Guest post: He’s thinking of leaving policing

Originally a comment by sambarge on An overzealous state trooper.

The mentality isn’t that you can’t back down. It’s that you can’t escalate needlessly. As you mention, you negotiate or talk. You don’t have to be a social worker but you have to be a human being. You don’t demand something of a person that you don’t have a very good reason for demanding. Because officers are armed and empowered to use force on their own judgment, they have to be of the very best judgment. That is not what we have now.

In short, I agree with everything you’ve said.

I was discussing the Bland case with a good police officer (one who believes he serves the public) and he recounted a story of a welfare call on a pregnant woman who had been involved in a dispute. They were checking in to make sure she was okay because she had fallen during the disturbance/dispute and left the scene before they arrived. She wasn’t happy to see them and told them to “f*ck off.” His partner wanted to push past her and search her house. Why? Because she was rude and she swore at them. The good officer (and the senior in this case) pointed out that there was no law that said people had to be polite to police officers. She’s pregnant, she’s just had a shitty day and of course she’s going to be rude. But he could see her the next day on the street and she’d be friendly and smiling. He had to physically restrain his partner from tackling a pregnant woman half his size because she wasn’t nice to him. I mean.

Too few officers have his approach to it though. And, the result is that POC are paying the ultimate price while white folks wonder at what’s going on.

Perhaps not surprisingly, he’s thinking of leaving policing.


  1. says

    I certainly hope that he doesn’t leave. I, too, know some officers that have a similar outlook, and similar concerns. Unfortunately, if they leave, then the only ones left are the ones who revel in the exercise of authority.

  2. sambarge says

    Yeah, that’s true. His reasons for leaving aren’t the other officers though. Policing is stressful work and there is little assistance from the employers for work/life balance and mental health. Where I come from, police officers are more likely to kill themselves than kill someone else. Many of the, for lack of a better word, smarter officers look for a way out – either up the ranks or in a related field – before the stress gets to be too much.

    I have to say though, it’s a disconcerting thing to see your comment as post. It’s like: Oh! There it is for everyone to see.

    I know, I know. It was always there for everyone to see but you know what I mean.

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