Tuesday, February 4, 2014
I've known a few honest cops in my life -- a city cop here, a sheriff's deputy there -- and 90% of them quit the job and took up other work instead. I've also -- having lived in central New Jersey, Chicago, and northern California -- had a thwacking acquaintance with a good many dishonest cops. I'll admit that 90% o them were not crooked for money but for power, for the fun of making civilians "show proper respect". I also must say that the ones who were crooked for money often got it by politicking rather than suborning bribes. For that reason, I'm rather cynical about police department spokesmen and their various claims at budget-review time.
I'm exceedingly tired of hearing police whine about how dangerous their jobs are, and that old cliche about how they have to go down dark alleys at night where Dangerous Criminals might be hiding. Tsk.
When I hear that hoary old tale, I can't help thinking about the people who have to walk down those same dark alleys -- with no gun, no club, no taser, no tear-gas, no armor, no partner, and no back-up troops waiting in the wings -- every night of their lives, because they live there. I've lived in poor-working-class neighborhoods like that. Believe me, the police were very slow to come when called for emergencies there. Instead, we relied on our neighbors for help, and those neighbors did a damned good job of it -- for the simple reason that they knew it would be their turn to need help soon enough.
As for the fearful-terrible danger of police work, any insurance company can list for you at least ten jobs that are more dangerous -- jobs that are more likely to leave you dead or permanently injured -- than being a cop. These include:
Farmer (farm machinery and large farm animals are not safe)
Coal Miner (they've died on the job at the rate of one man per shift, per day, per year, for the last century)
Sandhog ('nuff said?)
Hire-Iron Construction Worker (")
Chemical Plant Worker
Heavy Equipment Repariman
Professional Football Player (no kidding!)
Timber Worker (including sawmill worker and lumberjack)
A little searching can add several more to the list. I've deliberately left out military jobs, such as paratrooper or Explosive Ordnance Disposal worker; we're just talking civilians here. On occasion the media will carry stories of workers at these various jobs going on strike or otherwise agitating for higher pay, or better health insurance, or safer working conditions -- and the tales are inevitably accompanied by the usual grumbles about the greed of uppity workers, and how this will raise prices/taxes/insurance payments for everyone else.
You don't see those grumbles when police departments agitate for higher pay, better benefits or bigger/better equipment, and the reason given is that police work is necessary and -- of course -- dangerous.
Why don't jobs that are equally necessary (except maybe Pro Football Player) and provably more dangerous get at least the same respect?