Saturday, June 6, 2009
Who wants to be dirty...really?
Officers who claim being respectful is dangerous are really just looking for evidence to justify the fact that they daily violate their own since of right and wrong by treating people poorly. This same process of justification also allows one to blow off time at the range or skip workouts to make up the couple of hours of sleep one missed because of mindless activities like watching television. It may make an officer “feel” safer to posture and be verbally harsh to a subject, but this feeling is merely a byproduct of a deep and dangerous self-deception. Unfortunately, a truly capable opponent can see right through posturing and recognize an easy target. It is non-sensical to think excessive posturing will intimidate those who pose the greatest threat to our safety. Posturing only scares the people who are least likely to assault us in the first place. The irony is that when they become afraid, it increases even their chance of fighting us. I think one fundamental reason behind the inclination to embrace the "Dirty Harry" mentality is that it provides an illusion of safety and security, which becomes one more justification for treating others poorly. Respect is not only often equated with softness, but also with vulnerability. Most officers deal with feelings of vulnerability by one of two means—disengagement, or over-compensation in the form of directing anger and disdain toward others. Because the former (disengagement) is unaccepted in the police culture, the latter (anger and contempt) becomes the social norm.