Poor trigger discipline. That might be the first thing that comes to mind to gun owners when they see this vanity pic, posted to the Cop Selfies Tumblr, of an Arizona cop almost blowing her own head off twice in a row.
If you haven't seen it yet, Cop Selfies is full of amusing and sometimes disturbing pictures taken by cops themselves, showing them doing various cop things, in that awkward style that characterizes every selfie. There's a lot of tough guy posturing. No shortage of blue steel style looks.
It might be kind of surprising in the era of the internet and increasing police paranoia over threats to officers both physical and virtual (like the 2011 Antisec dump of DPS information), and the never-ending PR war that police must wage over their often scandal-tarred reputations, that cops are this careless with their information and images. But as we've seen before, cops aren't the best at censoring themselves or keeping embarrassing details off the public web. Nor do they have the best sense of humor.
But what makes the photo above even more disturbing, aside from her careless handling of her pistol -- which given the trigger-happy nature of Copper State coppers is bad enough -- is the attitude it presents: a tough cop, shoot first and ask questions later determination topped off with a nonchalant blowing smoke off the barrel, indicating a casualness with lethal force that ought to ring alarm bells considering the regularity with which Arizona cops have been killing people these days.
What's more, if we judge by the police van in the corner picture, this officer is part of the SWAT team. SWAT units have proliferated massively over the last 30 years, expanding at an even faster rate post-9/11 than before. As the old saying goes, to a hammer every problem looks like a nail, so these once elite units once reserved for rare, extreme occasions, have increasingly become just another weapon in the cops' daily arsenal, the regular deployment of which ironically helps justify expenditures on the paramilitary and increasingly militarized units.
This, combined with the general take-no-prisoners attitude of the era of anti-terrorism and the flood of often damaged Iraq and Afghanistan war vets filling the ranks, has caused police to deploy these aggressive cops in increasingly mundane situations, escalating what would otherwise have been normal, routine police work into heavily armed raids and very violent encounters, complete with armored personnel carriers and battering rams.
More and more, "average Americans" (read: white, middle class) are finding out that the militarization of the police that got their stamp of approval when they thought it was aimed, via the drug war or the war on terror or immigration raids, at the nonwhite other, is now becoming an every day part of their experience. Which means more and more, they are coming into contact with officers with cops projecting the same attitude reflected in that selfie.
Of course, the great irony is that someone displaying that level of disconnect from the human implications of her job is probably the last person we want carrying that gun around and telling people what to do. Especially if that poor trigger discipline is any indication of a trigger-happy nature. The picture says it all.