As a former cop, I understand that the demands and stress of the “job” forces a person to change in order to do their duties. But this same survival mechanism also can and does lead to the type of incidents that have been taking over the news.
The general public just does not understand that there is a disconnect between themselves and the people that are in law enforcement and who are their “protectors.” It makes no difference whether it’s a police officer, Correction guard, parole officer, or Federal agent. When you become a member of a law enforcement agency, there is an “US vs. THEM” mindset that takes over your thinking. In a short time, your attitude changes and a lack of empathy becomes part of your being.
Think about it, a police officer shoots a man in the back, like he was shooting deer. The incident in Baltimore is another clear example of this lack of empathy. When someone in law enforcement starts seeing people through the eyes of a sociopath, it’s time to take that officer off the road and give him retraining or treatment.
When I was a cop, I witnessed many examples of police behavior that in these times would have led to an indictment. To some cops, “criminals” were to be treated like objects and not like people.
That’s why I used the term of sociopath. They too, see their victims as objects.
People just don’t realize that someone falls into the clutches of the “Justice system,” they stop being “people” and become objects to process – to force to undress, to squat and open their body orifices, to get de-liced, and then put back in dank cells and forgotten about. That is the reality of being arrested and jailed in America.
Police departments should be forced to give added training to their officers. Training that would help them combat or eliminate the “US v. THEM” mindset. It would be an annual attitude adjustment. This retraining should be done repeatedly throughout an officer’s career.
I know that some readers of this article will scoff at my suggestion. But I have seen cops who have taken that negative attitude to heart and who have greatly abused their powers over those they detain. I have seen detained people being slapped with telephone books, hung upside down in police garages, beaten in the middle of a highway by a mob of cops. Or as in the “Louima case” sodomized with a nightstick. These types of behaviors are those of sociopaths – officers who don’t see the “criminal” as a person, but as an animal. When you have this type of mindset, your mind becomes open to all types of negative behaviors.
It takes very little effort to go from using force to arrest a “criminal” to using the same force to hurt “the animal.”
Not all cops are bad. But too many cops fall prey to a mindset that permeates police culture, and they get little to no training how to fight it. The “Us v. Them” attitude is a disease that runs rampant throughout the law enforcement community. As long as departments ignore this problem, incidents as those currently in the news will continue to occur.
Edwin Garcia, a former New York State Police Officer, is serving 20-40 years for the armed robbery of a jewelry store.
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Edwin Garcia, 92A9233
Shawangunk Corr. Facility
P.0. Box 700
Wallkill, N.Y. 12589