Not in so many words mind you, but that is what this group of people were telling me.. A group of people that I respect and hold in high regard told me in no uncertain terms that I wasn't good enough to be one of them. And that hurt.
Racism is a terrible thing. I have never practiced it nor will I tolerate it in my presence. The common thread in America is that racism is only something that white people do. Only white people can be racist.. A black man or a Hispanic man can't be racist because they are the victims. The white man keeping the minority down.. What a complete bunch of bullshit. Racism is a two way road and both sides are guilty. Both sides are victims. Experiences like the one I had today only propagate and prolong this evil.
I have wanted to be a police officer for a long time. Something I have always wanted to do and I finally had the courage to step forward and sign up. I went through the entire process.. I did their physical test and their evil questionnaires. I filled out their background history check and took a polygraph.. It took 2 months to get that far.. The only thing I had left to do was to take "the board"..
Frankly, I was nervous. I have taken boards before in the military though so I didn't think it was going to be too bad. And had they stuck with standardized questions that test your knowledge I am sure I would have done fine. This board however was different.. The questions were biased and contrived. They asked questions that NO ONE should have to answer in that fashion.. I, as well as someone else who had recently taken the board, am convinced that this board was put in place strictly to weed me out.
The board started out by the psychologist taking me into a room and explaining to me what was going on. Frankly, he was the nicest guy there. Seemed a straight up sort of joe. He had me sign some paper work and then after a minute or two's wait, summoned me into the board room.
There were 6 people and myself in the room. Two black male detectives, one Hispanic detective, one Hispanic female sergeant, one white lieutenant, and the psychologist. I only mention their ethnicity because it comes into play. Normally, I wouldn't and couldn't care less what your race/creed/color/gender/sexual orientation/etc.. is. I just don't care.. I was in the Army for a long time and in the Army, everyone is green. Its what we are taught..
The questions started out rather routine.. Why are you here.. Why do you want to do this.. Do you know what you're getting yourself into.. etc.. Fairly benign questions that just gave them an idea of who I was.
At some point in the meeting the line of questioning switched from an "interview" by a board, to an interrogation by this group of angry cops. Whether this was part of the board or this was intentional, I don't know. Suddenly the line of questioning switched from the standard "why are you here.." line, to a much more open an difficult to answer line. Frankly, in my mind.. Questions that don't have a correct answer. Here are some direct quoted questions not in any order...
Question Example: "Explain the difference between a black family, and a Hispanic family.." ... " How would you treat them differently.. "
They had to clarify this to me several times.. To me, people are people.. I don't care if you are black, white, or orange.. I am going to treat you the same way I treat everyone else.. I'm going to give you the same respect I give my father.. That is how I was raised..
They didn't believe me.. They asked me what the difference was over and over again.. and in the end.. I didn't have an answer.. Sure, music.. language.. color.. hair style's.. etc.. there are a myriad of differences.. but none of these little things should make one iota's difference when you are dealing with them on a professional level. Clearly I am wrong here in their mind.. This by the way is called "racial profiling".. Which is illegal in Texas. Austin police officers, as recently as two months ago, were fired for doing this VERY THING.. Yet I was judged inadequate and given poor marks because I wasn't able to be racist.
One of them actually said that .. and I quote.. "I can't believe you see through such rose colored glasses..." HE ACTUALLY USED THOSE WORDS!!
Question Example: "Do you know of any black holidays" ... "Why don't you know black holidays?!"
One of the black male detectives by this time was getting belligerent.. He couldn't believe I didn't know any "BLACK" holidays.. First off.. I'm WHITE! Secondly, what religion are we talking about here? Christian, Catholic, Moslem, Wicken?! What the fuck is a BLACK holiday?! Do you know of any "WHITE" holidays? (sorry that's racist.. apparently..)
More over, WHY is this pertinent? Why is it important that I know holidays of YOUR ethnicity? Do you know any Korean holidays? Koreans are a minority in Austin. Shouldn't it be just as important that I know information about them? I guess not.. I was judged and given poor marks on this because I didn't know any black holidays.. I can go on and on about this hypocrisy but I wont.. this pissed me off a lot.. This black detective was in my mind a racist bastard and embodies everything you do NOT want in a police officer.
Question Example: "Two places have been burglarized. A little old lady on fixed income has had her TV stolen and a frat house has had its TV stolen. How would you treat them differently?"
They are both victims of a crime yes? They both have had their TV stolen yes? I believe in the eyes of the law they both are deserving of equal and fair processing and help. I want to get both of them their TV's back.. This isn't enough information by a long shot.. And of course I was wrong.. They actually scoffed at me on this.. The psychologist was nice enough to try to explain the real answer.. This by the way is the ONLY "correct" answer I was given in the course of this debacle.
The correct answer is; "The little old lady on fixed income is more important because she has no social interaction with the outside world other than her TV.. where as the frat house is most likely just trying to get the insurance... Why couldn't you figure that out.. you're a smart guy that has his own business and knows how to sell things, how come you couldn't figure this simple thing out?" - Note I put this in quotes because this is exactly what he said.
What the fuck?! First off.. fuck you.. Secondly you didn't give me that information.. Your question gave ZERO details.. when I asked for more, you didn't give them to me.. The Hispanic sergeant actually said "sorry that's all the information we are giving you.." You're asking me to tell you what I would do based solely on this information.. And based solely on that information I answered your question.. Correctly, in the eyes of the law, I might add.. But no, you want me to gleam some fictitious scenario that I have no way of arriving at.. This question was completely and utter crap.. Yet it is another in a long line of questions that ultimately failed me.
Question Example: "You catch a person cheating on an exam in the academy.. What do you do?"
I told them that I would confront the person about the cheating.. I would bring it up that I thought that what they were doing was wrong and that they shouldn't do it again..
Additional: "What?! You wouldn't turn them in? It says in the rule book that anyone caught cheating will be expelled and its your responsibility to turn them in.. why wouldn't you turn them in?" .... "What if they did it again?"
No I wouldn't turn them in the first time.. They scoffed again.. They couldn't believe I wouldn't turn them in immediately.. I explained to them that, while in the military the people around you are your life line.. They are the ones that will be in the fox hole with you.. You don't fuck your buddy.. In the end he is screwing himself and yes may very well be hurting you too.. but again I need more information.. I'm not willing to just say yes or no..
He may not have been cheating.. any number of things could have been going on.. And if he IS cheating.. The only way I could have known that is if I looked up and .... was cheating as well.. Rethink your questions guys..
If he continues then, yes I will turn him in.. but no I'm not willing to rush out and ruin someone's career because they make a mistake or a bad choice one time.. They of course went off on me for saying this.. and started in on me about some outlandish examples of why I was wrong..
I know that while I was in the army the standard operating procedure is, if someone needs help.. you help them.. And like it or not, if you catch them doing something wrong, you don't turn them in for it immediately, but rather you try to sort it out on a local level.. You escalate if they keep screwing up..
Fucking racist detective from the above questions, every playing the antagonist, told me that I was lying.. He said, " Don't give me that bullshit.. I was in the military the same time you were and they don't train you to lie.." Again he actually said that.. This guy didn't like me much.. and I must admit.. I didn't care for him either.. You're right you schmuck, no where in the UCMJ does it say "Don't fuck your buddy".. but its a rule anyway.. and if you were in the military you knew that.. unless of course you were "blue falcon".. Which would explain a lot about you..
I can go on for days.. There were a LOT more questions and I don't think I answered any of them to their satisfaction.. All of them were very open ended questions that didn't have a "right" answer.. Everything was extremely subjective..
Upon first entering the room they told me "Be honest.. don't tell us what you think we want to hear.." Which is exactly what I did.. I was polite all the time and never lost my cool.. But I know now that wasn't what the wanted me to do.. They wanted me to tell them the "right answers".. Not the honest ones..
In closing, most of the questions were race orientated.. The seemed to revolve around my lack of racial experience.. In my mind.. I have none.. I worked with people of EVERY nationality while in the military and since, and frankly their race never entered into it.. We didn't care.. we worked together and were friends.. went to bars.. hung out sometimes.. etc.. If they feel its so important that I have some kind of social sensitivity training then they should give that to me in the academy.. that's what training is for..
In the end, I refuse to judge a person based on their race.. but in turn was judged..
Addendum - post law enforcement opinion
Posted: Oct 13, 2006
I was a police officer from Sept. 2002 to Feb. 22, 2006 at two different departments. I stand by my above answers. The APD guys were wrong in their methods and were clearly only interested in weeding me out of their program. In the end, I don't regret my answers or the experience, but I think a lot less of APD because of it.