You probably saw the title of this post and thought, “everything looks like a nail.” Anyway, I’ve been thinking about the common attitude among many LEOs that perceive themselves to be part of an elite class. Don’t get me wrong – I have many dear friends who work in law enforcement. I don’t mean this to be a blanket statement to cover them all. However, with the crap going on in LA I’ve been reminded of some of my less pleasant interactions with law enforcement.
I had to serve jury duty several years ago. I thought that I wrote about it, but I can’t find any more than a passing mention in my archives. I was out of work for three days, reading a novel and waiting. I never even got interviewed for a case. It was pretty much horrible. The afternoon that they released me, I exited the courthouse with a skip and a jump and proceeded to the office to see how badly they’d screwed up my work in my absence.
Each of those days I’d drive to the parking building where I was supposed to leave my car, I’d unload and stash my gun, and proceed into the courthouse. Just inside the front door there was a metal detector and armed security with wands. The courthouse was attached to the jail, so security was pretty tight. One day on my way in, this little female officer was searching me. I’d emptied my personal effects into a bowl along with my shoes and belt which they put through the X-ray. The officer was wanding me down and stopped at my jacket pockets.
“What’s that?” she asked.
“What’s what?” I returned.
“There’s something in that pocket,” she explained, “What is it?”
By this point I was beginning to run short on time, and was losing patience, “It’s a little cedar block,” I explained, “There’s another one in this pocket and yet another in this one.”
“Let me see,” she demanded.
So, I pulled the cedar blocks out of my pockets and handed them to her. “See?” I said, “Now can I go?”
She then asked, “Why do you have cedar blocks in your pockets?”
“I’m just trying to keep the moths out of my wool,” I explained, “this is an Armani suit and I’d like it to not get eaten.”
“You know,” she said with skepticism, “people like to take these and burn their drugs on them.”
“I wouldn’t know anything about that,” I said resolutely, “They are moth repellent to me.”
“It’s suspicious for you to have them in your pockets,” she pushed.
“No it’s not,” I posited, “it’s responsible ownership of good wool.”
She finally let me go and I did make it in time for check in. I’ve had other experiences similar to this where a LEO was treating me as an inferior, but this was the worst. For whatever reason, I never think to get the officer’s badge number and name at the time. Anyway, what strikes me is that this officer had dealt with so many convicted criminals that she had become jaded to the point of it being impossible to see a law-abiding citizen for what they were. She just knew that there was something wrong with me. She was going to figure it out, even though there was nothing there. This is a problem. I should not have to justify a harmless piece of cedar in the pocket of my Armani jacket. The very thought of it is asinine. I see this as a manifestation of the same problem that the trigger-happy cops in LA displayed last week. They’ve been so screwed in the head that everyone and everything looks like the boogeyman to them. In my opinion, if you get to that level of paranoid delusional, they should have long since taken your badge away before you shoot someone or harass someone reporting for jury duty. The little deputy who submitted me to that grilling didn’t draw on anyone that day, but she was showing a gross lack of judgment all the same.