Photo: Kelly Bracken
There’s less than a hundred shopping days till Christmas. So I thought I might as well start bugging the hell out of the fat man now. So if you’re listening, Santa, here’s my wish list regarding law enforcement.
Wish No. 1:
The absence of a visual reference finds people having to rely upon their imaginations. For years, advertisers—particularly those in the radio medium—converted this liability into an asset by developing ad copy that planted the desired imagery in their listeners minds. The last I saw, we didn't have very many advocates lining up to help us out on the PR front.
So why not a 24/7 cops cable network? From “Highway Patrol” to “CSI,” from “Dragnet” to “NCIC,” law enforcement programming has been a television staple since the mid-20th century, often constituting more than a third of viewing fare in a given season. Fictional characters aside, our personages routinely appear to offer commentary on everything from the evening news to cable networks like Tru-TV, Discovery, and the History Channel.
We've nothing to lose and everything to gain. Already entwined in the minds of leftists as Orwellian big brothers incarnate, we might as well have some fun with that image (Do these leftists remember that George Orwell, author of “1984” and the creator of Big Brother, had been an officer…)? And it's not like we'd need syndicated programming to get it up and running, either. All that captured night-time patrol footage that taxpayers have been footing the bill for could be streamed unedited. We could call it "Big Brother After Dark" (OK, well, maybe not…). But the really nice thing? We'd be able to tailor the narratives, becoming our own chroniclers, historians, and shameless advocates.
True, a sudden deviation from the established script of never being granted equal time to respond to critics might prove as disorienting to us as the absence of any Steadi-cam will be to our viewers. But it'll afford the kind of cinema verité that shows how the rubber and the boot heels meet the road in law enforcement. And while video cannot reveal the workings of an officer's mind, it sure as hell can reveal what he or she sees, and this can be decoded in the mind of couch potatoes who may vicariously encounter people as we encounter them, thereby gaining some empathy for our plight, one more daunting than that of Gabriel Iglesias nailing Hamlet and executed without the benefits of script, stage director, or sympathetic audience.
Wish No. 2:
Speaking of networks, wouldn't it be nice if we saw a greater networking of cops across this country as a galvanizing power, both in-house and out? Americans love to make much of their country's untapped natural reserves. Well, what about our untapped unnatural reserves, namely, you out there in Law Enforcementland.
Think of what you and—you controllers of purse strings and tv remotes—stand to communicate to friends, relatives, and acquaintances through your various social networks, both online and elsewhere. Look at what the Tea Party and "The Blair Witch Project" creators have accomplished with it. You have the means of impacting those that impact us. By letting Madison Avenue and Hollywood know that we're not subsidizing crap that demonizes cops and elevates the bad guy.
We can vote with our dollars. And believe me, while we may represent less than 1% of the general population, we are an employed and generally well-paid portion that likes its entertainments.
Wish No. 3:
Having advocated our getting together on some fronts, I now propose that we disband on others, namely all those special interest groups based upon racial identity, sexual preference, and the like.
Maybe it's just me but I believe that when it comes to working with one another, our profession has proven itself a helluva lot more inclusive than many other segments of white and blue collar societies. Maybe we can lead by example when it comes to living that whole MLK "content of our character" thing.
Wish No. 4:
The subject of character summons forth the need for more leaders in law enforcement like Polk County, Fla., Sheriff Grady Judd. Judd's already been on my radar since candidly speculating that the "only reason" his deputies fired 110 rounds in expediting a cop killer's demise was that it was perhaps "all the ammunition they had." His agency's recent decision to file charges on a pair of adolescent bullies also gets a huge thumbs up from me.
If you're going to adhere to that Darwinistic animal kingdom crap, then just remember there's always a bigger and badder beast to take you down. Those two girls may now know as much. Hopefully, others will learn by their example…and his.
Wish No. 5:
More cops need to run for government offices—and win. Maybe then I could humor the idea that there'd be someone in an elected position who was well versed in at least one of politics' four basic food groups (taxes, torts, education, and crime). That'd be infinitely preferable to the ignoramuses we're currently humoring. Crooked sonsabitches.
Wish No. 6:
End the damn drug wars. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I don't know how many people have gone tits up behind pot, but I'd bet the average grower's electric bill and then some that a helluva lot more have died because of alcohol and tobacco. And no one should assume that I'm trying to buddy up to Mexico. (For what it’s worth, I'm against licensing illegals, but that's just me.) But it is fair to say that Mexico is paying for our vices, and when 100,000 people have been killed because we're one toke over the line, I'd say that our priorities are in need of some serious revising.
Getting rid of non-violent drug offenders would have the ancillary benefit of freeing up space in our custody facilities, thereby allowing us to keep violent offenders in longer. It is possible that some of that population might drop as well, as some would be giving up their parole papers for rolling papers. Too stoned to fight, they can spend their days kicking back instead of kicking ass. Of the remainder, and assuming there's the sufficient density that my faith in mankind justifies, we could have a Battle Royale—think of its rip-off: “The Hunger Games”—wherein society's predators fight it out until the one left standing gets his own rap company (gotta give 'em something worth fightin' for). Make it an international Pay-Per-View event and we can square the national debt overnight.
And I don't want nor need to hear any of the predictable Pabulum of police chiefs and sheriffs about what a great scourge and danger drugs are, either. Law enforcement's best and brightest often man the Grammys, Emmys, Oscars, and Tonys. To the best of my knowledge, celebrities are no more physiologically immune to the effects of narcotics than street tweakers and when was the last time you heard of one's ass getting yanked off the red carpet for blown-out pupils and pistoning heart rate?
Wish No. 7:
We need police-generated PSAs. I'm talking outside of my envisioned law enforcement cable network. Does the FCC still demand that networks avail the public responsible use of the airwaves? Why aren't we milking the hell out of this?
Wish No. 8:
Hazardous duty pay for those working night shift. Or Beverly Hills (Can you imagine the political aspects of working there? No amount of money could seduce me into working there. At least, not successfully.) Studies have proven what the more sentient of us have long recognized: Shift work will kick your ass on multiple fronts. Let's reward the poor bastards that are putting their health and relationships in harm's way by chasing society's vampires and werewolves. God knows they're saddled with the same sleeping habits as those mythical monsters.
Wish No. 9:
Common sense law enforcement. A 14-year old gets arrested and charged for streaking and faced with being expelled, prosecuted, and branded a sex offender he commits suicide. Really? Some kid's naked ass warrants his death? WTF is the matter with you people? Are you that intimidated by a stupid-ass prank that you're going to prosecute a kid and ruin his life for disrobing at a high school football game? Are you really that intimidated by the sight of a kid's tallywacker? Hell, mine's smaller than most men and I don't give a damn. Neither should you. Shame on people who make such dumbass decisions. If Ray Stevens and I can live with an occasional streaker, surely you can, too.
(Some of this is tongue-in-cheek. Some is not. I leave it up to the reader to discern between the two. Or not.)