I’ve been contemplating whether or not to write this post for a good long while now. Well because it’s going to hurt some people, it’ll expose others and it might sound biased.
SO. I will give you this preface:
This is the legitimate account of my own experiences. These are not universal truths, I get that. But I have this gut feeling that the kinds of things that a little white girl experiences have got to be pretty telling of the way that things actually are.
I can’t help but reflect on all of the people that I know personally that are or were cops during this intense time of public exposure to police scandal. I can safely say that I know 5 police officers pretty closely, or at one point or another they were close to me. I feel like I can give a pretty solid account of their personality, on a personal un-uninformed basis. This tiny sample size (but my frame of reference) of officers cross the entire spectrum of good cop to bad cop, I think. I say I think, because my relationship with them has largely been while they were out of uniform. While I was me– the least suspicious of the demographics…. educated, employed, mostly sane, white lady. Well except for this one time when being poor trumped all of those get out of jail free cards, more on that in just a second *I never actually got to this here, the post got a little rambley, maybe I’ll share how living in a poor neighborhood automatically made an officer dismiss me as a crazy ex-girlfriend in the middle of a custody battle trying to get my “baby daddy” arrested with no proof, and how all of OUR MUTUAL FRIENDS (except one), YES YOU ASSHOLE, did nothing to support me*
I want to say, because this is what I believe not because I have any reliable source to cite, that the type of people that are drawn into law enforcement have a bias towards being more close minded and blindly following instruction, peer influence, grooming what ever it may be. A large part of this [again my speculation in fact this (published, peer reviewed) article suggests that regardless of gender or race police officers get into the job out of altruism] has got to be the personality traits that are attracted to this type of career, military included. You have to be obedient, disciplined, able to suspend your own beliefs for the sake of the force and what ever agenda that, that comes with. Which could be good or bad, the bad seems to be awfully glaring lately though, isn’t it.
If you missed the story about a NYPD officer who’s recording were submitted as evidence in a class action law suit against the NYPD by four black victims of their controversial stop and frisk procedure. The commanding officer point blank tells this officer to target,
“Male blacks. And I told you at roll call, and I have no problem [to] tell you this, male blacks 14 to 21.”
Yeah, videos and recordings are hard to ignore, yet somehow we do. Uh.
Okay, so I’m dancing around the point, because I don’t want to say that I think that all cops are bad. But I do want to say that I believe that our police force is saturated by a culture that violates basic human rights of all people, especially those of color (based on my white experience).
Every single one of the cops that I know, great guy or not, have acted in a way that very explicitly displayed their own perception of being above the law. Literally untouchable. In fact if you (me) are pulled over or in any kind of trouble you should probably drop my name, clear it right up. The same goes for all of you who are lucky enough to have someone close to you in the legal sector. Your dad’s a lawyer, you’re in the clear. Your best friend’s dad is the DA, well don’t worry about that DUI it’ll disappear. That’s reality. It’s good to have friends in the right places.
Unless you’re not the friend of that friend and you happen to be in the wrong place.
Here’s a snuggly story for you all.
In 2009 (crap balls time flies) I was the victim of domestic violence. It definitely was not the first or last time but it was the only time that someone actually went to jail. It was a really shitty situation, I hesitate to give the details because I hate putting my name and victim into the same sentence. It feels like a dig at my own self worth- my inflated sense of self-reliance- my dignity.
The punch line is with our baby in my lap, my boyfriend put me in a chokehold that I wasn’t sure that I was going to get out of. He let go right before I passed out.
I can remember, feel, in it’s entirety the seconds after. The absolute desperation. The relief that you’re not dead and the bewilderment of how in the turn of few moments that happened to you. What the fuck. It was dark, the Teletubbies were playing on a tiny T.V., I crawled away scrambled for my phone absolutely hysterical. I called 911, it’s was the only thing that I could do.
In the coming minutes we were both in a state of disbelief, emotional paralysis. Well, the cops are coming. You tried to kill me. 10 hours ago we loved each other, we were a happy beautiful family. And now you’ve almost killed me.
He rushed into the other room, I could hear the entire phone conversation that he was having. He called a guy that we worked with who had been a cop for a long time. He asked him, what do I do. Reagon just called the cops on me. The former cop told him to just deny everything that I said, that I couldn’t prove it, that it was my word against his. For some reason there was no attempt to conceal this conversation. It came down to him trying to spare his own ass at the expense of mine with the advise of a cop.
We sat in the stair well for what felt like years waiting for the police to show up. Tension, betrayal, hurt, anger, every bad emotion fathomable hanging thick in the air. Finally two officers showed up. I remember them having me go out side, I had to leave my baby inside with her dad and the other cop. I have never felt so stripped of my power- my instincts- before.
I explained exactly what happened to the cop, including that I was furious before hand, the yelling was mutual, no I didn’t do anything to help diffuse the situation. A line had been crossed but we were both in the ring.
I didn’t want to press charges. I just wanted the police to show up to make sure that all of it stopped. To make sure that I was safe, to make sure that he didn’t take my daughter.
“Well, ‘mam, if you don’t want to press charges and he’s saying he didn’t do it then there’s nothing we can really do here.”
Perfect. That was exactly what I wanted to happen. Nothing legal. Just have it stopped. Then repair the damage between the two of us and go about out life. Remember that really fucked up time when you tried to kill me, wow, that was crazy over the dinner table. That’s all. Turns out there’s this thing called the cycle of abuse, it feels like a series of shitty circumstances that you happen to be part of in the moment.
It didn’t work out like that. The other cop inside quickly got my then-boyfriend to spill the you tried to strangle your girlfriend beans and off they carted him in hand cuffs.
There I was, boyfriend in jail, with the swine flu and a little baby. Things were great. It was so because of the work of police, the good ones— or at least good ones in this situation to me despite the dubious efforts of our good guy cop friend. Good cop/bad cop is so subjective.
That fucker— yes that’s the title you earn when you tell a woman beater to profusely deny everything in order to escape prosecution— the recently ex-seasoned-cop that he called had no concern for me (also a friend) instead instantaneously jumped to the defense of one of the guys. I don’t know, maybe if I had called him instead of the police he may have rushed to my house and given my assailant a couple of black eyes. What that incident made true to me is that this is a boys club. Camaraderie trumps justice. You might be on the long or short end of it, but that’s just the way it is.
Literally all of my run ins with the police were the direct result of this one epically shitty boyfriend. I’ve been treated with compassion by a few, disgust by others and simple disregard by another. There’s a spectrum and all of it is contingent not on the facts but by the social politics of the moment. Again let’s not forget that I’m a little white girl.