Police… and Their Integrity.

Pretty interesting piece running over in the Daily Herald.  If you’re not aware, there was a very major bust of some suburban Chicago (not anywhere in Kane County, thankfully) undercover cops who had purportedly found a way to make a little “extra income” while on the job.  Apparently the McHenry City Police Department isn’t the only office with this sort of issue.  Pretty sad.  Especially considering the cops want you to believe they’e better than regular people.

The gist of the Daily Herald article is pretty simple:

But who bears the responsibility of ensuring that officers working undercover don’t cross the line between acting like a criminal and becoming one?

I’m not going to go on a long rant about this.  I do that enough about stuff I can’t change.  I’ve got an idea, though.

People have asked me why I don’t like the cops. I really don’t have a problem with that profession.  I have friends who are cops.  I respect a lot of cops.  I come across cops all the time that are decent people doing great work.

What I have a problem with is “Meatball Police Culture.”  It’s something that, I’m sure, they start to hear at the Police Training Institute.  That’s that cops are the “thin blue line” between good and evil.  Between “us” and “them.”  If it wasn’t for the thin blue line, all of “them” would take over and kill “us” (or vice versa depending on where you stand), right?  If you don’t support the thin blue line, you’re automatically one of “them.”

Dammit, line up and get your cute thin blue line products and support the men and women keeping “them” away from “us.”

The profession can’t embrace that attitude.  It only causes itself more problems.  Cops are people just like anyone else.  It’s not “us” against anybody or the cops collectively against anybody else.  It’s easy to not keep an eye on your own buddies when your attitude is that it’s you and your buddies against the world.  That’s what the Meatball Culture does.  It’s cops looking out for cops against both “us” and “them.”

I’ve got a case right now where, on video, an Illinois State Police Trooper stops a car for a tinted window.  When he walks up to the car, he’s got his hand on his gun.  The cop is visibly agitated, swears at my client, and yells several times as though he might pull his gun out.  I guess you might need to know what side that driver is on before you can be sure you don’t have to shoot him, right?

If cops were that skeptical towards each other, maybe the debacles at places like Schaumburg and McHenry wouldn’t happen.  If a large number of cops didn’t act as though they were a righteous tribe solely tasked with keeping “them” off of “us” perhaps they’d have more energy to police the police, and less energy to harass Star Trek fans.

Just a thought.

Author: matthaiduk

Matt Haiduk is a criminal defense lawyer in Illinois. He loves his dog. And pizza.

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