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Columns : In My Sights

A Maslow Moment

Bitching may be humanity's greatest need. It's certainly high on the list for cops.

February 01, 2006  |  by Dave Smith - Also by this author

Maslow's "Hierarchy of Needs." Image via savethedave (

Everyone has heard of old Abe Maslow. He is the creator of the "Hierarchy of Needs," remember? The list starts with safety and ends with self-actualization, which I think has something to do with eating our Wheaties.

Well, Maslow studied a lot of things and one of the things he determined was this: If you see two patrol cars side by side, the officers are most likely bitching about something...anything.

OK. Maslow didn't really say anything about law enforcement or even use the word "bitching." What he said was, humans are the "Griping Species." I'm not making that up. Maslow said it, and he was right.

We love to gripe, bitch, complain, whine, whatever you call it. It's as human as breathing and like it or not we need to do it; we are going to do it and, if we are honest about it, we enjoy it. The key, Maslow said, was for organizations to find out where on the hierarchy of needs the need to complain is. (See how he made it all about himself?)

That said, I need to do a little therapeutic whining, so here goes:

First of all, February deserves to be the shortest month, mostly as punishment for Valentine's Day. What a mess that day is. No real parameters, no real explanation except in grade school where they make you give everyone a Valentine, even the kids you couldn't stand! Now, how did that prepare us for life, or at the least, well...future Valentine's Days?!

Mostly it's just another great chance for us to disappoint the ones we truly love. One more opportunity to forget, buy late, buy wrong, buy too big, too small, wrong brand, too bright, and why? Who was Valentine anyway?

Historians say it could be three different guys...each did different things, so what are we to do? I don't know! Who the heck decided we need to make Hallmark a billion dollars?

All right, this is a magazine about law enforcement for law enforcement, so that's all I'm going to say about Valentine's Day. But it needed to be said.

Here are some other things that need to be said. And believe me, as cops, we're just the folks to do it. I believe we are the premiere gripers on this planet. I know I am, and I want to relieve a couple of other stress points I've got percolating inside:

When is the truth about CSI going to come out? How many civilians truly believe the forensic techs taking the fingerprints at their burglary are going to be arresting the felon in 52 minutes?

When are news people going to learn that people get robbed and homes get burglarized and there really is a difference?

Who the heck decided DNA is going to be at every crime scene? I am sick and tired of all these pseudo-expert talking-head goofs who show up over and over again on the news, making stupid statements about the "crime-of-the-week." If I hear the word "motive" one more time I am going to scream! Crimes have elements and motive is almost never one of them; guilt is determined by many forms of evidence and, even if a slimeball didn't leave any deoxyribonucleic acid at a crime scene, that doesn't mean he or she isn't a part of the deed!

    When is the public going to learn that on video or not, winning a physical confrontation is going to look rough, kinda like Ultimate Fighting without the pay-per-view. A violent confrontation is never pretty and the public and the media need to be taught it ain't a "beating" just because the cop won! Use of force is ugly and eventually we need to educate the public to this. As cops, we have one rule...We win! And the community we protect needs to understand that.

    There, I feel better, Dr. Maslow was right.

    Dave Smith is the creator and star of the "Buck Savage" series and a former law enforcement officer from Arizona. Currently, he is the Lead Instructor for Calibre Press' Street Survival Seminar.

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