Jason Cherkis should be ashamed of himself (“The Insider’s Guide to Real Policing,” 8/16)!
Where has he been doing his research? He picks four or five cases out of thousands of police officers and states that they are like all officers.
When writing about officers out of work on work-related injuries, why not write about the ones who have undergone three surgeries for brain damage from getting hurt doing their jobs, or the ones who have rushed to a street brawl that has moved from inside one of those clubs Cherkis mentions to the street—where an officer was attacked by four clubgoers and beaten to a pulp—or about the officers who get injured and do not take leave when entitled to do so? This is a highly dangerous job, unlike the kind of occupations where people leave work for carpal tunnel syndrome. Cherkis has some nerve talking about officers who are out there risking their lives every day so he has the right under the First Amendment of the Constitution to write the garbage the Washington City Paper calls journalism.
When officers gripe about not having a car to drive or the computers being down, does Cherkis have any idea that those comments are actually true? What about officers who have to use ingenuity and intuition to repair their own cars before they can go out on the street? What about officers who until about three months ago were unable to obtain new uniforms even when theirs had holes in them, because the D.C. government kept stalling about getting the vendors paid?
Oh yes, and what about those computers being down? What happens when a person who has fled from several warrants and has no valid license is pulled over for a traffic violation and the police officers are unable to check the computer to see that this lovely specimen of humanity has outstanding warrants? Well, they have no choice but to release the person with a ticket or to not pull people over. Which scenario do you prefer? How would Cherkis feel if that person were fleeing from an outstanding warrant for rape and were headed to his mother, sister, wife, or girlfriend’s home?
Let’s talk about “always” getting a raise: When was the last time before this year that the D.C. police officers received a raise? Well, let’s see…three to four years ago! And what about federally obligated overtime? If Cherkis works in excess of 40 hours per week, does he get paid overtime? Guess what? These officers do not get paid time-and-a-half overtime. In fact, some of them do not get monetary compensation at all. How about those who work the midnight shift, then go straight to court for a couple hours of uncompensated time and then spend three-quarters of the day in court before going home for only a couple of hours to start the vicious cycle all over again?
Let’s look at the 7-Eleven issue: Would Cherkis like his teenage child or other relative to work at a 7-Eleven without knowing that there are officers who go there at night for coffee? While they are there, the child is safe. Police officers are typically considered a deterrent to criminals. So how about a free cup of coffee?
One more thing: Since crime rates rise when unemployment rates rise and also rise in the summertime (look at the studies), isn’t it reasonable for police to be in food-and-beverage (and bathroom) establishments to be a deterrent to criminals? Oh, I forgot—Cherkis would rather have them going to the bathroom on the street and not having a cup of coffee or food during their shift. Unlike everyone else in the working world entitled to an hour for lunch, police officers should not be allowed to take a lunch, right? Cherkis is seriously warped.
One last issue: Many officers are perceived to be using excessive force because the person being arrested is playing it up for the camera—and for journalists. Is there ever a person placed under arrest who doesn’t say anything? What about the man who fled a crime scene in a car, dragged two police officers down the street attached to the car, tried to run another officer over, jumped into the Potomac, and then screamed bloody murder for the news camera as he was being arrested by an officer he kept fighting with the entire time? Guess which part of that scene made the news?
About the complaints: There are many cops out there doing their jobs every day. However, there are many people who are arrested and make complaints. There are people who make complaints because they thought the police officer should have believed their drunken version of an incident over that of the other person who was not intoxicated. What about the complaint that came from a drunken woman who was injured in a bar fight and could not identify her assailant? Well, someone needs to pay—the police officer who came to the scene might as well be the one. What about the false accusations of criminal behavior by the students who think it is a big joke and then retract their stories because they did not like the outcome of possibly being arrested for making a false report?
In the face of low wages, false accusations, risk of death or injury, and nonfunctioning equipment, D.C. police officers go out on the street every day to protect citizens, their families, and their rights (even the right to publish falsities and warped opinions under the First Amendment). Next time Jason Cherkis needs the police because he has been injured in an accident, or his mother, daughter, or girlfriend has been injured, raped, assaulted or murdered, or he has been mugged, he should think about the article he wrote.