Luckily, I don’t believe the “thin blue line of silence” exists in 2019.
Say what you want. Conjure up conspiracy theories. I am telling you right now, the “thin blue line of silence” is no longer an epidemic or real thing. I know this article will cause plenty of anti-police groups to attack my social media page or comment on my website with profanity laced ignorance, so be it.
At least read what I have to say about “dirty cops” before you lose your mind with anti-government rhetoric and “bootlicker” comments.
You can support police and condemn the bad ones. This doesn’t make you a “bootlicker.” Nor does that mean you don’t support the police.
Good police, don’t support bad police, it’s that simple.
But here we go anyways.
The Police Perspective
Policing in 2019 has evolved in many ways that not only enhance transparency, but embrace it. Almost every police officer I’ve asked about the use of body cameras, has told me they love them. Why? Because they protect them.
Many skeptics seem to believe police officers will go to great lengths to lie for each other. Luckily, with the implementation of body cameras, most things are recorded. As such, there’s little debate about what happened during an incident once you hit play. How can you lie if it is on video?
Did the officer swear, be disrespectful, say something racial, plant evidence, or sexually assault a prisoner?
All these things have been alleged and quickly disproven by body camera footage. Conversely, any lying on the part of police officers, will be quickly exposed and handled accordingly.
Simply put, bad police officers make the job of good police officers more difficult. As such, it does no police officer any good to protect one that is openly in the wrong, dirty, or corrupt.
Eventually that “bad” police officer will do something stupid, make headlines, causing the profession as a whole to take two steps backwards with the community. Why would any police officer want that to happen? Potentially make their job more dangerous or difficult?
Here’s a newsflash, working riots or protests as a police officer are not fun. Not even a little bit.
What’s almost comical is the notion that zero accountability or discipline takes place internally. If you were to take a poll of 1000 police officers about the stressors of the job, I can almost bet with complete certainty the number one cause of stress as a police officer, comes from the internal workings of the job. Internal discipline, policy changes, pressure to perform, poor leadership or management, the list goes on. It’s commonly talked about by police officers as their biggest stressor and likely a big contributor to the police suicide epidemic we are now seeing.
Also, not every “bad” or ‘dirty” cop is conducting such corrupt behavior out in the open. We live in a time where you are on camera nearly every minute you are in public. If you add in a body camera (assuming a dirty cop would properly use it) then they’re almost always on camera.
As such, if they are operating in a manner that is corrupt or dirty, you can be rest assured they are doing so in a manner that is hard to see or detect. But not everything they do that is “dirty” is out in the open. They could be tipping off drug dealers of impending drug raids, running an illegal side business, or any other number of corrupt acts that may not always pertain directly to their daily duties or be visible to co-workers.
There is this overwhelming belief from people that comment on my articles on social media or this website, that police officers should be “arresting” their fellow officers or watching their every move to keep them accountable. This sounds good in theory, however, most police officers are either in their patrol car alone, or have a partner.
If you have a partner, odds are you and that partner answer and handle most calls alone as a pair. Therefore, your ability to “oversee” the actions of your co-workers during the shift is impossible, or improbable. Of course, these dynamics vary depending on the size of the city, department etc. It’s like suggesting the secretary on the third floor should be able to tell you if the secretary on the fifth floor takes too long of a lunch break every day. Police officers operate independently more often that the public realizes.
Either way, police officers owe it to themselves to report anything illegal, corrupt, or immoral. I believe this happens far more than the general public realizes. I can think of multiple examples off the top of my head, but maybe that’s because I pay attention to such things.
Once, while working a case in narcotics, something troubling popped up suggesting an officer could be dirty. I immediately showed the other officers in my squad and we agreed it needed to be looked into. We took it to our supervisor and called a meeting with the unit that investigated potentially criminal acts by police officers. They took it from there. Eventually, he was busted doing something criminal, but unrelated to my initial concern. He is no longer a police officer. Fine with me. No room for people like him.
The point is, my co-workers were as eager as I was, to refer this potentially dirty officer to the “powers that be.” The misconception that police officers want to protect dirty cops makes no sense. The general attitude I always see from officers regarding a dirty cop is, “Get rid of them!”
That being said, people also seem to forget that police officers still have rights. They surrender some of them as an employee, like an expectation of privacy in their work locker for example. But they do have a right to a lawyer, to remain silent if charged with a crime, or any other right that citizens are afforded in the criminal justice system.
In the end, the point remains, the thin blue line of silence is not real. No police officer or police department stands to benefit from lying to protect each other. Even if such things allegedly existed years or decades ago, I can assure you things have changed.
The sad irony in our society, is we are quick to be upset if anyone is judged as a whole for the actions of a few, yet that idea is completely acceptable for the public when it comes to police officers. Why?
We must punish those who deserve it, harshly and quickly, for betraying the public trust.
But we must not allow such incidents to tarnish the rest and impact the ability of the “good” to effectively and efficiently do their jobs.
If we allow this, we will all lose.
It’s happening more than you think. A recruiting crisis is brewing, if not already here.
Thank an officer today.
The Officer Next Door