By J.M. Appleton
Do you remember the days when Police Departments nation-wide were dressing their Officers in light-blue uniform tops, dark-blue trousers with a light-blue stripe running down the side of each pant leg? With some variances, that uniform design was pretty much considered “standard attire” for most Police Officers across the country and was chosen for a reason.
The old (left) and the new (right)
It had long been believed that the choice of a light-blue dress shirt made a confident, yet comforting “I’m here to help you, you can trust me” statement by Police Officers and also gave rise to the classic “boys in blue” moniker that has followed them for decades. Some departments (take Los Angeles for example) have chosen to wear the complete dark-blue uniform since the 1960’s but doing so definitely wasn’t the norm.
Since the mid-1980’s, Police Departments across the U.S. have slowly but steadily moved away from the light-blue shirt, dark-blue with lighter stripe down the side trouser and there’s a reason for that as well. Officials will try to tell us that the light-blue shirt presented too much of a target for bad-guys during evening operations, and while there might be a small bit of truth to that, the main reason that departments switched to all dark-blue or black uniforms had far more to do with the psychological message it sent. You see, Psychologists and/or Sociologists tell us that an entirely “dark” uniform sends more of a “I’m in charge, I’m to be feared, you’ll do as I say or else” message and that clearly represents the desired effect that law enforcement agencies in general are after.
Let’s now look at the weapons that Police Officers of yester-year carried in comparison to what the militarized Police Officers of today have at their disposal. Thirty years ago, the light-blue shirt wearing Officer carried either a .38 Police Special or at most a .357 Magnum revolver as a side-arm. These revolvers each carried 6 rounds and the Officer would have an additional 2 or 3 “speed-loaders” (6 rounds each) full and secured on their gun-belts. In some larger cities (and perhaps some smaller), they also carried a “back-up” .380 pistol, secured via a strapped-on leg-holster hidden under a pant leg. Add to that a night-stick or baton, a can of mace, sometimes a Sap, a shotgun carried in their patrol cruiser’s rack and that was it…all that was considered necessary, certainly enough to get the job done. Fast-forward to today and the dark uniformed, bullet-proof vest wearing Police Officers are now toting 9mm, .40cal., or .41cal. pistols as side-arms (with 10 to 25 round clips in them depending on caliber), a leg-holstered .380 back-up weapon, two to four extra ammunition clips on their belts, a canister of pepper-spray, some variety of Taser (non-lethal compliance weapon), a collapsible baton, and ride with a shotgun (with lethal and non-lethal rounds), an AR-15 (semi or automatic option) rifle and stun grenades at their disposal.
One could definitely make a case for the “militarization of Police” as being necessary, since they’re goal is to not be “out-gunned” should the need for weaponry arise, but the attitudes in which they carry about when completing their daily duties as “Peace Officers” has come under great scrutiny, and rightfully so. Most Americans whom Police will encounter on any given day are not criminals to be feared and shouldn’t be treated as such. Law Enforcement officers (in any forum) should be given respect due to WHAT they represent, but is it not also necessary for L.E.O.‘s to continuously earn that respect by treating those they’ve sworn to “protect and serve” with dignity and equal respect? Let’s examine that notion for just a minute here.
Over the past decade, I’ve personally heard more people than ever before state, “I don’t care how badly I could use the help of a Cop, I’m not gonna call them because when you do, it’s YOU that ends-up getting in trouble for one thing or another”. There’s great truth to this perception actually being the case and the reason for it lies within the attitudes of law enforcement in general. In society today, EVERYONE is viewed by L.E.O.’s as being a suspect, everyone is viewed suspiciously and everyone is treated as being guilty of something until they prove themselves innocent.
From a simple traffic stop (for defective vehicle equipment as an example) to being detained and questioned for a crime of a felonious nature, you ARE guilty until YOU do what’s necessary to prove your innocence. This ultimately ends-up costing innocent people thousands of dollars, perhaps their employment situation, their good reputation and perhaps more…all because the concept of being “innocent until proven guilty” has become archaic and is seen as not serving law enforcement well any longer in their quest to put the clamps on the freedoms and liberties afforded us through the Constitution.
As civilians in today’s world, we’re given the option of acquiescing to the very questionable ideology of “they’re only looking out for our best interest” or we can be honest with ourselves and admit that law enforcement cannot be trusted to act in accordance with what we perceive as being “in or best interest.” Our best interest actually means being left alone to live a life that encourages making personal choices as to what’s best for ourselves and our families. Law enforcement would like us all to believe that THEY alone have the winning ticket, that THEY have superior intelligence, and that THEY have the corner on knowing what’s best (morally and ethically) as it relates to our relationships, no matter the forum. It doesn’t take a nuclear physicist to figure out that in order to effectively exert their will upon us at every turn that they must convince themselves of the aforementioned, becoming in effect brain-washed to believe that they’re superior to members of the general public in every possible way.
In summary, I believe it prudent to examine the evidence as provided us over the past decade or longer now. Our Police agencies, once dressed to exude a aura of servant hood and helpfulness now dresses in black or camouflage paramilitary garb, armed to the teeth and ready to “put back in place” anyone who dares to question their authority. L.E.O.’s have become increasingly violent and MANY Police vs. Civilian incidents depicting this have been captured on film and made public. L.E.O.’s no longer see an individual as “innocent until proven guilty”, conversely they now view any suspect as being “guilty” before “due process” has run it’s course which makes an individual’s attempt to prove their innocence a daunting and sometimes next to impossible endeavor.
Lastly, it would be imprudent of me not to mention the role that our Judicial system has played in allowing law enforcement to be viewed as untrustworthy by so many, as they themselves (District Attorney’s and Judges) have in general turned a blind eye to the shenanigans that L.E.O.’s routinely employ to make themselves look worthy of their positions. A great deal of income is generated for municipalities and States through the actions of L.E.O’s turned “revenue collectors”, writing citations and making arrests with impunity and letting the D.A.’s office “sort ’em out.”
It’s a sad state of affairs for all Americans as we’ve watched our once trusted servants in blue do everything in their power (and often times beyond) to create and maintain the “police state” that we‘ve witnessed unfold before our very eyes. Most unfortunately, there‘s little to nothing that can be done about it, at least not until our elected officials on every level come to realize that it‘s essential that the citizenry of this country have GREAT trust for our law enforcement agencies...and that’s not going to happen until our liberties and freedoms are once again seen as having any kind of tangible value.