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Commentary :: Police State


THE COP-OUT! is a bi-weekly radical review of police-oriented websites by activist/writer Kirsten Anderberg. We will review everything from riot gear to police stress to cop humor from the protester point of view.

Unbelievably, I stumbled upon this Police Stressline Website, (, while I was doing research on protesters' trauma after they have suffered from police abuse. This Police Stressline site is run by Hal Brown, a licensed social worker and self-proclaimed "police stress therapist." He speaks from the police department's point of view most often. His website is like a candy store for a police accountability activist, and much like AnarchyLand, it will take more than one day to explore all the rides on this site! His homepage lures you in with articles on topics like Police Suicide/"Copicide," and "Police Chiefs and Their Insignia: From the Sublime to the Ridiculous," which rails on a distaste for exalting military rankings feigned by police officials. The site is littered with police stress links, such as CHAPPS: Cops Helping Alleviate Policeman's Problems (, CopShock (, Heavy Badge (, and Suicide By Cop (

The site begins with the "Symptoms and Treatment of Police Stress" Page. This section includes articles such as, "The Tragic Outcome of Police Stress: Police Suicide," and "Sleep Deprivation and Creative Napping." The site also has a section entitled, "Police Stress and and Various Aspects of the Job." This includes articles on "Female Officers: Trials, Tribulations and Triumphs, "Some Thoughts on Racism and How It Can Effect Doing the Job," "Foot Pursuit: Surviving and Having Success in a Foot Pursuit," and "What Happens When the Rivalry Between Departments Becomes Hostile?" The site also reviews police stress books and news. But my favorite section was the Politics of Police Stress section. It has intriguing titles, to say the least. "My Chief is Driving Me Crazy," "Arresting a Fellow Officer," "What Should I Do If I Stop Another Officer for Drunk Driving?" and "Men's Health: "Take it like a man - where the sun don't shine." It certainly leaves you wanting more information. I know that last title alone has my interest peaked! But my favorite article on the site, was "How to Cope with Police Bashers," by good ole' Hal himself.

The article begins with Hal talking about a Copkiller website, using it as an example of the "us vs. them attitudes officers have to face all too frequently." The article then begins to give a "knowledge of how to best approach and deal with people with a blind anti-police bias, so-called police bashers." He asks, "Who are the true police bashers?" He says police must "differentiate the true basher who will never change his attitude from those who just want to be heard, who want the police to protect and serve all citizens equally. That they may be enraged over the shooting of this unarmed civilian is understandable." He says people bash police out of hate, ignorance, or fear. "It will be difficult if not impossible to engage the first group, the true police haters (some of whom are law breakers), in any kind of dialogue. But if you are patient, you may be able to educate the second two groups," he writes. A subsection of the article is entitled, "What happens when the average citizen starts bashing?" He tells the officer to let the person vent because "after all, you have the power to write a citation no matter how much the motorist offends you and every cop in existence. Who cares?" He then goes on to say "but after a high speed chase, with the adrenaline pumping and your focus narrowed, it is much more difficult not to respond it is hard to make a plan for what you will do once the chase is over. So plan in advance." He recommends "Chew some gum. Do some deep breathing. Sing a little song. Attend to your pulse rate and wait until it goes down to under 80."

He then goes on to address "Bashing by members of racial minority groups." He explains, "Police officers rarely choose to live in the ghetto. They are outsiders not only because of the badge and uniform but because they literally are outsiders." A seemingly white Hal then says, "You often see minorities at their worst, they often see you at your most aggressive." Next he writes, with the exception of what the author of the copkiller site wrote, "I have yet to read a police bashing message that didn't contain numerous spelling and grammar errors. None of them had demonstrated any self-awareness. And if I had to guess as to the IQ's of the authors, I'd say well below average." (Author's note: I found MANY grammatical and spelling errors on Hal's site!) The article ends as if Stewart Smalley was saying it himself, "Remember, most people like you and appreciate what you do."

Probably the most valuable link on the Stressline site is that to Professor O'Connor's list of general police related websites ( The site hosting the "Internet Resource Links for Justice 205, Police in Society" class at Wesleyan College, is a treasure trove of valuable information. It includes Police History, including sites on Berkeley, Ca.'s most famous police chief, and the Chicago police department's reformers, as well as archives of media coverage that changed police history. He offers links on Police Structure, including a contrast between federalized police forces, as in Canada, and a decentralized police force as in the U.S., as well as the Cato Institute's essay about the rise of paramilitarism in policing, and also gives contacts for the Citizen Accountability Project at the Vera Institute. He gives links to the Society of Police Futurists, International, and NLETC, which discusses the latest technological gadgets being developed for police to use. He also talks about police use of the internet. Other topics of interest on this site include "Restricted Political Activities of Police Officers," "the Association of Undercover Officers," "Use of SWAT tactics to Evict the Homeless," "Exclusion of Evidence due to Police Improprieties/Discretion," "Police Deviance and Ethics," and last, but not least, "Police Liability Concerning Human Rights."

Copyright 2003 Kirsten Anderberg

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