Friday, May 26, 2006

"Slippery Slope"

Let’s imagine a small town somewhere out in the weeds. Let’s call it “Raggedy End”, or “Shimmering Stone”, or “Dodgy City”, or…I’ve got it – let's call it “Slippery Slope”.

Now let’s take it out of the world of imagination and into reality, into the big city, into the centre of our lives. It exists, a city within a city, a world within our world.

In Slippery Slope, the detectives are home; the potential for gradual deterioration of moral inhibitions, the perceived sense of permissibility for deviant conduct is the air they breath.

This is the dark side of the criminal justice system, where cops rest, where they can internalise the conditions in which they work, conditions that don’t measure up to the rigours of the usual comfort zones, the ones we normal people are accustomed to.

In Slippery Slope cops can be cops. Undercover work, false identities and crime inducement are everyday activities, like taking the kids to school and mowing the lawn. Here, making false promises to hostage takers and kidnappers is something everyone does every day.

Feeding disinformation to the media, interviewing witnesses with a hidden agenda, employing deceptive techniques when interrogating suspects, making all kinds of excuses to avoid responding to “impossible to solve” crime reports, trading days off, selling desirable work assignments… all quotidian aspects of life in Slippery Slope.

Imagine being a cop: you don’t earn enough money but you’ve got a lot of power.

So you learn how to play the game, how to angle yourself into cases requiring court appearances (for the overtime opportunities they create, get it?); how to strain the truth in order (at first) to protect loved ones and crime victims to whom you’re sympathetic, how to bend that skill towards more entrepreneurial activity.

“Come on, all the guys do it, it’s called being a cop, for feck sake, what you gonna do?

You come across more cash on a drugs bust than the gross national product of some small countries; you’re gonna hand it over?

No way, my friend, I’ll tell you what you do, what you gotta do.

It’s called the “four way shakedown”.

First you secure the cash, use some of it to make sure your buddies are sweet; then you seize the product; then you sell the product; then you arrest your customers for buying the product…

That’s what cops do, son, and in Slippery Slope you don’t have to feel bad about it, any of it.

Routine invasion of privacy via surveillance?

It’s like going to the bathroom.

Behaviour inconsistent with norms, values or ethics?

What norms? What values? What do you mean by “ethics”?

Forbidden acts involving misuse of office for gain?

Oh yeah!

Wrongdoing, violations of departmental procedures?

Only way to get the job done, son.

Unfair “breaks” to friends or relatives?

Well, if you can’t help your buddies…”

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