Detective Lieutenant Barry M. Baker (ret.) is a 32 year veteran of the Baltimore Police Department.
Propaganda relating to police is simple. You’ll be slandered, maligned and ostracized, or you’ll be complemented, glorified and deified. There’ll be more of the first than the latter, but you have to understand how police fit the social landscape. Civilization cannot exist without a structure of authority, and police officers form the foundation of that authoritative structure.
Everybody resists authority; unless, it is being exercised against someone else. Propaganda plays an oversized role in how people place others into the – someone else – category. The more people complain about things being politicized, more issues emerge, real or imagined, as candidates for politicization. Many issues chosen for political discourse fade quickly, because they are premised in absurdity and uselessness.
Propaganda targeting police officers never fades, because their position in society is crucial to the maintenance of civilization. Police officers are equal opportunity villains or heroes depending upon who is disseminating information. Most law abiding people generally view police favorably. Others, who generally fit the law abiding category, will display an irrational dislike, or even hatred, toward police officers.
It’s a Dangerous World filled with Propaganda
Your primary duty as a police officer will be protecting people from other people. If you work in a community with a high rate of criminality, the environment will be conducive to negative propaganda. Here’s the thing about high crime communities. Most people living in crime plagued neighborhoods are law abiding citizens, and their victimhood creates the high crime label.
Police officers sometimes forget a simple fact. The law abiding majority are not in a position to counteract negative propaganda against the police who serve them. When crime takes hold of a community, fear of retribution is real, and people are afraid to defend police. Crime breeds more than just more crime. It produces activists and politicians who will use any fact, half-truth, argument, rumor, speculation, lie or innuendo to negatively portray police officers.
Choosing a Police Department
Once you decide to pursue a police career, you’ll be more aware of the positive and negative propaganda related to the police departments you’re considering. You’ll have plenty of sources of information. A police department of any size should have a comprehensive website that will answer most of your questions.
A police department’s website is an example of positive propaganda, because the information will be factual. Contrast that with the local media and social media that will alternate between positive and negative views regarding the department. While the department’s propaganda is factual, it’s not flawless. For example, you may later learn that stated policies are not always followed. After all, a police department is vulnerable to political winds like everything else.
Seek out a rural setting on a moonless night devoid of manmade lighting. Lie down on your back, and stare up at the star filled sky. Clear your mind of all thoughts and concentrate on just one thought – the endlessness of space. It shouldn’t take long before you experience a feeling of frustration, and that feeling might be followed by a headache.
Trying to comprehend propaganda is a lot like trying to comprehend endless space. You’ll experience frustration and headaches.
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