August 1, 2009

Blue Solidarity

The cop tag team of Crowley and Lashley (see posting below) thumped the outgunned Obama-Gates race industry opportunists.

That reminds me of a topic that I've been intermittently circling around for several months: the various differences between policemen and firemen.

For example, it's clear that there tends to be more interracial solidarity among cops, such as Crowley and Lashley, than among firemen, as seen in the Ricci case. It's not a huge difference, but it seems to exist on average.

The irony is that the tendency for cops to be divided from other cops by racial animosity less often firemen are divided by race is directly related to why so many people hate cops and "everybody loves a fireman."

This paradox occurred to me when reading an interview with veteran cop novelist Joseph Wambaugh, whose true crime book Fire Lover I read recently to learn more about firemen v. cops.
Q: Your characters tend to enter their careers full of compassion only to be drained of it as time goes on. This is particularly evident in The New Centurions [Wambaugh's first novel from four decades ago]:

A: Yeah, well, the premature cynicism that overtakes young police officers tends to diminish compassion. The cynicism happens as a result of seeing not only the worst of people, of which they expected to see, but ordinary people at their worst. They develop that minority group mentality where unless they’re with “blue” people like themselves they’re distrustful and think that no one else understands them. The minority group paranoia really takes over young officers after a couple of years and then they have to work through it. ...

Q: I gather the minority group mentality isn’t race specific but rather inclusive of anyone who isn’t dressed in blue, that is, anyone who is not a police officer. Still, in your stories the locker room banter includes a free range of racial slurs among the officers towards other officers.

A: I think it helps a lot for other colours (within the force) to be obliterated and everyone turn blue. But that doesn’t work as well these days because these are very politically correct times. The interracial banter that once flew around the locker room has been curtailed. Now, at least 20 per cent or more of police officers are women and sexist jokes can get people into trouble. [Laughs.] It’s not so much fun anymore, actually.

Q: So that type of banter was viewed as good-natured and rather than being seen as ostracizing it was in fact unifying.

A: Right. It wipes out gender and it wipes out race. We’re all blue.

Cops develop transracial solidarity amongst themselves by despising everybody who is not a cop.

In contrast, firemen battle something impersonal, fire. And everybody loves a fireman, so it's hard for firemen to loathe civilians. So, they end up squabbling more than cops do amongst themselves along racial lines.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

49 comments:

KingM said...

It sounds a little bit like the military. When someone is shooting at you, race becomes rather trivial.

As for the cynicism, I admit that I have a guilty pleasure in the TV show COPS. It's the glimpse into the under 80 IQ crowd that does it, I think.

One thing that impresses me is how often the police on that show keep their cool as they talk to members of the underclass. I know that the cameras are on, but they seem to feel genuine sympathy for the crack whores, the abused women in the trailer parks, and even the losers who have just made them run through vacant lots and abandoned buildings as they tried to escape.

It might just be the cameras, but I don't think so.

Captain Jack Aubrey said...

The minority group paranoia really takes over young officers after a couple of years and then they have to work through it...

Minority group paranoia. Hmmmm...? That can apply to more than just career fields, right?

Funny thing is that blacks have minority group paranoia even when they're not the minority.

Christopher said...

If one didn't want to work with or for women, would there be any other job as good as fireman? Cf. construction worker -- overwhelmingly male on the worksite but probably some females at the upper level management, architects, design, bid, lawyers stage; cops, similar and see article; military, ditto.

Anonymous said...

Obama's failure to apologize shoule be encapsulated and memorialized in some very simple form. I suggest

Obama: unapologetic racist.

Anonymous said...

It's time for equality.

End affirmative action now.

Affirmative action gets the country zero gratitude from Gates ... he won't even apologize, even the littlest tiny bit, for any of his actions.

Scotty said...

You know Steve, I'm glad that you're here--I enjoy reading you. You provide a perspective not found in the mainstream. You're a necessary corrective.

But.

I'm also glad that you are marginalized and have no real power.

Greg Marquez said...

When I was in Bible school in Los Angeles many moons ago, one of our instructors was a black LAPD officer. Right after the Rodney King incident, the incident not the riots, he vigorously defended the police officers actions, kind of surprised me at the time.

Hereward said...

And people love firemen, regardless. A friend who was a cop in LA once told me, "I wish I could be a fireman. You can be rude to people - I mean, criminally f-----g rude, and get away with it." He told me about an incident he witnessed, when a fireman emerged from a building with an infant. He handed the child to the grateful mother, then said, "Next time, remember where you put your f-----g baby." In contrast, the cop had once been asked for his badge number by an angry woman. Why? Because he hadn't called her "ma'am."

albertosaurus said...

Another difference is that firemen want to be cops but cops don't want to be firemen.

There is now a TV show about firemen but still the cop vs. fireman media ratio is about 100 to 1. And all sorts of people of all sorts of professions are depicted in TV and movie dramas as would be cops. Somewhere in the story the protagonist suddenly transforms himself into a cop. Businessmen or school teachers are routinely warned on TV to let the pros handle the problem, don't try to be a detective yourself. They never heed that advice.

I can't remember any TV character being warned not to try to be a fireman.

This was driven home to me a couple years ago when after making a slightly illegal right turn a passing fire truck turned on all its lights and sirens and chased be through downtown San Francisco in rush hour. Scared the excrement out of me - I almost ran down some pedestrians. The pint sized fireman was evidently living out his cop fantasy.

Maybe some cops grab an ax and run into a burning building, but I don't think so.

Bob said...

I have a very high degree of respect for cops who I think are generally overworked, but firemen, as I pointed out here before, we have far too many of and as a result they get paid a lot of money for doing less and less.

The number of paid firemen in urban and suburban areas just goes up and up because no politician is ever willing to say no to their budgets, but steadily improving building technology and rapidly falling smoking rates means the actual number of fires keeps going down.

Bob said...

While firefighting is of course more dangerous than an office job, it isn't that dangerous compared to many others.

Here are some statistics:

http://www.laurelvfd.org/Firefighting_paper.htm

So it's slightly more dangerous than police work, but half as dangerous as roofing, farming, or truck driving, less than a fifth as dangerous as being a airline pilot, a third as dangerous as construction, and less than an eighth as dangerous as logging or fishing which are the most dangerous jobs.

stari_momak said...

Why? Because he hadn't called her "ma'am."

Heck, cops have it easy. Brigadier Generals get berated by Barbara Boxer *for* calling her ma'am.

Edward said...

Bob,
Here are some statistics:

http://www.laurelvfd.org/Firefighting_paper.htm

So it's slightly more dangerous than police work, but half as dangerous as roofing, farming, or truck driving, less than a fifth as dangerous as being a airline pilot, a third as dangerous as construction, and less than an eighth as dangerous as logging or fishing which are the most dangerous jobs.


Very revealing, thanks.

HOWEVER - after reading the comment above yours about the fireman who entered a burning building to find a mother's baby I was reminded of another distinction: bravery.

Fireman might not get killed as often as builders, truckers, loggers, pilots and fishermen, but they need to combat fear (multiple fears) of their job in a way that workers in these occupations, and cops, don't.

Roofers must not be afraid of heights. Fisherman can't be scared of deep water. Policeman must not be afraid of personal conflicts. Firemen, well, where do you begin? They need to fight fears of sense deprivation (sight, smell), claustrophobia, pyrophobia, heights and the instinct to flight from life-threatening situations.

Not everyone can do that without hesitation. This must account for some of the premium in wages/conditions of firefighters and of their popularity.

Anonymous said...

"Heck, cops have it easy. Brigadier Generals get berated by Barbara Boxer *for* calling her ma'am."

I saw that on TV. It was a moment of pure bitchiness. If you've ever been tempted to vote for a woman, watch that clip.

Anonymous said...

In contrast, the cop had once been asked for his badge number by an angry woman. Why? Because he hadn't called her "ma'am."

I thought we were supposed to call them "Senator" now...

beowulf said...

"I know that the cameras are on, but..."
When people know they're being watched, they tend to be on their best behavior. Dashboard cams have been a great innovation. Cops know they can't beat a motorist without consequences and criminals know if they try to shoot their way out of a traffic stop, the police will have a video of the crime (and his license plates). Police departments should go further and require officers to wear lipstick cams so even interactions away from the dashboard cam are on video.

Most cities have too few police officers and too many firefighters. That's why police departments are more open than fire departments to the use of volunteer reservists (can't think of many other jobs where thousands of applicants are willing to work for free). A reserve officer riding shotgun is a nice thing to have for the road cop responding to a call at 2 in the morning.

In contrast, a volunteer firefighter sitting at his house waiting for a fire just makes the paid firefighters sitting at the firehouse look... overpaid.

Steve Sailer said...

Wambaugh's cop characters are always saying things like, "Whores and firemen are the only people who get paid for laying on their backs."

Bob said...

Beowulf:

The senior citizen volunteer police I see all over California are adorable, good for them helping their community rather than sitting on their asses watching TV all day like most retirees.

Here are some pics of senior police volunteers from two California towns:

http://www.ci.sausalito.ca.us/Modules/ShowImage.aspx?imageid=461&wid=540

http://www.cityofselma.com/police/images/Scan%20001.jpg

Anonymous said...

"...can't think of many other jobs where thousands of applicants are willing to work for free..."

Computer programmer is one. Most open source software seems to be done for free. At least it was when I still followed it.

testing99 said...

How accurate is Wambaugh though on the attitudes of contemporary police officers?

The guy was last a cop in 1974. In the intervening years there's been a lot of changes in instruction, promotion, and general policing. I recall reading an LAT article about a number of detectives, who were investigating the murder of a young Black man who worked at an Autozone (a young gang banger shot him as an initiation right, it turned out). These guys, Black and Hispanic had aspirations that if they arrested and jailed enough gang-bangers, they could turn the neighborhood around (which was IIRC Willowbrook). I think one of the cops acted as a youth counselor / mentor.

out of towner said...

A bit OT - I remember in the late 1990s DC hired a bunch of new cops with money from Clinton's crime bill. It turned out that a lot of them were drug dealers and criminals who just kept on in their previous businesses as cops. A bunch had been arrested in 1999-2002 by which time I moved out of the area.

Michael said...

I think Wambaugh is maybe a great novelist. One of my pet theories is that boys would be a lot more enthusiastic about reading and writing if they were given books like "The Choirboys" to read instead of the "let's talk about our feelings" multicultural crapola they're too often fed.

So how was "Fire Lover"?

Steve Sailer said...

"Fire Lover" is a solid true crime story about an inherently interesting subject.

Wambaugh's current "Hollywood ..." trilogy are good, too. A lot of brand new cop stories collected from 21st Century LA cops that slowly crystallize into a single plot line.

Steve Sailer said...

I like Wambaugh's Hollywood Station/Hollywood Crows series in part because they reference so many of the same recent LA true crime stories I highlighted on my blog. Even though I only read one Wambaugh novel as a kid, I think my sensibility is indirectly influenced by Wambaugh, who was a huge figure in LA culture, written and TV movies, in the early 1970s.

Anonymous said...

I knew a guy once who could do the wry statement well. Unfortunately for his family, he had a brother who became addicted to heroin. Jeff said that his brother Joe would be happy if he could just get the drug; he'd happily stay cooped up in his apartment all day if he could just get the blasted drug!
So Jeff opined, "Hey why not make it legal then get the Fire Department to drive around and deliver the drugs? Guys like Joe would stay indoors all day and be no problem and it would give the Firemen something to do."

Anonymous said...

"I know that the cameras are on..."

When the cameras aren't on, police in inner city areas routinely beat people up, plant drugs on people, lie in court and take bribes from drug dealers. Middle class white people are in denial about this.

Anonymous said...

"If one didn't want to work with or for women, would there be any other job as good as fireman?"

Try the computer industry. Very few women can pass a programming interview.

ERM said...

He told me about an incident he witnessed, when a fireman emerged from a building with an infant. He handed the child to the grateful mother, then said, "Next time, remember where you put your f-----g baby."

Good for the fireman.

In contrast, the cop had once been asked for his badge number by an angry woman. Why? Because he hadn't called her "ma'am."

The only people who ever call me "sir" are cops, airline employees lying to my face, border guards, and others who are being openly patronizing. It's obviously degenerated into an authoritarian codeword for "sh*thead", and I could do without ever hearing it again. "Ma'am" I imagine is exactly equivalent. I'm guessing this woman was from the older generation.

Anonymous said...

"If one didn't want to work with or for women, would there be any other job as good as fireman?"

Try the computer industry. Very few women can pass a programming interview.
******************************
These days it seems that no US citizen - male or female - can pass a programming interview.

Anonymous said...

"I could do without ever hearing it again."

I hear you, but consider: the other day I was playing poker in Montreal, there was a 25 year old kid, a bit of a "chav" shall we say, one of the older guys at the table was needling him a bit, and the kid was all "yes sir" and "no sir".

Seemed very, very strange, I'd never seen a 25 year old, let alone a "chav", use the phrase. Turned out he was American, and moved to Canada because of a girl. It really, really sticks out, there's not a 25 year old in Canada who has that phrase in his vocabulary.

It looked good on him, and America, for what it's worth. Sometimes when I'm in the states and I'm getting "yes sir/no sir" from the guy I'm asking for directions at the gas station, usually older than me, I'm taken aback. An armed society is indeed a polite society, I think the military culture has something to do with it.

Anyway, it's one of the things I like about America, yes sir and no sir. Maybe it's changed in the past few years down there, but there is no sir up here in Canada, just a seething hostility.

Anonymous said...

It might just be the cameras, but I don't think so.

Something tells me the cop from Crash gets the night off when the Cops team shows up.

And yes, it's the cameras. Probably not all the cameras, but they have a substantial effect.

I'd bet people who don't change their behavior substantially in front of a camera are extremely rare.

~Svigor

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's changed in the past few years

Yeah, it's croaking - not that it was ever ubiquitous in my experience (I had a stranger ask me if I was in the military once, after I'd "sirred" him a couple times). I'm one of those sir and ma'am types, use both religiously in certain contexts (always with elders, always with peers I don't know, not as much with younger folks and obvious "chavs" I don't know, only occasionally with peers I know). It's an odd American habit; it's not as if any of us are landed gentry.

~Svigor

Anonymous said...

just a seething hostility.

I find that difficult to believe, but if true, just flee. SE U.S. will blow you away with the courtesy. Yesterday had a black guy (maybe late forties or early fifties) do that thing that generally I only see a certain type of southern white guy do - hold the door to the store open for you when you're still 20 paces away; hell, I only do that for guys when the mood strikes me.

(of course, I gave him a dirty look on the way through 'cause I'm such a hater and stuff :P)

~Svigor

Anonymous said...

An armed society is indeed a polite society, I think the military culture has something to do with it.

The only people who ever call me "sir" are cops, airline employees lying to my face, border guards, and others who are being openly patronizing. It's obviously degenerated into an authoritarian codeword for "sh*thead", and I could do without ever hearing it again.

Y'all need to travel more, damnit. As the saying goes in the South: "We say grace, and we say ma'am, and if you don't like it we don't give a damn."

I've been saying sir and ma'am since I moved to the South as a teenager. It's never patronizing. If I think you're an a-hole you'll know. Yes, some people use it patronizingly, but not all and not even most.

AMac said...

Cop in the Hood is a good blog by Peter Moskos, a Baltimore cop for a time who is now a Sociology professor at John Jay in NYC.

Brought to my attention by Moskos' Op-Ed in the Baltimore Sun on GatesGate, linked here.

Christopher said...

"Another difference is that firemen want to be cops but cops don't want to be firemen."

This would be belied, in NYC at least, by the number of guys who get on the job as cops so they have a better chance of transferring into the department. I've heard of guys going from the cops to the department, but not the other way around.

Further, the mission, task, and role disputes between both since approximately the 60's, also puts that statement in doubt. I'm talking about, especially, NYPD's Emergency Services units. At best you could say this was a toss-up between cops and fireman and more properly the reserve of a third institution: hospitals. At worst you could say, as the NYFD veterans I know would say, that thanks to the civil unrest in the 60's the cops, in an effort to boost morale and better their PR, totally muscled in on the more universally admired rescue work that had been formerly the province of the FDNY. In a nutshell, the cops got sick and tired of doing cop work.

Cops and Firemen still get into scuffles over these role/jurisdictional problems. See, e.g. Ground Zero recovery history.

I'd be curious to see the stats on cop to fireman vs. fireman to cop transfers.

I'd also be curious to see any stats on incidents between cops and fireman. My knowledge is only anecdotal and, as you can probably tell, sourced from, and therefore probably biased in favor of, firemen.

Anonymous said...

Women are the minority in programming fields, but they are plenty common. It implies a kind of sheltered worldview to suspect that women can't pass programming interviews. Many women are among the best programmers I have worked with.

You might have better luck in one of the engineering fields, women are making inroads but I have seen plenty of teams with nary a female in sight.

Jim Bowery said...

The Wikipedia article on "white working class" itself needs some work.

KingM said...

"Try the computer industry. Very few women can pass a programming interview."

There was at least one woman on every one of my development teams. A couple of them were damn good programmers and the ones who weren't were no more mediocre than most of the male programmers on my teams.

Truth said...

"(of course, I gave him a dirty look on the way through 'cause I'm such a hater and stuff :P)"

You are a strange young man bro.

Although rather likable in a kitten that's been caught out in the rain sort of way

Anonymous said...

but there is no sir up here in Canada, just a seething hostility.

Please expound on this. I've been to Montreal/Q. City a few times, Vancouver twice. Seemed polite to very polite, certainly mellow as compared to the nasty northeast where I am now. So I'm not sure what you mean.

ERM said...

Anyway, it's one of the things I like about America, yes sir and no sir. Maybe it's changed in the past few years down there, but there is no sir up here in Canada, just a seething hostility.

Oh come now, don't you think that's a bit rich? I lived in Montreal for four years, went to school there, and it's a perfectly civil place. There are rude buggers like everywhere but it's certainly no social dystopia. You might have an interesting point, but exaggerations like that won't help you.

And yes, I'm aware it's different in the south. But nearly no one north or west of WV can really pull off this sort of thing off without sounding officious...the forumulas have been colonized by vicious, vacuuous authority.

By the way, there's nothing uniquely southern American about this courtliness. I live now in Europe and travel regularly, and nearly every language has its own formulas for "yes, sir/ma'am", "no, sir/ma'am", and they are typically capable of using them a lot more persuasively than the majority of Americans (obvious exceptions -- officials in public bureaus, etc. -- applying, naturally).

By the way, as in so many areas of cultural decline, the British are, of course, ahead of us here, too.

Anonymous said...

"I lived in Montreal for four years, went to school there, and it's a perfectly civil place. I practice moral relativism: nobody is bad, everything is the same, it's wrong to judge, Satan is your pal, etc., etc."

Nationalism is a great bulwark against multiculturalism; Montreal or Quebec more broadly is hardly the best example of Canadian hostility, it's just where I happened to run into this kid.

What do you supposed happens when you combine the world's highest immigration rate with Canadian dicklessness plus a government which actively stokes hatred against whites? A sweetheart society?

For what it's worth Montreal is noticeably more friendly than my unfortunate duckburg and it made me realize how much my own city had changed without me noticing it. That shouldn't be the case, given Montreal's size and cosmopolitanism; I argue that it is the nationalism, the unity of the Quebecois that makes the difference, that keeps the immigrants in line. That, and about eight billion bucks a year in transfer payements plus billions more in subsidies helps take the edge off.

Vancouver is a bit of another exception in that when everybody has money an multi-ethnic society can function. The biggest complaint against Chinese besides the driving, which really isn't *that* bad, being their propensity to tear down houses and erect the biggest possible house up to the property line border; not exactly break out the pitchforks stuff, although I hear ethnic gang violence is a much bigger issue today than when I lived there (actually a Montreal stripper told me that; when strippers tell you a city is getting too crazy and too violent...).

It's awful up here, I cannot overemphasize how awful. Immigration is a big factor, feminism is another, the gayification of Canada yet another. I have seen Canadian society become substantially and noticeably less civil in my relatively short lifetime.

The dearth of sirness holds across Canada though, I've worked and lived all over the place and it's simply not part of Canadian culture.

Anonymous said...

You are a strange young man bro.

It's hard for people two SD or more apart in IQ to relate to one another. (go ahead, I'll leave the low-hanging fruit for you)

Although rather likable in a kitten that's been caught out in the rain sort of way

Aww, is this about when I called you a tragic mulatto? Wait, I never checked to see if Steve ever posted that...

~Svigor

Felix said...

Bob said commented about the relative danger of firefighting and police work, compared to other occupations.

One point about police work is that you don’t know what will happen when you walk out of the station door.

Could be a guy having an epileptic fit, could be a crazy with a knife, could be anything.

It’s like being on active military service all the time.

can't believe my eyes said...

"Try the computer industry. Very few women can pass a programming interview."

umm, better be careful. You never know when the reincarnation of the late, great Grace Hopper (1906-2006) will walk through the door.

I really, really hope that they will do away with AA for women (and others) asap. .

My sister got lucky and married the programming industry even before embarking on a rigorous course at the local community college. She also married a man and has two kids. She made 3x my salary in a more artsy schmartsy venue, 10 years ago. She has gone onward and upward, most recently landing in an Indian owned company who treat her ok for a non-Indian. They definitely prefer her to the resident Russians who are considered rude and pushy (but who can blame them.)
Aside from her I've known a lot of female programmers and didn't realize they were such a rare commodity or of such questionable quality. I'll have to ask my self-made programmer sister. I'll find out from her. She doesn't like games and she doesn't play games.

Anonymous said...

can't believe...Sorry, no disrespect to your sis but thats just a roundabout argument from anecdote.

On average are female programmers around 50% of the total?

Anonymous said...

What do you think of the NBC police drama Southland?

Me said...

Policemen are para-military. Firemen are not.