"Police officers are jerks."
I usually hear that from individuals who have been on the wrong side of the law more than once.
"Police officers are great."
I often hear that from people who have a friend or family member who works in law enforcement.
Truth is, some police officers are jerks; many are great. And there's a whole bunch of officers who fall somewhere in between. The same can be said about any particular category of people, and the entire human race for the matter.
As a journalist for nearly 25 years, I've had the opportunity to meet plenty of jerks and great people, and every type of person in between.
I've met some cranky, power-hungry law enforcement officers who treated others like dirt. I've met some positive, professional and compassionate officers that treated people with courtesy and respect. Fortunately, I've encountered more of the latter.
Critics have called the Curry Coastal Pilot, and its editor, a "pro-cop" newspaper. Well, we're not. Nor are we anti-cop.
Being pro- or anti-cop implies a prejudice that would shred our journalistic commitment to impartiality or objectivity.
Law enforcement agencies and officers don't get special treatment in the Pilot.
We publish the police log, jail log, court report and news stories about high-profile incidents and arrests. We also publish profile stories about new officers and deputies, their accomplishments and their community contributions.
That is not being pro-cop. People do good things in our community and it gets mentioned in the paper. Likewise for people who do bad things.
Law enforcement is not above reproach. It is not anti-police to question a police agency's work or hold it accountable for its actions. We've never shied away from doing stories about law enforcement officials, or any public official, who has been accused of wrongdoing. Fortunately, incidents of such are rare in this small, close-knit community.
It is not pro-cop to appreciate the effort and commitment that our local law enforcement officers make daily. I've met and talked with officers through the years and hold many of them in high regard. They respond to numerous domestic abuse calls, car crashes, suspicious conditions and potentially dangerous situations. It's a stressful job filled with long periods of boredom, punctuated with moments of anxiety and adrenaline. They often have to deal with the dregs of our society that many of us try to avoid.
Law enforcement officers are the same people who live next door, coach our Little League teams, attend your church and support local charities. They chose to work and live in a small town that provides scant privacy and anonymity. We know who they are and what they do for a living.
Some officers might be jerks, but that's to be expected. Most, in my experience, are good people trying to serve and protect the community in which they live.