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Packratt@injusticeinseattle.org

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Catch-22

Catch 22, those impossible situations where you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. I find myself in several of them because of this site and because of what happened to me last year.

For example, the lawyers I talk to about my case tell me that I wouldn’t have a case if I hadn’t been injured, but the nature of my injuries makes it harder to press a case because it is a traumatic brain injury… which means my own testimony is unreliable. It’s a Catch-22 when you'll never get justice for the harm done to you, just because you were harmed.

As for the site itself, it’s not something I want to do, it’s not an enjoyable thing to write about the bad things that police do because you become a target for those police who do bad things and the police who don’t do bad things take what you say personally even though it’s not about them. It’s a Catch-22, you can’t criticize bad cops because everyone assumes you’re criticizing all cops.

Furthermore, when you take the position that I do, that all cops aren’t bad and that sometimes people go overboard accusing them of bad things, the same people who would normally support you turn against you, meanwhile those that support police brutality still hate you for writing about the really bad things they do even when you are reasonable about it. It’s a Catch-22 when you're called unfair by everyone when try to be fair to everyone.

It gets to the point that I don’t want to do this, every time I see a visitor from the City of Seattle network my chest tightens up and I shake, when I get a comment it gets hard for me to breathe because I don’t know if it’s going to be another nasty message from a cop… I want to break down when someone says I should expect this, that I deserve to be abused for what I write... But, the next moment I’ll see someone do a desperate search through my police misconduct resource links or when someone sends me a story about how they were abused and ask me what they should do… then I know I can’t shut it down, it would be wrong of me to take this resource away from those people even though it feels like it’s killing me… It’s a Catch-22 when you are threatened with harm by people when you try to help people that they hurt.

This, I suppose, brings me to my last Catch-22… I was permanently harmed by the police and corrections officers for trying to do the right thing by breaking up a fight. In fact, I’ve been up front about it and the fact that my injuries include permanent brain damage and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that was caused by those events last year… Apparently, to most people, this means that anytime I react to a harassing message from an officer my reaction is invalidated because of the injuries and trauma caused to me by police officers… It’s a Catch-22 when the same people who hurt you have a free pass to keep traumatizing you just because they hurt you in the first place.

Life… it’s full of Catch-22s. All we can do about them is analyze them to figure out which option does the least harm when we act upon what life has thrown at us. I sleep at night because I know I’ve made the right choice, I feel good about the good I do for others even though I’m being punished for it and so many people hate me for it… I suppose it’s some test by god or just the way of the world, to be punished over and over for doing what is right, just like before

It’s a Catch-22 when you are expected to do what is wrong and ignore the suffering of others; punished when you do what is right and try to help others instead. If that’s just how it is, if that’s what I should expect for doing this… well, so be it.

After all, how can I ever expect others to do what is right when I won't do what is right too. I couldn't live in a world where I couldn't have that expectation, and that expectation has to start with myself. That... is not a catch-22... so I'll stick with that.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well said. One thing that seems so often overlooked is your point that if you shine some light on possible police misconduct, some people think you're against cops in general. I think most of us are grateful that police are willing to put themselves in harm's way to protect the community. But there are always a few in every field who break the rules, the law, or common decency. They make everyone else look bad, which is why I don't understand why an honest cop would react to negatively if someone reports on possible bad conduct by someone in their field. Isn't it good for all police officers if they're all held to a high professional standard?

Packratt said...

Thank you very much for the kind words and the comment, I appreciate it.

You make a very valid point and I could go into a lot of depth in response via the foundations of trust within society and the police role within that framework, but suffice it to say that I am not one of those people who really think that all cops are power hungry ego-trippers, I firmly believe that many police officers chose that occupation because they want to do what is right.

I have to have that faith because the lack of it would make life problematic... after all, how could you function in society if you couldn't trust the basic fundamental functions of that society: the laws and just enforcement of those laws.

The perception of criticism has been difficult for me to fathom as well... After all, no business would risk it's reputation within the community it serves to protect an employee who didn't follow the rules or participated in misconduct... But here we have a police force and city government that does just that, risks the good will of the very people they serve and depend upon just to stonewall a very few problematic employees.

Why? I have several theories as do many ex-officers who have resigned because of this pattern of isolation and protectionism within the ranks. Ultimately, it's not something we can enact a change upon from outside except by showing how this behavior affects their relationships with the community.

Unfortunately, many officers don't recognize the part they play in how the community perceives them. So when criticism starts they become very insular and defensive in response, which rouses more distrust, which feeds back into that feeling of being disliked within the community, etc...

It's a nasty feedback loop, and I dearly wish I could figure out how to stop it.

 
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