Cop Blames Media Coverage for Distrust of Cops


Jason Keisling/Reason

The Daily Caller has a column by a cop writing under the name "Deputy Matt" who complains about how much harder his job has become since Ferguson, Missouri, became a national news story. The cop begins by telling a story about responding to a call about a belligerent teenage son in a "fairly nice complex" where they were "able to calm him and get him into handcuffs without any blows being thrown" but not before the teen refused to follow their orders. According to the cop, the teen, who he described as half-white and half-Hispanic, said he wouldn't listen to the cops because he didn't trust them because of "Ferguson." The cop says the parents apologized "profusely" for their son's comment.

Deputy Matt says he works 1,700 miles from Ferguson but that it's become the "latest defense for committing crime," presumably by people who would be committing crimes anyway, but that this time:

The same people who we used to count on for support, the good, law abiding general public, are now reluctant to trust us.

We, the local cops they have seen and contacted in the past, have not changed.  We have done nothing different.

What has changed is the public's perception of us, created by the reckless reporting by nearly every news outlet very early after the shooting of Michael Brown. The rush to be first with the story over the desire to be correct is having dire consequences nationwide, and quite honestly, has made my job more difficult and more dangerous.

Were Michael Brown the only person police shot since August, or in August, or if he were the only unarmed person shot that week or anywhere close to it, Deputy Matt's complaints, where they're accurate, might have some merit.

Reporting about Ferguson isn't what's caused the public's trust in the police. Increased attention to long-existing patterns and practices of police brutality, from California to New York island, thanks in part to the ubiquity of personal recording devices, has been eroding that trust for far longer than Ferguson's been in the news.

It's important to note, too, in the face of Deputy Matt's chicken little-ish depictions, that cops remain, at least according to Gallup, among the less distrusted institutions in society, polling a fairly steady 50-ish percent trust since Gallup started asking in the early 1990s.