Throwbacks Make Modern-Day Treatment of Law Enforcement an Evolutionary Nightmare

Throwbacks Make Modern-Day Treatment of Law Enforcement an Evolutionary Nightmare

By Stephen Owsinski

Ever gaze upon a very old photo and ponder: My, how far we’ve come along? Those moments usually give rise to smiles in silent repose. Sometimes, though, the opposite comes true. Ask any cop…

Black and white photos depict a bygone era when those who did wrong knew it, attested their guilt, sought leniency, and largely didn’t dare do what wrongdoers inflict on cops in our contemporary times.

I mean…scan the details in our social media photo and you easily realize the respect “bad guys” accorded cops, walking uncuffed with heads hung due to embarrassment or whatever remorseful gesture humans can bodily produce (besides words).

How far we’ve come…only in a horrendous way.

We’re looking at de-evolution, folks…rife with dime-a-dozen attacks against justice and the men and women doing their darndest to ensure innocents stay unaffected by the lurk of evil.

Nowadays, even children are lashing at police officers. They observe and hear what certain so-called adults are doing and saying, none of it even remotely applicable, caring little about the first impressions lore. Karma must have a bloated notebook by now.

Inescapable is the droves of on-the-spot cell phone camera wielders morphing into viral video junkies instead of justice-supporting citizens intervening when a cop is in dire straits and needing Good Samaritans to do the right thing, not record bad things. Sad…

Unprecedented times, indeed. Never have we witnessed a tsunami of police officials empty their lockers, hand in duty gear, and wave goodbye…turning traditional would-be finales into non-events. Forfeited retirement bashes, and it’s not their fault either. Talk about being cheated by circumstances, not of one’s own making.

Cops deserve so much more. Instead, political winds churned and blew in the chill of malicious movements such as defund-the-police and its distasteful, arrogant sibling named Abolish the police. They sought to rid our society of law enforcement as we know/knew it.

Is there a word for anyone trying to make true-blue heroes look bad? I suspect there are lots of ‘em, so I’ll leave it to you to consider some choice verbiage.


Although I do not have photographs of the times when I walked in and visited my local NYPD police precincts as a youngster, hungrily aspiring to the law enforcement profession since childhood, I harbor vivid mental imagery of the cops who fulfilled The Job.

The police precincts’ concrete facades typically sported classic wooden doors arched at the top, flanked by the ambient glow of grass-green lights, the particular precinct identifiable by carved plaques or etched steel rectangles. “The 94” precinct was one near me. Those green lights are still there…

(Before hitting the beat, cops convene briefly for a precinct vigil. Photo courtesy of the New York City Police Department.)

Then, the uniformed cops would either throw a ball with us or unspool a hose in the sally port and water us heat-exhausted kids in the dead of summer or hurl snowballs in the winter. No one back home sees that anymore, only busy crime scene detectives mapping a sordid scene while waiting for the coroner and crew to show up for someone’s ending.

Ever give glance at your hometown police reports from today and compare them to yesteryears? I have, and the 94 is darn busy investigating hellacious criminality and chasing blood-seeking barbarians. The many Officer Friendlies from back in the day are stretched thin as it is, leaving scant seconds to conduct public relations due to exodus after exodus of cops who’re sick and tired of municipal and state governance gone awry.

Inside NYC police precincts could be found a largely open-air reception area overseen by a paper-presiding “desk sergeant,” sort of like a concierge cop. Cherry-wood counters served as a base across which an assigned Desk Sergeant received citizens’ complaints and discussed dilemmas/options right there.

Everyone in uniform busily crisscrossing the precinct floor had a flair of concentration as they walked along with facial expressions portraying sheer determination; accessible revolvers perched in easy in, easy out holsters drooped alongside scant few tools. Detectives upstairs facilitated cases submitted by patrol officers who infinitely meandered the beat in an “RMP” (radio mobile patrol car). Neighborhood kids admiringly called them “cop cars.”

Heroes took the wheel then.

Heroes take the wheel nowadays. Way too many are buried as “superheroes” after eulogies.

With sinister and stark beings harboring malice toward uber-brave men and women of the law, miscreants’ minds act out polluted ideologies seeded and fanned by campaigners skilled at pulling wool so people can’t quite clearly see reality.

A policeman pulling a distraught jumper from a bridge’s edge leading to guaranteed self-destruction garners scant attention, while knee-jerkers (you can abbreviate that if you wish) spur trouble without basis, recklessly heightening the litany of life-threatening dangers. The usual nowadays. How far we’ve come…only to see policing wrongly devalued and derailed. Shame on the directors who pushed a polluted script, especially when ideal examples of poignant police work are as real as the sun, the moon, and the stars.

(Photo courtesy of the Yonkers Police Department.)

Unlike those I saw as a child anchored in the Big Apple, modern-day headquarters and peripheral police stations are Fort Knox’d by necessity. Many law enforcement agencies here in Florida installed security measures akin to banks. Plexiglass is everywhere nowadays. Members of the public may not understand the barriers, but cops sure do. Brazen bandits have entered police stations and unloosed right there on the floors of justice.

My department no longer permits free-moving access to the public who have any sort of police business. A PA system at the entrance addresses walk-ups. Multiview high-tech cameras record a feed and are overseen by support personnel employed for the police mission.

Testing (justifying) the ultra-security measures at our agency, a heavily garbed Muslim woman walked up, pressed the “Talk” button, and told the answering dispatcher that she needed to talk to an officer (about some innocuous/bogus reason). A street patrol cop was summoned to the station to assist the woman.

A police officer I once partnered with on midnight shift showed up, approached the woman, and arced to her right as she sat on a visitor-waiting bench overlooking a small garden.

Officer Kelley, a career-filling security forces cop with the U.S. Air Force, leaned in slightly to hear the woman. In an instant, she brandished a butcher knife and slashed at Officer Kelley.

He retracted his midsection while also pivoting, first left then abruptly right, his service weapon already producing, his repeated commands to “Drop the knife!” met with nothing but a determined slasher whose burka showed only a portal of a face with fiery eyes.

Still on the move in reverse, with firearm extended as the knife-wielding assailant forged forward, Kelley opened fire. The suspect died on the sidewalk, mere feet from the police station’s front door. A secured/monitored façade necessitated by the anti-cop climate created by whomever and planted in this woman’s myopic mind.

Post-investigation, the woman reportedly planned the entire attack (sharing her goal of murdering a law enforcement officer) as retribution for her brother being arrested by the FBI (terrorist plans). Some of our detectives helped the FBI with their investigation, and the now-deceased woman figured our city department was closer to where she lived. (She was right; the nearest FBI office is roughly 32 miles away).

In any event, what if we had easy access at the front door and permitted relative roaming ability, while police personnel (beyond sole Ofcr. Kelley outside) did their duties, within striking distance of a robed individual concealing quite a cleaver? That’s one. How many others harbor similar depravity and destruction only to reconsider due to hardened targets?

Never anticipated that thick-ply plexiglass would barrier police personnel from weapon-wielding crazies hell-bent on killing a cop —any cop— then roll out a litany of scrutiny on the law enforcement officers, not crystal-clear criminals.

Google the words ambushed police. Key in a bundle of years apart, say 1950-2022, and see what comes up. Notice any disparities? Now glance back at the cover photo above.

It’s an even more surreal and bizarre world than those illustrated in fiction mags and comic books. Check police agencies with a social media presence online. Pull up a chair to the marvelous work they perform, then read the comments. Evil is speaking against those who embrace law enforcement.

We’ve come a long way since the Code of Hammurabi. Still, we’ve plenty of police work to do, unnecessarily heaped by people who damn well know better than to make cops’ lives even more imperiled. They continue to do it anyway.