My life as a tyrant


I’m going to say something that will undoubtedly cause me to lose some police officer friends. But I feel it needs to be said anyway. I’m willing to take the heat for it.

Keep in mind, I became a police officer because I wanted to be a good guy. Even though we’ve all seen reports of police brutality and corruption, I still believe we cops are the good guys. I’ve seen cops perform brave, selfless acts for strangers on countless occasions. Even the worst cops I’ve ever known would risk their lives to defend the innocent. But I have to say this anyway. Before you start throwing shoes, hear me out. I have a good reason for saying it.

If you think our police are no threat to your freedom, you’re living in a fantasy world.

Now I’ll explain what I mean. I worked for the United Nations Police Mission in Kosovo for eighteen months. I wasn’t there as a soldier. I was a civilian cop, living in town, basically a Kosovo PD officer. For part of my tour I worked patrol with a group of international officers and local police. We had officers from America, the UK, Germany and Greece, plus local Kosovar Albanians. The Americans were regular street cops from police departments all over the United States.

One of the American officers in my station came from a very wealthy suburban police department. My cop stories were about murders, fights and chases; his were about citizens having garage sales without permits. For some reason, citizens selling things without permits aggravated him to no end.

In postwar Kosovo, many tens of thousands of war refugees lived in the capital. Not enough jobs existed to support them all. Many of them became vendors in a sprawling, dirty bazaar. They supported their families by selling cheap Turkish and Pakistani housewares and trinkets. Under old Yugoslav law, which was still the legal standard, those vendors had to have permits. Few bothered to stand in line at a dilapidated government building to pay for a permit.

This officer – I’ll call him Joe – became infuriated every time he patrolled the bazaar. He’d find vendors without permits, then ticket and berate them. He’d make note of other illegal vendors so he could ticket them later. He’d even drive through the bazaar off-duty to spot illegal vendors for future targeting. He’d vent his anger about illegal vendors at us, which always made me laugh. I didn’t care the least bit about vendors without permits, and thought Joe would eventually get over it. I was wrong.

Joe got so mad at illegal vendors that he researched Yugoslav law. We had been advised not to do anything that violated the Bill of Rights, but officially Yugoslav law was still in effect. And Joe discovered he could use Yugoslav law to do something about those damn illegal vendors.

Joe put a plan together. Officers from a couple of stations, along with some NATO troops, would go through the bazaar, identify which vendors had no permits, and confiscate all their merchandise. Local Albanian Kosovo Police Service (KPS) officers would assist. A large NATO truck would follow the officers so they could load all the confiscated items. All the seized property would immediately be donated to charity organizations.

When I heard the plan, I was amazed. Then I got angry. Why would anyone, in a country which had suffered through a horrible war less than two years earlier, think vendors without permits were such a big deal? We didn’t have a crime problem in the bazaar, the only reason we were going in there was because Officer Joe had a personal issue with the vendors. And wouldn’t an operation like that violate people’s rights?

I argued against the operation, and was overruled. Since Yugoslav law allowed it, we were doing it. I was ordered to take my team of KPS officers and participate.

The day of the operation, I forced myself to show up for work. My KPS officers were angry, frustrated and hesitant. They didn’t want to do to their people what we were about to make them do. But their jobs and livelihood, like mine, depended on following those orders. So we walked out of the station toward the bazaar.

An officer from a European country met me outside the bazaar, held out a stack of papers and sternly ordered, “Take these. You’ll need them to document what you confiscate.”

I kept my hands down. “I’m not taking them. I think this is wrong. We can’t just take people’s property.”

The officer held the papers out further. “It doesn’t matter. They’ve been warned. Take the forms.”

I didn’t move, or respond. The officer maintained his stern demeanor for a few seconds. Then, seeing that I wasn’t going along with it, he backed down.

“Okay, fine. Just take some forms, in case you change your mind.”

I took a few forms and stuck them in my pocket. The next time they came out, later that afternoon, I dumped them in the trash.

The operation began. Dozens of officers entered the bazaar, followed by NATO soldiers and their cargo truck. The vendors initially didn’t know what was happening. Then cops walked up to stalls and asked for permits. Nobody had them. The cops grabbed everything they had and threw it into the back of the truck.

Hundreds of vendors picked up their wares and ran. The slow ones were accosted and stripped of their possessions. KPS officers swarmed me, saying, “We can’t do this! This is what the Serbs used to do!” I stood back, watching the chaos in angry silence, and said something in Albanian. It was a phrase I never in my life expected to say.

Ne jeme komunista sot.” We are communists today.

Our KPS officers were ordered, forced, to join in. They grudgingly helped take the property, although a few from another station were enthusiastic about it. Customers in the bazaar stood close by and yelled insults at the KPS officers, or screamed things like “Why are you doing this?” One KPS officer almost got into a fight he didn’t want to be in, over something he didn’t want to do, with one of the customers. Guilt was obvious on the KPS officer’s face. That was hard to watch.

I stayed back. Officer Joe, the illegal vendor hater, picked out an old man selling bananas. The old man, who looked about eighty but was probably younger, struggled to pick up boxes of bananas before the truck arrived. Officer Joe reached the old man’s stall, tore a box from the old man’s hands and threw it in the truck. The old man grabbed the next box. Joe fought it away.

I remember standing there in impotent frustration, thinking, So now we’re literally wrestling food away from old men. This is disgusting.

I finally managed to grab a handful of KPS officers and leave. I stayed at the station until the operation ended, angry at what we had done and at myself for being part of it. I had stood by and done nothing as a fellow cop turned us into petty tyrants. That still bothers me.

Joe beamed with pride when he came back to the station. As he promised, all the confiscated property was donated that day. No vendors had been ticketed. None received receipts for their property. None had recourse to recover what had been taken. If police did that here, they would be charged with a crime.

Later that day I argued my way up the chain of command that the operation had been wrong, we shouldn’t have done it and should never do it again. An Irish officer agreed with me. But a senior American officer listened to me with a disinterested expression and said, “Look man, it’s legal here. So I don’t have a problem with it.”

I learned a lot from that operation. Prior to it, I had been something of an idealist about cops. I thought American cops would go by what’s right and wrong instead of looking for what they can legally get away with. I know now that cops like Joe have no problem violating people’s rights, as long as they have some “official” way to do it.

Maybe you’re thinking, “But this was in another country, so it’s okay.” I don’t think so. I took an oath to defend the Constitution, not to enforce any law no matter what it is. If I go to Afghanistan as a cop, I’m not going to beat women for walking the street without a male relative, even if it’s legal there.

So why do I tell this story now? This might seem like an abrupt topic change, but it isn’t. It’s directly related.

I keep hearing we don’t need the 2nd Amendment. I keep hearing the 2nd Amendment is an anachronism. I keep hearing that it was written for a time long past, when we had to worry about foreign invasion and government tyranny. I keep hearing the 2nd Amendment should be repealed because there’s no threat of tyranny today.

I’ll agree that we don’t currently worry about foreign invasion. But we ALWAYS have a worry about government tyranny. Don’t tell me, “it can’t happen here.” I know better. I was there when Officer Joe stole people’s property, because he had a personal vendetta and knew he could get away with it. Don’t tell me police officers won’t engage in tyranny. I’ve seen it.

Joe was, in many ways, a good guy. He wasn’t a horrible, hateful man who just oozed evil from every pore. He and I had a lot of decent conversations about life (and a HELL of a lot of arguments about what limits our authority should have). No doubt he did good things for people in the past, and probably did good things after Kosovo. He likely never did anything like the bazaar operation in America. But he did it in Kosovo, because he COULD.

Our founding fathers were incredibly intelligent, insightful men. They knew an external threat of invasion could exist. And more importantly, they knew an internal threat of tyranny would always exist. They knew that even basically good guys like Joe can let their personal hatreds control their official actions. They knew that even Officer Chris Hernandez might maybe, once or twice, have a little nagging thought like, There should be an automatic death penalty for anyone who drives through a quiet neighborhood at 3 a.m. blaring gangster rap. They knew I better have threats over my head, to keep me from carrying out that death sentence.

The founding fathers knew guys like me and Joe need to be controlled. They wrote the 4th Amendment so we would have to follow rules when we took people’s property. And they wrote the 2nd Amendment so that if we ever decided not to care about citizens’ rights, the citizens could forcibly change our minds.

This nation was formed by armed rebellion. Our freedoms were maintained by armed resistance to foreign threats. Our police and military exist to protect the rights that many hundreds of thousands of brave, armed Americans died for. We serve the descendants, family and friends of those men and women. We call them “sir” or “ma’am”, even if they’re a laborer and we’re a police chief or 4-star General. We don’t bend them to our will, we don’t strip their rights “for their own good”. We don’t repeal the Bill of Rights in order to protect them from the sometimes horrible consequences of freedom.

As I’ve said before, I don’t speak for anyone but me. Many, many cops will vehemently disagree with me about this (which might sort of prove my point). But I WANT law-abiding citizens to have guns. I WANT them to have a means to defend themselves from ME. I DON’T want the people I’ve sworn to defend worrying about Officer Joe and his friends taking their property on a whim. I feel ZERO threat, absolutely none, from lawfully armed good citizens.

I’ve been a cop in Texas for almost 19 years. I’ve interacted countless times with armed homeowners, business owners, and concealed carry permit holders. I’m absolutely comfortable knowing that they’re not helpless lambs, totally dependent on me for their safety and freedom. I’m there to protect good citizens from criminals; citizens have weapons to protect themselves not just from criminals, but also from me and Officer Joe.

That’s how it should be. That’s why we have a 2nd Amendment. And officers like me and Joe are why it shouldn’t be repealed.

NOTE ADDED 3/3/13: I’ve received a lot of interesting replies to this post today. Many of them point out my failure to act that day in the bazaar. Fair enough; this post obviously isn’t a defense of what I did. I don’t think there’s any way to interpret this story as a boast about my inability to stop something I knew was wrong. I admit guilt and don’t flinch from the criticism.

However, some of the comments have gone way beyond simple analysis of my actions, or justifiable criticism of law enforcement. There have been calls for violence against police, accusations that the President is a Nazi, claims that the federal government is preparing for all-out war against the citizens, etc. I’ve deleted those comments.

On the “how I roll” page I describe the rules I follow writing this blog. The comments I receive don’t have to follow the same guidelines, but those like I just described won’t be posted. This blog isn’t anti-police, anti-government, or a place for people to vent all their anger and suspicions about any political party, federal government agency or elected representative.

I welcome rational, intelligently presented dissenting opinions. This is a site where I hope reasonable people can calmly discuss important issues. It’s not a place for internet tough-guyism, veiled threats made from the anonymous safety of a computer, or expressions of support for any revolution.

Because I love this country, the last thing I’ll ever advocate is warfare between citizens and any arm of the government. The vast majority of police officers, members of the military and American citizens are fantastic people. We as a nation are strong enough to correct problems, even those we’re facing today, with discussion instead of violence.

281 Responses to “My life as a tyrant”

  1. I love the article and the points you were making. Our founding fathers had great insight.
    With a provident inspiration in my opinion. We have to be vigilant.Thank you for your continued service.

  2. 2 Gyre07

    Good job Chris! Even thought this will cost you, you can console yourself with the fact that your demonstration of resistance shows your fellow officers, and hopefully some civilians that not all cops are nazis drunk on power. It’s an important lesson for both groups.

  3. 3 Arklight Assassin

    Thank you so much for sharing this. Though many of us might feel you should have done something, the fact that you stood your ground to not take part of the confiscation was enough action. Anything could have happened if you chose to physically rebel. Civilians might riot over seeing an authoritative figure acting against the law and violence could have ensued. After recovering from a war, unnecessary violence is not what anyone needs. It was very refreshing to read this and I feel peace in my heart knowing there are people like you out there; authoritative figure or not. Because it’s not your status or rank that changes the world but who you are and who you want to be.

  4. 4 James S LaRoche

    in the year 1975 my rights were violated i was cuffed and beaten by a zealous rookie . it left me with things in my head i cannot erase . as recent as 2008 i seen that cop out front his home i stopped and said Hi . after a few moments I ask /Joe what were you thinking when you and your friend beat me that night to my amazement he said its all water under the bridge that was over 30 years ago ! this man had no remorse what so ever ! i told joe i still suffer nightmares from it you just don’t know what effects your actions can have on others even a lifetimes worth ! to all you good police out there please dont be a bully and just do your job righteously no one deserves what happened to me !
    James S LaRoche

  5. Read about the Children’s Massacre at Belaya Tserkov for the logical extension to what you are talking about:

    Following orders, they say.

    Thanks for being one of the good guys, and realizing that not all orders are lawful, moral, or just.

  6. This isn’t going to change until cops do some really serious thinking about how to change it. Start with this question: if you were a random person, how would you like to be treated? Read copblock and pretend you’re just a kid – would you want to be tased and beaten for suspicions, failure to comply, and so forth? I respect your concern for your own safety — no question about that – but you’ve got to see how it looks from the other side.

    Then, you need to ask how to do things differently. What needs to change?

    We are not all “perps” — almost of us are just ordinary people who want to get home safely.

    Cops have got to push back against stupid and/or unconstitutional laws. This insane anti-gun hysteria is a case in point. You may want to give serious thought to your brothers in blue who object to the War Against Politically Incorrect Substances; you must know that illicit markets are the fuel which drives organized crime and which increases corruption. Where there are many laws, there are many thieves and much corruption.

    • Terry,

      There’s no question police need to remember what it’s like to be on the other side of the police-citizen interaction. We need to remember that just because we don’t feel like we present a threat, someone else might feel different. And while we should never ignore what we think is a threat, we have to be careful not to overreact to something that maybe isn’t there. That’s all easier said than done, and if I discovered the formula I could write a book and make millions.

      I’m a small guy. I used to think that was a curse, but throughout the years I see how valuable it was to me as a cop. I had to learn, and learn fast, how to talk to people, because I couldn’t beat everyone in a fight. Throw in the fact that I started in a tiny department where I was sometimes the only officer on duty in the city, and you might understand why I didn’t turn into the overbearing type. Not that I’ve never been that way, because sometimes you HAVE to be. But it’s not the normal way I interact with the average guy.

      Thanks for making good points, and presenting them well. It’s all important stuff to ponder.

  7. 8 JT

    Thank you for your honesty and for being one of the “good ones” so to speak. It’s unfortunate that some people, that have some power, abuse it. They forget, or never realize, that they work for the people of their community and their job is to protect and serve those same people. I am fortunate that the town I live in has a majority of good officers, but there are still a few that should not have a badge and, if they didn’t, would probably be locked up for any number of violations ranging from DUI and Drug Dealing to Domestic Abuse and Sex Crimes. They would be the cops that would, and do, violate a citizens right without question in a state of emergency. They would also be the ones with a target on their back if the opportunity presented itself. Not all cops are bad but the few that are make it a tougher job for the rest. I enjoy your site, keep up the good work.

  8. 9 K.

    I am a French volunteer police officer, part of the Gendarmerie, which is as you know surely, a military police with both provost and LE duties in our country.

    In addition, perhaps ironically given the country and context, I am an enthusiast in all things firearms, as a passion of mine. I am also deeply interested in American history and culture, and I have immense respect for the US founding fathers, the American Constitution and their vision of the world; the vision of a few good men who had, genuinely, the best intentions.

    At heart, I am also a libertarian, believing that ultimately, nothing in the world regarding us humans, is more important than human freedom to live and to act, with given respect to others’ freedoms.

    I may be young, aged 20 as I am posting this, and I may be inexperienced, but this article touched me, made me feel sick, and at the same time, proud. Sick, because like you, I chose to join a law enforcement institution, because I want to work for the People as a whole, because I want to do what’s right, or at least what I feel is right. And like you, I already realize that even initially good men such as Officer Joe, can ruin and break the efforts of good men such as YOU, because they focused on what’s good for the law, and not what’s good for the people.

    This issue underlines a question I keep asking myself, perhaps every day, about the issue of “morally right” vs “legal”. It is incredibly difficult to both do what’s good for the people and what’s good for the law. Does that mean the people and the government are not sufficiently in phase? Does that mean either is wrong, or has a problem? The answers to these are down to opinions and context.

    But as for me, I wish to simply express my thanks, for your service, first and foremost, for your intentions to be the best kind of police officer there is; the one that does, or at least, wants to do what is RIGHT. And thanks again, for writing this article, whom I shall link to acquaintances, and refer to as an example, whenever people ask me what I think of police corruption, and the entire “law” vs “morals” paradox.

    If you believe in God, may He bless you, and if you don’t, may you continue on your chosen path. In both cases, you have my salute, and my utmost respect.

    • K,

      I worked with some very good Gendarmes in Kosovo, was around a few in Afghanistan, and fought alongside some fantastic French Soldiers and Marines. In fact, a Legionnaire is currently translating my book into French. I hope to someday visit France and speak about my experiences as an American serving in combat with the French.

      The “law vs morality” question is difficult to answer. Law is often a poor substitute for morality, but more often law is the best guideline we have. A good police officer knows when to enforce the letter of the law, follow the spirit of the law rather than the letter, and when to just walk away. That kind of discretion only comes with maturity, experience and guidance from experienced veterans. I wish I could tell you there’s an easy formula, but every situation is different, every person is different, and what works in one incident may be completely wrong at the next one.

      I met many firearms enthusiasts in the French military. I was very surprised to discover anyone can buy a supressor in France, without a permit. One of my French friends had several supressors, and offered to give me one when I was coming home. It was very hard for me to say no.

      Thank you for your words, and for your service as well. You seem to have a much better understanding of the world and morality than I did when I was 20. I hope you have a long and successful career as a gendarme.


  9. 11 MKCC

    I appreciate all that you have written. I think that it would also be very informative/helpful to let people know what they can do about it and help safe guard against it happening to them.

    To make statements on a problem, no matter the problem, even one that you have seen and/or been a part of yourself, that has no solution for the people to work with, in order to help calm their own fears of it happening to them, is what causes so many to rant. It is a sense of helplessness for people and their only form of retaliation. Sad but true. I have seen it time and time again. A person witnessing some wrong tells about it….never giving a solution…or if a solution is given, it is such an unusable one that it just upsets people more or a solution is suggested and includes things most people won’t be a part of.

    I have known many good police officers and known some bad. There are more good then bad. But…understand…EVIL WINS EVERY TIME THE GOOD STANDS BY AND DOES NOTHING TO STOP THEM.

    I am pretty sure that if more good officers were more forward, to more of their comrades, regarding the moral/ethical issues, then enough of you could stop the ones who would do harm in the name of authority. I am also very certain that at least 80% of officers (those not on a power trip) would stop the 20% who make the rest look bad. But since 80% are good, there is hope…and you are most likely not alone in your knowledge of what is going on, you could do something to make things better. This then would again bring respect back to the place it belongs and being a police officer would be something to look up to, again in the eyes of the public (which is where it should be), not just among yourselves.

    I find it absolutely insane how people go us against them or all anti-government or anti-police, etc over things, and especially people who say it is one political party or the others fault. This is so not true. As both parties are no longer representing the people, but their own agenda for power or some special interest group, but definitely NOT THE PEOPLE.

    And for people to see the real problem is so beyond doable… because of the propaganda spun by the media, that feeds the frenzy, to such a degree that no one can communicate with another to actually iron out the truth. It is only opinions that people are following, not Truth.

    Even the political parties say it is the other party causing all the problems…both sides accuse the other party of the same thing. This causes people to not see what really is happening. They just blame the other party, which causes regular citizens to become divided and so much easier to concur, It only reinforces the false data that the media continues feeds them. People need to stop believing the media and the politicians. They need to LOOK at what they are doing, not what they saying.

    It is not a party that will help the people. It is the people who need to educate themselves and know what is going on, rather than someone telling them what is going on within their government. Which is not what is really happening, even the information being spread to the police about its citizens is false data. The data is meant to bring about an “us” vs “them” mentality, so that no one can trust anyone. This makes tyranny really thrive. Feed the police information that the public citizen is dangerous and needs to be controlled for their own good. Feed the public with news that the police are tyrants or power mongers and we must stop them. And watch the fun begin!!!


    This goes for races, religions, political parties, countries and even something as simple as a person with a different view than you, no matter how slight the difference.

    The good must learn to stand up for what is right, so wrong does not concur the world. But the real question is….What is right and What is wrong??? Depends on your view…which is so easy to manipulate. Right is that which harms the least. Wrong is that which helps the least. Or Right is that which helps the most and wrong is that which harms the most.

    If people are starving in a country, that has no jobs for people to support themselves…then selling without a permit is the least of its worries.

    But, as for the basic topic of your writing on “My life as a tyrant” – It is good to know that you see what is happening and how someone bent on stopping others, as long as it is made legal first, whether it is right or wrong, is exactly what people need to hear about. And for all your confession, unless you can help the people learn to over come the wave of tyranny crossing America (or the world for that matter), it does no good to just tell about it.

    Solutions to the problem are what’s needed.

    But understand, it may come with a price, for every whistle-blower that has ever come forward about what is happening with things in America or around the world gets black-propaganda listed. They are made to seem crazy or disgruntled or made out to be a criminal, or black-balled in the news. So, just be aware of what will come your way, but also understand that you really need to do more than just tell about something. You need to not only do something, you need to help others overcome the fears of it happening to them by teaching them what they CAN DO.

    And To any Police Officer that would disrespect you for the statements that you made against this kind of tyranny… just know…they fall into the 20% evil category or are falling from the 80% who have become powerless to stop the 20%, for they are now at the mercy of the 20% who love power over the others who do not stop them.

    • MKCC, you have put into words so much of what has been in my head here lately! Great post! I have to thank Chris again for the patience and reasonableness in his responses to some previous posts. I will also say it is measured, thoughtful concerned people like many here who will make a difference. Keep up the great work, hard as it will end up being!

    • MKCC,

      You make a lot of good points. All I can tell you is that my first step is speaking out, to raise awareness. Step two, is…well, I don’t know. But speaking out is a start.

      One odd thing that’s happened regarding police officers disrespecting me for writing this: I haven’t heard a single negative comment from a single police officer. Maybe some cops hate me, but every one who has spoken to me in person or commented on the blog has been supportive. So far all the negative stuff has come from civilians who don’t think I did enough to stop what happened (and they’re right).

    • 14 RYetman

      I know the feeling,I was a San Diego police Officer and after 12 years in the Corps.,I was a proud marine ad always wanted to be a police officer ,after 2.5 years as an Officer in San Diego at a squad briefing we were told by the higher up’s the brass so to speak The Mayor and the Governor decide that we were no longer out their to protect and serve ,we in the squad laughed a bit and asked the Captain what was the Joke he said no joke we are now terrorists,predators and revenue collectors and that they wanted us to get at least 20 citations issued a day each . We looked on in disbelief and myself and 2 other officers and the captain quit that day and walked out said no way this is not what we signed up for .Still wanting to be a good police officer went back home to NJ and tried transferring on with the NJ state police and they told me that this is exactly how it was their too .So my career as a police officer came to an abrupt end.!2 years as a Marine and 2.5 years as a police officer and 5 generations of public service behind me know way was I going to become a tyrant ,so now I drive a motor coach all over this continent and I am still a public servant and I love my job !

    • You wanted to know what to add on to this article. That would be called the American Legislative Exchange Council….or ALEC. However, most people just want to bicker. They don’t want to know about what is going on. It is about Money over Poverty and there is money to be had in taking away food, civil rights, turning any love into hate at all costs. I know it. Google, AZ secy of state, then left hand side hit: Legislative filings. Well I say start at 2012 to make it interesting and then go to 2013. Called Spiritual Warfare. So what does the next look like. Self sustaining, Holistic, Love Your Brother as Yourself. The Thin Red Line.

  10. Thank you Officer Hernandez for writing this.

  11. 18 R.T.


    First, let me explain that, as a general rule, I do not like cops. I’ve never had a positive interaction with a police officer who was on duty, and my girlfriend was sexually assaulted by a police officer who pulled her over on a frivolous traffic stop in the early hours of the morning almost one year ago. He is still patrolling. The “thin blue line” protected his sorry ass.

    Secondly, let me applaud you for stepping forward to confess an act of aggression committed against innocent people by one of your comrades, and for confessing your own failures as a police officer in that situation. It seems that you did about all you could, realistically, by arguing against the “operation” and then by removing yourself from participation. I do not know you, but those are the actions of a good man in a bad profession.

    Yes, I do mean that all police officers, whether they try to do good or not, are employed by an evil organization-the State. What is the State but a group of individuals who claim the authority to initiate violence against people who never threatened them, or anyone else? Yes, I understand the concept of a peace officer, but how often in your own career can you honestly say that you filled that role as opposed to the number of victimless “crimes” for which you have harassed, arrested, or otherwise aggressed against individuals. How many speeding tickets have you written that have stripped someone of a weeks pay or more? How many “drug busts” have you participated in that tore families apart simply because someone was using a non-state approved drug?

    I have no respect for the police as an organization, because they are just another arm of the State. I do have respect for individual police officers, such as yourself, who have the courage to refuse to violate the rights of others. I just wish more would do so, and do so consistently.

    Thank you for writing, and good luck in getting your fellow LEOs to look at us “civilians” as human beings again.

    • 19 Houston

      Great read. Thanks for the balanced approach. It’s easy to let one’s power over others go to one’s head…whether it be a bully in school, a parent whipping their kid in anger (as opposed to punishment), a cop messing with a civvy, or a politician extorting bribes, etc. It’s human nature…and yes the founders of this great land set up a truly wonderful protection system that is constantly under attack…

      Thanks for sharing your experience.

      • Houston,

        I think for a lot of us who grew up with a rosy view of human nature, it’s a shock to see people who are happy to abuse power. Now that I’ve been in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan it doesn’t surprise me anymore. But we’re so insulated against what goes on in the rest of the world, we forget how bad human nature can be. I had to learn that lesson the hard way, and I hope my story is a reminder at a time we need it.

        Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • R.T.,

      As I wrote in another comment, I spent the majority of my time working night shift in high crime areas. That meant I had the good fortune, so to speak, of focusing on real crimes: murder, robberies, stolen cars, shootings and stabbings. I did also make a lot of drug arrests, and I can tell you my personal attitude toward the drug war and drug laws has changed quite a bit over the years.

      I obviously don’t agree with your stance toward police organizations in general, but I understand your point and appreciate the fact that you presented it in a well-written and reasonable manner. Maybe some day we can sit down and talk it out. I think if government at all levels worried more about real crimes and less about enforcing morality, fewer people would feel the way you do about law enforcement.

      Thank you for your comments, and for sharing your perspective.

  12. 22 zilla223

    Thank you for having the courage to share your experience so others may learn.

  13. OK! This guy is right. I mean, what is the difference in this story and a school official suspending a kindergaten student for eating a pastry in such a way that the school official sees a ‘GUN’?

  14. 25 David Spicer

    Thank You for writing this. I just found this today on Breach Bang Clear. As a fellow cop I feel your emotional struggle. I have spoken at great length with many of my co-workers on this topic, disarming the American people. To a man they have stated that they will never take guns away from the people. For this I commend them. However, I fear that when faced with the loss of their jobs and possibly their freedom, many may reconsider. Look at what happened in New Orleans during Katrina. I know in their hearts many of my co workers will hate it, many will disagree, some will speak out but how many will actually cross that line. My prayers are that things will never come to that but I fear, deeply fear, that our country has gone to far. I have never seen the country more divided. Even in my family, I have in-laws whom we have had a really serious argument about gun control and they can’t be reasoned with. They are a doctor and lawyer husband and wife and are so out of touch with reality. We have broken off any contact with them. I have never seen the country so divided and things just keep getting worse.
    This divide is most prominent between those in large cities and the rural areas. This divide is also widening between age groups. Our public schools are not teaching any of our founding principals and are (i believe purposefully) destroying any national pride, rugged individualism and self reliance that our kids have.
    Here is one final thought.
    A few years ago I was working back on the road on midnight shift when we responded to a home alarm. We found a back door unlocked, the alarm was going off so we went in to investigate. After clearing the first floor we started up stairs, I kept getting a worse feeling as we went. Half way up the stairs I yelled as loud as I could, “Sheriff’s Office”. A woman in a night shirt came out of a room at the top of the stairs scared to death, I had just waken her, she later told us that she had just gotten back from a trip and was very tired and never heard the alarm. This incident got me to thinking and prompted a conversation between my wife and I. I asked my wife to make sure that if a home owner ever shot me in a situation like that to not let anyone press charges against him or her. When I told some of my coworkers about this they did not really understand why I felt this way. But when you think about it, I believe there must be intent, real malice before someone should be labeled a criminal. A scared homeowner protecting themselves does not fit that bill. Neither does a law abiding citizen who happens to be a gun owner.

    David Spicer
    Deputy Sheriff

    • David,

      I don’t know any officers who say they’ll disarm Americans either. But like you said, it’s one thing to say it, another to do it when you stand to suffer personally. Now that I’ve had this experience and failed to live up to my principles, I know better what I’ll do next time.

      Regarding your experience with the homeowner, you might want to read my blog post “The nightmare that almost was”. I wouldn’t have wanted that woman charged either.

      Thanks for reading and commenting, and for keeping the faith. Stay safe out there.

  15. 27 Arondeus

    “Ne jeme komunista sot.” We are communists today.

    Part of the problem is ignorance – and this comment was supremely ignorant.

  16. 29 Bob

    The problem, as a few others have mentioned, is that the “good” Police let this crap happen. Look, I have a lot of respect for Cops. But, at some point, they went from “Peace Officer” to “Law Enforcement Officer” in their mentality. There’s an “Us vs. Them” mentality in the Police that has been noticed by many, many Americans over the last decade. “Officer Safety” is the new excuse to do the most ridiculous things. Put the freaking SWAT/Paramilitary gear away. You’re not a Soldier. This isn’t a Combat Zone.

    I don’t want any Cop hurt. Ever. But, between you getting hurt, or an innocent American’s rights being trampled? You get hurt. You take the risk. That’s the job. You get the armor. You get the gun. You get the back up. You get the Tax Payer funded salary, benefits, and retirement. Don’t agree to putting the Rights of others above your safety? Quit. Because you aren’t worthy to wear that flag on your uniform, as many do. Men have died defending those Rights by the hundred thousands. You think your safety trumps that blood?

    Wrong. You disgrace them and yourself.

    What I find so amusing are all the Police who have come out of this 2nd Amendment thing. Now? NOW? Now, you have a problem with the Bill of Rights being violated? All the ridiculous crap that has been foisted upon the public, that you’ve enforced, and now you have a problem? Just because it’s a law doesn’t make it right, does it? See…this gun thing is something that finally affects you. Now you remember what it’s like to stare down the pointy end of the stick, don’t you? Now you remember what it’s like to think that somebody with superior numbers is going to come take your stuff, and there’s nothing you can do.

    This is what We The People contend with every day with Law Enforcement. And, now that you’ve been reminded what it’s like, you want to be with We The People…because it benefits you.

    Don’t wait for the Jackbooted thugs to come before you start standing up for what’s right, dammit! Do it now. Break that ridiculous blue wall of silence, and stand up! Jesus. I know that most Cops are stand up guys. Well…be a stand up guy already! It’s on YOU to take a jackass aside and school him. You are responsible for your own Team. Got it? That Constitution shredding idiot you can’t stand on your Force? Take him aside. Again and again. Get others to. Damn, guys. Nobody can stop this but you.

    Or, god in heaven forbid, you might one day find out what it is really like to experience Us vs. Them.

    You think you’re a Patriot? Then, be one. Every damned day.

  17. thank you for this blog. if nothing else it does point out that good men will do things they don’t want to do because they are ordered to do so. they may be reluctant but they will do so. it is a lesson to be heeded.

  18. Great Post! We humans are not always good.

  19. 33 Cliff Peterson

    In my opinion you found yourself between a rock and a hard place. In your added note you pointed out your “failure to act.” I disagree that you failed to act. I’ll express that disagreement in the form of a question. Do you think it would have been wise to jeopardize your career for a one time occurrence, contrived and implemented by someone else and in a foreign country of all places, where they’re actions were legal? In my opinion you did the wise thing in going along because you had to, yet remaining silent and not engaging.

    • Cliff,

      I hear what you’re saying, and I’ve said those same things to myself before. But it feels an awful lot like rationalizing.

      Thanks for the comment, I appreciate it.

  20. 35 prospector0980

    Hi Chris, Thanks for the article most people have never nor will ever go through the emotional turmoil that you have gone through to get to the stage in your life. To realize that life can and sometimes does become harder to control because of some thing that you should have prevented but didn’t. It is always the little things that can make a person stronger or destroy them. If you had caught Joe before he got on his destructive path would he have listened? Probably not, then what to do? I seems like a small thing, like the officer said, not a big deal. But to those people it was a very big deal, the old man probably died and many of the others were put in a much worse position. How much respect did the multi-national police loose? In my view if you could not convince Joe to stop his campaign then he should have been eliminated either by separation or by force.
    Why you say and I say. It all goes back to the saying “FOR EVIL TO SURVIVE, ALL IT TAKES IS FOR ONE GOOD MAN TO DO NOTHING” . I wonder what old Joe is doing now? He got away with his ‘little’ thing back then what was or is his next step? Bigger is better and BADDER is ever BADDER.
    I was in Viet Nam and saw what bad and badder is, it is not pretty. EVIL is when bad is not stopped. No matter where it is evil must be stopped.

    • For ‘good men to do something’, they need to do so as free men and women, divorced from legal capture under Congressionally granted ‘citizen of the United States’, statue, returned to that of their original, ordinary, independent States.

      “All codes, rules and regulations are applicable to the government authorities only, not human/Creators in accordance with God’s laws. All codes, rules and regulations are unconstitutional and lacking in due process …” Rodriques v Ray Donavan (U.S. Department of Labor), 769 F. 2d 1344, 1348 (1985)

    • Prospector,

      Thanks for the comments, and for your service. I think Joe probably did that there, came back to “normal” rules, and didn’t do anything like that again (or at least, not to that scale). He probably still jacked with permitless vendors, but just by writing tickets.

      One of my ways of doing something against evil is to speak out about it. And ask other officers to make the decision now, instead of waiting until it actually happens in front of you and then screwing it up.

  21. Armed citizens. Armed cops. Armed military. It’s like the checks and balances of the three branches of government.

  22. Until I see the good cops turning in the bad cops ,you are all bad cops.and need to be retrained to a new standard which means you have to have a soul and honor to your oath.that thin blue line needs to be erased to reveal transparency and cops held accountable equal to how citizens are punished ,no exceptions.

  23. 41 Marc Bechtol

    Had Joe been met with armed resistance, who’s side would you have taken?

    You sicken me.

    • I suspect I sicken you just by the fact that I’m a cop, and whatever answer I give won’t change that. No worries. You still asked a fair question, so I’ll give an honest answer.

      I don’t know. A lot of different factors would have come into play in that situation. I hated the fact that we were there doing that in the first place, and would have had zero desire to fire on the vendors. I shopped in that bazaar myself. I wish there had been a realistic danger of someone firing on us, because if there had been we probably wouldn’t have risked doing that stupid operation in the first place.

      On the other hand, would I want to see Joe get shot over being a prick? No. I don’t want to see anyone die over something that can be handled peacefully through legal means.

      Back in the 90’s I spent a year in a debate group with people I would describe as “intellectual anarchists”. From them I learned a lot about the concept of natural rights, principled thinking, and “right of resistance”. They tended to speak in hyperbole a lot. Some of them even insisted that since nobody could morally compel anyone to get a driver’s license, a traffic stop resulting in a ticket for no license was immoral force. And therefore the driver was morally justified in killing the police officer for giving him a ticket.

      My perception is that you feel like Joe deserved to get shot, and I would have been immoral to defend him in any way. I don’t think so. I think the right thing would have been to get Joe and the rest of us out of there, and minimize the damage. I don’t know how easy that would have been to actually do.

      I had another situation in Kosovo, when I was on foot patrol one night with a team of five local officers. We were passing a apartment building and a few guys hanging out started yelling insults. I didn’t speak enough Albanian to understand them, but my officers got pissed. One of them started yelling back. Then the guys hanging around the apartments started gathering up and posturing like they wanted to fight. The local officers started doing the same thing.

      I asked the interpreter what the guys at the apartment were saying. She said they were just yelling insults, nothing serious.

      I made my officers walk away. They were furious. The guys from the apartments even followed us for a little while, and I didn’t let my officers confront them. When we got back to the station we had a heated discussion, and I had to explain some things to them. They were no longer in a communist country, people don’t have to like the police, people can speak out even if it pissed the police off. And if they had confronted those guys, it would most likely have turned into a fight over ego. It would have been different if those guys were making threats or committing a crime. They weren’t. They were just talking. And in those cases it’s best to just walk away, not to take a side.

      To get back to your original question, I know that once I was in that bazaar as part of that operation, there was no “perfect” action for me to take. Had there been armed resistance, I couldn’t offer a perfect response. I could only have done what seemed like the best thing at that time. That’s about the best answer I can give.

      • 43 Marc Bechtol

        I don’t have different standards for people based on who employs them. Whether you work for the state, or the Gambini family, you went in and initiated violence against peaceful people. That you’re repentent for that is commendable, except that it is laden with justifications and excuses. That you would have killed a peaceful man to defend a thug like Joe, makes you what. Take off the uniform, put on an expensive Italian suit, and what would you be? Well that’s what you are.

        • Understand your point. My only real rebuttal is that I’m not offering justifications and excuses. I’m pointing out that it’s one thing to talk about a theoretical exercise, another thing to face the reality. In my experience, the reality was was always a much more complicated matter.

  24. 45 Nick E.

    You said your attitude towards drug laws has changed quite a bit in a response earlier. How so and Why? I have been arrested once for marijuana in a ridiculous circumstance in which i opened a door at a hotel police where banging outside of and yelling “such and such police department open up” , I complied, and of course it turns out they weren’t looking for me or banging on my door directly, just standing in front of it. And I got brought to jail at 3am woken up out of a dead sleep. I am also an ex heroin addict, and I have to say it is disturbing how we treat addicts in this country, non violent addicts with a frontal lobe defect in essence. How do you feel about drugs, addicts, and how we persecute and prosecute them in this nation?

    • Nick,

      There are certain things I can’t say, for reasons I hope are obvious. I’ll give you as clear an answer as I can.

      I don’t give drug addicts a pass for what they’ve chosen to do. You mentioned that addiction is a frontal lobe defect, and maybe that’s true. But drug use is also a choice. I understand that once someone becomes an addict, quitting is tremendously difficult. I’ve had a lot of conversations with drug addicts, especially crack addicts, and I think I’ve gained some insight into the difficulties of quitting a drug. But I have never understood why someone would try it in the first place. When we’re talking about crack, which is by far the biggest issue in places I’ve worked, an addict can’t say, “I didn’t know how addictive it was”. We’ve known how crack destroys people for about 30 years. In my mind, there’s no excuse. We KNOW what it does. There’s TONS of information about the dangers. If someone ignores all that and gets addicted anyway, I have no sympathy.

      Having said that, I don’t think we’re accomplishing anything long-term through arrest and imprisonment of users. We make a short-term impact; a hardcore drug addict who goes to jail for one night doesn’t steal anything for one night. But we don’t solve any problems.

      There’s also the moral aspect to consider. Prosecuting someone for a personal choice, that doesn’t affect anyone else, isn’t something we should do. This is especially true regarding marijuana laws. As far as I can tell, marijuana is actually less damaging to individuals and society than alcohol, and I hope the entire nation follows Colorado’s lead about marijuana. I think that would be a huge step forward.

      Will decriminalization work with harder drugs like cocaine, heroin and PCP? My gut feeling is no, but Portugal’s experience says otherwise. It doesn’t seem to me that hardcore drug addicts can keep their addiction to themselves. In my experience, which is mostly with crack addicts, they’re willing to do whatever to keep the addiction fed. Their families, friends and neighbors suffer because of their complete lack of self-control and willingness to steal anything of value for crack money.

      Should we force drug addicts into publicly-funded rehab instead of jail? Maybe that will produce better results, but how did I become financially responsible for “curing” someone of the stupid decisions they freely undertook?

      So what’s the right answer? I don’t know, but I do know that what we’re doing isn’t working. When I say my views have changed drastically, I mean I don’t see this as a black/white, right/wrong issue anymore. It’s way more complex than that, and our system isn’t addressing those complexities.

  25. 47 chris

    First, thank you for sharing your story.

    You knew right from wrong and had a moral obligation to stop what occurred from happening or at the very least not participate.

  26. 49 Ian

    I live in Canada and for many years had a number of policemen who I considered personal friends, we shot together, ate together and hung out together. After the introduction of gun control laws that banned some guns, grandfathered ownership of others, I realized that we could not remain friends. I watched people I knew seizing guns from honest people who received letters telling them to drop off the guns at the gunshop I worked at. It was the beginning of the end of the trust and support that gun owners had traditionally had for police officers. I believe this was a deliberate attempt on the part of government to isolate police officers from the citizens that they used to serve. We’re 20 years down the road from that gun law here in Canada – we’ve had “full” registration (we still register pistols and scarey looking rifles), licensing, guns banned, full capacity mags banned, and anyone owning guns has to abandon certain civil rights (warrantless search allowed, no right to remain silent, no right to privacy). The attitudes of police officers have become more and more hardened, even in cases where an obvious wrong has been committed by an LEO (drunk driving causing death, assault on a compliant subject, even homicide) police officers are never treated with scorn by other police officers. As I mentioned earlier, I believe this is a result of social engineering on the part of government, it’s an insidious, long term method that has caused many senior NCO’s to retire early, citing the unsuitability of younger officers for the job as the reason for their retirement. As you might expect, seeing your writing on this topic is a refreshing change to what we experience on a daily basis. Clearly the men and women in Law Enforcement in the US have not been programmed to be servants of the state, the way LEO’s in many western countries have. If you are an American I would strongly suggest that you pick up a pen and write to every single elected official you can think of, tell them you take ALL of your freedoms seriously, and join the NRA. If you require more encouragement simply take a look at the Canadian Firearms Centre website, and read what you’re going to have if you don’t fight. To those of you in Law Enforcement in the US that have spoken out, you have my undying respect. Your demonstration of a highly developed conscience speaks to your basic values, the world truly needs more like you.

    • Ian,

      Hey man, I really appreciate what you wrote. Your explanation of what actually happened in Canada is extremely valuable. I don’t know whether or not there was a deliberate attempt to isolate citizens from police, but the end result seems to be the same regardless of intent.

      Your explanation of how gun owners have to give up protection from unreasonable search and seizure is amazing. It is absolutely believable that the same thing could happen here.

      I agree with you that police here haven’t been programmed to be servants of the state, although we sure as hell have our failings in that regard. But one thing I’m extremely proud of is that so many of us have spoken out, rather than circling the wagons and preparing to enforce whatever new legislation passes. I would never claim we’re morally perfect as a group, but I do believe any arm of the government that counts on us to carry out mass confiscations is in for serious disappointment.

      Thanks and best of luck to you.

  27. 51 scuzzy

    Jeez Chris, you sound just like cop I know from here in Texas. Actually more than one I know. They are the good guys that wouldn’t bother people for some stinking permits. However they worry about the other guys on the force that just gotta have that paycheck coming in. We’ve had some late night beer drinking sessions talking about things like that.

    • Scuzzy,

      Please keep talking to them. One of the bad things that happens to LE is that we tend to socialize only with other cops, and we lose that all-important private citizen perspective. Thanks for your comment.

  28. 53 Richard DarkLion

    I’ve read through many of the writings here and I’m not surprised by what I’ve read. My question is if DHS’s FEMA JACKBOOTS (with no sworn duty to a Constitutional Oath), (currently in training to go out at their Leader’s orders) should show up to disarm an Honorably discharged Disabled Vietnam Veteran and Law Abiding Senior citizen, WILL YOU COME TO DEFEND HIM OR HER, OR ME IF I CALL 911 FOR HELP ? Will you DEFEND the CITIZEN ?

    I to spent two tours of duty in Nam, was twice wounded. I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly of war and of those men in war. I have a great respect for all Law Enforcement. And here is the rub, they to are in a hard spot.
    Unfortunitly we live in a imperfect society with the good, the bad and the ugly. I would rather have them (Law Enforcement) here than not.

    To all of the intellectual anarchistics out there, you know not of what you speak. Those that profess to be brightest and most intelligent are the ones that think that those with average intel should have no say in anything and should be made to labor for the intellectually elite. I’ve had debates with a couple of them myself. It’s to bad that there are many acting as Represtatives today.

    • Richard,

      The oath is to protect citizens and their rights. Hopefully we’ll never encounter an American officer who doesn’t take that oath.

      Our society is imperfect, because it’s occupied and run by humans. It’s still the best thing we’ve got though, and we’re way better off than almost every society in all of human history.

      Thanks for your comments, and your service.

  29. 55 Matthew Louis Mezich

    I read your story and have a lot of respect for your sincerity and willingness to share and accept guilt for your own part but don’t sell your self short. You give to much credit to those who would say you didn’t do enough. What else can people have expected you to do? You voiced your disapproval and removed yourself from participation. Lead by example. I mean they think you should have physically tried to stop the others? That would have only caused more problems for everyone involved. It’s easy for people to criticize from the comfort of their computer chair. How would they have responded in the same situation? How many of these critics would of had the courage to speak up to their superior and comrades or have the courage to walk away and be non-participant in the same situation? “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” – MLK Jr. Thanks again for sharing your story.

    • Thanks Matthew, I appreciate that. I look back and think of all the things I could have done, but didn’t. Maybe I didn’t think it would actually happen. I’m glad I didn’t participate, but know that I didn’t do enough. It was a rought lesson learned.

  30. 57 lberns1

    “Joe was, in many ways, a good guy. He wasn’t a horrible, hateful man who just oozed evil from every pore. He and I had a lot of decent conversations about life (and a HELL of a lot of arguments about what limits our authority should have). No doubt he did good things for people in the past, and probably did good things after Kosovo. He likely never did anything like the bazaar operation in America. But he did it in Kosovo, because he COULD.”

    So, if a man saves the day and tackles a purse snatcher or thwarts an attempted murder, then goes home and beats his family, is he a good man? Sorry Chris. “Officer Joe” deserves whatever evil befalls him in the future.

    • Iberns,

      You make a good point. But in my experience, few people are all good or all bad. I’ve dealt with murderers who had completely changed their lives, and official “good guys” who I wouldn’t turn my back on.

      If Joe had some evil befall him later, I think it makes up for what he did, especially to the old man. But that doesn’t mean I hope Joe gets killed, or that his family suffered. Not every bad thing we do means we should die for it. This is in response to what others have said, not what you said.

      I read a story years back about a gang member with a long criminal history who saw a house on fire one night. He ran into the house and saved the entire family. He was a bad guy, had committed many crimes. But he did something good that night. Does that erase some of his past, does it balance out? Maybe a little. I don’t know.

      Your comment actually reminded me of a line from the movie Unforgiven.

      Kid: “That guy had it comin’ for what he did, didn’t he?”

      Clint Eastwood: “We all got it comin’, kid.”

      • 59 lberns1

        “few people are all good or all bad”

        How many of those people are blessed with “qualified immunity”, carry half the power of God on their hips, and are sanctioned by the state with the ability to enforce it’s myriad of stupid laws up to the point of killing someone for non-compliance using the delusional excuse of “Just doing my job.” The guys who herded people into cattle cars, out of cattle cars and into gas chambers were “just doing their jobs” too.

        After seeing the build up of the police state over the last 40 years starting with the failed War on (some) Drugs, and it’s rapid acceleration since 9/11 with the blatant para-militarization of the police, I never give state functionaries the benefit of the doubt anymore. No one is ever under any obligation to follow an immoral order, nor are they granted extra rights just because they put a state issued costume on.

        And, no, I don’t want anyone dead either. Shamed, shunned, ostracized until they come to realize the evil they’ve committed, and perhaps compensated their victims for their transgressions? Sure.

        • Iberns,

          I agree with almost all your points. Your comment about the war on drugs has a lot of relevance, and I think most of the public’s distrust toward us comes from enforcing drug laws. But aside from those, you’re right that there are a lot of stupid laws that we have no business enforcing. Bloomberg’s soda law is a great example. People who pass laws need to understand that EVERY law must be backed by the threat of force, up to and including deadly force. If you’re not willing to kill someone over selling a 32 oz soda, don’t pass a law banning it.

          The only point you made that I have an issue with is the one about Nazis “just doing their jobs”. I’m not saying that’s completely false, because there was an element of that. But the holocaust was a lot more complex than that, and occurred against a very different cultural backdrop. Hitler’s Willing Executioners and Ordinary Men were extremely informative about the conditions in Germany that led to the holocaust.

          Again, I’m not saying you’re wrong in principle. But humans aren’t algebraic equations, we don’t all act the same in the same circumstances. The fact that Joe confiscated property under a chickenshit “legal” umbrella doesn’t mean he’d force children into gas chambers. The fact that I refused to participate but didn’t stop it doesn’t mean I’d stand by and watch as children were forced into gas chambers. By the same token, we don’t treat a shoplifter like a bank robber, even though they’re both violating a principal and stealing property.

          Thanks for your comments, and for presenting them well.

          • Chris,
            I have to marvel at the number of people that say”one person cannot make a difference”. One person willing to be honest, with himself and others, take a risk and speak the truth can totally change the conversation and thought process of others. This, in turn, gets other people thinking about things in a deeper way than they did previously.
            This is the value of this post, as well as the posts about what police work is really like. I hope some of the other commenters will read those posts. It is very easy to make judgements from the sidelines when looking into the complex decisions that officers have to make that have real affects on the community, their livelihood and their families. There are always unforeseen and unintended consequences for decisions that are made and the best we can hope for is to keep close tabs on our consciences, our oath and make the best decision we can with the information we have available to us at the time.
            There was one gentleman on a blog who felt that all military and law enforcement were oathbreakers because they “allowed” the results of this past election, suggesting that “we” should have arrested President Obama and others for violating their oaths or lying to the public. Somehow “we” should have stopped them from taking office. Such a view is in reality passing the buck for the duties that citizens have to select, elect and hold accountable those engaged in making the laws. Citizens hold responsibility for not following through in checking into proposed laws, not rehashing media and political propaganda and informing their representatives in a reasoned, adult manner. It is hard, time consuming work, but necessary to remain free and it does work, with perseverance!
            Your ability to begin an honest conversation, as well as building bridges, rather than burning them provides an excellent opportunity for citizens and cops alike to come together as Americans, rather than adversaries. This same sort of coming together defeated slavery and many other injustices that have occurred and it has always been Americans coming together to talk openly and honestly that has gotten things done right.
            Over at The Badge Guys( we’ve been having a debate on the evolution of policing for the month of March. It starts from the political era, think Irish beat cop and Tammany Hall to the crime fighter era, as in Joe Friday in Dragnet and on to community policing. We’d sure welcome everyone’s thoughts on this as we are looking at what works and what doesn’t.

      • 62 lberns1

        “Again, I’m not saying you’re wrong in principle. But humans aren’t algebraic equations, we don’t all act the same in the same circumstances.”

        According to the Milgram experiment, that was first carried out at Yale in 1961, 65% of people would obey an order from a perceived authority, even if it meant taking the life of a person they did not know.

        These experiments have been conducted over the years in different locations through the world, and under different circumstances, all with pretty much the same results. It is clear that you fall into the 35% who would disobey, but my gut feeling is that Joe, and many others, would follow orders, and do his job, regardless of who it affects.

        • The Milgram experiment has been brought up by quite a few commenters here, for good reason. But there are some pretty strong differences between what the test subjects thought they were doing, and what Nazis did. The article you cited lists these reasons for the test subjects’ compliance:

          “•The physical presence of an authority figure dramatically increased compliance.
          •The fact that the study was sponsored by Yale (a trusted and authoritative academic institution) led many participants to believe that the experiment must be safe.
          •The selection of teacher and learner status seemed random.
          •Participants assumed that the experimenter was a competent
          •The shocks were said to be painful, not dangerous.”

          The Milgram experiment is often used as evidence that regular people will follow orders to kill. But the test subjects didn’t think they were killing anyone. They probably should have known the shocks they thought they were delivering would have been lethal, but the fact remains, they thought they were performing a safe experiment on a willing adult. That is nowhere near the same as leading children into gas chambers. The Milgram experiment definitely highlighted a dangerous characteristic of human behavior, but it doesn’t lead me to believe average guys will murder children if someone orders them to.

          I think most Americans, even guys like Joe who enforce petty ridiculous laws, would balk and resist long before they willingly murdered anyone. That’s just my gut reaction.

      • Hi Chris, and thanks again for this most thoughtful article.

        I cannot agree that most people will refuse to obey orders to kill. A *person* behaves rationally (usually); but a group of people is often a prescription for mindless, senseless violence. It’s often a prescription for disaster-by-mob.

        For instance, I am certain that all of the officers involved in or directly witnessing the utterly horrific beating murder of Kelly Thomas were all normally intelligent, reasonable men. How then do you explain what happened when they assembled themselves into a gang, with some of them participating in the beating and almost all of them refusing to cooperate in the investigation of the beating?

        How do you explain away the ‘good’ officers not intervening? They were, after all, witnessing the commission of an unprovoked, unjustified, and extremely violent criminal act. No reasonable man can look at the “after” photo of that man and think otherwise.

        There are *thousands* of cases like Kelly Thomas’. The vast majority of them are not reported; no video is available. The vast majority of them involve no sanctions against those involved.

        The mixture of people in a collective, plus the trappings of “authority”, brings disaster to those who happen to be in the way.

        The toxic mixture of group + authority, once unleashed, is impossible to control. It *always* spins out of control.

        This is why I favor prying authority from governments. At least in a market-based security environment, there is a better chance that private cops can be held liable for their actions like any other of us Mundanes. In a free-market society where private policing is the status quo, If there is any role for government to play, it is to investigate and prosecute citizen complaints against those private cops. Bringing cases to trial and winning convictions against abusive private cops could be incentivized the same way making arrests of Mundanes is now.

        Best wishes in your ruminations on this. And thank you for discussing it with so many people with a level head.

        • Marc,

          I think you’re discussing two different topics. You’re correct that humans easily succumb to a mob mentality, and that mentality has led people to commit repeated atrocities over thousands of years. I don’t think there’s any tribe, race or ethnic group that has never in history massacred an enemy to the last man, woman and child. That’s not exactly the same as following orders to murder, though. That’s why the holocaust was such a historical oddity; it was done mechanically, with scientific research to find the quickest and most efficient ways to murder, carried out by many people who didn’t have a visceral hatred of Jews. Pogroms had been carried out in Europe for centuries, usually by an enraged mob retaliating for some alleged slight. The holocaust was carried out by level-headed, educated men who made a calm decision to do it. Those are two very different things.

          Likewise, the Kelly Thomas incident (which I had never heard of until you mentioned it) doesn’t seem to be a case of anyone following orders to kill. I generally start off by giving the benefit of the doubt to the officers in any controversial case, because I know that some things we do can look bad to the public, even when we actually try to do everything right. My story The Nightmare That Almost Was might be a good illustration of that. If that woman had shot at me, and I had shot back, the end result would have looked baaaaddd. That’s why I don’t jump on bandwagons of public opinion when officers are accused of a crime.

          Having said that…

          I get your point about the Thomas case. Not that I think the officers intended to kill him, or that I think thousands of people are beaten to death by police every year (not sure if that’s what you were saying). But some things just can’t be defended. I’ve been in bad fights, including with homeless, mentally ill people, and I know that force has to be used. I’m not the most gentle guy in the world, and I don’t expect any officer to be gentle all the time. If I’m fighting for my life, there’s no holding back. But I can’t defend what happened to Thomas.

          Righteous use of force doesn’t always look good. When someone is beaten and bloody, it looks bad, period. I’m not agreeing with everything you said. But you’ve raised a valid point and brought up an important case. I don’t think it’s about following orders, but it does address other aspects of human nature and authority that prove we need a 2nd Amendment.

          Regarding privatized police, my gut reaction is that those officers would be loyal to whoever pays them. The ideal we have now, which we know isn’t always adhered to, is loyalty to principles and law. We don’t take an oath to an individual, we take an oath to that ideal. It doesn’t matter who’s paying us, if everyone (in theory) is paying us. According to the ideal, if the people who hired and pay us are committing a crime, we arrest them anyway. We don’t let the fact that they pay us stop us from enforcing the law. In big cities with civil service protection, we’re protected from retaliation if we arrest them.

          What would privatized police do if the people who hired and pay them were committing a crime? I’ve never discussed this idea at length, so maybe this is something you’ve already considered and have a good answer for. I would think a private officer wouldn’t arrest the guy who he’s an employee of, because of the virtual guarantee that he’d immediately lose his job. In the current system, we receive justifiable criticism for failing to live up to the ideal; with private police, does the same ideal exist? What is it based on? How is it enforced? What prevents the private hiring authority from using his private police in whatever manner he chooses?

          I vaguely recall an incident about 20 years ago. If I remember it correctly, a police chief in a small Texas town arrested the mayor for DWI. The mayor bonded out of jail that night, came to work in the morning and fired the entire police department. He apparently believed he was immune from the law because he had direct firing authority over the officers. They crossed him, he fired them all. An investigation followed, and I don’t know what the end result was.

          What would keep a private person from doing the same thing to the officers he personally hired? I’m not saying it would be impossible to keep them honest in a private system, and it obviously doesn’t always work in a public system. But I’d like to hear your thoughts on that.

          Thanks for commenting Marc, I enjoy hearing what you have to say.

  31. 66 Dylan H


    As a fellow Texan who is living abroad, I have encountered a substantial amount of flack from western Europeans about our right to bear arms in America. I find it funny that the ones who criticize, the majority of the time, have never so much as held a weapon. As a man who has fought and continues to fight for my rights, I sincerely thank you. If I ever get pulled over (God forbid), I hope it is by an officer with the same convictions as you.

    • Thanks Dylan. When I was working in Kosovo I met a lot of Europeans just like the ones you described. Never touched a gun, hate guns, from countries that experienced horrible massacres in living memory but couldn’t fathom that such a thing might ever happen again. On the other hand, I met a bunch of gun nuts when I worked with the French Army. A lot of those guys wanted to move to America so they could own weapons.

      Thanks for your service and continued defense of our freedoms. I don’t pull people over anymore, but if we ever run into each other I bet we’ll have some cool stories to tell each other.

  32. Reblogged this on clarkcountycriminalcops and commented:
    When police are faced those of us who know the truth about how deeply dishonesty, aggression and violence has infected their ranks, when the can’t help but recognize how accurate our ubderstanding of their community is, they invariably offer the most desperate of all cliches.

    “Until you’ve walked a mile in our shoes…..”

    This assumption that their ability to rationalize police misconduct is a result of doing a job, they’ve been told is dangerous,

    So how do they rationalize with officer Chris Hernandez’s chilling warning:

    If you think our police are no threat to your freedom, you’re living in a fantasy world.

    • I understand your points, although I obviously don’t agree with all of them. Keep in mind that police work is objectively dangerous sometimes. Police officers doing nothing wrong are attacked daily, and dozens are killed every year. The “officer safety” thinking can be taken too far, but there’s a good reason for it.

      I appreciate that you reblogged my post, and I’m always up for respectful discussion between reasonable people.

  33. The tree of liberty could not grow were it not watered with the blood of tyrants. ~ Bertrand Barere de Vieuzac

    • Yes, but there’s no reason to be happy or eager at the prospect of killing our neighbors and countrymen. In ths country, we don’t have to massacre each other to make changes and protect liberty. We’re better than that.

  34. 72 Debra Witt

    I really enjoyed reading your article. I was a Deputy Sheriff for 15 years. I was never a street officer, I was a jail sergeat. I completly understand what you are talking about. That is the reason I left Law Enforcement, it was no longer enjoyable for me. I had become very hardened to caring for other people. I was no longer taking care of people I was controlling them, it has taken me several years now to get out of that mind set. I have seen many law enforcement officers become that way, where they could arrest people for breaking laws just because they could. It’s good to know there are other people out there that can see this happening.

    • Debra,

      One of the scary things about being a cop is seeing how bitter and cynical some of the older guys get. I really don’t want to be pissed at the whole world when I’m older, and I don’t want to hate being a private civilian when I retire. Fortunately not all the older cops are like that, but enough are that it worries me.

      Thanks for your comments, and for your service.

  35. 74 Lampie

    As I read this (fine writing and obviously deeply felt, by the way), I had many comments come to mind. After reading the comments, I see that most of them have already been covered, and answered. To be honest, I’m no fan of the police, but for the most part I’m coming down on your side here. While your response might not have been perfect, your instincts were right, and I get the impression you would do it a bit differently after having considered things in hindsight. You may never be in Kosovo again, but I’m pretty sure that in principle, that situation comes up pretty often as a cop.

    I did see an error in your logic when discussing what you might have done if one of the vendors pulled out a gun and said “No!”
    You wrote… “On the other hand, would I want to see Joe get shot over being a prick? No. I don’t want to see anyone die over something that can be handled peacefully through legal means.”
    Fair enough, but you also wrote… “No vendors had been ticketed. None received receipts for their property. None had recourse to recover what had been taken.”

    These were people with little or no other means of support for themselves or their families. By your own account, this was a vocation of last resort for them (short of stealing or worse), and it was being stolen/destroyed by your overzealous associates. In my opinion, if ever there was a time to rise up against tyranny, these people were looking at it. I have been to 3rd world countries, and seen what real poverty is. I’ll bet many children didn’t eat that night, or the next. Since you believe, as I do, that tyranny was one of the reasons for the Second Amendment, at what point is it ok to say enough?

    It’s a tough line to draw. If they should have fought back, what about the guy who gets his truck towed for expired registration (basically a permit) and looses his job as a result? Are his kids less important?

    I could never be a cop. The philosophical acrobatics would leave me in knots.

    • I see your point, and can’t argue with your logic. Those vendors had a right to resist. I’m still glad they didn’t, and don’t want to see anyone killed for something that could be handled through other means.

      You’re right though. Being a cop, and sometimes being a soldier at war, means being in situations where any decision you make will be wrong.

  36. 76 dcv1

    What a bunch of clap trap crap….You can do that in Tijuana, Mexico

  37. 78 wvumounties8

    Another excellent read. Going to seriously order your book.

  38. 80 John A. Sanuy II

    My opinion of police officers has changed over the years, beginning with a false arrest by an overjealous cop in a small Texas town. Since that incident, I have had negative opinions regarding all police officers. You can go to Youtube and type in bad cops and the amount of video showing law enforcement destroying the rights of citizens is amazing. I will stand my ground and use my rights to defend myself against police harrassment, intimidation and pressure. It is too bad what happened to those folks in Kosovo. My guess is that Joe will eventually get back the Karma he dished out to those human beings. It’s great to hear that you had moral reservations about this situation and I commend you for that. It’s rare to hear of police doing good deeds in this day and age. That’s why the viral picture of the cop in New York who bought the shoes for the homeless guy touched so many of us. Keep up the good work and just remember, all we want is the right to be left alone from police harrassment.

    • John,

      I understand your point. I think the drug war has changed LE in general, and not for the better.

      If you don’t mind me asking, what small Texas town was it?

      Thanks for reading and commenting, and for offering a fair and well-written opinion.


  39. 82 Sharky


    Great article. Honest introspection at it’s best. My respect for you continues to grow. Keep doing what you do. Keep speaking the truth. You are making a difference. That’s more than can be said for most people, whether they be LE or civilians.


  40. 84 Rosemary

    Hmmmm I know that it’s been a while since the last comment, but I think I love you! Can you imagine what the world would be like if each man gave the thought to their actions, especially past actions that you, yourself do ? Will you marry me?

    • Rosemary,

      My wife gets really upset when I marry other women. Go figure. I’d take you as a second wife, but my first wife would pull a switchblade from her hair and stab us both. Sorry.

      But gosh darn it, this is the first marriage proposal I’ve gotten on my blog. Pretty cool, thanks!

  41. 86 Sam 26

    Hi Chris, enjoyed reading your essay. I am retired from 33 years on the job in a medium-large police agency. The situation you describe, with the non-permit vendor obsessed officer is what I call “majoring in the minors”. I used to see it in officers from small jurisdictions, or in some cases park rangers, where not much criminal was going on, or in officers who hadn’t the intelligence to ‘see’ a bigger picture. One “bigger picture” way of thinking being that laws for such infractions (as the vendor permit thing) represent a tool to be used when there’s a real problem with no specific legal remedy, that problem can sometimes be mitigated by judicious use of the “minors” tool. Keep writing, you do it well.

  42. Hi Chris – I just discovered your blog today, and I’m immediately impressed with your honesty, fairness, and willingness to share experiences that you may not be entirely proud of.

    I am not a gun owner or enthusiast, and most of our views on firearms and the second amendment probably don’t line up. However, your blog post has seriously made me think and at least reassess my position. While I don’t like guns, I do agree with what you say about the potential for tyranny and the need for citizens to have a defense against it.

    The following questions are not meant to challenge you so much as to resolve some nagging questions I still have after absorbing your blog post. I appreciate any insight you provide.

    1) What if – as seems to be the case in America – the state maintains more powerful weaponry than any citizen or even group of citizens can ever hope to amass? If the US government (or even a decent-sized police force) went tyrannical, what chance would one guy with a rifle have? What chance would a hundred citizens with AR-15s have?

    Wouldn’t the ability to resist tyranny be predicated on the right of average citizens to stockpile enough weaponry to defeat a tyrannical government? I don’t hear anyone advocating for that, probably for good reason. Given that, how can anyone claim that their rifle or revolver exists because they might one day need to fight a tyrannical government? It seems to me that those guns would be useless, and that any righteous patriot would quickly be incinerated by superior government weaponry.

    2) If I read correctly, you say that potential tyrants are kept in check because they know law-abiding citizens might fire back at them. Wouldn’t that also prevent them from, say, raiding the apartment of an armed criminal? My guess is that if cops know that the arrest would be righteous (say the criminal has an arrest warrant out for murder) and that they are sufficiently armed and armored up, they would do their jobs and raid the criminal’s apartment, despite the risk – rightly (and bravely) so.

    So if good cops would go after an armed murderer despite the risk, what would prevent tyrannical cops from going after an armed citizen who, say, possesses illegal books in a Fahrenheit 451 world? Wouldn’t the willingness of cops to make the arrest depend more on the balance of firepower than the righteousness of the arestee’s cause? If It seems to me that it would always be an issue of who has the most potent firepower, not of freedom or morality.

    I hope these questions made sense. I look forward to hearing your thoughts – and to further exploring your blog. Thank you for challenging my perspective.

  1. 1 My life as a tyrant » Gun Owners' Resource
  2. 2 Why the 2nd Amendment is still valid and important.
  3. 3 My Life As A Tyrant
  4. 4 The Kind of Cop We Need :: Northwoods Personal Protection – Concealed Carry Classes – Firearms Training – Rhinelander, WI
  5. 5 Linking frees slaves: Newsy notes from around the nets. |
  6. 6 The Kind of Cop We Need | Save our USA Gun Rights
  7. 7 So-called voluntary searches - Page 2
  8. 8 Police Officer: “My life as a tyrant” | Independent News Hub

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