"Trust is earned not given away." ~ Worf, Star Trek: The Next Generation . From the incredible episode The Wounded, 01/26/91, perhaps the best episode of ST:TNG to explore war and humanity. The interplay between Bob Gunton and Colm Meaney as The Titular Wounded is heart-wrenching and superb acting.This is a Corollary to my Stop Snitchin' post. Who do you to Trust?
I trust all the fellow officers in my department to do what is right and at a minimum do what is legal. But, to the public in general and in some specific cases the perception of Police Officers is of sadistic power-tripping troglodytes misusing their authority.
Where does the mistrust of Officers come from? Well, most likely, the same place as the mistrust of Government and Religious Officials, sensational did-ya-hear-about stories. (While Hollywood films portray Cops as either, crazy, evil, misguided or naive I tend to think the Hollywood portrayals to be only a small casual factor). But, when a sensation story of police brutality or corruption boils to the surface and causes a new neural pathway in the minds of the public which individuals unconsciously access when confronted by an officer in the future.
Such a story occurred because of the actions of fat P.O.S. criminal disgraced former Chicago Officer Anthony Abbate. Abbate was dismissed on 12/15/09 for his Aggravated Battery conviction after he was caught (on video but off duty) beating up a female bartender half his size.
Humans are prone to several cognitive mistakes and most do not have the set of critical thinking skills to uncover their mistakes. Anthony Abate's actions were criminal but he's an individual and not the group (the police) with which he is most strongly associated. But, due to the natural tendency for human prejudice Abbate is representational to people of all cops.
Authority is a difficult thing. I'm not one to proclaim automatic deference to authority is the right action because I don't think it is. Police Departments aren't populated by Sgt Joe Friday's, righteous and beyond reproach, but I'll never condemn an officer (or Marine) for an instinctual heat of the moment decision. However, serious pre-mediated criminal acts by cops need to be dealt with just as every other citizen, with the additional punishment of permanent loss of position.
But it's interesting that people are often janus-brained when it comes to authority. They are able and willing to apply the most ruthless criticism and skepticism to their opponents yet they wistfully ignore any information which undermines or scrutinizes their cherished beliefs.
As it goes for Authority better to be too skeptical than too trusting... If only more Americans had believed this when the odious Dick Cheney uttered, "Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction."
MSNBC: U.S. Probes shooting at Fallujah Mosque (11/16/04)