This is an open letter to every cop in America. More than that. This is an open letter to everyone in the United States that carries any kind of badge, whether you are plainclothes or uniformed, police or sheriff’s department or state or federal agent or secret service or marshal or any other branch of enforcement. Everyone with a badge and an oath, and possibly also a weapon.

Here is my question.

What the mother-loving hell is wrong with you?

No, shut up. I don’t want to hear an answer yet. Because right now, all you’re going to say is that there are a tiny few bad apples out there making everyone look bad. And dear God, I’ll grant you that. Here. Take a few minutes to scan the internet for video of your brothers and sisters in arms beating, tazing, shooting, and pepper-spraying citizens to death. It won’t take you long.

Cameras are everywhere now. They cost about a dollar to make. They watch everything we do. They watch everything you do. In some political and cultural backwaters your bosses have even tried to make it illegal to film you, so that just in case you’re caught doing something heinous, there won’t be riots and people won’t burn down your houses. That is how often you guys are screwing up.

And I’m not talking about your bad apples. I’m talking about all of you.

Here. Let me tell you how all of the rest of you are screwing up.

You know who the thugs are in your departments. You know who, in your department, is hopped up on steroids and meth to the point they can’t fend off the paranoia and rage. You know who is so cripplingly narrow-minded they can’t be trusted to enforce or defend even-handedly. You know who it is in your department who never touches a holstered weapon without the core motivations of fear or rage or disgust. You know — and yet you serve with them. You have their backs. You make excuses. You fib on reports. You tamper with evidence. You hide the bodies. You keep these criminals, these betrayers, these animals on the streets where we work and live and play. You keep us in danger.

I know some of your names. I’ve shaken some of your hands, shown respect all of my life, bought the occasional coffee or pint of beer for you. I’ve sat down at the dinner table with a few of you — and been forced to swallow my bile hearing racist tales of how proud you are of shortening the lines of people claiming unemployment or welfare checks. I’ve met the good ones and the bad ones, and I can’t understand how you can’t see that your bad brothers and sisters are worse than no protection at all.

I’ve never called any of you pigs. Never. And out of respect for those of you who have saved my life and property without me even knowing about it, I never will. But some of you are animals, and that is a fact.

You know who they are better than any of those you are sworn to serve and protect ever will. It is your job to defend us from them. Look at these videos. You are not doing your job. Worse, you are doing the complete opposite of your job.

We are allowed to defend ourselves from one another, but we are not allowed to defend ourselves from you. You are privileged. Crimes are worse, punishments are worse, consequences are worse if we ever raise a hand to someone with a badge. Because we all know that once people see that cops bleed just like anyone else, and that we outnumber you hundreds and thousands and tens of thousands to one, it will get mighty ugly indeed. People know your names. People know where you live and where you sleep.

Do your job. Lock up the criminals you know about. Stop aiding and abetting known criminals in your ranks — even if they are your bosses. At bare minimum, take away their weapons and badges so we can defend ourselves from ignorant thuggery on equal terms.

And if you can’t do that, please resign yourself and stop making matters worse by defending them or looking the other way. Because when there’s no one left to protect them, they will fall, one way or another.


May 9, 2012 · Posted in Everything Else