By: TLB Contributor: Ken LaRive
I’ve been sick two weeks with a cold, and finally went to the doctor. He gave a cortisone shot, antibodies, a decongestant. With the holidays upon us I was going to write about the Christmas spirit, but with a cortisone shot I’ve decided to write about police brutality, from my perspective, of course.I remember my first experience with it. I was about 17. My ride was a 289, 66 mustang. My father supplemented the payments on that car, insurance and all, but most of that was supplied by me. Thursday to Saturday I worked a Bali’ Hi, at Pontchartrain beach, as a waiter. On Friday night at about one o’clock in the morning I was hungry and wanted a beer. Yes, I also had just started smoking too. My virgin body rejected both alcohol and smoking, and I was constantly getting sick. But I pushed through this ‘caus I wanted to be a man. A Marlborough man, I suppose. (I had not yet found Maddy). I went to a local bar and met up with a friend, and toasted two drafts. At 130 pounds I was indeed legally drunk, and previous experiences indicated to me that a third beer would have incapacitate me, loosing even the ability to articulate my words, and unless I got something to eat, would have had a horrendous hangover.We drove our individual cars, a Volkswagen beetle and a mustang, to an all-night diner, and ordered fried chicken. Those were the good old days when I could eat fried foods, and we could drink under age. We laughed and had a good time, and at about 2-thirty split company, and as I watched him drive off, only having to go two blocks to get home, I got into my car. It was a foggy morning and all of my windows were frosted. I started to back up and hit a car. I got out and guess what, it was a police cruiser.
I won’t repeat what the two officers told me here, and one twisted my arm and slammed me over the hood of my car. Can’t say that it hurt, I just remember his ability to “man-handle me.” I thought of myself as a “hood” from the inner city, and capable, but I was just a pimply faced punk to him, and yes, I was. I said something like, “I didn’t see you sir! I’m sorry I hit your car. Yes sir, Yes sir!” And he let me up. “To much paper work.” he said, and he looked in my eyes with his flashlight, temporally blinding me. “Be on you way son, and be careful.” I was dazed, and overwhelmingly grateful.
The next encounter of substance, though there was a lot more between that… a lot I inadvertently saw that did not directly impact me specifically, was in San Diego… I was waiting for two weeks to be assigned to my new ship, the USS Kitty Hawk. I was dressed in my dress whites, on the beach, with my sister who had flown in to see me off. I was sitting there, like Steve McQueen, with my hat tilted back, kinda like the movie the Sand Pebble. I was 19, and my hero was Steve McQueen.
A little kid came up to me and said that those two men over there, and he pointed, want to talk with you. I looked and it was two MP’s. I jumped up and walked over there with a smile on my face, “Yes sir!” I said, “What can I do for you?” They didn’t reply. “Write him up. Needs a haircut, a shave, and out of uniform. You have two hours to report to your duty station.” I was such a little kid, I asked “Are you taking away my leave?” Now, if I would have complied, it would only have been a few hours delay, as I think back, but my sister came up and when she found out my leave was canceled, she got between us and demanded that he let me go. “Do not get in the middle of this young lady, step back or you will be arrested for obstruction,” and she did step back, and with a livid red face said the wrong thing… “You Pig!” she yelled out! Well, it all happened very fast. I was picked up like a sack of potatoes by the nape of my neck and my webbed belt, and thrown into the paddy-wagon without ceremony. And I looked at my sister as we drove off crying on the beach…
Something welled up in me… and I said to the officers. “I though you guys were on my side! What the hell are you doing here?” One of them looked at me through the little window that separated us and said, “You little bastard. If you say one more word we are going to go back there and beat the living s*it out of you. Got that!” I sat back there fuming, and then it happened, I threw up. “What! You been drinking! You stink up our ride!” He said with a loud and threatening tone…
“No,” I said. “I always throw up before a fight.” And his face got really red, and so did his partner, and they both bust out laughing. (I was in shock). Because they were not just laughing, but rolling in their seats. “You are going to clean every bit of that slime, and disinfect it too! …you little bastard!” And I did. And I realized too, that there was a lot more to these men then I could comprehend…
I was out in eight hours, thanks to a third cousin who contacted my CO and told him I was a good man, and that he would take personal responsibility for me over the week end. I got my last two days leave, unimpeded, and the riot act explained to me by my lifer cousin, and then a face to face with my temp CO. In essence both told me that I now belonged to the US Government, and to remember that if I didn’t want to spend more time in the brig. I was the lowest man on the totem poll, an SN (seaman) an E-3, but that those men had the ability to arrest an officer too, for the exact same thing. Somehow I doubted that, but it was, in retrospect, a good experience… though the ego in me was bused.
When I got aboard we reported to the Personnel office, all of us seven from Louisiana. One lone seaman looked at my record, glanced at it and me, and asked to see my hands. “I see you have never done a days manual labor in your life.” he said with a smile, “Can you type?”
” Yes sir! 70 words a minute, and no errors.” I could do about twenty, with three. “I see you came from submarines, non-volved did ya. And,” he said with a glance around the room, “Out of uniform on the beach. Well, good for you, and no need to call me sir.” I looked around the room and everyone was smiling. This was X-division, and these men would all, to the last, as the weeks turned to years, be my friends. And even to this day get choked up about it.
“Thanks.” I said. And I was then a part of X-division. And a very lucky man.
I was sent to the Captain’s office as one of his five yeoman. And with time they liked me, and gave me the opportunity to practice my typing, though I never did get to that 70 wpm.
Now, looking at these two examples, and seeing now the overwhelming negativity for the police today, lets try to dissect this in a rational way.
I saw a viral YouTube video a few weeks back of a woman charged with drunk driving who was pushed by an officer so hard she fell forward and hit her face on the bunk. She had to have reconstructive surgery, so it stated… she was charged with a DUI, and I don’t remember what happened to the officer. And since it seems the officer lost his temper, I’d like to question why?
First off, an officer has taken an oath not only to protect and to serve, but to defend the Constitution of the United States of America form all enemies both domestic and foreign. Of the fifteen or so officers in my community who I have spoken to about this oath, usually while we are waiting to get our car washed, only two did not understand that concept. Yes, two is a high number in that ratio. And those who actually understood my question associated it with gun control. In essence, most of them immediately said “No way would I ever allow my guns to be taken.” Only a few, about three, said, “and I will not allow them to take your guns, and would not obey any order to confiscate mine.” Now that a problem? …and I gave them all my Examiner card and told them all about the Oath Keepers. Only one knew of them… only one, and I think, in a crisis, that would be enough, and here is why. All of them now do… they do because I told them about it. It made a difference. Your will to change has worth!
I must admit, though I can not prove this, but I speculate that many police officers are motivated to the force because they want to have power, with a force for good secondary. I think this changes rapidly when they realize that they are responsible and accountable for upholding a rule of law. They also realize quickly and simultaneously, that rule of law is nebulous, broken, and as they arrest a person on the street, they are let out to do the very same thing the next day. This is very frustrating to them, but it is far more than that…. Those with money too, can afford good counsel… It is also a very dangerous job, and they do take their lives in their hands every day they put on that uniform. And though, of course, there is also that very human trait called ego, that we all have, and both sides want respect. Both sides, even if one side is in the wrong…
So wait a minute! Let me tell you another little story… When I was a young boy, my father brought us to visit his friend, Mr. Wade, who was a sheriff in a place called Waveland, MS. He was with my Father in both WW2 and Korea, he as a mechanic and MP, and my father as the ship’s nurse. From that experience he became a police officer, and my father a Barber. He lived in a rural area, and owned a large tract of land. He was a hunter, with several amazing white-tail trophies on his wall. There was another thing there too, and I asked him about it. It was his shield, framed, with a date under it.
“Yes,” he said. “That’s my shield. I pulled a drunk man over…, very routine I thought, and he shot me when I approached his window. Knocked me off my feet, and he got away. The bullet hit my shield, and whats the chance of that?” He laughed. ” He is still in prison for attempted murder of a police officer.” I remember my dad telling me years later he had become Chef, and a little later that he had died of lung cancer.
Okay, so lets for a moment look at the officer who shoved that drunk woman. I’m sure he pushed her too hard, and didn’t gauge her size or her amount of inebriation to catch herself. What was going on in his mind? Perhaps it was a wreck he was remembering, children dead, perhaps, and all by a drunk driver. Perhaps, just like those two gigantic MP’s who had seen a lot, even in war, as they were indeed lifers.
I ask you…What if something simple can center them, like courtesy, or heaven forbid, respect, and they can again focus on the reality of the situation. What if all you have to do is comply? And even if you are being wronged? On the street is no place to argue. There are too many complications on-site for an officer to accurately ascertain. When he says put your hands up, do so immediately. When he says to put your hands behind your back, say yes sir, while you comply, and turn so he can cuff you. If you do not comply, he will be forced to make you, and the more you squirm the more you resist arrest, and the more forcefully he will become. You will not win. What are you expecting, that you will be too much for him to handle? Is that the type of officer you want protecting you?
Go to the station, and in a short time you will be released. That is the place to sort this out, and sometimes with a lawyer…Swallow your ego, and look at the broader picture. And oh, we are now talking about the militarization of the military? Like that is a bad thing? How many officer’s lives would have been saved if they would have had a vest on? My dad’s friend only had a tin shield to protect him, and a bit of divine intervention perhaps. Ask yourself, if you saw wrecks, drunk drivers, countless laws broken, and violence every day… If you saw it on the line, put the white cloth over kids that looked identical to your own, just what would that do to you? It is called Post Traumatic Syndrome, (PTS), and that is just as viable as a person with an M-16 shooting an enemy in war. An enemy he knows is fighting for his own cause, with children and a family all his own… and as you pull that trigger, that trigger pulls you. That is a big problem for our military, because many of the men, once they get dispatched into the theater of war, question why? Seems to me they would have asked that question first, but that is the trust of boys at 19, and I know that all too well. Fortunately, as I was drafted, I had the foresight to enlist. But basically, at that age, what I really wanted was to be a man, and that is really what war requires. To do what you are told with out question.
Though I never pulled a trigger, indeed I was there, with twenty four-seven flight ops. All I saw was the flashes on the horizon, and it did something to me even so, just as the jetted JP-5 jet fuel we dumped on a crystal clear ocean, and the unused/unexploded ordinances that we dispersed into the Tonken Gulf. The five crash landings, the two men in Hong Kong who died of a drug overdose, the man who commuted suicide, the officer hit with a grappling hook, the 600 men who got VD in the Philippines, the great white owl three days out from Hawaii I tried to capture… who flew out to sea… and so much more… yes, all of it still lingers… and in none of it did I see one drop of blood… actually, the only blood I saw was my own, as I got pounded in the ring trying to be a boxer.
I have the greatest respect for our police. I would die trying to save one, without a doubt, and I know they would do the same for me, almost to the last man. God bless them! They should be able to possess at least an equal amount of fire power in this crazy world, and I know, without a doubt that if the chips were down, they would be the only one who would come to my aid. When we dial 9-11 they don’t contact anyone but them, and an ambulance, and a fireman too, all of which have seen a lot. Think about that when you judge all for the failure of a few, from your computer screens.
My home town is New Orleans. Last weekend six men died there, and all of it black on black, and all of it about turf, all of it about drugs. I am opposed to this drug war on may counts, and I wonder at the many men in prison for non-violent possession of illegal substances with the intent to distribute. Fortunes can be made, and they lost both freedom, and many years of their lives, and yet today many states have made that legal. How do you think that makes both sides feel? The officers who risked their lives to uphold the law, and those who risk their lives to make an unimaginable amount of money breaking it?
I sir, am a Libertarian. I didn’t get that way just by my experiences, but by studying the greatest and most powerful force, the very backbone of our country, our Bill of Rights and Constitution. And these concepts are only as viable as the people, like you and me, who, by our knowledge of them, demand that the laws we have adhere to those basic premises, and we should accept nothing less. Read your Constitution, and know your civil rights, and demand that the force of law stands for that, might for right. And if you do not have the fortitude to do that, don’t cry if they are taken from you. Liberty is not free, and each and every generation must win that gift again. Our Constitution is destroyed because we don’t have enough people to stand up against tyranny. It is that simple. That is the duty of the American Citizen, not crying.
I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country. –Thomas Jefferson
And then perhaps, if we had laws based on the Constitution and Bill of rights… deadly force, and the instruments to enforce them, would not be necessary… in most cases. And that is the rub isn’t it? There are bad men in this world, and what separates them from us, is the police…
See featured article: http://www.examiner.com/article/police-officers-and-the-duty-of-every-american-citizen