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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Put Your Bullet Away Barney.

Let me start out by saying I respect law enforcement officers and I think the work they do is little appreciated, and they along with teachers are terribly underpaid. I have to ask myself though why is it that it seems like there are disproportionately high numbers of "jerks" among their ranks. I know they aren't all this way, but it seems like so many of them have let their authority go to their heads.

I keep reading stories lately about police hassling people taking pictures of buildings or in other public places (not against the law). Some examples can be found here, here, here, here, and here . I can understand questioning people to make sure they aren't up to no good, and I can even understand needing to be stern with people that are rude or unresponsive, but to come out guns a blazing every time a tourist snaps a picture is a little bit overkill and will only end up hurting there reputations in the long run. I know the world is different now and we need to be careful but you can be careful and polite. I have a theory that many of the cops today grew up watching the cop shows of the 70s and 80s and think they need to be the hard nosed psycho pit bull cops they saw on TV.

My own brush with this type of police over-the-topness came when I was about 17 or 18. My friend Jeff and I worked as parking attendants at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, and on the evening in question the former President Bush was speaking. We worked the event with no problem, and since I was the supervisor for the evening and Jeff's ride home we both stayed late so I could tally the receipts and make the deposit for the evening. After our shift we walked out of the building and just as we got to my car out of nowhere we were swarmed by Secret Service Agents (there were at least 4 as far as I can remember). I had my hands in the air pretty quickly and basically did the yes sir no sir dance and shuffle while I explained who I was and what I was doing there. Jeff had a a bit of a mouth on him and he didn't fair so well. He didn't really say anything overly aggressive, but they didn't appreciate having their authority questioned and they proceeded to slam him against my car and pin his arm behind his back.

I should stop here and explain that our work uniforms were a bright florescent orange polo shirt with in lettering across the chest saying Salt Palace parking. We were both also wearing clip on photo ID's and I think Jeff even had a company hat on. The point I am trying to make is that it was pretty obvious who we were, and what we were doing. The only crime we were guilty of was maybe some sort of fashion law with uniforms that ugly. They accused us of being gangsters (which makes no sense whatsoever) and detained us for several minutes. After they were done having their fun, they basically shooed us away with nothing even resembling an apology or have a nice evening. I was lucky they never even touched me, but come on, was all that really necessary? Ever since then I have always had a lower opinion of the Secret Service and the sad thing is how often that kind of stuff happens.

When it comes to authority I really like they way it is explained in the Doctrine and Covenants.

Doctrine and Covenants 121: 39
39 We have learned by sad experience that it is the anature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little bauthority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise cunrighteous dominion.

I know there are a lot of good law enforcement officers out there. I even know some. I just wish they would rub off on their colleagues and make all of our lives a bit easier.

1 comment:

Jeff said...

I remember that night. It's funny now but man how much funnier it would have been with well place kick. (or tragic with the way they were). I really don't know what they were thinking other than being on a power trip. I know they knew how we were cause they came by my booth all high and mighty earlier that night allthough it was more than likly different agents. Maybe they had just read and Ludlum book and felt really cool at the time but i has always givin me a low opinion of law enforcment officers. I have been pulled over multiple time in West Valley while driving my Tiburon for no reason. I have yet to have been issued a ticket but because it's a "street racer" they are looking for any reason. I was once pulled over in broad daylight for driving with a burnt out head light. I was on my way home the replace the bulb, it was in the car, so that it would be fixed that night when we were going out.