Editorial

Esquire: Just as Every Cop Is a Criminal

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(Photo courtesy Mali Gank)

Esquire’s headline, “It’s Not Just These Cops. It’s Not Just Baltimore,” Esquire.

The article addresses the corruption of Baltimore police officers who were members of the Gun Trace Task Force. I’ll summarize, it wasn’t pretty. There was widespread corruption. The actions of the officers were thuggish. It’s not the first time cops have gone wrong, and it won’t be the last.

But it’s one line in the article that staggers the imagination, “The next time police violence touches Baltimore off, anybody who claims to be shocked is a liar.”

Having spent close to twenty years in Baltimore and Maryland police and criminal justice agencies, if the author thinks that Baltimore’s crime and violence problems can be laid at the feet of police officers, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to discuss.

Police violence touches Baltimore off? Grinding poverty, massive drug use, dysfunctional families, boarding up housing, endless graffiti considerable child abuse and neglect (according to offenders), massive child sex abuse (according to female offenders), poor schools? Yep, these are all the byproducts of police dysfunction, right?

But again, the headline states that “It’s Not Just These Cops. It’s Not Just Baltimore,” thus implicating 900,000 cops as being corrupt, dishonest and brutal.

I’ve known hundreds of Baltimore City cops and most were really decent human beings who just wanted to be part of the solution. Many (most?) are no longer there simply because they could not bear witnessing man’s inhumanity towards man. They became as shell-shocked as the residents in high crime communities. They had to get out.

I know that the same thing is happening throughout the country as cops leave or go to communities with far less crime.

I’ve written about this before regarding an article in Vox; articles that imply that all cops are less than human. I have suggested that if you’re capable of such stereotyping, you have the similar inclinations towards any other group. One follows the other.

What This All Means

We have a growing problem with violent crime in cities throughout the country, Crime in America, that runs concurrently with many police officers not being proactive due to harsh criticism.

There are endless media reports of police agencies not being able to recruit applicants and police officers leaving the job.

From the Crime Report:

Article One: Has it become fashionable to lash out at police? Law enforcement advocates fear it’s a growing trend, the Detroit News reports. Whether they’re being shot at, cussed at, zapped with a stun gun or denied service at a restaurant, many police officers in Detroit and across the U.S. feel they’re being disrespected more than ever.

“Everybody thinks it’s cool to not talk to the police, and to hate the police,” said Detroit officer Ki’Juan Anderson. “The bad guys love this. A criminal will commit a crime, and nobody wants to tell us what happened. We’re trying to help them … and they say, ‘Get off my porch; I hate the police.’”

Nationwide, 143 officers were killed on duty last year, the most in five years, says the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. There was a 30 percent increase in line-of-duty deaths in the first six months of this year over the same period in 2016. Last Friday, six officers in Pennsylvania and Florida were shot, two fatally, in a few hours. The Crime Report

Article Two: Houston police say there are solvable property crime cases with no one to solve them. Dallas officers are taking more time to respond to fewer emergency calls, and both cities are slower to get to non-emergency situations.

Officials blame this on the dwindling number of officers in Texas’ two largest city police departments, the Texas Tribune reports. “At some point you get diminished returns when you’re as lean as we are,” Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said.

Across the U.S., police departments are griping about officer shortages paired with an uptick in violent crime, often pointing to what police leaders call a growing disinterest in law-enforcement work. The Crime Report.

Conclusion

There’s nothing wrong with holding cops accountable for their actions, and yes, there are many examples where officers used illegal force. This is deplorable.

Yes, there is a history of oppression where the police were shameful participants.

But let us acknowledge that cops are hardly alone. There’s a shameful history of the media, university professors and many other institutions being used as tools of oppression. After thirty-five years of media relations, some of the most sexist people I’ve encountered were reporters, and there is a long history of media not hiring anyone who isn’t white or male.

So the next time Baltimore erupts in flames, shall I say, “anybody who claims to be shocked is a liar,” and lay the problem at the feet of reporters for their lack of inclusion?

Does anyone want to count the corruption trials of politicians? Lawyers? Doctors over-prescribing opioids? Teachers and child sex abuse? Businesspeople and fraud?

Do I suggest that all reporters are sexist or corrupt? Shall I make the same claims against the other categories of professions mentioned?

You would imply that persistent lack of women and minorities in journalism is a regrettable work in progress. You would be appalled if I suggested that every journalist is sexist or racist.

Then why is it so easy for so many to suggest that 900,000 cops are represented by a few?

The bottom-line is police officers are necessary for crime control and every other facet of our lives.

We can’t exist without them, but we may have to learn how.

Per dozens of media reports, if officers are leaving policing as quickly as they can, and getting recruits is becoming arduous, where does that leave the rest of us?

So Esquire, criticize away from your upper class and safe workplaces and homes. It’s your right to hold officers accountable. It’s even your right to be wrong.

But the stereotyping of cops is real. So are the real world consequences of cops disengaging or quitting.

Leonard Adam Sipes, Jr. – Thirty-five years of speaking for national and state criminal justice agencies. Interviewed multiple times by every national news outlet. Former Senior Specialist for Crime Prevention for the Department of Justice’s clearinghouse. Former Director of Information Services, National Crime Prevention Council. Post-Masters’ Certificate of Advanced Study-Johns Hopkins University.

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Author
Leonard Sipes

Leonard Adam Sipes, Jr. - Thirty-five years of speaking for national and state criminal justice agencies. Interviewed multiple times by every national news outlet. Former Senior Specialist for Crime Prevention for the Department of Justice’s clearinghouse. Former Director of Information Services, National Crime Prevention Council. Post-Masters’ Certificate of Advanced Study-Johns Hopkins University.

2 Comments

Wonderful message, well worded, professional and to the point with just enough bite to maybe get the media to use a q tip now and again.
If there was something that needed to be said more than this article I cant imagine what it would be. Well done!

Hi Jamie: Thanks for your comments. Publications think that cops are easy targets. I intend to call them out when necessary. best, Len.

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