Scott Harrell's Life As We Blow It: Why I don't hate cops

I have been a vandal. A recreational drug user. An inebriated motorist. A trespasser. An underage curfew breaker, riding the curb at 7-11 and waiting for an adult with lenient views on minors and alcohol. Even, on a small handful of memorable occasions, a public fornicator. But I've never shared the view held by so many of my friends and peers that cops suck, period; that anybody who ever put on the uniform was avenging past social slights, or reliving high-school-jock glories, or simply grasping at any position of instant authority within their (implied) limited reach, or whatever.

Obviously, when you look closely at any group of people, you're gonna find a certain number of individuals who momentarily make eugenics seem like a not-so-bad idea. And yeah, I've been arrested a couple of times. But I've also not been arrested, in legally questionable situations, by police officers who considered the circumstance, realized I wasn't a danger to myself or anyone else (or anyone else's property), and cut me loose. And looking back, the overwhelming majority of my interactions with cops has been reasonable, or even kind of fun. It makes me think that the people who think the police are blowing it are just sick of getting caught while doing stupid, pointless, destructive shit.

The national violent crime rate fell precipitously during the first half of last year, and recent reports put the crime rate in Tampa down 16 percent from last year. Sure, it's a lot harder to steal a car when half the houses on the block are full of unemployed folks with nothing to do but look out the windows all day. The thieves and bored kids and sundry assbags never take a day off, though, so who, exactly, has been working to make us safer?

I know a lot of folks with "Support Our Troops" magnets on their SUVs who call the troops who fight the domestic war — the one against thugs and idiots and sociopaths — "incompetent" or "assholes" when they get pulled over for speeding, or busted smoking dope outside.

OK, they have the right to their opinion. And I don't condone police brutality. But if the kids who smashed out the cruiser's window next door get their own ride beat to shit during the final stages of an investigation, well ...

When the doorbell rang at 7:30 a.m. the morning after a night involving the Supersuckers, wildly abused bar-tab privileges and several nightcaps at St. Pete's cool, modern Queen's Head, I began voicing my disapproval long before I actually reached the threshold.

(I believe the shouted profanity started while I was still trying to pull on a recalcitrant pair of shorts two rooms away.)

When the polite female voice on the other side identified itself as belonging to a police officer, however, my demeanor did an immediate one-eighty. It's always been that way with me — I've always considered being cool to law enforcement sort of a natural no-brainer.

My wife did most of the talking and listening to the officer while I corralled the dogs, but I got the gist. Apparently, sometime the night before — probably not long before or after I'd butted my last cigarette and we'd staggered inside—some jackass smashed out a window of the cruiser driven by the cop who lives next door. And while that sort of thing, and worse, happens all the time all over, the idea of it still struck me as crazy, disrespectful and evil  — even more than, say, whipping it out and urinating on the shoes of any elected public official in the country.

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