their advantage. We have been divided from each other more completely than Jefferson Davis ever dreamed we could be: black from white, gay from straight, women from men, latinos and immigrants from everyone else.*
It’s heartbreaking to see where we’ve slid to and worrisome to contemplate how much further we have to go before falling into an abyss we can’t crawl out of. And worse, these tragedies are the bedtime stories for communities of the poor and underprivileged and have been for decades…(which is a whole other topic of despair and regret).
With the police budgets short on funds and motivation for community policing and outreach and reliance on spectacular “gets” to justify what they do have, it’s not surprising that Detectives like Baucum might be tempted to make their salad by going after the low hanging fruit like $50 bets between friends.
“Sal Culosi’s last words were to Baucum, the cop he thought was a friend: “Dude, what are you doing?”
We’ve done nothing to put the breaks on the careening escalation of the militarization of our police that encourages the idea that we are all criminals, all terrorists, who just haven’t been caught yet.
This is an idea promoted by the NRA (well, the card carrying members aren’t the criminals, just everyone around them) and these ridiculous open carry laws that encourage radical proponents to drag their firearms with them to church along with the kiddies. After all, why rely on God to save them when a semi-automatic rifle is oh so much more sexy?
Maybe they’re right. Maybe the basement bingo games are next to be targeted.
Let’s hope not for our sake.
The time to sit back and relish our role as ‘innocent bystander’ has come and gone now that we’re all sitting in the crosshairs. – LE Franks
From the article:
In March 2006, just two months after its ridiculous gambling investigation resulted in the death of an unarmed man, the Fairfax County Police Department issued a press release warning residents not to participate in office betting pools tied to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. The title: “Illegal Gambling Not Worth the Risk.” Given the proximity to Culosi’s death, residents could be forgiven for thinking the police department believed wagering on sports was a crime punishable by execution.
In January 2011, the Culosi family accepted a $2 million settlement offer from Fairfax County. That same year, Virginia’s government spent $20 million promoting the state lottery.”
Excerpted from “Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces”by Radley Balko. Reprinted with permission from PublicAffairs Books.
*I want to avoid the whole liberal/conservative religious fundamentalist/christian discussion which is too complicated for me to even want to muddy the much more critical issues raised in this article. Let’s just leave it to say that if I believed in hell, it’d be populated by a very small handful of operatives who took enough human psychology classes to completely twist the heads of a lot of once genuinely nice people. People who would, at one time, cut off an arm to help their neighbor without censor are now so fucked up and afraid that they are charging the streets like a pack of rabid dogs whose masters have beaten and starved and tortured them for so long they can’t think through the pain. And yes, sadly they fall within a very narrow spectrum and it’s a shame that a minority of our citizens have such an undue (and negative) influence on our society as a whole that not even watching them turn and tear the political throats out of their masters can give any pleasure in the face of the misery they spread. My only prayer is that rationality will return and save us from ourselves .