If you were a boy, or even sometimes a girl growing up in the 60’s you probably played “Cops & Robbers” at some point in your childhood. Although in today’s highly charged “politically correct” (PC) world, I doubt it happens much anymore.
For a moment, remove any “PC” emotions and feelings and focus just on the roles. Cops and Robbers! Each role was preconceived and established. Cops were the good guys, robbers, the bad. Cops chased and caught the robbers. Very straight forward right?
As you can probably guess, I always played the cop, and in doing so, dutifully chased the robber, the bad guy if you will. Once caught he was arrested and the game would repeat. Sometimes we were interrupted by my friends Mom announcing she made pancakes. We, of course, wove it into our play by pretending we were having pizza during our “shift”.
Growing up in the 60’s we lacked some everyday technology that even 8-year-olds now are aware of, and probably even own, like a cell phone with a video camera.
Our game was established, predictable and predetermined as we knew the role we had chosen to play. Our arrests were straightforward and without incident. There were no 3rd parties, no group of angry kids encircling me as I arrested the robber. No shouts of police brutality or cries of racism all while being streamed live to social media sites. Another factor that was missing from our game was court. Imagine how much different would this game have been with these additions! And yes, growing up in Chicago I played with both White and Black kids.
It’s amazing how much my job today is the same as this childhood game of the 60’s, as well as how my job has changed to be the same as it would have been with the group of angry kids.
“Behind the Badge” is brought to you in part by the Spooner Police Foundation.
Here’s the thing... in over 3 decades of policing I have never had a bad guy tell me or act with me as if he felt the arrest was bias, racist or anything other than what it was... I was the cop, they were the “robber”. Oh sure some will fight, flee, whatever... but no one ever said you’re arresting me because I’m Black, Mexican, a woman etc. I know what they did, they know what they did and this is how the “game” is played, period. No one is blaming the Russians.
On the street, it’s pretty black and white with little dots of gray. Most of today's criminal activity is straightforward; dealing drugs, auto theft, drive-by-shootings etc. Let's face it, not a lot of “gray” in the fact that a guy breaks into your home, ransacks your bedroom looking for jewelry, puts it all in a pillowcase from your closet and beats feet out the door and down the street. When I catch him he makes no claims that it’s a racial issue, or I targeted him because of X, Y or Z. He’s the robber, I’m the cop!
Now enter the angry neighborhood kids with cell phone videos! The game now takes on a whole new set of rules, new players and a whole mess of gray. Anyone who has done laundry knows that if you wash black items with white items, it all turns gray, regardless of the original color
going in. Yes, if you’re wondering I have many gray “white” tee shirts, I’ve since improved and surrendered to my laundry skills and now buy black tee shirts.
This straightforward arrest is now mired in confusion and innuendos of racism, sexism or any “ism” you care to insert. Even worse, most “concerned citizen” videos I’ve seen on social media sites are typically either edited intentionally or just innocently fail to capture the start of the encounter.
I’ve lost count of how many videos I’ve seen that claim police brutality or excessive use of force because the video captured 2 cops wrestling on the ground trying to subdue and arrest a suspect, but completely missed or don’t show the fact that the suspect while being cuffed, turned and punched one of the cops and tried to flee, or some other violent reaction by the suspect.
Some police departments that utilize body worn or dash cams are now taking a proactive approach to these videos and claims as a result of the amount and pervasiveness of these out of context postings. Many are now releasing the full video of these encounters, even if not required or needed to prosecute the offender. These cams cut both ways as well, you may have heard recent news involving a Baltimore police officer during a drug arrest. The allegation is one of planting evidence. I myself will await the full video and investigation before I make my own conclusion. I will be addressing the use of body-cams in law enforcement in upcoming articles.
The suspect\offender who knows what they did and why they were arrested of course will jump on this band wagon once the court appearances start, claiming all sorts of “ism’s” and excessive force issues. In addition, many who spoke perfect and intelligible English on the street, now claim they need interpreters.
I’m guessing that there were other childhood games in years that followed “cops & robbers” called “Courts & Misdemeanors” and “Social Justice Warriors”.
In the end what I’ve learned from my childhood playing cops & robbers is this; I’m a cop, I chase the robber. He’s the robber, he will do what he can to get away, but makes no excuses for why he’s arrested. I’ve also learned that when the angry kids surround us, the rules change, new players are introduced and no one knows exactly what is going on and mayhem is sure to follow.
About the Author: Al Hobbs is a Law Enforcement Correspondent for DrydenWire and writes on a wide-range of topics on Law Enforcement but focuses mostly on the human element of being a cop in his weekly segment titled: "Behind The Badge". Al brings a unique writing style that allows him to connect with his readers. You can read his introduction to DrydenWire here.
Al is a retired police detective from the metro Chicago area. He has been a Law Enforcement Officer at the City, County, State and Federal level in excess of 35 years. His career has taken him all over the nation and the world. Al has been involved in all aspects of criminal investigation as well as general police duties. He is once again on the street as an active LEO for a North Shore community, just North of Chicago in Illinois.