“Let Them Eat Each Other.” Letter from a Cop on Unannounced Strike: 2000 and Nothing Has Changed

Some months ago I wrote that cops in a lot of jurisdictions have decided that the current climate of hostility toward the police has led officers to keep their heads down — i.e., not to do anything that could result in criticism by the racial lobbies. Because this column also appears on my web site (www.Fredoneverything.net) I got a lot of response from around the country. A fair amount came from local departments. The following is one of several letters I got via email from cops in Prince George’s County. They all said essentially the same thing. (The letter has been edited only to remove identifying information.)

“Fred — After having read your article on 11/20/00 I have to state that YES!! We on the P.G.P.D for the most part are now looking the other way. After almost [deleted]years on the job I find this disheartening but a necessary fact to survive in today’s, what appears to most officers, an ANTI-POLICE environment. We are even being told by some supervisors to keep a low profile so “you’re not next on the front page”! I became a police officer to help people [deleted] years ago in P.G. County . . . but I now share the attitude of most officers, just let them eat each other, we have to survive.

“It’s a tough thing to ask a man or woman who has spent any time on the job to risk throwing it all away for someone you don’t even know. Try to imagine having [a substantial number] of years on the job and doing something you think is right to protect society. In an instant your whole life’s work can be gone, ruined after a grand jury, a justice dept. inquiry, or just Jack Johnson prosecuting you in the court of public opinion. They take months to reach a decision we may make in the blink of an eye!!

“Police officers are not robots, we are people, but we are people who can literally lose it all for trying to protect society. Society thinks we have no feelings, make no errors, and that if we do, we are improperly programmed and must be destroyed.

“My personal feeling is that society wishes to destroy itself by letting criminals have free reign, and perhaps the sooner society does implode the sooner we can rebuild it the right way!! But until then I will survive at my job, DOING NOTHING !!! Just as the fine people of P.G . County have requested.”

Cop after cop tells me the same thing. The problem, stated or implied, is invariably race. Almost any interaction with blacks can destroy their careers, they say.

If they stop blacks for traffic violations, it’s racial profiling. If they watch suspicious people, who in all-black neighborhoods will be black, they’re discriminating. If they’re involved in a shooting, then it’s excessive force with the powerful implication in the press that the motives were racial. A dozen politicians will try to fry them to get votes. They can’t win.

They can, however, avoid losing. And that’s what’s happening. A cop doesn’t have to stop a car obviously driven by a drunk. He can just not see it. He doesn’t have to get to robbery calls before the robber has escaped. He doesn’t have to take chances chasing down a fleeing murderer. He can just be outrun. He can turn on the siren so that the bad guys will be gone when he gets there. Cops have options. And white cops don’t live in black neighborhoods. They don’t have to care what goes on.

This sort of undeclared strike is absolutely racially driven. Cops in white regions still do their jobs. A white cop who stops a white drunk doesn’t get sued by Jesse Jackson.

Note that, as the author of the foregoing letter points out, it is blacks who pay the price. Crime increases. In all-black regions, the victims are black. Yet cops get paid whether they do anything or not.

The effects are insidious. There is nothing to link the increase in crime to non-participation by police. Blacks will simply, quietly, lose protection. If a cop shoots a robber at Seven-Eleven, Al Sharpton can say it was brutality, and get on television. But it is very hard to prove that Officer Smith might have caught the guy if he’d tried a little harder.

If we make it dangerous to enforce the law, cops will stop doing it. Savor the phrase: Let them eat each other. I hope this is what we want, because it is what we’re getting.

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Comments 1

  • I know a bunch of cops – including one retired from PG County. You describe the UNIVERSAL attitude PERFECTLY.

    “Why should I risk my life AND EVERYTHING I’VE WORKED FOR, for people who AT BEST will refuse to talk to me – even when they SAW who raped & murdered an 80+ year old woman in her own home, for $50.87 in CHANGE, (which was all the change she’d saved in her “Penny jar”), & MORE likely to file a complaint against me, accusing me of “brutality” when I’m forced to manhandle the perp, because he’s resisting being arrested for doing what EVERYONE KNOWS he did.

    “See something, be FORCED to ACT on what I saw, & all I’ll lose (if I’m LUCKY) is my career and pension – but there’s a very real risk *I* could and up in prison FOR DOING WHAT I PROMISED TO DO when I swore my oath upon taking the job.

    OTOH, as you’ve noted, if I happen to see NOTHING, then EVERYONE is protected. I have no risk of bankruptcy or worse…

    Why should ANY reasonably-intelligent person risk losing EVERYTHING, to protect people who don’t WANT my help in ANY way, & most of whom would rather see ME in prison, rather than see the rapist & murderer of an 80+ year old widow get what they actually EARNED – ie: arrest, conviction & incarceration for his awful, unlawful actions!

    No thanks.

    I’ll just find a place to hide in my car, & see NOTHING, for the time left before I can retire – with my pension and FREEDOM intact!!

    There’s one thing you left out, however – & that’s the fact that I’m STILL expected to write a certain number of tickets & make a certain number of arrests – ALL of which will be of MINORITIES in PG Co – WHITE people!

    NOBODY cares why all my arrests are of non-brown or black people, despite the fact that finding such folks in PG Co requires REAL effort. MOST will simply ignore the obvious, & congratulate me on “a job well done”, despite the fact that MOST of them posed little to NO threat at all to the community, & that I’d TOTALLY ignored REAL MONSTERS from the “protected” race/class, & deliberately sought out people from a race/ethnicity despised by Members of the REAL criminal race/class in the area.

    The ones I know are GOOD people – good COPS! But they’re FORCED by the realities they must face EVERY DAY between now & their retirement day, to look AWAY from the OBVIOUS suspect, rather than risk losing EVERYTHING because they “abused” a member of the favored and PROTECTED racial &/or class grouping.

    As you so RIGHTLY pointed out, there’s ZERO incentive for them to ignore the pressure & arrest CRIMINALS – REGARDLESS of WHATEVER race & class groupings may apply.

    NOBODY capable of being TRUTHFUL with themselves or others can deny the legitimacy of the viewpoint demonstrated by Cops who do what they must to protect themselves from stereotypical accusations of racial bias, by committing REAL bias against those NOT party of the protected class.

    “Sad But True”…

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