The news is full of stories of cops gone wild. That’s as it should be – every day – until they start to realize that they exist on the forbearance of The People.
So, this is going to be a bit of a grab-bag of news, much of which you’ve probably already heard.
First, and foremost, cops in Santa Cruz appear to have walked into an outright ambush, with emplaced shooters and explosives positioned to deny them cover and destroy their vehicles. In my mind, that sort of action is the end-game that cops are asking for when they militarize and start driving around in MRAPs and up-armored Humvees: they’re preparing to re-enact the US military’s failure in Iraq and Afghanistan, right near their homes.The cops only lost 1 killed and 2 injured. [newsweek] At the height of their activity in Afghanistan, Russians would lose entire armored patrols including light tanks, and nobody would know what happened to them or where the bodies were buried. It’s odd to me that US cops don’t understand that there are lots of people in the civilian population who can make an explosively-formed penetrator or put a round on target 400 meters out; that changes the situation dramatically – they just haven’t figured it out, yet. If they keep having video of cops knocking 75 year-old men down, or shooting teenagers in the eye with rubber bullets, that’s where it’s going to end up. I’m not promoting or condoning attacks on cops, but they need to understand that de-escalation is the only answer when you’re vastly outnumbered.
A California sheriff’s deputy was killed and two other law enforcement officers were injured after being ambushed with gunfire and explosives while pursuing a suspect, authorities said.
Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller, 38, was shot and killed in Ben Lomond, a town in the Santa Cruz Mountains, on Saturday afternoon, Santa Cruz County Sheriff Jim Hart said.
A second deputy was wounded, and a third officer from the California Highway Patrol was shot in his hand, Hart said.
“In my 32-year career, this is the worst day that I’ve ever experienced,” Hart said as he began a news conference on Saturday evening.
Cops can’t seem to avoid being assholes, even when they’ve experienced a legitimately traumatic event. That’s the worst day he’s experienced? Getting shot in the hand? The deputy was killed. Talk to me about your bad day, officer porkfatback.
Over at Mother Jones is an article [mj] about cops doing what they can to make the situation worse. As many people have pointed out: the solution to protests about aggressive policing is not to aggressively police protestors. In this case, cops were caught on camera slashing all of the tires on all of the parked cars at Kmart.
There is genuine puzzlement as to what the cops think they were doing. For one thing, Kmart parking lots have tons of security cameras, and there were journalists everywhere. One theory is that they were hoping to clobber a few journalists’ rental cars.
My theory is that they are just frustrated authoritarian goons who want to break things, and when they discovered that protesters might be getting too numerous, they decided to pick on a target that’s more their size. “Boards don’t hit back” and all that.
Meanwhile, a greater concern are the mysterious highly geared-up and steroid-pumped paramilitary forces that have been appearing in Washington, DC, over top of the mayor of the city’s strenuous objections. [dallasnews]
It turns out that it’s true: the prisons are full of thugs and horrible gangs. This bunch work for the Texas State Prisons – they’re a special swat team for putting down prison riots because patience never works for that. OK, here I have to admit that I used to know a guy who was in a special military police unit. I don’t talk to him, anymore because I realized that those guys joined up so they can get into fights. I don’t mind if they go play Fight Club by joining an underground MMA league or something like that, but that’s not what they want – they want to hit people who are less well-armed and less well-trained than they are. Because if they wanted to fight someone who might hit them back, they’d be fighting ISIS or Afghani hill tribes. And we wouldn’t need to worry about cleaning up that particular strain of American garbage, any more.
As a semi-recovered “gun nut” I also obsessively examine and identify weapons in photos like the ones above; specifically small arms. One thing I am looking for is whether the guns are for show, or if the person carrying it is also carrying ammunition. I want to know if the idiot cop I see strutting around with a submachine gun is basically carrying a fancy multi-thousand-dollar club, or if they are carrying potential lethal force. This is not a recommendation, by the way, but a lot of the cops you see at these riots are not carrying ammunition and someone with a baseball bat could relieve them of their fancy rifle and have a pretty nice weapon if they got a few clips of steel-core ammo at a sporting goods store. Actual terrorists understand this, of course – protestors do not. One of the ways you can tell that the protestors are ordinary civilians and not “crisis experts” or trained provocateurs is:
- they are not wearing police uniforms
- they run away from flashbangs and tear gas
I was not very happy at all to see what appeared to be loaded 30-rd clips and hangun clips in the tactical gear worn by some of the most ‘roided-up of the Texas cops. Those guys want to kill someone.
When the Chinese government suppressed Tienamen Square protests, they used an armored unit from North China – that’s a common tactic in oppressive states: you don’t want the soldiers to be shooting at neighbors, so you bring in people who don’t know the area, so they’ll bond to each other, not the locals. The fact that the Trumpies (I blame Bill Barr) brought these guys in is a terrible sign. They’re sociopaths who want to kill – just like Trump and Barr, except they’re not chickenshits that will cower in a bunker.
Explosively formed penetrators are easy to build. You need a clay flower-pot, some high explosive, and a 12-ga sheet of copper metal. That’s it. For high explosive? I shouldn’t tell you this but you can buy high explosive in case lots on Amazon.com. [amz] Detonators are tough, you’ll need your own PETN.
What amazed me about the Boston Marathon bombers was that they scraped all of that bursting charge out of fireworks, instead of just going to a sporting goods store and buying a couple pounds of fine black powder.
I know you’re probably thinking “don’t go there” but I’ve been thinking “don’t go there” at cops all week. Stupid cops think their rubber bullets are badass.
This is the last piece in this grab-bag and it’s really horrible; by far the worst. Apparently the republicans have been thinking about using these sorts of special forces cops to protect polling places in November. Because nothing’s going to encourage the hispanic and black voters like a ‘roided up bunch of white supremacists with badges standing around at the polling place. [the intercept] And by “retired cops” they are probably also including the really sick sons of bitches who lost their jobs for jostling 75-year-old men a bit hard with a night stick.
On Election Day in November, some polling places could be patrolled by off-duty police officers and veterans, according to a plan hatched by Republican operatives.
The idea is a reprise of once-illegal Election Day “ballot security” intimidation tactics, intended to challenge voter registration and remove voters from the rolls. At a strategy session in February attended by conservative donors and activists, several people expressed a specific need for Republican poll watchers in “inner city” and predominantly Native American precincts, according to audio recordings of the event obtained by The Intercept and Documented.
“You get some [Navy] Seals in those polls and they’re going to say, ‘No, no, this is what it says. This is how we’re going to play this show,'” said Catherine Engelbrecht, founder of True the Vote, a group that lobbies for voting restrictions and organizes volunteers to go into precincts and aggressively challenge voters who they believe are improperly registered. “That’s what we need. We need people who are unafraid to call it like they see it.”
And what is it going to take to deal with that? I suppose it’s going to take IEDs and fire-sack traps, but those retired navy SEALS are professional combat artists and are very very dangerous, very sociopathic people. They never won a war but they did win a lot of battles.
Part of the reason cops are resorting to violence is they’re as outnumbered as they are unimaginative. Protesters are taking turns and resting, cops have long days and none off. Without military help, they’ll eventually lose. And they know it.
What’s your take on current and retired brass speaking up in numbers? The retired ones you expect, but criticizing or speaking while active is rare. I have a strong suspicion many of them (older, having learnt the failures of Vietnam and Beirut) will know this won’t work and not give the order to attack civilians. The cops will be on their own.
The national guard may join in, but they’re not like the army, navy, air force and marines (lower case is intentional). If the NG do, the professionals might speak up or even act against them. I have a feeling this will be Moscow and Berlin 1989, not Tiananmen Square. And not a repeat of Taiwan’s 228 Incident or South Korea’s Gwangju Uprising.
I would love to see the military depose Cheetolini and run the country until November’s elections. At least they would know to let the scientists make the decisions about COVID-19.
“[… the cops] need to understand that de-escalation is the only answer when you’re vastly outnumbered.”
Maybe that just doesn’t occur to some people when they’re born and raised in a country that maintains nuclear retaliation (or preferably “pre-emptive strikes”) are a reasonable idea, strategy, perhaps even a fundamental right. Would be an interesting side-effect of a few decades of cold war thinking and propaganda if it led to the state authorities’ self-destruction.
Well, mainly horrifying.
“There is genuine puzzlement as to what the cops think they were doing. For one thing, Kmart parking lots have tons of security cameras, and there were journalists everywhere. One theory is that they were hoping to clobber a few journalists’ rental cars.”
Maybe they’re just slow to adapt to the notion that there are now cameras other than their unreliable bodycams watching everything they do, all the time. Before all they had to worry about was a few quick-thinking by-standers. Now everyone is already on the same page when cops appear: roll cameras, action! As for security cameras, I wouldn’t be too surprised and even understanding if stores and other security-cam havers routinely “lost” their bad cop footage.
“This is not a recommendation, by the way, but a lot of the cops you see at these riots are not carrying ammunition and someone with a baseball bat could relieve them of their fancy rifle and have a pretty nice weapon if they got a few clips of steel-core ammo at a sporting goods store.”
If you were trying to one-up Russia’s WWI strategy of having the second wave use the first wave’s weapons by having them use the enemies’ weapons, then you should probably just skip straight ahead to the surrender, revolution and botched execution. But thanks to the second amendment no one should ever be so desperate. What a beacon of civilisation!
“They’re sociopaths who want to kill – just like Trump and Barr, except they’re not chickenshits that will cower in a bunker.”
They’re just used to having contractors do all the hard work. Of course, if you want a job done professionally, you need to hire a professional. I don’t know how professional these contractors are but I hope we’ll never find out and that they’re stiffed on the bill as per usual. Although, if your descriptions are correct, they might be working pro bono.
“At a strategy session in February […]”
Right now I could understand how law-and-order-types could come up with ideas like that. They’d still be wrong, but at least there’d be a certain logic to it. But February? Well, fuck off, you racist, descriminatory, cheating pieces of shit. I suppose we’ve known for a while that Republicans realise they can’t win in a fair, democratic fight.
Given how blatant this would be – as opposed to the usual record-purging, hurdle-creating and gerrymandering – I’m surprised at the opposition of mail voting. Especially if Trump’s apparent assumption that mail voting favours democrats is correct. How much easier would it be to bungle a few million votes if they were mailed instead of made in person? It would be entirely within expectation for this administration to fuck it up, just like everything else. That should make it a blip of bad press compared to videos of goon squads protecting polls from Enemy Voters. It’s already been said that such “unprecedented” numbers of mail votes could create problems, so there are excuses ready to go. Trump should be embracing this with two thumbs up and a smile so big his head drops off.
Re: Intransitive (#1):
“What’s your take on current and retired brass speaking up in numbers? The retired ones you expect, but criticizing or speaking while active is rare. I have a strong suspicion many of them (older, having learnt the failures of Vietnam and Beirut) will know this won’t work and not give the order to attack civilians. The cops will be on their own. ”
Call me a cynic (though not “Marcus”), but the retirees have seem to have secured their pensions. The active ones have to run out the clock while President VindictiveTurn-over McFired, of all people, is in charge, so if there ever was a time to take a principled stand, now isn’t it.
Randolph Grant says
I’m curious what is left for people like me. I’m progressive, an atheist, I volunteer at a non-profit and I’ve been a law enforcement officer for forty years without a use of force complaint. I feel abandoned by Ranum and PZ Myers with their slurs and generalizations. I don’t like what I’ve seen any more than anyone else, perhaps more because it makes me feel the need to explain to my family. There’s a difference between voicing an injustice and putting potential allies on a garbage launch to space. I’m not going to quit a job where I can help people (my focus now is child abuse) because you’re mad about societies wrong turn. My children have asked me to be more vocal but I just don’t see anyone at FreeThought Blogs ready to listen. I think your behavior when it reflects ACAB does not align with rational thought or a desire to make a better future.
Those Texas thugs are federal Bureau of Prisons SWAT-equivalents not State of Texas employees. That is why they are there; Barr seemingly has the authority to pull them in as they are DoJ employees.
I have been working on a news report as the events micht be seen from a foreign viewpoint.
============= JRK Washington=======
There is still a lingering stench of teargas in the air.
After a week of riots and protests the regime seems to be pulling most of its quasi-military auxiliaries into tho capital and the leader’s palace has been heavily fortified in the last few days. There are reports that the presidential guard has placed snipers on the roof of the palace though there has been no reports of sniper fire.
Members of the international press report being deliberately targeted by government forces during the disturbances in many of the country’s cities, including the capital.
Ominous signs of dissension in the senior military ranks hint that the leader may be losing the vital military support he needs to stay in power. However observers feel that he still retains the loyalty of the heavily-armed, paramilitary police units who have been in the forefront of the struggles against the insurgents.
There have been reports of armed right-wing militias in some cities but it unclear who they support or if they are simple taking advantage of the confusion and chaos to advertise their presence.
The president, who has been dogged by accusations of election irregularities, fraud and foreign electoral intervention ever since he took office, appears more embattled than ever. He is losing the support of many state governors. Some are refusing to send militia to the capital to support the beleaguered leader though there has been no reports of actual clashes between national troops and state militias.
Marcus Ranum says
I have been working on a news report as the events micht be seen from a foreign viewpoint.
John Morales says
From the OP:
The People are not a monolithic bloc, and Pratchett is no guide to real life.
(cf. also North Korea.
Or the Third Reich, for that matter — it was an external intervention that changed things, not Volk)
Sam N says
@3, Randolph, what was the size of the force you worked with? Do you know who the bad cops are? Have you shielded them in anyway? What was the homogeneity of the population you policed?
There may be a small number of small police precincts that remarkably actually don’t commit brutality. I wouldn’t know.
But if you worked in a large city, and you are claiming you don’t who the bad apples are, and you haven’t spoken out. That’s what you can do. They will target you though.
When police start speaking up about their own bad apples and actually punishing them and not rehiring them. Then I will stop painting them with a broad brush.
Sam N says
I know who the bad scientists within my field are, at least some of them. They do harm, far less than a police officer that kills someone who is no threat. But they do harm. I left the community, partially out because of ethics related to my own community, partially because of other problems (difficulty of funding, having no power to cause change within the system). Some day, I may speak out. I’m still formulating my thoughts. And my criticisms will almost certainly be dismissed, institutionally. But I feel a lightness of no longer being part of that system that included what I consider to be some real evil.
I find it very difficult to believe cops don’t know who the bad cops are. They cover for them. At least I had the pleasure of calling a few of the bad scientists shit bags to their face (and plenty of colleagues) without fear of life-threatening retaliation. So I don’t have all that much courage. I wouldn’t join a present police force because I would be too afraid for my life when I started to call the bad ones out.
Marcus Ranum says
I’m progressive, an atheist, I volunteer at a non-profit and I’ve been a law enforcement officer for forty years without a use of force complaint.
Do you know any corrupt or violent cops that you’ve walked by? There are plenty of cops that have no use of force complaints (congrats, you’re possibly not one of the shitty ones) but every police department’s got its corrupt, racist, violent creeps that the “good cops” turn a blind eye to. That’s how they’re able to operate.
I’m not saying that every cop should go full Serpico on their department, but there are a lot of cops that don’t resign, don’t complain, don’t protest – and that’s why we’re in the situation we’re in.
I feel abandoned by Ranum and PZ Myers with their slurs and generalizations.
What “slur” have I made? To me, a “slur” implies that I’m telling untruths and distorting facts. In fact, I do have an extremely low opinion of police; I think that as it’s practiced in the US being a cop is an inherently immoral job. Saying that is not a “slur” it’s an “opinion” or a “philosophical position” in the case of the referenced article. [stderr]. Feel free to disagree with me – but you don’t get to feel abandoned because I was never with you.
PZ can speak for himself.
I don’t like what I’ve seen any more than anyone else, perhaps more because it makes me feel the need to explain to my family.
Do you mean your family ask you questions like, “would you stand around while one of your fellow cops knocked down a 75-year-old man, and walk past him while he lies bleeding on the ground?” That’s a really awkward question and I’d hate to have to answer it. Is that the kind of thing you need to explain to them?
Let me note: you’re not actually arguing with anything I’m saying – you’re just whining that I’m being mean. I think I’m being reasonable, actually.
I’m not going to quit a job where I can help people (my focus now is child abuse) because you’re mad about societies wrong turn.
Oh, you think that’s what I’m mad about? Or are you trying to minimize police violence, brutality, and racism as “society taking a wrong turn”? It’s not a fucking wrong turn – it’s a consistent alignment with the worst aspects of US racism and inequality. It’s not unreasonable to note that the police were the enforcers and beneficiaries of Jim Crow in the south from reconstruction onward. That’s hardly a “wrong turn” that’s a “long-term strategic direction.” PZ may be complaining about the cops’ current behavior, but I’m making a more historical analysis that says that the police have been on the wrong side all along – their current behavior is consistent with police departments being corrupt servants of the establishment since their inception. History is hardly something to “get mad about” – it’s an analysis of how things appear to be – and maybe an individual will see policy recommendations stemming from that. For example, I called my representative’s office and asked them to examine their police budget carefully and to de-fund military-style gear. That’s not me being pissy or having a temper tantrum – that’s a thought-out opinion about policy. Maybe you don’t like it. So?
My children have asked me to be more vocal but I just don’t see anyone at FreeThought Blogs ready to listen.
Listen to what?
I just read your comment and I’m replying to it. If you’ve got more to say, go ahead.
putting potential allies on a garbage launch to space
Are you saying that your being my ally or not is contingent on whether or not I’m nice to you?
It’s irrelevant, anyhow; as I said I am taking a historical perspective on policing. If you want to change my opinion, you’re going to need to appeal to historical fact not whether or not you may be a potential ally. If you are an ally, go ahead and do whatever you think you should do. Do you want to tell about what you do while we applaud and cheer? That’d be better than complaining that I’m not nice to cops.
I think your behavior when it reflects ACAB does not align with rational thought or a desire to make a better future.
I have not said all cops are bastards; I’ve pointed out that they are in permanent moral jeopardy when they undertake to enforce laws that are immoral to begin with. That probably means a lot of cops are bastards, but that’s (as you probably have figured out) up to the cops themselves to figure out. I’m willing to grant for the sake of argument that you’re not a bastard. Feel better? Do you work with any bastards?
does not align with rational thought
or a desire to make a better future
Maybe we disagree on how to make a better future. I think that depends on one’s perspective, no?
Marcus Ranum says
The People are not a monolithic bloc
“The forbearance of The People” does not necessarily mean that there’s unity of purpose or even agreement. Do you not understand that?
John Morales says
Marcus @10, of course I understand that; that’s my very point!
Marcus Ranum says
of course I understand that; that’s my very point!
Captain Obvious: blah, blah, blah
Marcus: well, duh, Captain Obvious
Captain Obvious: Obviously, that’s my point
Marcus: (screams into his pillow)
chigau (違う) says
I need a new pillow. I’m thinking of one of those grain-husk things.
John Morales says
Marcus, if it was obvious that I understood the obvious, why ask me whether I understood the obvious? And why scream into your pillow when I respond that, obviously, I do?
I think you wrote as though “The People” were a monolithic entity.
(And oppressive regimes therefore also exist with the forbearance of “The People”, by that same reasoning; if only “The People” of North Korea would cease their forbearance, eh?)
Ah, a matching pillow. Good call.
Frankly, I think that just illustrates the problem: Even if there are good cops, they’re completely helpless to stop the bad ones. It doesn’t really matter how many good cops there are if the result is still the same mess. The peaceful protestor that was beaten doesn’t heal faster because there was a good cop somewhere else. The bad cop isn’t fired because you didn’t beat anyone. The problem persists.
I read this as an admission that the police can’t police themselves and that a complete overhaul is necessary.
Andreas Avester says
Randolph Grant @#3
Nobody among Freethoughblogs bloggers has claimed that every single cop is a bad person who has personally murdered a black man or raped a handcuffed woman inside the police car. I believe that there exist cops who are nice people, and I’m willing to believe your claim that you personally have never abused people of color while wearing your uniform.
The problem is that among USA cops there is a noticeable amount of bad people who have abused people of color. More importantly, they tend to get away with their crimes—they don’t get punished, instead they can keep on working as cops. Their peers protect them (and thus enable their crimes). This is a systematic problem. Just like Vatican protected pedophile priests, USA justice system protects murderous racist cops.
This brings up the following question: What do you want Freethoughblogs bloggers to do? Are we supposed to not talk about the systematic problems with USA police just because those police officers who are decent people feel personally hurt hearing about the crimes of their peers? Are we supposed to pepper our blog posts with countless disclaimers about how we are aware that not every single cop is a racist murderer? If so, then you are being unreasonable. In my opinion, your hurt feelings matter less than the lives of black people who have been killed by cops. I will always perceive harm caused by murder as greater than harm caused by hurt feelings.
Bloggers writing about police crimes is not the problem. The fact that cops routinely commit crimes and abuse black people is the problem. By attempting to silence bloggers who write about police crimes you are trying to promote a cultural environment that enables cops to keep on murdering black people with impunity.
Love ya, Marcus, and I don’t disagree with your overall point, but the details in this particular case (Santa Cruz *County*, not Santa Cruz) have turned out to be more complicated than the impression I got from reading your post. At the very least, your title is inappropriate here — this is not an example of “Cops gone wild”. Nor do I think this unfortunate murder is some sort of act of resistance against the police.
There’s been an arrest. The suspect is a fucking *MP* at Travis AFB and it is quite possible he is a serial murderer.
Randolph Grant says
Thank you for your comments. I appreciate the time that was spent replying and I’m considering your thoughts. I worked for a large agency (1200) and then a smaller agency (50). The first figure includes commissioned and non-commissioned and the second is commissioned only. I have not worked in an urban core. I have worked in areas with significant minority populations but neither was black. One community was native American and the other Hispanic. I’ve heard a lot of racial slurs from a handful of officers over the years but probably less than I would have heard in the community. I have not witnessed a serious abuse of force (but have assisted in the investigation of two) and I can say that I have not heard an argument that Chauvin’s assault was not murder. All agree it was. I am not shy to advocate for those I feel are being misrepresented. I encouraged my students (I don’t know if they have) and my children (they definitely have) to take part in the marches.
I teach as an adjunct at a local community college. I am aware of two incidents of racism by law enforcement against a minority relative. One committed by an FBI agent and another by an officer I couldn’t identify. Neither was physical force, both were inexcusable and racist. We discuss the events, what made them racist, and how they should handle a similar situation. About half my students are minority and if I include the females it becomes more than half. We spend time discussing the need for minorities in law enforcement and discuss the steps of hiring. After the incidents in Baltimore and Ferguson I told my students that although the facts were not yet known they needed to look at what had caused the public to react. There is a problem and let’s hope it is addressed correctly.
When I took a pre-employment psych test one of the questions asked if police existed to enforce the status quo. I answered no and still passed. Maybe it’s one of the questions society should ask.
I have a nephew (not a minority) who was arrested after assaulting a relative and he spent months in jail instead of overnight because he had to wait for a mental health evaluation. His health issues are pretty obvious. I mention this because most officers are now getting CIT training and are better equipped to respond to a mental health crisis. Should an officer be involved after it’s safe? Of course not. But the officers have no mental health system to fall back on. They are stuck taking sick people to jail.
Do I like what has happened with violence in our country? Again of course not. The NRA abandoned cops long ago and any support they still get from law enforcement is based on tribal affiliation. I think seeing civilians “open carry” is wrong. It doesn’t help that they are frightened and also often see law enforcement as their enemy.
About a year ago I had a three hour drive with my daughter’s long term boyfriend. He is black. They live together in a large city, one that has been in the news with demonstrations. His grandfather was an FBI agent. About a year ago we were on some topic and he said, “What should I do if I get pulled over?” I have to admit I felt pretty bad about having to answer his question. Here’s what I told him (condensed): If you are stopped, be polite, answer any questions you’re asked, know where you keep the things the officer will ask about, and if the officer did something improper handle that after you’re clear and safe. I also mentioned that it’s a lot more likely he’d be stopped by someone of color than it used to be and either way he had a right to fair treatment. If he was assaulted during the contact? Hopefully he’d be around to settle it later. I didn’t discuss fighting back so I’ll have to think about how that would have been addressed.
I have worked with racists. One was demoted because of what he said to two black subordinates. He should have been fired. I heard later he got his rank back. I believe his racism originated with his religion. I know another who was quite proud of his racism. Interestingly enough he got the heck beat out of him by a black officer during a training session ( an outcome appreciated by most of the students). Another is getting ready to retire because he’s sick of Hispanic meth dealers. To those who mentioned the police don’t police themselves I mostly agree.
We all agree racism is a problem. I don’t think cops murder “with impunity” because I just don’t think the facts bear that out.
I’ve been directly involved in the firing (or resignation in lieu of) of a handful of officers. None was fired for a racism related crime. My involvement was investigation not supervision. None were rehired but inside the agencies we know that there needs to be a way to make a firing last. Arbitration is not the way. Most agencies do not have the manpower to place a problem in front of a window and tell them to spend their career looking out. Also, many arbitrations require the officer to be returned to their original duty status. This is another problem.
I have relatives from three groups that would be minorities in the US. I hate the thought they would be mistreated and you and I agree it has to change. I am a regular white guy and probably don’t have much to fear from the police.
Does every officer have a moral dilemma? Probably. If those officers quit will it make things better sooner? Does Nick Hanauer give up his money or does Jim Wallis quit his ministry because they may be associated with problems in equality or fundamental Christians? I’m quitting soon but it’s because I’m old. And tired. And I don’t know why we’re fighting the same battles. And losing.
And to Mr. Ranum: was I wrong when I said you made slurs? I’m referring to “Cops can’t seem to avoid being assholes” and “officer porkfatback.” If so, I’ll apologize. Maybe it was only meant to refer to one officer but my gut told me otherwise.
Look, I want to make the police situation better. A person can choose if they want to punish everyone in an organization or create alliances to work toward change for the better. And we should join with minority councils, mental health providers and politicians. Not choose sides and decide who goes.
I do not and will not ever support or apologize for the murder of a black (or other) citizen by the police.
Marcus Ranum says
the details in this particular case (Santa Cruz *County*, not Santa Cruz) have turned out to be more complicated than the impression I got from reading your post.
When I wrote the post, that information was not available. I was going by what was in google news when the story first broke.
The overall title of the post is “cops behaving badly” but I said, clearly, that it was a grab-bag of sorts. The bit about explosives on amazon.com is also not “cops behaving badly” but it’s all related around the overall topic of violent interactions with the police – violence going in either direction.
Indeed it sounds like one person. I wouldn’t expect a whole lot of accuracy from an initial report from some cops who wound up in an ambush. And it doesn’t sound like much of an ambush, either. There’s also the question of the suspect’s wife’s death. This whole thing looks to be uglier than it seemed at first blush.
What I was thinking it might be, fortunately, turns out not to be. The point remains that police would be ridiculously easy to trap and they completely don’t expect or prepare for force-on-force attacks. I’m surprised nobody has done that, yet, but not unhappy about it. By 1968 there were direct attacks against police facilities.
Military police killing civilian police? sounds like some sorta gang-related turf-war…
@Andreas Avester, 16:
That’s part of the problem, but it’s a part that’s more difficult to address. Cops routinely commit crimes and abuse black people all over the world. It’s not unknown in the UK.
The bigger part of the problem is that, in the USA, cops appear to routinely get away with it.
A brief scoot round Youtube shows you the difference. Cops in the UK and elsewhere get really shifty and uncomfortable when filmed. The obvious reason for that is that they have a reasonable expectation of negative consequences if there’s video evidence of misbehaviour.
The contrast with the USA could not be more stark. US police demonstrably don’t give two flying shits if they’re on LIVE TV baton charging and tear gassing accredited journalists there to report on police brutality.
I can think of only two interpretations of that:
1. the police in question, and their commanders, are so stupid they likely needed help to lace up their jackboots.
2. the police in question, and their commanders, have a reasonable expectation based on historical evidence that they can do whatever the fuck they like to whomever the fuck they like with no long term consequences.
Here’s another interesting difference between police in the US and elsewhere (the UK in particular for the sake of comparison). In my lifetime, trade unions in the UK were powerful, achieving many employment rights that employees in the US can only dream of. The unions arguably became TOO powerful, and were brought down, but many of the rights they won remain, for now. BUT… police officers cannot join a union – it’s illegal. In the US, unions are weak to the point of irrelevance and non-existence… except police unions, who are incredibly powerful. This situation looks, from the outside, really incredibly fucked up.
I wonder if this is a turning point. Defunding police is only a partial answer, a bandaid on a bullet wound. Disbanding police, and replacing them with something qualitatively different, is something I wouldn’t have imagined possible even in principle, yet it’s being discussed in Minneapolis apparently.
I have a hopeful prediction: Minneapolis will be the first. More will follow. Police departments will be shut down, and other things, differently managed things, will replace them. Police union power will wane. Recruitment and management will differ. Rules of engagement will change. Progress will be slow, but possibly in my lifetime there will be oases of civilisation around the US, places where there is a police service, not a police force.
And those places will have lower rates of crime. And the places that hold out, that still have forces – those will be shitholes. Like they are now.
Sam N says
@21 below the line
You have such a lovely dream.