Blog

wellphoto/Shutterstock

Rising Police Aggression A Telling Indicator Of Our Societal Decline

A historially common marker of failing civilizations
Friday, April 24, 2015, 12:22 PM

My first Uber lift was in South Carolina.  My driver was from Sudan originally, but had emigrated to the US 20 years ago.  Being the curious sort, I asked him about his life in Sudan and why he moved.  He said that he left when his country had crumbled too far, past the point where a reasonable person could have a reasonable expectation of personal safety, when all institutions had become corrupted making business increasingly difficult.  So he left.  

Detecting a hitch in his delivery when he spoke of coming to the US, I asked him how he felt about the US now, 20 years later.  "To be honest," he said, "the same things I saw in Sudan that led me to leave are happening here now. That saddens me greatly, because where else is there to go?"

It’s time to face some uncomfortable ideas about the state of civilization in the United States. This country is no longer the beacon of freedom illuminating a better way for the world. Why not? Because it has ceased to be civilized.

The recent spate of police brutality videos and the complete lack of a useful or even sane response by the police unions is shaping my writing here. But it goes well beyond those incidents and extends into all corners of the lives of US citizens now, as police abuse is only one symptom of a much deeper problem.

What do we mean by "civilized?"  Well, take a look at its official definition and see if you note any descriptors that are lacking in present day US culture:

Civilized adjective

1. Culturededucatedsophisticatedenlightenedhumane All truly civilized countries must deplore torture.

2. Politemannerlytolerantgraciouscourteousaffablewell-behavedwell-mannered

(Source)

A civilized society, then, is one that is humane at its core, that knows right from wrong, and which does not need to conduct lengthy ‘internal reviews’ to discover if videotaped brutality is indeed showing illegal abuse.

Let’s begin by examining a few recent cases of brutality, so many of which now exist that I have to narrow the field substantially in the interest of brevity.  I'm going to skip over the one where an unarmed black man was shot five times in the back and coldly murdered by the officer in South Carolina, because that has already (and rightly) received a lot of media attention.

So, the first case I'd like to discuss comes to us from San Bernardino CA where a man being served with a warrant for suspicion of identity theft started to flee.  Much to the dismay of the police, the last leg of his otherwise humorous escape plan involved a horse, forcing the cops to huff across the hot, dry desert on foot.

The video eventually shows the fugitive falling off his horse, throwing himself flat on the ground in total submission, and then putting his own hands behind his back. Two officers then approach and, in full view of the news chopper camera circling overhead, proceed to violently kick him in the face and groin, pistol whip him with a taser, pile-drive him with their elbows, and then move aside to make room for the other nine officers that also join in the violent 2 minute long beating:

Aerial footage showed the man falling off the horse he was suspected of stealing during the pursuit in San Bernardino County Thursday afternoon.

He then appeared to be stunned with a Taser by a sheriff's deputy and fall to the ground with his arms outstretched. Two deputies immediately descended on him and appeared to punch him in the head and knee him in the groin, according to the footage, reviewed several times by NBC4.

The group surrounding the man grew to 11 sheriff's deputies.

In the two minutes after the man was stunned with a Taser, it appeared deputies kicked him 17 times, punched him 37 times and struck him with batons four times. Thirteen blows appeared to be to the head. The horse stood idly nearby.

The man did not appear to move from his position lying on the ground for more than 45 minutes. He did not appear to receive medical attention while deputies stood around him during that time.

San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon told NBC4 he was launching an internal investigation into the actions of the deputies.

"I'm not sure if there was a struggle with the suspect," McMahon said. "It appears there was in the early parts of the video. What happens afterwards, I'm not sure of, but we will investigate it thoroughly."

(Source)

Note the lack of civilized responses there from beginning to the end.  A yielding, non-resisting suspect was repeatedly pounded by 11 officers using means that would land you or me in hot water (justifiably) on “assault with a dangerous weapon” charges if we did the same.

Then the beaten man was left on the ground afterwards without any medical attention for 45 minutes. The physical abuse nor the later disdain for the suspect's condition aren't behaviors you find in a civilized society. Successfully apprehending a 'suspected criminal' does not give you free license to mete out a brutal beat-down, at least not if your humanity is intact. But with these officers, that appears to be precisely what happened. The fact that it did is indicative of a culture in distress.

In the next part of this sad drama, the county sheriff had the audacity to say (in an obvious attempt at damage control) that he was ‘not sure’ if a struggle had happened with the suspect, but that it appeared that there had been one.  Apparently, the sheriff needs some training in evidence review (or a new pair of glasses) because there’s no struggle there at all, which is plainly obvious in the video:

Then the sheriff concludes with “what happens afterward, I’m not sure of,…” Again, anybody who viewed the video is very certain of what happened afterwards because it’s completely obvious: the deputies kicked the crap out of a non-resisting suspect.

So obvious that less than 2 weeks after the beating, San Bernadino county hastily agreed to a $650,000 settlement in attempt to very rapidly put the whole thing behind them.

The only legitimate response from the sheriff, to show that the rule of law applies and that he and his deputies have morals and are part of a civilized society, would have been to say something along the lines of, “Assaulting a compliant and non-resisting suspect is never OK, and it is against our internal policies and training as well as the law.  In the interest of complete transparency and fairness, both real and perceived, we’ve asked for an external review which will include citizen participation.  Whether laws are broken by citizens of the police, our department believes 100% in equal application of the law because anything else erodes the basic perception of fairness upon which a civilized society rests.”

Of course, nothing of the sort was said here. Nor is it ever said in other brutality cases, where instead we see the ranks close around the accused cop(s), which unfortunately communicates the impression that one of the perks of being a law enforcement officer is being able to dodge the consequences of the same laws they administer daily.

Here are a few more cases, all demonstrating the same unequal application of the laws:

In this next case, an unarmed, fleeing black male suspect was tackled and pinned on the ground by at least two officers. He then was shot in the back by a 73 year-old reserve deputy who apparently couldn't tell the difference between a revolver and a taser. A 73 year-old whose main qualification for being on the scene seems to have been his prior generous donations to the police department.  

Tulsa Police Chase And Shoot Eric Courtney Harris


The above video is disturbing for many reasons, but especially because while Eric Harris is dying he says “Oh man, I can’t breathe” to which one of the officer who happens to have his knee firmly on Eris’s head says “Fuck your breath!”

Recall that one of the words used to describe civilized is "humane". Think about how far out of touch with your own humanity you have to be to say that to a dying person. Even if the officer didn't know Harris was dying at the time, he at least knew that he had been shot.  

In another case, a man approaches a car blocking the street and asks for it to be moved.  The violent manner of the officer's response would be a case of road rage if it involved another civilian and be prosecuted as a serious crime with multiple charges.

Man Asks Cop Nicely to Stop Blocking Traffic, So the Cop Beat Him and Stomped his Head

Sept 11, 2014

Sacramento, CA — A Sacramento County Sheriff’s deputy is on paid vacation after a video surfaced showing him stomping on a man’s face and hitting him with his flashlight after tasering him.

Undersheriff Jaime Lewis says that they are investigating themselves after viewing the video.

“There are portions of that video that clearly have caused me concern,” Lewis said. “And that is exactly what has caused the department to initiate an investigation, so we can get to the bottom of it.”

The man being beaten in the video is 51-year-old John Madison Reyes, who said the incident started when he asked the deputy, whose car was blocking the road, to move.

“I asked him kindly to move the car,” Reyes said. “He glared at me and stared at me. And then, I said an expletive, ‘You need to move the car because I can’t get through.’”

"Let's face it, had the subject complied with the officer's directives from the initial contact and beyond, we wouldn't be sitting here talking about this today," Lewis said.

(Source)

What seems to have happened in the above story is simply that the cop didn't like his authority being challenged, even in a very minor way, and he over-reacted.

The recipient of the beating, Mr. Reyes, was charged with resisting arrest.  How is that even possible?  It seems like there needs to be something you are being arrested for to resist in the first place.  Something for which the officer has probable cause in the first place which you then resist?  How can the only charge be ‘resisting arrest’?

Sadly, many times after a confrontation has become physically violent the one and only charge applied is ‘resisting arrest.’ 

Of course, that’s a mighty convenient charge for some police who escalate a situation first, and then resort to using the charge of resisting arrest because, in the end, that’s the only charge they have. And while it’s not wise to resist arrest, there are hundreds of cases where people claim they weren’t resisting at all, merely trying to protect their heads and faces from heavy blows, while the police were beating them yelling “Stop resisting arrest!” like it was a magic incantation.

As in this case:

Brutal LAPD arrest caught on video; Department investigating cops seen bodyslamming nurse twice during cell phone traffic stop

The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating two officers who were allegedly caught on surveillance camera slamming a nurse on the ground twice — and then fist bumping afterward — during a recent traffic stop.

The two officers pulled over Michelle Jordan, 34, of Sunland, Aug. 21, for allegedly talking on her cell phone while driving in Tujunga, in northeast Los Angeles, the department said.

Jordan pulled into the parking lot of a Del Taco restaurant and got out of her car to confront the officers, cops said.

The taco joint's surveillance video appears to show the officers, both men, yanking the 5-foot-4 inch registered nurse from the open driver's seat and then slamming her on the ground to cuff her.

The duo then yank Jordan to her feet and bring her to the patrol car, where they pat her down.

Moments later, one of the cops slams the married mom to the ground a second time.

After placing her in the cruiser's backseat, the two appear to share a celebratory fist-pound.

Jordan was booked for resisting arrest and later released.

(Source)

The pictures of the damage to this woman's face are disturbing.  Think about what it would be like to be pulled over for a minor infraction, be yanked from your car, thrown to the ground, handcuffed, stood up, and then violently body slammed a second time.  While she may have been using words that these officers found to be less than respectful of their authority, in a civilized society grown men do not violently assault the unarmed -- especially handcuffed women.  That's just sadistic and has no place in a decent society.

In another case from Baltimore police broke the leg of a man they were arresting, Freddie Gray, cuffed him, and instead of getting him medical help dragged him to a van obviously alive and screaming in pain from the broken leg. By the time that van ride was over, the man was delivered to a local hospital with a broken neck, his spine 80% severed, and he died a short while later. His “crime?” He allegedly “fled unprovoked upon noticing police presence," which, by the way, is not actually a crime, something the Baltimore police were forced to acknowledge in the aftermath of the incident.  The police spokesman, Deputy Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez initially stated that there was “no evidence” of any use of excessive force.  I would counter that any time you shatter a person’s neck after they are cuffed during a van ride, that’s "excessive", by definition.  

Again, the initial response by the police, which began as silence followed by the filing of an initial report that said Mr. Gray was "arrested without incident or force" reveals just how broken our enforcement system and culture really are.

In another recent case a mentally ill woman in Idaho was shot dead by police within 15 seconds of their arrival.  She had a knife, the police got out of their vehicle, walked straight towards her and when she did not immediately comply with their commands, they opened fire.

Something Is Very Wrong

[note: an incomplete statistic was used here and has been removed and replaced with the following]

In the past ten years police in the UK have been involved in 23 total police shooting fatalities.  In the US in 2013 alone there were a minimum of 458 'justifiable homicides' by firearm committed by US police.  I say 'a minimum' because the FBI statistics are woefully incomplete because there is no mandate that police forces report their killings to the FBI so the database is certainly inaccurate on the low side.  But taking that at face value, there is a vast gap between the number of people shot in the UK as compared to the US.  Adjusting for population, US police officers are killing citizens at roughly 40 times the rate of UK police.  40 times!

How can this be? In the UK they’ve got hooligans and yobs, immigrants and poor people. They’ve got drunks and mentally unbalanced people too. And yet they somehow don’t kill people in the fulfillment of their duties as public safety officers.

In this video you’ll see a mentally deranged man outside of Buckingham palace threatening people while wielding knives. He was successfully apprehended alive by a patient and methodical UK police force that did not aggravate, but instead waited for an opening to make their move, which they did quite successfully using a taser instead of guns.

The problem, it seems, is that the US police have been trained to be highly confrontational and to escalate, rather than defuse, any situation. 

Police in the US have shot an individual’s highly trained service dog after showing up at the wrong address, and even a family’s pet pot-bellied pig simply because they ‘felt threatened.’

So the one-two punch here is that cops are trained to be highly confrontational and then to react with force -- oftentimes deadly force -- when they ‘feel threatened.’  See the problem here? It’s pretty easy to end up feeling threatened when you are creating threatening situations.

That’s a recipe for exactly the sort of over-reactive uses of force that are giving us the problems we see today.

An Occupying Force

If you saw the images coming out of Ferguson recently, you may have noticed that the law-enforcement presence did not so much look like police, but an occupying military.  Snipers perched on roofs viewing the crowds through their scopes, tear gas and rubber bullets constantly in use, Humvees, the latest acoustic anti-personnel devices, and officers outfitted with ‘battle rattle’ that even made one Afghanistan vet jealous for its magnificent excess compared to what soldiers were issued in one of the most dangerous regions of the world. 

How is it that a small mid-western city arrayed more hardware against its own citizens than you might find in an active Middle East war zone?  Who really thought that necessary and why?  

Exactly how and when did policing and crowd control in the US slip into a set of methods that match those used by occupying forces -- like those of Isreal -- who subjugate whole populations?

It turns out, by going to Israel and learning Israeli methods of crowd 'control.'

Israel-trained police “occupy” Missouri after killing of black youth

Feb 8, 2015

Since the killing of eighteen-year-old Michael Brown by Ferguson police in Missouri last weekend, the people of Ferguson have been subjected to a military-style crackdown by a squadron of local police departments dressed like combat soldiers. This has prompted residents to liken the conditions on the ground in Ferguson to the Israeli military occupation of Palestine. 

And who can blame them? 

The dystopian scenes of paramilitary units in camouflage rampaging through the streets of Ferguson, pointing assault rifles at unarmed residents and launching tear gas into people’s front yards from behind armored personnel carriers (APCs), could easily be mistaken for a Tuesday afternoon in the occupied West Bank. 

And it’s no coincidence. 

At least two of the four law enforcement agencies that were deployed in Ferguson up until Thursday evening — the St. Louis County Police Department and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department — received training from Israeli security forces in recent years. 

(Source)

If the tactics and gear of the police in Ferguson looked military that’s because they were. The purpose of APC’s and m4 assault rifles is to go into dangerous battles and kill the other side first so you can survive.

I believe that one’s training and mindset are critical determinants of what happens next.  It should really not surprise anyone that a militarized mindset accompanied by specialized training and hardware has led to scenes like the one we saw in Ferguson, among many other places over the past several years.

I wanted to find out if the assertion of the above article was true. Had US police agencies really trained with the Israelis?

The answer is yes, beginning over a decade ago. Note that US police have been training for a domestic terrorist threat that has been almost completely non-existent, well below the statistical threshold that would seem to justify such advanced training and tactics:

U.S.-Israel Strategic Cooperation: Joint Police & Law Enforcement Training

Sept 2013

In 2002, Los Angeles Police Department detective Ralph Morten visited Israel to receive training and advice on preparing security arrangements for large public gatherings.  From lessons learned on his trip, Det. Morten prepared a new Homicide Bomber Prevention Protocol and was better able to secure the Academy Awards presentation.

In January 2003, thirty-three senior U.S. law enforcement officials - from Washington, Chicago, Kansas City, Boston and Philadelphia - traveled to Israel to attend a meeting on "Law Enforcement in the Era of Global Terror."  The workshops helped build skills in identifying terrorist cells, enlisting public support for the fight against terrorism and coping with the aftermath of a terrorist attack.

“We went to the country that's been dealing with the issue for 30 years,” Boston Police Commissioner Paul F. Evans said. “The police are the front line in the battle against terrorism. We were there to learn from them - their response, their efforts to deter it. They touched all the bases.”

“I think it's invaluable,” said Washington, DC Police Chief Charles Ramsey about the instruction he received in Israel. “They have so much more experience in dealing with this than we do in the United States.”

Also, in 2003, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security established a special Office of International Affairs to institutionalize the relationship between Israeli and American security officials. “I think we can learn a lot from other countries, particularly Israel, which unfortunately has a long history of preparing for and responding to terrorist attacks,” said Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) about the special office.

(Source)

Here’s the thing: your chances of dying of ‘terrorism’ on US soil are dwarfed by the chances of dying from practically every other cause of death in the US.  Terrorism simply is not a gigantic and imminent existential threat that requires special hardware and training relationships with nations that practice the tactics and strategies of occupation.

Terrorism is not such a common thing that we need to define our entire crowd control methods around it, but a rare thing, and is really what’s left over after a few individuals feel like every other option of redress has been stripped away.  Which is why it’s practically unheard of in the US, and most other civilized countries.

But domestic US law enforcement agencies have been training and outfitting themselves as if it’s a top threat.  Why is that?

There are not very many reassuring answers to that question.  One is that our law enforcement agencies lack the ability to discern actual threats from imaginary ones.  Another is that they envision a time when some portion of the civilian population feels as if it has lost all hope and options for a better future, and starts resorting to terrorist acts.

Either way, very poor answers.

A Dangerous Job?

One mitigating factor is to note that police have a stressful, dangerous and low paying job.  Erring on the side of personal safety makes sense when looked at this way.

In terms of dangerousness, however, law enforcement doesn't even crack the top-ten list of most dangerous professions:

(Source)

The death rate for sworn officers is 11.1 per 100,000 (2013 data) for job-related injuries. Fishing is ten times more dangerous. And even the 11.1 rate includes some deaths which were not the result of violent actions committed during an arrest, but things that tend to happen among a force more than a million strong (green circles).

(Source)

Even if we assumed that half of the reported job-related deaths were homicides, that would make policing about as dangerous as living in an average city (5.5 per 100,000) but seven-fold less dangerous than simply living in Baltimore (35 per 100,000).

So a stressful job yes. An important job, definitely. But not as dangerous as many other occupations, which is relevant context to this story.

Good Policing

I would be remiss to not also point out other examples of great police work.  We need to illuminate both what’s wrong and what’s right.

One of my favorite examples shows Norwegian police handling a belligerent drunk:

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=66d_1394803929

Be sure to watch at least the first full minute, and note that this drunk is yelling, cursing, kicking, and generally ‘resisting’ and yet the police involved never rise to the bait, handle him with good manners and like he’s a human being the entire time.  Well done!

This next clip shows a policeman in Ohio refusing to shoot a man wanted on a double murder charge even though he really probably should have and would have been completely justified in doing so:


The man wanted to be shot and killed by the officer who, despite being rushed, and having the man put his hands in his pockets after being warned not to, and even being knocked to the ground at one point, refused to shoot.

That restraint was quite remarkable and showed someone willing to place his own life in danger before committing to take another’s.  He said afterwards that he “wanted to be absolutely sure” before pulling the trigger that it was absolutely necessary.

I do wonder if the two tours the former marine took before becoming an officer had anything to do with his unwillingness to take another life?

How To Fix This

Well I think I’ve been in the top 5% of my age cohort all my life in understanding the power of incentives, and all my life I’ve underestimated it.

~ Charlie Munger

I think the solution to reducing episodes of police assaults on citizens is contained within the Charlie Munger quote above.  The incentives have to be aligned.

My solution is simply this: every time a police department loses an excessive force or wrongful death case and has to pay out money, that money should come from their local police union’s pension fund.  And by law, these losses cannot be refilled with taxpayer funds.

Every single time a judgment is made against that department and the union pension is reduced, the retired and currently-serving officers will have to decide for themselves if they should keep the indicted officer or officers on the force who lost the pension all that money. Or decide if training and policies need to be adjusted.

I guarantee you that with the incentive to train and behave properly and lawfully now resting with the police itself, rapid behavior and training modification would result.

Moreover, I see no reason why the citizens of any given municipality should be on the hook for repeated violations by any public servant or office.

For some of the most abusive departments, the amounts are far from trivial.

U.S. cities pay out millions to settle police lawsuits

Oct 1, 2014

The Chicago Sun-Times reported earlier this year that the city has paid out nearly half a billion dollars in settlements over the past decade, and spent $84.6 million in fees, settlements, and awards last year.

Bloomberg News reported that in 2011, Los Angeles paid out $54 million, while New York paid out a whopping $735 million, although those figures include negligence and other claims unrelated to police abuse. 

Oakland Police Beat reported in April that the city had paid out $74 million to settle 417 lawsuits since 1990.

And last month, Minneapolis Public Radio put that city’s payout at $21 million since 2003.

(Source)

Just align the incentives and watch what happens next.  The problem is, the incentives are just completely wrong right now, and taxpayers are footing the bill for repeated and expensive police behaviors. 

That needs to stop if we want to see real change.

Conclusion

The police serve a very important role in society and I want them to be as effective as possible.  They are there to uphold the law and protect the peace, which are extremely important functions.  Unfortunately there are far too many cases where the police have acted as judge, jury and executioner to suggest that there are just a few bad apples.

Instead there’s a pervasive atmosphere of hostility and force escalation better suited to war zones than maintaining civilian order.  The lines have been drawn in many police departments: it’s us vs. them.

Trust in many departments has been utterly shattered within some communities because the police hold themselves to a different standard than they do the populace.  Police commit brazen acts of brutality and get away with it, largely because they self-investigate and/or because the local District Attorney office is unwilling to press charges.

But the recent cases of police brutality are simply a symptom of a much larger problem. Society in the US is breaking down, civility has been lost, and the country is rapidly becoming uncivilized.

This extends within and across all of the most important institutions. Congress is known to work for corporations first and foremost. Democracy itself is bought and sold by the highest bidders. The Federal Reserve protects big banks from the costs of their misdeeds and enriches the already stupidly rich as a side benefit.

DEA agents are caught in Columbia having sex parties with underage girls and drugs, and the worst punishment handed out is a 10 day suspension without pay.  Nobody is even fired, let alone jailed.  

"Crime, once exposed, has no refuge but in audacity".

                 ~ Tacitus, Annals, Book XI Ch. 26

The FBI has just admitted that they had been consistently (and certainly knowingly) overstating forensic lab analysis in ways that favored prosecutors in more than 95% of cases over a period of several decades.  The cases included 32 that resulted in death sentences.  Many people were wrongly convicted, but nobody from the FBI will face any charges and many of the states involved have (so far) decided they won’t be looking into any of the cases to right the wrongs.  The wrongful convictions will stand, an injustice that is incompatible with the concept of being civilized.

The Department of Justice has utterly failed to hold any banks or bankers criminally responsible for any acts despite levying a few billions in fines for crimes that probably netted the banks tens of billions in profits.  For some, crime does pay.

I could go on, but why bother? The pattern is easy enough to see.

The US has lost its way. Fairness, justice, and knowing right from wrong seem to all be lost concepts and the trend has only gotten worse over the past several years.  Without moral bearings, what’s left?

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Edmund Burke

Either the people of the US stand up and resist these accumulating injustices or they will get exactly the sort of government, and law enforcement, they deserve.

In the meantime, the challenge for each afflicted institution is to begin to recognize right from wrong, and in the case of law enforcement agencies, stop pretending like every single one of your million+ officers is a good egg.  We all know hiring is imperfect and mistakes get made.  Own up to them and let those who make serious mistakes experience the consequences.  Rebuild our trust in your necessary and important institution by clearly demonstrating that you know right from wrong wherever it occurs and whoever commits the deed.

If we don't do this, if we allow the current trajectory to build more momentum, the loss of civilized behavior will reach a tipping point from which it will be very hard to return without much hardship, and likely, bloodshed.

In Part 2: Preparing For The Coming Breakdown, we analyze how the boom in prosperity seen over the much of the 20th century is evaporating, and as the pie begins to shrink, the means by which the players compete for their slices becomes increasingly brutish and violent.  

Ask yourself this: If tensions are this bad now, while relatively abundant resources exist, how bad do you think they’ll get during the next economic downturn or financial crisis?

Click here to read Part 2 of this report (free executive summary, enrollment required for full access)

Endorsed Financial Adviser Endorsed Financial Adviser

Looking for a financial adviser who sees the world through a similar lens as we do? Free consultation available.

Learn More »
Where to Buy Gold & SilverWhere to Buy Gold & Silver

We endorse this dealer as our all-around favorite for purchasing and storing precious metals.

Learn More »

Related content

122 Comments

neoluddit's picture
neoluddit
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 21 2012
Posts: 1
please correct the citation

please correct the citation of the THINK PROGRESS statistic about UK police fatalities as they have retracted it.  thx

cmartenson's picture
cmartenson
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 7 2007
Posts: 4726
Will do!

neoluddit wrote:

please correct the citation of the THINK PROGRESS statistic about UK police fatalities as they have retracted it.  thx

I've since determined that that statistic was in gross error...will amend entire part of article now...

Mikey1052's picture
Mikey1052
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 8 2008
Posts: 39
Would he treat a relative the same way...

To me this is absolutely excessive force totally uncalled for and hopefully unacceptable by the general population. I can see there may have been a bit of resistance and yes she was apparently drunk and maybe mouthy but I wonder if the cop would do this to one of his relatives.... Absolutely, police brutality plain and simple.

http://www.usatoday.com/videos/news/2015/04/22/26218991/

thc0655's picture
thc0655
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 27 2010
Posts: 1201
Same message, different idiom

Here's a young man saying many of the same things all of us here are, just in an urban idiom.  I love this guy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=85&v=itvnQ2QB4yc

"Welcome to the Hunger Games. And may the odds be ever in your favor."

cmartenson's picture
cmartenson
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 7 2007
Posts: 4726
Ugh...

Mikey1052 wrote:

To me this is absolutely excessive force totally uncalled for and hopefully unacceptable by the general population. I can see there may have been a bit of resistance and yes she was apparently drunk and maybe mouthy but I wonder if the cop would do this to one of his relatives.... Absolutely, police brutality plain and simple.

http://www.usatoday.com/videos/news/2015/04/22/26218991/

And the Chief says..."the officer did what he was supposed to do in that situation."

Really chief?  If 'resisting' means wiggling your arms slightly and that means the officer is then trained to throw you violently on the pavement, head first, I would humbly suggest that your training is way off the mark.

Perhaps if the officer felt he could not cuff the woman safely, then call for backup, or be man, or something.

RoseHip's picture
RoseHip
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 5 2013
Posts: 140
Cervical spine injuries

Very disturbing vidoe Mikey1052. One observation from a healthcare perspective you NEVER I mean never turn someone over that has received trauma of this sort. The only way is to either leave them in the position they are currently in or to move them with an assist with the second person holding the neck so that further injury is avoided. If she where to have C-spine injuries this move would be the evidence one would need to proceed with which ever legal proceedings of her choice.

jeffrost's picture
jeffrost
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 29 2012
Posts: 8
An insightful article. Thanks

Chris,

I can see that you are upset.

Welcome to my world.

J

climber99's picture
climber99
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 12 2013
Posts: 135
It is much easier for the UK police

It is much easier for the UK police.  They do not carry guns and it is illegal for individuals to own, carry or keep a gun.  Therefore the police do not fear the public and the public don't fear the police.  On the rare occasions when an armed response is required it is carried out by specialised professional officers and is highly regulated. 

Pipyman's picture
Pipyman
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 24 2011
Posts: 24
My thoughts too

I agree with the article in general and UK police are certainly heading in the same direction. However, comparison with UK policing is a bit of a stretch! I also think the data regarding overall deaths in the U.S. Police force would have to be related to area to give any real insight.... I'm guessing many policing areas are far more dangerous than others. But, as I say, the tone of the article is dead right and deserves serious thought going forward.....

Bankers Slave's picture
Bankers Slave
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Jul 26 2012
Posts: 466
Slight correction

on UK police.

In Scotland where the autonomy of 8 separate police regions was removed recently and replaced by one single FORCE for Scotland. The newly appointed police chief with the title of Sir, without any political mandate has implemented the attendance of firearm carrying officers to attend non firearm related, routine calls.

His justification was the carrying out of a risk assessment that will not be within the public interest to release.

Current home office public scaremongering tactic is terrorist threat level SEVERE (highly likely terrorist attack), false flag or otherwise.

Welcome to police state Scotland!

Montana Native's picture
Montana Native
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 17 2009
Posts: 160
Kelly Thomas

You didn't even mention the Kelly Thomas case from a few years ago. One of the policemen put on latex gloves as he informed the disheveled veteran he was getting ready to @#$% him up. It was an absolute outrage....he cried for his dad as he slowly died. Here is a nice picture that the Michigan State Police put on their Facebook page last year......it was summarily removed. Note the ghillie hats and punisher patches. Where is Andy Griffith? Dead as hell.

Michael_Rudmin's picture
Michael_Rudmin
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 25 2014
Posts: 617
From Portsmouth

Just this week I came out of Walmart to see twenty police cars and two ambulances...

From the description of what happened, I can't say that what happened was brutality, but...

Something is VERY wrong.

Michael_Rudmin's picture
Michael_Rudmin
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 25 2014
Posts: 617
From Portsmouth

Just this week I came out of Walmart to see twenty police cars and two ambulances...

From the description of what happened, I can't say that what happened was brutality, but...

Something is VERY wrong.

Arthur Robey's picture
Arthur Robey
Status: Diamond Member (Online)
Joined: Feb 4 2010
Posts: 3936
Again? Oh No!

Not another bottleneck. Good luck everybody.

The Hidden History Of The Human Race:

Time2help's picture
Time2help
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 9 2011
Posts: 2193
Oh dear

Some character building opportunities going forward?  Perhaps time to brush up on some definitions. Consider the difference between the terms Legal and Lawful.

My concatenation:

Legal: A minefield.

Lawful: A field of daisies (and mind your manners).

"He who does not claim his rights...has no rights." - Author Unknown

(Head nod to Arthur)  Do mind the evolutionary gap.

Bankers Slave's picture
Bankers Slave
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Jul 26 2012
Posts: 466
Just to expand upon your good points,

if you ever get arrested by the cops and they read you the charges, and ask you if you understand what they have read to you, the correct answer is a resounding no! The word UNDERSTAND is a legal term that means the exact opposite to what you think its definition is.

UNDERSTAND in legalese means to STAND UNDER those charges and their authority. Why on earth would you do that? Simply because that is what the system trained us to do by keeping us ignorant.

They will ask you what it is that you do not understand. The correct answer is "i do not stand under those charges or your authority" and they will just note that down.

RNcarl's picture
RNcarl
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: May 13 2008
Posts: 382
Bankers Slave wrote: if you

Bankers Slave wrote:

if you ever get arrested by the cops and they read you the charges, and ask you if you understand what they have read to you, the correct answer is a resounding no! The word UNDERSTAND is a legal term that means the exact opposite to what you think its definition is.

UNDERSTAND in legalese means to STAND UNDER those charges and their authority. Why on earth would you do that? Simply because that is what the system trained us to do by keeping us ignorant.

They will ask you what it is that you do not understand. The correct answer is "i do not stand under those charges or your authority" and they will just note that down.

... And then kick the living crap out of you!!

RNcarl's picture
RNcarl
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: May 13 2008
Posts: 382
A long time ago

... When I was younger, and much more fit.

I was a Firefighter/EMT and there was a stretch where everyone we responded to for help, wanted to fight. They were either, drunk, high, or crazy. Even an old woman in her '80s who was running naked down the street, "resisted" and kicked a cop in the groin that got too close to her. Back then, cops and Firefighters alike just laughed at them like the Norwegian cops did in the above mentioned story. (We did actually laugh at the cop who got kicked by the old lady too)

No one was shot, beaten or had their heads kneeled on. 

Today, I fear I would have treated many, many more gunshot wounds.

Thanks Chris for doing this article.

P.S. The community where I served is in the same county as New Richmond, OH. where the cop showed restraint by NOT shooting an obviously depressed man.

Tom Ness's picture
Tom Ness
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 25 2015
Posts: 2
Professional Malpractice Insurance for Police

I agree with Chris Martenson completely that incentives need to change, but disagree with him how to achieve this. We already have excellent examples of professions (doctors, lawyers, etc.) that use malpractice insurance policies to cover claims against individual practitioners of those professions. Why not police?

When a police officer commits an act of abuse, it should be his or her individually purchased professional malpractice insurance policy that pays the claim. Martenson's idea of paying a claim out of police pension funds punishes them as a group. My idea would raise premiums for bad cops and lower them for good cops, incentivizing the bad ones to quit. We need the good ones to stay. This is a simple free market solution that could end most police abuse with easily written legislation.

When bad drivers can no longer afford insurance, they have to quit driving (at least in the majority of states that require insurance). It's the way insurance works that good drivers will always subsidize potential claims against the bad drivers, which can easily be in the millions of dollars in a worst case scenario, beyond even the lifetime premium amounts of any individual. So good drivers have an incentive to see the bad drivers removed from the road, because that helps keep premiums down for everyone. Applying this same incentive structure to police will stop police unions from closing ranks behind bad cops in a manner more fair to all than charging their pension fund.

thc0655's picture
thc0655
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 27 2010
Posts: 1201
Police malpractice insurance and UK/US comparisons

Great idea TomNess about police malpractice insurance.  The union could pay the first $100/month toward the premium and the individuals would be stuck with the rest.  Of course, then the City wouldn't just pay $10,000 for frivolous claims (like they do in my city), they'd be incentivized to actually fight them in court and win.  The bad cops would eventually not be able to afford to stay on the job.

The comparison of unarmed UK policing to armed US policing is helpful in some ways and not in others.  I wish my officers all had their manners and abilities to deescalate.  But what would an unarmed officer have done yesterday when two of my officers responded to a radio call of two males with guns in a housing project where we've had an incident of gun violence every day for a week? The officers saw the two males and their guns and initiated a foot pursuit.  The bad guys split up and as the officers closed in on the one bad guy he drew his gun.  The female officer fired one poorly aimed round which hit a UPS truck.  The bad guy thought better of it and dropped his gun.  He was arrested without injury.  Would it be fair to expect unarmed cops to chase those two armed thugs (the one they caught has a long criminal record including a shooting death)?  Do you really think there would be any chance of catching them if they had to wait for the armed police to arrive in 12 minutes?  Apples to oranges in many ways.

Tom Ness's picture
Tom Ness
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 25 2015
Posts: 2
Armed versus Unarmed Police

I have no problem with police being armed. The problem in the US is, as Mr. Martenson details above, is that police have been trained to use guns as a first resort, not a last resort. As a result American police are drawing their guns in completely inappropriate situations, and then firing before they've given themselves even a fraction of second to determine whether deadly force is justified. Americans with concealed weapon permits are safer to the public than police simply because as private citizens they know they can't get away with mistakes or short tempers that police know they can just have a good laugh over with their colleagues. Police are not going to make themselves accountable, and it's clear from their actions and attitudes after they have administered shootings or beatings to citizens that they are smugly reveling in their being above the law. That's where civil courts and professional malpractice insurance can force them to change their culture.There's an old saying among US gun owners: "You can have a gun, or you can have a temper, but you can't have both." The saying should apply to police, too.

Doug's picture
Doug
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 1 2008
Posts: 3048
same thing, sort of

Your solution uses the same theory as Chris's. Making one's peers pay for one's mistake in hopes that peers will straighten out the perp. That's a basic military tactic, and it works. Except your solution brings in a middle man, the insurance industry that is well known to be as corrupt as any industry. When premiums go up most people will react as I do when my premiums go up, with some variation of f---ing blood suckers.

The more directly your peers can connect your bad behavior with their increased cost the more likely they will be to apply peer pressure. Involving the insurance industry in anything ensures everyone's costs will go up.

Arthur Robey's picture
Arthur Robey
Status: Diamond Member (Online)
Joined: Feb 4 2010
Posts: 3936
True THC. If you want a

True THC. 

If you want an unarmed police force then first you must have an unarmed population. And then we have a people afraid of the government, which in my opinion is the worst situation. 

So why don't I miss behave?  (Long contemplative pause.) It is because I was brought up by my father. The giving of life and the taking of life are both sacred acts.

The giving of life is best undertaken with joyous spontaneity, the taking of life requires the opposite. It requires long and careful consideration. 

We need more Fathers.

Afterthought: Ghengis Kahn was fatherless

Mulga Mumblebrain's picture
Mulga Mumblebrain
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 26 2015
Posts: 1
Police brutality

The training in Israel is crucial. The police who murdered de Menezes in London, by shooting several bullets into his head, at point blank-range, were also trained in Israel, under 'Operation Kratos'. Kratos being the Greek demi-God of Strength who held  Prometheus down as he was shackled to the rock. The Israeli approach to the imprisoned Palestinians is pure racism, the race hatred of the colonial over-lord to the native untermenschen who will not disappear so that the Herrenvolk can obtain their lebensraum. No Israeli EVER faces justice for murdering a Palestinian, adult or child, in cold blood, not the army, police of the 'settler' Judaic Taliban thugs.

A. M.'s picture
A. M.
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 22 2008
Posts: 2367
The crown jewel

This statement here:
"had the subject complied with the officer's directives from the initial contact and beyond, we wouldn't be sitting here talking about this today," Lewis said."

The requirement is unflinching submission to authority. Do this, and you shall live, subject.

Being a human, being a member of a community means being accountable. The "us and them" mentality that is endemic in all aspects of our society has made rival tribes of us all. Social cohesion is necessary for a 'civilization'. A police force militarized for the purpose of maintaining order in such a situation means maintaining the barriers that prevent us from returning to a more civilized way. 

Aaron
 

climber99's picture
climber99
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 12 2013
Posts: 135
very sad state of affairs, Arthur

I hope I haven't misinterpreted you Arthur. Are you saying that people/you feel the need to arm themselves/yourself against the government?

If so this  is a very sad state of affairs, Arthur.  Firstly that people are afraid of a democratically elected government, secondly that people feel the need to arm themselves against it and thirdly that people think that you have any chance against the government in an armed conflict. 

We are the police. We are the government, We are employees, We are employers. We are part of a community.  We are are responsible of our own actions. We trust others not to do us harm.  If not then we are not civilised

 

Thomas76's picture
Thomas76
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 16 2014
Posts: 4
police

In the last 6 months, 6-7 instances of police alleged police brutality have been cited,  out of at least tens of thousands if not millions of arrests, 

Only because it is a news story, is the reason for the outcry, and benefits to Sharpton , NAACP, and race baiters. Each week, in Chicago, more black lives from black on black shootings are lost than that. Black lives matter to whites,and the MSM, NOT blacks.

[Moderator message: This post constitutes a violation of our forum guidelines.]

Thomas76's picture
Thomas76
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 16 2014
Posts: 4
Dangerous jobs

Chris has listed a list of jobs"more dangerous than being a police officer. As best I can observe, people working on fishing boats, in the logging industry, trash and refuge workers, on cattle ranches, don't have to worry about getting SHOT. on a daily basis in some neighborhoods or the "hood". Exception, taxi drivers in Chicago, often have to worry of getting shot, by a black passenger (which they avoid), by the way.

So there is a difference. 

[Moderator message: This post constitutes a violation of our forum guidelines.]

jennifersam07's picture
jennifersam07
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 14 2012
Posts: 105
Agree it's not a simple problem

Yes we shouldn't minimize the number of good cops out there day after day.  It's complicated and self-reinforcing when police fear the community and the community fears the police. And I'm worried the narrative just keeps reinforcing itself. E.g. this "joke" from the Correspondent's Dinner: http://kyidyl.tumblr.com/post/117449847377/quinn-ineminor

Doug's picture
Doug
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 1 2008
Posts: 3048
episodes I know of

I've been thinking lately of episodes of police brutality I have either witnessed or heard about first hand from people I trust.  The number is four, two personally witnessed and two from first hand accounts.  None involved anyone drawing a gun or, in the case of the victims, even having one.

One was on a black guy in the deep south in 1971.  It was ugly and completely unprovoked.  To be fair the other I witnessed was also in the deep south, but involved two white victims.  The latter one I would characterize as excessive force, but perhaps understandable under the circumstances.

The two first hand accounts were from friends, both white, and both completely nonviolent people.  One was a case of mistaken identity (not excusable, but at least explains the cop's motivation), the other involved a thuggish detective just deciding to beat on a guy for no reason other than the cop was drunk.  (it turns out he had a long history of such behavior)  Both were charged with resisting arrest and pled to non-criminal offenses, although neither resisted arrest or committed any other offense.  In the mistaken ID case the judge even warned the cop that he was close to stepping over the line.  In reality, he was way over the line.

Another incident I was personally involved in did not result in violence, but came very close.  There were three of us and all, again, completely nonviolent people.  One was a woman.  One of the cops came as close to total hysteria as I have ever seen despite no provocation, even verbal, from any of us.  He was literally apoplectic, beet red face, fists clenched at his side, screaming and liberally distributing spit all around, including on the other guy:

http://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/apoplectic

Quote:
Someone who is apoplectic is not just mad — they're so filled with rage, they can barely communicate.

Fortunately for us, the female member of our trio happened to be an assistant DA complete with gold badge.  After a call to headquarters they decided the best course of action was to let us go, although we were clearly guilty of a very minor traffic offense.

The ugly truth is that police in the US have a long history of  violence against people with insufficient if any justification.  It used to be a truism that police came from the same social background as common criminals and retained the same lack of impulse control and willingness to engage in violence.  I don't think that's as true as it used to be, but the militarization of police forces gives the remaining antisocial personality disorders the feeling of invulnerability that can send them over the edge.

http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2015/02/12/differences-between-a-p...

Quote:
The common features of a psychopath and sociopath lie in their shared diagnosis — antisocial personality disorder. The DSM-5 defines antisocial personality as someone have 3 or more of the following traits:
  1. Regularly breaks or flaunts the law
  2. Constantly lies and deceives others
  3. Is impulsive and doesn’t plan ahead
  4. Can be prone to fighting and aggressiveness
  5. Has little regard for the safety of others
  6. Irresponsible, can’t meet financial obligations
  7. Doesn’t feel remorse or guilt

Symptoms start before age 15, so by the time a person is an adult, they are well on their way to becoming a psychopath or sociopath.

I don't believe by any means that all cops are bad, but they seem to tolerate those who are.  I have friends who are cops and one is even a kind of mentor in guiding me through my relationship with guns.  He is a top notch trainer and has an exhaustive knowledge of guns.  They are all good people or they wouldn't be my friends.

Doug

Thomas76's picture
Thomas76
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 16 2014
Posts: 4
remark a Corrresondents Dinner

You are right, It is an expected dumb remark by a libtard.,and laughing by an equally dumb audience.

[Moderator message: This user's account has been blocked.]

Oliveoilguy's picture
Oliveoilguy
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 29 2012
Posts: 532
40 million police/civilian encounters

Thomas76 wrote:

In the last 6 months, 6-7 instances of police alleged police brutality have been cited,  out of at least tens of thousands if not millions of arrests, 

Only because it is a news story, is the reason for the outcry, and benefits to Sharpton , NAACP, and race baiters. Each week, in Chicago, more black lives from black on black shootings are lost than that. Black lives matter to whites,and the MSM, NOT blacks.

"An estimated 17.7 million persons age 16 or older indicated that their most recent contact with the police in 2008 was as a driver pulled over in a traffic stop. These drivers represented 8.4% of the nation’s 209 million drivers. " From the Bureau of Justice Stasticics. This is 44% of face to face encounters with police (BJS).

Quick math shows over 40 million police/civilian encounters in the year sampled. To have 20 or 30 bad encounters in one year seems almost statistically insignificant. Granted...no human life is insignificant, and we must strive for perfection, but to dwell on the 20 or 30 aberrations and not applaud the police for over 40 million encounters done properly seems shortsighted at best and biased and prejudiced at the worst.

If you watch the local evening news you would think that all apartment buildings are on fire and most cars are in gruesome wrecks. Who's going to report on the apartment building where the sprinkler system was checked on schedule, or the millions of drivers who carefully obeyed the traffic signals?

Please ....lets take a step back and get some healthy perspective so that we might not incite fear and hatred.  

green_achers's picture
green_achers
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 3 2009
Posts: 205
What's new, and what's not at all new

Doug above beat me to it.  I may also be biased by living in the South, but the first part of this article should surprise no one.  If you were young and had long hair in the 1970s, you knew this as standard police behavior.  If you are dark skinned, ever, it is no surprise.  There have always been police who have been unjustly brutal to anyone they could get away with being brutal toward, and mostly, the system protected its own.  Only two things have changed, the first is the widespread availability of video technology.  John Q has suddenly become aware of what's been reality forever.

Chris, I love your stuff, but the definition of civilized you found couldn't be more wrong.  Civilized means subject to a civilization, and every civilization has enforced it's rule at the point of whatever the state of the art weaponry was.  I'm not saying this because I like it.  It's just the way it is.

If anything, it occurs to me that if the publicity around these recorded events causes policing to become less brutal toward the "internal proletariat," that will probably be a sign that the end of this particular civilization is not far off.  The center cannot be held.  Well, that's not quite right, and that probably points to what has really changed, and the second part of the article, where I think you're spot on.

That is the militarization of the police forces.  Where in the past it was Boss Hawg and deputy Bubba doing a usually amateur job, today we have full-blown occupation of large swaths of the countryside.  Not just the urban landscape, but that's probably where it's the most concentrated.  Again, I'd love to have some way to fight it, and to do what I can to stop the slide down that slippery slope to cultural disintegration, but I suspect it's just a sign of the times.

oldauzzie's picture
oldauzzie
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Jul 18 2014
Posts: 2
Shame needs a comeback!

We have reached a point, at all levels of society, where shame is no longer an outcome of bad behavior!  Permissiveness has dictated that all behavior is acceptable or at the very least justified by ones environment, upbringing or lack thereof, or discrimination.  Hence, murder, mayhem, rape can be justified and the offender should not be or feel shamed by their actions because they are not responsible!

My father told me when I was a teenager, an adult decision to refrain from dragging main street on a Saturday night and rather stay home and read a book or practice a musical instrument, or workout, would likely keep me out of harms way!  Not a difficult concept to wrap ones head around.

However, when our political leaders openly flaunt the law and ignore the Constitution from the POTUS on down the food chain, modeling to the voters unchecked bad behavior, why are we surprised that lawlessness has become an entitlement among those without any moral clock.

Life is tough and not fair but ignoring responsibility for one's bad behavior will not solve the problem of social injustice!  Yes, those who are smarter than the you and I have succeeded in separating the Church from the State and they have now succeeded in separating Lawlessness from Shame!

Why?  Because they can then justify their own bad behavior if they are not guilty of pointing out others!  There is no right or wrong, good or bad, because all behavior can now be equivocated!

And we wonder if we have lost our way?  You think!  Duh..............

pinecarr's picture
pinecarr
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 13 2008
Posts: 2102
oldauzzie, I agree with your post...

except I'd put one more twist on it; I don't think these people are capable of shame (i.e., sociopaths).  And that is what makes not caring about the consequences of their actions so easy; I think they literally don't care.

oldauzzie's picture
oldauzzie
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Jul 18 2014
Posts: 2
Shame.......

You're right, these sociopaths don't care, but because the politically correct accept all behavior and eschew any accountability, these aberrants will never care!  Either they need to experience punishment that results in a changed behavior or they need to be removed from society and grouped with others of the same ilk!  

This is why I have a problem criticizing the police.  They are the ones dealing, on behalf of the few of us whose moral clock is still running, with societies worst malcontents who, as you point out, don't care.  Woe to anyone who believes that society should hold the offender's feet to the fire!  Using Ferguson, Missouri as a case in point, we must equivocate robbing a convenience store as society's problem!

Time2help's picture
Time2help
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 9 2011
Posts: 2193
Yeesh

Step out for the weekend and the situation goes to you-know-where.

Baltimore Police Warn of 'Credible Threat' to 'Take-Out' Law Enforcement Officers

Going to be some amped up, stressed out LE in the area. Proceed with caution.

Snydeman's picture
Snydeman
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 6 2013
Posts: 198
I'm sorry

...but I refuse to vilify our law enforcement agencies. Not because I condone their behavior - I abhor the methods and the brutality they are exhibiting - but rather because I would put the blame squarely on OUR shoulders as a nation. WE are a violent people, culturally if not individually; we committed genocide on the previous inhabitants of this land, then enslaved others to work the land in the natives' stead when they kept dying. We lead the world - or are in the top ten - in drug use, violent crime, incarceration, systemic inequality, etc., and we have among the most violent television, video games, books, magazines, sports and movies on the globe. Hell, we fought a civil war over the issue of slavery and state's rights. We've had politicians beat other politicians to death with a cane in the chambers of our government! Before we start blaming the police, we need to look hard at the dissonance between the values we accept, the values we show, and the values we claim to have. We are a violent nation. The cops just reflect this back at us, like a mirror no one wants to look at.

For much the same reason, I don't blame politicians for deficit spending in a nation where everyone lives beyond their means through the use of credit, nor for extra-marital sexual trysts, nor for a myriad of other behaviors which simply reflect the general populace. They are US, and come FROM us, at least in so far as we allow them to be. We got us here.

Although I must restate that I abhor - abhor - these issues of police brutality, I blame myself, my neighbors, my nation and my culture. We have a lot of self-reflection to do here, and history tells me we probably won't self-analyze so much as we'll find scapegoats and pin it all on them. Oh, wait, we are already doing that, aren't we?

I agree with Chris that it is a clear a sign of a failed society and culture as any other sign we're seeing nowadays. 

Now please excuse me while I go find something to punch in my anger. As an American male, it's what I've been indoctrinated to do...

Musashi's picture
Musashi
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 27 2015
Posts: 1
Justice

The more cops behave like outlaws, the more "vigilante justice" they can expect.

richcabot's picture
richcabot
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 5 2011
Posts: 44
percentages

Don't assume that the "20-30" problematic contacts between the police and the public represents the number of problem encounters.  These are the ones which managed to get on national news.  The real number of police brutality or misbehavior episodes is much higher.  There would not be the level of outrage in Ferguson, Baltimore, New York, etc. if these were isolated events.  Virtually every black person in these cities has either had first hand experience with inappropriate police behavior or has a close friend or family member who has.  They know that the police (in general, not all officers) treat them like garbage, frame them for things, etc.

In the case of Ferguson it appears that the policeman was justified, but the reaction of the populace is driven more by their experience than that event.  They are willing to believe the victim was innocent because they know so many people in similar situations who were.

The victim in NY who was choked to death by police stood up to them because he had been hassled dozens of times before.  He finally had enough and mouthed off back at them.  Their response was to kill him.

Remember the OJ Simpson trial.   It was obvious to the average viewer that he was guilty.  However, his defense attorneys took the tack that he was framed by a bunch of racist police officers.  Every person on that jury knew that the LAPD did that kind of thing all the time.  They knew the police lied regularly.  When asked to believe the word of a famous black man over the word of a corrupt police force it was an easy choice.

I have a friend (white) in the SF Bay area who was unjustly arrested by a corrupt police officer who then lied on the stand about what happened.  The Assistant DA hid exculpatory evidence, apparently because he was friendly with the officer involved.  Somebody edited the 911 tape and the Assistant DA submitted the edited version into evidence.  The trial judge refused to allow a delay so the tape could be forensically examined.  My friend eventually was able to get his conviction overturned in the California State Supreme Court, in part by demonstrating that the recording had been edited.  In the ruling one of the judges explicitly told the Assistant DA that he had never seen such an abuse of prosecutorial authority.  However, the experience has bankrupted my friend.  Meanwhile neither the officer nor DA has been punished in any way.  The DA declined to punish the ADA.  The officer is now retired and living well off the taxpayers while my friend is reduced to poverty.

I now know that the cop shows you see on TV are bogus.  I never would have believed it if it hadn't happened to someone I know well.  

Our criminal injustice system is far worse than most white people can imagine.

cmartenson's picture
cmartenson
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 7 2007
Posts: 4726
Bogus "statistics" just don't cut it here.

Oliveoilguy wrote:

Quick math shows over 40 million police/civilian encounters in the year sampled. To have 20 or 30 bad encounters in one year seems almost statistically insignificant. Granted...no human life is insignificant, and we must strive for perfection, but to dwell on the 20 or 30 aberrations and not applaud the police for over 40 million encounters done properly seems shortsighted at best and biased and prejudiced at the worst.

Oliveoilguy...please, you can do better than this.  

You've just pulled some 'statistics' right out of you-know-where and then built a weak argument on them.

Please cite your sources for "20-30 bad encounters"

I can cite sources that will give you 20-30 bad encounters per day in one major city alone.  For many people, especially those in target areas, every encounter is a bad one...as in hostile, uncivil, and demeaning.

The main thrust of this article was that this "us vs them" attitude prevails in our society.  You can find evidence of that growing gulf in the Department of Agriculture having their own swat teams, among many others:

Dozens of federal agencies now have Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams to further an expanding definition of their missions. It’s not controversial that the Secret Service and the Bureau of Prisons have them.

But what about the Department of Agriculture, the Railroad Retirement Board, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Office of Personnel Management, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service?

All of these have their own SWAT units and are part of a worrying trend towards the militarization of federal agencies — not to mention local police forces.

(Source)

The fact of the matter at hand is that our police forces are acting as they have been trained which is really a recipe for the sorts of abuses and excesses detailed here.

They are trained to never back down, escalate any situation, but shoot when they "feel threatened."

Your "20 to 30" estimate is so far off the mark as to undercut the rest of your message which I think has merit; namely, without context things can be blown out or proportion.

Well, if you want to make that case, its doubly important that you not accidentally provide bad context, if you see what I mean.

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 13 2009
Posts: 1902
from a relative who's dad is a cop

My son married the daughter of a county sheriff (in this is part of the world basically a policeman) and had this insight.

I appreciate the effort in presenting a "solution" but from what I've seen, the problem is far more complex. It should be noted that, in order to meet the standards based on being politically correct, departments have had to lower their standards. Not only that but with fewer people applying to join the police force, standards are once again lower in order to bring in more workers.



http://www.citizen-times.com/.../educational.../21266899/

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 13 2009
Posts: 1902
out of control courts, too

Cindy Archer, one of the lead architects of Wisconsin’s Act 10 — also called the “Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill,” it limited public-employee benefits and altered collective-bargaining rules for public-employee unions — was jolted awake by yelling, loud pounding at the door, and her dogs’ frantic barking. The entire house — the windows and walls — was shaking. She looked outside to see up to a dozen police officers, yelling to open the door. They were carrying a battering ram...
 
...For the family of “Rachel” (not her real name), the ordeal began before dawn — with the same loud, insistent knocking. Still in her pajamas, Rachel answered the door and saw uniformed police, poised to enter her home. When Rachel asked to wake her children herself, the officer insisted on walking into their rooms. The kids woke to an armed officer, standing near their beds. The entire family was herded into one room, and there they watched as the police carried off their personal possessions, including items that had nothing to do with the subject of the search warrant — even her daughter’s computer. And, yes, there were the warnings. Don’t call your lawyer. Don’t talk to anyone about this. Don’t tell your friends. The kids watched — alarmed — as the school bus drove by, with the students inside watching the spectacle of uniformed police surrounding the house, carrying out the family’s belongings. Yet they were told they couldn’t tell anyone at school.

Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/417155/wisconsins-shame-i-thought-it-was-home-invasion-david-french

aggrivated's picture
aggrivated
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 22 2010
Posts: 343
who goes into law enforcement?

Does anyone have data on psychological research on the average cop?  I know from personal conversations with a psychologist that works for the internal affairs division of our city's police department that one of their main jobs is to review all arrest reports and look for 'employees' who repeatedly escalate situations to cause an arrest.  He explained that there are some police officers who are addicted to the adrenaline high that comes when they are in a confrontational situation.  These officers are a liability to the department.  What I don't know is how they are dealt with in the department. The current militarized training of our officers is probably attracting this type of person.  At some point they become a functional majority.   Wendy's story from Wisconsin would indicate that intimidation is systemic at least in that Wisconsin department.  This all goes back to Eisenhower's warning about the military industrial complex.  Cheap/free military equipment for the local sheriff/ military training for local police/ private prisons/ etc all point to a nation that has forfeited too much personal responsibility for its own cultural behavior.

Mark Cochrane's picture
Mark Cochrane
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: May 24 2011
Posts: 1145
Moral authority

How many more cities will we see burn in the coming years? What the police have done to Freddie Gray does not make the violence in Baltimore tonight right but it does make it inevitable given the past history of abuses. This is the same form of breakdown now happening across the country. Responses are likely to get more and more disproportionate as case after case of police brutality gets publicized, even if some events are warranted. When the police treat the public with respect and live as members of the community they wield tremendous moral authority and can expect to be supported by the public or obeyed with little questioning. However, by creating an increasingly adversarial situation of us versus them they appear more as an occupational force than keepers of the peace. This is sad because I believe that the vast majority of those involved in law enforcement are getting a bad rap. The policies in recent decades and the increasingly flagrant abuse of authority have undermined police powers and changed its source from respect to fear. A fearful populace does not support law enforcement they hide from it or resist it. We depend on police services but they depend on the public's acquiescence to their role in society.  If that breaks down then all the body armor and grenade launchers will not suffice in the face of raw numbers of angry mobs. Police departments and city leaders need to work seriously on repairing the bond with the public before things spin out of control and escalate further. The police are a part of all of us in this society. We need to all be on the same side as resources become more limited and stress levels continue to rise. If the social fabric starts tearing already while we are still 'recovering' what are things going to be like when times are truly tough?

Mark

robie robinson's picture
robie robinson
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 25 2009
Posts: 1012
HughK's picture
HughK
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 6 2012
Posts: 758
Swedish police on holiday de-escalate situation on the NY subway

Swedish Cops on Vacation in NYC Stop Assault, Hold Homeless Man Until Police Come Without Escalating the Situation (Reason.com)

Pretty standard stuff, except that we know it could’ve turned out differently. De-escalation is far from a universal tactic taught to American police, although a number of departments began training it after Ferguson became a national news story. The failure to de-escalate increases the likelihood of deadly force being used, and is rooted in the failure to differentiate between the ability of the police officer, technically a trained professional, to act toward de-escalating the situation and the ability of the suspect, often someone in a poor state of mind, to do the same.

cmartenson's picture
cmartenson
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 7 2007
Posts: 4726
Speaking of Standards....

Wendy S. Delmater wrote:

My son married the daughter of a county sheriff (in this is part of the world basically a policeman) and had this insight.

I appreciate the effort in presenting a "solution" but from what I've seen, the problem is far more complex. It should be noted that, in order to meet the standards based on being politically correct, departments have had to lower their standards. Not only that but with fewer people applying to join the police force, standards are once again lower in order to bring in more workers.



http://www.citizen-times.com/.../educational.../21266899/

Some departments are not struggling with low quality candidates, but actually select preferentially for lower IQs.  The courts have said rejecting higher IQ applicants is A-OK because, government, or something.

Court OKs Barring High IQs for Cops

Sept 8, 2000

A man whose bid to become a police officer was rejected after he scored too high on an intelligence test has lost an appeal in his federal lawsuit against the city.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York upheld a lower court’s decision that the city did not discriminate against Robert Jordan because the same standards were applied to everyone who took the test.

“This kind of puts an official face on discrimination in America against people of a certain class,” Jordan said today from his Waterford home. “I maintain you have no more control over your basic intelligence than your eye color or your gender or anything else.”

He said he does not plan to take any further legal action.

Jordan, a 49-year-old college graduate, took the exam in 1996 and scored 33 points, the equivalent of an IQ of 125. But New London police interviewed only candidates who scored 20 to 27, on the theory that those who scored too high could get bored with police work and leave soon after undergoing costly training.

Most Cops Just Above Normal The average score nationally for police officers is 21 to 22, the equivalent of an IQ of 104, or just a little above average.

I'm not sure if there's a correlation between IQ and certain behaviors but I'm pretty sure that IQ and complex decision making go hand in hand.

At any rate, when it comes to the "public sphere" being allowed to discriminate, I guess the message here is go for it, just don't try this as a private business.  The courts will land on you hard if you do.

thc0655's picture
thc0655
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 27 2010
Posts: 1201
"Chris, there you go again"

To borrow a phrase from Ronald Reagan, "Chris, there you go again."  wink

You wrote:

The fact of the matter at hand is that our police forces are acting as they have been trained which is really a recipe for the sorts of abuses and excesses detailed here.

They are trained to never back down, escalate any situation, but shoot when they "feel threatened."

I'm calling you on that one.  Let's have some documentation, or some personal anecdotes, anything.

You say police are trained:  1) to never back down, 2) to escalate any situation, and 3) to shoot when they feel threatened.  Of course that will require you to define your terms (back down, escalate, feel threatened).  While you're at it, let's have a definition of "bad encounters" because I'm guessing you and Oliveoilguy are defining it differently, especially when you write

For many people, especially those in target areas, every encounter is a bad one...as in hostile, uncivil, and demeaning.

I suspect he's talking about unarmed suspects being shot in the back while running away, and the like (unnecessary deaths caused by excessive use of force).

You're indicting the whole system of training police and the values behind it with a nationwide blanket.  Admittedly, all my personal experience is only in one 8-month police academy experience and 15 years of ongoing training, all in one police department.  I may not know as much about the training provided to police around the country as you do.  However, all my training experiences include de-escalation, some of it particularly related to people who suffer from mental illness or other illnesses (eg. diabetes, seizures) which may effect their interactions with police.  The training I've received on the use of deadly force is VERY VERY clear that the use of deadly force by police is the most profound action we could take and it must be used only in the most dire circumstances to protect life (the officer's or another person's).  To characterize my training as "shoot when you feel threatened" is a cheap shot (but maybe you're aware of training like that).  I also provide ongoing training to my subordinates, and nothing I have taught or demonstrated on the street (as an example to follow) comes anywhere close to "shoot when you feel threatened; or hostile, uncivil, demeaning; or never de-escalate, always escalate.

On the subject of "never back down" I'll await your operational definition.  However, if I walk into a living room to respond to a domestic violence call, and I find a man with bloody fists standing over a woman beaten to a pulp and she shouts, "He's beating me to death!" you can be 100% sure I won't be backing down.   When I tell him he's under arrest and to put his hands behind his back, if he refuses or initiates an attack on me or one of my officers, I/we will not be backing down.  However, if we can calm him down verbally first, we will.  If we don't succeed in calming him down or the situation doesn't even permit us to try, I won't be backing down.  He is going to be arrested and taken to jail.  The only question is whether he forces us to use force and how much force he forces us to use (in which case he'll go to the hospital first, then to jail).  Now in the calmness of this moment, as in training, I am aware that a violent struggle to arrest a man in that situation might lead to my being injured or killed, or him being injured or killed.  I would like to avoid that if possible, but if not possible I will not be backing down.  Whether anyone besides the beaten woman is injured is up to the suspect 100%.  Justice for the beaten woman demands he be arrested.  And here's where you may have a legitimate problem with the law and police training.  If I have probable cause to make an arrest (as in the above hypothetical scenario), I am required to make an arrest and I have the legal authority to use as much force as necessary (up to and including lethal force) to overcome the subject's resistance, but I am required to use the least amount of force necessary to be successful.  Usually, just showing up in uniform and giving orders is sufficient to get a suspect arrested and under control.  Usually, if they resist with bare hands, my strength and bare handed fighting skills are sufficient to overcome the suspect's resistance.  But sometimes an officer has to move up the "force continuum" to make the arrest or even to save his own life during an arrest situation.  If you would have me "back down" in the above hypothetical arrest situation, please explain what happens next (after I don't arrest him and leave his house as he demands with "his woman" laying at his feet).  What would my defense be in the civil rights lawsuit filed against me for not taking police action to arrest the man who beat that woman?  How should police be trained to back down, and when?

I don't have any big issues with the main points of your article as I see them: 1) our culture is falling apart, and 2) police abuses are one sign of it.  My objections are about a lack of context, as you mentioned is important in your follow up comment to Oliveoilguy.  I dare say I could write four more articles taking exactly the same approach and making the same points (our culture is falling apart and the uncorrected abuses by _____ profession are a sign of it).  To provide some context to the police article, I would address grievous abuses by:

1. Professionals in the banking, finance and investment field.  Not one banker has gone to jail over the abuses and law breaking that caused the Great Recession.  Cops get away with too much.  More cops should be arrested and fired.  But what about the bankers?  Shouldn't at least ONE of them go to jail?

2. Professionals in the medical field.  Conservative estimates are that medical professionals cause or negligently allow a minimum of 100,000 to 200,000 unnecessary deaths per year.  But how many doctors and nurses lose their licenses, get sued successfully, or lose their jobs?  Don't bad doctors usually just move on to another hospital in another city or state?  Don't they cover up for each other?

3. Lawyers.  Enough said.

4. Elected officials.  Enough said.

(And Doug: couldn't we also say of all these people as you said of police - the good ones seem to tolerate the bad ones?)

Police don't have a corner on the corruption and incompetence in our society.  It's everywhere, and THAT'S the sign that our society is falling apart.

Big Brother is watching me so I have to watch what I say, but you should know that I can't stand working in this field, but for reasons somewhat different than what you're discussing here.  I like the actual work, but it's the bureaucracy and "the system" that has broken me.  If I was younger, I imagine I would have embarked on a quixotic quest to reform the system by myself (in high school and college I saw Frank Serpico as one of my heroes).  But I'm older and wiser, and I see that the system is far too big for that.  So I control the tiny slice I can control (which is mostly me and my subordinates) and leave the rest alone.  I had planned to work 20 years, then retire, but I got so fed up I moved it up to 18 years, now 19 years for financial reasons.  I'd leave today if I could afford to and on many days I half hope for one of my "triggers to leave immediately" occurs.  There are some things that could happen that would make me retire immediately (the official bankruptcy of my city, an economic collapse leading to civil war type conditions, etc.).  These are all bad things but the silver lining in them would be that I could get out of here before 2019.

Tom

Oliveoilguy's picture
Oliveoilguy
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 29 2012
Posts: 532
An interesting anecdote from yesterday.

cmartenson wrote:

Oliveoilguy wrote:

Quick math shows over 40 million police/civilian encounters in the year sampled. To have 20 or 30 bad encounters in one year seems almost statistically insignificant. Granted...no human life is insignificant, and we must strive for perfection, but to dwell on the 20 or 30 aberrations and not applaud the police for over 40 million encounters done properly seems shortsighted at best and biased and prejudiced at the worst.

Oliveoilguy...please, you can do better than this.  

You've just pulled some 'statistics' right out of you-know-where and then built a weak argument on them.

Please cite your sources for "20-30 bad encounters"

I can cite sources that will give you 20-30 bad encounters per day in one major city alone.  For many people, especially those in target areas, every encounter is a bad one...as in hostile, uncivil, and demeaning.

The main thrust of this article was that this "us vs them" attitude prevails in our society.  You can find evidence of that growing gulf in the Department of Agriculture having their own swat teams, among many others:

Dozens of federal agencies now have Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams to further an expanding definition of their missions. It’s not controversial that the Secret Service and the Bureau of Prisons have them.

But what about the Department of Agriculture, the Railroad Retirement Board, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Office of Personnel Management, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service?

All of these have their own SWAT units and are part of a worrying trend towards the militarization of federal agencies — not to mention local police forces.

(Source)

The fact of the matter at hand is that our police forces are acting as they have been trained which is really a recipe for the sorts of abuses and excesses detailed here.

They are trained to never back down, escalate any situation, but shoot when they "feel threatened."

Your "20 to 30" estimate is so far off the mark as to undercut the rest of your message which I think has merit; namely, without context things can be blown out or proportion.

Well, if you want to make that case, its doubly important that you not accidentally provide bad context, if you see what I mean.

Chris....... Point taken...The 40 million police / civilian encounters comes from The Bureau of Justice Stastics. This is a statistic. And on the other number I used the word estimate. We both know that estimates are not statistics. 

But here is another stat. "Approximately 85% of drivers pulled over by police in 2008 felt they had been stopped for a legitimate reason. "(Bureau of Justice Statistcs)

Yes, the number of "bad" encounters is impossible to quantify. One can only watch the news and be sure that any injustice will make major headlines. My observation is that 30 violent newsworthy police brutality cases in 2008 might not be far off. I would welcome an accurate stat. 

My point stands firm that most police/ civilian encounters are handled professionally.

An interesting anecdote from yesterday. The family attorney for the slain black man in Baltimore pleaded with the media to not highlight the burning parts of the city because it would exacerbate the rioting. He asked why the media did not show the parts of Baltimore that were "normal". 

Exactly my point. The media and others grab onto the sensational and actually add fuel to the fire. Let's keep some perspective here. Even if there were 40,000 bad police encounters in the year sampled, the ratio of good encounters to bad would be 1000 / 1. Still not a bad number. 

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Login or Register to post comments