Sunday, February 23, 2014

Small towns are nations unto themselves

A lot of folks in the Prepper community fantasize about moving to small towns. They envision friendly neighbors waving and smiling, everyone knows everyone else, and it's one big happy family.

They have no clue.

Case in point. I get updates on Facebook from a page called Cop Block. Essentially it's about abusive cops and a legal system gone horribly wrong. Today one popped up regarding a small town not far from where I used to live. Thanks to video cams, more and more dirty or otherwise assholey cops are getting caught in the act, and in this particular video one gets caught searching a vehicle without asking, cause, or even letting the owner know he was doing it. Once caught, the cop naturally claimed he wasn't doing anything, but when you open a door and start poking around inside, it's a search no matter what you call it or how much you threaten to escalate.

The shenanigans continue later at the courthouse, when the DA and judge take an instant dislike to the victim (who is being a pain in the ass, though legally so). Audio recording overhears the Chief of Police telling them more than once he has no cause to arrest the guy for simply wanting to take his copy of the dash cam video home without letting the DA see it... the DA tried to claim he didn't want to ask for another copy.

In the end, the DA admits to the guy that small towns dance to their own war drums and what is law in big cities doesn't necessarily make the books in small towns. Cue gasps and shudders.

I've lived in major cities and small towns, populations ranging from several million down to 600. It does not matter if you are in California, New York, or a flyover state, things work differently in small towns and if you're passing through one you'd better understand the lay of the land.

1. As a non-resident you are fair game. If unjustly detained, searched, arrested, cuffed, or even assaulted, you will not cause a stink at the Sunday potluck dinner at the Baptist church, nor will your kid beat up the offending cop's kid in retaliation. In essence, you're just free money passing through. They don't give a shit about you.

2. As a non-resident, your calls and complaints go ignored. You do not vote, therefore your whining will not result in the same 3 am screaming phone call from the Mayor to the Chief of Police that whining from Ed Burgess, Deacon at the Church of Christ, coach for the JV high school football team, and owner of the only gas station in town's will.

3. The cop, who may be an ok guy 90% of the time, is terminally frustrated and pissed off because he has to ignore the dope smoking Johnson boys because Johnson is the second most important name in town and busting those dimwits will get him suspended without pay for using excessive force (when he didn't even touch the little bastards). He can't do shit about Mr. Polaski who runs every stop sign in town and always parks in the handicapped space at the post office because Mr. Polaski's son is married to the Judge's daughter and the case will just be thrown out. Basically he can't touch ANYONE in his town... unless they're newcomers without strong local ties to the right people. He's limited to fucking with outsiders unlucky enough to do 67 in a 65 before they leave town. By the time he pulls you over, he's looking for a place to vent his frustration. Show him your attitude, and I promise he'll show you his in spades.

4. Without video, it's your word against his, and the judge and/or jury will side with him EVERY TIME. Because hey, they don't give a shit about you. You're just free money passing through.

5. Even if he has a dash cam, don't count on a video. Chances are, if something really bad went down, it will be lost or damaged beyond repair.

I'm not saying any of this is right, far from it. I'm just saying this is how it is once the population level dips below a certain threshhold... and I'm not even sure what that number is. Under 10,000 for certain. Twenty thousand? Still a strong risk. And in towns like mine, where it's under 2000? Go around if you can. We may be small but we still have K9 units, and they alert on command. And like the DA tells the poor dude in the video, he got off easy compared to what some small town cops will put you through if you so much as look sideways at them.

As for the preppers who think they will become one with the town and therefore off the radar, think again. I may live here, but I'm not local. Without blood ties to the right family, copious donations to the appropriate functions (namely high school football), or strong support from a local church (kinda tough to get when you're atheist) I will forever be considered an outsider. They don't bother me for the most part, mostly because the one time they did I went full asshole on them and they've decided it's not worth it, but if I ever do step over a line rest assured they'll truss me up like a Christmas turkey and laugh all the way to the county jail.

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