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State of American History, Civics, and Politics

King Scorpion versus Car 54 Policing

Once upon a time over five thousand years ago, there lived a king of Egypt named Scorpion. Technically he was not king of all of Egypt. He ruled over what is called Upper Egypt, upstream to the southern portion of Egypt bordering Nubia. His successor Narmer is credited with being the first king of a united Egypt and making Memphis the capital city.

These early kings had fighting names commensurate with their responsibilities as king. Narmer or “catfish” derives from a fierce fighting fish in the Nile River. And King Scorpion was named scorpion. Their job and that of all the kings after them was to protect Egypt from both domestic and foreign foes.

The general public tends to be more familiar with the king (later called “Pharaoh”) fighting foreign enemies. That is the figure they tend to see as tourists and in textbooks. These enemies tend to be described as sub-human. Egyptians were the real human beings (rmt) while their foes were vile Asiatics and Nubians. What tends to be overlooked is that the king dispensed justice at home as well. To be a hot-head or a disrupter who threatened peace and the social order (ma’at), led to punishments just as brutal and violent as if one had been a foreigner. That part of ancient Egypt tends to overlooked amidst the splendor of the pyramids.


By coincidence, this past week, I was taking the defensive driving class for insurance point reduction and reduced insurance premiums. The last time I had taken it was January, 2020, in person and just before COVID. The reduction lasts for three years at which point the safety class needs to be taken again. This time the class was online. Times have changed since COVID.

The purpose of the class as the title suggests is to be better drivers so as to save lives including one’s own. We go through various modules involving the leading causes of automobile accidents. This leads to modules in what we can do to prevent accidents. Such actions include the obvious ones involving alcohol, wearing seat belts, and pulling over when drowsy. Use of cell phones contributes to more accidents than texting according to the course. And nobody has the right of way at an intersection.

There wasn’t much said about what to do when pulled over by a cop. There was mention of pulling over when one hears sirens and/or sees red lights to allow the police, fire, or EMT vehicle to pass. But there wasn’t much said about what happens if the flashing red lights are directed for the driver to pull over. There was a session about avoiding the rage driver or the reckless aggressive driver. First one should not be one; and second one should avoid such drivers as best one can by slowing down and pulling over if possible. There certainly was nothing about what to do if the police officer(s) is the rage warrior who acts aggressively.


Scorpion was a special unit created within the Memphis police. The full name is Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods. It was commissioned in 2021 for the purpose of reducing crime in high crime areas. The 40-person unit patrolled the neighborhood on the lookout for gang members and criminal activities. Like their beat counterparts, the used stop-and-frisk but now supplemented with car stops. One critical focus was the reckless driver. With them the goal of the unit was to seize their cars if possible.

In practice, the operation seemed far removed from the lessons of the Defensive Driving class. Instead of the police being someone you contact for help, they seemed to be engaged in mass pullovers in high- crime areas which appears to be a racial code word. While technically they did not have a 007 license to kill, they certainly had a license to intimidate and operate with impunity.

They are trained warriors. Their entire shift is one of search and control and not protect and serve. Too often police are not part of the community they patrol but at war with it. They live elsewhere from where they work. And they look down on the people they police, they are not real people, they are words a white person cannot say or write. The warrior mentality prevails. Take no prisoners.

These are not SWAT teams called into action at the direction of a commanding officer for a specific situation. Instead they are permanently in the warrior pose as if on patrol in Iraq or Afghanistan. They are trained to act in accordance with the ethos of their name. We are all familiar with PTSD for returning soldiers from war zones. What about an elite police unit permanently on patrol in a war zone every shift?

CAR 54 Policing

Scorpion policing is in marked contrast to Car 54 policing (Car 54 and Police Reform: Where Are You? June 17, 2020). Car 54, Where Are You? was a police comedy that aired on NBC from 1961 to 1963. The Car 54 was the patrol car for Officer Gunther Toody and Officer Francis Muldoon, two New York City police officers in the fictional 53rd precinct in The Bronx. As it turns out, one episode was directly related to the current issue of police reform. The episode in question is “Toody & Muldoon Crack Down.” It aired on January 21, 1962, and can be seen on YouTube.

Yes, this was a TV series and should not be taken literally. But what the TV series presents is a large Jane Jacobs community. People know each other, look out for each other, and help each other. The police are part of this community, not outsiders patrolling a foreign territory. The details of the various incidences are secondary to the conceptual portrayal of the police as integral to the community.

The blog goes on to mention such neighborhood police stalwarts as Sheriff Andy Taylor from the fictional Mayberry and Officer Krupke from the real West Side in New York. The violence is greater in West Side Story than in Car 54 or The Andy Griffith Show. The world is grittier. The personal circumstances are more challenging. Still the police officer is known by name, knows the name of the people in the community, and is part of it. Do you know the name of the police officers who patrol where you live?

Times have changed. The victim in Memphis of SCORPION was a mere two minutes from home and none of the five police officers even knew his name or address  … even though they should have.  Mom! Mom! Mom