Good cops

Giving it up for the decent ones

In a grocery store once, the woman next in line got up in my face and said, “There are good cops, you know.” I think I had written harshly about the police. I said, “I’m sure there are. There must be.” I couldn’t be sure, but I figured that some decent people had slipped through. I didn’t know any, but I haven’t known a cop since I left Chicago, where a handful of guys I grew up with had joined the force. I’ve encountered cops here and there, but I’ve been law-abiding and increasingly nonthreatening for some years, so they ignore me, and I them.

After all those years of avoiding the police, in the last couple of months I’ve had more contact with law enforcement than in the rest of my life put together. Having seen and read about cops of various kinds—government agents and others—I have been appalled and disheartened at the way politicians, including the Chico Silly Council and the Butte County Board of Ignoramuses, fall over themselves inventing and approving new powers for their enforcers.

I’ve also written about the way we may tend to attract bullies and sadists to police work because that way they can get away with anything, and then we train them in violence rather than empathy.

I haven’t changed my mind about any of that. I do want to add to my discussion, though, because there are good cops. I thought there must be, and I’m glad to say I was correct, especially since the worst part of thinking there are no good cops is the thought itself, my having managed to live a nearly police-free life so far and being in no position to know what the actual percentages are.

Now I’ve had some contact with the police, and things aren’t nearly as bad as I’d thought. I’ve run across seven or eight Chico cops and a most helpful Butte County deputy, and there was only one guy who might better serve humanity in another capacity, and he wasn’t terrible, just a little tense and insecure. In a shakier situation, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near him. He was the only one.

I see now that there are situations in which one’s best bet is to call the cops, something I’ve never wanted to do. When they showed up, though, they were calm and made sense and were in no hurry to force anything, which worked admirably. Maybe the armed cowards make the headlines, and all those decent cops we don’t hear about just keep doing what they do. Fancy that.