Saturday, May 29, 2021




On the anniversary of Gorge Floyd’s death people are asking questions about the competence of police departments in their hiring and supervision of officers.   


I spent two years in military police and I was a voluntary diver for the Clay County Sheriff Department in Florida.     


It is my perception that the best and the brightest are not necessarily attracted to a career in policing.   Policing, to a large extent, attracts people who are enamored with the authority of the badge and a gun – and in some cases, people insecure in their own identity. 


Notice the lead-lined sap gloves the officer is wearing while confronting the public, his right hand grasping his firearm.

There is an intrinsic problem with authority that has never been addressed with police policy and training:

In 1973 the psychology department of Sanford University conducted and experiment concerning prison guards and prisoners.  Random volunteers were taken from the University student body.   To ensure randomness, the assignment of prisoner or guard were alternately picked: prisoner-guard-prisoner-guard…   Prisoners were placed in confinement and guards were given free rein to control the prisoners.  The experiment was scheduled to last two weeks, but had to be terminated after six days because of the aggression of the guards.  


This same domineering authority syndrome identified in the Sanford study permeates police departments.   Police, to a large extent, do not act to assist civilians, but to dominate them.  They feel a power to intimidate, and they become aggressive when their authority is questioned.  Being authorized to wield deadly force inflates the ego of many officers; and when multiple officers back-up a call there is a tendency for individual officers to become more aggressive.


The structure of police departments is at fault.    Instead of armed authority, it should be public safety and assistance.  It is an attitudinal change that is needed; a change from ‘policing’ to service.


I am not anti-police.  I have worked and associated with many policemen and they are basically good people; but their attitude toward the public-in-general is uniformly negative, and they carry a feeling of empowerment and authority.  Many do not have the temperament to be trusted with weapons of deadly force when dealing with volatile situations, and their demeanor escalates the problem rather than subduing it.  



We should set the record straight.   Supporters of the status-quo of policing seem to feel that criticizing the police is tantamount blasphemy.      They always remind us of how dangerous the job is.  I have heard the comment, “when a cop leaves his house in the morning his wife doesn’t know if he will come back safely.”   There is a misconception about the danger of policing.  


A study of the most dangerous jobs in America, places police twenty-second: 


1.    Loggers

2.    Aircraft pilots and flight engineers

3.    Derrick operators in oil and gas and mining

4.    Roofers

5.    Garbage collectors

6.    Iron workers

7.    Delivery drivers

8.    Farmers

9.    Fire fighters

10.                       Power linemen

11.                       Agriculture workers

12.                       Crossing guards

13.                       Crane operators

14.                       Construction helpers

15.                       Landscape supervisors

16.                       Highway maintenance workers

17.                       Cement masons

18.                       Small engine mechanics

19.                       Supervisors of mechanics

20.                       Heavy vehicle maintenance

21.                       Ground maintenance workers

22.                       Police officers

23.                       Maintenance workers

24.                       Construction workers

25.                       Mining machine operators


There are numerous restrictions and requirements in the Policing Bill now in Congress aimed at holding police officers and police departments more accountable; but this bill will not bring about a culture change in police departments.


The answer seems simple to me:



ONE: Increase the educational qualification for police applicants.  It should require beyond a high-school education, and an intense psychological evaluation.


TWO: Do not defund the police – de-arm the police.   Police on duty and off duty should be unarmed.   Weapons can be kept locked but available in the patrol cars, and permission from the watch commander needed to access a firearm.    Ninety-nine-plus percent of police interaction with the community doesn’t require carrying a firearm.  Unarmed officers would deal less aggressively with civilians, and in the heat of a confrontation the first instinct would not be to shoot to kill.


THREE AND FINALLY:  Any officer killing another human being in the line of duty, regardless of the circumstances, should be removed from public policing and be placed in a support position of equal pay, but never authorized to carry a firearm again.


I support police, and the job they do; but there are psychological pressures and tendencies associated with the job that need to be addressed in selection, training and supervision of officers.


The culture of policing should be reformed – but this will never happen in today’s social and political climate. 

the Ol’Buzzard








  1. I have about an 85% agreement with your position on this subject.

  2. The cry from th eLeft to Defund the Police was a stupid move on thier part. Words matter and those words were entirely too easy to plug into the political fight quiver of the Right. So rather than moving toward what you call changing the culture of policing, those words weaponized and pushed hardliners into a corner.

    Excellent piece BTW. My only addition would be to get cops out of police cars for part of their day. Make them walk around and mingle.

    I'm linking your post to Facebook.

  3. Training programs should be four years University level. Your prescription is a good one.

  4. Psychological screening of all applicants and establishing a national database of officers fired for misconduct, and departments having policies of never hiring someone who's been fired someplace else would help a lot. Look at what happened in Ohio: the cop who shot Tamir Rice is still in law enforcement, just with a different department. And you're right -- there is a strong tendency for power tripping bullies to go into police work. Then when they inevitably abuse their position the municipality ends up paying off the lawsuits, and the bully just moves on to another department. It would also help if departments paid attention to misconduct complaints. Any officer who gets more than a couple should be let go. Derek Chauvin had been accused of using excessive or unnecessary force multiple times before he killed George Floyd. No mystery as to why the city settled the wrongful death suit by Floyd's family fast; the city knew they could be hit for even more if the case ever went in front of a jury.

  5. Historically, police forces were established and run as quasi-military organizations and that is a mistake. It's the wrong kind of mindset.


COMMENT: Ben Franklin said, "I imagine a man must have a good deal of vanity who believes, and a good deal of boldness who affirms, that all doctrines he holds are true, and all he rejects are false."