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  #1  
Old 11-12-2013, 11:03 PM
Zago Zago is offline
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Police and Firemen as heroes

All of us know that our police and firemen have performed heroic acts. 9/11 drove this home for us. I have a few friends who are cops/firefighters and I'm grateful for their service. Having said that - I think that 9/11 made it almost compulsory to worship these people. In reality, lots of cops get into this line of work because they're bullies and lots of firefighters are thrill seekers. I know good people who are cops and firemen but I think it's a mistake to elevate them as folk heroes who can do no wrong.
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  #2  
Old 11-13-2013, 12:38 AM
Cat Whisperer Cat Whisperer is offline
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That's an interesting question. Another aspect of it that I find troubling is that firemen and policemen who are killed at work are memorialized; what we don't note is that about three times as many construction workers are killed at work every year, but there are no memorial plaques for the workers killed building a high-rise building or an overpass. I'm not saying we *shouldn't* memorialize firemen and policemen killed on the job, but if you want a dangerous job, get into construction.
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Old 11-13-2013, 01:30 AM
48Willys 48Willys is offline
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Originally Posted by Zago View Post
All of us know that our police and firemen have performed heroic acts. 9/11 drove this home for us. I have a few friends who are cops/firefighters and I'm grateful for their service. Having said that - I think that 9/11 made it almost compulsory to worship these people. In reality, lots of cops get into this line of work because they're bullies and lots of firefighters are thrill seekers. I know good people who are cops and firemen but I think it's a mistake to elevate them as folk heroes who can do no wrong.
In my part of the country, most of the LEOs are not bullies. There are a few, but they are in the minority. The bullies weed themselves out fairly quickly. I also have friends & relatives that are Fire Fighters. You are correct that a lot of them are thrill seekers. I am unsure that this is a problem. After all, what other job is so well suited to a thrill seeker. One should enjoy ones job!

I agree that none of them should get hero worship just for being a LEO, or a Fire Fighter. When they earn the title "Hero" by doing heroic stuff, then, we should give them the recognition that they deserve. Most of them will scuff their toes and say that they were just doing their job.

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Originally Posted by Cat Whisperer View Post
That's an interesting question. Another aspect of it that I find troubling is that firemen and policemen who are killed at work are memorialized; what we don't note is that about three times as many construction workers are killed at work every year, but there are no memorial plaques for the workers killed building a high-rise building or an overpass. I'm not saying we *shouldn't* memorialize firemen and policemen killed on the job, but if you want a dangerous job, get into construction.
There is a big difference. The construction worker was working for a paycheck. The Firefighter and the LEO are also working for a paycheck, but they risk their lives so that others may live. Not so with the construction worker.

As far as dangerous jobs, a Logger (woodsman type, not a geological logger), a Roofer, a Roughneck, and a member of a train crew, all risk their lives daily. This is by no means an exhaustive list. Lots of folks risk their lives daily. However, most of them can, and do, run away when danger is presented. LEOs and Fire Fighters run toward the danger. That makes a big difference, at least in my mind it does.
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Old 11-13-2013, 02:17 AM
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I don't know any policemen or firefighters who believe or say such things. I only hear such in the frothy rhetoric of media outlets. I'm just saying, they aren't doing it, asking for it, feeling entitled to it, more like having it foist upon them. When I see cops and firemen on tv, after 'heroic' events unfold, I always hear THEM saying, "...not a hero...just doing my job..."
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Old 11-13-2013, 03:00 AM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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Originally Posted by 48Willys View Post
There is a big difference. The construction worker was working for a paycheck. The Firefighter and the LEO are also working for a paycheck, but they risk their lives so that others may live. Not so with the construction worker.

As far as dangerous jobs, a Logger (woodsman type, not a geological logger), a Roofer, a Roughneck, and a member of a train crew, all risk their lives daily. This is by no means an exhaustive list. Lots of folks risk their lives daily. However, most of them can, and do, run away when danger is presented. LEOs and Fire Fighters run toward the danger. That makes a big difference, at least in my mind it does.
Statistically, I believe being a farmer is the most dangerous job in the country.

But I don't think the real point is danger - although it can add an element of drama. The real distinction is that firemen and police save people as part of their jobs. That, and not the danger aspect, is what gives them the heroic image. For example, paramedics share in the heroic image of firemen and police even though you don't think of paramedics being killed on duty.
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  #6  
Old 11-13-2013, 04:19 AM
Manda JO Manda JO is online now
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The cynical part of me tends to feel that give these people the title "hero" in order to avoid having to pay them what you would logically have to pay people to risk their lives for the sake of strangers and property.

Last edited by Manda JO; 11-13-2013 at 04:19 AM..
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  #7  
Old 11-13-2013, 04:24 AM
Alessan Alessan is offline
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I don't mind if they think of themselves as heroes. They may need to do something heroic to save my life some day, and I want them to be in the right frame of mind.
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  #8  
Old 11-14-2013, 07:58 AM
SpeedwayRyan SpeedwayRyan is offline
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Originally Posted by 48Willys View Post
There is a big difference. The construction worker was working for a paycheck. The Firefighter and the LEO are also working for a paycheck, but they risk their lives so that others may live. Not so with the construction worker.
They're all getting paychecks, but one could make the argument that the construction worker is risking his life so that others may have a place to live, or work, or shop, or a hospital to go to when they are sick, or a jail to lock up the bad guys. They're doing something that society needs, too.
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Old 11-14-2013, 08:36 AM
Orwell Orwell is offline
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From my observation, most cops choose that line of work because they have authoritarian, sadistic, punitive, cynical, unsympathetic personalities, and they figure out they can make a living while enjoying use of intimidation and force.

Most (paid) firefighters choose the job for the money they can make, though there is certainly an element of helping people. Volunteer firefighters are obviously a different story, as they choose to fight fires to help neighbors, but also for the camaraderie of the fire station.
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  #10  
Old 11-14-2013, 08:46 AM
Crotalus Crotalus is offline
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Originally Posted by Orwell View Post
From my observation, most cops choose that line of work because they have authoritarian, sadistic, punitive, cynical, unsympathetic personalities, and they figure out they can make a living while enjoying use of intimidation and force.

Most (paid) firefighters choose the job for the money they can make, though there is certainly an element of helping people. Volunteer firefighters are obviously a different story, as they choose to fight fires to help neighbors, but also for the camaraderie of the fire station.
Can you give us an idea of how many police officers and fire fighters you have observed, and to what extent, before you pulled this bit of ignorance out of your ass?
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  #11  
Old 11-14-2013, 10:00 AM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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Originally Posted by SpeedwayRyan View Post
They're all getting paychecks, but one could make the argument that the construction worker is risking his life so that others may have a place to live, or work, or shop, or a hospital to go to when they are sick, or a jail to lock up the bad guys. They're doing something that society needs, too.
I've always felt that the specific appeal of being a construction worker is the sense of accomplishment. It's one of the few jobs where you can physically see the product of your labor on a daily basis. You can work for eight hours and then turn around and see the work. And years afterward you can still drive by and know that you helped put up that building.
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  #12  
Old 11-14-2013, 10:09 AM
Orwell Orwell is offline
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Originally Posted by Crotalus View Post
Can you give us an idea of how many police officers and fire fighters you have observed, and to what extent, before you pulled this bit of ignorance out of your ass?
I know dozens of cops, many quite well, and my description fits far more than half of them. Note that I said "most" and not "all". It seems self-evident that the job attracts the personality I described.

As for firefighters, I know few paid ones, but know many volunteer ones. I have respect for all of them, but it's hard to not respect the volunteers who get out of bed in the middle of the night for no pay a bit more.

I can elevate a sizeable number of firemen to the "heroic" status, but very few cops.
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  #13  
Old 11-14-2013, 10:43 AM
Crotalus Crotalus is offline
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Originally Posted by Orwell View Post
I know dozens of cops, many quite well, and my description fits far more than half of them. Note that I said "most" and not "all". It seems self-evident that the job attracts the personality I described.
That's a pretty amazing answer. I don't think I have met more than a handful of people in my life who have "authoritarian, sadistic, punitive, cynical, unsympathetic personalities", and I certainly have not spent enough time around any of them to get to know them well. You must be more tolerant of such people than I am.

Can you explain how you "observed" why they chose their line of work? Or is their reasoning self-evident?
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  #14  
Old 11-14-2013, 11:07 AM
shiftless shiftless is offline
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Originally Posted by Manda JO View Post
The cynical part of me tends to feel that give these people the title "hero" in order to avoid having to pay them what you would logically have to pay people to risk their lives for the sake of strangers and property.
I think that is part of it. Like with soldiers, the honor and glory that comes with the job is part of the compensation package, because if it was just the pay they would all do the easy parts of the job and balk when the job got messy. I don't think anyone runs into a burning building thinking about the $15 or $20 an hour they get paid, so I'm willing to call those guys heroes for those deeds if it helps them do the particularly dangerous and nasty parts of the job that I would never want to do.

I would think the guy who actually runs into the burning buildings to pull the children to safety would get tired of sergeant deskjocky being referred to as a hero all the time. Calling a person a hero based solely on their job title seems, to me, to be disrespectful to those who have actually gone above and beyond.
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Old 11-14-2013, 11:08 AM
nearwildheaven nearwildheaven is offline
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Statistically, I believe being a farmer is the most dangerous job in the country.

But I don't think the real point is danger - although it can add an element of drama. The real distinction is that firemen and police save people as part of their jobs. That, and not the danger aspect, is what gives them the heroic image. For example, paramedics share in the heroic image of firemen and police even though you don't think of paramedics being killed on duty.
That's true, and miners are not far behind.

The most common cause of death for police officers and paramedics on duty is actually road accidents. That was surprising to me too.

My dad's a retired firefighter, and 99% of what they did was really quite routine and frankly boring.
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Old 11-14-2013, 11:51 AM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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Originally Posted by Crotalus View Post
Can you explain how you "observed" why they chose their line of work?
True, if you've known dozens of cops and you met them all while they were on duty, the circumstances might have caused you to form a biased opinion.
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  #17  
Old 11-14-2013, 12:17 PM
Crotalus Crotalus is offline
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To discontinue my hijack and address the OP, I don't see the worship or folk-hero status. My impression is that most citizens appreciate the fact that there are people willing to do these necessary and potentially dangerous jobs. As others have noted, there are other dangerous jobs, and we all benefit from many of them, but something seems a bit special about the nature of the risks firefighters and police face, and the fact that they are taking those risks to protect us or our property.

nearwildheaven, my stepson is a firefighter/paramedic, and I don't think he has worked a day in seven years without going on at least one ambulance run, which have their own set of risks.
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  #18  
Old 11-14-2013, 12:31 PM
tim-n-va tim-n-va is offline
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"Hero" has ceased to have any real meaning. Someone drinking coffee at their desk in the WTC on 9/11 died a tragic death but did nothing heroic but it was a common refrain to call them hero.
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  #19  
Old 11-14-2013, 01:24 PM
TroutMan TroutMan is online now
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Come to Portland. People (including the Justice Department) aren't too enamored with the police right now. You see the label applied to individuals for specific acts, but few people think of the police as a whole as heroes.
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Old 11-14-2013, 01:52 PM
EmAnJ EmAnJ is offline
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Originally Posted by nearwildheaven View Post
That's true, and miners are not far behind.

The most common cause of death for police officers and paramedics on duty is actually road accidents. That was surprising to me too.

My dad's a retired firefighter, and 99% of what they did was really quite routine and frankly boring.
My husband's a firefighter, and according to him, the leading cause of death for them is heart attacks.
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  #21  
Old 11-14-2013, 02:05 PM
Dallas Jones Dallas Jones is offline
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Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
Statistically, I believe being a farmer is the most dangerous job in the country.
No, that's not correct. The most dangerous jobs in the US are Logger and Commercial Fisherman. They trade places for number one and two.

http://money.cnn.com/gallery/pf/jobs...angerous-jobs/

http://www.businessinsider.com/most-...ing-workers-16

Their deaths are just considered part of the job, nothing heroic and no parades. Remember them when you sit down for crab dinner or buy a 2X4 next time.
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  #22  
Old 11-14-2013, 02:11 PM
Orwell Orwell is offline
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Police officer isn't even in the top 10 dangerous vocations. But it is way up on the list of jobs where you can retire early.
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  #23  
Old 11-14-2013, 02:35 PM
TBG TBG is offline
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If you run into a burning building to save people, you're a hero. I don't care if you find it thrilling or not.
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  #24  
Old 11-14-2013, 05:12 PM
sisu sisu is offline
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It's easier to have the public worship them than to pay them a decent wage with decent conditions, same goes for armed services.
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Old 11-14-2013, 05:50 PM
Orwell Orwell is offline
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^^ Not true at all. Add up the pay, the benefits, the ability to retire at 50 (or even younger) and collect a pension for longer than the number of years worked. Some small town cops might be under paid, bit not state or city cops.
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  #26  
Old 11-14-2013, 06:41 PM
nearwildheaven nearwildheaven is offline
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Originally Posted by EmAnJ View Post
My husband's a firefighter, and according to him, the leading cause of death for them is heart attacks.
That's the most common cause of death for just about every occupation, except maybe drug dealer, prostitute, or Mafia boss, I guess. Are you talking about on-duty, or all the time?

As for the idea that my dad might die on the job, that never occurred to me until I was in junior high and someone asked me about it. You don't think about it; really, you don't.
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  #27  
Old 11-14-2013, 07:04 PM
EmAnJ EmAnJ is offline
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Originally Posted by nearwildheaven View Post
That's the most common cause of death for just about every occupation, except maybe drug dealer, prostitute, or Mafia boss, I guess. Are you talking about on-duty, or all the time?

As for the idea that my dad might die on the job, that never occurred to me until I was in junior high and someone asked me about it. You don't think about it; really, you don't.
This is on duty heart attacks - sorry, should have clarified!
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  #28  
Old 11-16-2013, 02:20 AM
Eeyore'sgirl Eeyore'sgirl is offline
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I have and still do work daily with both police officers and firefighters. The reasons they got into their jobs vary dramatically. Some did it for the thrill, some for the benefits, some saw it as a stable career. In all fields where people have some measure of authority you can find those who like the power, and first responders are no exception.

I think what elevates their status to hero level, generally speaking, is that they are the ones going into dangerous situations while the rest of us are trying to get as far away as possible. Most of us don't have jobs where people hate us or want to do us harm. I guess I cut them a bit of slack in the area of cynicism given the fact that they see just how horrible people can be to each other.
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  #29  
Old 11-16-2013, 09:27 AM
notsoheavyd3 notsoheavyd3 is offline
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I have and still do work daily with both police officers and firefighters. The reasons they got into their jobs vary dramatically.
I've always suspected the vice principal at my high school was a part time cop because he liked pushing people around but didn't like that whole having to deal with dangerous people thing. I also thought he liked the fact no student could touch him because you think hitting a school official is bad, imagine if you hit a cop? Admittedly I didn't like him because he made up an excuse to give me detention(I was one of the good kids but I figure he found some excuse to be mad at me.) but then again he would repeatedly make passes at least one girl. (Which was so bad that her family left town. Yes, I knew the family.) I know another one of the parents of another good kid was pissed over a made up detention(don't know the details.) Come to think of it I think my school fired him when he thought he should pick a fight and push his authority. Unfortunately he did that with the state dept. of education.

Come to think of it there was another part time cop at my school that mostly worked as a teacher. If my brother was to be believed he would occasionally assault students.(Admittedly trouble makers but my school was a small one so a trouble maker here would be nothing at a bigger, nasty school.) Anyway cops like that give other cops a bad name.
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  #30  
Old 11-16-2013, 08:59 PM
Zago Zago is offline
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Thanks everyone, for you responses. I wasn't so much looking for examples of other just as dangerous jobs. I agree that cops and firefighters put themselves in perilous situations all the time and I'm glad we have people who can do that. However, I think their reasons are self serving - they get to hunt down, capture and bully people they don't like (including law abiding citizens along the way) and insert themselves into high drama situations which for many is just the adrenalin rush they crave. We certainly need these people in their jobs because most of us don't want to do it. I don't believe that they sacrifice nearly as much as popular culture would like us to believe. I do think that many of them deserve a pay raise in some areas of the country (Boston is an example).

Last edited by Zago; 11-16-2013 at 09:03 PM..
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  #31  
Old 11-17-2013, 03:19 AM
Disposable Hero Disposable Hero is offline
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However, I think their reasons are self serving - they get to hunt down, capture and bully people they don't like (including law abiding citizens along the way) and insert themselves into high drama situations which for many is just the adrenalin rush they crave.
I always think these kind of generalisations say rather more about the person making them than the group they're targeted towards.
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  #32  
Old 11-17-2013, 05:57 AM
FairyChatMom FairyChatMom is offline
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Originally Posted by tim-n-va View Post
"Hero" has ceased to have any real meaning. Someone drinking coffee at their desk in the WTC on 9/11 died a tragic death but did nothing heroic but it was a common refrain to call them hero.
I agree that the word is used too much and rarely correctly. I spent 11 years on active duty in the Navy, and I did absolutely NOTHING that was remotely heroic, yet there are those who would grant me the title because I wore a uniform. Some people are too quick and loose with the honor.

I've always seen a hero as someone who took action above and beyond what the average person would do, without regard for self but only for the good of another. If you jump into a freezing river and rescue someone who fell thru the ice, you're a hero. If you toss a swim ring to a flailing kid in a pool, not so much... To be a hero, ya gotta commit!
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Old 11-17-2013, 06:01 AM
Manda JO Manda JO is online now
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I agree that the word is used too much and rarely correctly. I spent 11 years on active duty in the Navy, and I did absolutely NOTHING that was remotely heroic, yet there are those who would grant me the title because I wore a uniform. Some people are too quick and loose with the honor.

I've always seen a hero as someone who took action above and beyond what the average person would do, without regard for self but only for the good of another. If you jump into a freezing river and rescue someone who fell thru the ice, you're a hero. If you toss a swim ring to a flailing kid in a pool, not so much... To be a hero, ya gotta commit!
Well, this average person would not join the Navy because I am not willing to take even the slight chance of being sent into a warzone for the good of another.
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  #34  
Old 11-17-2013, 07:02 AM
Loach Loach is offline
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Originally Posted by notsoheavyd3 View Post
I've always suspected the vice principal at my high school was a part time cop because he liked pushing people around but didn't like that whole having to deal with dangerous people thing. I also thought he liked the fact no student could touch him because you think hitting a school official is bad, imagine if you hit a cop? Admittedly I didn't like him because he made up an excuse to give me detention(I was one of the good kids but I figure he found some excuse to be mad at me.) but then again he would repeatedly make passes at least one girl. (Which was so bad that her family left town. Yes, I knew the family.) I know another one of the parents of another good kid was pissed over a made up detention(don't know the details.) Come to think of it I think my school fired him when he thought he should pick a fight and push his authority. Unfortunately he did that with the state dept. of education.

Come to think of it there was another part time cop at my school that mostly worked as a teacher. If my brother was to be believed he would occasionally assault students.(Admittedly trouble makers but my school was a small one so a trouble maker here would be nothing at a bigger, nasty school.) Anyway cops like that give other cops a bad name.
I have no idea where you are but in most places I know hitting an on duty school official is a hell of a lot worse legally than hitting an off duty part time officer. And a hell of a lot easier to get a conviction.
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  #35  
Old 11-17-2013, 07:42 AM
Wesley Clark Wesley Clark is online now
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Originally Posted by Orwell View Post
From my observation, most cops choose that line of work because they have authoritarian, sadistic, punitive, cynical, unsympathetic personalities, and they figure out they can make a living while enjoying use of intimidation and force.
I don't know nearly as many cops, but I have met quite a few assholes in that vocation. Any job in security seems to attract bullies and assholes, plus the job seems to make people more insular and even worse in those traits.

Also the domestic violence rates among police is 2-4x higher (or possibly more) than among non-police. A guy who gives out traffic tickets or arrests people for underage drinking all day then goes home and beats his wife and kids is not a hero.

http://www.purpleberets.org/violence..._families.html

Granted a lot of cops aren't assholes, and I'm glad for that. However denying this isn't helping.

The mindless worship of the military after 9/11 is more bothersome than the worship of police and firefighters. It may be hyperbole, but mindless worship of the military and nationalism are early signs of fascism. Plus it makes it harder to have democratic input about government policy when everyone is told to shut their mouths and wave their flags.

I guess 'hero' is a label for anyone who puts themselves in a career where they are in danger of being hurt by other people, or being hurt to protect other people is a hero. Under that guise a lot of vocations occasionally involve heroic acts. Teachers can be heroic if a school shooter comes in.

Last edited by Wesley Clark; 11-17-2013 at 07:44 AM..
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Old 11-17-2013, 08:14 AM
notsoheavyd3 notsoheavyd3 is offline
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I have no idea where you are but in most places I know hitting an on duty school official is a hell of a lot worse legally than hitting an off duty part time officer. And a hell of a lot easier to get a conviction.
I would have never guessed this. (Since I was always under the impression you always get in trouble if you touch a cop regardless of the circumstances.) Anyway looking it up for here in Mass turns out both are covered by laws for "Assault and battery on a public employee". You're right though, it turns out the law is the same for knowingly assaulting an on duty school official as hitting an on duty cop. (And since he wasn't acting as a cop at the time I guess you'd get in trouble for touching the VP.) Anyway learned something new. (Of course I don't want people to get the impression all cops are scumbags like that guy. I mean a couple of the neighbors are cops and they're ok. However it's also true that not all of them are heroes and there are some I wouldn't trust at all.)
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Old 11-17-2013, 11:44 PM
Zago Zago is offline
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The mindless worship of the military after 9/11 is more bothersome than the worship of police and firefighters.
I agree. Well, maybe not more bothersome but at least as bothersome.

Last edited by Zago; 11-17-2013 at 11:46 PM..
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  #38  
Old 11-17-2013, 11:52 PM
Siam Sam Siam Sam is offline
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I have a cousin in California who is a firefighter. He's very professional, and I would not classify him as a "thrill-seeker."

That said, there are a lot of bad cops out there -- and maybe some oddball firemen, but I've not heard too much about those. There was one cop where I grew up in West Texas who was an infamous bully. Everyone seemed to have a story about an encounter with this guy, particularly high-school students, whom he seemed really to hate. I never encountered him myself, because shortly before I started driving, he committed suicide by running head-on into a brick wall at maximum speed.
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  #39  
Old 11-18-2013, 12:32 AM
epbrown01 epbrown01 is offline
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I know good people who are cops and firemen but I think it's a mistake to elevate them as folk heroes who can do no wrong.
I'd say that as many people have a negative view of both groups as there are hero-worshippers and groupies. There's 9/11 but that one event doesn't really take away from the numerous media scandals about bad cops, most centered around cowardice. As far as firefighters, it seems every time I hear about the CFD on the news it's a new racism scandal, and outside the news it's rumors of rampant nepotism.
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