A Good (i.e. Former) Cop Speaks Out

Not long ago a former police employee – Guy, who now speaks out against police statism – came to my attention. I asked Guy if he’d be willing to answer some questions sent via email and he was receptive.

As I told him, I suspect we’ll see more who choose to follow his lead – going from current police employees to former police employees.

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Pete Eyre: On your blog you self-describe as a:

Marine, Iraq War veteran, retired law enforcement, reformed statist. Here to bring some insight into the twisted web that is policing in the United States and to chronicle what happens when a decorated officer begins seeing the truth.

Can you expand on that journey?

Guy: This was a 15-year process to get where I am today. I grew up on Chuck Norris and Lynyrd Skynyrd in the Deep South. This was pre-9/11 America, it was an entirely different world. Football and keg parties… I was the all American statist.  I joined the Marine Corps out of high school still thinking I was going to kill some commies.

My first couple prewar years in were a decent experience. I saw quite a few countries and did some interesting training. Had a lot of fun, got in a little trouble. Underage drinking, nothing I couldn’t bounce back from rather quickly.

9-11-security-theater-copblock9/11 interrupted a platoon barracks inspection my company Gunny was conducting. We watched  the planes hit, live, in my room… complete silence. Gunny finally spoke up. “Get to work, gents”.

I remember sitting at a stop light on base, watching the California sun rise over the mountains. The man on the radio started screaming about the first tower coming down. Shit just got incredibly real.

I was involved in the invasion of Iraq in 2003. At the time, I truly believed we were doing the right thing. It didn’t take long for that illusion to fade a bit. There seemed to be very little planning involved during the build up for the invasion. While sat in the middle of the desert, near the Iraqi border in Kuwait. We got our daily intelligence reports from the BBC. No one knew what was going on.

We were told on March 18th that we would be starting the ground offensive in two days. Our marching orders… Go north, don’t get killed.

We invaded a country with door less, canvas topped Humvees. We had no ballistic plates for our  body armor. We had to tie down the crew served weapons with paracord because we didn’t have mounts for the tops of the vehicles. We didn’t even have a full load out of ammo. Thank God for the generous Army supply specialist that felt sorry for us. Met him Day 2, sitting in a traffic jam in the middle of the Iraqi desert. ‘Merica.

It was a complete cluster fuck. If you haven’t already, I’d recommend reading Generation Kill by Evan Wright; the HBO miniseries was nicely done as well. It is the most accurate portrayal of the ground invasion, at least in my experience.

I wanted to reenlist, but got tired of jumping through the hoops. It’s a bureaucrat nightmare. The time frame between returning from Iraq and standing on my parents’ doorstep with discharge papers was 30 days. I got a job at a reputable company you all would know, making some decent money. I remember sitting in orientation at the corporate office. Everyone was sitting at this big, round, mahogany table introducing themselves. It was mostly college graduates going on about their degrees, fraternities, and wild, epic parties, etc. They had obviously not been hired for the same semi-skilled labor position as me.

It came time for me to speak. I had no idea what to say. I had nothing to say to these people. It’s hard to describe that feeling. It’s like you’re an alien observing some strange species. You can’t relate to anything being said. It felt like I was standing outside, looking in. I don’t remember the exact words I spoke, but it was something along the lines of “Six weeks ago I was in Iraq. Now I’m here.”

Blank stares and silence. That job lasted all of three months. I came to the conclusion, like a lot of veterans, I needed some form of structure like I had in the military. I needed to be around people like me. People that had similar experiences. People that “got it.” People that knew the rush of combat. I missed that rush. It’s the best drug out there. So I joined the family business, law enforcement. This is where the blog comes in.

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Pete Eyre: Do you anticipate that we’ll soon see an uptick in the numbers of current-turned-former police employees who espouse a similar message? If a current police employee is reading this, what information or idea do you hope to impart?

Guy: I hope so. One of the many reasons I started the blog was to be a voice for the good ones tired of the bullshit. It’s career suicide to buck the system, but I’ve already pulled that trigger. I’ll do it for them.

As I’ve talked about on the blog, a lot of these guys want to leave. They hate it and are disgusted by what they see. But they have families, credit card payments, car notes and a mortgage. It’s economically impossible to walk away. They aren’t going to have their families living on the street. They have to survive. I’m not making excuses for them, it’s just the reality of the situation.

Plus, “knows how to research, plan and conduct a variety of tactical operations” doesn’t go far on a resume. I have around 2,000 hours of specialized law enforcement training. Not a one of those hours means jack shit to anyone outside law enforcement or private contracting.

The blog is fairly new, but I’ve already had a few emails from anonymous officers thanking me for what I’m doing. That motivates the shit out of me. The good ones HAVE to start speaking out, and they can’t do it one at a time. If enough of them stood up, at the same time, things could change. The problem is they have to be willing to lose everything and I don’t think the intestinal fortitude is there yet.

My plan is to set up a way for officers to submit stories of corruption and abuse from inside their departments. The stories they can’t get out without reprisal. I want to spread these stories. If their departments won’t do anything about it, let’s try them in the court of public opinion. I want to be that avenue. Law enforcement is an incredibly closed society. They are leery of any outsiders. They are far more prone to open up to a fellow officer than anyone else.

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Pete Eyre: On a recent post you made to your blog you noted:

As we departed for the target location that morning, I had this recurring thought that I couldn’t get out of my head. Like a recorded loop playing over and over. This isn’t right. What are we doing? This isn’t right.

Was that subject ever broached with colleagues?

Guy: I strongly objected. I raised absolute hell with my boss, who concurred. Unfortunately the head honcho ordered us to do it.

My team knew, by my operations plan and my briefing, how I felt. My boss signed off my plan without a second thought. We did our best to minimize the damage inflicted.

Afterwards, I spoke with a few guys I was close with. Everyone agreed it was ridiculous, but I don’t think “that was wrong” ever entered their minds like it had mine. It was a shrug your shoulders, “what are you gonna do?” kind of response. I wasn’t awake yet, but this incident set the alarm clock.

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Pete Eyre: How insidious has the decreed prohibition of certain substances (i.e. “the war on drugs”) been to individual liberty?

police-raid-violate-property-rights-drug-prohibition-copblockGuy: The “war on drugs” has been the single biggest catalyst for the growing police state and trampling of civil liberties, with the “war on terror” coming in at a close second. It’s all about the money, Jerry.

Law enforcement agencies have relied on drug money to run their operations for years. Taking that honey pot away would cripple a majority of departments. They are junkies and will do whatever it takes to keep the revenue flowing. That’s why, despite all the research out there, the majority will fight tooth and nail against decriminalization.

The new reefer madness propaganda is in full swing in the policing world. Now the focus is on THC potency, and how dangerous the new strains are… They are actually teaching this shit.

Narcotics officers are some of the most easily corrupted officers I’ve ever encountered. That assignment attracts a certain personality that can turn abusive very quickly. These guys will kick in your door for a plant, go out drinking afterwards to celebrate, and drive home drunk as fuck without thinking twice. Most are nothing more than frat boys with machine guns.

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Pete Eyre: How have cameras and other information-liberating technology been to this conversation?

Guy: Information is our greatest weapon. You aren’t going to win a head on fight with these guys. The police behavior we have been seeing more of over the past years is nothing new. It’s definitely more prevalent, but nothing new.

There were very few cameras around when I started policing. I can tell you that we acted a lot differently on a daily basis toward the end of my career. The possibility of a camera being on you at any time was always in the back of your mind.

Before the rise of the smart phone, a police officer could do pretty much anything he wanted. It was his word against yours, and you would lose. Now we can hold them accountable with irrefutable evidence.

Obviously the Internet has made educating yourself much easier. Now you can sit in your favorite recliner at home and read up to date case law that affects how police must govern themselves. If you know case law, you can shut most officers down pretty quickly.

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Pete Eyre: What scenarios do you think could unfold over the next few years, related to the supply of policing?

Guy: It’s hard to say. With the firestorm that Ferguson has created, I’m not sure where it heads now. Nothing will change in the immediate future, but Main Street America finally saw the militarization of law enforcement in full force. It was streamed live into their living rooms. Maybe the revolution will be televised.

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Pete Eyre: Incentives are key. What has been the impact caused by the influx of FRNs and tools of war (facilitated by employees of the Defense Logistics Agency) to local police outfits and those they “serve”?

Guy: Not to quote hypocritical slave owners, but this is the standing army the founding fathers warned us about. Our streets are now warzones, and we are the enemy.

Take a child, give him a bag of candy. Now tell him that all the candy is his, but he can only eat it when he thinks he really, really needs it. What is the kid going to do? He’s going to make himself sick eating all of the candy.

ferguson-missori-police-state-copblockNow replace the child with a state worshiping, overgrown man-boy who suffers from an inferiority complex. The candy with automatic weapons, gas guns, explosives, sniper rifles and tanks.

The indoctrination of these officers is intense.

There’s danger lurking around every corner. Anybody can kill you. Take no chances. Go home at the end of the night. Officer survival. I’d rather be judged by 12 than carried by six. Brotherhood. Fraternity. We are the sheepdogs protecting the herd from the wolf.

They teach that. You are either a sheep or a wolf unless you are one of the chosen.

They beat this nonsense in your head. You can’t get away from it. You take this group of paranoid, raging personality disorders and mix it with more firepower than I had invading a sovereign country and you get what we saw in Missouri. A military operation carried out against people in our own backyard.

There are powder kegs just like Ferguson in every US city. I’m not saying that policing doesn’t have its risks. Lord knows I’ve had more brushes with death than I care to think about. I’m saying law enforcement as a whole has proven over and over again, their “judicial application of force” tends to be extremely heavy handed.

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Pete Eyre: What resources, tactics, ideas or concepts do you encourage readers to ponder, pursue or implement?

Guy: That’s a book in and of itself. I’ll hit a couple of highlights.

Educate yourself. Learn your state and local laws; County and city ordinances. Read some case law. A quick search for “case law for cops” will bring up a treasure trove of information. Learn everything that the cops are supposed to know and use it against them. Trust me, a large majority of them are clueless on well-established legal precedent and even basic law.

Record, Record, Record. Any interaction. Record.

I recommend staying respectful but firm in any police encounter. Even if the cop tries to instigate, stay respectful but firm. Why? Because you’re recording. That recording might be played for a jury one day. It might be broadcast across the world. Don’t give them ammunition against you.

If confrontation is your style, more power to you. To each his own. I do thoroughly enjoy the videos. My videos would be pretty boring. Which brings me to…. Am I being detained? Am I free to go? Wash, rinse, repeat. That’s all they get from me. I have yet needed to say anything more.

Another overlooked tool that I don’t see used much is the Freedom of Information Act. You’d be surprised how much information you can get, and how much heartache you can cause, with this. You can pick these guys apart if you know how they operate. But I caution you, there is a fine line between asserting your rights and being an ignorant street lawyer.

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lysander-spooner-quote-copblockPete Eyre: On a recent post you made to your blog you included a picture of Lysander Spooner – can you that framed a divisive situation, that he likened to a “contest between two bodies of men” – masters and slaves. What does that mean to you?

Guy: To me, Spooner is talking about the futility of this insane concept of government we are raised to believe is normal. That because a larger group of people say so, that’s the way it’s going to be.

But what if the majority is wrong? We are all slaves to the collective. Politics is nothing more than fighting for the bull whip.

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Pete Eyre: What are some of your favorite quotes?

Guy: “The difference between someone driven by principle and driven by bias is that a person driven by principle will stand up to his allies and side with his ‘opponents’ if truth and morality dictate. A person driven by bias will go to war with reality to defend the identity of the herd.” – Unknown

“Even if you believed that you could make men wise and good by depriving them of liberty of action, you have no right to do so. Who has given you a commission to decide what your brother-man shall or shall not do? Who has given you charge of his life and his faculties and his happiness as well as of your own? Perhaps you think yourself wiser and better-fitted to judge than he is; but so did all those of old days — Kings, Emperors, and Heads of dominant Churches — who possessed power, and never scrupled to compress and shape their fellow-men as they themselves thought best, by means of that power. You can see as you read the story of the past, and even as you look on the world at present, what a mess the holders of power have made of it, whenever they undertook to judge for others, whenever they undertook to guide and control the lives and faculties of others; and why should you think that you are going to succeed where they failed? On what reasonable ground should you think so?” – Auberon Herbert

“The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.” – Albert Camus

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EPN

Pete Eyre

Pete Eyre is co-founder of CopBlock.org. As an advocate of peaceful, consensual interactions, he seeks to inject a message of complete liberty and self-government into the conversation of police accountability. Eyre went to undergrad and grad school for law enforcement, then spent time in DC as an intern at the Cato Institute, a Koch Fellow at the Drug Policy Alliance, Directer of Campus Outreach at the Institute for Humane Studies, Crasher-in-Chief at Bureaucrash, and as a contractor for the Future of Freedom Foundation. In 2009 he left the belly of the beast and hit the road with Motorhome Diaries and later co-founded Liberty On Tour. He spent time in New Hampshire home, and was involved with Free Keene, the Free State Project and The Daily Decrypt.