‘De-Policing’ is Not Something Cops Do to Society, It’s Something Society Does to It’s Cops

“I served as a police officer in one of the most pro-demonstrator, anti-cop cities in America, Seattle. “

De-policing, a phenomenon where officers avoid proactive patrol, including enforcing pedestrian violations, littering, and investigating suspicious people and circumstances, is occurring in many American cities. Officers do not wake up one morning and decide to de-police. Circumstances, such as political and department leaders showing little or no support, force cops to alter their behavior and adopt a professional survival mode. Still, many politicians and law enforcement leaders deny de-policing exists. They don’t want to admit their “enlightened” social justice policies have any negative consequences.

I served as a police officer in one of the most pro-demonstrator, anti-cop cities in America, Seattle. I retired at least ten years sooner than I might have due to the social justice indoctrination disguised as law enforcement training infecting the department. I now also look at law enforcement through a “de-policing” lens. Meaning, does a policy compromise officer safety or the effectiveness of police officers to do their jobs properly?

In today’s anti-cop environment, leftist politicians, community activists, and their allies in the media are inundating people with the false narrative that police officers are wantonly shooting minorities for sport. There’s even a socialist Seattle city council member who continues to describe two Seattle police officers as murderers and racists despite a King County inquest jury having found they acted properly in a fatal shooting incident. The two officers are now suing her for defamation. People like her caricature cops as corrupt thugs and draw a moral equivalence between criminals killed by cops and police officers murdered by criminals—as if it’s supposed to be a fair fight.

Officers need discretion to do the job effectively. In today’s anti-cop world, one leftist strategy is using politically motivated policies to usurp officer discretion. Consider policies mandating universal report taking and vehicle and body camera use. The cameras do have legitimate positives, but there are still practical negatives to consider regarding policies.

Cops have to wonder if agencies will use the videos to go on “fishing expeditions” to find officer “misconduct,” even absent a complaint. Not true misconduct but actions that used to be, and still should be, within officer discretion? I’ve heard enough disturbing anecdotal evidence to believe this is happening. When superiors fish for officer violations, cops may feel forced to waste time taking unnecessary reports or effectively de-police.

Police officers learn who they’re dealing with on their beats and become adept at the nuances of effective police work. They learn who or what is a waste of their time—time better spent helping real victims. Though the left might not want to hear this, some people have earned more credibility than others.

Think about this: It’s midnight. You’re a cop, and a convicted felon, drug-addicted prostitute, you’ve known for years and have arrested half a dozen times, reports her gang-banger drug dealer threatened to assault her. She’s high and has no signs of injury. She’s probably upset her dealer refused to front her some dope. With mandatory report-taking policies and video “fishing” expeditions, officers are essentially compelled to waste the taxpayers time and money taking frivolous reports. After all, intoxicated hookers can’t flag you down if you’re parked in a lot reading the paper.

Part of an officer’s job used to be to sift through the nonsense and investigate legitimate criminal complaints. Not anymore. In many jurisdictions, cops are forced to investigate virtually every complaint no matter how lacking in credibility. Now, not investigating someone’s complaint can look bad on paper. It may appear an officer is shirking his or her duty. But trust is part of the reason police officers swear oaths. You’re supposed to trust them to use their discretion until they prove they don’t deserve your trust. Remember, you don’t know the people cops know, you are not trained, and you are not the one there.

Investigating all incidents, no matter how absurd makes it so officers are not available to respond to legitimate emergencies. Isn’t this like telling editors at a publishing house they can no longer read a couple pages of a book submission before deciding the piece is not a fit for them? Instead, they must read every word of every manuscript submitted. Not effective, not efficient.

There are many factors that lead to de-policing. Law enforcement officers will adapt according to the laws and their department policies—especially bad policies. Intelligent police officers naturally resist what makes them unreasonably unsafe, inefficient, or vulnerable to professional harm. They don’t want to get unnecessarily hurt, and they don’t want to get disciplined, fired or, worse, go to prison. Cops will resist using the rope ignorant liberals hand them to hang themselves.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Steve Pomper

Steve Pomper is an OpsLens contributor, a retired Seattle police officer, and the author of four non-fiction books, including De-Policing America: A Street Cop’s View of the Anti-Police State. You can read a review of this new book in Front Page Magazine and listen to an interview with Steve on the Joe Pags Show. Steve was a field-training officer, on the East Precinct Community Police Team, and served his entire career on the streets. He has a BA in English Language and Literature. He enjoys spending time with his kids and grand-kids. He loves to ride his Harley, hike, and cycle with his wife, Jody, a retired firefighter. You can find out more about Steve and send him comments and questions at www.stevepomper.com.

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