Re: More On Life On Mars

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I haven't read the other thread yet, but it should be bragged that the American version of Life on Mars was filmed extensively in my hood!


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 8:38 PM
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It is possible that that is not a good thing.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 8:39 PM
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I expect corruption has decreased some (but maybe not a lot) as a gradual result of pressure against it. Maybe informant relations (a notorious trouble spot) are more carefully monitored. Some of it depends on what you are counting. Is accepting free meals from a business that likes having cops around corruption? I think there are still problems though. New York once did a test in which wallets were turned in to cops and the money tended to evaporate. As I recall the upshot was they stopped doing that sort of test.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 8:39 PM
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gradual result of pressure against it.

Well, yeah, but driven by what? Or rather, why did that pressure come into play in the period between the 70s and the 2000s, rather than earlier? That's what got me puzzled - I started off thinking "Well, of course the modern cop isn't corrupt," but couldn't pin down why that would have changed.

New York once did a test in which wallets were turned in to cops and the money tended to evaporate.

This, I'd expect -- I wouldn't think of a present-day cop as less likely to be a petty thief than anyone else, just as less likely to be entering into corrupt transactions with criminals.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 8:43 PM
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It's all thanks to Serpico.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 8:44 PM
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Prince of the City, man.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 8:46 PM
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Of course, a perfectly possible explanation is that either 70s cops were less corrupt than I think, or present-day cops are more so, and nothing's changed.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 8:46 PM
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Perhaps the cure for smaller scale corruption is simply higher salaries and overtime (see, e.g., the New Orleans PD experience for a negative case). On the other hand, perhaps the modern corruption is the use of force.

I haven't encountered police corruption in my travels, but when I was 12 or 13, my family was walking up Newbury Street in Boston, and a suited maitre d' type dashed out of a bar/restaurant and shook hands with a cop who was sitting in a car next to several double-parked vehicles outside. As we were crossing Mass. Ave., my father pointed out that the suit had palmed the cop something, presumably bills, presumably to keep him from ticketing the double-parkers.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 8:48 PM
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4

Well, yeah, but driven by what? Or rather, why did that pressure come into play in the period between the 70s and the 2000s, rather than earlier? That's what got me puzzled - I started off thinking "Well, of course the modern cop isn't corrupt," but couldn't pin down why that would have changed.

I believe there has been pressure and gradual improvement for a long time. So for example 70s cops were less corrupt than 30s cops.

This, I'd expect -- I wouldn't think of a present-day cop as less likely to be a petty thief than anyone else, just as less likely to be entering into corrupt transactions with criminals.

I think petty thieves are likely to be bad cops in other ways and should be purged from the force. And stealing makes them criminals. But apparently New York City decided to treat it as a job perk.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 8:55 PM
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I don't know about corruption, but I haven't gotten a (moving) ticket in a decade, and I've gotten a decent number of warnings, and I attribute this bullshit to being on the white, female, and Volvo end of profiling.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 8:55 PM
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Decreased opportunity? I'm talking entirely out of my ass, but didn't "regular" police units in the past deal more often with organized criminal activity (which is where many of the opportunities for bribery would arise)? Now that work is generally outsourced to special units. And those special units have enhanced internal controls/monitoring to attempt to prevent corruption.

I think special narcotics units (which deal with a modern variant of organized crime) tend to have relatively high levels of corruption. (Even though they have a lot of safeguards designed to prevent it.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 8:57 PM
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I haven't gotten a (moving) ticket in more than a decade. I attribute this to my exhaustively researched, deeply philosophical, martial arts-inspired approach to speeding.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 8:57 PM
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8

... On the other hand, perhaps the modern corruption is the use of force.

What? Use of force is much more tightly controlled than it used to be.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 8:58 PM
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And those special units have enhanced internal controls/monitoring to attempt to prevent corruption.

This might be it -- literally advances in management practices, making it harder to get away with habitual corruption.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 9:00 PM
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force is much more tightly controlled than it used to be.

Force has always been mass times acceleration. Since before the 70s.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 9:02 PM
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I heard an illustrative tale when I was in college in a course taught by a professor who was also on the Chicago police disciplinary board or some such.

1. Back in the 1960s, standard practice for a driver pulled over on Lake Shore Drive was to wrap her license in a $20.
2. Chicago cops were for decades notoriously underpaid. The corruption was seemingly built into the compensation system, and also a consequence of it.
3. Today, Chicago cops are some of the best paid in the country.
4. Such corrupt behavior is virtually nonexistent now.

Being a corrupt police officer entails some risk, which may not be worthwhile if your job pays well.


Posted by: Opie Curious | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 9:06 PM
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I think Brock is on to something in 11, and especially 11.2. Corruption just doesn't look exactly like it used to, partly because we as a society are ashamed/proud of different things, partly because the people who become police these days are from somewhat different social class backgrounds and thus have a different set of mores and norms, partly because the opportunities are shaped differently.

When it changed, though, I don't think I could say.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 9:07 PM
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There's also different layers of anonymity. Life is less and less anonymous for middle-class and professional-class people these days. For working-class and/or poor people, there are still vast swaths of their daily lives that are not monitored and standardized, so the codes can exist

The most notorious narcotics squad corruption case in my city in the last few years came to light because a bodega owner had a camera system in his store that was digital and set to back up to an *offsite* hard drive.

It was the corrupt officer's bad luck to run up against a working-class guy with the techie smarts and the time and energy to set up such a rig. (His m.o. was to sweep in and disable a store's security cameras before stealing cash and so forth.) And it still took years for him to get charged. For all I know the FOP is still fighting for his job (I haven't been following the case.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 9:11 PM
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Video recording of everything.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 9:15 PM
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That pressure could come from outside law enforcement forces getting better. Could be technological, like through cheaper wiretaps or better ability to monitor people's bank accounts for suspicious activity. Could also have to do with the changes in federal law enforcement during that time. High mandatory sentences create more cooperators, and one way to cooperate is to turn on the cop you've been bribing or who has been extorting money from you.


Posted by: lawguy | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 9:16 PM
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Further to my comments on class: Corruption and shakedowns may have gotten more selective, so it feels like it's gone away to those of us who live in more privileged realms.

I can't remember whether it was Radley Balko or someone else at Reason who was writing about all of those small towns in Texas that were making a fortune from basically shaking down out-of-town black drivers passing through. Either charging them or threatening to charge them with drug offenses; impounding their cars; etc. etc. Very depressing stuff. The scariest thing I was ever taught about being an out-of-state driver was that police would be more likely to ticket you for speeding, under the assumption that you wouldn't come back to town to dispute the ticket.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 9:20 PM
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I can't remember whether it was Radley Balko or someone else at Reason who was writing about all of those small towns in Texas that were making a fortune from basically shaking down out-of-town black drivers passing through.

Huh. My father has a story like that from the early sixties in Georgia, getting shaken down for being a Yankee. But you're right, I wouldn't expect anything like that as a middle class white person today, but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen to anyone.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 9:23 PM
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Part of the pressure to reduce corruption may come from local political leaders under pressure to bring down crime--or to reduce corruption. A good mayor who appoints a good, independent chief can make a big difference in the way a PD operates.


Posted by: emdash | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 9:33 PM
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I think the change in L.A. was to stop hiring cops with a psych profile indicating they might take a small amount of graft and instead go for the all out 'paths who shoot little old ladies, steal drugs, and are creative in writing up reports, etc.

I have seen nothing in the news since I've been out here that would convince me to talk to a L.A. cop about the weather without asking for a lawyer first. (The county Sheriff's department is seemingly different and of much better quality, at least in WeHo based on my very limited interactions.)

21: In the Fifties, when I started driving, the out-of-state vulnerabilty had the same status as gravity as natural law.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 9:41 PM
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Huh. My father has a story like that from the early sixties in Georgia, getting shaken down for being a Yankee.

This is anecdotal, but a band I played with got pulled over on a very rainy night in Oklahoma (like, tornadoes-about levels of bad).

There's no way we were speeding in a 65, because the van could do only 55 without hydroplaning (music gear in the back, weighing things down), so we were driving most conservatively, trying not to die when the blue lights came on.

I'm not unconvinced the officer saw a bunch of twenty-somethings hauling band gear with Virginia plates and pulled us knowing we'd probably not come back and dispute.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 9:50 PM
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I would say simple corruption, like bribery, has dissipated because people stop liking that, and it doesn't pay enough. On the other hand, I would say that enforcement of narcotics law is notorious for producing corruption, because it does pay enough, in money or drugs.

max
['And that kind of corruption IS notorious.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 9:52 PM
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26: My grandfather often waxes nostalgic about the weekly fin he handed over.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 10:03 PM
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police would be more likely to ticket you for speeding, under the assumption that you wouldn't come back to town to dispute the ticket.

A friend of my mom's received a parking ticket from Camden NJ (or similarly-situated NJ city) in the late 80s. As it happened, she had ironclad proof that she had been in Newark with that car at the time, and it turned out that the city in question basically was fundraising by mailing out random tickets on the expectation that some people would ignore it, others would pay, and still others might dispute, but that no one would be able to prove that it was outright BS.

On a related note, one downside of computers and such is that, during the 90s, it became impossible to ignore out-of-state parking tickets because everyone got hooked up. When I was in college, I reliably ignored all out of state tickets, including in Pgh (still had NJ plates); by '96 I was being chased down by Denver and IIRC Berkeley, which quite surprised me.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 10:05 PM
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IMO: the biggest factor is the decline of urban machine politics. Corrupt cops were really just an arm (sometimes more or less independent, but always closely linked to) corrupt local governments. Urban machines have mostly collapsed, except in Chicago which is kind of sui generis. Where local government is still very corrupt, as in New Orleans, the cops are too. This change was already well underway by the 1970s, but has accelerated since then.

That of course raises the question of why urban machine politics have declined, and that's a complicated question, but it is wrong to focus exclusively on the police.

At a tactical, police-specific, level, non-corrupt policing was linked to a number of techniques pioneered by professional, reformist police chiefs in the 1940s and 1950s, perhaps most prominently the LAPD's Chief William Parker (think Dragnet and 1 Adam 12, both of which were produced in close cooperation with the LAPD). The main idea involved a gradual withdrawal of the police from the local community. Instead of serving as beat cops who could act as situational mediators/judges/observers, cops retreated to their automobiles, and their modus operandi shifted to call-and-response. The goal shifted from being a constant presence on the street, to responding to a specific citizen's complaint that a specific person was breaking a specific law, from the neighborhood beat cop to "law enforcement." That created reduced opportunities for corruption.

However, call and response policing militarized the police force, detached it from the community, and proved highly ineffective as a crime prevention/deterrence strategy. It is not coincidental that a spike in crime rates coincided roughly with the heyday of widespread adoption of call and response policing, and it is also not coincidental that crime rates have fallen with various attempts to return to the older community-based policing model (with modern computer technology, and AFAIK mostly without the old fashioned corruption).

None of this speaks to policing in Britain, about which I know almost nothing.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 10:16 PM
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Halford! When are you going to write that book on L.A.? Please say you're working on it. I'd buy it for sure. (I just ordered Eszter Hargittai's book, so that's not an idle promise.) One willing buyer -- surely that's all you need to get started?


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 10:26 PM
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I just got re-employed, so my book writing window has mostly collapsed. But I did start, and hopefully I can stay single and bored long enough to make the book an appealing project. It'll take years, though, despite my plan to plagiarize Peter Moskos. Thanks for the encouragement!

Funnily enough, I knew Eszter pretty well IRL as a teenager and she was always more industrious than me then, too, in addition to being about 500x as smart.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 11:04 PM
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When did she come to the US? I had the vague impression she'd grown up in Hungary.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 11:11 PM
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31:For the record, I'd buy it too. I was interested in the initial posting that spawned that comment. Sign me up, too.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11-18-09 11:16 PM
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It's worth bearing in mind that the British police force in the 70s was horrendous. Openly racist (as opposed to covertly racist now), framing Irish people for terrorism left, right and centre and torturing them to extract confessions, operating under total impunity.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 2:33 AM
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....beating up demonstrators, football fans, strikers, in fact really anyone who was available in a convenient crowd format, accepting bribes from organised crime, getting involved in politics, reliably bungling major investigations, bullying simpletons into confessing to murder, employing ridiculous quacks as expert witnesses, crashing patrol cars, leaking secret information to the press, spying on the head of internal affairs on behalf of the mob, moonlighting as extremely dodgy private detectives/"security consultants", throwing black men into freezing rivers.

From the 60s to the 80s was the historical nadir of policing in Britain; the courts and the Criminal Cases Review Commission are still cleaning up after that generation of cops. A truly remarkable number of people ended up serving life sentences for crimes they didn't commit. Much as I whine about them, the police now are considerably less awful. This is, however, more of a statement about how awful they used to be.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 2:58 AM
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From the 60s to the 80s was the historical nadir of policing in Britain

And roughly the same period also saw the lowest crime rates in recorded history... which does rather make you wonder about the relationship, if any, between police competence and public safety.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 3:09 AM
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This is probably a good place to recommend Red Riding to our American friends, for a bleaker take on 1970s policing.

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/red-riding

Bleaker than any US tv show I've ever seen, I think.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 3:28 AM
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Mind you, the relationship between the quality of policing and public safety from the police is pretty linear.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 4:36 AM
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Could the corruption of the 70s cops in Life on Mars be more a comment about 70s police shows than real 70s police? Corrupt cops were a staple of 70s American cinema, far different from the professional Just the Facts Ma'am TV cops of earlier eras.

Just a thought. The UK commenters are saying there was a change in real UK policing. But movie and TV writers generally have other movies and TV shows in the front of their minds.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 7:41 AM
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For all I know, it could be -- LoM is very much doing a 70's cop show with a twist rather than any kind of realism. But my guess would be that the difference in conventional representations of police work does represent a real change in police culture. (If I were continuing to guess, I'd think that the change from 50s shows with professional, uncorrupt cops to 70s shows with corruption was a change in the level of realism on TV, rather than in the real world culture, OTOH.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 7:46 AM
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Reduced corruption on urban police forces is a product of integration, both of the forces and the neighborhoods they serve.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 7:47 AM
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29 fits with what I know. But I'd like to add the rise in legalized gambling, especially lotteries. I'm just guessing that most people wouldn't feel as bad about taking money from a numbers runner as they would from somebody whose crimes were less victimless.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 7:49 AM
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What's the mechanism you'd guess at? I could see reduced social cohesion among the police reducing corruption: if Officer Michael Doherty from St. Anne's Parish takes a bribe, his partner Jimmy Flaherty from the next parish over is much less likely to turn him in than if his partner was Raoul Ortega from an entirely different part of town. Or were you thinking of something else?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 7:51 AM
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And 29 sounds plausible: I've always sort of vaguely thought of the call/response/cops never get out of the car model of policing as a bad one, but hadn't really gotten into the initial reasons for it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 7:53 AM
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43: urban police forces used to be largely drawn from the same immigrant groups as the neighborhoods they were policing, which made for tighter bonds with the neighborhood and looser bonds with the organizational hierarchy. Would be the line I was spinning. Bribery depends on some level of trust between the briber and the bribed.

But who the fuck knows; I'm just riffing off The Departed. Probably it has more to do with record-keeping and professionalization and whathaveyou.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 7:58 AM
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Is accepting free meals from a business that likes having cops around corruption?

Wait, there's places giving free food? I'm getting screwed! 7-11 plies us with free coffee.

Myself and and a very pleasant commenter known around here as Domineditrix went to lunch yesterday in a police cruiser. I forgot to take a picture, damnit.

http://www.gourmandies.com/


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 8:00 AM
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Yeah, that sounds like very much the same sort of thing as 43, and sounds plausible. Particularly because that specific sort of corruption is what I have the impression has decreased: actual dealmaking between police and criminals. I'd expect a corrupt cop today to be more likely to be stealing drugs from criminals than taking bribes from them.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 8:01 AM
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46: I think you're supposed to be picturesquely taking apples from fruit stands and not paying. Something like that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 8:04 AM
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The biggest law enforcement corruption to make the paper around here recently had the ordinary cops as paying-out, not paid to. The sherrif made contributions to his campaign a requirement for vacation and promotion.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 8:05 AM
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Myself and and a very pleasant commenter known around here as Domineditrix went to lunch yesterday in a police cruiser. I forgot to take a picture, damnit.

Watch out. That can result in injury from biohazard.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 8:11 AM
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Even The Wire managed five series without (IIRC) a single bribe being paid to any police officer. Which, it now strikes me, is a bit weird...


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 8:12 AM
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I once knew a guy who took a ride in the police cruiser by himself. The officer left his keys in the cruiser while he went to break-up a party that involved underaged drinking. When there is only one officer in town, this works very well in the short-run. In the long run, not so much.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 8:14 AM
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51: Yeah, that was part of what I was thinking -- not that a TV show is data, but I never heard anyone complain about that as unrealistic either.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 8:15 AM
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It's not as though they skimped on other misdeeds. You had cops fabricating evidence, NDing, accidentally shooting other cops, turning up drunk on the job, running illegal wiretaps, lying to judges, beating up civilians, abusing their power to order frivolous investigations... but none of them ever took a backhander.

In fact, now I think back on it, that was one of the plot strands that never went anywhere. Early on in the first series, McNulty's mate in the FBI tells him that Daniels was under investigation for corruption as a junior officer in the Eastern District - and you never find out exactly what happened there, it just lurked in the background.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 8:21 AM
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but none of them ever took a backhander.

But, there's the raid where Carver and Herc are stuffing money under their vests in a manner that suggests it's a common practice.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 8:27 AM
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Doesn't McNulty take a bribe when he's working on the harbor patrol?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 8:31 AM
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Also there's that cop that gets paint dumped on him in season 4 who's always shaking down the kids.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 8:32 AM
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55: See 47. Corruption, generally, is the wrong word for what I have the impression has decreased -- it's more that dealing cooperatively with criminals in a corrupt fashion has decreased. A story about about a narcotics unit taking money and drugs in a raid wouldn't surprise me at all; a story about a narcotics unit being paid off by dealers would have me doing a doubletake.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 8:33 AM
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Doesn't McNulty take a bribe when he's working on the harbor patrol?

Oh yeah, the party boat.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 8:37 AM
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59: Good point. But the cop in season 4 isn't taking bribes, he's just extorting money with menaces - isn't he?

A story about about a narcotics unit taking money and drugs in a raid wouldn't surprise me at all; a story about a narcotics unit being paid off by dealers would have me doing a doubletake.

The Shield?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 8:45 AM
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50: Nope. I even facilitated the meet-up 'cause the DE was without internet access.

(And today is "Voice Day" the anniversary of our first phone conversation in 1992 after our forum and email flirting via Compu$erve. Sometimes cyberspace does produce a good fit.)


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 8:45 AM
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My father has a story like that from the early sixties in Georgia, getting shaken down for being a Yankee.

Mine also, when he was driving back to NC from FL and a cop in GA pulled them and was very explicit: A ticket they'd have to come back to fight or a smaller amount of cash on the spot, their choice. They went with cash.

This comment window has been open for an eternity so I'm probably a Kobe late on this, but I also wonder if the perceived decrease in corruption is a result of the end of Hoover's tenure at the FBI and thus the perceived decrease in corruption at that institution. Their less corrupted presence in federally-relevant but otherwise "local" investigations might have tipped them to local corruption or created an environment of cleanliness. That's just a random thought, though, and IANACriminologist, so I could be completely wrong. I don't know if they even really interact all that often.

There's an excellent episode of Rockford Files about all this, of course, involving a little town somewhere financing itself by framing and blackmailing outsiders.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 8:48 AM
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62: Dad's was a little worse -- car full of soldiers from up North out for the weekend, they got rearended by another car. No serious damage done to either car -- the local driver who rearended them got let go, and Dad and his friends were told to empty their pockets, and that the fine was all the cash they had between them. Or they could spend some time in jail awaiting trial.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 8:51 AM
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Sometimes cyberspace does produce a good fit.

Indeed.

The other thing about The Wire is that it mostly deals with Homicide detectives, who are much less likely to be corrupt than vice or whatever cops that are dealing with the same people every day, if the crime fiction I've read is to be believed.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 8:54 AM
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Speaking of fear of police stops, when I was in North Carolina everybody said that getting stopped for more than 10 mph over the speed limit was an arrest, not a citation. It was my understanding that unless you were really doing something stupid or the cop was really pissy, the ticket would be written for 9 mph over the limit to avoid the hassle of an arrest. However, everybody also said that if you were stopped in or near Durham, do not mention any affiliation you might have with Duke unless you wanted the ticket written so that you'd get the arrest. (This was well before the lacrosse people thing.)


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 8:58 AM
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Homicide detectives, who are much less likely to be corrupt than vice

There's sure a lot more tempting loose change laying around in vice.

However, I think it greatly depends on the expectations and leadership at the top and middle of the command structure. Military units go from bad to good or good to bad pretty quickly with changes there, I don't see why police forces wouldn't be much the same.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 9:18 AM
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37: The David Peace books are even more unrelentingly grim and terrifying than the TV series, if that is even possible.


Posted by: Heloise | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 9:32 AM
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when I was in North Carolina everybody said that getting stopped for more than 10 mph over the speed limit was an arrest

That isn't true. If you're >15 mph over the limit, it can technically result in you losing your license, but in practice it never does unless you have multiple stops way above the limit. The issue with 10 mph over the limit is that below that limit, it doesn't result in points on your insurance, so if you show up at traffic court, they almost always plead it down either to 9 over or a faulty equipment citation.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 9:43 AM
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68: Great. Now I can't get back all of that time I wasted by driving 44 mph.

(Note: I don't actually have anything against the Durham Police. They remain the only law enforcement agency that ever arrested anybody who ever stole anything from me.)


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 9:47 AM
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65: What apo said. On the topic of Durham cops in general, right now I don't know of any such rule of thumb. Durham's police department is currently blushing a little over a case of alleged overtime fraud, anyway. That said, an amusing anecdote to indicate some locals' view of Duke:

I have a flamboyantly gay cousin who also lives in Durham. Ten years or so ago he called the cops to lodge a noise complaint against some neighbors. He lived in a fairly downtrodden area and the cop, when he was done taking the report, said to my cousin, "What's a rich Duke faggot like you doing in this neighborhood, anyway?" My cousin's immediate response was to snap, "I'll have you know I went to Appalachian State!"


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 9:50 AM
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70: I thought the flamboyant (regardless of orientation) were supposed to live in Carrboro.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 9:55 AM
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Are you kidding? All the A-Gays moved in and priced us out.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 10:00 AM
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Hey, want to read a really depressing story about police (mostly NYPD, I think) sexual harassment of random women of color? If so, it's right here!

It's not police corruption, per se, but it's definitely the same kind of routine, petty abuse of power over people who aren't even in the hands of the police.

In other wild-eyed anarchist news, two folks from around here have been jailed for refusing to testify before a grand jury (a jury which is probably investigating a very costly animal rights action at a lab in Iowa). Regardless of how one feels about the action, the jury is pretty much a fishing expedition with no serious belief that these two kids were involved (one of them was fifteen, in high school in Minneapolis and just barely vegetarian in 2004, and someone would have noticed if she'd just taken off for Iowa with a bunch of anarchists for a couple of days) and--as I have recently learned--grand juries are extremely creepy. (you're in a room without your lawyer (who you can go out and consult) but they try to bully you into not consulting--one of the kids was told by the judge that it was illegal for her to consult with her lawyer, which it is not. The proceedings are secret and people testifying do not hear each others' testimony.

My belief is that one of the two is being targeted for complicated local political reasons because he's a native rights activist. I cannot overstate how creepy it is, because these kids are, frankly, not that different from most of my friends (or from me) in terms of depth of involvement in radical politics.

Not that an actual public trial would be particularly pleasant, but if we must have one, let's have one out in public and not haul people off to testify blindly.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 10:00 AM
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I have zero actual knowledge, but I'll speculate that maybe cops' partners in corruption also lost the skills for it? I wouldn't have the faintest idea how to bribe a cop to get out of a ticket. Discreetly wrap a twenty around my license? I'd fumble and drop my wallet and ask the right amount and be incredibly incompetent about the whole thing. Presumably bodega owners and maitre d's would know what they're doing, but maybe as the practices have decreased, there's been a feedback loop, where people also don't offer bribes because it doesn't occur to them?

Or maybe I'm just hopelessly naive.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 10:05 AM
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car full of soldiers from up North

Sounds like your dad and his buddies needed to reenact the March to the Sea.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 10:07 AM
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74: I think that makes sense. At least, I'd be far more afraid of getting arrested for offering a bribe than I would be that the officer would be mad because I didn't offer one.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 10:08 AM
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74: a friend of mine failed his driving test in $MIDDLE EASTERN COUNTRY seven times, for increasingly petty infractions ("you have a dirty car", technically illegal there) until his instructor finally took pity on him and said "You know, you have to give them $200 so they'll pass you, right?"


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 10:10 AM
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I have zero actual knowledge, but I'll speculate

New mouseover?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 10:13 AM
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Paging gswift...paging gswift....

I think there's an inherent tendency to believe that one's own era is less corrupt than the past, simply because all the bad stuff in the past has come to light and the current misdeeds have not. Police work seems more professionalized today, but just recently we've seen the Ramparts scandal in LA, and two New York City police detectives convicted for doing Mafia hits while serving as detectives. That's pretty fucked up. Not to mention the FBI use of informants has opened them up to corruption -- in the Whitey Bulger case the FBI was directly assisting Bulger in his reign of terror.

And speaking


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 10:21 AM
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I always have more to say.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 10:21 AM
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wouldn't have the faintest idea how to bribe a cop to get out of a ticket.

What, you didn't watch Bad Lieutenant?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 10:23 AM
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I have not watched Bad Lieutenant. Now I am afraid that bribing a cop starts with the phrase "I've been very naughty, officer."


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 10:36 AM
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51

Even The Wire managed five series without (IIRC) a single bribe being paid to any police officer. Which, it now strikes me, is a bit weird...

I don't think this is correct. As others have pointed out Daniels was depicted as having been corrupt in the past giving his superiors a hold over him. There was corruption in the prison drug plot that got Barksdale an early release. And didn't the cop who walked in on the mayor get some sort of payoff for discretion. And if I recall correctly one of the drug gangs had a pipeline into the police (and another had a source in the DA's office). And there was the manipulation of crime stats.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 10:37 AM
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I think there's an inherent tendency to believe that one's own era is less corrupt than the past, simply because all the bad stuff in the past has come to light and the current misdeeds have not.

Hmmm, maybe. Many people also seem to have a somewhat opposite tendency to believe that crime, and dangers in general, are getting worse and worse, when that's not actually the case at all.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 10:38 AM
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I seem to recall reading that the simulated-blowjob scene was all improvised. You got a genuine dark streak in there, Harvey Keitel!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 10:39 AM
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I wouldn't have the faintest idea how to bribe a cop to get out of a ticket.

I had an uncle-in-law who did a year in Club Fed for being obvious about the few $100 sitting on an end table when the IRS guy came to audit. Extrapolating, I think the proper technique in the US is to wait to be asked, however obliquely. In other countries consult one's "fixer".


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 10:49 AM
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simulated-blowjob

Worst. Bribe. Ever.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 10:50 AM
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83: Daniels yes, but of the rest of that, is any of it literally bribery of the police by criminals? The good job assignment for being discreet is corrupt, but not the same sort of thing. The Barksdale prison thing was prison guard corruption if I recall correctly, again corruption but not police corruption. Manipulation of crime stats is bad behavior, but very different from bribe-taking.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 10:51 AM
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I'm sure I would also get it wrong if I were asked.

"What's that? You need... something? You were mumbling. I have water and juice, and I'd be happy to get you a beer, but of course you don't drink while working."


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 10:52 AM
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There might be a tipping point effect here -- when the level of bribe taking/soliciting drops below a certain point, it gets too cumbersome and difficult to negotiate it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 10:58 AM
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Don't know if we've pinpointed the reason for the change in corruption since the early 70's to our satisfaction (or confirmed that it has actually changed). If there is a tipping point or feedback loop, that would be a result of decreased bribery once things got moving, not the initial cause.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 11:02 AM
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73: I feel bad about losing sympathy for that writer because I disliked her prose style.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 11:05 AM
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91: I'm liking Halford's 29 and Sifu's 41-47 as explanations -- a style of policing less integrated with the local communities, and weaker ties with local communities -- for the initial decline, and then a tipping-point explanation for the rest of it. That assumes that the decline is real, of course, which I don't have more than an impression of.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 11:12 AM
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92: We must never do book exchanges, then, because I thought it was pretty darn good. Of course, I wouldn't hold myself up as any judge of prose, and it's certainly in a very particular movement style. (It would be fun to write something about the various activist prose styles...poetic, inflammatory, romantic insurrectionist anarchist prose, for example, which reads like something badly translated from French, sends me absolutely around the bend.)


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 11:51 AM
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I was a little annoyed by it because it was hard to tell what happened -- she alludes to having been harassed over an extended period of time, but only describes one incident at all.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 12:00 PM
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That isn't true. If you're >15 mph over the limit, it can technically result in you losing your license, but in practice it never does unless you have multiple stops way above the limit. The issue with 10 mph over the limit is that below that limit, it doesn't result in points on your insurance, so if you show up at traffic court, they almost always plead it down either to 9 over or a faulty equipment citation.

In my experience it is more like "You were doing 14 mph over the limit, but I'll just write on the citation here that it was 9 mph over the limit, so you don't get points on your license, OK folks?"

(left unsaid: anyone really going as little as 9 mph over the limit wouldn't get pulled over, even in a speed trap)
(left unsaid: if they write the actual speed on the citation, you might actually show up to court instead of just sending a check, and they can't have too many people doing that)


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 12:04 PM
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I have a vague impression that more California brush fires are caused by arson, than in the 70s. I don't know if this is true, but if it were true, how would you explain it?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 12:26 PM
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97: Everybody smoked in the 1970s so impulsive arson was far easier.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 12:27 PM
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War on Drugs. In the 70s, everyone in CA was stoned, and therefore not out in the woods making trouble. Now they're all tense and unpleasant and set fire to stuff.

Any more questions?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 12:28 PM
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98 was based on reading 97 backasswards. I want to change my answer to: more people now live in really flammable areas.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 12:31 PM
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My guess would be that there are an additional 20 million people here, some of whom do stupid shit. I'd be surprised if the relative number of arsonists has increased, but would expect the absolute number to track population increases.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 12:54 PM
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94: My favorite writers tend to be men whom a feminist critic might condemn for their self-satisfied comfort with privileges of various flavors, notwithstanding their sympathy for lesser beings.

But I feel guilty about it!


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 12:56 PM
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I have the vague impression that office chairs are higher off the ground than they used to be. If that were true, how would we explain it?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 1:03 PM
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102: You mean Tolkien?

103: There's a lever on the side of the chair, underneath the seat. Pull it and sit on the chair. It will go down.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 1:05 PM
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103: Powers of levitation, like IQ test scores, have increased steadily over time.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 1:05 PM
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104: I was thinking chiefly of Borges, because "In Memoriam, JFK" is on my mind for obvious reasons. I don't like Tolkien's style all that much.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 1:09 PM
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106: I thought you'd mentioned Tolkein before. I've never read Borges. May have to try that, but my next book has to be really stupid. My brain hurts this week.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 1:12 PM
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107: I'm a shameless Narnia lover, though.

I happen to have a bit of Jorge Luis Borges right here:

In Memoriam, JFK

"This bullet is an old one.

"In 1897, it was fired at the president of Uruguay by a young man from Montevideo, Avelino Arredondo, who had spent long weeks without seeing anyone so that the world might know that he acted alone. Thirty years earlier, Lincoln had been murdered by that same ball, by the criminal or magical hand of an actor transformed by the words of Shakespeare into Marcus Brutus, Caesar's murderer. In the mid-seventeenth century, vengeance had employed it for the assassination of Sweden's Gustavus Adolphus in the midst of the public hecatomb of battle.

"In earlier times, the bullet had been other things, because Pythagorean metempsychosis is not reserved for humankind alone. It was the silken cord given to viziers in the East, the rifles and bayonets that cut down the defenders of the Alamo, the triangular blade that slit a queen's throat, the wood of the Cross and the dark nails that pierced the flesh of the Redeemer, the poison kept by the Carthaginian chief in an iron ring on his finger, the serene goblet that Socarates drank down one evening.

"In the dawn of time it was the stone that Cain hurled at Abel, and in the future it shall be many things that we cannot even imagine today, but that will be able to put an end to men and their wondrous, fragile life."


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 1:17 PM
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108.Borges

Beautiful, but I think I could only last about four pages before I switched to skimming.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 1:21 PM
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but I think I could only last about four pages

Clearly you didn't masturbate enough as a kid.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 1:24 PM
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109: That's the whole thing. He wrote pretty short, even for the very famous stories.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 1:25 PM
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Worst. Bribe. Ever.

It's not simulated as in "they made it look like a blowjob on screen but obviously the actors weren't sucking one another off," it's simulated as in the character makes the girls show him what they look like while giving head.

It just goes to show, you never know!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 1:33 PM
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74 It's apparently an acquired skill which fades over time from disuse, or so my parents say. My only bribing experience comes from ticket controllers in Polish trams and buses in the early nineties. "Wow, that's expensive. And I'm going to have to go to the trouble of going to HQ to pay it. That's really inconvenient, wouldn't you say?" "50,000 zl sound ok?" "Yup" (forking over a bill).


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 1:39 PM
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Wheeeee, I'm back where there are computers and intertubes and decent food and I don't HAVE TO SHOUT AT THE MOSTLY DEAF to make myself understood. With the exception of the lovely meal I had with gswift, everything I was fed only emphasised my mother's complete inability to cook. And she wouldn't let me cook because "[I'd] been busy all day packing things".

So thanks again, gswift, for the conversation and for introducing me to a place where the food was good.

My father spent huge amounts of time in the Near East digging up pot sherds. Baksheesh was expected at various levels of government to facilitate the getting of permits and whatnot. Not unlike DC. There should be PACsheesh.


Posted by: DominEditrix | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 4:24 PM
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As a word, I mean, not a practice.


Posted by: DominEditrix | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 4:27 PM
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103: I have the vague impression that office chairs are higher off the ground than they used to be. If that were true, how would we explain it?

Oh my god, I must be having a bad week, because this has me laughing in a nearly coughing and choking manner.

Note that I'm reading the thread backwards, upside down, in reverse order.

But thanks, rob.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-19-09 5:58 PM
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I seem to remember the police protesting the use of dash-board camera's in their patrol cars. Good cops love them. Bad cops don't.


Posted by: mac | Link to this comment | 11-20-09 7:49 AM
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Yes, doubtless everyone here would be overjoyed to have their boss put a video camera and microphone in their cubicle.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 11-20-09 8:00 AM
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109, 111: MH, go get thee Labyrinths. As Flippanter says, short.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-20-09 8:14 AM
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118: Well, I would hate that. But, I would never say I'm good at my job.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-20-09 8:20 AM
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Yes, doubtless everyone here would be overjoyed to have their boss put a video camera and microphone in their cubicle.

If they mounted it on top of my computer screen, facing me, I would appear to be incredibly productive.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-20-09 9:00 AM
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118: Yeah, that's an issue where my sympathies flip back and forth hard depending on which side I'm looking at it from. If I were the union, I'd want to negotiate no use of the tapes whatsoever except in the case of a complaint from a member of the public, or an internal investigation. No day-to-day management use of it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-20-09 9:26 AM
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122: it's difficult to see how they could be used day-to-day. That's a huge amount of camera footage to watch, and what's it going to show? Either a police officer in a car, driving around, or an empty car; and who's to say whether an officer out of his car is working hard or just having a coffee? I suppose it might stop cops who liked to park up and go to sleep.

Video and audio in the interrogation room, on the other hand, is obvious - and there's really no good reason for opposing it.

Yes, doubtless everyone here would be overjoyed to have their boss put a video camera and microphone in their cubicle.

A lot of people work in open-plan offices, so that's really the reality already.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-20-09 9:42 AM
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There's a difference between real time observation (annoying), and being able to search records after the fact to find pretexts for discipline (something I'd be really disturbed by).


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-20-09 9:44 AM
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Come to think of it, a huge change in UK policing was PACE, which drastically tightened the chain-of-evidence rules and a whole variety of other things, notably what constituted identification evidence, the conditions under which the police can question suspects (i.e. with their lawyer and designated adult if relevant and with the whole thing on tape), who was qualified to be an expert witness, and various other stuff that closed off a lot of traditional forms of police malpractice.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 11-20-09 9:46 AM
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Audio would be worse than video -- if I spent my entire workday, every day, driving around with a colleague, the idea that my boss could review tapes of everything we said would be very unpleasant. Who doesn't bitch about work, superiors, and so on?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-20-09 9:46 AM
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125: Huh. So it works in part like a statutory version of the sort of controls we get here through constitutional jurisprudence?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-20-09 9:47 AM
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124: true in the office context, but, as I say, what could a police do in a car that would be a "pretext for discipline" without actually being a really bad thing?

As I say, it could be used to catch out cops sleeping on the job. Well, good. Or, I suppose, beating up prisoners in the back seat. Also good. But apart from that, the only thing it's going to record is lots of driving around, and it would take a hellishly dedicated superior to search through all of that for... whatever it is.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-20-09 9:47 AM
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127: IANAL but a lot of stuff works like that. The safeguards assured in the US by court cases (Miranda, for example) are assured by statute in England (PACE, HRA). Comes of not having a written constitution.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-20-09 9:52 AM
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It seems reasonable to have cameras that would turn on whenever you're interacting with a civilian, on the premise that legal data is being created.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-20-09 9:52 AM
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130: I was thinking that, but the problem is that there's no way to make it automatic, so if the cop has the power to turn it off and on, they can misbehave while it's off. To be a useful record, you'd really want it on all the time.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-20-09 9:54 AM
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125: Back to the TV show, this probably explains a running gag -- Tyler keeps on arresting people and giving them a Miranda-like warning, which is always wrong. Presumably there was a pre-PACE warning, or no required warning at all, given in 1973 that he doesn't know.

Also, I really like Bowie. I'd kind of forgotten.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-20-09 9:55 AM
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What about a feature that takes one shot every fifteen seconds, and then kicks on in regular video when someone else is onscreen? One still every fifteen seconds doesn't seem nearly as intrusive, as far as working conditions go.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-20-09 9:56 AM
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Also, I really like Bowie. I'd kind of forgotten.

<smiles>

(sorry it's just, as has been previously established, I am a fan.)


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 11-20-09 10:00 AM
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132: yes, it changed 15 years ago when they decided to ditch the right to silence. (No, really.)

Used to be "You do not have to say anything if you do not wish to do so, but anything you do say may be used against you in a court of law."

As of 1994, it's
"You do not have to say anything. But it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence."


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-20-09 10:00 AM
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134: I do enjoy some music quite a lot -- just not enough to devote time and attention to finding stuff I like. But I think I'm going to load all Buck's Bowie albums on my iPod this weekend.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-20-09 10:06 AM
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I do enjoy some music quite a lot -- just not enough to devote time and attention to finding stuff I like.

I remember being surprised when, at some point, you mentioned having being a Smiths fan (not that there's anything wrong with that, it just didn't match my impression of you).

But I think I'm going to load all Buck's Bowie albums on my iPod this weekend.

Yesterday I got "Live at Santa Monica '72" and it is fantastic if you like Ziggy Stardust. It compares much more favorably to the album versions than the Ziggy tracks on "Bowie at the Beeb" did.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 11-20-09 10:44 AM
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you mentioned having being a Smiths fan (not that there's anything wrong with that, it just didn't match my impression of you).

I'm not really an anything fan in a coherent way. Everyone else I've ever known cares a lot about music, and so they play things, and very occasionally something strikes a chord (as it were) and I end up owning a copy or at least remembering what it sounds like. The Smiths were listened to among my high school friends, so I kind of know them.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-20-09 10:48 AM
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