When to Call the Neighbors on Your Cops

Rambunctious ̶n̶e̶i̶g̶h̶b̶o̶r̶s̶ cops got you up at night? Considering calling the ̶c̶o̶p̶s̶ community for help?

Do your cops seem to just not care about the sworn oaths they’ve taken to uphold justice faithfully, to never “betray integrity, character, or the public trust”, to “always have the courage to hold [themselves] and others accountable accountable for [their] actions”? Do you feel unsafe in your own home?

Your neighbors are there to help you in situations like this. They are a last line of defense, a check and balance on unlawful behavior.

Neighbors should never be called on a whim. In most cases, it’s best to resolve issues with cops the usual way: remain civil and remind them of established legal boundaries, only threatening to pursue further action when nothing else works.

However, sometimes it’s not enough to just be polite and law abiding, and you may have to take advanced measures. Historically speaking, making that call can be a big step. It can be tough to know when and where to draw that line. Frankly, it’s scary. After all, calling your neighbors can take away resources from others who may need them, and at worst has been known to spark revolutions.

With that in mind, here are some red flags to look for when considering calling for help on a runaway police state.

Is it a one time thing or does it keep happening? Even one time can be enough to warrant calling in help, but if it seems to be happening over and over and over again, you’re probably dealing with a systemic issue.

Be on the lookout for offenses that seem to be getting more and more egregious, that can be a good indicator something is awry. You may have to search below the surface, as frequent cases can be hidden under layers of more “important” media.

You have a good, probably white, friend who you trust tell you “Oh, It’s a terrible thing, but I’m sure they’re not all bad.”

While your friend’s heart is in the right place, you explain to them that you’ve politely negotiated with the “not bad” ones, and yet the problem persists. You’ve made formal complaints to the landlord, I mean, police chief, but nothing seems to change.

In a healthy democracy, people keep each other in check, on and off duty. That way the individual can feel safe knowing that if a cop does something bad, their peers can come to the rescue, condemn the criminal for it appropriately, and educate each other on better practices.

Does it seem like they’re being unnecessarily rough with children, the disabled, or the elderly?

Check around in your community. Do others agree that the situation is worsening, that enough is enough? Perhaps some people in your community see there’s a problem, but it doesn’t directly affect them as much, so they’re hesitant to act.

It can be especially rough to feel that no one else in your community, especially those with power, will act, so you have to take on the burden of making the call.

Maybe it’s time to band together.

This is one of the biggest ones to watch out for. Are your cops taking the law into their own hands? Do they employ unnecessary brutality as a first resort, knowing there will be no repercussions? Is unchecked aggressive behavior the stereotype for how they interact in certain situations? Do their supervisors and supporters make excuses for unprovoked, suspiciously targeted enforcement? Do those in power divert the attention?

This is perhaps the final straw, the most egregious yet subtle on the list. It can be hard to come to terms with, harder even to prove.

Others tell you you’re overreacting or being too “sensitive”. They encourage you that a peaceful solution can be made. It’s only human to give people the benefit of the doubt, to believe that there’s good in everyone, progress around the corner. There’s “no need to call” in your neighbors, to make an appeal to a wider community. They’re sure it’ll get better on its own, in time.

I mean, what are you going to do, protest? Riot? How will that help?

There’s a societal contract. You sign it when you’re born into a country, whether you like it or not. In exchange for your compliance and patronage in society, you’re given fair and just protection under the keepers of the contract, namely the government, justice department, and the police by extension. At a less romantic level, you pay taxes to fund these protections as a guarantee for your rights.

At some point, though, if things get bad enough, you may find that others have their rights protected while yours are not. Look to who the police report to for as a litmus test. Are police who commit crimes being held to the same rigor of accountability as the average citizen? Are lawmakers condemning malpractice and putting checks into place to prevent authoritarian behavior?

It might be time to make the call.

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Photo by Josh Hild on Unsplash

They/Them | Software Dev | Chronically seeking orange juice | devon.wellsa@gmail.com

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