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Randy Sutton

Randy Sutton

Randy Sutton is a 33-year law enforcement veteran, a trainer, and the national spokesman for The American Council on Public Safety. He served 10 years with the Princeton (N.J.) Police Department and 23 years with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, retiring at the rank of lieutenant. He is an author who has published multiple books on law enforcement.
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Four More Cops Killed: Where Is The Outrage?

Society mourns murdered officers, but it also motivates the murderers.

December 01, 2009  |  by - Also by this author

Occasionally, a bone is even tossed our way. The occasional compassionate cops make appearances in smaller supporting roles in "Magnolia" and "Anywhere But Here." In fact, I'd be tempted to couch the sentiment lest I appear to be guilty of the same wholesale scapegoating that I believe the entertainment industry is guilty of.

Indeed, there are actors who are conscious of the effects of the roles they play and the legacies of the movies they make. Yaphet Kotto is one. CCH Pounder and Alfre Woodard are two more.

But there are others who I'd be hard-pressed to ever see as sympathetic toward the police. Warren Beatty is one. Oliver Stone is another. It is perhaps most insulting when "actors" such as Ice-T routinely get cast as cops.

Like Hollywood, Madison Avenue is not in the business of being cop advocates, and perhaps it says something to its priorities that it goes out of its way not to be.

In a world where if it bleeds, it leads, our deaths make good copy-and apparently good advertising copy. Benetton, a "conscience"-minded clothing line with a willingness to take "an ethical stand," used death row inmates-including a cop killer-to sell garments. Perhaps in response to the sale of Bonnie and Clyde's death mobile (immortalized in the eponymous 1967 movie), a Texas reverend put the car driven by Texas cop-killers up for sale on Ebay: Reserve price: $10,000.

The Benetton ads were eventually dropped; the car didn't sell. (The ad campaign probably wasn't offensive enough for the industry that gave us heroin chic and scantily-clad Lolitas, and the blue book on the car was probably a little low. If that's the case, the blue book on the thin blue line can't be much more.)

Caveat venditor. (Seller beware.)

Hollywood will never be confused with an ardent supporter of law enforcement-there's too much of an inherent conflict of interest. Our agenda often runs contrary to their artistic sensibilities and predilections. We undermine Robert Downey Jr. We're not forgiving enough to just let Sarah Jane Olson go about her life. We occasionally draw first. And when creative powers such as Aaron Sorkin and Oliver Stone get arrested, they know they'll have the final say, if only through the characters they create and put on screen.

And boy, do they love to put us on screen.

Besides "Training Day," we have "L.A. Confidential," "To Live and Die in L.A." and many other films that show cops as crooked, bad, and homicidal.

The problem with this flood of "ethically-challenged cops" is that they have created a new image of cops, one in which the exception to the rule eclipses the other and becomes the norm in the minds of many.

When combined with the media's pro forma stereotypes of racist officers having their way with everything and everyone from Tawana Brawley to O.J. Simpson, the image percolates and festers in the addled mind of more than one viewer. And more than one cop has paid the price.

In the case of Douglass Township Officer John Stasik III, Andrew Hampton McCrae happened upon the officer as he gassed up his car. McCrae shot him in the head as a "protest" against police brutality, then found himself facing murder charges in New Hampshire.

In Dublin (Calif.), a group of Asian gangstas watched "Menace II Society" before shooting and killing a police officer.

In Texas, a state trooper was killed by some idiot operating under the influence of a Tupac song.

One can only wonder what asinine excuse Maurice Clemmons would have offered for his actions if he hadn't been killed. Already, his family is saying he had diminished mental capacity . Funny how this breed of criminal insanity only seems to hurt those about him, and how cagily he eluded police immediately after the shooting, despite his "emotional distress."

Regardless of the degree to which criminals like Clemmons are emotionally compromised, there can be little doubt that they become emboldened to carry out such acts when they see similar acts romanticized.

The perpetrators and purveyors of films such as the ones mentioned in this blog have historically defended their creative largesse in the name of art. If that contention lacks appeal, then they will defend their product by saying they're holding a mirror to society, that they only reflect the corruption and graft that's endemic to the job.

For an image-conscious group, they're awfully cavalier about how they treat the images of others. Heaven forbid that they should rotate that metaphorical mirror a bit and show a more favorable side of law enforcement.

Perhaps, it's a moot point. Nobody's registering any concern about replicant behavior, unless it inconveniences others outside our profession.

Not that these influences absolve the perpetrators of their responsibilities. But they have doubtlessly made it that much easier for the suspects to take officers' lives with little hesitation and less remorse. Whether or not our deaths are objective goals of the people who conspire to put us in as bad a light as possible, they appear to be agreeable byproducts to the episodes they precipitate.

How long will it be before the next loser-sufficiently tanked up on "Training Day" and meth and the rhetoric of cop-hating militants-decides to make his point with a gun?

To add insult to fatal injury, officers' deaths can become sources of celebratory inspiration. Appearing in Fort Wayne, Ind., Marilyn Manson performed a sick re-enactment of Indiana State Trooper Cory Elson's murder in nearby Decatur. Apparently during the concert, there was a loud boom on stage and then an air cannon shot blood all over Manson who was wearing an ISP uniform and hat, all this to the delight of cheering teenagers.

Yes, I believe that the job is increasingly dangerous. And it is made more so by what is put out there about it. Unfortunately, it isn't the bad cop who pays the price. It is the good cops, such as our fallen brothers and sister of the Lakeland Police Department.

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Comments (8)

Displaying 1 - 8 of 8

mtarte @ 12/1/2009 2:22 PM

Dean, excellent article. The attitude that some of the public and Hollywood have are that of a judge who once told me that it was part of the cop's job to take abuse and be assaulted when he dropped charges on a subject for resisting arrest. If officers are given short-shrift in court by uncaring judges, what should they expect from the "elite" of this country? There will be proclamations and the appropriate noises from politicians as these four officers are laid to rest, but nothing will come of it, except among ourselves. I'm retired now and still wish I could do the job, but today's cops are in much more dangerous situations than ever before. Godspeed to those four brave officers, their families and friends.

mcguireb1 @ 12/1/2009 3:26 PM

Great article. I have subscribed to "Police Product News" since its inception. Still a "life" subscriber. Its not only Hollywood to blame but some of it lies there. There is no doubt that media of all types, including movies and TV have an influence on societies behavior and norms. If not, why do advertisers spend millions on 60 seconds of air time and companies pay to have their products in a movie.

But we must also blame the decay of American society on a loss of morals and virtue. I think it was John Adams that said something like "our system of government was made for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for any other." There are multiple causes of the moral decay in our time. The solution is elusive at best. Perhaps its too late. I am an optimist but it seems that unless we (citizens, cops, lawmakers, teachers and especially parents) make it a priority to put some time and energy into raising the next generation to live by higher standards than 'whats in it for me, right now," I am afraid well will have more of this. As a retired cop I appeal to all current and former officers who have seen this decay up close and personal to work toward a change. I wish I knew exactly how. I don't. But I am willing to work at it.

Morning Eagle @ 12/1/2009 6:58 PM

Once again Dean has it right on the button. Very well thought out and expressed. As another retired law enforcement officer I too am sickened by what I see happening. Dean has truly said where lies much of the responsibility for the general degradation in the public perception and opinion of those who put their lives literally on the line everyday. I have already read accusations that the Seattle officer who did his job well was doing so to get "revenge" and implied it wasn't necessary to kill clemmons. Of course those self righteous accusers have not likely ever been face to face with a devious killer or have any idea other from twisted movies and TV shows, not to mention the disgusting noise some claim is music, of what it is like to "Protect and Serve" their sorry selves. Hopefully there will be solid evidence against those who assisted him and that prosecutors will not get jelly in their knees when they are accused of being racist but will do their utmost to send them all where they belong for the maximum under the law. My thoughts and sympathies are certainly with the families and friends and all in the LE community who mourn this senseless and evil deed.

uscg911 @ 12/2/2009 12:58 AM

Very well written. I couldn't agree more...where is the extreme outrage from these "civil" rights leaders? This is an opportunity for them to openly express condemnation of such a cowardly and hateful act. Instead, silence.

CAPONER @ 12/2/2009 7:16 AM

Folks, speaking of outrage, I wonder if there is any outrage among my fellow police officers that nearly every mentally ill person not undergoing treatment who wants a gun can buy one, and then kill cops and/or citizens with it? (Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, Lakewood, the list goes on). Is it the position of the so-called "2nd amendment lobby" that our constitution guarantees everyone the right to arm themselves against the police? On every domestic, we ask if there are guns in the house. Is this because we wonder if the perpetrator is a constitutional scholar, or because we are concerned that the guns may be used against the responding officers? Second, Dean is right on with a point well-documented by Dave Grossman - that (as I understand it) the video game industry is directly contirbuting to training cop killers. Where are the police unions and pro-cop lobbyists on this issue? I don't know the answers, but it seems like cops should be talking about these things.

skinni99 @ 12/3/2009 6:45 AM

I agree. Excellent article. I think that a big problem we have today is "political correctness." No one is willing to stand up an speak out against the sh!t that is going on in our country because they want to continue moving up on that political ladder. We need to be more worried about protecting our country and less worried about protecting people's feelings.

POLICEDIVER16773 @ 12/17/2009 2:01 PM


Well put. You Sir are a man that thinks like me. This article should be placed in every newspaper across both of our fair lands, the USA and Canada.

Ken Karpinski @ 8/4/2011 12:43 AM

Another occasional "bone" should be "One Good Cop", where Michael Keaton's titular detective takes care of three tender tots

to keep them out of the orphanage.

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