In A Prison?

Reprinted from Chumps on Parade (March 1998)

As my high school years draw to a close it is time to look for a job. I put this task off long enough. Now is the time to face the reality of needing to get a job. So today I went to an interview at a local department store. I was given this lengthy survey where I had to respond to a bunch of different questions. Things like, “the world would be better if everyone told the truth – true or false”, “you think less of people who always lie – true or false”, and others like that. I was going along OK until I got to a question that said, “we need more police to control the crime rate – true or false.” I answered “false” and moved on, even though answering “true” probably would have been better for getting the job.

I made it through the interview without any other difficulties, I think I did pretty well. On the way home I was thinking about things I could have done better and that question about police kept working it’s way into my head. It got me thinking about my own views on the police, something I had never really thought about before.

Like most people, the last thing I want to see when I am driving is a cop. Even the sight of a cop a few cars ahead or behind me makes me immediately slow down, even if I am going the speed limit. Which is weird, since I am doing nothing wrong. The same thing happens if I am walking. I avoid the police like the bubonic plague. I might as well admit it; I am scared of the police.

The police are basically a standing army, supposedly put there to protect the needs of the people. They have guns, nightsticks, bulletproof vests, and armored cars. The police force is armed with enough firepower to annihilate several countries’ armies. They certainly don’t look friendly. I can remember when I was a little kid; the two things I was most scared of were clowns and cops. Cops used to walk around handing out baseball cards to kids who would come up and ask them for cards. I never got the cards because I was always too intimidated by their guns and handcuffs.

Now that I am older I realize that there is a lot more for me to fear than just their weapons. I fear the fact that cops have a habit of stopping people merely because they are a teenager. It isn’t uncommon for police to pull you over and make up a stupid reason to search your car. It is their only way of keeping tabs on the population they are supposed to be protecting. I also am scared that the people that are supposed to be protecting all people have a habit of suspecting minorities first in crimes. Racial bias extends to the courts where minorities are given longer sentences than whites for the same crime. I fear the notion that the upper class somehow deserves better treatment than those of average to below average income do. But mostly, I fear an institution that occasionally abuses the people they are supposed to be protecting. That should NEVER happen. There is no excuse for it.

Politicians in Washington are always discussing crime and how it could be solved with more police. One of Bill Clinton’s “claims to fame” is that he added 100,000 cops to America’s police force since he became president in 1992. On CNN I heard a member of the house of representatives say that he would like to see a cop on every street corner. Do you know what I thought of when I heard that? A prison. There is no way in hell we need that many cops. Armed officers would be watching over and controlling the people, not protecting them. I feel that we are leaning towards that right now, but that would be insane.

I think something is seriously wrong with the police system in the United States. Something needs to be done to end the problems within the police department. It is time to stop letting cops off the hook for beating people, time to end racial biases, and discriminating against everyone except the white upper class. Until they do something about these problems I will continue to fear them. Most importantly, I hope they don’t add any more police. I’m a person, not a prisoner. I have done nothing wrong, but I still fear police. There is something very wrong with that situation.

Author: mediamouse

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