Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Cops Are Conservatives, and Should Be

 

Some months ago I had the misfortune of having to perform an administrative task that had only the most tangential of connections to actual police work.  It was my further misfortune that the task required a trip to the LAPD headquarters building in downtown L.A., a place I visit as seldom as possible.

There, in one of the offices where the LAPD’s vast bureaucracy churns out a steady stream of mostly meaningless paperwork, I chanced to see, adorning the wall of one of the many cubicles, something I had never seen in any police station I had worked in or visited: a Barack Obama campaign sticker.  

I had come with another officer, and I very discretely directed his attention to the sticker, bringing a roll of his eyes and the whispered question: “What’s going on here?”  

The cubicle’s occupant was absent, preventing what might have been an uncomfortable conversation.  My partner and I finished our business, and as we drove back to our assigned station I asked him if he knew of any cops who had voted for Barack Obama.  He didn’t, nor did I.

Which is not to say there aren’t any.  The LAPD prides itself on diversity, after all, so I expect Mr. Obama got a few votes from within its ranks.  But not from anyone at my station, where posting an Obama sticker on one’s cubicle would be all but unthinkable.

I’m a bit ashamed to admit I was once a liberal, the product of a Jesuit high school and what is often referred to as an elite university.  A few years of police work cured me of this affliction, but even before I came around I knew enough to keep my political opinions to myself.  (I described my political conversion for NRO back in 2000.  Part 1 is here; Part 2 is here.)

Cops tend to be conservatives, perhaps because they spend the bulk of their day dealing with the consequences of failed liberal policies.  Whatever liberals you might find in the department can mostly be found, like the absent cubicle dweller discussed above, in bureaucratic assignments that keep them safely shielded from the hazards of actual police work, and from those pesky consequences.

My thanks to Rob Long and everyone at Ricochet for the opportunity to join the conversation this week.

There are 34 comments.

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  1. Steve MacDonald Inactive

    I’ve been enjoying your writing for years, for which I thank you. Welcome to Ricochet and may your stay be a very long one.

    • #1
    • September 5, 2011, at 2:50 AM PDT
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  2. Mole-eye Member

    If being a police officer doesn’t make one a Lockeian (i.e. the life of man in a state of nature is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short) I don’t know what will. I look forward to your future posts!

    • #2
    • September 5, 2011, at 3:16 AM PDT
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  3. StickerShock Inactive

    Welcome — I hope the suits make this permanent.

    • #3
    • September 5, 2011, at 3:50 AM PDT
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  4. Dave Carter Podcaster

    Jack, welcome to Ricochet, sir. I’ve been following and admiring your work for many years, even back when I was wearing a badge and weapon in the military.

    “Cops tend to be conservatives…”

    Very true. How then can they bring themselves to shut down little kids’ lemonade stands? It’s not a minor point, to me at least. I decided against going into law enforcement after I retired from active duty largely because I could not bring myself to be the enforcement arm of an increasingly aggressive state that is intruding into virtually every aspect of a citizen’s life. I would have to resign before I enforced some of these lunacies, so I stayed away.

    I have immense respect for officers like you, who persevere. But I wonder, how do you do it?

    • #4
    • September 5, 2011, at 3:56 AM PDT
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  5. flownover Member

    Welcome to Rico ‘Jack’. The cubicle occupant was busy working. Maybe you didnt see the memo about hiring a full guardian for Rodney King. Evidently, Mr King needed to make bail yet again. This guy has got to be busy, but in order to transit in and out he needed to borrow the posting dough from OneUnited Bank. Maxine takes lunch from 10:30 – 3.

    • #5
    • September 5, 2011, at 3:58 AM PDT
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  6. Peter Robinson Founder

    “Cops tend to be conservatives, perhaps because they spend the bulk of their day dealing with the consequences of failed liberal policies.”

    That, Jack, is about as compelling a sentence about contemporary American life as I have ever read.

    Welcome to Ricochet.

    • #6
    • September 5, 2011, at 4:02 AM PDT
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  7. Profile Photo Member

    My conversion was similar. I picked up a University of Texas library copy of National Review in 1985 and discovered that politics could be fun, and that an interest in them did not necessarily mean, as I had supposed, that I had to spend the remainder of my life emoting in public.

    I also learned that the concept of “justice” has always been, under human conditions, problematic. And it always will be. Thus ended my very brief period of Lefty sloganeering.

    • #7
    • September 5, 2011, at 4:04 AM PDT
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  8. genferei Member
    genfereiJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member
    Mole-eye: If being a police officer doesn’t make one a Lockeian (i.e. the life of man in a state of nature is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short) I don’t know what will. · Sep 5 at 3:16am

    That would be Hobbesian.

    For Locke “no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions” in the State of Nature, because Nature provides Reason, and that’s what Reason teaches.

    (Sorry for the pedantry!)

    • #8
    • September 5, 2011, at 4:31 AM PDT
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  9. FeliciaB Inactive

    You’re right, Jack. Most coppers I know are conservative. And when my husband (The Man) was not quite conservative enough on social issues, he quickly saw the errors of his ways once we were married. :-)

    However, my only close experience with law enforcement has been in a conservative city in The OC, a freakishly conservative part of California. I often wonder about other parts of the country where the predominant political culture is far left, Detroit, for example. If one compared a Detroit cop to a cop in The OC, perhaps the Detroit cop, while considering himself more conservative than his community, would be considered a leftisto next to a cop from Newport Beach.

    • #9
    • September 5, 2011, at 5:05 AM PDT
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  10. Mel Foil Inactive

    If you’re a cop investigating a crime, the person lying to you about what they saw (or did) is very likely a liberal Democrat, and when you do run into a conservative Republican, they’re most likely telling the truth about what they saw. That’s because they’re probably the victim, or saw the crime and came to the aid of the victim. Truth is good. Cops don’t like liars. Liars make their job twice as hard.

    • #10
    • September 5, 2011, at 5:20 AM PDT
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  11. Starve the Beast Inactive
    • #11
    • September 5, 2011, at 5:30 AM PDT
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  12. ljt Inactive
    FeliciaB: I often wonder about other parts of the country where the predominant political culture is far left, Detroit, for example. If one compared a Detroit cop to a cop in The OC, perhaps the Detroit cop, while considering himself more conservative than his community, would be considered a leftisto next to a cop from Newport Beach.

    And how about in Madison WI, where at one point Walker expressed a convincing fear that if he were to try an limit cops’ collective bargaining, he thought they would stop policing and effectively do what the teachers did. In fact, it seemed that cops were not protecting or taking death threats to republicans seriously during the whole protest. I wonder what would be the effect of a similar action in LA?

    • #12
    • September 5, 2011, at 5:37 AM PDT
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  13. Caryn Thatcher
    CarynJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Welcome to Ricochet, Jack! I’ve admired your work at NRO for many years.

    I also don’t know any liberal cops and I think you eloquently described the primary reason. Most (all?) of the cops that I know are happy conservative warriors.

    Etoiledunord made me smile because of my recent contacts with law enforcement: Once as victim (we woke up to a car abandoned on our front lawn–on top of what had been a lovely magnolia) and twice when we called for their aid with neighbors who were in trouble beyond our ability to help. In all cases, we were in respectful good humor, as were the officers who responded. We offered coffee or iced tea (depending on the weather) and had a nice chat–in one case, about the McCain poster we had in the window (they approved). We left with a good opinion of those officers in whose district we now reside and hope that they remember us likewise.

    • #13
    • September 5, 2011, at 5:40 AM PDT
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  14. Doctor Bean Thatcher
    Doctor BeanJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Welcome! Please add my voice to the choir of those who have appreciated your writing for years and are as happy to see you here as the last guy you let off with a warning.

    I assume that this happy event means that all Ricochet members who are residents of LA County and have had adequate training may now apply for concealed-carry permits..?..

    • #14
    • September 5, 2011, at 5:45 AM PDT
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  15. Lockdowns are Precious Inactive
    Lockdowns are PreciousJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    The one thing I would like to hear Mr. Dunphy’s opinion on is the effect of public sector union activity on police work. As you know, with FDR, most Ricos are opposed to public sector unionization per se.

    • #15
    • September 5, 2011, at 5:50 AM PDT
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  16. KC Mulville Inactive
    Jack Dunphy, Guest Contributor:

    I’m a bit ashamed to admit I was once a liberal, the product of a Jesuit high school and what is often referred to as an elite university.

    Ah, see, that was the problem. You had to go to the Jesuit university to get the whole picture. It’s kind of a package deal.

    (Note to self: no one is going to fall for that one.)

    • #16
    • September 5, 2011, at 6:10 AM PDT
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  17. Lockdowns are Precious Inactive
    Lockdowns are PreciousJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    (Sorry for the pedantry!)

    Pedantry is never to be apologized for, least of all by me.

    • #17
    • September 5, 2011, at 6:12 AM PDT
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  18. Lockdowns are Precious Inactive
    Lockdowns are PreciousJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I guess since we’ve invoked Locke and the British empiricists someone could make a lame Jack Webb joke:

    “Just the fact-value distinction m’am.”

    • #18
    • September 5, 2011, at 6:14 AM PDT
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  19. Lockdowns are Precious Inactive
    Lockdowns are PreciousJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Question for Jack Dunphy re: The North Hollywood Shootout

    Michael Mann is a big Move On.org leftie, even though I like a lot of his movies (some are filled with too much leftie sentiment, but alas no one is perfect). He’s also a kid from the “lower mids” in Chicago so I’ll assume he spent too much time in Europe early in his training and imbibed the zetigeist (someone pull me over before I pun again).

    There’s always been something of an urban legend about the North Hollywood shootout that they were inspired in their tactics by an obsession with the movie Heat. I’ve never known if this was true, urban legend, or true but Hollywood never talks about it because Mann is one of “their” people.

    Do you have any thoughts or any friends on the force who were involved in the incident who could shed some light on what happened? (Without betraying information that endangers your anonymity of course).

    ps I’ve always assumed cops are dog people, but I take no offense.

    • #19
    • September 5, 2011, at 6:20 AM PDT
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  20. flownover Member

    Psued- such a tease. How about a nice calm Sunday query ? To Jack : Has HIPAA caused any compromise in your job ( re what they hired you for) that effects the danger,cost, and efficacy of crimebusting ?

    • #20
    • September 5, 2011, at 6:20 AM PDT
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  21. Profile Photo Member

    Doesn’t surprise me in the least, Jack. As I understand those posters make excellent dartboards.

    • #21
    • September 5, 2011, at 7:10 AM PDT
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  22. Snow Bird Inactive

    As long as topics are being proposed, it would be interesting to hear some comments on the controversy over citizens filming police activity. Glen Reynolds has been commenting on this frequently, including in his latest column. What are your thoughts?

    • #22
    • September 5, 2011, at 9:00 AM PDT
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  23. Jack Dunphy Contributor
    Jack Dunphy
    Pseudodionysius: Question for Jack Dunphy re: The North Hollywood Shootout . . .

    Do you have any thoughts or any friends on the force who were involved in the incident who could shed some light on what happened? (Without betraying information that endangers your anonymity of course).

    I’ve heard the rumors myself but never any confirmation of them. The answer died with the suspects. The first committed suicide during the final shootout, the other died (slowly and controversially) from police gunfire.

    By the way, there were a number of actual LAPD officers involved in the production of Heat, both in front of and behind the camera.

    • #23
    • September 5, 2011, at 9:04 AM PDT
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  24. Douglas Inactive

    Are cops really all that conservative? They tend to be big on union membership, and cops from bigger cities seem to be almost reflexivly anti-second amendment.

    Remember “Lethal Weapon 2”? During a scene at police HQ, one of the shots panned past desks with anti-NRA posters. Now I realize that this is Hollywood, and that could have been something slipped in by the liberal filmmakers, but don’t studios solicit help and advice from cops, especially LAPD, while making films about police? Whether or not anti-NRA slogans are typical of LAPD officers, I do know that police from bigger cities seem to be at the front of efforts to “get guns off of our streets”, and that usually involves hassling law abiding citizens. You’d have a hard time convincing me that a cop from gun-hating New Jersey, for instance, would usually be conservative.

    • #24
    • September 5, 2011, at 9:07 AM PDT
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  25. Jack Dunphy Contributor
    Jack Dunphy
    Douglas: Are cops really all that conservative? They tend to be big on union membership . . .

    I addressed the issue of cops’ unions on NRO back in 2000, and on Pajamas Media earlier this year.

    • #25
    • September 5, 2011, at 9:20 AM PDT
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  26. James Lileks Contributor

    Dunphy on Ricochet? Our work here is done. The owner of Badge 714 for his avatar: perfect. Enjoyed your work on NRO, sir; welcome. Please stick around.

    Loaded question: if cops are conservatives because they deal with the innumerable consequences of failed liberal policies, what’s the excuse for newspaper reporters who cover the crime beat? Besides an adamantine carapace of groupthink ideology.

    • #26
    • September 5, 2011, at 10:09 AM PDT
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  27. Skyler Coolidge

    In LAPD there are surely black policemen. I remember there being some. Almost every single black person in the United States, with very few exceptions, voted for Obama. Why would they differ merely because they are policemen?

    The election of Barack Obama proved that white Americans are predominantly not racists, but that black voters predominantly are.

    • #27
    • September 5, 2011, at 11:03 AM PDT
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  28. Wylee Coyote Member
    Wylee CoyoteJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member
    Douglas: I do know that police from bigger cities seem to be at the front of efforts to “get guns off of our streets”, and that usually involves hassling law abiding citizens. · Sep 4 at 9:07pm

    Those are typically administrators, whose opinions are not necessarily reflective (to say the least) of rank-and-file opinions. I think most people outside the police world would be surprised, if not shocked, by the gulf between the thinking of police brass and the officers on the street.

    As for Lethal Weapon, I’ve been in police stations across the country, and have never seen an anti-gun poster hanging anywhere. I’m putting that one to Hollywood; Richard Donner is known for that sort of thing.

    Also, Rob Long, James Lileks, Mark Steyn, and Jack Dunphy all writing for the same website? Never have I dreamed such wonderment to be possible. :)

    • #28
    • September 5, 2011, at 12:42 PM PDT
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  29. Squishy Blue RINO Inactive
    Jack Dunphy, Guest Contributor:

    I’m a bit ashamed to admit I was once a liberal, the product of a Jesuit high school and what is often referred to as an elite university. A few years of police work cured me of this affliction, but even before I came around I knew enough to keep my political opinions to myself. (I described my political conversion for NRO back in 2000. Part 1 is here; Part 2 is here.)

    [big snip]

    My thanks to Rob Long and everyone at Ricochet for the opportunity to join the conversation this week. ·

    Wow, 11 years, I remember reading those, that was before there was an NRO. I remember because they made me homesick, I was living in Austin and missing my brother, who is an LAFD lifer, so reading a LA writer who was also LAPD made me feel a little more connected.

    Thanks for joining us. I love your work and I hope you stick around.

    • #29
    • September 6, 2011, at 1:05 AM PDT
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  30. Frozen Chosen Inactive

    Welcome, Jack, glad to have you onboard. I really enjoyed your unique perspective on the issues on NRO and look forward to the same here on Ricochet.

    • #30
    • September 6, 2011, at 3:19 AM PDT
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