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Ernie's House of Whoopass! January 14, 2014
January 14, 2014

The Growing Disconnect Between Law Enforcement and The Civilian Populace.

I distinctly remember the first time I watched this three minute clip of a Maine State Trooper -- the patience of a fucking saint, that guy -- issuing a speeding ticket to some Pine Tree Stater with a shrilly voice. It was included on some faces Of Death shock style video that me and a few other people had ordered off some late night television ad. Four or five of us, all crowded shoulder to shoulder around a 19" television and shouting "Wait, wait, play that again!" between fits of gut wrenching laughter. The TV show COPS had been on the air for a few years now, but this? This was the first pure uncensored look we had at law enforcement video. And it was fucking gold. So this, coupled with the various scenarios played out on COPS, led the general public to believe that cops were superhumans, incapable of any wrongdoing. That any time someone's mugshot showed up on the news and the perpetrator had a black eye and busted lip, we'd never give it a second's thought. "That asshole must have done something to deserve it, " we'd say, and turn the next page to read what that fat little bastard Garfield was up to this week.

Then along came Rodney King, and it was our first glimpse of a law enforcement community that was anything other than infallible. And even still, I don't think too many people were swayed; after all King had been driving 80mph through residential neighborhoods, and if he had struck and killed some toddler I don't think anyone would have batted an eyelash as officers Koon, Powell, Briseno and Wind beat his fucking ass until they got tired. But regardless of which side of the fence that you're on, this was undoubtedly John Q Public's -- at least anyone living outside of urban Los Angeles -- first glimpse of a less than perfect police force and that cops were just like us; humans capable of making mistakes.

Spin the clock forward to the twenty-first century and every swinging dick out there carries a cellphone and with it a video camera. Now we see Youtube flooded with shaky, grainy cell phone footage promising us sneak peeks at unnecessary force and police brutality and police corruption and coercion and everything in between. Surely no one wants to be the next Rodney King, but boy, everyone sure wants to be the guy who films it.

Taken at face value, one might think that police officers of today are more violence than their counterparts of yesterday. That a police officer today is more prone to beat your ass during an arrest, than the breed of cop who arrested your grandfather fifty years earlier. I don't think that's true at all. I don't think there are any more or less bad cops on the police force than there were in days past, I think it just appears that way because police misdeeds are more visible now. That's not to suggest I buy into all the bullshit stereotypes about cops; that they're all egotistical assholes, or weren't smart enough toget other jobs, or were bullied in high school and looking for some payback. I've heard them all and I think they're horseshit. If you were to guess the ratio of good guys to bad guys in the general population -- and I'm pulling these numbers out of my ass, just to make a point -- let's say that only 1 out of every 100 people is a bad guy. I think that when you cross into the 'first responder' zone -- police, fire, EMTs, even soldiers -- you're getting a better class of people who are genuinely concerned about the well being of others. But like all walks of life, there are bad apples. Let's say 1 out of every 1000 first responders fall into this category.

With that in mind, consider the following. Whenever there is a terror attack somewhere in the world, one of the responses that always seems to boil to the top is this. If Islam is truly a religion of peace and these atrocities are carried out by an extremist minority, then why does the majority remain silent? Why don't they all speak up and shout, "No, these acts are not what Islam is about and these terrorists don't speak for me." And that's a valid question, because the logical conclusion is their silence somehow insinuated their complicity; that the majority remain silent because they secretly condone such violent behavior. To be honest, that's a fair question; one that I've made myself. And it doesn't stop there, either. Why does [Christianity] remain silent when the Westboro Baptist Church is so vocal. Why doesn't the NRA stand up and call for irresponsible gun owners to be prosecuted when their negligence leads to another person's death? Is it not fair to carry this standard over to law enforcement as well? Because that begs us to ask, why aren't the good guys of the police more vocal about distancing themselves from these bad apples? And when I say bad apples, I don't mean the cops who get gruff during DUI checkpoints, or gets a little happy with the pepper spray, or get frustrated when every question answered with, "Am I being detained." I'm talking about instances where a Bad Guy Cop doesn't just cross the line but stampedes past like a fucking rhinoceros... But let's not focus on the bad eggs in those examples, let's focus on the other officers who were nothing more than bystanders. Only they weren't really bystanders because once they buy into the lies and misconduct, they become complicit as well.

How about the arrest attempted murder of Bobby Gerald Bennett? Bad Guy Cop shoots an unarmed man, then falsifies a report about it and actually charges the victim with assault on a police officer. But that's okay, he's a Bad Guy Cop and we expect such things. The other Good Guy Cop will set the record straight, right? Nope, he was willing to play ball and cover Bad Guy Cop's ass -- the attempted murder and the made up charges -- right up until the video surfaced.

Or how about Cassandra Feuerstein? Can you imagine a police officer watching as I argue with my wife outside of a hotel room, right before I throw her inside with enough force to smash bones in her face? What do you think the cop would do? How many seconds would it be before I'm eating pavement and wearing handcuffs? So the other police officers that witnessed Feuerstein's assault immediately arrested the cop who did it, right? Nope, again, everything was covered up until the video came to light.

And let's not even talk about the Nebraska cops who confiscated and destroyed both copies of their illegal search and false arrest -- but little did they know there was a third video person filming.

In any cases such as these, why doesn't someone speak out on behalf of law enforcement -- be it the Fraternal order of Police, the Police Chief's Association, the National Association of Police, someone/anyone -- step forward into the spotlight and say, "Howleee shit! That was despicable! Those officers deserve to be in handcuffs! We know what protecting and serving is and that sure as shit wasn't it! Please don't let the actions of those pieces of shit be confused with those of honest peace officers who are putting their lives on the line every day to protect an serve!" Because I think something like that would go a long way to ease public perception and like it or not, public perception plays a key, if indirect, role in officer safety.

I have a fair share of friends and acquaintances in law enforcement and I know what the pre-canned answer is going to be: the Blue Code of Silence. The fact that the guy whose ass you cover today, might just save your life next week. Or how could you turn your back on the guy who did save your life last month. That marching into the streets at night with Bad Guy Cop watching your back is certainly better than marching off with no one watching it. And I get that, I really do. But here's where I fear this is leading us. Fifty years ago if five cops beat the living shit out of a guy for whatever reason, afterwards it was his word against theirs. One dirtbag mope against five upstanding officers with commendations and characters witnesses willing to speak on their behalf. No one was the wiser to what really happened. But that's no longer the case. It's a different world out there now. Now if five cops beat the living shit out of a guy for whatever reason, afterwards it's NOT just his word against theirs. Because right after those cops finish their press conference about how they had no choice to use force to subdue an unruly suspect, someone else will wheel a television out and show video evidence to what really happened. And just like that an already skeptic public is that much more distrustful of the police.

Look I'm a firm believer than when you're defending your life, there is no such thing as too much force. So ask yourself this. Who is the biggest -- well, in all honesty the ONLY -- threat to a police officer? Us. The general public. Other than Dorner, I really can't remember too many instances of cop-on-cop violence, so if a police officer is harmed in the line of duty, dimes to doughnuts it's a civilian who did it. When the general public likes and embraces law enforcement, it makes their job easier and everyone -- both police and civilian -- are safer. When the general public fears and distrusts law enforcement, the opposite is true. It makes their job harder and everyone -- both police and civilian -- are at greater risk. Maybe the next time a large crowd gather around six police officers beating a man to death, they're decide not to stand idly by. Maybe they recall what happened to Kelly Thomas and decide not to let that happen again. Then it's going to get fucking ugly for both sides. Or what happens now when a resident of Fullerton is driving down the road and sees a police officer rolling around on the ground, locked in a physical struggle with an assailant? They'll probably pull over to help, right? Probably. Or maybe they'll hesitate for a second and wonder if this isn't a case like Kelly Thomas before deciding to call 911 instead of rending assistance themselves.

I guess it's some twisted application of diminishing returns; by continually propping these Bad Guy Cops up, there will inevitably be a tipping point where Bad Guy Cops will be more detrimental than they are beneficial. I just hope I'm not anywhere nearby when that straw breaks the camel's back. Unless of course you want to kick the crap out of Patton Oswalt, then of course, I'm in.

Hey Ernie, the bag seems awfully big for this but the font seems to be the same. There is a fragrance called Attimo by Salvatore Ferragamo, I just couldn't find a matching bag online, but the best I could find. Thanks, Eric

The car in the far let lane is headed away from the camera, thus this is a one-way street. That concrete pattern is a characteristic of GA DOT Atlanta freeway off ramp construction for underpasses. Since the Atlanta History Museum is to the left, this eliminated half of my searches. I live in the Atlanta area, so I could eliminate the ones I knew to be overpasses. I-75 Southbound at West Paces Ferry. This is obviously an older picture as there is a newer sign in place. - Geoff

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