If you don’t like the waiter, talk to the manager

Getting pulled over isn’t fun by any stretch of the imagination. No one enjoys getting a ticket, and no one wants to deal with the excruciating process of going to court. While I agree, being an experienced speeder and ticket-receiver, that getting pulled over and receiving a ticket can put quite the damper on a day, the mindset that most people have today about the police is immature at best.

Despite their unpopularity, police are a necessary part of society. Common arguments include things like, “Cops shouldn’t be concerning themselves with people speeding when there is serious crime happening.” Okay, valid point. There is serious crime happening, and they deal with it to the best of their abilities as well. Regardless, think of what would happen if there were no repercussions to traffic violations. No one would actually follow the rules of the road. Everyone would break the law if they could get away with it. Laws regarding speed limits and stop signs are put in place to make driving safer, and reduce the risk of fatal accidents; all measures should be taken to safeguard human life.

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Nobody likes getting a ticket but the officers aren’t there for you, they’re there to protect the general public. Image from Creative Commons.

So where did this “police are jerks” belief come from? Probably from the fact that some of them are jerks, and some of them do abuse their power. It’s a well-known observation that power has the tendency to corrupt; resisting its influence requires a special kind of person. Of course, this doesn’t make it okay for police to talk down on others or abuse the power they have, but I don’t think those sorts of officers are the majority.

Society as a whole needs to start respecting the fact that police are simply doing their jobs, not trying to screw you over. Once we get this through our heads, our interactions with police will go much more smoothly for all involved. As with anyone else, an officer is going to be less sympathetic to your case if you give him or her a bad attitude, and doing so will probably only make your situation worse. After all, why are you allowed to have an attitude when you’re the one breaking the law? No matter what you think the severity may be, a law is a law and laws must be enforced to keep our society running.

So, next time you get pulled over, instead of being a jerk to the officer, respect the fact that you were the one in the wrong and the cop standing in front of you is doing what every other American is doing — trying to make a living and survive in this world.

Putting bitterness and immature grudges aside, you must recognize that when an officer pulls you over or even arrests you they’re simply doing their job. People don’t get upset at firemen for putting out house fires, so why is it okay to reprimand a policeman for following the rules assigned to them by government? We don’t get to decide who our police officers are, but we do get to choose who makes the laws which get enforced.

If you’re mad about getting arrested for possession of marijuana, you shouldn’t direct your anger towards the officer. Instead, be mad at those who decided to make it illegal and those who keep it illegal. Change is possible, but the necessary change doesn’t rest in the hands of an officer. We need to have the restraint and sense to move our focus from law enforcers to lawmakers. Until then, nothing will ever change.