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Barry Crimmins

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political satirist Barry Crimmins

More Real Stories From the Files of the Police State Friday, October 5, 2007

More Real Stories From the Files of the Police State

Skaneateles- a sleepy village by the lake that's particularly drowsy when it's getting fleeced by a cop.

The rumors that constables ingest fecal matter are becoming increasingly difficult to dispel. Of course there are some cops who are reasonable and fair but they are becoming fewer and farther between. With each day comes new stories of police abuse of authority.

Cops are now consuming so much energy using tazers that Al Gore is preparing a power point presentation about the crisis.

Generous Phoenix airport officers gave a detained women just enough chain to hang herself. She was unsupervised during her death because all available manpower was on the lookout for other dangerous women to gang tackle.

Seneca County Sheriff's Department and the corrupt local Republican Party power structure met in Waterloo, NY. Waterloo is now noted for its stench thanks to the 13 story (and growing) Seneca Meadows landfill mound the GOP brought in to help the local economy. That's right they stack up mountains of garbage and call them meadows. Anyway the cops and pols decided that it was fine to use uniformed officers to harass and intimidate people who anonymously complained on an internet message board about the 800-pound gorilla of sleaze that occupied the local seat of power. Anonymity was lost when the sheriff's department came in and demanded the e-mail addresses of the critics.

In my hometown of Skaneateles, NY, former police chief Jack McNeil was let off lightly for stealing parking meter money (and apparently parking meters that turned up for sale on E-Bay) with no loss of pension or prison sentence because the judge decided that the embarrassment of getting caught was a serious enough punishment. But try getting caught driving 37 in a 30 mph zone in an upstate NY speed trap and see if you get the same sort of compassion.

McNeil won't be without career options once his brief parole ends because there's always Blackwater or a slew of other private security firms that operate on the idea that before you lay down the law, you must first give justice a nice dirt nap. Let's face it, McNeil's experience fleecing the government makes him ideal for outfits like Blackwater. And before you think I'm being too tough on Jack, it should be noted that I wanted to place canisters around the community to collect for his defense fund. They would be accompanied by a sign that said "Pitch in for Jack! Quarters, dimes, nickels, pennies, they all add up!"

But enough of the police crime wave in the Finger Lakes because today's focus is the city... Los Angeles, California. A city where Jack Webb took the weak supposition that all cops are unappreciated heroes and turned it into some of the most dangerous conventional wisdom that has ever plagued this land. Over the years the police have grown into the single most rogue element in this country (OK, this side of the super wealthy.) This growing menace has nothing to do with preserving our freedom and everything to do with limiting and even eliminating it. That these para-militarists almost all wear the the Stars and Stripes has become just another piece of evidence in the case against America, police state.

In truth, we aren't really focusing on the city... Los Angeles, California. We're focusing on the the suburb of Lakewood, California, right outside the city... Los Angeles, California. The Los Angeles County sheriff's department in Lakewood had a contest to see which deputy could write the most tickets and impound the most cars. But never fear, quotas weren't involved because cops never use quotas, right? The police are supposed to help stranded motorists but these public dis-servants were out to strand as many drivers as possible. Don't get me wrong, if cops see cars that are clearly hazardous, they have a duty to stop them but when they have contests to see who can create the largest volume of hassles, it's an affront to the principle that this is a free nation.

In Lakewood, an LA suburb in the valley, the loss of your car can mean the loss of livelihood. Fans of political thrillers like Roger Rabbit know it's not as if public transportation is a reliable alternative in greater Los Angeles. So some poor working stiff, just scraping by in an old shitbox, gets stopped for no reason other than a deputy's desire to please his superiors and move up in the standings. The next thing he knows the wrecker is taking his car away. Now he has tickets to pay, towing and storage due and a cruel legal system to maneuver. Even if he manages to do all that, how does he pay the rent and feed and clothe his family? There's a good chance he works days and his wife works nights so she is going to lose her job, too, because with the car gone, she can no longer make it to work. It's very possible that these victims of uniformed highwaymen will end up homeless. But who cares? Certainly not some buzzcut, jackbooted pig who, rather than just let the traffic flow, decided to make a criminal out of some poor devil --- a devil too poor to have a car shiny enough to make it seem like he might have some connections and was best left alone.

And so a family ends up being destroyed because some Mickey Mouse cop looked upon a peasant as prey. This injustice pays dividends to the prison-industrial state because if the kids of that worker also end up homeless then they're likely to fall in with a proverbial "bad element." Not as bad and ruinous as the Lakewood Sheriff's Department but bad enough to get the kid arrested and jailed and ruined.
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news 441


So my question is: why do cops get such a free pass in this society? Is it because people really believe that they are serving the public good and so should be left as unsupervised as a shackled woman in the Phoenix airport? Is it because we fear the police and know that if we speak out against them, even anonymously on the internet, they will come and try to ruin our lives? Is it because we know that even when they are caught red-handed committing felonies, like Jack McNeil, they will get the slap on the wrist they always complain about when others are showed mercy?

I don't know. I've no stake in this except that I don't want to live in a police state. I'm tired of watching prisons pop up in community after community. It won't be long before I'll be in the minority in upstate New York because I neither live nor work behind the walls of an incarceration facility. I do know you can't have a police state without a gruntload of police. I have no doubt that the gruntload quota has been met in these United States. I've even less doubt that far too many of those cops justify their jobs by making life as miserable as possible for people whose lives are already far too miserable.

updated: 14 years ago