I do try not to pontificate here on passing politics. I am nearing 70 and I have seen many outrages come and go. Worse times? 60s and 70s Race riots and Vietnam riots. These times take a back seat to then, however, the insanity seems to continue on. I have attended military riot training. Elements of which appear in my Force Necessary: Stick course. As a military and Texas cop, I was in two small riots and “held the line” in various demonstrations.
All kinds of people are stupid. They think stupid, ignorant, short-sighted, immature, emotional things and do stupid things. Which is another reason I sit back and let the throngs pontificate on the social and unsociable media. One fact remains that while there are some stupid cops, there are millions and millions of safe, successful interactions between police and people every year in the USA. And billions of interactions among regular people.
While we had a few incidents in nearby downtown Dallas, 20 minutes north of where I live, life rolls on as usual. While going for coffee this morning, I saw white and black bicyclists on expensive bikes wave and smile at each other as they do each day. If you don’t recognize these normal realities? And the successes from the 1960s? You’re stupid. Ignorant. And by the way, for the small minded? Geographically, if you look at a USA map, the riots are NOT occurring in about 99.999% of the physical country. Everyone else is tongue-wagging at rare stupid cop incidents and looters, and cussing in the air about cop-shooters and poor business owners beaten on the streets. Once again the media, like with Covid, scares the crap out of you like it is happening coast-to-coast. Makes you small-minded, and divides your brains into hapless idiots.
Trying to remain non-political, I would still like to relay a lesson I received in policing that might be to some benefit to the rookies out there, and maybe for a few folks with just one or two, hash marks on their sleeves (it took me this long) about the current mess. To start, for me, growing up in the New York City area we were in a very, lower-class, multi-cultured neighborhood, you might say. (Also, my dad fought Nazis in WW II right beside many “Negroes” as the title was back then, and was totally balanced. I get the idea they saved each other’s lives a few times, but my dad wasn’t much on details. I remember my step-grandfather used the “N” word only once in our house and it didn’t pan out well. Even for way back then. As for me, as a child, I knew Superman and Batman and the Lone Ranger weren’t prejudiced! Heroes are not prejudiced. Heroes solve problems. I never read the Bible, just comics.)
Anyway, New York City area cops were very neighborhood conscious, and normally quite friendly. Back then, there were almost two schools of policing, as I have written about many times, the east coast friendly, and the west coast “robotic” – with dark sunglasses and rehearsed lines. Meanwhile the “friendly cop” system was often accused of corruption possibilities, but the overall style, the concept of knowing people in your beat, your “community” never left my thoughts. East or west.
Being a patrolman, even an investigator in the Army, with giant, revolving populations, and world-changing assignments, getting to know “the local people,” the rotating “community” was difficult for both the police and the people.
“Hochheim, guess where you are going next month! Korea!” Or maybe…BumFuck, Egypt! (No one wants to go to the proverbial, Bumfuck, Egypt or otherwise.)
Later, as a patrolman in Texas, I subconsciously, perhaps haphazardly still tried to carry on that sort of New York City friendly approach to my job. Back then, there was no official police lesson about this friendly approach. Years later, I was accepted as a detective again, this time in Texas, not the Army. It is a different kind job. I like to say that a patrol officer worries more about the windows and outside walls of things – the streets – while a detective worries more about what goes on inside those windows and walls. The more intel you know and have, the better job you do.
The lesson. My old detective Sergeant, Howard Kelly made a passing remark one time, early on. A lesson. (Everyone on the planet has seen the TV show NCIS and I can best describe Howard Kelly as a “cowboy Jethro Gibbs,” in my life.)
(Me and Howard Kelly, an old newspaper photo, circa 1983)
Howard’s remark? “You’ll see these people again and again.” The people of your city. Good guys and bad guys, and he was remarking more about the bad guys. Do not mistreat them. Treat them fairly. Don’t hurt them unnecessarily. Because, you will indeed see them again and again. You might not like them – as I have arrested serial killers and rapists, and you still must do your job straight up. But say, more with your common everyday suspects like thieves, burglaries, forgers, simple assaulters, etc. This fairness, this connection, will absolutely breed confessions and intelligence information for years to come.
Stay with me now, as I am walking a fine line. There are weird exceptions to this rule of thumb of course, which are stories in my true crime books. I have numerous stories about thugs and burglars and so forth that I and detectives on my squad got to know really, really well. We saw them, over and over again. And we actually liked many of them. This can’t be faked by the way. People read the fake. But I like people in general, I find all kinds of people interesting, as did some of my best, most successful, detective friends.
Howard Kelly continued, “They get probation. They get short sentences. They get parole. We’ll see them over and over again. You will have to deal with them over and over again. Treat them fair. Treat them right. They won’t forget.” And we did. For decades. Two more rules of the Road? Problem-solving rule and viewing things on a case-by-case basis rule. Those are other stories.
As an aside to these police-people relationships and which I don’t want to get into great detail about chokes or anything about the neck/throat attacks or holds. They have virtually been banned in law enforcement for decades. I was of the prior, choke era. We choked a lot of people. In 26 years though, I have arrested hundreds of people but I have only choked out about 10 to maybe 15 or so people. (One time when horizontal atop some furniture, while a robber was trying to get my gun.) All the suspects quickly recovered, but the edict came down about chokes, and we all quit choking. Police still try to stick with and argue for “neck restraints,” however a simple wrestling wiggle-and-a-waggle and it easily slips into a taboo choke. (And as when with me about to lose my pistol, there are obvious, lethal force situations that are situationally legit for desperate officers to choke people.) Nowadays this breathing worry has evolved to positional asphyxia concerns – something every MMA person knows of. Compressed chest, etc. I cannot grasp how ANY police officer in the last fifteen years isn’t aware of these neck and chest breathing problems.
Okay, off that and back on “the lesson” track – In recent years, the grand, friendly, law enforcement experiment was Community Oriented Policing, (C.O.P.) a set of rules demanding and forcing friendship.
“There will be a mandatory picnic at 1400 hours, Thursday!”
How do all forced relationships work out? Ask a psychologist. People “read” the fake. Meanwhile, old timers said that C.O.P. was nothing more than old-timey policing. But C.O.P. can get misconstrued. I recall one year, there was more police work put into running the annual Easter Egg Hunt, than on a professional burglary team operating in my city. A few of us detectives had to set all night for about a week, unable to cover all the target businesses, but the egg hunt was splendid.
And thus we have George Floyd. I have not taken a deep dive in the George Floyd particulars. Why was he kept on the street/traffic side? This is never done. Cops themselves are always worried about being run-over. Why was he not cuffed and back-seated? Was there a white cop, a black cop, and an Asian cop there? What was his initial crime? Counterfeiting? It seems to be minor crime, but it’s hidden away in the follow-up, media outrages. Seems he was on an array of drugs, which screws up a lot things. He did resist. But, lots of people being arrested resist. We both get beat up a little. Life sucks. “Cop-life” sucks. “Thug-life” sucks, But, you don’t usually DIE. In a very odd, bizarre way? We’re both in this together. We’re both in this mess together. Playing out the parts. Running the dialogue lines. The good guys are supposed to win out.
Heroes are not prejudiced. Heroes solve problems. Be the hero. So, to you rookies out there, since Howard isn’t around to preach, don’t be stupid. You don’t treat people this way. You don’t man-handle them this way. Black, white or whatever. Like Howard said, “You will see them over and over again. Treat them right.”
But…we won’t be seeing George Floyd anymore, will we. Howard Kelly would not at all be pleased.
(Me and Howard, almost 35 years later, both retired.)
Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com
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W. Hock Hochheim teaches hand, stick, knife and gun combatives to military, police and savvy citizens.