Were Your Father’s Cops Really That Much Better than Today’s?

Me in all my glory

Last year, during a pick up football game, I took off down the field at a full sprint, flew past the player defending me, and settled into the endzone for what should have been an easy touchdown. The quarterback threw the ball in a perfect spiral directly into my chest, which it promptly bounced off of and landed in the arms of that previously vanquished defender, who had by then caught back up to me.

Shortly after that, while playing defense, I tore a muscle in my calf landing me on the couch for a week straight and keeping me on the sidelines for several months.

Of course, in 10 or 20 years (probably 30), once my football days are over for good, you probably won’t hear a lot about that pair of catastrophes. Instead, you’ll most likely hear about the two touchdowns I caught earlier in that game. Or even more likely, I’ll tell you about that 90+ yard interception return for a touchdown I had earlier this year, during which that picture to the right was taken.

Howard Zinn (right), being arrested for the crime of not wanting to kill innocent people.

History has a way of glossing over the bad stuff in favor of the good ol’ days. That is especially true when the one doing the story telling is also the one involved in all the negative stories. Even more so when those stories inspire a deep sense of shame.

I was recently reminded of this particular tendency of  human nature to remember things much better than they actually were when a friend of  mine mentioned to me that he once thought Anarchism was “way out there.” However, now he was beginning to reconsider because of all the instances of police brutality and abuse he’s seen recently. In particular, he was shocked by the recent arrests of members of Food Not Bombs in Orlando for the “crime” of feeding hungry people. Specifically, because it was the “locals” that were doing the arresting.

A lunch counter sit-in at a North Carolina Woolworth’s

It isn’t uncommon for people to have the image of the “friendly neighborhood cop” in their mind when they think of policemen of the past. That foregone day when the local cop patrolled his beat, knew everyone by name, and protected the residents from those bad guys that wanted to do them harm.

Unfortunately, these memories are nothing but illusions or at best selective memories. In many ways, the cops have indeed gotten worse. By way of standardized training and selective recruitment with a heavy tendency toward recent combat veterans and/or people with aggressive personalities, the modern police force has become much more nationalized and militarized. As a result, they are more willing to use force in any given situation and less likely disobey illegal or immoral commands.

The inevitable response by the State’s enforcers.

However, as much as that is true, the only real difference between now and then is a matter of degrees. The thugs beating people in the streets at anti-war protests during the Vietnam war and spraying school children with fire hoses during the civil rights era were, in fact,  locals. Officer O’Malley, the friendly neighborhood beat cop of yesteryear might have taken it easy on Sean, the local hellion, but he knew what had to be done when some uppity nigger refused to step down from the lunch counter at Woolworth’s or some dirty hippie decided to burn his draft card and there were no shortage of cops willing to do it.

As the saying goes, the cops are the tip of the State’s spear and the tip is the part that does the real damage. To believe otherwise is to forget the truth of what really happened and create a fantasy world based on those glory days that never really were.


(Originally posted at EYEAM4ANARCHY)

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About Kelly W. Patterson

a lifelong resident of Las Vegas, who's been very active in local grassroots activism, as well as on a national level during his extensive travels. He's also the founder/main contributor of Nevada Cop Block, served as editor/contributor at CopBlock.org and designed the Official Cop Block Press Passes. ____________________________________________________________________________ Connect with Kelly at these social networks; Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

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to “Were Your Father’s Cops Really That Much Better than Today’s?”

  1. preachersdaughter May 29, 2012 at 5:26 pm #

    Welcome! I am a local here in Vegas and am familiar with LVMPD and the ignorant and abusive way many officers conduct themselves. What I find even more frightening is the way many in our community excuse the excessive force that seems to be the norm for Metro cops. Copologists, bootlickers, sheep, submitizens….they are a huge part of the problem. Of course, those of us who are critical of Metro’s tactics are labeled “criminals” or “libs” or “cop-haters”. I honestly don’t understand how wanting an honest and accountable police dept makes me a cop-hater.

    I have encouraged anyone not familiar with LVMPD to go to a local Vegas blog called “Clark County Criiminal Cops” and read about the misconduct within LVMPD. I believe they also keep a list of problem officers still employed in the dept. Obviously, I will recommend this site as well.

    Copblock is a daily read for me so I am glad you are up and running. Good luck and stay safe out there.

    • NVCopBlock.org May 29, 2012 at 8:59 pm #

      Thanks a lot preachersdaughter,

      I very much appreciate the offer of support and any future feedback you might be inclined to provide. I’m familiar with Clark County Criminal Cops and I consider them an ally. (I actually intend to approach them about collaborating when possible, once we’re settled in.)

      I agree that it’s a shame that people don’t see police corruption and abuse for what it is (until it happens to them or someone they care about), but I too think it is important to hold them accountable for their actions. Even that “most cops are good guys” argument you usually get some variation of isn’t a sufficient excuse to overlook the bad ones. In reality, those good guys should be rooting out the bad apples that tarnish their reputation and actually make their job harder.

      Thanks for reading!


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