This discussion isn’t meant to be a negative thing about the law enforcement profession, our brave military who have served, or those who are still serving in the military for our country. It is meant to raise the subject up to a level that can be discussed, and inspire a real national debate on potential changes to the vetting process for admission, i.e., recruitment and training in our various branches of law enforcement.
I have put years of thought, and one night (tonight) of writing into this. The recent culmination of my thought process, began with pondering the many recent unjustified killings of people by our law enforcement folks (cops) and the movie “American Sniper” which I am watching as I write this discussion. To “Splain” this to you, let’s start off by taking this back to the 60’s and 70’s, the Vietnam War era.
Now you may have been some city kid from St. Louis or Los Angeles, or maybe a farm boy Summa Cum Laude from Minnesota or whatever. There is a 99% chance that before you raised your right hand and swore to defend the Constitution and this country, you were just a normal dude. Normal and patriotic. With a normal upbringing, an average education, and a girlfriend who DID wait for you to come home, alive, from the war.
During the Vietnam era, if you were a conscientious objector, you either escaped the draft by going to Canada, or you did what Mohammed Ali did, object, not leave the country, and suffer the consequences. If you were from a wealthy family, you got bone spurs like Trump. 89% of the young men accepted the draft, maybe 10% patriotically enlisted like I did, and 1% had bone spurs.
Apply this same scenario to the Gulf Wars, up to and including the present day conflicts the USA is involved in. Except we have had a total volunteer military force since 1973. The military draft ended in 1973. Registration with Selective Service ended in 1975. So far, so good. THEN in 1980 registration for a possible draft was reestablished for men 18–25 years old.
So the percentage of drafted was 0%, and the military services had to “sell” the glamour of service to country. For many, a large percentage of kids that grew up in the late 80’s into the 90’s on violent “Shoot’em Up” video games, the prospect of shooting guns and shit was exciting to those generations of high school kids, now a few decades after the almost forgotten Vietnam War. It was for many, a huge carrot on a string. There wasn’t much in the way of protests going on in 1965 when I entered the service. By the end of the 60’s and into the early 70’s the protests took over the narrative at most colleges. The young and dumb had awakened during the era of the protests against war, and then dumbed down again in the late 80’s into the 90’s. Then along came 9-11 and a huge patriotic surge of young people to “Serve our country and get those evil bastards”.
Now let’s take a look at what a “Soldier” is. The fundamental DNA of a soldier comes from his training. The basic part of that DNA that is a learned “Skill”, is how to kill someone with many different kinds of weapons. A rifle. a pistol, a M2A1 50 caliber machine gun, a shoulder-held rocket launcher, many other types of weapons…..and your bare hands, feet and a #2 Pencil. We don’t train our soldiers to knit sweaters.
The issue isn’t if it’s right or wrong going to war, we haven’t had a legitimate war since the Korean war (and even that one is questionable). Our soldiers who had fought and survived WWII, and the young patriots who were going to war for the first time, were going for real reasons, although the Korean war was not a repeat of the previous world wars, it still was thought of as a patriotic defense of liberty and justice for all, and defeating “Communism”. Who won? The North Koreans.
We did not train our soldiers to knit sweaters. Marines and Army combat soldiers were trained to do one thing and one thing only….how to kill the “Enemy”. The Air Force was trained to drop bombs on the enemy. If you were in the U. S. Air Force, and you were lucky, you spent your entire four-year hitch in Germany or the UK or somewhere other than Vietnam.
Tonight (November 2017) was the first time for me to watch the Chris Kyle story, a full length feature film that came out in 2014, three years ago. I purposely did not want to watch this movie when it first was released because of my personal feelings and thoughts about war, and killing. I decided to watch it tonight because it happened to be on TV, and I was really interested in seeing what my emotions and reaction would be. Watching it tonight, (movie just ended) and now that it’s over, I can say what my thoughts were three years ago, and what my thoughts and emotions reveal tonight. They are the same, in fact the story portrayed in the movie, about a Navy Seal Team sniper that spent multiple tours in combat in the middle east confirms my emotions and position on war itself, and the horrors that it brings.
Let’s go back to the Vietnam era for a minute. For those that survived the war and are still alive, think about the men who served, came back, and at this very moment are mentally unhinged STILL, and homeless STILL. Some of us were lucky enough to survive the war, survive our physical wounds, and survive our mental wounds. Some of the living Vietnam veterans had a good life, became doctors, lawyers and such. They raised families. Some of the lucky ones, a small percentage of them, even though they had a fruitful, successful life, have hidden their mental anguish all their lives, fooling everyone including their spouses. Except for those “successful” veterans (again a small percentage) that have wreaked havoc and violence upon themselves, their family or the public. This product of war is also seen in every war ever fought, and continues with the wars that we are currently sending our children to.
Which brings me to this important message or thought that I hope everyone understands and agrees with. I do not like war, in fact I despise war and killing. I am utterly ashamed that the United States of America spends Trillions of dollars on wartime activities, the continuing development of new weapon systems, for us as well as our allies. How does this relate to what we are discussing right now, you might ask? Think about this, if we didn’t have war, and had no need to develop and procure the latest MOAB’s (Mother of all bombs), and all the other tools of war, we would be spending those dollars on bettering our way of life.
We would be building that new infrastructure that our country so desperately needs, building new Bridges, new Super Highways. We would be developing new sources of energy that didn’t pollute our planet. Health care for all, and I mean healthcare for the whole world would be free. With no war, no weapons, with peace and prosperity, there would be no poverty, no starvation. With no poverty, there would be no more crime, or at least a gigantic reduction in crime. In fact, so little crime that policing would be a communal thing, i. e., no more crime equals no more need for a large law enforcement presence. Think about it for a minute. If you COULD reduce crime down to next to nothing, why would you need police? Oh yes, I forgot, we still need someone to write you that parking ticket.
One of my favorite quotes is “Follow the MONEY”. Another is “Money is the ROOT” of ALL EVIL”. Think of the huge industrial base that supports and profits from war. Add up the dollars. Now spend that on Universal Healthcare for the Entire Planet. Spend it on Environmentally Friendly Power Sources. Spend it on saving other species on our planet, like the Fish, Animals and Birds. Spend it on the Arts. Spend it on renewing the forests of the world, like in the Amazon.
Eliminate all war. Pretty simple solution, with a difficult path to completion. now back to the thoughts from earlier regarding soldiering, war and the connection to recruitment for law enforcement. If you came back from the Vietnam war, or any other war or combat deployment, and were overheard saying in a bar, “I loved killing those gooks”, or, “I killed over 600 of those goat fucking towel heads”, in my opinion, you are NOT really a good candidate for ANY law enforcement position. If you happen to enjoy Skeet shooting using small kittens or puppies that are thrown up in the air, you are one deranged MF and need help.
I say this because the real truth of it is that too many of the unjustified “Shootings” or “Chokings” or “Beatings” that result in the unjustified KILLINGS of our citizens, are because that particular officer was able to convince a jury that he or she was afraid for their lives. I’m sure there has been a few unfilmed murders where the law enforcement person “planted” a knife or gun AFTER killing that dude in the wheel chair. I wonder how many knives are “planted” in Israel after they kill someone.
This brings me to my major point. I am sure that most of our Law Enforcement agencies have a fairly comprehensive vetting procedure for new applicants or recruits. The problem is that it’s not enough. Whatever they do now to evaluate combat veterans mental conditions or any other applicant’s mental fitness mostly ignore or just miss the combat experience type of mental conditions that can re-surface during a traffic stop, serving a warrant, or raiding a Donut Shop.
You don’t “accidentally” choke someone to death when they are telling you that they can’t breathe, especially if all Eric Garner was doing was selling “Loosies”. I’m not saying that the officer that killed that dude in New York with a choke hold was suffering from some mental disorder because of his proud service as a combat soldier somewhere, I am saying that regardless of his experience or lack of combat experience, he definitely should have been psychologically screened out and prevented from becoming a police officer in the NYPD. I might get sued for saying that, but I don’t care. If you can go so far as to squeeze someone’s neck until they are dead, for a fucking cigarette, you are sick. There should be special hospitals to treat and care for people that sick. The NYPD had previously banned the use of a “Choke Hold”. Eric Garner’s death was ruled a homicide. The officer was not indicted.
If you shoot someone 14 times, and you don’t have a good reason to do so, you need to find a different vocation, and you need to be helped, preferably in a hospital, not a prison. Prison is not the answer…..For so many things. Yes, someone died. It wasn’t premeditated cold-blooded murder, that’s a whole other subject, but you did cause the violent death of another human being, so instead of punishment, we are going to put you in a mental hospital and cure you. I know, sounds outrageous, but in a Utopian world with no war, no crime, no police, the emphasis would be on “Treating” that police officer, instead of letting him go with a “Not Guilty” verdict.
So, what can we do? What should we do? Strengthen the requirements and the expectations of our law enforcement agencies. Develop tests and procedures to weed out the dudes that should NOT be carrying a gun and enforcing our laws.
The movie I watched for the first time tonight, “American Sniper” and the story it told, did not leave me feeling patriotic or wanting to join the military to become a “sniper”. It did confirm the feelings I have had all along, in fact feelings I have had most of my life. Sure, Chris Kyle was a hero. Sure he deserved a funeral attended by thousands. He was the greatest SEAL Sniper that ever lived. He didn’t die in combat, but he DID die in combat. The dude, Eddie Ray Routh, that killed Chris, and another fellow, Chad Littlefield, I believe, had real mental issues that supposedly were not the result of combat experience. It is pretty clear in my mind, that he should have been rejected for military service to begin with. So war DID kill Chris Kyle? He was trying to help other veterans, which helped to heal his fucked up mind. I don’t think he should have joined the Navy in the first place. He could have remained a rodeo bull rider. You decide.
The sad part is that he died because of an unjust war. Iraq is/was the prime example of an unjust war, along with the never-ending war in Afghanistan. Some would argue, “He died to save your ass, and to save this country”……BULLSHIT!! Soldiers like him have died for the military/industrial complex. FOLLOW THE MONEY! If instead, there were soldiers fighting an enemy, foreign or domestic, within the United States, THEY would be justified in going into battle and killing as many of the enemy as he or she could, and they would truly be heroes. Unless you are defending our country, all other war is bullshit.
Big assignment. Stop all war. In the meantime, at least scale it down. Change the world through peaceful attributes and attitudes. In the meantime, stop hiring people with hidden PTSD and other mental afflictions to be our law enforcement, i.e., “Police Officers”. I’m sure if cities and other jurisdictions followed what the FBI does for screening and training, we maybe wouldn’t have as many irresponsible people killing unarmed citizens. Although, the FBI could probably increase their awareness of mental unfitness as well.
In the meantime, how about we put an end to sending various law enforcement personnel to Israel for training. They’re not learning how to fire their weapons. They are learning how to manage crowds (suppress). New techniques in “Storm Trooping” on civilians. I’ve never been on the receiving end of police brutality, but if I am ever stopped, or they break down my door by mistake, the first question I will ask the officer is if he has seen combat. If he proudly says, yes, Afghanistan, two tours, I will politely ask him to call in a supervisor, as well as obey every instruction he gives me.
If they do the research, they will discover that most police violence is caused by the mental and emotional state of the officer, not the victim. It’s rare, but amazing, to see videos of police officers actually talking a person down from a life threatening moment, like a recent video wherein the officer verbally talked a dude with a knife into dropping the knife. THAT officer should get a special medal.
I probably will add to this discussion from time to time with additional posts. For the patriotic type, I am a patriot as well, I just don’t believe in wars and killing people in other countries for their natural resources. If an enemy, foreign or domestic comes rolling down the street here in Phoenix, at 68 years of age, I will pick up my gun and defend our country.
To be continued…..
Peace & Abide, La paz y la morada, السلام والالتزام , שלום ושמירה, Paix et Demeure, Խաղաղությունը եւ մնալը, Мир и пребывание,, 平和と遵守, 和平與恪守, Aştî û Abad, صلح و عبید, Fred och Abide, Kapayapaan at Patuloy, Frieden und Bleiben, Mir i Ostanite, शांति और निवास, Hòa bình và ở lại, Мир и Абиде, שלום און בלייַבן, สันติภาพและการปฏิบัติ, Mir in bivanje,
Yadhum oore yaavarum kelir, “The World Is One Family”
Dr. T. C. Saxe, DD, RSISHE
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