I have always been fascinated with the prehistoric world. And one of my greatest fascinations has been with the way that some of the dinosaurs died. I imagine these incredible behemoths, weighing tons each, with armor plating and bone horns and spines on them, basically indestructible. Standing there with their front feet sucked into a tar pit. They can’t pull their front feet out, and as their weight pulls them in deeper, the back legs get closer and closer to the edge of the tar pit. And the next thing you know, there’s one less fearsome behemoth on the planet.
But when I look at the civic reaction to the death of George Floyd, and the insane overreach of the police response to the following mostly peaceful protests, I can’t help but think of those goddamn dinosaurs, standing there with their front feet in the tar, wondering what hit them. The earth has shifted under their feet, and they seem incapable of sitting back on their asses to get their front feet out of the ooze.
The police have had near dictatorial authority for decades now, for two simple reasons. First of all, they have a badge and a gun, and you don’t, so you had better keep frosty, or they’ll pop a cap in your ass and be back in the patrol car the next day. And second, they have a police union, and you don’t, so if they pop a cap in your ass, nothing is going to happen to them anyway. They feel basically untouchable, mainly because, for all intents and purposes, they are!
And the police union has the secret sauce. That sauce, in negotiations for a new contract, is to tie up any legitimate discipline of a bad cop in so much silly string that it can never be untangled. Any cop accused of an abuse of power or authority is immediately places on administrative leave during the investigation. That can take anywhere from months to years, while the officer involved goes to work every day, sits at a desk pushing papers around, while he continues to collect full pay, pension, and benefits. Think of it as a sadists bus mans holiday. And the city doesn’t really want to have to substantively discipline the officer if they can get away with it, for fear of running afoul of police union retaliation. The secret is to run out the clock until everybody forgets.
But the other half of the secret sauce is the local city or county prosecutors. Local prosecutors are absolutely loathe to bring charges against an officer, any officer, since they fear the publicity backlash from the police union, Just as importantly, those prosecutors must have a cordial relationship with the local police in order to make strong cases for the other items they have to prosecute. This is why most prosecutors were willing to delay actually having to bring formal charges against any police officer until most of the participants had died of natural causes.
But the paradigm has changed, and the ground has shifted under the police and their union’s feet until the front legs are in the tar pit. And of course, it started in Minneapolis. After the killing of George Floyd, it took the city and the police department less than 48 hours to fire the officers involved. This is the nightmare scenario for the police unions in this country. Because while the officer of course still has right to union representation, and a hearing geared towards an unjust termination of the officer is fired, that process can take again months, if not years for a final resolution, but this time, the officer is going through the process without his pay, pension, and benefits. Those will be restored later if he wins, but that does him no good in the present.
The other major paradigm shift is on the part of the prosecutors. In Minneapolis, the local prosecutor moved with what what would be considered lightening speed to file charges, and the state’s Attorney General, upon taking over immediately upgraded the charges. Again, this represents a nightmare scenario for officers and their union. If local or county prosecutor sees fit to file charges, especially felony charges, that makes it that much more difficult for the union to push forward with an unjust termination case.
Much to their detriment, the police are no longer being viewed by the community at large as the solution to the problem, they are being viewed as the problem itself. The Atlanta prosecutor is already strongly hinting at charges against at least one, if not both officers involved in the latest shooting by mid week. One officer is already terminated, and the other is on administrative assignment. If the prosecutor in Louisville in the Breonna Taylor murder moves with due speed to charge and prosecute, the transformation will basically be complete.
This is what police nationwide need to learn, and the sooner they do it, the better. The good old days are long gone and over. The cities, counties, states, and prosecutors have learned the secret. Deal decisively with bad cops quickly, and let them try to claw their way back, but off of the payroll. They’ll still have their union representation, and their rights, but without their paychecks while they try to figure out how to pay a lawyer for trial.
Oh yeah, and one more thing while I’m on the subject. If you’re a good cop, then you have nothing to fear from your body camera. Turn it on, leave it on, and just do your damn job. But if you turn it off? Then prepare to automatically have suspicion turned towards yourself. It’s a brave new world!
To know the future, look to the past.before the insanity of the 2020 election, relive the insanity of the 2016 GOP primary campaign, and the general election, to see how we got to where we are. Copies of President Evil, and the sequel, President Evil II, A Clodwork Orange are available as e-books on Amazon, at the links above. Catch up before the upcoming release of the third book in the trilogy, President Evil III: All The Presidents Fen
Follow me on Twitter at @RealMurfster35