Re: Radley Balko On Trigger-Happy Police

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This could be my faulty brain, but doesn't it seem like almost all these police shootings involve younger cops? That would be more evidence that training has changed and current training is bad.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 6:00 AM
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I'd argue that from a societal perspective, being put in fear of your life by those actions and taking a job where you carry a gun is the moral, ethical, and functional equivalent of homicidal mania.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 6:01 AM
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Or that younger men are more inherently aggressive and trigger-happy. Or that younger cops are more likely to be doing the sort of job where shooting is a possibility in the first place rather than, say, being detectives, or working behind a desk somewhere.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 6:02 AM
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That's the other thing. Along with a change in training comes a change in the kind of people attracted to the job, and if you look at the excerpts from Tactical Life and other places that Balko quotes, police work is now attracting gun nuts and gun gear wackos, who, as Atrios loves to point out, are so often people with vigilante fantasies.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 6:03 AM
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Didn't Zimmerman try to get on the police force?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 6:04 AM
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Ajay, I'd say that first reason shouldn't count: training should cover that. The second reason, yeah, probably true, but I have in my head at least a few times I've heard (not in person) an older cop say with pride that in some long number of years on the force, he never drew his gun. I realize I'm kicking off a bullshit-filled discussion by making this point without data.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 6:06 AM
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As counter-anecdata, there was a news story on Portland's(? maybe Seattle) new de-escalation protocol, and the person they interviewed to rant about how awful and dangerous it was was a retired cop.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 6:08 AM
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It's all well and good to ponder these Reagan-at-Bitburg scenarios, but you inevitably have to draw lines that look awfully arbitrary. Reagan drew his between the SS and the common German soldiers. Balko draws his line here:

When cops are caught on video administering an extended beating to someone who is clearly incapacitated, I'm all for throwing the book at them. But this was a split-second decision.

The perpetrators of these extended beatings are all jazzed up on adrenaline, often after a chase, and aren't thinking straight. Why don't we let them off the hook, at least rhetorically?

We don't do that because, by any sensible standard, they are criminals. Gunning down a guy who is following your instructions isn't excusable on any level; that cop was in complete control of the situation, and from start to finish dictated the terms of the confrontation. Throw the book at the fucker. Hard.

Reagan, whose argument was not very good, nonetheless had a much better argument.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 6:21 AM
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I had an uncomfortable conversation with my parents a few days ago about police shootings. They think I'm hopelessly naive about how rampant drug violence has become and how much danger police officers are in. It does seem like violent crime and accidents related to heroin use have been increasing pretty rapidly in their neighborhood; I think they're over-generalizing based on a very local trend.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 6:24 AM
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Oh, yeah. Letting this cop walk would be straight out of "Gee, Officer Krupke" -- he's only depraved on accounta he's deprived. I don't care how badly trained he is, I don't want him shooting people for no reason, and if he does I want him punished.

But to keep it from happening again, I think Balko's right that we need to think about the training and the culture rather than focusing on the cops as individual wrongdoers.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 6:24 AM
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I really do worry about culture. Especially since there have been a fair number of local incidents and the main goal of the police force is to be to remove the requirement that they reside in the city.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 6:28 AM
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9: if there's so much more crime, how come there's not more lead?


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 6:28 AM
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When I hear the world 'culture', I reach for my revolver. And I have my ringtone set as somebody saying, "culture."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 6:30 AM
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It seems (from a distance) like there is a lot of support for police over-reach/over-reactions from the right; would it be rhetorically helpful to frame this as "government use of force" or some equivalent?


Posted by: parodie | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 6:31 AM
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13 cont: I shot myself in the head three times last week.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 6:32 AM
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Framing won't help. They can tell the difference between shooting a minority kid and treading on Cliven Bundy's sacred land.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 6:32 AM
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14: That's Balko's angle, bless his libertarian heart.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 6:33 AM
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AISIMHB years ago I read a police tactical manual that was not generally available to the public (I knew a guy). It was messed up, man. Exhortations to always shoot to kill, dire warnings about the insufficient stopping power of a typical .38, reassurance that one should feel comfortable using a shotgun in a confined space as the spread isn't as big as you think it is, simplified maps of brain anatomy with ideal aiming locations on the head and neck for a sniper, instructions for how to behave when off-duty (always be armed, never let on that you're a cop, only go to bars where the preponderance of other customers are also cops), instructions for conducting a routine traffic stop with an eye towards always having a good kill shot that you can make before the suspect has reached their gun, etc. It's obviously not the totality of -- or the majority of -- police training, but there's just no way that being constantly reminded that deadly violence could happen at any time and that the most important thing is that you are the one living at the end wouldn't leave you with some weird ideas about how interactions should work. This seems to me closely related to the condition yellow nonsense that gun nuts are on about -- that it's really important that we have as many people as possible wandering around highly attuned to the possibility that any situation could erupt into slaughter at any time.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 6:34 AM
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Another point for body cameras: in the recent SLC city shooting of an unarmed teen, they just released the body cam video, and the kid was unarmed, but was (pretty) clearly doing everything he could to make the cop think he had a gun and was about to pull it (and the 911 caller had said (incorrectly) that someone had a gun).


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 6:35 AM
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13: If you call your phone your revolver, you're going to have really bad interactions with police when they pull you over.

14: The kind of rightists who are really bothered by that are already up in arms. The few libertarians I follow on twitter (well, ju/lian san/chez and whoever he retweeted) were excited that this incident might finally convince racist, oblivious doctrinal conservatives that there's a real degree of overreach and it's racially motivated.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 6:35 AM
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bless his libertarian heart

Whoah, they have those?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 6:35 AM
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||

How is it possible that connecting through O'Hare five days after the fire at the air traffic control center is still a problem?

|>


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 6:39 AM
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22: They expected it'll be screwed up for almost another two weeks.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 6:41 AM
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It looks like two-thirds of the people on my flight were going to miss connections and got rescheduled on other flights, so there are now only about six of us still waiting for this flight. So I assume they'll wait another hour and then tell us it's canceled.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 6:44 AM
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Since most of my knowledge of police behavior comes from TV shows and movies, I remember that, at least in the 80s, it was a common motif in police movies/shows that the grizzled veteran would inform the young hot shot that he had made it through his entire 20 year career without drawing his weapon, and this was intended as an example of how to do police work right.

Has that motif disappeared?


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 6:46 AM
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That's probably what will happen. If you have some hashish, take it and go stand in the space-tube hallway that runs between B and C.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 6:46 AM
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The other night I noticed that the planes that fly above our house -- that usually aren't really noticeable -- were flying much lower and annoying close together. I didn't put it together at the time, but I think it must have been the night of the fire, when they had to redirect planes to different, lower flight paths.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 6:46 AM
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This was another thing that shouldn't be a clown show but turns out to be. There's no redundancy in these systems, so one control tower in Aurora is critical to the nation's air travel? You've got to be kidding me.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 6:49 AM
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18 it's really important that we have as many people as possible wandering around highly attuned to the possibility that any situation could erupt into slaughter at any time.

My dad, who has never owned a gun and votes for Democrats, is apparently now convinced that we're about to have a wave of ISIS attacks on US soil, partly thanks to that beheading in Oklahoma or wherever it was. I blame TV news.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 6:50 AM
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partly thanks to that beheading in Oklahoma or wherever it was.

Hold on, what?


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 6:52 AM
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Many years ago I read some long paper by a reform minded police commissioner somewhere. His opinion of SWAT teams: if you think you need one you really probably don't. But if you absolutely must have one then make sure you disqualify everyone who volunteers. They're likely to be trigger-happy adrenaline junkies and gun nuts and have the worst kind of temperament for the job.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 6:52 AM
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30: This incident.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 6:55 AM
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Maternal love is really such a wonderful thing. Guy beheads someone, his mom still thinks to say "he was a good kid."


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 7:09 AM
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29, 30 and 32: I really do not understand the conservative mindset. My future in-laws are members of the Conservative Party in Canada, but FFIL always says that he's not like those Republicans in the US--and that Conservatives in Canada are like Democrats in the US, which may be true.

FMIL was visiting this weekend. Anyway, I said something about Rob Ford and being amazed that he thought that getting Mike Tyson, who was known for wife-beating, to endorse him didn't make a lot of sense. She said that she and her husband were pretty sure that he would still win. "You have to understand, BG, that he's not doing things for the people with money but for the immigrants." Her rationale was that he wants to put in an underground subway line that serves poorer communities instead of a whole bunch of trolleys that would be available to all of the neighborhoods. Except that he said he wanted an underground subway, because he didn't want anything to impede his ability to drive his car on the road.

It doesn't compute.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 7:16 AM
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This seems to me closely related to the condition yellow nonsense that gun nuts are on about -- that it's really important that we have as many people as possible wandering around highly attuned to the possibility that any situation could erupt into slaughter at any time.

I remember reading about that and thinking: This is a drug experience, isn't it? This guy's walking around in an altered state of consciousness, grounded in changes to his brain chemistry. He of course considers it to be a higher state of consciousness, but then one man's vision is another's hallucination.

And it is a bad idea to make investment or foreign policy decisions while under the influence of psychedelic drugs.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 7:30 AM
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Speaking of foreign policy and gun nuts, the whole open-carry movements makes me think somebody heard about the concept of "security dilemma" and decided the only problem with it was that you couldn't participate in one directly without joining the military and having to follow orders.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 7:35 AM
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34: It especially doesn't compute because I believe Rob Ford has withdrawn from the mayoral race (and endorsed his equally loathsome brother Doug).


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 7:38 AM
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The whole point of Fordism is interchangeable parts.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 7:38 AM
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Rob Ford's oncologists believe there is nothing to fear, and the aggressive, malignant fatty mass can be safely removed from office and replaced with Doug.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 7:40 AM
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34: CPC is doing its best to become more like the Republicans each year. The Harper Government(tm)'s silencing of scientists, climat change denial and oil sands support, as two examples, are right up there with the best Republican fantasies/realities. Gun rights and health care are different issues, but there is no simple comparison.

Rob Ford is insane, and it will be deeply sad for Toronto if he wins. Or rather, if his brother wins, since Rob Ford has bowed out of the race. I'm not sure what their appeal is, except something akin to W. Bush's "straight-talkin'" "outsider" appeal.


Posted by: parodie | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 7:43 AM
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37: I forgot to write "if he were still in the race." She does know that he dropped out.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 7:44 AM
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40: I know. They do support the tar sands, and I just found out that she is unsure about climate change. My FE tried to say that she just doesn't have a science background. She is a nice person, and I just have to tune out everything political.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 7:47 AM
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Plane has now "failed our ice test" and is back at the gate. Can't blame this one on air traffic control, I guess.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 7:54 AM
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planebros icing planes


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 7:59 AM
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38 is funny.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 8:00 AM
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Irresponsible speculation: what percentage of young police are Iraq/Afghanistan vets? Is there any evidence they are particularly inclined to the problems discussed in the Balko article, and are they changing police culture more broadly?


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 8:26 AM
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My cousin who really really wanted to be a sniper in the army now wants to be a cop.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 8:30 AM
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39. "endorsed his equally loathsome brother Doug"

I forget. Was that "The Operation" or "The Other Operation"?

DINSDALE! DINSDALE!


Posted by: OPINIONATED SPINY NORMAN | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 8:34 AM
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Kill that "oldster brags about never pulling his gun in 20 years" bullshit with fire. That's only even plausible in some Mayberry jurisdiction. If you're working any kind of busy metro area PD you're going to robberies, fights and domestics with weapons, etc. on a regular basis. If you're doing that kind of work and never drawing a gun you're an idiot.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 8:43 AM
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People shoot up movie theaters/stores/etc every couple months, no big deal, the price of having an armed society. Lone nutjob kills someone but cutting off her head and it's battle of the civilizations.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 8:44 AM
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49: Really? Honestly, I swear I've heard that frequently as a truism in NY; that very few cops ever fire their weapon, and most never even draw it. (Although I couldn't swear who I've heard it from, and it's also possible that I'm inventing the 'never draw it' bit -- while I'm sure about the firing bit, the other thing is something I might possibly have elaborated in my head.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 8:50 AM
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This is from 1998, and doesn't give a cite for the claim, but "nearly 95 percent of New York City's 38,000 officers have never fired their weapons while fighting crime."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 8:59 AM
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51: Yes this. I was going to say the same thing.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 9:02 AM
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That's a different claim from never having drawn it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 9:02 AM
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Except in South Carolina, I guess.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 9:03 AM
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18: but there's just no way that being constantly reminded that deadly violence could happen at any time and that the most important thing is that you are the one living at the end wouldn't leave you with some weird ideas about how interactions should work.

Maybe? It messes with people who are afraid of the job for sure and it seems obvious that South Carolina trooper was one of those.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 9:05 AM
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I thought that I posted this comment, but I read somewhere that a lot of vets in the police are actually less trigger happy than those who have not served.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 9:07 AM
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49: Wait a minute. Are you telling me that cop shows from 80s weren't scrupulously accurate? CHIPS and T.J. Hooker weren't all about telling it like it is?

I'm stunned.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 9:09 AM
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there's a real degree of overreach and it's racially motivated

It's really not, at least not in the sense that a lot of liberals think it is. Black people are not getting shot by the cops because they're black. Black people are only about a third of the police shootings in this country. Yes, it's disproportionate to their percentage of the population. That's driven by racism in that you have a country where the general conditions of the black population mean half the homicide victims in the country are black and they're usually being killed by other black people.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 9:12 AM
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Black people with guns are considered threats. White people with guns are apparently considered open-carry activists. Anyway, I've been thinking about threats to the police lately as there have been three state troopers shot in the past couple of weeks here. Two by a white guy survivalist type (who is still at large), one by himself or a colleague in a training accident (details not released).


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 9:15 AM
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Look over there! Black on black violence!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 9:16 AM
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52, 53: Vast majority never fired the weapon is accurate. Vast majority never drawn it is crazytown.

57: My experience is that the vets are pretty good.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 9:17 AM
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61: That's not what I'm doing and I think you fucking know that.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 9:19 AM
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64

In the SC case the guy was obviously pulled over for being black. At that point it's implausible to think that his blackness didn't also play a role in why the officer shot him.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 9:19 AM
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I know you aren't trying to do that, but I think that if black people acted around cops like white people do, the percentage of people shot by the cops that were black would be much higher than 33%.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 9:21 AM
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In the SC case the guy was obviously pulled over for being black.

And here's what I'm talking about. Go ahead, tell us how you know this.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 9:23 AM
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59: Are you relying on Moskos' stats, that you linked before, for the about a third of police shooting victims are black claim? Because I believe he was expressly using numbers for _justified_ shootings. I don't have data showing that shootings not shown to be justified are different, but that's the whole question.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 9:33 AM
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Dude, everybody who lives in a city with large black population knows that the cops bother black people more than white people, for the exact same behavior. Everybody.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 9:37 AM
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if black people acted around cops like white people do

Open carry activists are a miniscule percentage of police interactions. You can't look at that as how white people interact with cops, because it's not true. And you're very wrong if you think the typical open carry activist call presents like the typical call of a black suspect with a gun. Open carry activists are usually very careful to not point the gun at anyone and to be doing something totally normal and non threatening while carrying a gun. That's their game. The vast majority of calls involving a black suspect with a gun involve a crime. It's racism, but of the kind I alluded to in 59.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 9:41 AM
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Because I believe he was expressly using numbers for _justified_ shootings.

I don't remember either, but let's put it this way. Even if that's the case, do you think there's enough police shootings of black people being found "unjustified" to skew that number much?


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 9:43 AM
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Yes.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 9:44 AM
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67: Right. So far as I can tell no one actually tracks the number of police shootings in the US. The FBI depends on voluntary reporting by local police departments.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 9:44 AM
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If only there were some black people around whose opinions we could ask about this.


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 9:46 AM
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If you're working any kind of busy metro area PD you're going to robberies, fights and domestics with weapons, etc. on a regular basis. If you're doing that kind of work and never drawing a gun you're an idiot.

I think that when people talk about changing police culture this is actually what they're talking about. The idea that it's necessary to respond to a robbery, or people getting in fights, or whatever with a gun drawn isn't obvious at all. In the somewhat more fighty Great Britain police don't seem to feel the need to do this. I mean, yes, fewer guns there too. But plenty of knives and other deadly weapons.

These situations may still be more dangerous in the United States, because having a gun makes being a dumbass more dangerous and there are plenty of dumbasses. But at the same time the idea that any potentially dangerous situation requires waving a deadly weapon around just in case seems a bit exaggerated.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 9:47 AM
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70: I do remember, I'm just not going to find the link while I'm on my phone.

To the rest of your question, I don't know. I don't know what standards were used, I have no idea. But the absolute number and ethnic breakdown of unjustified shootings is a lot more interesting than how many there are as a percentage of justified shootings.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 9:48 AM
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68: People think they know a lot of things.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 9:48 AM
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Where I live, we just had a federal case about it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 9:51 AM
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But at the same time the idea that any potentially dangerous situation requires waving a deadly weapon around just in case seems a bit exaggerated.

Not what I said. This is America, and there's shit tons of guns around, and going on calls involving guns is a regular thing. Thinking that cops would spend twenty years on the job and never draw a gun is ridiculous.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 9:55 AM
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Here's the Moskos link: http://www.copinthehood.com/2014/08/race-and-justifiable-police-homicides_23.html?m=1 . His title is 'justified' but what he says his data is, is felons killed by police.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 9:56 AM
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79: So if they're felons, that only includes people who have been convicted of a previous crime, not even necessarily related to the incident at hand, right?


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 10:00 AM
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Where I live, we just had a federal case about it.

Just a few bad apples...


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 10:04 AM
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Right. It doesn't map onto 'justified' well at all, but it certainly doesn't count shootings, whether tragic mistakes or whatever, of anyone without a criminal record and not engaged in a crime. (Without following it up, I don't know if 'felon' includes 'related to the incident where he got shot' or if it's only prior record.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 10:07 AM
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Open carry activists are usually very careful to not point the gun at anyone and to be doing something totally normal and non threatening while carrying a gun.

Does not compute.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 10:11 AM
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No, something really non-threatening. Like wandering around a Wal-mart talking on the phone.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 10:16 AM
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There are a couple of disconnects of scale here.
1. Racism in law enforcement is only visible in the aggregate. No one can prove that a specific traffic stop was racially motivated. (And "visible in the aggregate" isn't even entirely true; it would be hard to disprove someone who insisted that black people are just more dangerous drivers or smoke more pot or whatever.) So it's hard to back up an assertion like 64.
2. The number of unjustified shootings required to make a statistically significant number (if anyone was keeping track of them) is vastly different than the number of unjustified shootings required for people to get upset.


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 10:17 AM
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77, see 81, which is what I'm getting at in 59. Josh thinks the problem is that there's just a ton of individual racists in the police force. The problem is that the members of the police force were given mandatory arrest requirements that were of course going to disproportionately target minorities. If you give me mandatory minimums on drug arrests, illegal guns, warrants served, etc. then I'm going to do that because I have kids and a mortgage. The cops aren't idiots, we know who's likely to have some weed or a gun or some warrants. If the lesson from stop and frisk you took was that cops are a bunch of racists then you're totally missing the point.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 10:23 AM
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White people don't get pulled over for seatbelt violations. Especially not for seatbelt violations when going 5 mph. There's tons and tons of data showing that cops pull over black people but not white people for infractions like this.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 10:27 AM
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For pot at least that's just not true. White people are just as likely to use pot. NYC didn't stop and frisk white people because there would be a backlash, not because drugs are less common on white people.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 10:30 AM
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Picking on black people because you can get away with it Is racist.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 10:33 AM
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Josh thinks the problem is that there's just a ton of individual racists in the police force.

No I don't, you dolt. Just like the problem at Abu Ghraib wasn't (primarily) that the individuals in charge of the prison were sadists; the fuckups come from much higher. But you put people under pressure (like giving them mandatory arrest quotas) and they'll end up reinforcing bad patterns, even if they wouldn't do so otherwise.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 10:36 AM
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87: You don't know what you're talking about.

http://www.nhtsa.gov/staticfiles/nti/pdf/811535.pdf


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 10:37 AM
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87: Maybe I can get you to email Lee, who doesn't think that's a good enough reason to wear a seatbelt, nor does she think safety is. Instead she just complains about the noise her seatbelt sensor makes. I think I've gotten her to do it by relating that the girls say "Mama doesn't wear a seatbelt until we're on the highway!" and guilting her into it, but despite being on opposite sides of the race/privilege divide, we have very different levels of comfort with risk.

Our county is one the ACLU is suing for the ridiculously disproportionate number of marijuana arrests of black versus white folks, something like 20 to 1. I suspect a lot of that has overlap with poverty and so I can't just compare how many of the girls' relatives have a marijuana arrest on their records versus all zero of my regular-pot-smoker white neighbors. I've already ranted about felons here being people who are $1500 behind on child support, and I don't think the governor does much to reinstate their voting rights after that sort of infraction though he's the only one who can.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 10:38 AM
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White people are just as likely to use pot.

White people are not as likely to be carrying it around in their pocket, or have a suspended driver's license that's going to get me into that car to search it for impound, or have traffic warrants that will get me a search incident to arrest to find those drugs.

90: I misread you and I apologize.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 10:40 AM
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92: The data won't help you. That NHTSA study says 90 percent of the seatbelt tickets in KY go to white people.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 10:45 AM
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94: In a state that's only 88.5% white! I actually assume drivers are much more white than the state average, for a lot of reasons, but I don't know anyone of any race who's actually been stopped for a seatbelt violation here. I don't actually use racist stops as a part of that argument for her, but just don't understand being an adult and not just wearing a fucking seat belt especially with children in the car. (But, right, she would like me better if I weren't me and I would like her better if I weren't her, and I should stop thinking I'm morally superior because I want her to change the parts that also break laws.)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 10:48 AM
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93.2: no worries.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 10:48 AM
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93 is interesting. I had not realized how much racial disparity in traffic stops could lead to racial disparity in drug arrests.


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 10:58 AM
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Also, the self-fulfilling prophecy aspect of racial disparity in enforcement; if you're black, you're more likely to have a record already, more likely to have warrants, and so on, all of which supports the reasonableness of any future encounter with the police.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 11:05 AM
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97: So, in some ways, isn't this sort of like--and I'm stealing a phrase that I know I heard here before but forget who originated it, sorry--racism laundering? A racist cop who's can introduce black people into a system (often for things that are spottily enforced in general) that then makes it reasonable (for some definition of reasonable) for non-racist cops to apply greater scrutiny to them.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 11:08 AM
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I had not realized how much racial disparity in traffic stops could lead to racial disparity in drug arrests.

Gswift has effectively admitted as much. (I hasten to add that no imprecation of racism is intended.)


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 11:10 AM
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that earlier piece by Balko about how St. Louis county municipalities profit from "poverty violations" suggests that you have to think about structural and individual racism (two shitty tastes that taste really shitty together?):

"The town of Berkeley, for example, has unusually high black political participation. For about a century, there was a historically black enclave in northwest St. Louis County called Kinloch....Currently, Berkeley has an all-black city council, a black mayor, a black city manager, and majority-black police force. If any town could overcome the legacy of structural racism that drew the map of St. Louis County, then, it would be Berkeley. And yet this town of 9,000 people still issued 10,452 traffic citations last year, and another 1,271 non-traffic ordinance violations. The town's municipal court raised over $1 million in fines and fees, or about $111 per resident. The town issued 5,504 arrest warrants last year, and has another 13,436 arrest warrants outstanding. Those are modest numbers for St. Louis County, but they're high for just about anywhere else."


Posted by: (damnit jim I'm a) lurker | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 12:05 PM
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that earlier piece by Balko about how St. Louis county municipalities profit from "poverty violations" suggests that you have to think about structural and individual racism (two shitty tastes that taste really shitty together?):

"The town of Berkeley, for example, has unusually high black political participation. For about a century, there was a historically black enclave in northwest St. Louis County called Kinloch....Currently, Berkeley has an all-black city council, a black mayor, a black city manager, and majority-black police force. If any town could overcome the legacy of structural racism that drew the map of St. Louis County, then, it would be Berkeley. And yet this town of 9,000 people still issued 10,452 traffic citations last year, and another 1,271 non-traffic ordinance violations. The town's municipal court raised over $1 million in fines and fees, or about $111 per resident. The town issued 5,504 arrest warrants last year, and has another 13,436 arrest warrants outstanding. Those are modest numbers for St. Louis County, but they're high for just about anywhere else."


Posted by: (damnit jim I'm a) lurker | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 12:05 PM
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And will Balko be advocating for higher taxes to properly fund these municipal services and cut the reliance on citation revenue or is he immersed in an anti tax ideology that is largely responsible for this shitty state of affairs? Fuck that guy.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 12:23 PM
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Thanks, dammit jim, for pointing again to this. Structural reform is needed not just in police training but in the funding mechanisms for these counties.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 12:24 PM
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103 asks a good question. I'll poke around to see how he proposes to address the situation. The guy's prolific, so this takes some time.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 12:32 PM
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Simmer down, everyone, the true root of all problems around policing has now been identified.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 12:56 PM
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Eh, I got nothing. Granted, I'm not on the twitter.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 12:57 PM
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103 is rhetorical, right? I do think he's right about some of his hobbyhorses, but the dude is still a libertarian.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 1:02 PM
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108: Right. We're talking a guy who's been a policy analyst at Cato and an editor at Reason.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 1:11 PM
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I think he wants St. Louis County to stop having micro-municipalities. That would spread the wealth, however much of it there is.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 1:17 PM
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Just to note, we're living in the calm before the storm.

"I know someone sitting on the grand jury," the Twitter message said. "There isn't enough at this point to warrant an arrest."

Maybe not a surprise to us, but when that non-indictment is announced...


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 7:44 PM
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110: Getting rid of the micro-communities, good. Following that trend to the usual conclusion of city-county merging, probably not so good. (At least, I sure don't want it to happen here.)


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 7:49 PM
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Canadian cops too these days will shoot you eight times, or taser you to death, or shoot you eight times and *then* taser you, if you're acting weirdly and carrying anything scarier than an emery board. And it doesn't seem to be particularly racial (not consistently white on black, anyway), and we allegedly don't have as much hard-core gun nuttery here. So it really looks like something has gone wrong with police training or police culture across the board, with the assumption now being that cops should not be asked to assume any personal risk whatsoever. So if the crazy guy has a stapler or a pocket knife or something, or for whatever reason makes you nervous, then it's ok to just keep your distance and use as much force you see fit.


Posted by: millicent friendly | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 8:11 PM
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Maybe not a surprise to us, but when that non-indictment is announced...

Shit's gonna burn, regardless of what actually comes out in that investigation. Oh well.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 8:34 PM
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should not be asked to assume any personal risk whatsoever

I think of this as reaching much, much farther in our society than first responders. That's where we notice it and some of its baleful consequences, but not unique to them. And to think training or selection will cure it in this culture, against the tide, seems hopeless to me.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 8:34 PM
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Shit's gonna burn

And the political consequences will go against what we want, everywhere.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 8:37 PM
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113 is talking about the Sammy Yatim shooting and is leaving out some key points like how there was a whole group of cops there, only one of them fired his weapon, it was clearly a bad shoot, and the cop got charged with murder.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 8:47 PM
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117 is fair enough, but that doesn't mean the Yatim case was a one-off: here are three more just like it:

http://www.thestar.com/news/crime/2014/02/12/police_shootings_inquest_rules_deaths_as_homicides.html

and the locus classicus:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Dziekański_Taser_incident

I think idp is right, it's a symptom of a broader cultural anxiety attack over the very idea of physical risk. I mean, ye olde New York cop of the fiction I read would just walk up to the crazy person with scissors and say, 'Calm down, son', or at most cuff him on the ear. But that requires a level of confidence and comfort with risk that doesn't seem to be common, or even allowed, any more. Instead, the cops are apparently trained to stand 20 feet back en masse, guns pointed, and scream 'Drop Your Weapon!' over and over until the increasingly agitated crazy person makes some sudden motion and gets shot.


Posted by: millicent friendly | Link to this comment | 10- 2-14 8:53 AM
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You have a dead unarmed person, the only reason you wouldn't get an indictment is because you don't want one.


Posted by: Asteele | Link to this comment | 10- 2-14 10:26 AM
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115. "I think of this as reaching much, much farther in our society than first responders."

The increasingly closed-in and supervised lives of children come to mind in this regard.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 10- 2-14 11:04 AM
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here are three more just like it:

Alternate theory, holy fucking shit they are not. This one in particular.

http://bcove.me/a4i50krf

I mean, ye olde New York cop of the fiction I read

Guess what the relevant word in that blurb is.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10- 2-14 11:09 AM
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'York'?


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 10- 2-14 11:10 AM
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121.1: when you have a video of the deceased, holding a large knife at eye level, running to within about six feet of the frantically-backing-away policeman, I think that might be a sign that this is maybe not the best example of excessive force, where "calm down" and at most a cuff on the ear would have done the trick.
Note that the verdict was homicide as in "yes, someone else killed this person". Not as in "murder".


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 10- 2-14 11:21 AM
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Right? It's an almost cartoonish crazy person with a knife. Without the article I might wonder if that was a training video with actors.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10- 2-14 11:42 AM
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