Friday, August 12, 2022

You Can't Elect a Friend

I'm reading a lot of apocalyptic predictions from one side and a lot of gloating and 'I told you so' from the other.
Just a reminder: NO politician is your friend. None.
It's all about money, and power. One side ties your hands and demonizes your profession, and the other sees you only as a tool, an investment, measurable in credit and debit columns, and prone to discard the tool when it costs too much.
Or when it's broken. Or old.
*photo from Wisconsin State Patrol FB

I'm reading things about proposals for changes to benefits and retirements at federal levels, modeled on Wisconsin's sacking of their public employees system and worse. 
That's not going to be a morale booster, or recruiting asset, and believe me, where the federal model goes in cost-cutting, Republican statehouses will follow suit.
The civil service system isn't perfect but it was established to fight the corruption and nepotism of the political spoils system and it is imperative that a revolving door of patronage is never again permitted, at the federal or state levels. 

If you don't think it matters, that's likely because so far, it hasn't mattered to you
Ask any officer from a small department who works at will just how much it matters. They spend every working hour one bad boss, one "wrong" arrest, from the unemployment line or the courtroom. 

I've had officers from 'conservative' states, especially those with no workplace protections like POBR and that adhere only to federal OSHA standards (read: exempting government agencies from OSHA's own regulations) tell me of so many dire management abuses: 
from failing to provide safety equipment, and basic vehicle maintenance, to officers being explicitly instructed not to record overtime, to some who have worked 30 days and more without a day off, or been threatened or fired for voting the wrong way. 

In every state, by the way, failure to accurately record work hours violates many, MANY laws.
But who will hold them accountable?

Pay attention to politics. Don't make decisions on what candidates say, but on what they do- even more so once they're in office. 

How are your representatives voting on topics that matter to you? When they have the opportunity to make your job safer, more rewarding, your retirement more dignified, your enforcement of law more objective, do they follow through? 

"Backing the blue" is just lip service if they blink when it costs. Waving a blue line flag is worse than empty symbolism if they won't follow it up with the legislation that lets you do your job, survive and thrive, and find the resources you need, when you need them. 

It's hypocrisy. 
That thin blue line is your family crest. Don't allow it to be co-opted by someone who wants your vote, but doesn't have your interests in mind on the voting floor. 

Monday, May 23, 2022

The Assumptions that Kill You

Every year I ban folks- sometimes hundreds of folks- from the OKC Bombing anniversary post on the FB page. I set a record for page bans on a post about the sentencing of Eric Frein, the wannabe revolutionary who assassinated one Pennsylvania state trooper and inflicted disabling wounds on another, and it took all of five minutes for libertarian and anarchist trolls to attack a post about the murder of an El Dorado County deputy on an illegal weed grow, where the career of a visiting San Joaquin deputy was ended as well.

That time, I learned how to block not just individuals but also the pages and groups where my posts were being shared. If I write about armor (especially armored vehicles), all bets are off and the trolls rise up from their bridges in ranks to pile on the comments. (Since the biggest complaint is "If we can't have it, cops can't!!", I delight in finding mil surplus for sale on eBay and sharing the links. I don't care what people have, I care what they do with it.)

I mostly have to ban people from posts involving domestic terrorism and attacks on cops by anti-gov extremists, so it's time for me to clarify some things:my only loyalty is for truth- not politics, not parties, not the approval of a bunch of people I've never met, so I'm not going to tailor my posts to keep from offending someone.

When I see a threat to law enforcement, I write about it without apology.

If a reader happens to identify with the politics of the person I judge to be a threat, that is not my problem, nor am I obliged to host that reader's inflammatory blather and defense of rioters, murderers or terrorists.

When I write about threats and actual criminal acts by anti-government extremists, it is an uninformed, shallow and illogical stretch to assume that my writing somehow implies that I approve of or agree with everything ever that any government agency/representative has done.

Understand this: when the next Timothy McVeigh, Gordon Kahl, Carl Drega, Eric Frein, Gavin Eugene Long, Micah Xavier Johnson, Steven Carrillo, Lloyd Barrus or Jerry Kane Jr. marinates long enough in their grievance to move from planning to implementing violence, it won't matter to them if you're unhappy with current events too.

That rural badge you wear means nothing to extremists except that you are the nearest, most accessible symbol of what they hate, and they'll kill you for it.

They won't ask you your feelings first. They won't care if you have a Gadsden flag in your garage, or a Molon Labe tattoo. They won't ask who you voted for before shooting you or blowing you up. That's what extreme means.

If you refuse to perceive that threat because you also think government's too big, or you don't like who's sitting in the Oval Office right now, or you don't like the way some laws are written, then wilfull blindness puts you at risk. You cannot protect yourself- or anyone else- if you refuse to recognize an impending threat.

Someone will read this and get defensive, and say, "Well, sure Charlie, but why don't you write about *this other threat*?? They are (just as bad) (worse) (not like me) (fill in the blank)!!"

And I will answer: I will write about what I will write. I cannot write about everything so I will write about what I think is the most immediate issue for my readers: rural cops. I spent more than thirty years in remote mountain places and small towns. I saw very little blac bloc, and most of them were high school students experimenting with skinny jeans and nail polish.

I saw a LOT of people who hated everything to do with laws, rules and government in any form, and who took it out on cops. So if you come here with blather and ugly memes about Waco, or Ruby Ridge, or redcoats and bluecoats and ACAB and conflate that with 2nd Amendment issues and Hawaiian shirts, I'm going to ban you. Ain't got time for that.

--Charlie Pitt

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Stop Eating Your Own

(National Geographic photo)

"Do officers deserve sound mental health?", I asked and received a long string of variations on 'Yes'.

Then stop eating your own.
Stop it.

Many years ago, a family friend was beaten nearly to death with his own baton, and then dragged into the road to be run over. The suspect finally left when the officer fumbled unsuccessfully with his holster.

The case went to trial, and the suspect looked sharp in his suit. Our friend was still recovering from emotional trauma and a profound TBI. He was unshaven, and he stammered and wept during his testimony. It was brutal to watch. The suspect was convicted anyway, and the officer was never able to return to work.
A little while ago I read a comment *from* a cop on a law enforcement page about uncontrollable emotion during testimony about officers attacked and injured during a chaotic and violent crime scene that went on for hours. He said, "I haven't seen so many grown men cry since a can of OC malfunctioned during briefing", and he laughed.

Today I read a comment on another police page directed toward the surviving widow of an officer who died by suicide:

There's a term for that: it's called 'sanctuary trauma', and it wrecks otherwise sound first responders. Sanctuary trauma isn't the bad thing-- it's what happens *after* the bad thing, when you get back to where it's supposed to be safe, and it isn't.

If you'd take a bullet for another officer, can't you please for God's sake give each other some grace when when their brains and their hearts hurt, as well as their bodies?

An abnormal reaction to an abnormal thing is NORMAL. Tears may be hurt, or sadness, exhaustion or fear. They may also be anger, and betrayal, and overload.
If we truly believe cops deserve mental wellness, then stand in the gap for the ones who can't right now and defend them, even if you don't know them, and even if you weren't there. It's bad enough to take garbage from administration or command staff, without it coming from the line as well.
Stop killing your wounded.
Stop eating your own.
Stop the stigma