The Eclectic One

…Because labels are a poor substitute for thinking

Let’s beat up on the cops…again

Posted by Bill Nance on November 25, 2008

For some reason journalists cover police with one of two attitudes:

  1. Police are always right, always tell the truth and are to be quoted as though God herself has spoken
  2. Police are armed thugs intent on abusing minorities, destroying civil rights and by the way are probably corrupt.

Now personally I’ve never understood this, and I speak as someone who’s covered police for years as a reporter. In my experience, most cops are doing their very best in a difficult and sometimes dangerous job. They perform their duties on average, better than most public employees and are extremely reluctant to get into unnecessary confrontations.

I’ve run into both corruption and brutality. For the first, I’ve never seen tolerance from higher-ups. Not once.

For the second, there is a lot more tolerance than there should be, but brutal cops tend to get fired, get moved to desk jobs or otherwise be forced out. It’s not 100%, but it’s more common than not. Some cops are just plain rotten. They lie, they frame people, they are bullies. I’ve seen it and reported same.

So in other words, police in general do a pretty good job, But they’re human. The training and the badge don’t make them any less susceptible to this condition. They do stupid things, they are sometimes crooks, and some are brutes and bullies. Of course equally, they do heroic things.

If a journalist is actually interested in reporting facts, one would hope they would look at each situation and make the best judgment call possible in their reporting.  This means neither acting as stenographers for police versions of facts, nor assuming everything they say is a lie until proven otherwise.

The latest example of cop-hating masquerading as journalism can be found here.

Now if you skim over the article you’ll be left with one conclusion: The Air Marshals are incompetent, dangerous and corrupt. Having never met an Air Marshal, I can’t personally testify one way or the other. However, I will quote one meaningful statistic out of the article:

“But an examination of police reports, court records, government reports, memos and e-mails shows that 18 air marshals have been charged with felonies, including at least three who were hired despite prior criminal records or being fired from law enforcement jobs”

Eighteen bad apples. Out of a force of 3000-4000 (the exact number is classified).

Do the math. That’s .06% of the officers, assuming 3000 total.

No one should be happy with cops as felons. But let’s please attempt to be real. A 2,000-word article who’s clear purpose is to show the Air Marshals as dangerous, corrupt and incompetent, and the only numbers they can come up with are 18 cops (who have been prosecuted by the way) a few cops who weren’t fired after getting a DUI, (Should you lose your job because of a DUI un-related to your work)? And a few sloppy hiring decisions.

Let’s all panic now shall we?

Gimme a break.


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