How Often Does a Cop’s Badge Go to his Head?

I’m going to start out by saying a lot of my friends work in law enforcement, at all levels of government: local, state and federal. Naturally, because they are my buddies, I’m tempted to say publicly that none of them have let their badge go do their head and all have maintained a sense of humility while working their respective beat.

But privately, in a conversation amongst ourselves or amongst friends who are not in law enforcement, the consensus is that the badge does have an effect on their personality. Not always in dramatic ways and not always in negative ways, but it does have a transformative effect. Generally speaking, I would say that becoming a member of law enforcement has made them more confident, more brazen and, perhaps, as a result, more fearless and reckless. A couple examples that are a bit oversimplified to make the point:

My shy, socially introverted friend who got anxious in large groups now has a command presence that would turn the head of even the most apathetic and disengaged hipster. He gives an order, people listen (unless they’re so drugged up or incapacitated that the only way to get them to follow an order is by force). When he shakes your hand he looks you in the eyes, and no longer at the ground. He is confident. And in this case, becoming an officer of the law has done wonders to bring him out of his shell.

My other friend never had a problem with confidence. He was a star athlete in high school, a socialite, an all-around good guy. Yet when he became a cop, he started to act in ways that he hadn’t in the past. He became reckless. He started cheating on his girlfriend. He would drink excessively and then drive home. He would start fights when we went out to bars. In this case, the badge gave him a sense of entitlement and invincibility that made him behave in ways that he otherwise wouldn’t have.

Now to suggest in either case that the change in their personalities was solely due to the fact that they put on a uniform is a bit naive. There are many reasons why people change, and sometimes it’s for reasons that are tough to pin down or articulate. However, I don’t think even they’d argue that becoming a cop — the training, the brotherhood, the on the job experience — had a profound impact on them, and that it has manifested in some of their behaviors.

Special Agent Marc Delpit with the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms faces an aggravated assault charge for allegedly beating a man and threatening a high school football crowd at gunpoint (Photo: Houston Police Department)

Special Agent Marc Delpit with the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms faces an aggravated assault charge for allegedly beating a man and threatening a high school football crowd at gunpoint
(Photo: Houston Police Department)

Okay, I’m going to break from discussing my friends and personal observations and discuss Special Agent Marc Delpit with the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms. I have no idea who Delpit is, that is to say I don’t know him personally, but recently he was arrested for aggravated assault after allegedly beating a man at a high school football game as well as brandishing his gun during the incident and before a crowd of people.

This is speculation on my part, but if I had to guess, I’d say that the available reports on this incident suggest that Delpit not only lost his cool, but acted in a manner that suggests the badge went to his head. From KHOU:

Houston Police spokesman Kese Smith said the incident took place around 8 p.m. Friday in the parking lot of St. Thomas High School during halftime of the varsity football game between St. Thomas and Angleton high schools.

Delpit is the father a St. Thomas varsity football player, and the alleged victim is a teammate’s father.

Smith said according to multiple witnesses, the two men began arguing when Delpit punched the victim to the ground, and then continued to assault him. When bystanders tried to intervene, witnesses said the ATF agent pulled out a pistol and waved it at the crowd.

Knocking out one of your son’s teammate’s father at a varsity football game is a bit extreme. Is it not? I mean, one better have a pretty good justification for throwing down at a high school ball game, particularly if one is a government agent.

Well, Delpit told Houston police that he was attacked and was acting in self-defense. Moreover, that he pulled his gun because he felt threatened by the crowd of people in the parking lot and wanted to keep them at bay.

I don’t want to try the guy in the court of public opinion. Maybe he was attacked, and maybe he was legitimately acting in self-defense. Hopefully, whatever happened, justice prevails and if he was in the wrong Delpit gets punished but if the evidence shows he acted reasonably then hopefully he is exonerated. In the meantime, authorities will continue to investigate.

“ATF takes these allegations very seriously,” said Senior Special Agent Nicole Strong with the Houston Field Office of the Bureau of Alcohol Firearms and Explosives.

“Pending the outcome of the investigation, the agent in question has been placed on administrative leave with pay and has been relieved of his firearms, badge and credentials,” Special Agent Strong said.

Okay, while we’re going to refrain from rendering a final judgment on Agent Delprit, I still think the early reports of the case are indicative of what I’ve seen in my own life. To give you another example, my friend’s older brother became a state trooper in New York, several years back. Their dad is a cop, I think one of their uncle’s is a cop too, so law enforcement runs in the family.

State troopers in New York make great money, maybe not if you live in and around New York City, but if you live anywhere else, including upstate, where I am from, getting into the academy is a great gig (at least it’s seen this way by most of my blue-collar friends). During academy training they make $50,374, then they receive a raise to $66,905 upon graduation and employment. That’s really good money for one’s first year of employment. In no time at all they start making six figures (when you include overtime).

In any event, so my friend’s brother lands this job. He is a trooper. He was always a bit of a wild one, but now that he’s a trooper, he gets really rowdy. He is out drinking all the time. Partying like crazy. Starting fights, I mean the badge goes completely to his head… You know what, as I’m writing this I’m realizing that if i give away too many details I’ll out my friend and his older brother. I don’t want to do that. I guess I’m copping here (no pun intended). Long story short, he gets into a fight at a bar and pulls his gun on a patron. Not good. Despite the clout he has from being a cop’s son, he loses his job (and rightfully so).

But now that we’re all a bit older I remember asking him not too long ago about why he started to act the way he did. Why he started to behave as though he was above the law. If I recall correctly, he said, “In most cases, when you’re a cop, you are above the law.” He went on to explain all the things he got away with when he had the badge: basically any traffic violation, driving drunk, fighting, stealing (not material things, but if there was a concert or a sporting event, a flash of the badge would get him inside).

I guess this mentality is contagious and it begins to influence all aspects of your life. When you don’t have to follow the same rules as everyone else you begin to assume that you may be better than everyone else, or special, or above the law. Speaking candidly, several of my law enforcement friends are getting divorced, are struggling financially (gambling issues), have issues with alcohol. That said, many others are fine, upstanding citizens who rarely use the badge to their advantage. That said, I wonder, just how often a cop’s badge goes to his head? Is it a real, systemic issue (I just saw another headline about the Secret Service that was rather troubling)? Or is it just an overblown concern?

I know many of our readers work in law enforcement. I’m wondering what your thoughts are? What has your experience taught you? For those that don’t, what is your take? What have you witnessed in your life on this issue?

I want to say that this article is not to be construed as being anti-law enforcement. In full disclosure, my GF works in law enforcement. So, I’m not anti-cop, I’m just trying to start a real open and honest discussion here.

{ 43 comments… add one }
  • Mark June 5, 2017, 8:19 am

    The Justice system in the US is as good as it can be with humans as law enforcement agents. When we remove humans from the mix then and only then we might reach a respectable level of fairness.
    The cops I’ve encountered when pulled over for speeding seem to want to escalate the situation instead of giving me a ticket and letting me go. The new breed of cop have mostly military backgrounds?? I wonder if that has any effect on the way you handle people? Is every traffic stop a ‘battle’?
    I’m a grey haired 60yo white guy with a clean criminal record. I’ve owned many class 3 items.

  • Rich K. May 5, 2017, 4:48 am

    There are two kinds of cops. There are the ones who are honestly out there to “serve and protect” and do the best they can at a mostly thankless job. Then, there are those who become cops just so they can drive fast, wear a gun, and bully people while hiding behind a badge. I have three cops in my family: two deputy sheriffs in two different counties (and one of them is a detective), and the third is a state trooper. All are decent people, and all are “type one” cops. Most of my negative encounters have been with state troopers, though I have had good encounters as well. The worst one was the pair of troopers who pulled me over due to a shattered headlight (I had hit a deer and was waiting on the insurance company to OKAY the body work coverage – the light couldn’t be replaced, as it was, with the body damage), and a police report had already been filed. I informed the officers of that fact, but rather than letting me go they spent several minutes harassing me because I had pro-gun bumper stickers on my car (“BAR CRIMINALS, NOT GUNS”, and the old fave, “GUNS DON’T KILL PEOPLE – PEOPLE KILL PEOPLE”). When I worked security at an Indian-run casino on a reservation, I had to help escort three off-duty state cops out of the casino because they were drunk and disorderly, and they made threats against me and my fellow guards that they would cause trouble for us if we so much as went even one MPH over the speed limit in their jurisdiction. Yet another one tried to claim I was going 15MPH over the speed limit but said if I didn’t fight it he’d write me up for “only ” 5mph over the limit (which, admittedly, was what I was doing, but the jackass was going to try to pad it for 10MPH over that). On the other hand, I twice had state cops who pushed vehicles I was driving that had developed problems off to the side of the road and asked if I would like them to call for help (this was before cell phones were readily available and affordable). I do think there needs to be a better screening process to help get the bad ones off the road, and behind desks, at the very least, or out of policing altogether. An easy process should be developed to allow people to register complaints against cops (as well as making all of them wear body cams), and multiple complaints against the same officer should bear close scrutiny and even trigger an investigation into that officer’s conduct.

  • Rik P November 1, 2015, 11:12 pm

    When I got on most guys were Vietnam vets and it do go some heads, but any PD is a micronism of society. There are power crazed people in jobs up and down the ladder. Today and in the future it is much worse because as a society we do not support the police. Instead of people asking what crime was committed they ask “why has that white cop have is hand on that poor black kid” and ts the cop who in trouble (insanity). Get used to more bad cops because anyone who make good cop won’t apply for the job. Its why we don’t have good Presidential candidates. Smart people stay away.

  • Captain Bob October 21, 2015, 12:53 pm

    I’ve personally know three cops in my time. One was nice off the job and on the job he would, more often than not, give folks a break on tickets, etc. but was firm and professional on arrests. I’m sure he had respect from people he encountered.
    The other two were total jerks. Meeting them socially, they dominated conversations about how they did this to a guy and that to a woman, etc. They loved how they had power over other people (before becoming a cop one was a wimp). One used to brag about how he stole things when investigating robberies (he said they would be paid for by the insurance with the other stuff). Same guy pressured (what he had “over” him I don’t know) an electric company guy to get him a “meter key” so he could open his electric meter to reset the numbers and save on his electric bill., and he thought this was perfectly OK because he could…. He also bragged how he and his partner had a girl set up in an apartment they were paying the rent on for them to “stop over for sex” when they had the urge (both were married). I didn’t want to hear this stuff and we drifted apart. So, my personal experience is that 2/3 of cops are bad and it was the badge that did it.
    In short

  • TRob ARob October 20, 2015, 10:25 am

    Many years ago, I had a cop give me a ticket for parking when I was stopped behind a bus. We argued about it. In broad daylight, he threatened me. When I got to court I beat the ticket and informed the judge of his threats, so it was on record that if he retaliated there is a legal record of it.
    I’ve had other run-ins, tickets, all of them, where I’ve met some good cops and some jerks. I can say that I support those who do the job honestly and professionally. But it seems, perhaps because of better reporting and accountability, that more infractions are occurring. People are carrying cameras everywhere and instant uploads to Youtube and social media sites put it out as fast as the cops can say “It illegal to be videotaping me”, which we ALL KNOW is a lie. PINAC!!
    Also, for some reason that command presence you spoke of is just short of bulllying.
    I too know persons in law enforcement and spent MANY a Wednesday night at the police station assisting with a youth program. So, I have mixed feelings that ARE at odds with each other. I have never tried to reconcile them, they are what they are when they are. I just hope that the persons I know in law enforcement don’t act like the negative personalities I see in the videos.
    However, I have particular person I grew up with whom was a CO and he used to tell stories about how they abused prisoners on the daily. I know other persons who were in the drug business in the ’80/90’s and the cops used to routinely beat them for making them run. Is it right??NO but time and again any complaint was whitewashed and never heard., even in open court ALL complaints were routinely dismissed, if ever heard.
    I, personally can attest to one particular situation where I had just left the mountains of NH and drove nonstop back to NJ. I stopped at an amusement arcade to play a video game before going to my mothers house. Not 5mins after I got change and put money into a game, two cops walked in. One cop, an older guy approached me and asked me to step outside. I seem to fit the description of an offender. I asked if I could finish my game, as I had just put my money in the machine. He agreed and stood next to me. Two more mins and another cop walks in and grabs me. No word, no discussion, just yanks me off the machine. I begin to protest because now I’m going to lose my money and a crowd has gathered and is looking at me as if I’m guilty. (The other cop had walked around looking and asking for additional offenders, so people were well aware of what was going on.)
    The cop dragged me outside and to my surprise there were about 50!! officers all over the streets. They asked for ID and to search my car. I gave them the ID but did not allow them to search my car. They took my keys and did it anyway!! The cop who dragged me out was not listening to the older cop with whom I thought I had established a good rapport, he just wanted to know where the others were. He was NOT listening to me say that I had just arrived in town. And I had the misfortune to stop in that place at the exact time they would be looking for criminals. But someone in authority stepped up and said to let me go because I did NOT fit the description.

    And just to take this out of the personal, you see stories like this and you KNOW it’s systemic – Chicago Cops Hid 7K Suspects at ‘Black Site’ – and NOTHING will be done to right those wrongs.
    http://www.newser.com/story/214712/chicago-cops-detained-7k-suspects-at-black-site.html?utm_source=part&utm_medium=united&utm_campaign=rss_home:

    http://www.newser.com/story/214712/chicago-cops-detained-7k-suspects-at-black-site.html?utm_source=part&utm_medium=united&utm_campaign=rss_home

  • Oaf October 20, 2015, 2:05 am

    Seems to me that the young officers today rely to much on gadgets and technology instead of going “hands on” when making an arrest. When that technology fails, they have no option but to use deadly force because they have never been in a physical fight. Agencies today look for, and hire, poster boy cops who look good and can run 2 miles in 15 minutes instead of big beefy guys who can handle themselves and the bad guy in a physical confrontation. I fear more frequent police involved shootings until this practice is reversed.

  • Oaf October 20, 2015, 2:05 am

    Seems to me that the young officers today rely to much on gadgets and technology instead of going “hands on” when making an arrest. When that technology fails, they have no option but to use deadly force because they have never been in a physical fight. Agencies today look for, and hire, poster boy cops who look good and can run 2 miles in 15 minutes instead of big beefy guys who can handle themselves and the bad guy in a physical confrontation. I fear more frequent police involved shootings until this practice is reversed.

  • Mark October 19, 2015, 10:13 pm

    The BATF is just like a Gang. Cops cover for each other so they can get away with a lot. Several Cops have murdered their wives and GF’s even though these females asked for Protection. I would say at least 60% or more of Cops are jerks and do abuse their power. Some Cops are very nice people. It;s all a matter of Morals .. Location matters too.. A small Community where people know each other won’t tolerate it as well.
    In the big Inner Cities, One reason that Citizens won’t cooperate with Cops is that they are so corrupt. The other reason is because Snitches get stitches. The guy who Backed up the Police Officer in the Michael Brown Case was shot dead in his car gang land style and his car was set on fire.. It seems a number of Cops do abuse alcohol too .

  • Scott October 19, 2015, 7:47 pm

    Every law enforcement person suffers from PTSD and all other mental ailments from their environment. Think about it, who is subjected to horrible people, missing limbed and dead auto accident victims and the possibility of being injured themselves on the job. That stress will effect anyone. Just as in the realm of the citizenry, their are great helpful people as well as useless pieces of shit that ain’t worth the sweat on the bottom of our sacks. What I find less repulsive than a criminal committing a crime is a law enforcement tool abusing his posistion and having his acts buried under the code of blue. Still wondering on what is going to happen to the murdering cops who killed the bikers in Waco? The police are becoming more like the storm troopers of the great old Nazi empire as time goes by. Why is it no one complained about the jack booted thugs warrentlessly breaking and entering people’s homes in Boston and driving an up armored humvee with a 50 cal ma deuce on top to look for the surviving crock pot bomber? Seems a bit over reach. Spend time watching V for Vandetta and you’ll see the possibility of where we are heading. Store up some 60 rockwell ball bearings and tungsten fishing lures cause your m855 won’t do a damn thing to a ar500 plate, look it up on YouTube.

    • Mark October 19, 2015, 10:17 pm

      I read that the Jack Booted Thugs fired 2,000 Rounds in the City of Boston while hunting down the Two Bombers. I think it’s nothing short of a miracle that any Innocent Civilians were not killed. Also the two escaped Convicts in NY they spent $12,000,000.00 on overtime to catch them. The killed the one who was armed and they shot and wounded the other who was not armed.

  • Mikial October 19, 2015, 5:42 pm

    My answer . . . most.
    I worked in LE for 7 years. My son for 6 years. We both left because we couldn’t understand the attitude that seemed to pervade the LE culture. Essentially, everyone is guilty of something, all we have to do is find out what. Secret cameras in the officer’s break rooms, prying into officer’s personal lives if they don’t tow the line, push them to make arrests.
    Not healthy.
    And the real litmus test . . how many officers would resist unlawful orders that violate Constitutional rights if they know their superiors expect them to, and how many would refuse and stand with the people? Let’s not forget Ruby Ridge, Waco or the Bundy Ranch stand off. LE did whatever they were ordered to to do, irrespective of the issues involved. Ruby Ridge ended up with an FBI sniper shooting a mother holding a baby, Waco ended up with an assault that killed 76 people, many of them women and children noncombatants, and the Bundy Ranch episode only ended well because people . . Citizens, came from all over to protect them and essentially presented a united front.

    I’m sorry, but I’ve been there and done that, and my son too. We dealt with the most disgusting of criminals, including murderers, child molesters and gangs . . but in the end, it was the attitudes of the powers-that-be over LE that made us both leave the profession.

  • Bill October 19, 2015, 3:56 pm

    I spent 20 years in LE and retired in 1986. During that time 4 fellow officers were shot and killed on duty. I worked in a fairly large city. It seems to me that in the last few years more people have decided that they do not need to follow an officer’s instructions. We had very few officer involved shootings during my 20 years, in fact I would say we have had more in the last year (2015) than in all my career. Pointing a gun or what appears to be a gun at an officer will get you shot. We are not in the business of getting killed or wounded. I told a school group one time that if I felt like I was going to have a problem, I would call for backup because I am not getting paid to fight. It seems now, nationally, that people think they can try their case on the street with a weapon. If you think cops are overstepping, think about these stories you hear about some guy pointing a weapon. I generally had little or no problem with the people I dealt with because I tried to deal with the situation in a serious business like manner, but I was in control. When I went home, work stayed at work and I didn’t discuss it with my wife. By the way, we were married in 1962 and still are.

    • Mikial October 19, 2015, 6:05 pm

      I agree with what you have said, and if I am pulled over in a traffic stop (something that happens about every 6 years or so) I am respectful and compliant. Consequently, I seldom actually get a citation. An officer should not have to worry about getting shot over a speeding ticket. I do not support people who challenge LEOs and I think if they pull a gun they get what they brought on themselves.

      But I have to say that I do worry that too many LEOs are forgetting that they are here to protect and serve. How many would actually stand up and refuse to obey an unlawful order? How many do not have the mental fortitude to remain polite and professional in the face of a crowd . . I reference the guy in Ferguson who threatened to shoot the idiot protesters on camera. I was LE and so was my son, and we both left, not because of the criminals, but because of the bureaucrats who run police agencies. Yes, I have dealt with a crowd of drunken Mexican immigrants who work in crap conditions in a slaughter house and are out getting drunk on a Friday night. Yes, I have dealt with the Skinheads who hated the Mexican immigrants and started trouble every chance they got. Yes, police have every right to protect themselves, and the cities are rife with gangers and drug dealers who prey on the innocent and need to be taken down. But what about the cops who showed up at a grieving family’s home in Buffalo, NY to confiscate the deceased father’s guns before the wake was even over because of the NY SAFE Act law. People have lost faith in LE because of the things too many have done.

      When my son graduated from POST training and I went there to support him and it was a proud moment in my life. But when the police lieutenant who gave the graduation address said, “Everyone knows they just wanted to be a cop for the gun and the cool car,” it made me both profoundly sad and sent a chill down my spine. Is this what they were teaching my son who had wanted to be a cop since he was 6 years old?

    • John October 20, 2015, 1:06 am

      Police use excessive force too often. When a kid brought a toy gun to school he ran and hid in the bathroom where he had only one way out. The police are told to treat all guns as real even though the students said it was a toy. When the boy would not come out they did not wait for him to get hungry or for his parents to come and talk to him. They ran inside the bathroom behind bulletproof shields and shot him many times – he died almost instantly. The toy gun was picked up and used as evidence that they were justified in their actions. They are always justified in their actions. They shoot someone fifty times and they are justified. A homeowner shoots an intruder a couple of times and they are grilled as to why they had to shoot more than once.

  • Oaf October 19, 2015, 2:36 pm

    As a retired LE officer I’ve noticed that those cops who were raised in rural or semi-rural areas, were around firearms, who hunted, fished, farmed, and/or were involved in shooting sports were far less likely to be badge heavy. Also the kids who got into a little trouble doing stupid teen things like sneaking some beers, hot rodding, fist fighting were the guys who made the best cops. Those who came from the city or large suburbs and were upper middle class or higher tended to lean towards abusing their position. Not by any means saying this is the absolute, definitive definition of what makes, or doesn’t make a good cop, just my individual observation.

  • Oaf October 19, 2015, 1:37 pm

    Most venues, such as movies, shows, concerts, that allow cops in free feel that they are getting the better end of the deal as they are basically getting some free security. It’s a win win situation.

    • Oaf October 19, 2015, 2:48 pm

      This is also true of places like Speedway and other coffee shops who give cops “free” coffee. Far less likely to have trouble in an establishment where cops congregate than ones where they don’t. Also it’s common practice for cops of several different agencies to meet up in rural and suburban shops in the wee hours to have a cup of coffee together and exchange information and LE tips. Lots of crimes have been solved and bad guys removed from the streets by this info, all thanks to that “free” cup of coffee.

  • Mark Severino October 19, 2015, 12:25 pm

    I am a 30yr, In the line of duty/disabled big city cop and will tell you first hand the badge gets to 99% of persons in the law enforcement profession. Anyone on that job who says different is a LIAR! plain and simple fact…A cop is simply a Prostitute for the System!

  • MM October 19, 2015, 12:16 pm

    I’m glad you pointed out that you don’t know ATF Agent Delpit. I do. Just like our all-knowing President, you have jumped to a conclusion which is completely without substance. (“The Cambridge Police acted stupidly”). To rely on the local media for your facts is pathetic at best. Where do you think their “facts” came from? Maybe those “facts” came from the friends of the guy who lost that fight, or from the friends of that guy who mobbed Delpit and caused him to draw his weapon to keep them off of him. The media would never sensationalize a cop’s justified use of force to make a good story. Remember Ferguson, MO? Just like our President, you need to check your facts before you open your pie hole and provide your opinion.

    • Observer October 19, 2015, 7:20 pm

      It’s possible it is as you say. Or, you could just be circling the wagons. Problem is, we don’t know which.

      As more and more examples of unacceptable behavior from LEOs interacting with the general public come to light, LEOs no longer get the benefit of the doubt. Why? The ethos of “protect & serve” is being replaced by an “Us vs. Them” mentality, and not just with younger recruits or former military coming out of the academy. “Protect & serve” is too pedestrian to get the high-speed tactical gear – select-fire weapons, surplus MRAPs, NV, etc. – that make domestic LEOs feel like “operators” in a hostile environment. It is no mystery that when LEOs regard people as “Them” and treat them as “hostiles,” people will view LEOs with a wary eye and no longer given them the benefit of a doubt.

    • John October 20, 2015, 1:00 am

      Maybe we should read the articles written by local papers just to see.

      Special Agent Marc Delpit of the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms faces an aggravated assault charge after punching a man and continuing to beat him up on the ground during the halftime of a game last Friday night at St. Thomas High School in Houston.
      When people tried to stop the assault, Delpit pulled a gun on them.
      The ATF apparently wants to continue employing a man that assaults people at teenager’s football games, merely handing Delpit a paid vacation for his actions.

      Typical for police and all other LEOs.

  • Tom October 19, 2015, 11:18 am

    Im really impressed someone had the spine to bring up this topic.
    I lived in NJ for 22 years as an adult, and have to say that the vast majority of LE I met and worked with, and shot with were “Badge Bullies” who were no doubt AH’s that wouldn’t be capable of holding a job if not given a gun and badge. Corrupt, power hungry and and they knew everyone was afraid of them and they liked it that way. There were about 25% that were absolute professionals and wouldn’t tolerate the behavior of those that betrayed the trust put in them by the public. If you wear a badge its not so you can scam, steal and cheat, its to serve and protect. After what I saw while wearing a badge I just couldn’t be part of the vast majority of what I saw. Because of what I saw, if someone tells me they are in LE, I automatically don’t trust them, with very few exceptions. All because of 1st hand experience.

    • Magnumglide October 19, 2015, 9:31 pm

      What dept did you work for? Sounds like a whack job agency that needs to clean slate. Someone says they’re a cop and you don’t trust them, automatically? I sense a troll or else you were in a 3 man dept with a crooked mayor, chief, and Sgt.

    • John October 20, 2015, 12:48 am

      Allowing the police to use “Internal Affairs” to make sure they are acting properly is a joke. We need a civilian board that has the power to punish police. When an officer lies and is caught then they should be fired immediately and they should NEVER be allowed to be in law enforcement anywhere again.

  • Fake Joe Friday October 19, 2015, 10:55 am

    I worked in the street alongside cops for 30 years. I didn’t meet one who wasn’t badge heavy until after I retired. He acted relatively normal.

    Badge heavy is the norm, not the exception. My wife got propositioned to get out of a ticket. I was asked to lie under oath to support a cop’s worker’s comp claim, by the cop. I have been placed unnecessarily in dangerous situations, deliberately, by cops. Cops are 2-4x as likely to commit domestic violence than a normal person. 40% of cops self-report they have committed domestic violence.

    As far as being friends with cops… I tend not to hang out with people who are seized by bouts of irrational violence (like the ATF guy) and carry guns.

    http://www.purpleberets.org/violence_police_families.html

  • Gerry October 19, 2015, 10:41 am

    I can’t tell if the previous commentators are/were cops. Anyway, I spent 35 years working as a policeman and retired last year. I learned early on that one’s integrity is really all you have as you try to do your job. You have to respect the authority you’re trusted with even more than the public does. Using that authority means demanding respect. I know, people think respect is “earned” but the problem is that when you’re meeting someone for the first time in a confrontational situation, you don’t have time to “earn” their respect. This, of course, leads people to think the cop is an asshole, “badge goes to his head,” etc. The only counter you have is to deal with a situation in as professional a manner as possible. Not 100% of cops are capable of this, however. From my perspective, hopefully most of the incapable are weeded out in the academy or during field training. Unfortunately, I know they aren’t. It depends on the trainer and the rules he has to live by – and they aren’t always whether or not the recruit would make a good cop or not. There are race and sex quotas, son of the mayor, and the “his dad was a good cop, so we should give the son a second chance. Yep, that’s what it’s like.
    Another thing is people expect cops to be human and not human at the same time. Human, as in empathetic, not simply relying on the law but taking emotion into consideration. Not human, as in never losing his temper or allowing (the cop’s) personal feelings or beliefs to interfere with his work.
    There’s a lot more. You have to be a law student, a behavioral analyst, and a negotiator. You can’t be self-conscious, because everyone’s looking at you everywhere you go. (In fact, when they aren’t looking, you start to wonder what they’re up to if they’re trying to ignore you.) You expect that someone is always going to misinterpret what you say. And you have to expect people in general to treat you “differently,” sometimes with too much respect or contempt.
    Now, none of that is sour grapes. I had a good career, I survived with my sense of humor intact and nothing I’m ashamed of. I retired and I’m happy I did. It’s just mind-boggling to me after all these years that the public in general has really no idea what their police do or how they do it. The worst are the haters. Most cops’ response to those people is: “So, you got a ticket or got arrested? Can’t admit you might actually be wrong?” Which, to a certain extent, is true. I also question the haters’ maturity, but that’s a different topic.
    So there ya have it. A capsule view of the cops. Take it with a grain of salt, etc., because it’s just my view. But I actually did the job and paid attention to what people were doing around me, so I think I’m pretty accurate.

  • Kevin October 19, 2015, 10:36 am

    This is a good article with a good question. I think an important point is being missed. I’ll use the ATF Agent as an example. His actions (if not deemed justifiable) were clearly over the top. Now he is on paid suspension, at home with his family. The guy he assaulted has a trip to the hospital, a concussion(if knocked out), lost work and income. What happens if he was barely making it. Could he loose his job because he can’t work, miss a mortgage payment, not be able to…. When a LE acts badly there are often tragic results on the other end of their misbehavior. You Tube has hundreds of hours of cops acting badly, each one has another side. LE are hired and paid to do a job that they signed on to do, they even take an oath. Is it really too much for us to expect that they act in a professional manner. I hear a lot of excuses for cops acting badly. What I and the public at large don’t see is LE policing themselves. Please don’t equate the police with the military. Had a GI acted like the ATF agent they would be sitting in a cell as would ANYONE not in law enforcement. So maybe it is time for good cops to start stop covering and making excuses for the cops who act badly and start treating them like criminals. There is always a victim in the other side of their actions along with unintended consequences!

    • John October 20, 2015, 12:39 am

      I agree that police are often too aggressive with peaceful citizens. I have seen it many times in central Florida where an officer uses extreme force on a small women and then lies about what happened – until the videos come out that prove he is lying. The bad part is that NOTHING HAPPENS TO THEM!! They may get a few weeks of paid time off (vacation) but they are rarely ever punished like a regular citizen would.

  • Breaking-Bad October 19, 2015, 10:20 am

    I work the streets over 40 hrs per week, nights and weekends is my shift. I’ve been doing the job long enough to know that it effects who I am. I live an honest sober loving and enjoyable life. I’ve seen the bad apple officer in the department or surrounding departments come and go, it’s inevitable. I see what point the author is trying to make here and it is a valid discussion. Here is where I disagree, using the media coverage of an officer under arrest will always project negativity and doubt by the mass onto every officer who does the job for all of the right reasons. Law enforcement may have an increased risk of divorce and substance abuse; however, what about airline pilots, congressmen, or the McDonald’s worker. An argument can be made that the stress of any job increases risk, so why are people so quick to shine the shame light on our nations law enforcement? Does the badge effect who I am and how I operate…….yes, it has to in order to survive physically and emotionally on the streets. The naive public will never understand. I can honestly say that all of my brothers on shift, including myself, do the job selflessly to help people and serve our community. I work for a busy department with high rates of violent, drug, and property crime. Yet I still make time to have positive interaction with people every shift. Blue lives truly do matter, as do the lives of airline pilots, congressmen, and McDonald’s workers.

  • Darren P. October 19, 2015, 10:02 am

    Ok, here goes. My brother works in law enforcement. I have seen his actions effect others in many ways. What I have witnessed and learned is that the people he deals with on a constant basis. He believes that these people are not capable of taking care of themselves so he must. They are just big children. He thinks that he knows what is best for everyone and WILL TELL YOU SO. He is condescending and arrogant when dealing with EVERYONE.

  • Used to be LE October 19, 2015, 9:54 am

    I believe your reasoning is correct but not complete. The other reason cops become “bad” is that they constantly deal with threats. Every day, all day. They start looking at everyone as a bad guy. Everyone else becomes a criminal in their mind, and this (bad) thought process is based on their own safety. After a while, most cops at least go through this stage. Either everyone else is a criminal or out to get you, or they become complacent and that’s when bad things happen to them. Too often LEO’s work long hours with low pay, and continually get treated like crap. Add all of this together and you get bad cops.

    Luckily, I felt it happen to me – and promptly got out of LE. I didn’t want to be that guy, but I certainly understand how they get that way. I think it’s sort of a curve – new cop out of the academy gets a big head and thinks he’s king of the world. He later calms down into a good cop. Then after a while of watching people disrespect everyone else, watching criminals skate for big crimes, watching possibly years of working on a case only to release a criminal on the street for some little technicality, having victims turn into your attacker, watching other officers get the shaft for petty little things; all combine to cause him to then turn into the “everyone is a criminal” role and start believing they are truly above the law – which no one is. I’ve seen older, experienced officers “fudge” on reports, take gifts, etc. and I know it’s not because they are bad guys, but because they are burned out and don’t realize it or can’t force themselves to leave the job. It is a brotherhood, just like the military, and very difficult to leave – trust me.

    There is no excuse for bad behavior in law enforcement, but I also believe we all need to understand the job before passing too much judgement. And for you LEO’s that are in this situation, please find another job and let someone new step in. Eventually, it is going to be hard to find good officers, and I blame this on the constant disrespect in the media, etc. What kind of officers are we going to get today with all the crap going on? Unfortunately not the best people. I absolutely LOVED being a police officer, but I wouldn’t go back…..

  • George October 19, 2015, 9:40 am

    I got started in peace officer work a bit later than most; I was 43 when I went through the academy. I now work in detectives and I make a point of telling the younger guys that we need to follow the same rules as we insist our citizens do. We should, unless we’re on our way to a call, drive the speed limit, stop at stop signs and red lights, not get into fights with our neighbors or spouses or act in any way which would bring our profession into disrepute.

    I’ve eaten a lot of shit from people over the years because if something goes bad, I KNOW they will complain to my dept and they will start an internal affairs investigation. I don’t argue with people, I don’t flash my badge, I don’t get involved with drama because it simply isn’t worth it. If my neighbors have a loud party, I usually let it go unless it is really noisy then I’ll call dispatch to have a unit sent to deal with it.

    Point is, if you want to be a public servant, then you need to have the mindset to serve and not lord it over others.

  • Komzguy October 19, 2015, 9:23 am

    I think the biggest problem LE has is that they so often fail to police their own. Even when they do find an event or LEO so egregious that it cannot be ignored, often that individual is fired only to show up as LE in the next county over and nothing has changed except the uniform and pool of potential victims. That thin blue line BS is what is costing LEOs the respect of the citizenry. It used to be the LEOs were the front lines for the citizenry and we were on the same team. Now it seems like the LEOs think only they can know wrong from right and have separated themselves from the citizens. They no longer bother to differentiate between citizens and criminals they treat both equally bad. While it is certainly within their power to act that way, the golden rule still applies. If you do not offer respect to citizens and even criminals, you will not receive respect. I am not anti-cop, I like living in society and that requires rule of law which in turn requires law enforcement. I would simply ask that LEOs not forget themselves and how they impact the citizens. Every interaction with the public is not a felony stop. If you are so concerned for your safety that you treat regular folks like criminals then get another job.

    • mtman2 November 21, 2016, 9:44 pm

      Had ro check the name on your post to make sure it wasn’t mine.

      Like Ronald Reagan stated :
      “The nation either goes with God or becomes a nation gone under.”

      Americas whole culture is morphing into anti God+Scripture = anti-Christ ~!

  • OK October 19, 2015, 9:22 am

    Cops are human just like memebers of any other profession. Some are good, some are bad.

  • J cann October 19, 2015, 7:33 am

    While there are always good and bad in any profession, I think the transformation you note can be most attributed to the training they receive in the police academy. They are trained to be more outgoing because you can’t be timid to deal with potential bad guys. The same could be said of folks in the military when they finish basic training.

  • Will Drider October 18, 2015, 7:07 pm

    The Job or Badge as you refer to it changes everyone who works it over time. Not all change is bad. Ask any LE spouse if if their partner has changed. Bet is all will say yes. Where you say reckless why not say unsafe, now look at the daily on duty risks involved: unsafe. Is it not just an extention of into off duty hours? LE work hard in high risk jobs as do our Military Service personnel, and they are going to play hard and find an outlet, until such time as they find balance in teir lives. Officers do get some slack in the form of professional courtesy if they don’t fall to hard on their sword. However, this Courtesy should never be asked for or demanded as that is Taboo. Most Officers mature and grow into the Job, the ones that do not always get caught up in something that ends the career earlier then expected. The public must realize LE Officers come from a wide cross section of society. There is no magic wand that makes them Saints. They are men and women entrusted with great responsibility. Most excell, few fail.

  • James M. October 18, 2015, 2:53 am

    From my experience some do take a badge and turn it into entitlement. But the vast majority are willing to go above and beyond the.call of duty. Willing to work the ot. Sacrificing quality time with their families. All because of an internal need to protect and serve those that are unable. Even a man with the strongest mind and body can break under pressure. And as most of us know, law enforcement is no easy task. These days any misstep can end up in a lawsuit. Our LEO have to walk on eggshells, constantly watching every move, every word. Personally I believe we need to thank those who serve more often. Go out of our way to let these men and women know they are appreciated. Where I live no officer does it for the money. Because for the most part it’s not worth the pay. It’s about the feel one gets when being able to be there for another, for saving a person’s life. Being able to prevent evil from prevailing. Unfortunately there is bad seed everywhere. But fortunately they seem to wash up rather quickly.

  • DRAINO October 17, 2015, 7:32 am

    Interesting article. Good question to raise. Maybe some on LE will take a close look at themselves. We all need to do that at times with respect to who we are and what we do in life….and make sure our actions align with what we are supposed to be or the example we set. I believe in general we are the sum of our actions. This BATF agent sounds like his actions are out of control……not judging his motives…..just his actions. And if his actions are out of control…..likely something else is out of control as well. And that does happen to us all at times…..most not so pronounced as beating someone and pulling a gun on a crowd….but at lesser degrees. But he needs help….to get things back under control. LE sometimes witness unspeakable things……things that can drive even most off the deep end. Sometimes they need a hand. And sometimes a change in vocation is needed. But this is definitely a topic that needs attention.

  • Nicks87 October 16, 2015, 9:58 pm

    This mentality is in the vast minority in law enforcement. Most cops are just like everyone else on the planet earth. Some are good, some are bad and some are ugly.

    • Mike Tierney October 19, 2015, 1:23 pm

      Everyone else doesn’t have the badge and gun nor the “justifiable force” argument. My experience in the Army was that the MPs had a persecution complex not unlike too many police. So, they become bullies using their protected position to mis-yreat too many suspects. Their job should be de-escalation. Not escalation of tense situations. An unarmed person or drunk or stoned or … isn’t justification for a fatal shot. No matter how hostile that person is.

    • Dale H October 28, 2015, 7:20 pm

      This happens so many times, if I could collect one penny each time, I would be a very rich man. You also can’t carry a legitimate conversation with a cop, let me explain. I live in Tennessee and recently had to appear in court. I am in a wheelchair and have a service animal and upon arriving for court was refused entry with my service animal. So while waiting outside, and many people going in the building my service animal just laid there and watched people go by. I am on the phone with the chief of the Sheriff Dept and he is telling me he is afraid my service animal will attack someone. I explained that my service animal is or medical reasons and my service animal was trained only for medical purposes and not defensive. I referred the Chief to the ADA website. I was asked if I had proof he was a service animal, and I said I don’t have to have proof and referred him again to the ADA website. This went on for the better part of 45 minutes with me continuing to refer him to the ADA website over and over. In the meantime there is a Sargent stand beside me telling me he has a service animal also. I gave him a strange look and replied that if he needed and medical service animal that he should not be a police officer. He replied that his police dog provides a service so therefore he is a service animal. I questioned this officer asking what medical service does his police dog do? I also stated that since he is a service animal I could in fact shoot him and not be arrested for killing a police officer. Want to have some fun, try and have a legit conversation with a cop and listen to how he changes and/or distorts the facts..

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