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A Thin Blue Line

An (Very Controversial) Essay

By theawkwardestwriterPublished 4 months ago 7 min read

"To be a police officer means to believe in the law and to enforce it impartially respecting the equality of all men and the dignity and worth of every individual. Every day, your life will be on the line and also your character. You'll need integrity, courage, honesty compassion, courtesy and perseverance and patience. You men are now prepared to join the war against crime and put the theory you have learned into practice in the streets" (Serpico, 03:48-04:27). As mentioned in this quote, the heart of policing the streets of any city or state lies in the ability to judge impartially.

You may have heard the phrase 'justice is blind', yet we wonder just how blind is she? Is Lady Justice truly blind to race, social status, and financial gain? Or is she blinded by all these things and more? In recent years, there has been an outcry from the public for true justice, completely fair and free of any discrimination. Even now, amidst riots and protests, along with the movement known as Black Lives Matter, also known as the Black Liberation Movement or BLM, we hear a new chant from our city streets. Defund the police is the cry we hear as looting spreads through cities and rioting leaves innocent people living in fear. Defund the police is the public's newest cry for justice as the line blurs between peaceful protests and destructive riots that result in a bloodbath where the innocent suffers the most.

But have not police officers been the staunchest supporters of justice? Living by the creed 'to protect and serve'? They stand ready to act at a moment's notice, yet we alienate them from ourselves. What outcome can we expect from a defunded department? What responses will we see when training can no longer be provided? Is this really the best choice for our nation's current situation? Or are we simply pushing aside the ones that protect prey from predator?

In the year of 2019, the national total of violent crimes in the U.S. was 1.2 million, giving us the rate for violent crimes at 366.7 per one hundred thousand inhabitants. California alone was home 1,690 murders, making it one of the most violent states in the nation along with Texas at 1,409 murders and Florida at 1,122. Of these, 48 were police officers who were slain while protecting the cities and neighborhoods they had been assigned to (Statista, "Number of Murders in the U.S. by State 2019"; Statista, "Violent Crime Statistics in the U.S."; "FBI Releases 2019 Statistics on Law Enforcement Officers Killed in the Line of Duty").

However, we rarely hear about these brave men and women who lay their life on the line so that others do not have to. We do not hear about the sad but noble sacrifice that was made. What we hear about instead, are the stories of people being gunned down in cold blood. We hear about the incidents in which an officer uses excessive force or the encounters in which someone loses their life. Even then, we do not hear the full story. We do not truly see whether the use of force, even deadly force if deemed necessary, was appropriate. The news would rather portray a picture that one can grasp easily without much thought, even if it depicts a heartless cold-blooded monster.

This is not to say that officers should not be held accountable for their actions. They are not above the law, although they do uphold it. It is true that officers should be questioned after a shooting. It is true that there exists corruption within the very system that is designed to protect us. This is nothing new. Corruption was common in the days of Frank Serpico, David Durk, and Robert Daley, officers in the New York Police Department during the nineteen-sixties and nineteen-seventies. However, these men as well as many others worked to uncover and expose fellow officers for their corruption. Even today, we hear and see stories of cops who go against the common beliefs that every cop is bought, racist, sexist, and discriminatory against those perceived to be less important than themselves.

But if there is corruption, then why even give such a location a budget at all? Would our nation truly benefit from a defunded law enforcement agency? Just how much are we looking to remove from the budget, or will it be taken away entirely? Perhaps we can just move those funds into different areas that require serious attention, taking care of such needs rapidly.

I strongly believe that defunding police will cause a drop in the training and equipment that is received as well as affect how they patrol our city streets. Even now, officers change the way that they patrol and respond to certain matters. In her book, "The War on Cops", Heather MacDonald states that out of fear of being ridiculed and accused falsely by citizens regarding actions taken, even if well warranted, will hesitate to respond in kind to the situation (MacDonald, 06:40-07:19).

Let's take a look at San Jose, the capitol of Silicon Valley in California. The current estimated police response time for a priority 2 call, meaning a criminal assault or burglary is eleven minutes. Sadly, the actual response time is twenty-one minutes. Priority 1 calls, shootings and other such violent crimes, are estimated to have a response time of eight and a half minutes when it should be six minutes or less. This response time has not been seen since 2009. (Angst)

When it comes down to it, a low budget means a lack of police officers as well as poor training. Police departments become strained in attempting to fill their ranks to properly serve their communities when they cannot even afford to pay a decent wage for their officers. Applicants become dissuaded by the lack of training and equipment they are receiving as well as the lack of funds for salaries. In some cases, police overtime wages are used to support the independent police auditors rather than officers themselves. Low salaries make it extremely appealing for officers experiencing financial hardship to receive bribes and other forms of monetary gain that are illegal.

Lack of training results in greater police misconduct and even higher death rates. How can we expect for officers to increase their standards if those standards need to be imbedded through months of training and discipline? We want officers to patrol and serve our communities with excellency and pride. However, this is impossible to do without proper training and equipment. Put in poorly taught hands, even non-lethal weaponry can become dangerous and possibly deadly. We expect officers to judge impartially and fairly, yet there is no time or material available to teach these things with a lack of funds. We cannot expect officers to simply be a high caliber of people. They must become this. They must be given the proper tools to respond.

One of the biggest issues we see is race. Yes, it is true that there are people who will be racist and prejudiced against people of different backgrounds and ethnicities. That is unavoidable anywhere you go. However, with proper training, such people can be weeded out, and racial bias and prejudice can slowly but surely be eked out of the judicial system until Lady Justice is once again blind to all these things.

Still, even officers can be subjected to such prejudice and hatred, being targeted only because of their uniform and badge. In the early nineteen-seventies, the Black Liberation Army carried out a series of assassinations targeting officers, which resulted in four dead, two wounded, and several others injured. In 2020, sixty-nine officers were murdered in the line of duty as a result of riots and looting. (Daley 75-86;"2020"). I would like to close with this quote by SGT. William Moriarity of the N.Y.P.D.; "They were killed because of their color, which was neither black nor white, but blue."


Works Cited

"2020." The Officer Down Memorial Page (ODMP), 2021,

Angst, Maggie. "San Jose Police Are Slow to Respond to Crime, Failing to Meet City Targets." The Mercury News, 9 Jan. 2021, .

Daley, Robert. Target Blue. pp. 75-86. 1973. Delacorte Press.

"FBI Releases 2019 Statistics on Law Enforcement Officers Killed in the Line of Duty." Federal Bureau of Investigation, 19 May 2020,,41%20officers%20died%20in%20accidents.

MacDonald, Heather, The War on Cops, Narrated by Pam Ward, Audible, 2016

Moriarity, William, qtd. in Target Blue, Daley, Robert

Serpico, Lumet, Sydney, Paramount Pictures Release, 1973

Statista. "Number of Murders in the U.S. by State 2019." Statista, 2 Feb. 2021, "Violent Crime Statistics in the U.S." Statista, 9 Nov. 2020, .

fact or fictionguiltyincarcerationinvestigationracial profilinginnocence

About the Creator


I love music, books, and poems. Poems are to express, stories to create, essays to expound, music to feel. This is a place for my writing to be shared, poem, essay, and short story alike. May you enjoy what this awkward writer has to share.

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  • theawkwardestwriter (Author)4 months ago

    I wrote this essay for a college class. Let me know what you guys think!

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