Let me say up front that I know this will be unpopular. But I can’t help the uneasiness that I feel toward law enforcement lately…and I have some good reasons. Gone are the days of Officer Friendly, the neighborhood cop who knows everyone and is looking out for the community’s best interest. It seems that lately, police officers end up terrorizing those they are supposed to be serving and protecting. Clearly, not all police are acting this way, but it sure seems the police state is ramping up. I have a high respect for police officers who respect the law. The rest of them, though…they scare me. Here are some reasons I don’t want my kids talking to the police:
1. Police arresting or terrorizing mothers for leaving their kids in a warm car (for less than 10 minutes) while they pay for gas, grab a gallon of milk, or run into the 7-Eleven instead of dragging them out in the snow.
This has got to stop. When I was a kid, my sisters and I would sit in the car at the grocery store and play for thirty to forty minutes while our mom shopped without us. Never did a busybody peek in the windows and have a pearl-clutching aneurysm while dialing 911. We were perfectly safe. The police never dragged my mom off in cuffs when she came back with the Cheerios. A new law proposed in Rhode Island would fine parents $1000 and take away their driver’s licenses for leaving any child under the age of seven in a car for any reason (at any temperature). Have they lost their minds? A handful of crazy people forget their babies in the car on a hundred-degree day, and so the rest of us have to suffer? If this is the kind of world we are going to be, then I guess anyone with a child is going to have to give up errands until their kids are in the teen years. (And even then, you can’t leave your teen at home unsupervised in Illinois until the advanced age of 14!)
2. An innocent walk to the park can turn into a months-long foster care nightmare.
Parents all over the country who let their children walk to the park alone or with a friend have woken up to a terrifying reality. They’ve discovered that some nosey jerk can call social services and then goons will show up at their door to haul their children (who have never been abused or even skipped a meal) off to foster care, where they will most likely be raped. And this will drag on for months while they tearfully beg judges to return their children to them. These are children who, again I remind you, were never abused but were instead allowed to go have a fun hour at the park with no adults hovering. That’s a crime worthy of removing your children from your home now. And don’t think you can let them play in your backyard without adult supervision, either. You can’t. I blame police for this. The very first time they get a call that a child is walking to the park alone they should ask the caller, “Is the child in danger?” But they don’t. They go full Robocop instead.
3. Police arresting 9-year-olds does not help my state of mind.
In Oregon, police grabbed a 9-year-old girl (wearing only her bathing suit) out of her sprinkler, handcuffed her, shoved her in the back of their squad car and booked her into adult jail—all while her mother screamed and cried. They did not allow her mother to accompany her (or even let her get dressed). This dastardly tot was suspected of getting into a fist fight with another child at the park on a previous day and police said she “lied” to them—so they arrested her. Their assessment of her “lying” was based on the fact that she didn’t look them in the eye or something. And so they violated her, abused her, scared the ever-loving hell out of her and broke about a hundred laws. There is no one who wasn’t outraged about this. Just watch the video clip here. But outrage doesn’t seem to stop this behavior and somehow cops who do this keep their jobs.
4. Forcing confessions out of learning-disabled minors.
If you haven’t lost a week of your life watching “Making a Murderer” yet on Netflix, get ready to get enraged watching two police officers lie, manipulate, and coerce a murder confession out of a boy with a 70 IQ—with no attorney present and without his mother there. Let’s not get into whether he did it or not. Those officers violated Brendan Dassey’s rights in a big way. You don’t talk a minor into waiving rights he doesn’t even understand. That should be criminal. Dassey is serving a life sentence for murder based on that shady confession and those police officers ought to be ashamed of themselves. Should my children ever get picked up for questioning by police, I will make sure they have only one thing to say: “I invoke my Fifth Amendment right and request an attorney.” If you need more than my word for it that talking to the police is a bad idea, listen to this law professor.
5. All the unnecessary police shootings that left unarmed people dead.
Yes, some of them have been exaggerated, like the “Hands up, don’t shoot!” nonsense in Missouri, where Michael Brown was shot while assaulting a police officer and somehow people rioted. The shooting turned out to be justified in that case. But in other cases recently, and on video tape, there have been several officers shooting at unarmed people for no reason. It’s not okay to shoot a guy you pulled over for a broken tail light or because he hasn’t paid child support or because he’s confused and holding a knife and walking away from you. It is equally repulsive to punch a woman in handcuffs—or anyone in handcuffs, for that matter. People who have no ability or desire to show patience and calm in the face of foolishness or upset should wash out of the police academy.
6. Police pretending not to know what the Fourth Amendment is.
There are videos all over YouTube of police at immigration checkpoints demanding answers like they are in Nazi Germany or trying to enter people’s homes without a warrant, even after being asked for one. They taser unarmed women in front of children. They even say things like, “I don’t need a warrant.” Um…yes. Yes, you do. It says so in that document that’s sitting in the National Archives. It’s the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and it says,
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
As soon as a person asserts his Fourth Amendment right to a police officer who has no warrant, cops need to bid that person a good day and be on their merry way. They do NOT have a right to bust open a door. They do NOT have a right to force your car to a secondary checkpoint. They do NOT have a right to use intimidation or threats. This is America. Police need to start acting like it.
It pains me to have to alert my children to the dangers we face from police. I was raised to respect them—and I do respect the good ones. But what is happening in my hometown of Chicago and all across this nation should worry everyone. “To Serve and Protect” is too often “To Harass and Punish.” Police need to submit to the authority of the Constitution again. I am going to encourage my children to recognize when their rights are being violated and to politely refuse to play.
Bring back Officer Friendly! Robocop sucks.