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Why cops have a bad reputation

It’s this: while demanding empathy for the dangerous job of a policeman in an editorial in the Washington Post, a cop explains what he gets to do, with a complete lack of empathy for the citizen’s position.

Even though it might sound harsh and impolitic, here is the bottom line: if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you. Don’t argue with me, don’t call me names, don’t tell me that I can’t stop you, don’t say I’m a racist pig, don’t threaten that you’ll sue me and take away my badge. Don’t scream at me that you pay my salary, and don’t even think of aggressively walking towards me. Most field stops are complete in minutes. How difficult is it to cooperate for that long?

I’ve had a few traffic stops. I’ve always been polite — this guy has some power over me, and can cost me money and time, which seems like threat enough. But I had never considered the possibility that the policeman who pulled me over for a burnt-out headlight could feel justified for shooting, tasing, pepper-spraying, or hitting me with a stick if I called him a rude name.

I’m not endorsing calling a policeman a racist pig, but if someone is angry and does, is it really appropriate cause to pull out your gun and shoot them? Officer Dutta seems to think it is. That’s what’s objectionable: that the police have acquired an attitude that justifies excessive force in response to physically weak actions — that calling them a rude name warrants whipping out every tool in their arsenal to kill, maim, or subdue miscreants. When someone is killed for jaywalking (or possibly shoplifting) by a policeman, I think it’s clear that a line has been crossed — that the attitude that the police have complete authority and discretion to use their weapons without being limited by reasonable concerns has led to police who treat crime in a community as an opportunity for a military-style assault.

Community members deserve courtesy, respect and professionalism from their officers. Every person stopped by a cop should feel safe instead of feeling that their wellbeing is in jeopardy. Shouldn’t the community members extend the same courtesy to their officers and project that the officer’s safety is not threatened by their actions?

Yes, that’s fair. But it’s not an issue. The issue is that on the citizen’s side, we can’t respond even with an argument to the police without inviting disproportionate response from an entitled asshole in a uniform.

Officer Dutta’s op-ed did not reassure me. It simply says that we’re supposed to be very, very nice to the police, and if I take a step in the wrong direction, or ask an awkward question, or express my annoyance, he gets to shoot me half a dozen times. Because his fucking job is so hard that he gets to use lethal shortcuts to deal with nuisances that make his life a little more difficult.


Even white people can get shot in the head for a DUI.

It took six years to get our wrongful death lawsuit settled, and my family received $1.75 million. But I wasn’t satisfied by a long shot. I used my entire portion of that money and much more of my own to continue a campaign for more police accountability. I wanted to change things for everyone else, so no one else would ever have to go through what I did. We did our research: In 129 years since police and fire commissions were created in the state of Wisconsin, we could not find a single ruling by a police department, an inquest or a police commission that a shooting was unjustified.

This is what happened to the police officer:

The officer who killed my son, Albert Gonzalez, is not only still on the force ten years later, he is also a licensed concealed-gun instructor across the state line in Illinois—and was identified by the Chicago Tribune in an Aug. 7 investigative story as one of “multiple instructors [who] are police officers with documented histories of making questionable decisions about when to use force.”

You know why people may disrespect the police? Because they’ve earned it.


In case you’re wondering what a lawyer thinks of Dutta’s argument, heeeeere’s Popehat!

Comments

  1. Pteryxx says

    relevant – Digital Cuttlefish – “Don’t Challenge Me”: Advice for a Police State

    After the short poem, Cuttlefish summarizes the legal decisions – up to the Supreme Court – that specifically protect the right of citizens to be rude to the police.

    City of Houston v Hill for example, in 1987:

    Although the preservation of liberty depends in part upon the maintenance of social order, the First Amendment requires that officers and municipalities respond with restraint in the face of verbal challenges to police action, since a certain amount of expressive disorder is inevitable in a society committed to individual freedom, and must be protected if that freedom would survive.

  2. gshelley says

    This seems to me to be pretty much what we would say to someone who is robbed at gunpoint – Do what the person holding the gun tells you, don’t try and fight or defend yourself.
    The cop is essentially saying that of course there are laws the police are required to follow, and people have rights guaranteed by the constitution, but he has a gun, and if he feels like ignoring those, the victim needs to shut up and take it, then complain about it afterwards.
    I can’t help but think that the way an unarmed person deals with a criminal ought to be different to the way they deal with someone who is supposed to be enforcing the law.

  3. fmitchell says

    Also somewhat relevant: Charles Stross, “The Ferguson Question”.

    As one commenter noted, though, U.S. police never really subscribed to John Peel’s principles. Heck, I recently earned a Criminal Justice degree (from a for-profit college, so cube of salt), where we learned a lot about evidence handling and research on criminal behavior. Apart from a brief historical mention we never discussed John Peel, much less his theory of public policing. No doubt it’s been superseded by the “Mace/taze/shoot them all, let the D.A. sort it out” approach in Ferguson.

  4. robertfoster says

    The subtext of Sunil Dutta’s article seems to be that he can stop you at anytime, for any reason, or for no particular reason and you must accept it meekly and if you don’t he has the right to tase you, beat you, and haul you off to jail. I suspect that he’d consider making eye contact a punishable offense. This partly explains why I avoid cops at all times in all places. I don’t know who to fear more, criminals or cops. The criminal will just take your wallet or your car, but the cop can ruin your life on a whim. Or just shoot you dead for the hell of it..

  5. Onamission5 says

    Hey Dutta, you know what’s harsh and impolitic? Giving a beat down to someone or fucking murdering them because they didn’t hit the ground fast enough. Treating every black citizen as if they are out to get you, personally. Throwing grenades into baby cribs. Shooting little kids in their sleep. Cornering protesters, giving them no means by which to retreat, telling them to disperse, and then gassing, shooting, and/or arresting them when they can’t. Dragging my friend’s stepdaughter out of her house by her hair then assaulting her on the sidewalk when you went to the wrong house in the first place, and calling that “resisting arrest.” Hanging around an all night bakery making passes and refusing to leave even though you are making the woman working there alone very uncomfortable and interfering with her ability to do her job. Pulling over a designated driver on a lone stretch of road and grilling her for half an hour as if she’s in an old timey cop show, making threats against her about what you’re going to do to her if you find out she’s lying about being inebriated. Keeping a social worker and her minor-aged charges on the side of a highway during the peak of summer heat for four hours, illegally searching their person and possessions, refusing to allow any of them to use the bathroom, all because that social worker had expired tags on her vehicle and some of the kids she was driving home were in the system. Driving your cruiser across the wrong side of the street in order to block the path of a woman who is 8 months pregnant and walking home with her groceries, then demanding she give you all variety of personal information including a full account of her day, her place of employment, and her home address, so that you can show your trainee “how it’s done.”

    Protect and serve. Keeping the peace. I don’t think those phrases mean what Dutta thinks they mean. I think a more apt turn of phrase is “menace to society.”

  6. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    How does the same person type both of those quoted paragraphs without their head exploding from the contradiction? “Community members deserve courtesy, respect and professionalism from their officers…” but don’t you fucking dare even look at me cross-eyed or I will use every gadget on my tool belt on you.

  7. says

    It’s particularly interesting that this piece was written by Sunil Dutta, who is very much not a generic cop (he’s even got a PhD in biology!).

    Dutta is bristling with contradictions: He holds three degrees in plant biology that go unused. To satisfy his intellect — after toiling for years as an obscure ticket writer, internal-affairs officer and statistical expert — he now fires off controversial opinions for The Nation magazine, translates classical Indian poetry and is reviving an ancient Indian-music movement. If Dutta’s life seems unlikely for a cop, consider that his brother is an international criminal and his father-in-law is the esteemed American poet and Iron John author Robert Bly.

    Although the LAPD now includes former lawyers, corporate managers, teachers and even a one-time Continental Airlines pilot, Dutta is the only erstwhile plant biologist.

    “He is different [from] a lot of people because he has a doctorate and comes from a whole different background,” says Lieutenant John Pasquariello. “A scientist is a bit unusual. He’s the first one I’ve met.”

    Link: http://www.laweekly.com/2007-05-10/la-life/sunil-dutta/

    I interacted briefly with Sunil many years ago in the context of Indian classical music; he is a reasonably well-known exponent of the Indian equivalent of “early music” – instrumental and vocal traditions dating back a thousand years or so. As I said, not your ordinary garden-variety cop.

    I think he has misread this situation very badly, though. That op-ed’s not something to be proud of.

  8. Pteryxx says

    gshelley #3:

    This seems to me to be pretty much what we would say to someone who is robbed at gunpoint – Do what the person holding the gun tells you, don’t try and fight or defend yourself.

    Sadly there’s a corollary in the stories of rape and abuse survivors.

    (warning, obviously)

    Namely, that only the victim in a given violent incident is in a position to guess whether fighting back, defending oneself, or trying to escape is going to give them better or worse odds of survival than submitting would. When the attacker is after you and not your money, just being cooperative and obeying doesn’t mean you’ll survive, either.

  9. Sunday Afternoon says

    Years ago I used to play the Judge Dredd RPG thinking it was fantasy, not prophecy.

  10. frugaltoque says

    Dear Mr. Police Officer,
    Did one person call you a racist pig? Or did a lot of people call you that? Because, if a lot of people called you a racist, you might want to look into why they’re doing that and if maybe you’re “field stop”ping (?) a disproportionate number of black people.
    We had this happen in Toronto during the G20.
    “I need to search your bag”
    “No, you don’t. That’s illegal. Am I being arrested?”
    “Doesn’t matter. I’m searching your bag.”
    It was illegal for the officers to search people’s bags, especially well away from the demonstrations, without an arrest being made. Those people certainly had the right to question the officers and the officers didn’t have the right to assault them for asking questions.
    Officer Dutta apparently feels differently. “I’m going to violate your rights and, if you protest, I get to hurt you.”

  11. says

    It’s hard to believe the same guy wrote this one:

    The solution? Abolish internal affairs units and outsource their work to external civilian agencies.

    (snip)

    Police have long resisted external oversight. Some of us say that those who aren’t in uniform do not understand the intricacies of law enforcement. Won’t civilian investigators be harsher toward officers — unsympathetic to the challenges faced by beat cops battling armed bad guys?

    These self-serving arguments perpetuate archaic policies. Outsourcing misconduct investigations to civilians would directly address community concerns about the “blue wall of silence.” Officers who fear retaliation for reporting misconduct would feel more comfortable working with an external agency.

    LINK: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/after-christopher-dorners-rampage-how-to-build-community-trust-in-police/2013/02/15/7a6f8482-76c8-11e2-8f84-3e4b513b1a13_story_1.html

  12. tfkreference says

    On Minnesota Public Radio this morning, they interviewed a police union rep about Minneapolis’s plan to have officers wear cameras. One of his concerns was that the cameras don’t capture everything – like the “look in someone’s eye.” Seriously, he said that.

  13. says

    McDonalds employees handle abusive comments every day without shooting/macing/tazing anyone. Should we expect less of our police than fast food employees?

  14. frugaltoque says

    The benefit of the camera would be that the cops, wearing them, would get some satisfaction out of playing the “heavy sigh” and “Look what I have to put up with” cards.

  15. numerobis says

    In Montreal, demonstrations by young people generally get met by police who cite them all with P-6 citations for demonstrating without a permit. Fallout from the maple spring protests; the provincial law against demonstrating was struck down, but the municipal by-law still stands.

    When city workers riot in city hall, of course, the police stand by and watch:
    http://www.montrealgazette.com/touch/story.html?id=10128893

    The hypocrisy is galling. I’m generally in favour of the city workers — the provincial and city governments want to default on pension obligations. But maybe we could fuck the police and that’d be ok with me.

  16. Pteryxx says

    Response to Dutta’s editorial from a lawyer:

    This status update from @hilaryshhh in response to officer’s WaPo editorial. (She’s a lawyer btw) #Ferguson #ROC pic.twitter.com/yaQxzOuFVN”

    (twitter)

    (My transcription) Image of posted text reads:

    He’s talking out of both sides of his mouth. We have the right to refuse illegal searches, the right to peaceably assemble, the right to record the conduct of officers, the right to free expression…so long as we do as the police tell us, don’t talk back and don’t complain about any violations of our rights until a more convenient time? No. I do not have to do as I am told. If I am not breaking any laws or endangering anyone or interfering with police work, the police aren’t the boss of me. Either place me under arrest and get due process going, or BACK OFF. Don’t lay a hand on me, don’t threaten me, don’t point your gun at me. I don’t care if the police don’t want me to record them arresting my neighbor or protest outside this building, or if they want me to answer questions without a lawyer, or if they want to search my vehicle without probable cause, or if they think I should just get in the squad car or hand over my handbag or let them search my pockets. I. Don’t. Have. To. And they don’t get to make me do it just because they don’t like my attitude or tone of voice or because they are sick of people giving them a hard time or because they have a badge and I don’t. That isn’t how it works. “Do what you’re told and you won’t get hurt” is what muggers say to victims. Law-abiding citizens shouldn’t be hearing it from police officers.

  17. says

    I’m about as white as you can get, but I was playing disc golf so I guess that makes me a hippy? Anyways, I had a disc go out of bounds onto the park road on a frustrating tournament day. As i trudged over to collect it from the road an approaching Escalade was heading right for my disc. I waved to him and signaled and pointed and he cruised right on by paying no attention to me or my poor frisbee (which he squished btw). Until I flipped him off as I collected my disc from the road. Then he comes backing down the road and out of the (unmarked) car pops a Cincinnati cop all full of bluff and bluster demanding an apology else he will end my day early. Not having time in my social schedule to get arrested I sufficiently groveled before him I suppose because he was mollified by my humiliation. That’s right, a cop out of the blue threatened to arrest me for making a rude gesture. The sense of smug entitlement required to think that you are allowed to bring the full force of the state down on a citizen because they made a rude gesture (to someone I thought was a civilian) is appalling.

    Would have been a seriously bad idea to arrest me under those circumstances btw. Not only did I have a foursome of witnesses, I actually have friends in the CPD and my family has friends in city gov. Plus I’m lily white, it would have made shitty tv. That is my privilege I suppose.

  18. Moggie says

    Apologies if this has already been posted in one of the other threads – I haven’t managed to keep up lately:

    Brooklyn man wins $125,000 settlement after claiming he was arrested for recording stop-and-frisk

    It’s a story which has played out many times, in many places: someone records police activity, as he is legally entitled to do, the cops object, arrest him, rough him up a bit and delete the photos. But note the (alleged) comment made by one of the cops: “Now we’re going to give you what you deserve for meddling in our business and when we finish with you, you can sue the city for $5 million and get rich, we don’t care,” Lt. Dennis Ferber said, according to the suit filed in Brooklyn Federal Court.

    Why should the cop care? He works in a culture of impunity. Probably the worst “punishment” he’ll face is suspension with full pay, or getting moved to a desk job for a while.

  19. carlie says

    McDonalds employees handle abusive comments every day without shooting/macing/tazing anyone. Should we expect less of our police than fast food employees?

    And they have to wear nametags so that you know who you’re dealing with, which the Ferguson police are actively refusing to do.

  20. frugaltoque says

    re: McDonalds employees
    Aren’t they also more likely than police to experience an on-the-job fatality? At least bartenders and wait staff are.

  21. johnwoodford says

    Perhaps the LAPD should change its motto from “To Protect and to Serve” to “Oderint dum Metuant.”

  22. Alverant says

    don’t even think of aggressively walking towards me

    So now we can’t even THINK the “wrong” things in front of an officer? Who’s to say if someone is walking aggressively? Last week I read about how a mall cop maced a guy in the face for walking aggressively when the guy was just trying to make his way around a protest. BTW the guy who was maced was black while a white guy was shouting threats and obscenities at the protesters and nothing happened to him.

  23. ledasmom says

    If “he MADE me hit him” isn’t an acceptable excuse from my children, how can it possibly be an acceptable excuse from a grown-ass policeman (or, possibly, a grown ass-policeman)?

  24. chimera says

    For those of us who don’t speak Latin, Google translator says “Oderint dum Metuant” means “Hate when the ends”, uhm, uh, something like “Our purpose is to hate”?

  25. says

    Diabetics are also getting afraid of cops.
    We may not be capable of a coherent response if we are having
    a medical emergency. Cops may assume we are drunk.

  26. Dunc says

    Judge Dredd was intended to be a satire of Dirty Harry. In one of the early scripts, Dredd was supposed to execute a man for jaywalking. The script was rejected as being too heavy-handed and over-the-top.

    Yup, that’s where we’re at.

  27. carlie says

    Diabetics are also getting afraid of cops.
    We may not be capable of a coherent response if we are having
    a medical emergency. Cops may assume we are drunk./blockquote>

    And also people who are deaf, or autistic, or blind… shit.

  28. scienceavenger says

    @27 Yeah, and we REALLY want our cops to emulate the ancient Romans.

    It’s really time for a complete overhaul of our system of law and order. Start with an independent government agency to handle physical evidence in a scientific manner, and to oversee all police behavior.

  29. says

    I’ve said elsewhere: being a cop is an inherently immoral profession.(*) Why? Because it requires you to swear to uphold a set of rules that you cannot possibly completely agree with (more to the point: many cops really, obviously, don’t understand them all, anyway) – in other words you have to agree to compromise your own morals constantly. Furthermore, you have to accept that a significant number of those rules that you swear to uphold will not apply to you. Literally you are lawbreaker and law-enforcer in one, a walking contradiction. Have you ever heard of a cop arresting itself for speeding? You never will.

    Cops have to be authoritarians and exceptionalists or they’d be not-cops. Cops are self-selected from the ranks of immoral people, then a rough attempt is made to get them to accept a legal framework in which to contain themselves.

    (* the other inherently immoral professions I know of are marketing and military. Marketing because it requires you to knowingly promote something as better than you know it to be, and military because it requires you to waive your moral agency regarding violence – waive it to a state, which are all known to use violence aggressively)

  30. twas brillig (stevem) says

    re OP:
    Dutta’s op ed:

    Even though it might sound harsh and impolitic, … How difficult is it to cooperate for that long?

    I think this paragraph was his “red flag”; not justifying the behavior, just describing what bad cops typically do (so be careful). I guess that’s my only point, that that particular paragraph is not justification, but the rest of the op ed rambles all over. On and on about how he dealt with difficult situations and was a “good cop”, but says over and over how important it is to treat cops with respect and do whatever they tell you to do. And if they were wrong, get a lawyer and go to court and sue them, later. He is essentially saying, “Don’t generalize the behavior of the Ferguson cops to all cops, they’re not all murderers.” whaile also saying, essentially, “Do generalize the behavior of the F* cops, we cops all have too many ‘toys’.”

  31. says

    My first scary cop incident was in Philadelphia in 1978, when a friend of mine and I were walking by a cop and I said “Ooops,” and whirled 180 and started walking back the way I came. Minutes later, we were still explaining to the cop (who was patting us down and had us standing with our hands against a wall) that I had said “oops” because I realized I had forgotten to put a quarter in the parking meter. So the cop walked us back and verified that I had, indeed, forgotten to put a quarter in the meter – so he kept us “wise ass kids” there until a meter reader was summoned and wrote us a $25 ticket.

    When I got home and told my dad about it, he said “Philly cops are killers, you’re lucky you didn’t mouth off to him.”

  32. davek23 says

    Coming from the UK, I am constantly boggled at the seeming assumption in the US policing system that cops have the right to give orders to anyone at any time for any reason and they have to obey, no matter what. The job title is “Police officer”, not “King of the world and emperor of everything”.

  33. says

    That “Burn the Fucking System to the Ground” article referenced above is really great. The problem is, always, if you destroy the establishment, how do you prevent something worse from immediately establishing itself. History shows us again and again how nature points up the folly of man – revolutions don’t work, we wind up worse off. Getting on our knees and praying we don’t get fooled again doesn’t work, either, because there’s always a Robespierre or a Stalin or a Hamilton waiting in the wings to make their move.

  34. says

    Civil Rights are a matter of principle, and I would like to remind this officer that the United States Supreme Court ruled in John Bad Elk vs United States that when the police are acting outside the law the citizen has a legal right to resist, up to and including the use of lethal force.

  35. David Marjanović says

    I declare it time for a fun experiment!

    Let’s take the following quote out of all context except the fact that it comes from a policeman:

    just do what I tell you. Don’t argue with me, don’t call me names, don’t tell me that I can’t stop you, don’t say I’m a racist pig, don’t threaten that you’ll sue me and take away my badge. Don’t scream at me that you pay my salary, and don’t even think of aggressively walking towards me. Most field stops are complete in minutes. How difficult is it to cooperate for that long?

    Never mind the threat of death and other violence that I’ve cut away. The above partial quote alone shows Dutta hasn’t understood he’s living in a democracy – in a place where the argument from authority is not an allowed method to make people do things, in a place where his authority (and, as he even mentions, his salary) come from the very people he’s talking to. He hasn’t understood he’s doing – just like his president! – a service job, not exerting authoritah that comes from above. Why wouldn’t he argue with people!?! They’re his fellow citizens, his fellow voters. This isn’t Starfleet where everyone has a rank and can just be ordered around by everyone who has a higher rank.

    On a far more harmless occasion, I’ve discovered that there are police officers right here in Germany who share his attitude. *sigh*

    Perhaps the LAPD should change its motto from “To Protect and to Serve” to “Oderint dum Metuant.”

    Already “to protect and serve” shows the culture of fear behind it all*: you need protection, because there’s eeeevil out there. “BE AFRAID. BE VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY AFRAID.”**

    The (quaint) German equivalent is die Polizei, dein Freund und Helfer – “the police, your friend and helper”!

    * All. The USA as a whole, it seems sometimes… well, often.
    ** Caption by whitehouse.com under a photo of Cheney’s snarling resting face.

  36. chigau (違う) says

    I keep seeing parallels between police departments and the Roman Catholic Church.

  37. Sunday Afternoon says

    @davek23:

    (I’m from the UK too, but have been in California since 1998). It’s not just the cops: I ran into an arsehole fireman recently. I was working an event where there is often need for first aid, and the local fire dept was providing the necessary coverage.

    They work in pairs which is fine, but what was not fine was while one fireman was treating someone injured with grazes, the other fireman was standing blocking the only access I had to an area I was working (my role was essential to the smooth-running of the day’s events and required me to regularly move among 3 different locations). To say he was non-plussed when I requested that he stand aside so he didn’t block the only access to the area was an understatement.

  38. magistramarla says

    My son was very, very lucky about 15 years ago that the cop who pulled him over wasn’t too trigger-happy.
    My son was driving a group of his ROTC buddies home from school in my big white station wagon.
    The boys were of several races – black, Hispanic, Asian and white.
    The police pulled my son over and made all of the boys lean against the car. My boy foolishly tried to reach into his pocket for his wallet and ID, and was threatened by one of the cops.
    The cops then freaked out about weapons in the back of the car. The “weapons” were wooden gun stocks. This group of boys was the high school’s elite ROTC drill team. They were bringing the stocks to our house to have a cleaning and shining party in preparation for a huge competition the following day.
    After all of this was explained and the cops were convinced that the boys were harmless, they were finally told that an incident had been reported involving a group of young men in a large white car in another part of town. We later heard about it on the news – it was a white SUV.
    When I think about that incident and what is going on today, I’m thankful that my son wasn’t hurt or killed.

  39. paax says

    I would like to remind this officer that the United States Supreme Court ruled in John Bad Elk vs United States that when the police are acting outside the law the citizen has a legal right to resist, up to and including the use of lethal force.

  40. methuseus says

    David Marjanović@#39

    just do what I tell you. Don’t argue with me, don’t call me names, don’t tell me that I can’t stop you, don’t say I’m a racist pig, don’t threaten that you’ll sue me and take away my badge. Don’t scream at me that you pay my salary, and don’t even think of aggressively walking towards me. Most field stops are complete in minutes. How difficult is it to cooperate for that long?

    I believe that when I was in grade school I learned that this is what police in the Soviet Union and East Germany told people, and that some people disappeared after hearing it. That was maybe 25 years ago. It really makes me sad to see this written by an American officer.

  41. Pteryxx says

    paax #44: that was in 1900, and according to Wikipedia out of date.

    In the 1960s, courts began to limit the right to resist an unlawful arrest, apparently influenced by Warner and by the Model Penal Code, which had eliminated the right.[31] In 1965, the first court struck down the right in New Jersey.[32]

    Although a few states adopted the Uniform Arrest Act, a majority of the states did not.[fn 1] The Model Penal Code in 1962 eliminated the right to resist an unlawful arrest on two grounds.[34] First, there were better alternative means of resolving the issue; second, resistance would likely result in greater injury to the citizen without preventing the arrest.[35] By 2012, only fourteen states allowed a citizen to resist an unlawful arrest.[fn 2][37]

  42. unclefrogy says

    from another thread I post this link
    http://kottke.org/14/08/policing-by-consent

    it still is a radical idea
    I had two reactions to the article by Dutta
    well what a surprise he is LAPD
    but the advice is good in that legally or morally or not that is how the cops are likely to react and expect you to react. In all my interactions with them I tried to remember that and treat them with caution. That they are just as likely to be over hyped up aggressive people who might have other personal issues unrelated to what is happening now that may cause them to over react.
    uncle frogy

  43. Pteryxx says

    A series of tweets by Crommunist this morning, starting here:

    Crommunist ‏@Crommunist

    “Here’s a fellow who’s had to order bombs dropped on Iraq, I think he certainly understood my reasoning.” – Jay Nixon re: talking w Obama
    8:27 AM – 20 Aug 2014

    Crommunist ‏@Crommunist 46m

    I’m sorry… is the GOVERNOR OF MISSOURI suggesting that there is some sort of common thread between Ferguson and Iraq?

    Crommunist ‏@Crommunist 45m

    Because yes, there is a heavily-armed contingent who are threatening and committing violent acts against civilians: they’re the police.

    Crommunist ‏@Crommunist 45m

    And since Jay Nixon didn’t summon the National Guard to stop the police, but rather to HELP them, that comparison is fucking TERRIFYING

    Crommunist ‏@Crommunist 44m

    Full quote and context here: http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/obama-administration-called-thousands-of-civil-rights-black-leaders-on/article_770d34f3-d178-5b89-8a69-2076574ee169.html

  44. says

    Being a fairly attractive white woman in the USA does have one or two perks. No, it’s not having people buy drinks for me. I wish! It’s being treated leniently by cops. I was once pulled over for forgetting to turn on my lights when leaving a parking lot. Result: some joking around, “Don’t forget your lights next time.” I had a small baggie of weed sitting on the passenger seat, barely hidden from sight under my handbag, the whole time.

    Another time I was pulled over and I actually had been drinking. I justified it to myself–I’m not that drunk, I’m just going 3 blocks–but in reality I was that drunk. I failed the sobriety test. Just the standing and reciting, no breathalyzer. Result: the cop gave me a ride home and I went back to retrieve my vehicle the next day.

    A little while ago, I went to the 24-hour laundromat late at night. The cops were just finishing kicking out a couple of angry-looking men. What did I do? I went straight up to the cops and asked if there was a problem, because I felt confident that they were actually interested in ensuring my safety. Yup, indeed. “Those guys were just a little drunk, ma’am, this area is normally fine. I wouldn’t worry about doing your laundry here.”

    Compare and contrast: my long-time on-again off-again sweetheart/boyfriend/best friend is black. While he was in college, he was driving back from an event, I forget what, late at night, in rural Georgia with three friends of his, all young black men. At a certain point, one of them noticed, “Hey, I think someone’s following us.” What? They’re all nervous, this is KKK country. This goes on for a while. They’re not sure if there’s a car there or not because its lights are out. On a moonless night in the middle of nowhere. Suddenly the car turns its lights on. My sweetie is startled and swerves the car as a result. Hey, it’s a cop! They’re pulled over. A long harangue ensues and a traffic ticket for unsafe driving. The friends are drunk but my sweetie, the designated driver, was not. The cop refused to believe him and kept them there for over an hour.

    They were all scared shitless. And no wonder. Every time we’re together and there’s a situation where we have to deal with authority figures, or even just hotel clerks or gas station attendants, he insists on staying in the car whenever possible.

    *sigh*

    We do live in a police state, and it’s a white supremacist police state, and I have no idea what we can do about it. Well, I have some ideas but very few seem realistic and climate change is going to destabilize everything very shortly anyway.

  45. Menyambal says

    It’s also revealing that the cop who wrote the article thought that he had to point out what his job entails, and what to do when dealing with a cop.

    Yeah, we the people are who you do your job on, so we kinda know — it’s not like we all live in cities in the sky while cops deal with Morlocks — plus we watch TV and sometimes talk to each other.

    And, thanks, but we already figured out to not set off a cop. The trick is that there really isn’t any way to avoid bad cops getting worse.

    I think he didn’t mean the article to sound as bluntly directive as it sounds, but there’s part of the problem. He is so used to being bossy that he doesn’t have to respect people any more.

  46. Christopher says

    The portuguese know how to deal with sadistic cops/rent-a-cops

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jagvYIMJyzU

    If the cops in the US keep acting like they are an occupying army, pretty soon people will start treating them like an occupying army: anyone associated with the occupiers is a valid target. And unlike forign military occupiers, local cops have to go home every night within driving distance. They have to eat, sleep, and shit outside the protection of a military base, vulnerable amongst those they occupy.

    Perhaps Americans will revive one of our great civic traditions: torturing those who violated the civic trust:

    http://cdn2-b.examiner.com/sites/default/files/styles/image_content_width/hash/fe/27/fe27d9dba94d64ff2700c5eb904e28be.jpg?itok=MWgUwmVV

  47. Pierce R. Butler says

    Funny how the US media now hardly ever refer to dictatorships as “police states” any more.

  48. Jackie says

    robertbaden,
    That happened to my dad. He was diabetic and his blood sugar was low. He kept missing his turn and in the state he was in, didn’t know why. So, he’d drive back around only to miss it again. The cop who pulled him over handcuffed him and had him sitting on the ground, assuming he was drunk. Dad insulted him and was told that was assaulting an officer. finally the cop ran through a list of questions that included “Are you diabetic?” Dad ended up in the hospital. This was in Indianapolis. I wonder how that would have played out if he had not been a white man?

  49. Pteryxx says

    Some arguments against mandatory police cameras, at least without serious oversight – and not just because cops sabotage them. ThinkProgress

    As an example of police’s increased reliance on surveillance, Fakuory likened a police force fully equipped with wearable cameras to Houston’s use of nearly 1,000 stationary ones that overlook most of the downtown area and places such as stadiums and the convention center to ensure adequate police presence.

    If you pair large scale camera surveillance with facial recognition technology federal agencies already use, there’s a huge potential for privacy and other civil liberties violations, Fakuory said. The person next to you in the mall sees you but doesn’t know who you are but a passerby or even the police with Google Glass can quickly pull up your social network profiles. That could potentially lead police to make snap judgments about who a person is or what their motives are.

  50. opposablethumbs says

    My OH is permanently guilty of being Visibly Not White and Audibly Not British. What SallyStrange just said is familiar; police and border control officials etc. have routinely changed their attitude to him when they see me turn up and hear my accent. I used to think when we first met that my OH was maybe using a little poetic licence when describing situations he’d encountered; I know better now. (it’s a pale shade of things in the US, for which I’m grateful; the only armed (and body-armoured) police we’ve ever had to deal with were at an airport, not as standard issue in any street)

  51. Jackie says

    Being a cute white chick doesn’t always help either. Granted, I’ve seen a friend talk her way out of trouble because she was pretty, blond and had perfected the look of, “The light shining in my eyes comes from the hole in my head”. But, I’ve also been pulled over by a cop who threatened to have my car impounded and force me to walk home (miles from home), with a baby in 90+ degree heat because I had lived in my new town for over 10 days and had not changed the address on my driver’s licence. He was being intimidating just for the thrill. This was before cellphones were common. I’d have been s.o.l. if he’d have gone through with his threat.

    Another time a friend of mine received flowers from a cop who had pulled her over. He had used her licence to learn her address. He thought she was hot and wanted her to go out with him. How creepy is that? She had to drive through that area often, knowing she had jilted a guy who was happy to used his position unethically. She didn’t get the speeding ticket she rightfully deserved, but damn. I’d much rather have the ticket.

  52. Paul K says

    In 1975 I was in tenth grade. I went to a pretty crappy school, but remember one really excellent history class and teacher. The class was on Frontier history of the west, and the teacher spent some time talking about guns and the American love of them. He also had a St. Paul cop come in and talk to us about what to do if confronted by someone with a gun. He didn’t distinguish between cops and robbers. He just said it’s a very unsafe idea to argue with anyone that you know has a gun. When confronted with a question about what cops are supposed to do, he said, yeah, they should never pull a gun on you without some very clear and well-defined reason (which he described; they were very limited), let alone shoot you. He made it very clear that it would be absolutely wrong for them to do so. But he also said that that wouldn’t help you once you’re dead. He also told us that, in more than 20 years as a police officer, he’d never even come close to pulling his gun.

    Less than a month later, I was walking across a school parking lot with my brother. We saw the flashing lights of a police car around a corner of the school and stopped to consider another route to where we were going. A cop came around another corner of the school, pulled his gun out and aimed it at us, and yelled, just like in the movies, ‘Stop, or I’ll shoot!’ We were already stopped, but we got the point and put our hands in the air.

    I won’t tell the whole story, but soon my brother and I were face down on the ground with our hands on our necks, and the cop was ‘frisking’ us by kicking us in the ribs. He had both hands on his gun, and it was aimed at all times either at my head or my brother’s, and my brother said belligerently, again, just like in the movies, ‘What’s the charge?’ The officer and I both yelled at the same time, ‘Shut up!’

    This happened right across the street from my house, and my dad looked out the window and saw what was going on. To his credit, he came over to confront the officer, who was handcuffing us. My dad told him we had just left the house a minute or two earlier, and the cop told him, ‘Go home; you’re stoned.’ (My dad worked nights; he was in a bathrobe and did look disheveled and tired.)

    It turned out that this was all over a stolen, and abandoned, car. I’ve never done anything to be arrested for, let alone at gunpoint, but this is only one of the three times that I’ve had cops pull their guns on me, though one didn’t actually take it all the way out of its holster. I am very large, and used to have very long hair, so that must explain it.

  53. rghthndsd says

    I’m not endorsing calling a policeman a racist pig, but if someone is angry and does, is it really appropriate cause to pull out your gun and shoot them? Officer Dutta seems to think it is.

    There is certainly something wrong what Officer Dutta said, but in attempting to make the issue more black and white you have made yourself into a straw man. This interpretation of the quote is ridiculous.

  54. says

    justified agitator @Awkward_Duck · 32m
    Breaking now: #ferguson St. marks Missionary Church – home of medical triage and healing for community currently being raided by police.

    Shaun King ‏@ShaunKing 21m
    The police are raiding St. Marks Church in #Ferguson and taking all of the supplies like water & more. This place is a beautiful safe haven.

    Marvin Bing ‏@MarvinBing 41m
    St. Marks church is now being raided by the police in #Ferguson They are taking all of the communities supplies.

  55. chigau (違う) says

    rghthndsd 61
    Did you read this?

    Even though it might sound harsh and impolitic, here is the bottom line: if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you. Don’t argue with me, don’t call me names, don’t tell me that I can’t stop you, don’t say I’m a racist pig, don’t threaten that you’ll sue me and take away my badge. Don’t scream at me that you pay my salary, and don’t even think of aggressively walking towards me. Most field stops are complete in minutes. How difficult is it to cooperate for that long?

  56. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    rghthndsd @ 61

    This interpretation of the quote is ridiculous.

    Words mean things. Getting shot is one of the consequences Dutta listed for not doing what he tells you if he stops you. Calling him a racist pig is one of the things he said not to do if you don’t want to provoke any of the violent responses he warned of. None of the “don’ts” he listed is actually violent so, if not calling him a racist pig, which one of the “don’ts” is, in your esteemed opinion, the one he actually would pull out his gun and shoot someone for?

  57. rghthndsd says

    Inaji, I don’t see your point. There is nothing in there that makes me think if you asked Officer Dutta “Is it justified to shoot someone who is angry and insulting you?” he would say “Yes”. In fact, the article you linked to makes me think precisely the opposite.

    Perhaps I am missing something? Maybe you could be more specific.

  58. rghthndsd says

    chigau, Seven of Mine: This is precisely what I’m talking about. The interpretation you’re using extremely literal and is not how I would interpret the quote at all. The only people I could imagine interpreting the quote this way are those who are trying to win a debate based on mere technicalities.

  59. sirbedevere says

    Not to defend the police behavior described here, but it occurs to me that perhaps the police wouldn’t need to feel potentially endangered by every civilian they interact with were it not for the proliferation of firearms among the American populace. Of course, we know they aren’t even going to suggest addressing that issue, right?

  60. Rowan vet-tech says

    @67-

    If I said to you “If you don’t want to get bitten by my dog, just do what I tell you. Don’t lean over her, don’t try to pet her, don’t try to pick her up.” would you think the second sentence was completely unrelated to the first?

    Because, frankly, that would make you an idiot. The first sentence is a list of consequences. The second sentence is a list of actions that will spark the consequences.

  61. says

    If you pair large scale camera surveillance with facial recognition technology federal agencies already use, there’s a huge potential for privacy and other civil liberties violations, Fakuory said. The person next to you in the mall sees you but doesn’t know who you are but a passerby or even the police with Google Glass can quickly pull up your social network profiles.

    What, without a warrant?

  62. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    Things which are apparently the same: shit you actually said and mere technicalities.

  63. rghthndsd says

    @70 – I would interpret your statement in a very literal fashion. I do not think such an interpretation of the quote from Officer Dutta warrants such a literal interpretation.

  64. rghthndsd says

    Err… I do not think the quote from Officer Dutta warrants such a literal interpretation.

  65. Rowan vet-tech says

    Why? What’s the difference? If he’s offering advice on how not to get assaulted by the cops, shouldn’t his list be accurate? He includes real things, why do you claim he is including fake things?

  66. opposablethumbs says

    rghthndsd, Why not?

    What on earth makes you think there’s a difference between rowanvt’s example and Dutta’s?

  67. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    rghthndsd

    If he meant something else, he should have said something else. This may come as a surprise to you, but people aren’t psychic. We have nothing but his words to go on and his words say that getting shot is among the possible consequences for doing a number of things, one of which is calling him a racist pig. #dealwithit

  68. rghthndsd says

    It is pretty clear to me that he’s making a list of some bad things that could happen to you, and then he’s making a list of some things that might cause those bad things to happen. To think that he is saying for every cause one of the bad things will happen certain seems to me to be quite a stretch. On the other hand, with your warning, it is clear that your bad thing (getting bit) is an immediate consequence of the action (attempting to pet).

    Moreover, the first quote in the linked article makes it quite clear that the interpretation that shooting is justified for angry name calling is utterly false.

  69. rghthndsd says

    @77: “If he meant something else, he should have said something else.” Such a quote can be used to justify any extremely literal interpretation of a sentence. Certainly you are not suggesting that we should all be completely literal when we write.

    “We have nothing but his words to go on and his words say that getting shot is among the possible consequences for doing a number of things, one of which is calling him a racist pig.”

    Anytime you read, an interpretation is being made. This sentence does nothing to address that fact. I am merely claiming that the interpretation being purported by some here is rather silly.

  70. rq says

    Uh, Officer Dutta wrote a string of words. How else am I to take them, if not literally? Do you, rghthndsd , have a magic ball that lets you inside his head, and allows you to see the one, true, metaphorical interpretation he may have actually meant? Do you?
    If not, then remember that words mean things. When people write things down, they mean what they’ve written down, unless they’re a poet or author putting on flowery language to be forever horribly remembered in English class. Officer Dutta is trying to be clear and specific, which means his words should be taken quite literally. Because if we all have to start thinking metaphorically? Whew. So many interpretations!
    So how would you interpret it, rghthndsd , if not literally? How do you read those words?

  71. Saad says

    Here is the bottom line: if you don’t want to get lashed, stoned, amputated, beheaded or crucified, just do what I tell you.

    Oops, I thought I clicked on a police response to Ferguson thread. Must have wandered into the ISIS thread instead.

  72. The Mellow Monkey says

    SD Police Say Taznt 8-Year-Old Native Girl Was Justified

    An 8 year old Rosebud Sioux girl was shot by a stun gun when Pierre Police arrived on scene and were not able to obtain a paring knife the young girl was holding.

    What I’m gathering from all of this is that cops must be the biggest chickenshit bullies in the world, to use this kind of force on children and claim it’s justified.

  73. chigau (違う) says

    Moreover, the first quote in the linked article makes it quite clear that the interpretation that shooting is justified for angry name calling is utterly false.

    ???
    Which article are you reading?

  74. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    I am merely claiming that the interpretation being purported by some here is rather silly.

    You’ll have to forgive us if we’re unimpressed by your assessment of the situation.

  75. rghthndsd says

    Uh, Officer Dutta wrote a string of words. How else am I to take them, if not literally? Do you, rghthndsd , have a magic ball that lets you inside his head, and allows you to see the one, true, metaphorical interpretation he may have actually meant? Do you?

    I certainly can’t claim that my interpretation is correct! I think it is, and I try to support this with evidence, but just like anyone else it is still definitely an interpretation. I think looking at not only this quote but the others as well, it paints a very clear picture that he would disagree with the sentence “Shooting is justified for angry name calling”.

    Of course, I still very much have a problem with what Officer Dutta is saying (with my interpretation).

  76. Saad says

    rghthndsd,

    Even though it might sound harsh and impolitic, here is the bottom line: if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you.

    That means what it says. In fact, he even solidifies that by starting with “even thought it might sound harsh…”

    Tell me your interpretation of the above quote.

  77. rghthndsd says

    @87: Yes! This I very much have a problem with. My interpretation: “Do what I say, or else something bad will happen”. This is something we should be talking about, rather than making his quote into a straw man.

  78. Rowan vet-tech says

    I don’t think any of us are saying it ‘justifies’ being shot… but that it can cause you to get shot or beaten. In my list, petting my dog doesn’t justify you getting bit. It causes you to get bit.

  79. chigau (違う) says

    It is considered polite to use a commenter’s name when addressing them.
    The comment number is good but not alone.

  80. Onamission5 says

    It’s not do what I say or something bad will “happen.” It’s do what I say or I will do something bad to you, including but not limited to shooting you.

    Bad acts don’t float around in the ether waiting to attach themselves to people unawares when they happen to be impolite to police. Victims aren’t beating and shooting themselves. The police are the ones beating and shooting their victims.

  81. Saad says

    rghthndsd #89

    And then he explicitly lists five bad things that he will do. What is keeping your eyes from seeing those words?

  82. rghthndsd says

    @91 Chigau, thanks for letting me know.

    @90 Rowan, perhaps I am misreading when PZ says

    I’m not endorsing calling a policeman a racist pig, but if someone is angry and does, is it really appropriate cause to pull out your gun and shoot them? Officer Dutta seems to think it is.

    If you see this differently than I do, then maybe you could clarify?

  83. Onamission5 says

    Sorry, my #93 is directed @rghthndsd #89.

    Police violence isn’t a passive accident. Violence is an action one person inflicts upon another. Passive voice neither necessary nor useful, except maybe as a matter of deflection.

  84. rghthndsd says

    Saad, I think I have addressed this in 78 and 86. I could reiterate, but that doesn’t feel like it would move us forward.

  85. Rowan vet-tech says

    Dutta says that calling an officer a racist pig is one of several things that might end up with an officer shooting or beating you. It’s right there in those two sentences, clear as day.

  86. dianne says

    here is the bottom line: if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you.

    Hey, Dutta, want to know something? I deal with the public too. I deal with people who are angry, who yell at me, threaten me, call me every name they can think of, threaten to sue me. I do this with a deadly weapon in my hand. A deadly weapon that no one would even know that I’d ever used. Here’s what I do in retaliation when someone yells at me, harasses me, or disobeys me: nothing. Nothing whatsoever. It’s called being a minimally competent professional. If you can’t control yourself well enough to NOT tase or pepper spray or shoot someone who is not obeying you then you’re not a minimally competent professional and need to have your badge and gun taken away.

    Oh, and if you come to me some day for your medical care, I might be unpleasant. I might even refuse to see you in a non-emergency because I may conclude that I can’t treat you objectively enough. But I will not, ever, refuse to treat you in a life threatening emergency or do less than my best for you because you’ve refused to obey me. If police want respect, they can earn it. You have not.

  87. rq says

    rghthndsd
    What’s your interpretation, then, based on your evidence?
    He lists bad things that cops generally do to people magically happen to people who interact with cops. One of these things is “get shot”.
    Then he lists some things for which cops generally do these things following which these magical things tend to happen. One of these things is “calling [him] a racist pig”.
    He never specifies which magical event occurs after which magical act, and it is clear that he believes that any of those actions magical events may occur after any of those misdemeanours.
    Which means it is safe to assume that, under some circumstances, calling him a ‘racist pig’ would magically get you shot.

    Now, what’s your logic?

  88. rghthndsd says

    @Rowan 98: I am not certain I am following what you’re saying. Let me try to make it a bit more specific.

    Calling an officer a racist pig may lead to other events which, if escalation occurs to the point where the officer feels his life or others is in danger, could end up getting you shot.

    Is this an accurate portrayal of #98? Do think think this is the same as the statement

    I’m not endorsing calling a policeman a racist pig, but if someone is angry and does, is it really appropriate cause to pull out your gun and shoot them? Officer Dutta seems to think it is.

    because I see them as being very different.

  89. dianne says

    In the full article, Dutta gives an anecdote in which he stopped a man who was threatening to set a car doused in gasoline alight by diverting his (the suspect’s) attention with a question about his family. Dutta seems to think this makes him look better. It doesn’t. It makes him look worse. Basically, he just demonstrated that he is capable of defusing a situation without violence but that he simply doesn’t always care to bother. It’s not that he’s incompetent or untrained, he simply doesn’t want to bother. Hideous.

  90. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Saad, I think I have addressed this in 78 and 86. I could reiterate, but that doesn’t feel like it would move us forward.

    It isn’t going to move forward until you provide the words to back up your interpretation of Officer Dutta. Cite those words. You are too vague to move forward, even in your own mind.

  91. Tethys says

    If you see this differently than I do, then maybe you could clarify?

    Officer Dutta clearly and very literally is quoted listing various methods of violence up to and including lethal force as things that he might do in response to anything less than absolute compliance including being disrespectful to him. You may not be taking it literally because you, unlike the recently murdered Mike Brown, have never had to worry that the police might decide to kill you and call it resisting arrest.

  92. rghthndsd says

    @rq 100: His first quote from

    http://www.popehat.com/2014/08/19/sunil-dutta-tells-it-like-it-is-about-american-policing/

    makes it crystal clear that he would not agree that shooting is justified for mere name calling. But of course you say:

    Which means it is safe to assume that, under some circumstances, calling him a ‘racist pig’ would magically get you shot.

    which is rather unclear. What kind of circumstances are you referring to? Could one such circumstance be the person calling him a ‘racist pig’ is also pointing a gun at him? Ok, certainly I am stretching the circumstance here most likely beyond what you had in mind! But my point is that by putting in this “weasel phrase” you make it completely unclear what type of situation you are referring to.

  93. rq says

    rghthndsd
    Well, the circumstances are up to Officer Dutta to decide. Maybe the other person has a gun. Maybe Officer Dutta is having an impatient day. Either way, as dianne pointed out, he has shown himself capable of defusing the situation without resorting to violence, never mind lethal force.
    So, basically, he contradicts himself, without realizing it. Because he never specifies which of those violent things (getting shot, being tasered, etc.) will happen after which small acts of disobedience (asking questions, responding too slowly, calling him names, etc.). So it is safe to assume that they all apply to them all, as it were. Because you never know, and just to be safe, he demands total and absolute obedience and compliance.

  94. rghthndsd says

    @Nerd of Redhead, #103: As I have mentioned previously, it is this quote:

    Working the street, I can’t even count how many times I withstood curses, screaming tantrums, aggressive and menacing encroachments on my safety zone, and outright challenges to my authority. In the vast majority of such encounters, I was able to peacefully resolve the situation without using force.

    To me this says very clearly that Officer Dutta prefers to handle situations without shooting people.

    @Tethys #104:

    You may not be taking it literally because you, unlike the recently murdered Mike Brown, have never had to worry that the police might decide to kill you and call it resisting arrest.

    The second half of your assessment is indeed accurate. However I have tried my best to keep my interpretation open and adjust it if I see it to be invalid. In any case, I see this to be diverting the discussion away from trying to understand what Officer Dutta was saying and focus instead on me personally – something I think is more of a distraction than anything else.

  95. rghthndsd says

    @rq, 106:

    So it is safe to assume that they all apply to them all, as it were. Because you never know, and just to be safe, he demands total and absolute obedience and compliance.

    Again, I find this leap you take to be quite ridiculous, especially when it is clear that Officer Dutta prefers to resolve a situation without use of force.

  96. Charles Evans says

    How did this cop pass the psych evaluation? He is not fit to be a police officer.

  97. rq says

    However I have tried my best to keep my interpretation open and adjust it if I see it to be invalid.

    You have obviously then not been adjusting it for those people, like Mike Brown, who (daily?) experience police brutality for speaking up or speaking out in a way that might seem unpleasant to the officer. If Officer Dutta is so good at being patient and kind and honest, why, then, does he need to make such a list of threats? Why not just stop at ‘please don’t call me a racist pig’? Why preface that with ‘if you don’t want to get shot [etc.]’?

  98. rq says

    rghthndsd
    If Officer Dutta prefers to resolve issues without using force, then why is he listing measures of force in his article at all?
    Also, do you think he is writing only about himself?

  99. rghthndsd says

    @rq 100:

    You have obviously then not been adjusting it for those people, like Mike Brown, who (daily?) experience police brutality for speaking up or speaking out in a way that might seem unpleasant to the officer.

    This appears to me as an attempt to change the subject. However part of my point in objecting is that this ridiculous interpretation distracts from the real problem which you describe in the quote above. It gives the people who argue that people brutality isn’t a problem ammunition – they can then go and say “See these people who think the police are a problem? They think police go around shooting people who call them names. They’re ridiculous, don’t listen to them.” I would agree with the first part of that last sentence, but not the latter half!

  100. rghthndsd says

    @111 rq: This is a great question! The way I have been thinking of it, in Officer Dutta’s mind he tells someone to do something, they resist, he escalates, they escalate back, and this continues until use of force is necessary. I have big problems with this, if I am right – in Officer Dutta’s mind he is always justified in escalating the situation whereas another person is never justified for opposing him.

    But this is a far cry Officer Dutta thinking that he is justified for shooting someone for calling him names.

  101. rq says

    rghthndsd @112
    Ooooh, you’re tone-trolling! We’re not being charitable enough in our interpretation, therefore people will not listen to us, so we should be more charitable. Hah!

    @114

    in Officer Dutta’s mind he is always justified in escalating the situation whereas another person is never justified for opposing him

    … And yet he so loves not using violence, as you yourself pointed out. If someone resists him, why should he be doing the escalating, if he’s so good at de-escalating? Why would that even cross his mind, if he knows he’s such an awesome cop that he never uses violence? If his reason for escalating is that someone called him names, then yes, in the end, calling him names will (in his mind) justify that person getting shot (presumably by Officer Dutta), so interpreting the quote as ‘if you don’t want to get shot, don’t call me a racist pig’ is entirely accurate. This from same officer who, according to you, would prefer not to use violence (and he presents some great examples). So why is he talking about violent and lethal methods at all?
    If you can tell me why Officer Dutta has to implicitly threaten violence in his article, even though he loves resolving conflict without violence, I will give you an internet cookie.

  102. rq says

    rghthndsd
    Oh, and also this:

    in Officer Dutta’s mind

    So you do have a magic ball that lets you see into his mind. Please share!
    Because the rest of us, we’re just working on the words that he wrote. No fair you having the mindreading advantage!

  103. Saad says

    Nobody… nobody reads this quote

    … here is the bottom line: if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you. Don’t argue with me, don’t call me names, don’t tell me that I can’t stop you, don’t say I’m a racist pig…

    and thinks, “Oh, he’s listing things he won’t resort to in the face of someone calling him a racist pig.”

    That’s not called an interpretation. That’s called an alteration.

  104. rghthndsd says

    @rq 112: I don’t exactly know what you mean by “tone-trolling”. However my point is that people are much less likely to seriously consider something someone says if they also know that person is saying other things which are ridiculous. Do you disagree with this assessment?

    If someone resists him, why should he be doing the escalating, if he’s so good at de-escalating?

    I would agree – Officer Dutta is clearly in the wrong here.

    If his reason for escalating is that someone called him names, then yes, in the end, calling him names will (in his mind) justify that person getting shot (presumably by Officer Dutta), so interpreting the quote as ‘if you don’t want to get shot, don’t call me a racist pig’ is entirely accurate.

    If you are stating that Officer Dutta’s one-ups-manship approach is more likely to lead to the use of force and this is horribly awful, then I completely agree. At least I think that’s what you’re saying here. Again, this is a far cry from saying that Officer Dutta thinks that it is appropriate to shoot someone for name calling.

  105. rghthndsd says

    @rq 116: I surrounded the passage you quoted with “The way I have been thinking of it” and “if I am right”. I read your post as a misquote and think it may have been deliberate – although I certainly hope this wasn’t the case. Please try to avoid such misquotes in the future.

  106. rq says

    rghthndsd @118
    Yea, I do so disagree with that assessment. Because I often say things that are ridiculous, and yet, somehow, people still take me seriously, because somehow, I manage to communicate the important points as necessary. Funny how that works.
    You know who’s sounding ridiculous here? You are. You’re really fishing to try and make a point, and somehow it’s not working out for you. Shame, that.
    Also, you don’t know what Officer Dutta thinks, and I don’t know, either. I can, however, read his words. And I’m not the only one interpreting them as I am, which might make you think a little bit about how you are interpreting them.
    And if you want to say, next, that Officer Dutta’s words don’t mean what he has written them to mean, but you don’t actually know what he actually means, then Officer Dutta needs to learn to communicate more clearly before getting his articles published and popularized on the internet, and there’s no point in continuing this conversation, because neither one of us will be correct in any of our interpretations.

  107. rq says

    rghthndsd

    “The way I have been thinking of it” and “if I am right”

    Exactly, the way ‘you have been thinking of it’ and ‘if you are right’, picturing things in Officer Dutta’s mind. Which means you must know more about his mind than me. Why worry about what goes on in his mind if his words are in front of you? Reaching, here.

  108. rq says

    rghthndsd

    Please try to avoid such misquotes in the future.

    Sure, kind teacher, I will take your words to heart and use them wisely. You read it as a misquote? Heh. Maybe you should avoid such phrases in the future. “In Officer Dutta’s mind”, heh. “If you are right”. Pretty big if, there, without actualy knowing the innards of Officer Dutta’s mind.

  109. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    To me this says very clearly that Officer Dutta prefers to handle situations without shooting people.

    Sorry, it doesn’t say he can’t shoot people. He can. His preference is not ability to do something. What he is saying is if you escalate the interaction with a police officer, not necessarily him, the officer can respond with what is necessary, even shooting you. Compliance by you doesn’t escalate the interaction. Typical bully bullshit.

  110. rq says

    rghthndsd @[everywhere]
    Anyway, as I said, you’re obviously more concerned with not letting Officer Dutta look bad than reading his actual words. I’m out of this conversation. Please talk to the empty chair, if you so wish. I will not be replying (to you).

  111. Tethys says

    It looks like rghthndsd is far more interested in ignoring the fact that Officer Dutta is demonstrating the mindset of an occupying military force, rather than a civilian servant whose primary goal is ostensibly to “Protect and Serve”.

  112. rghthndsd says

    @rq 124: I am really confused, because with my interpretation I think Officer Dutta looks really really bad. I’m only saying that you’re interpretation makes him look like an evil supervillain – and is just as fictitious.

    @123 Nerd of Redhead: 100% agreed.

  113. rghthndsd says

    @Tethys 126: I’d actually say he is somewhere in the middle – and perhaps leaning a little more toward the civilian servant side. I think Nerd of Redhead’s use of the word “bully” (with a gun) is quite apt.

  114. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    You think bully with a gun is leaning more toward the civilian servant side? Interesting way of looking at it…

  115. says

    I’ve met some officers at a traffic stop and many when I worked in a convenient store. In both cases you find that the officers fit two categories and strangely it seem that the ones who are gung ho are more likely to abuse their authority because they have to make a difference. I cross several cities in my normal day to day and the cops of each city are different. Those working in cities with good income seem to be less edgy even passive vs those working in low income. But the funny part is the ones working in low income usually have a sense of purpose (call it pride) and they are there to better the community. Unfortunately like all pride it blinds them to the humanity around them. Only once have I ever been cussed out by a cop and it was in a low income area. I don’t blame the people living in low income areas, but what I find is that the cops tend to think the citizens are bad or need a stern hand to follow the law. The reality is that if they just treated people with respect regardless of race or appearance there would be less tension. When people feel the cops are fair and aren’t looking for a way to punish them their more relaxed and less aggressive.

    Well I guess it’s kind of a long way of saying it, but, if the cop is friendly in his approach to all citizens then people are less likely to respond poorly. During the conflicts in Ferguson Lieutenant Johnson waited till the last minute to put on his gas mask and positively involved himself in the community, even at the protests he would approach people calmly and engage in positive conversation, and it showed vs the gun happy officers with a sense of purpose trying to force everyone to follow their orders at gun point. What I saw was one man who looked at them as people and a bunch of cops who saw them as criminals.

    This is the training officer’s need, trained how to be human in difficult and hostile situations, only then can there really be a change.

  116. says

    carlie@31

    [Re: diabetic] And also people who are deaf, or autistic, or blind… shit.

    Yeah, that a reoccurring fear I have for my son. At 16 he’s 6’2″ and built like a linebacker, but he’s neuro-atypical, clumsy and reacts badly to shouted orders (freezing or doing the wrong thing). He is white, so he has that going for him. But otherwise, I greatly fear for him if/when he has some LEO interaction in the future. [Sigh]

  117. smrnda says

    I’ll add that being white and female means sometimes, if you are out walking say, at night, a cop might pull over and ask you if you would like a ride. If you politely decline, the cop may *then* decide that since you have rebuffed his chivalry, he wants to see an ID and pat you down, accuse you of doing or having drugs, and such. It’s like the “Nice Guy” who is legally authorized to make arbitrary arrests of women who aren’t feeling it.

  118. anteprepro says

    Seconding smrnda. Cops may seem lenient to white women in some circumstances, but because they are women, they also have to deal with a whole subset of horrors that men of either race usually don’t have to deal with.

    Also, great to see yet another Glorious Warrior has barged into a thread about Ferguson in order to quibble about irrelevant tangents, in defense of their Holy Police Overlords.

    Here’s a protip for all the handwringers: If you aren’t actually a racist or an knee-jerk authoritarian who just loves the police force just so damn hard, yet you are still insisting on spending time and energy obsessing over a minute detail that seems to detract from our criticism of the events of Ferguson, but is also such a minor issue that it doesn’t actually effect anything, true or false, then I suggest you ask yourself why you are bothering. Because the effect is obfuscation. The effect is distraction. The effect is annoying and derailing and looking like someone who is deliberately digging up whatever desperate excuse they can to defend the events in Ferguson. Why are you bothering? What are you doing? What is your actual goal? Is it worth it?

    Odds are, if you are honest and actually a half-way decent human being, you will realize that it isn’t actually worth it. Quibbling over bullshit tangents and hyper-parsing text is not an endeavor that is so inherently meaningful that is worth bringing up in the context of an in depth and passionate discussion about race and police brutality. It is not at all tactful to make that your sole focus in the context of such discussion. In the context of such discussion, such obsession with minutiae over the huge fucking issues on the plate sends an incredibly bad message about your priorities, and it suggests either tone deafness or active agenda, attempting to the undermine those dealing with those issues.

    Something to keep in mind, for the rare souls who aren’t actually trolls but still decide to barge in here to play a game of Professional Logician anyway.

  119. anteprepro says

    robertbaden: Depressingly true, I am afraid. I imagine that women of color have to be among the strongest people in this country, and probably regularly deal with the most vile of shit.

  120. Ichthyic says

    In 129 years since police and fire commissions were created in the state of Wisconsin, we could not find a single ruling by a police department, an inquest or a police commission that a shooting was unjustified.

    Whoa.

    similar story for Missouri?

  121. Ichthyic says

    the escalation and intimidation approach seems to be the standard officer training in the states.

    It was a rather large shock to me to see how differently cops here in NZ are trained.

    basically the exact opposite:

    instead of intimidation, it’s smiles and a willingness to chat.

    instead of escalation, they are specifically trained in how to DEescalate situations.

    it’s been quite the eye-opener.

  122. Pteryxx says

    Whoa.

    similar story for Missouri?

    Dunno about 129 years but MSNBC just showed a reporter asking McCulloch if he had ever prosecuted a police officer, and he epically waffled “Uh – uh – I don’t know about any shooting” (paraphrased) for several seconds.

  123. Pteryxx says

    via a commenter at Greta’s:

    Nobody Knows How Many Americans The Police Kill Each Year

    Some reporting has put forward one of the only figures available: the approximately 400 “justifiable police homicides” each year since 2008, according to the FBI’s annual Supplementary Homicide Report (SHR). That data point has appeared with heavy caveats in a string of media reports, including in USA Today, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Washington Post.

    The statistic might seem solid at first glance. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Bureau of Justice Statistics — independently of the FBI — also estimate the number of police homicides per year at around 400.

    But these estimates can be wrong. Efforts to keep track of “justifiable police homicides” are beset by systemic problems. “Nobody that knows anything about the SHR puts credence in the numbers that they call ‘justifiable homicides,’” when used as a proxy for police killings, said David Klinger, an associate professor of criminology and criminal justice at the University of Missouri who specializes in policing and the use of deadly force. And there’s no governmental effort at all to record the number of unjustifiable homicides by police. If Brown’s homicide is found to be unjustifiable, it won’t show up in these statistics.

  124. Pteryxx says

    Colorlines today on Eric Holder’s investigation:

    So it will be extraordinary in the history of our legal system if Wilson is convicted of murdering Michael Brown. That’s something close observers know, and it’s surely one reason why the Justice Department is already in Ferguson looking for a civil rights case. Typically, that sort of inquiry would come only after a local, criminal case concludes; Holder has sped up the timeline. That’s significant: It means that as the local case takes its predictably disappointing course, particularly if led by McCulloch, everyone will also be able to see a federal inquiry in progress. That may turn out to be more symbolic than anything, but symbolism matters, too.

    Holder reportedly saw the national import of Brown’s killing right away and began rallying his staff within hours. That’s not surprising, since he’s opened at least 20 previous civil rights investigations into police misconduct, according to the New York Times. Throughout President Obama’s time in office, Holder’s been a gadfly prodding racial justice onto the agenda of a reluctant White House. He has been most visibly aggressive fighting voting rights challenges, reaching down into local politics with spirited legal actions during each election cycle. But he’s also pushed the administration’s political boundaries on sentencing reform and, importantly, on a simple willingness to name publicly the beast of racism.

    […]

    So Holder’s actions in Michael Brown’s killing thus far suggest he’s identified Ferguson as a place to show off a newly restored Civil Rights Division. He’s dispatched 40 FBI agents, conducted an independent autopsy and sent in the division’s “most experienced prosecutors,” he wrote in a op-ed in today’s Post-Dispatch. “The full resources of the Department of Justice have been committed to the investigation into Michael Brown’s death,” he declared. The civil rights sheriff, he seemed to be declaring, is back in town.

  125. Ichthyic says

    The civil rights sheriff, he seemed to be declaring, is back in town.

    He was born in 1951; I’m surprised he hasn’t already learned how futile it all is to work within a system that is designed to protect authority and privilege.

    Still sticking with my prediction:

    Wilson will not be convicted of any felony.

    He WILL get taken to civil court, and that is where Holder will get his “victory”.

    …and nothing will change.

  126. Ichthyic says

    Holder gave a speech on race relations on February 18, 2009, in the midst of Black History Month.

    “Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot in things racial, we have always been, and we, I believe, continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards,” said Holder

    he sure knows what the story is. Maybe I’m wrong this time, maybe he’s really the Elliot Ness this whole mess needs.

    hope so.

  127. says

    A police force like America has, disqualifies any claims it has of being a democracy. It is more like the police force of a classical tyrannical regime. Anyone with Officer Dutta’s attitude should be disqualified from being a policeman in a democratic country. He is one of those sickos that gets some kind of sexual thrill by having absolute power over people.
    How is it possible that all those rights that American citizens are supposed to have (#18) can simply be ignored by the police force whose duty it is supposed to be to protect those rights?

  128. says

    Even though it might sound harsh and impolitic, here is the bottom line: if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you. Don’t argue with me, don’t call me names, don’t tell me that I can’t stop you, don’t say I’m a racist pig, don’t threaten that you’ll sue me and take away my badge. Don’t scream at me that you pay my salary, and don’t even think of aggressively walking towards me. Most field stops are complete in minutes. How difficult is it to cooperate for that long?

    Interestingly, Dutta’s statement can be seen as reasonable and accurate advice… if you start from the standpoint that the police are unaccountable, uncontrollable thugs, and you have to assume your safety is in jeopardy if you don’t stay the hell out of their way.

    Just as if the police were the worst bully in the school, and the governmentprincipal turns a blind eye:

    Dude, I know it’s not fair, but trust me, we’ll all be better off: if you don’t want to get punched, kicked, beaten up, swirlied or thrown into a locker, just do what Biff tells you. Don’t look at him funny, don’t talk back, don’t call him names, and definitely don’t say you’ll tell the teachers. Don’t bring tuna for lunch (he hates the smell of tuna). And whatever you do, don’t fight back. Heck, don’t even defend yourself; he’ll just beat on you longer, and it’ll make it worse for the rest of us next time.
    Lunch break is only 30 minutes. You can cooperate for that long, can’t you?

  129. Pteryxx says

    via MSNBC just now – Two new lawsuits have been filed against the Ferguson PD related to another death, that of Jason Moore. His case was mentioned as part of the reason the people of Ferguson don’t trust prosecutor Bob McCulloch.

    USA Today

    “The eyes of the nation and the world are watching Ferguson right now,” Holder told a group of community leaders assembled at a local community college. “The world is watching because the issues raised by the shooting of Michael Brown predate this incident. This is something that has a history to it, and the history simmers beneath the surface in more communities than just Ferguson.”

    Among the handful of St. Louis Community College-Florissant Valley students who met with Holder was Molyric Welch, 27, who said her brother died following a encounter with Ferguson police in 2011.

    Welch said the 31-year-old man, Jason Moore, died of cardiac arrest after officers allegedly used a stun gun during a disturbance call.

    “A lot has happened here,” she said. “He (Holder) promised things were going to change.”

  130. Ichthyic says

    I’m hoping the protests will starting including “recall McCulloch” along with the “hands up” signs.

    it sure is looking like the entire infrastructure there is in need of a housecleaning.