In the original Batman series it was always easy to tell who the bad guys were – they worn crazy costumes and had horrifying disfigurements that shouted “Insane Criminal!” Too bad the real world is not as simple.
Although few criminal walk around wearing signs that read “arrest me”, there has always been a basic profile that allowed cops to look a little harder at one citizen than another. The really bad one, the truly insane who would harm a cop on sight, were few and far between and usually stood out even more than the others. More importantly, the majority of society not only did not share this hatred but they were more than willing to point the bad guys out when the good guys rolled through.
Large numbers of the public openly hate law enforcement and openly share this viewpoint. Think I’m paranoid? Check out any social media story dealing with the latest law enforcement action, it really does not matter what specific topic, and go immediately to the comments section. Even the hardest, most jaded beat cop will shiver a bit. Take for example the following comments left on pages reporting the numerous LOD over e recent 5 day period:
“No suspects yet? Lol. Cant even protect your own in front of your barracks?…looks like its open season on Hog!”
“gonna see a LOT more of this!! People are wakeing up and hitting back…”
“no fun when the rabbit got the gun”
“Freedom grows when a cop dies. Plant a seed today” (Includes a picture of a flag draped coffin)
Honestly, when I saw these I had a hard time reading them. At first I felt bad for the family or co-workers who might also see the comments. Then I felt sick to my stomach that complete strangers could find joy in the death of fellow officers. Finally, and this was when it really hit home, I got scared. The reason I got scared is because I started to realize that it does look like it open season on police and that one of these commenters could be the next gunman.
I realize that the majority of these quacks are probably sitting in their mom’s basement, playing X-Box and feeling brave behind a keyboard, but not all of them. Some are cleaning a Glock, sharpening their sheath knife and waiting for their own chance to go hunting. More importantly, I am afraid that I won’t see him coming. He will not look like the bad guy of days gone by. No costume. No disfiguring injury. The people posting these comments are professionals, military veterans, and soccer moms. The same people that officers deal with every day without seeing them as a potential threat.
The players have changes and that means the rules have too. Unfortunately, everyone has to be viewed as a potential threat. While you cannot openly treat everyone as a suspect, you can never let your guard down. Remember the first rule of law enforcement – Go home at the end of your shift!
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