I used to hate cops when I was young. Hate is probably too strong a word. I probably didn’t really hate them…but I strongly disliked them. I used to think they were all just a bunch of guys with an inferiority complex that wanted to use their authority to exercise unrighteous dominion.
I had my first run in with the cops when I was about 13 or 14 years old. A friend and I just finished surfing in Oceanside and decided it would be cool to throw some rocks at a freight train as it passed on by. There were no passengers…and all those tiny rocks were just too tempting for a 14 year old boy. We weren’t hurting anyone, just messing around being dumb kids. But a security guard at the train station called the cops and we were busted. We would have been let go with a warning but my friend wouldn’t give the cop his correct name. When the cop asked me for my friend’s name, I gave him his real name…and the cop got angry at my friend for lying. Only then did it turn into a situation.
The cop didn’t really enjoy being lied to so he cuffed my friend and threw him in the car. My friend cried in that car all the way to the station. As I watched all this, my young mind didn’t comprehend then why we were being treated so harshly. I just figured the cop wanted to pick on us. The ignorance of our own actions began to shape my outlook on the cops.
As the years went on, I’d get pulled over by cops all the time. It was like I was a cop magnet. I can’t imagine that anyone got pulled over more than I did. I began to develop a paranoia every time I’d see a cop car because I just knew I was getting pulled over. Every time I got pulled over I truly believed that it had nothing to do with me and that the cop just didn’t have anything better to do. The cop would come up to my window…talk to me about what I was doing wrong…ask for my license and registration. I’d reply back with an attitude and some hair-brain excuse. Each time I’d drive away with another ticket, my disdain for law enforcement would increase.
When I was about 18, I got pulled over and the cop wanted to search my truck. I guess he didn’t like my tinted windows. It just so happened that I had some bottle rockets in my truck that my friend bought from somewhere out of state. Bottle rockets are illegal in California. I knew that. But somehow…I ended up being angry at the cop for actually finding the bottle rockets. Let me say that again. I was mad at the cop because I was doing something that was against the law.
Run a stop sign…it’ the cop’s fault. Illegal u-turn…it’s the cop’s fault. Carry bottle rockets…it’s the cop’s fault. Throw rocks at trains and get caught…it’s the cops fault. Only pure blind stupidity on my part could allow me to blame the cop that busted me for the actions that I chose perform. One of the basest of human imperfections is our natural tendency to not take responsibility for our own actions.
As time went on, and I got a little older and wiser…I figured out the answer to my problem with the cops. It was so simple: Don’t do stupid stuff and I wont get hassled by the cops. If I did do something stupid to get pulled over…then be respectful, cooperative, and nice. The result? The cops are actually cool to me. I’m cool to them, and they’re cool to me. I rarely get pulled over anymore these days…and when I do, the cops are nice and will sometimes even let things go with a kindly warning. What changed? The cops or me? The answer is so stinking simple. It was me. It was always me. If I continued to give cops a hard time…they’ll continue to give me a hard time back. If I started to do things worse than throwing rocks at trains, carrying bottle rockets and rolling stop signs, then they might even treat me worse. And if I started becoming a threat to their well being, and the well being of other innocent people, well then…I’m sure the cops might take it to another level.
I’m not going to act like there aren’t some corrupt cops out there that shouldn’t have authority over others. I’m not saying that there aren’t cops out there that shouldn’t be behind bars. Of course there are bad cops. There are bad apples in every bushel. But these bad cops are the exception. The majority of them are good people that aren’t out looking for trouble. They know that their every move is being watched by cameras from all directions. They know that the minute they make one false move, they’re done for. To think that they’re moving about the streets looking to make trouble is ridiculous.
So learn what I’ve learned. Be cool to the cops, and they’ll be cool to you. People out there only seem to see a need for a cop…if they actually need a cop. But you take them out of the city and it’ll be Lord of the Flies out there. Utter chaos. It’s the cops job to protect the citizens of the nation. If they don’t do it, no one will.
We’ve got to show them some love…or they’re not going to protect us anymore.