Cops and Crime

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We are told, by the usual suspect experts, that constant attention to the “blue screen” of computers is bad for us, that it interferes with sleep.

Something, and it could be my constant attention to my computer monitor, definitely interferes with my sleep. So I need, desperately need, books, both for those dark hours when I unwillingly awaken and for those hours between constant attention to my monitor and my attempt to sleep. Books, “that paper memory of mankind,” as Schopenhauer said (and as I frequently quote).

So, when I can get a ride, I go to my local (Sierra Vista, the one in Arizona, though allegedly there are two others) library. Also, because they’re easier to reach and are compressed together in one section, I pick up the Large Print books — and, yeah, they are easier for me to read.

I’ve found some excellent books in that section, often new ones, because libraries across these United States are — gods know why — culling old ones, even classics. (Many have even discarded their encyclopedias and other reference books!) So it was quite by accident that I picked up one by Kenneth Abel, The Blue Wall, (1996). As usual, I’m late learning about a good author and a very good book.

One policeman somehow resists the temptation and stays straight. Naturally, in an ocean of corruption, he is suspected of being “a rat.”

 

For a crime novel, this has a lot of funny moments. In fact, one of the motivating characters is, or would be, a standup comic. His own hero, “the greatest,” is given a familiar name: Benny Leonard. Leonard, as somehow even I know, was a great boxer, but the one in this book is funny, despite the fact that he has some questionable friends. These are secondary, though very important, characters. The primary characters are police.

“The Blue Wall” is a well-done story that kept my attention, and at the same time scares me, because it’s very much about corruption in police departments. At least about one department — but it’s easy enough to extrapolate.

One policeman, Dave Moser, who progressed through the ranks to detective, somehow resists the temptation and stays straight. Naturally, in an ocean of corruption, he is suspected of being “a rat.” This all rings too, too true, just as if author Kenneth Abel has been there. He has created — or copied — some interesting characters, and even his vicious, murderous villains demand the attention of readers. And, again, seem all too true.

How, we must ask, how can police officers, indeed whole departments, become so corrupt, so open to bribery, and so amenable to even worse crimes? Not specified in this book is an easy answer: victimless-crime, or consensual-crime, laws. As the War on Some Drugs continues, corruptive crime continues. Very few police officers can be bribed to look away from robbery or murder — unless they have already been totally compromised. But police are usually human, are usually much like everybody else. They recognize that individual humans are prone to alleged vices, such as gambling or illicit sex or use of various frowned-upon substances. Even individual human police officers.

Everyone, even politicians, even bureaucrats, even police should realize by now that our crime problems are not “caused by drugs” but by drug laws.

 

It’s a stereotype or cliché that police will confiscate drugs or drug money or pornography and use it for themselves or as gifts or party treats for other officers.

And passing more laws will not improve the situation. Everyone, even politicians, even bureaucrats, even police should realize by now that our crime problems are not “caused by drugs” but by drug laws. Those laws make drugs expensive, and profitable, so making them and selling them are enticing. Brave or stupid people get into the business. With so much money there to be acquired, bribery and murder become normal, commonplace.

None of that is explicated in The Blue Wall, but it is the accurate background of this excellent book. I recommend it. Even if it is a 1996 creation, it is not out of date.

One Comment

  1. Gregory Nunn

    As an elective course one year in college, I thought criminology would be interesting.
    It was, if for but the one main thing that I learned: cops and criminals are cut from the same cloth.
    At least in the 70’s (not sure what they teach in today’s hero culture) criminologists considered the difference between being a criminal and being a cop to be but a hair’s breadth apart.
    In the years since, my interactions with police has pretty well confirmed this concept.
    So these days, I consider corrupt or crooked to be an oxymoron and assume all of them are bent.
    It’s fair turn, after all, when they treat every encounter with “us” as a potential lethal encounter.
    Perhaps we should reinstate the draft, just for police officers, though, instead of hiring people who want to be a hero.

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