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at least he can polish the fenders

September 23, 2016

What are the requirements for becoming a police officer? Do they change from state to state? According to my (admittedly cursory) interwebs research, you basically just need a high school diploma or GED, and a driver’s license. And to pass some exams. What if every community had a program or a nonprofit or something dedicated to helping people of all demographics complete these requirements and apply for the force? What if this prep included personal psychoemotional therapy, empathy training, and community involvement designed to place participants in environments that contrasted their personal upbringing and current community? What if every officer hopeful started out by recognizing the small scared animal within themselves, and learned to recognize the same in every other?

Imagine if we had a bunch of minorities as officers in every community; a bunch of old peeps as officers in every community; a rainbow swath of gender identifiers as officers in every community; and that all of them were supported according to their individual needs as humans as they went about their risky business.

I think we could make this happen.

We would also have to scrape the inveterate nasty old white boy racist sexist homophobic monoreligious fuckgum out from under the tabletops of the current institution; which we are hopefully working on as we speak. Hopefully. But imagine how colossal a difference could be made by empowering more types of people to become police officers, and teaching them how to pity the obese blue line and how to wedge it effectively out of its eyeswideshut logjam. We could give them the skills and support they need, up front and ongoing, to deal with the pandemic suck from the inside out. And by doing that, we would all push the community level criminal justice change that we want in the world.

I truly believe that even the grossest of white supremacist curbstompers inwardly longs for this change. Maybe that is just my damage, but I truly do. They just have to be brought to a place where they can see how it would benefit them. I can tell you right now that what you find by searching ‘psychological support for police officers oregon’ is grim. Unless I am a stupid google searcher (possible) there is not much out there and what is out there is not very…easy or welcoming to access, and not extremely adept at marketing to its target audience. Apparently also from everything I can find, in Oregon police are maybe required to have a psych evaluation once a year, and this is considered revolutionary. In most states officers just have to pass the initial psych test, nevermind what trauma they take on during their course of human events on the beat.

I have had zero success in finding any sort of volunteer programs that serve the humans on the police force in Portland. There are some that collaborate with police officers to help the community, which is awesome; but I feel like this is yet another excellent indication of the public’s general lack of thought regarding the actual personhood of the police force. Maybe it comes from the circled wagons, keep it on the inside, take care of our own sort of mindset that is rampant in gangs of humans, especially humans with stuff to hide and asses to cover – but it is sad all the same and I think it has to end. Police officers are not going to be able to protect and serve us as we would like until we are as much a part of their processes as they are of ours. Familiarity breeds communication. For the second blog post in a row I am going to advocate for villages. If it takes a village to raise a child, and to give a pet a birthday party, it certainly follows that it takes a village to produce and maintain an effective, healthy police officer. And from the look of it, not enough of them have one.

humans

For the record, policeofficervillage.com is totally available. For 2.99. I will buy it, if I can think of a good use for it. Or if you can.

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