I am not opposed to citizen oversight of police, or the exercise of 2nd Amendment rights, but we have a problem when it comes to interactions between these activists and officers, and no one seems to be addressing it.
A Wise Man Knows His “Enemies”
Conflicts between the police and activist with cop watch & open carry groups (who are typically the same people) primarily stem from a lack of mutual understanding. Officers don’t know who is a decent citizen genuinly intent on political expression or concerned about police misconduct, and who is nutjob intent on exploiting the law to scare people or on trying to make officers look like stupid thugs. On the flip side, the activist don’t understand the reality of our work, and how reasonable it is for officers with no ill-intent to be frightened of them, and to treat them as a very real threat.
Unfortunately, it is human nature to imagine the worst, when it comes to the unknown, and it’s the job of our imagination to fill in the gaps of our knowledge. In the wild, it is always best to err on the side of caution, because being wrong usually means being dead. Likewise, an officer’s very job is to be the thin blue line between human civilization and human nature, so we have to assume the worst our survival.
The solution is simple. Get to know each other.
If the officers being filmed by cop watchers or responding to calls about open carry activists knew who they were dealing with, and what their goals were, they’d be naturally less nervous, and more understanding, because they’d have knowledge instead of immagination to assess the activists and their actions. Likewise, if the activists met the officers in a safe environment, they would see the person behind the badge, and understand just how normal and well-intended most officers are, and even see how most officers are on their side, when it comes to defending liberties and seeking justice. This act of replacing imagination with knowledge benefits everyone.
Walk A Mile In Our Jackboots
Since I’m talking from the perspective of one of the suspected jack-booted NWO thugs, let me illustrate what our interactions with activists are like.
Imagine for a moment you have a group of total strangers walk up to your place of business unannounced with assault rifle strapped to their backs… You’d probably run screaming for help just with that (unless you work in a war zone). Now imagine that they all whip out video cameras and start recording your every move and berating you about every detail of your work. They bring up obscure company policies you’ve never heard of before or had any reason to be familiar with in the first place, as if they were grilling you on the words to the Pledge of Allegiance, or they insist that you finish your company’s product way beyond the reasonable capabilities of your position in the process. To make matters worse, these people start loudly accusing you of trying to steal from your company or cheat your customers, in front of your customers and co-workers, and shouting about how they’re gonna splash your face all over the Internet. If you weren’t so scared of the heavily-armed angry mob killing you, you’d probably be hard-pressed not to punch one of them in the face, let alone have a few choice words for them!
This is basically what officers experience when they encounter cop watch and open carry activists on the street. Not exactly a recipie for a friendly interaction, let alone good relations down the line.
Activists Should Introduce Themselves
So how do we avoid this? If the activists are genuinely interested in political expression and legitimate oversight, as opposed to picking a fight with the police, then they should make a point of introducing themselves, and attempting to communicate their purpose and intentions, in a non-threatening environment, to the officers likely to interact with them on the street. This would give each side an opportunity to really hear and discuss the other’s points, and would humanize both sides of any potential confrontation. Likewise, it would also give each side an opportunity to request rules of engagement, and hear the reasoning behind the other’s methods.
This could easily be done by requesting an audience with the pre-shift briefing of patrol officers, who are scheduled to work the time and area of the activists’ planned activity. This wouldn’t have to happen every time the activists want to do something, but the more effort the activists put into making their members familiar to the officers and creating a dialogue with officers, before a confrontation on the street, the greater the chances that The outcome will be acceptable for both sides. And while it should go without saying by now, efforts should be made to introduce each activist member to each officer, to minimize the gaps left to immagination.
Equal Responsibilities but Unequal Burdens
Obviously, police departments have as much responsibility as activist for working to create positive outcomes, and departments should extend invitations to meet with and attempt to start dialogues with activists, but it is simply not reasonable for the police to carry the burden of making these dialoges happen. There are often multiple groups or scattered unorganized activists in any given location, each with their own schedules and ideologies, and it’s hard to know which activists will still be around next week, and which will fade away. By contrast, police departments are eternal, highly regimented by their very nature, with the time & location of their activities and their rules of engagement pretty well set in stone.
Just imagine the citizen uproar if a police department attempted to coordinate the attendance of all of their officers to even one activist meeting, let alone multiple. Whereas almost no one would oppose allowing a few activist to speak at patrol briefings before an event likely to result in police contacts. Again, it’s not eaxctly fair, but it’s the only practical way to get the job done.
What do you think? Is there something important that I missed about the police-activist dynamic? If you’re an activist, or know one, let us know their side! Do you support open carry? Why or why not?