Saturday, January 30, 2010

Police Departments Own Their Citizens. They Are The Law, Right?

Well, I hope not, and I hope you agree with me.

I will turn your face to alabaster,
When you find your servant is your master

--Sting, Wrapped Around Your Finger, 1983 (The Police)

Great song, great band, but it is just a song to the citizens, despite the ironic name of the group. Not so to a cop. Cops live in stark fear of this lyric becoming a reality for them. A cop is riddled with the haunting thoughts of how they violate citizens’ rights with every workday. They know there will be a day when their misguided belief of who and what they are become intolerable to citizens, who finally reclaim their rightful ownership of police departments. We know that cops joined the force for all the wrong reasons, and as Sting suggests in his lyrics, that guilt will turn into reality.

The form in which this epiphany must take is the Citizen Review Board. Cops are really common citizens who have been given a particular job, and no more, but have tried to parlay that job into something it never included: automatic superiority. And they parlay it with the only tool they have to work with, ego.

Nobody has corrected their mistakes, at least yet, and the citizens are suffering for it. Melvin Jones III, of Springfield Massachusetts, Michael Mineo, of Brooklyn NY, Daija M of the Bronx, NYC, are all good and recent examples of the way an out-of-control ego hurts us all. Worse, these three common citizens prove that you could be next.

Why has the servant been working as our master for so long? Society’s absentee-management style is why, and it has now come back to bite us all. Cops do what they want, fueled by ego and misdirection, and the only reason a citizen does nothing is because they are not yet a victim. Time will deliver that reality to their doorstep eventually, unless society makes the titles of servant and master a bit more clear to their police departments.

So what do we do? If you really like the way servant cops own you, do nothing. Cops will take it from there and in the long run, make every move, every thought you have, into a “violation”. You will be ticketed, jailed, fined, or put on a “list” forever. But if changing that outcome sounds better, we MUST take control back with a Citizen Review Board. Call the mayor, and the City Council. Make it clear to all incoming politicians that an oversight panel is a requirement to get or keep the jobs they seek.

Call friends and neighbors, and set up an email based network between them. Bookmark websites of all local politicians and make it clear to them who you are and what you expect for your tax money. Above all else, remember that the citizen invented the police department, we pay for it and it belongs to us first. When we get that past the ego problems and clean up the police forces we have now, we can start to work on what the police academy teaches their recruits, and let attrition take its course. It is a big, long term job, but it only gets worse without control.

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