That reminds me of a topic that I've been intermittently circling around for several months: the various differences between policemen and firemen.
For example, it's clear that there tends to be more interracial solidarity among cops, such as Crowley and Lashley, than among firemen, as seen in the Ricci case. It's not a huge difference, but it seems to exist on average.
The irony is that the tendency for cops to be divided from other cops by racial animosity less often firemen are divided by race is directly related to why so many people hate cops and "everybody loves a fireman."
This paradox occurred to me when reading an interview with veteran cop novelist Joseph Wambaugh, whose true crime book Fire Lover I read recently to learn more about firemen v. cops.
Q: Your characters tend to enter their careers full of compassion only to be drained of it as time goes on. This is particularly evident in The New Centurions [Wambaugh's first novel from four decades ago]:Cops develop transracial solidarity amongst themselves by despising everybody who is not a cop.
A: Yeah, well, the premature cynicism that overtakes young police officers tends to diminish compassion. The cynicism happens as a result of seeing not only the worst of people, of which they expected to see, but ordinary people at their worst. They develop that minority group mentality where unless theyâ€™re with â€?blueâ€? people like themselves theyâ€™re distrustful and think that no one else understands them. The minority group paranoia really takes over young officers after a couple of years and then they have to work through it. ...
Q: I gather the minority group mentality isnâ€™t race specific but rather inclusive of anyone who isnâ€™t dressed in blue, that is, anyone who is not a police officer. Still, in your stories the locker room banter includes a free range of racial slurs among the officers towards other officers.
A: I think it helps a lot for other colours (within the force) to be obliterated and everyone turn blue. But that doesnâ€™t work as well these days because these are very politically correct times. The interracial banter that once flew around the locker room has been curtailed. Now, at least 20 per cent or more of police officers are women and sexist jokes can get people into trouble. [Laughs.] Itâ€™s not so much fun anymore, actually.
Q: So that type of banter was viewed as good-natured and rather than being seen as ostracizing it was in fact unifying.
A: Right. It wipes out gender and it wipes out race. Weâ€™re all blue.
In contrast, firemen battle something impersonal, fire. And everybody loves a fireman, so it's hard for firemen to loathe civilians. So, they end up squabbling more than cops do amongst themselves along racial lines.