Penny the Copper
by Christopher W Gamsby
I'm Penny the copper! No? No laugh? Not even a smile? Well that joke is really popular with kindergarteners. I guess they are old enough to understand the joke but not so old to find it lame. I've been in the Raccoon City police department for over 10 years now. It's been a pretty good arrangement up until now, but things have become, difficult. There has been an increase in accidents recently and it's drawn the press's attention and they've of course blew everything out of proportion. For example there was that one man who was shot and killed for speeding on I-135 and that woman who died in police custody after J walking last week. In both cases the officers were suspended for 1 week, so they were pretty harshly punished, but of course because of the press's biased reporting the community didn't feel the outcome was just.
The city council decided to enact a secret citizen program. It's based on the same principle as the secret shoppers you see in restaurants or stores. 0.3% of the population are dubbed 'secret citizens' and what that means is that they will spy on the police and report back to the secret citizen department. If they issue a report against you, you technically have a right to defend yourself, but it doesn't matter, they never believe a police over a citizen. It takes half a dozen officers testifying in unison before the adjudicator will believe the officers over the citizens. The fallout for this has probably been more severe than the town council predicted.
This whole system has been so inconvenient for the entire force and we can't police like we should be able to. For example if I see someone walking down the street or driving by, I really need to make sure they are actually committing a crime before I stop them. After I stop them, I just can't hold them indefinitely until I find a crime they committed. I also have to be really careful about saying things that aren't quite true on the stand. I mean that's incredibly difficult, I give out tickets every single day, how can I remember the details of something that happened weeks ago? Of course I'm going to just say what I need to get the ticket to stick, it's not like I'm lying, everything I say probably happened, some-time.
It's really scary that there could be people out there that hold your life in their hands with little oversight or accountability. I mean they can't accuse you of murder or something without evidence and a trial, but they can fine you or jail you for several days with nothing but their word. Even if an officer can somehow prove the citizen is lying, they don't get back the time and money they used fighting the accusation. There are even stories of police loosing their jobs due to the accusations. Some officers will lose their jobs and then later acquitted, but their livelihoods are gone just like that.
The whole system is unfair and created from the ground up to be corrupt. The whole secret citizen program is paid for by fines from the police. If a paycheck wasn't enough motivation for citizens to find ways to fine police, all of the citizen's extras are paid for by police. The citizens want to build a new rec center and they plan on using officer money to do it! Some of these citizens don't even think of us officers as people who need to live, they just look at us as ways of getting things they want and find any way they can to fine us. Next they are going to want to find unjust ways to take our houses or cars. I just know it!
Now officers are afraid to interact with the public. They sense our fear in the interaction and they take that as am excuse to abuse us. They'll threaten to report us or jail us, even though we don't know if they can legally do that or not, but it doesn't matter because the citizens can arrest us at any time, even without cause, and all we can do is complain about it afterward and hope the adjudicator, who is usually a pretty close friend of the citizen, believes us over them. It's getting to the point where it's dangerous for the police to interact with citizens. Some of the citizens see our fear and hesitation and use that time to shoot us dead on the spot. Even though that's rare, it is still all of our fears, because they can do it and get away with it because the system doesn't care about the officers, only the citizens.
I'm beginning to not want to be an officer anymore, but I can't just stop, it's who I am.
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