By Bruce Poli
Earlier this year I was driving on 14th St. in the right lane. In the left lane was a police formation of several cars.
Suddenly a van was sticking out into my lane so I put on my left turn signal, waited for the right space between police cars, went around the van and was immediately pulled over by a police siren.
A big fat cop approached me:
“What the hell are you doing?”
I pulled out my police card—given to me by my son-in-law who works in NYPD counterterrorism…
“Who the hell is that?
“ That’s my son-in-law”
“Does your son-in-law know you cut off cops?”
“ I was just going around the van sticking out in my lane.”
Deferential, he let me go.
A few nights later I was having dinner with my daughter and son-in-law. He’s a Sergeant—refused to move up to Lieutenant because he said it’s all corrupt from Lieutenant up. Instead he went sideways to counterterrorism and now heads a team.
When I told him the story, expecting support and something like “Yeah, unfortunately there’s some really bad people in the NYPD,” instead I got, “Don’t you EVER cut in front of a police line!”
A lightbulb went off: He’s more protective and cares more about his own cult than his father-in-law’s support and empathy. WOW!
So I started to think, why do young people become cops?
The answer is one word… or maybe you could say two.
The second is service—to serve the public—which is an ideal.
The primary word is BENEFITS—a short working life and then you and your family are taken care of for the rest of their lives. The union is strong, there’s overtime, early retirement and a generous pension, not to mention the Police Benevolent Association.
It’s a Devil’s Bargain!
These young people join the Force, get into the real world and—brace yourself—it’s a war.
They create armor around themselves, get angrier and angrier (and fearful) as they become victims of hatred, sometimes violence and so often lack of respect. So the idealism fades and the pressure mounts from above to conform to Cop Culture.
Problem is it’s their secret …they haven’t told the rest of us that it’s expected to allow a long police formation on the street to pass before you yourself are able to follow the natural motor vehicle laws. It’s the Police—so you have to wait and respect them…
The arrogance, the power plays and the assumptions built into the downward curve of being in the Police Cult—and it is a Cult—are mortifying. But they are also reality and that is what we’re living with and fighting for and against in our current American society.
My son-in-law is a Bernie Sanders liberal… hard to believe, but that allows me insight into the mind of the Police Cult.
So what is our solution?
Black Lives Matter isn’t helping right now nor is the current national media
Community police meetings are great, but very ineffective and short-lived in the long run.
Reality…oh yes, that magnificent word… is that the Police Culture Needs a Voice.
How can we respect the police unless the police respect us?
I’m not referring to race, I’m referring to the world at large. Us, the ‘public’.
So the answer is communication and mutual respect‚—which go hand-in-hand with progress.
So politicians can enact legislation which can help police help us.
Because if we can stand in their shoes, they can then stand in ours.