Assume the position

Ron Soltys

A video of some bay-city, shorts-wearing police officer choking out teenagers on skateboards has probably come to most of your attention. All sorts of citizen watchdog instances have popped up with the proliferation of cameras and phones.

Police officers retain an undeniably negative stigma. People often like to think of police officers as power-hungry, respect-mongering people who would like nothing more than to catch you in a speed trap and stick you with any little charge they can conceive.

If you have a job where you only associate with people when they’ve done something bad or had something bad done to them, you’re probably bound to pick up a negative association in that person’s mind.

There are bad cops. There are plenty, but there are even more good cops. I think most level-headed people make this conclusion as well, but no matter how good or bad police officers are, it remains difficult to let the matter settle, because in a lot of cases these videos of harassment or brutality end in the “officer” getting suspension with pay (more like vacation) and then eventually coming back to the force.

Police officers have a strong union, and this keeps them working in some instances where the department might even want them fired for what happens. Some people defend police by stating that their job is difficult and that they’re out there every day with their life on the line. According to a Forbes article titled “America’s Most Dangerous Jobs” fishermen have the most dangerous occupation. Pilots, aircraft engineers, loggers, iron and steel workers, farmers and truck drivers are also noted as having some of the most difficult jobs in the country — but no one would expect a truck driver who choked out a 14-year-old and demanded to be known as “sir” would have it brushed under a rug simply because he is out there every day risking his life.

Despite all of these facts, police officers are people just like you and me. I think you’re far more likely to run into an officer who will treat you respectfully and act professionally, so you will probably have a much smoother experience if you treat them respectfully as you would any other person. Having a roommate in the police academy, I have had the opportunity to casually observe the kind of work required to become a police officer, and I think I can safely say that it’s a little more strenuous than the six months, clean record, and physical conditioning some assume it requires.

It’s not surprising to me that people have a general dislike of police officers. What I am asking is that you somehow pull that a bit back and just hate the bad ones. I mean, just because I have met a few bad men doesn’t mean I automatically assume all men are jerks — though most of us are.

And the most surprising part of it all: While some police officers seem like jerks, they’d still save your life if they had the chance.

Discuss how awesome Police Academy and Super Troopers are with Ron at [email protected].