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One Compelling Reason People Become Cops (and Something Most Civilians Don’t Realize)

Sure, many officers want to serve their communities, help others, be part of an important effort — but there's this

Early in my career, I was driving to work when I heard a female caller to a talk radio show make this declaration about law enforcement officers: “You have to be at least a little fascist to be a cop.”

She made the comment so matter-of-factly it felt doubly offensive to me.

What a cynical view. This was back in the early 1990s — but she’d fit in well today with Black Lives Matter, Antifa, or the modern Democratic Party.

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Who knows? Maybe today she belongs to one of those groups. Or perhaps the intervening years have brought her to her senses.

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One reason her comment struck me is this. A compelling reason I became a cop is due to my disdain for bullies. I think you’ll find that while they cite more common reasons for entering law enforcement — serving the community, helping people, taking part in the excitement also want to protect people from bullies — most police officers, if not all, feel the same way about bullies.

Criminals are the ultimate bullies. They infringe on a person’s God-given right to exist in peace. People come together in communities in societies and enter into a social contract to enjoy their lives and liberty by pursuing their happiness.

Criminals — bullies — interfere with that pursuit. And criminals engage in the ultimate forms of bullying: fraud, theft, robbery, assault, kidnap, rape, and murder.

There is a caricature view of cops as badge-heavy brutes. They are rare.

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Fascists have been some of the biggest criminals — biggest bullies — in history. So the caller’s anti-cop slight, aside from being offensive, made little sense to me.

She obviously held the caricature view of cops as badge-heavy brutes.

Now, I’m not saying officers like that don’t exist; they do. But they are rare.

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A couple of years ago, I did some research for a company that involved interviewing women who’d been victims of sexual assault — from indecent liberties to rape. One woman I interviewed told me a man attacked and attempted to rape her while she was walking home from her high school.

She didn’t want to allow that event to define the rest of her life. She didn’t want to experience that victim’s fear ever again.

So she became a police officer. She wanted to prevent other women from experiencing what she had by putting as many of society’s bullies in jail as she could.

She hates bullies, too. This notion is common in cops — and makes police officers about as far from fascist as anyone can be.

Steve Pomper is an OpsLens contributor and retired Seattle police officer. He has served as a field training officer on the East Precinct Community Police Team and as a precinct mountain bike coordinator. This OpsLens piece is used by permission. 

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meet the author

Steve Pomper is a retired Seattle police officer. He's served as a field training officer and on the East Precinct Community Police Team. He's the author of four books, including "De-Policing America: A Street Cop's View of the Anti-Police State." He's also a contributor to the National Police Association.

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