Cops’ lives matter more

But some cops’ lives matter
more than other cops’ lives

Propaganda funeral of dead cop

Police poured enormous amounts of public money and resources into Abbotsford constable
John Davidson’s funeral, turning the event into a display of power. Inexplicably, however,
cops did relatively little for the funeral of Victoria officer Ian Jordan.
(Photo: Ben Nelms/Canadian Press)

 

Parenthetical as it is, the subject of cop culture can be useful to understanding the issue of police accountability. Part of the reason cops so vigorously oppose accountability is that they see themselves as so much different than others, even as an elite group. Of course that suggestion’s nonsense, especially considering how many inadequate people hide behind their badges. A recent police funeral took this delusion of exceptionality to an intense level of propaganda, comparable to the mass outpouring of emotion in cultures that celebrate martyrdom. Very strangely, though, a second police funeral fell far short of the first. Why?

Cops’ Lives Matter More was the message pounded home by nearly saturation media coverage following Abbotsford constable John Davidson’s death. Heavy media attention continued as a number of emotional public events preceded the spectacle of thousands of police and first responders marching in procession, followed by a funeral in a hockey arena attended by a reported 8,000 to 10,000 people.

In a letter to the Vancouver Province I pointed out that police work is far less dangerous than several other occupations, that security guards and the military risk their lives for others, and that not even Canadian military casualties ever get nearly as much attention as dead cops. The letter expressed sensitivity to Davidson’s unnecessary death but maintained that all lives hold equal importance.

You might not think the concept of equality would draw such irrational argument. But the responses—those that the Province chose to publish, anyway—were at times downright virulent. Ignoring my points, they very strongly implied that, yes indeed, Cops’ Lives Do Matter More and it’s borderline blasphemous to suggest otherwise.

(You can read the letters for yourself and judge their responses to the points I made. But I can’t help responding to a childishly cheap shot about my “cojones.” In just one on-the-job incident, a guy pulled a knife on me. I had to deal with him myself, singlehandedly and without weapons, unlike the police. Another time as I worked alone on the night shift, three robbers with a gun forced me face-down on the floor, then one guy pressed a gun to my temple while another kicked me in the ribs a few times. Cops very rarely face that level of danger, and if they do, their colleagues spare no effort searching for the perps. More importantly, there’s nothing unique about my experiences. Lots of people have to handle similar or worse incidents at work, without the support and recognition that cops demand.)

So what happened when Victoria police constable Ian Jordan died? Where was the mass outpouring of camaraderie and respect that those letter writers and the people who attended the earlier funeral insisted was Davidson’s due?

Compared with Davidson’s death, Jordan’s drew only a small fraction of the media coverage. Much smaller too was the procession, reportedly attended by hundreds (not thousands), and the funeral, reportedly attended by up to a thousand (not 8,000 to 10,000)—and the numbers for Jordan’s funeral may well be inflated because they come from Katie DeRosa, possibly the only print journalist attending and a consistently cop-biased reporter who appears gullibly stupid even by B.C. journalistic standards.

The implication’s clear: Although both of these cops’ lives mattered more than non-cops’ lives, Davidson’s life mattered more than Jordan’s life. But why?

Very weird, cop culture. Very, very weird.

 

Postscript: Later came Canada-wide commemorations marking occupational deaths. Judging by media coverage, no cops took part in the events. Implied by their absence is the belief that cops’ very special lives and deaths shouldn’t be sullied with any connection to other people’s lives and deaths.

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