I had a long and interesting (if terrifying) chat with Captain Andel at The Grind. While I still take exception to his statements in “Pushing Too Far,” while he did warn me away with the implied threat of a beating from telling him how to do his job a second time, I’m forced to consider some of the other things he said as well. I’m forced to ask, have we put the HPD in an impossible position? Have the budget cuts been so severe that they can’t /do/ detective work, infiltration, and so forth against gang activity as other police departments do? Would things be any better if they had the manpower and the resources to /be/ more professional? Or would the brutality continue? Can Hathain function without brutal suppression of gang activity?
I suppose we’ll see. Given the strike, we now have the opportunity to see whether it really is the HPD causing the problem, or whether it really is us, citizens, gang members, city council, all rolled up into one impossible problem for the HPD to try to solve.
In my line of work, I meet all kinds. Usually they’re patients or family, and they all want me to work miracles for them. Don’t leave me scarred and hideous. Don’t amputate my leg. Don’t let me die. Don’t let my father/son/brother/sister/daughter/mother/lover/enemy die. I do my best, and HGH has good resources to help, but I am human. The HPD is effectively being asked to work miracles too. Keep me safe. Keep the gang bangers from killing/raping/destroying/stealing me or my stuff. Be professional. Accept your losses in friends and co-workers and still treat everyone in the city decently if you can. It’s a tall order, and to their credit, nearly all the cops I’ve met do exactly that. Are they to be blamed when they too prove to be human, to have feet of clay? Are they evil? Are they led by socipaths? Or have we so choked them for resources that lashing out is all they have left?
The strike will tell us. If the city is calm and the bloodshed drops, then we know that it /is/ the HPD causing a lot of the trouble, and the cycle of retaliation starts with them. If the city is calm and the bloodshed drops, then it seems to me that Chief Toav and Captain Andel probably should find themselves new jobs, because they’re not doing what we hired them for. If it doesn’t, then we need to take a long hard look at what the police do, what they’ve been asked to do, and above all whether it’s possible for them to do those things with the resources to hand. We have to ask ourselves why their body count is so high, and in that light ask if it’s super-human for them not to lash out in revenge?
Captain Andel is a dangerous man, and my instinct was to drop my mocha and run as soon as I realized who he was. The truth is, I’ve sat down with people who are just as violent, just as dangerous, and (even) less constrained by the law than he is. I’ve had some of the most prominent gang-bangers in this town, along with the odd psychopath, police officers, FDH, even other doctors as my patients, and the striking thing is that we’re all of us human. Captain Andel is human. He bleeds when pricked, to quote him (and Shakespeare). I resent his tone and his assertion that the HPD has taken its own side, and that he’s free to beat me if he feels like it. I resent the lack of professionalism we see from a few cops, and which clearly has its roots in the command of the HPD. And yet I’m forced to wonder. If you put me in his situation, would I eventually be just as bad, if not as tall? And I’m forced to wonder if there is any road back from that abyss.
Nadine C. Yeoh, MD