‘Civilians’

It seems to have become universal.  Cops refer to us as civilians, meaning, I guess, that cops don’t see themselves as civilians, meaning that they think they are military police.

If you want our respect, you might at least try using the language correctly, otherwise I’ll assume you went to cop school because you were rejected as a junior high school janitor.

I rarely watch television anymore, but last night I caught some of a show about cops in Alaska.  I’ve been to several parts of the state, so I was interested in a general sort of way.  Absolutely, drop-dead gorgeous photography, but it otherwise made my skin crawl.  In what I can only assume is an effort to dehumanize the people they ostensibly serve, cops refer to men and women as “males” and “females”.  No one is a man, or a woman, or a husband, father, son, brother, wife, mother, sister or daughter, but is a “male” or a “female” as though cops are of a different species.  By their own language then, they’re non human MPs.  Or is it superhuman MPs?  Either way it’s sick.

They say there is a high rate of suicide in Alaska, and they showed a couple of responses to the same.  I find it extremely unfortunate that they send a man with a uniform and a gun (drawn) to respond to something like that.  It’s probably the worst possible choice.  Yes; I know the reasoning, so don’t bother.  It’s just extremely unfortunate.  They hauled one guy off to a “doctor”.  Gawd.  The last thing that “civilian male” probably needed was cop (who refers to him as a “civilian male”) and “doctor”.  The whole thing reminded me of that spoof Star Wars Cops video, only it wasn’t a spoof.

15 thoughts on “‘Civilians’

  1. The spoof you refer to would be “Troops” which basically covers the “adventures” of the lowly, common Stormtrooper on Tatooine during at the beginning of Star Wars: A New Hope. Still one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.

    “All suspects are guilty. Period. Otherwise they wouldn’t be suspects, would they?”

  2. In order to be a policeman today, a person has to be willing to ruin another person’s life for horrible crimes such as handing a pill to another person, growing certain plants on one’s own property, or owning the wrong kind of self-defense tool. No decent human being could take a job like this, so you end up with the concentration camp guards that we have now.

  3. I think Jeff Cooper wrote several articles on why Cops need to be reminded that they ARE Civilians. Unless they are on some sort of Military Status, such as National Guard or Reserve, they are still Civilians. They don’t go to Military Prison when convicted of breaking the Law, they don’t go in front of a Court Martial for Trial, they don’t have the entire UCMJ over their heads 24/7 in ADDITION to all Civilian Laws, and they are not exempt from Obeying the Law in the First Place. Just because they have a Uniform on doesn’t make them Special. Mail Men/Women wear Uniforms, also. And finally, no one made them become Cops. They knew the Job was Dangerous when they took it.

    Oh, and we so-Called “Civilians” are the FIRST to face the Bad Guys when they break into our Homes. Cops only show up when called, or if they happen to be cruising past at the time.

    And we “Civilians” don’t have a SWAT team to back us up. Just God and Col. Colt.

  4. Not to defend every practice of the blue shirts (Fish and Feather guys wear brown) but the “male/female” thing is designed to sound impersonal and professional on camera (cause that’s how pro cops talk on camera) as well as avoiding claims that the cops are assigning gender roles and other nonsense.

    It’s pseudo-dispassionate, PC post-modernist BS masquerading as professionalism, not intentional dehumanization of the individual.

    Except of course inasmuchas -all- post-modern BS is dehumanizing to the individual.

  5. I think Matthew has it right.

    “male/female” identifiers are the result of lawyers creating booking forms which contain such checkboxes, and the trainers on the force pushing all new recruits to use accurate terminology.

    That process has been going on for almost as long as Driver’s Licenses have had M/F identifiers.

  6. The alternative to “male” and “female” is “man”, “boy”, “girl”, “woman”.

    The alternative to “the suspect is a 17-year-old African-American male” is a slam-dunk NAACP lawsuit.

  7. “The alternative to “the suspect is a 17-year-old African-American male” is a slam-dunk NAACP lawsuit.”

    OK fine, so they’re cowards– Can’t use regular language because they’re afraid of crazy people. You mean “17 year-old with brown skin and slightly African features” or “brown skinned boy with African features– about 17 years old”. If they’re afraid of saying that, one is given to wonder what doesn’t scare them into being ridiculous. I say set a department policy of using proper language, make it known in advance, then let them bring on the crazy lawsuits and let’s have done with it. If bat-shit crazy is going to control every aspect of our society, let’s make it official so at least we’re being honest.

  8. Lyle,

    Alaskans don’t pay state income or sales taxes, but if I did the last thing I’d want is for my money to go to the NAACP to defend the “principle” that calling a young black man a “boy” -particularly when the person calling them that, regardless of intent, is a white cop in a Smokey Bear- is anything but utterly needlessly provocative. Remember Rule #1, don’t be a dick.

    I know, the formal definition of “boy” is -young- male, but all the police reports are going to have an actual birthdate and age on them so the “young” part is redundant and imprecise (10 year old boy or 17?). “Male” is absolutely precise, produces more standardized, professional-looking documents, and avoids gratuitous, and potentially costly and disruptive outrage, justified or not.

    Needlessly using provocative language, regardless of one’s right to do so or personal feelings about political correctness, is a loser move anyway, particularly if you are discussing a concept with someone you are trying to convince of something or publically embarrass via logic.

    Throw out a non-PC term and, rather than forcing them to deal with your argument on the facts and merit, you just spoon-fed them a digression to go off on and avoid admitting you are right and they are wrong. Me? I like winning arguments; throwing out a “boy” for “boy’s sake” has zero upside.

  9. I’ve always been uncomfortable with it, even when I was “Sworn”, and salt got rubbed into the wound when I took a “civilian” (term used interchangeably with “non-sworn”, and capitialization and non-caps deliberate) position with another agency in their crime lab (Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot? I’m the same guy I was before I took the position – now I’m a lower life form?!?).

    Anybody read LawDog? I recall a discourse on Peel’s Principles of Policing that summarizes the attitude we who are/were coppers are supposed to have. I vehemently second his sentiment that there are a lot of supposed coppers who never heard of Sir Robert Peel. On the other hand, when I’ve brought it up, I’ve heard coppers say, “‘Police are the public and the public are the police, huh?’ WE’RE doing what we’re supposed to do. THEY aren’t – can you say, ‘Stop Snitchin”? So, tell me, Mister Hug-a-Thug, who welshed on the deal FIRST?” [Actually, the retort tends to be a lot more obscene and and a lot less literary, but you get the idea…]

    I don’t know an answer – it may be that resentment on both sides has gotten to the point that there’s no answer that gets us back on track. It may be too ingrained for “civilians” to resent coppers for doing what the “civilians” are supposed to be doing all along, and coppers to resent “civilians” for objecting to what they thought the “civilians” wanted the coppers to do. Given that mutual mistrust and resentment that’s been around for at least three or four generations, if not more, the police may be too badly contaminated by the sort of thugs-in-uniform who naturally tend to exploit that mistrust. Unless you want to stage a revolution (which I decidedly do NOT), what would you do to fix it?

  10. Hey Mike,

    You know who else did “what they thought the ‘civilians’ wanted [them] to do“? Yeaaaah… they just followed orders…

    …maybe a little more thinking and a little less doing is in order?

    That said, and me being a (well-earned) resentful d*ck aside, nicely thought out post. Maybe there’s hope yet.

  11. I’ve yet to meet a cop that didn’t present himself as a member of the nobility, in sentiment if not in fact. They were entitled and noble, while I was merely a filthy peasant. Even the Troopers, for all their actually earned badassery and well played civility view non-troopers as a lesser being, a mere mortal.

    It really pisses them off if you don’t tug the forelock and make your obeisances. One acts as an equal at your own risk. They do not know the law, they selectively enforce what law they do know, and are not above bullying or unprofessional behavior to assure respectful behavior.

    This attitude is not unique to Alaskan law enforcement. I’ve encoutered it in every state and country I’ve been to. In general, I find that policework draws the dregs of functional society; those only marginally capable of behaving in a socially acceptable manner. Those who would not be criminals, save but for their oath and the authority and trust placed in them.

    I can see the need for professional investigators, but career beat cops? That’s a ticket to truely criminal behavior.

  12. “Boy” refers exclusively to a human being whereas “male” can apply to a monkey, a dog or an insect. So, what would be wrong with “young man” then?

    As far as cops, I’ve had the best experiences with the Idaho State Police, compared to city and county. Maybe it’s just luck. There are some pretty good folks in some of the sheriff’s departments, as they seem to be a little bit more independent, politically speaking.

    Point is; the small things are important. You refer to me as an “adult male” and I’m going to suspect something is wrong with you. You call for backup just because you find out I have firearms, in my home town where I’ve had a prominent business for 30+ years, do the whole felon approach (one cop on each side of my vehicle, hands on the guns, even after you just up came and talked to me by yourself a few minutes ago and I was nothing but nice) then tell me afterward that you respect the second amendment because you know that guns are used for sport, and I’ll know for fact that there’s something wrong with you.

    Cop culture is severely retarded. And this whole “safety first” B.S. has gone far overboard. How about civility, understanding, respect and courage first? Hmm? If you want “safety first” you should be a store clerk, or work in a mail room.

  13. Lyle,

    Fine. Cops refer to you as a “male” because they want to dehumanize you.

    Why do your doctors and nurses do it?

    Like it or not, “17-year-old female” and “21-year-old male” are just more clinical, precise, unambiguous, and less open to misinterpretation, willful or otherwise, than the alternatives. (How about that first one? “17 y.o. female”; is that a woman or a girl? How about a young woman? Does that make a 22y.o. just “woman”? Or is she still a “young woman”, too? Which one is more likely to make her butthurt?

    There are so many real problems with the way the police relate to the general public that there’s no need to go and make any up.

  14. I think Lyle is onto something–the language we use to describe our world shapes the way we perceive it (or vice versa–one can never be too sure about causation). Doctors and nurses do it because they need to maintain a certain clinical detachment–in an emergency, especially, they need to do things that are sometimes risky in order to save their patients, so they need a little bit of that barrier. They have to balance this with their need to gain their patients’ trust so they can get them to tell them the whole story, even the embarrassing parts, so they would never refer to a patient in that way during a normal visit. Pigs don’t seem to make that distinction.

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