Thursday, November 07, 2013
The Problem With the Police
When "The Urban Shield" vendors with new weapons for the police, turning it into a "civic military," gathered at the Marriott Hotel in Oakland:
It made me uneasy when Obama suggested that returning veterans (who had probably joined the service because they could not find work) could find work as police – fearful and possibly violent work to add to the effect of fearful and violent work? I wonder if anyone has the statistics for how many on U.S. police forces are military veterans who, especially if recently in combat, are apt to bring home the same loose distinction between civilians and combatants condoned by their leader, the president.
In the first place, those attracted to police work or military service tend to be self-righteous moralists with a rigid sense of good and evil, potential “saviors.” Their sense of their moral rectitude dismisses any concern for citizens who happen to be anywhere near citizens involved in criminal behavior, or anyone vaguely suspicious. Behind the bravado are people who may look armored and impervious in their uniforms but who live in a state of fear in civilian life as in war – most, in both cases, probably concerned with proving they have courage. One may empathize with them and the need for psychological support as with other stressful professions.
It seems apparent from reported incidents that they bring the war home so that U.S. citizens may experience what is visited more severely on the citizens in the countries the United States invades and occupies. It is apparent from daily news reports that police, like those in combat, aim to kill, not to incapacitate. They may become themselves, individually, symptoms of a violent society while deluding themselves that they are boys again, playing at pretend violence. Amazed at how seldom the police aim to wound, not to kill, I wrote this poem years ago after reading another of the usual news items:
(based on various incidents)
He was great on the firing range.
He was highly praised.
He shot each human silhouette
right in the head, right in the head.
When the young runaway
climbed the fence, he could have shot
his legs, Too well-trained,
he shot him right in the head
– James McColley Eilers