Police culture's "Blue Wall of Silence" -The most effective no-snitching campaign in history.
One question that I've asked myself over and over again ever since I became a victim of police misconduct is what will I do when it happens again?
More specifically, would I do anything differently while it was happening to me again... and, perhaps more importantly, what would I do when I saw it happening to someone else?
I'm not alone in this, as a reader's recent letter illustrates:
"I have also been the victim of police excessive force and their arbitrary charging practices.
In my case, I was brutally grabbed by the windpipe by a police officer who outweighed me by at least 50 pounds. I was thrown face down onto the street, handcuffed, and kicked in the face and ribs while I was on the ground.
This all transpired after I had the audacity to yell out the word "Hey!" as exited from a restaurant where I encountered five police officers in the parking lot who were beating a teenage girl they had on the ground whom (I later learned) they were attempting to arrest for loitering.
Apparently, the cops took offense at my taking offense at the treatment that they were giving the young lady, all on the utterance of a single word of protest (and being in the wrong place at the wrong time with that opinion)."
I spent the night in jail on an "opposing a police officer" charge. To make matters worse, while I was locked up, different cops kept coming by and abused me verbally... in the hope that I would get angry enough to give them the excuse to take some other physical action against me.
The charges against him were dismissed, but that will never dismiss what it's done to him even though this happened many years ago.
"I've since witnessed numerous other incidences (of police misconduct) in other cities that I have lived in. But I now know enough to keep my mouth shut and to just stay out of it.
I admit that I feel pretty damned ashamed that the police – who are supposed to be the "good guys" – have intimidated me to the extent that I actually fear them enough to not want to speak out publicly against such abuse.
...when the cops are breaking the law, who do you call?"
While at first glance his response to being a victim of misconduct might seem detestable, but actually it's quite reasonable... there's no shame in it.
After all, ask yourself that same question, who would you trust to call on the police when the police act like criminals?
That's the question, isn't it? Who do you call when the police are brutally assaulting someone? Who do you cry out to for help while they are beating you? Sadly, the answer should be nobody.
See, you cannot intervene in an act of police misconduct without becoming another victim of it, and once you are arrested and beaten too your testimony would be discredited by police. Any hope the original victim had of the truth coming to light will have evaporated as soon as you stepped in to stop it. By intervening you do more harm than good... unless you're a cop... but cops hardly ever intervene except to help with the beating.
This is the sinister nature of police misconduct that I always seem to fail at explaining. It's the very heart of just how badly police misconduct shatters a victim's trust in our system of justice, in our society as a whole. This is at the heart of why it's so life-shattering... after a cop victimizes you, you'll never have anyone you can turn to for help again, nor anyone you would call to help someone else aside from yourself.
It's also hard to explain to others how it would be difficult for most victims of police abuse to call the police if we witnessed a crime or even if we were the victims of crime... after all, how will you know if a good cop will come to help or a bad one will come to victimize the victim, or you, even further?
Trust me, once you learn and understand what sadism some officers are capable of, you would balk at taking that risk again too. I know I don't want to go through being beaten up, arrested on a false charge, and then abused in jail without any access to medical care again... would you?
But the damage done by police misconduct goes even beyond that... think of all of the friends of victims who also have doubts about calling the police after they see how their friends were mistreated by police officers... and wonder at how that number of people grows exponentially as more and more victims are created each day by the police.
Police officials and politicians often bemoan the "culture of no snitching" which is prevalent in our cities these days, wondering at what causes it... not being able to understand why their citizens don't want to talk to their police officers.
Perhaps, for the answer to that question, they have no further to look than their own police departments.
Maybe the very first question that they should ask is... who would they trust to call on their police when their police act just like the criminals they are supposed to arrest?