Re: 3C

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All poor countries have huge slums nowadays where the police have no control or at least function as just another gang. Sort of a permanent warzone situation. That's what it means when we hear the "More than half of people on earth now live in urban areas" story.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 7:42 AM
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The guy who had his free suit designed in Bloods red? Awesome.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 7:45 AM
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Yeah, this kind of thing is fairly characteristic of areas where the state has lost its grip and a criminal gang or other unrecognized group (a clan, a militia, a religious cult) affectively acts as local government. The monopoly of violence has been lost.

And also in areas where the government controls the population by intimidation (which is sometimes subcontracted to semi-official groups), e.g. El Salvador for about a decade.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 7:48 AM
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even in poor and apparently backward countries, people just aren't wondering if they're going to be shot when they leave the house.

Or so the mullahs would have you believe. Good joke, though.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 7:52 AM
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If you're going to abuse me, people, at least cite some places where a) there isn't a war but b) people live with the fear of being victims of random violence. I don't think there are as many places as you say, but I've been wrong before. South Africa comes to mind as one example. Others?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 8:28 AM
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5: Brazil, for one.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 8:32 AM
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b) people live with the fear of being victims of random violence.

What's random about "it's clear that plenty of people want to talk, but are afraid"?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 8:39 AM
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South Africa, Brazil, large swaths of Central America, Nuevo Laredo (although that last one might qualified as an armed rebellion, if you're so inclined). The list is depressingly long in this hemisphere, alone.


Posted by: mike d | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 8:44 AM
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Also, let me express my disappointment that there hasn't been a discussion of the ultimate nexus of Unfogged topics - this weekend's This American Life piece on trolley problems.


Posted by: mike d | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 8:48 AM
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7: Presumably that's exactly what Ogged meant in the post--even in backward countries, people aren't worried about getting shot when they walk outside [unlike in some poor neighborhoods in the U.S., which is seriously fucked up].

It seems obvious to me that the root problem is inadequate police protection/presence. (Aside from the other root problems like the total poverty that helps support gang culture, blah blah.) PK was curious about the story (b/c of the picture of the little girl) and he asked what the mayor said to the family when he went to the courthouse with them--if he told them he was very sorry the girl had been shot. I told him what the article said, and he was angry that apparently no one in that town has any manners.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 8:50 AM
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Hell, I'm listening to the podcast now, Mike. I had to fast forward through the trolley bit; I'm just sick of the Josh Greene stuff.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 8:51 AM
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If I keep up with the "reductive wisdom of small children" anecdotes, maybe I can get a column in a conservative paper or something.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 8:51 AM
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re: 10

I don't know if it's as simple as that. The police can't watch over you all the time. If you live in that kind of area, they will get you for snitching if you are known to have snitched.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 8:53 AM
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Ciudad Juarez


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 8:54 AM
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Presumably that's exactly what Ogged meant in the post

To what does "that" refer? The linked story is not about random violence, but about people's fear of violent reprisals from gangs. I suspect that, for a broad definition of "gang," such is as likely to be the norm as not in most of the world.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 8:55 AM
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I totally forgot about Ciudad Juarez, although I think that's a different societal failure than the one we're talking about - there the women are being profiled.

And Labs, I can't speak to Josh Greene, but the presentation of the segment (with its overly cute sound effects) is grating enough.


Posted by: mike d | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 8:57 AM
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Hey weird -- what happened to the post at the top of the page about the rosy-toed one's mysterious current abode?


Posted by: Clownaesthesiologist | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 8:57 AM
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13: Well yeah, which is part of the parenthetical about (other root causes). Still, though, it seems like if you've got what is basically (as Ogged points out) a war zone in a given neighborhood, you'd need to pretty much have cops stationed, permanently, on every corner. And why *can't* the cops watch over someone all the time? Isn't that what witness protection is for?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 8:57 AM
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It's definitely not as simple as that. A police force only works as an adjunct to a community with functioning relationships/bonds of social trust. A heavy police presence -- even up to the total militarization of a neighborhood -- by itself will not keep people safe.

It's the difference between a poor neighborhood with decent amount of pedestrian traffic, some long-term homeowners, a still-functional block captain system, etc. and one with nobody on the street who doesn't have a very good reason, no long-term residents, and no social or community associations. The latter is going to feel -- and BE -- much more unsafe.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 8:57 AM
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The girl was shot riding her bike near her home: random violence. There's also the fear or reprisal. But y'all are right that this happens elsewhere, and I even knew about Brazil, etc. Still, it seems so outrageous that there are places in America like this.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 8:58 AM
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it seems so outrageous that there are places in America like this.

Also, that in the last 30 years highways have increasingly allowed drivers to bypass areas so that it is possible (for example) to drive from suburb to central business district, or from city to city, and not even have to drive through these neighborhoods. They are effectively invisible.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 9:00 AM
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15: "That" referred to this--"it's clear that plenty of people want to talk, but are afraid"?

The linked story is not about random violence, but about people's fear of violent reprisals from gangs.

If they testify about random violence, yes. And being afraid of being shot when you walk out the door--whether b/c you've testified or just b/c you get caught in some random gang violence--is, essentially, living with fear of random violence, yes.

Why do you suspect that that kind of fear is the norm in most of the world? I agree with Ogged--I don't think it is, except in places where there's civil war and/or huge organized crime problems (neither of which is as uncommon as it ought to be, admittedly).


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 9:01 AM
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I feel like one of the defining features of modern America (not sure exactly how modern - postwar? later?) is the widespread tolerance of third-world conditions in our own country.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 9:02 AM
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19: What do you mean, "no long-term residents"? Surely there are long-term residents *even* in poor neighborhoods with huge organized crime problems. And *obviously* there are people on the street "without good reason"--there were kids playing, which is how the little girl got shot.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 9:03 AM
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How afraid are people about the random violence, as opposed to the fear of reprisal? It seems like the random violence is generally rare; most of the fear of reprisal is connected to snitching on non-random, inter-gang violence.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 9:04 AM
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If they testify about random violence, yes. And being afraid of being shot when you walk out the door--whether b/c you've testified or just b/c you get caught in some random gang violence--is, essentially, living with fear of random violence, yes.

If you know why you're being intentionally shot--because you've testified--calling it "random" is a stretch. At a minimum, if people perceive it as random, it isn't going to have much effect on their decision whether or not to testify.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 9:05 AM
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Agree with 23. Especially the kind of blase "well, what do you expect?" or "I'm sure this kind of thing happens everywhere" comments. IMHO.

And with that little throw-down, I'm off! To take my kid to TKD day camp! In our functioning, upper-middle-class neighborhood where children *need* TKD as a form of self-defense! Not!


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 9:07 AM
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I feel like one of the defining features of modern America (not sure exactly how modern - postwar? later?) is the widespread tolerance of third-world conditions in our own country.

It's not clear to me that this doesn't slightly misdescribe the situation. My understanding--which may well be faulty--is that prior to WWII, you had the Great Depression, during (and even prior to) which time many, many people lived in conditions that would now be considered third-world. Didn't FDR make his bones with rural folk in part by giving them electricity, etc.? And I think that Dean Rusk might have grown up, at least when young, going to school without shoes.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 9:09 AM
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Except to say that if you're afraid of being shot for testifying in a court of law, that's pretty damn random as far as I'm concerned. We live in a country with a system of laws and police, etc. We think of ourselves as not having to fear being *shot* for participating in the system as responsible citizens.

Or, most of us do.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 9:09 AM
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Better to instruct your child in TMK.


Posted by: Clownaesthesiologist | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 9:10 AM
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30 -> 27.


Posted by: Clownaesthesiologist | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 9:10 AM
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To take my kid to TKD day camp!

Funny, that's where mine are. After a week on the beach at their grandmother's place, man oh man do they look blonde.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 9:11 AM
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man oh man do they look blonde

I was just noticing that about half the hairs on my arms and legs are blonde. It's like the sun radiates some kind of weird energy.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 9:16 AM
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What do you mean, "no long-term residents"? Surely there are long-term residents *even* in poor neighborhoods with huge organized crime problems.

Ah, well, in my experience that's true in some cases and not in others. Some poor neighborhoods have extremely transient populations -- because as soon as anyone has an option they move out; because they are zoned for SRO or have become unofficial squatters' havens; because the literal geography of the neighborhood (prone to flooding, near a noisy airport, etc.) makes it physically difficult to live their year-round....

And *obviously* there are people on the street "without good reason"--there were kids playing, which is how the little girl got shot.

I think we're at cross purposes. I'm saying that when people are afraid they don't go out on to the street without good reason. In other words, they'll go out to go to work, to wait for a bus, to get to a doctor's appointment. But they will be much less likely to sit on their front porches or stoops, chitchat with neighbors, linger on their way home from the corner market, go shopping or anywhere after dark, etc. And definitely less likely to encourage their young children to play outside.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 9:16 AM
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No VBS for PK, B?

l8r,
NCP


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 9:16 AM
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their = there


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 9:17 AM
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Put it this way, where I was growing up, I'd have been very very wary of being known to have snitched on someone.

Luckily, the police aren't dumb. A couple of times I phoned because serious things were kicking off in our street and the police were quite careful about not revealing who had phoned. To the extent that they came to my back door, quietly, to talk about something, rather than coming to the front where they'd be seen.

The witness protection model is useless in these situations. We're talking endemic violence, not one-off incidents where witness protection can be justified. Basically, if you testify and you don't move or you don't have serious heavy friends of your own, you're fucked.

That's not to say that the law enforcement process can't be better managed, and there's not enough being done to prevent violence in poor areas.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 9:17 AM
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It's like the sun radiates some kind of weird energy.

That's crazy talk, says the woman who spent last night dousing her daughter's back with aloe so she could sleep.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 9:17 AM
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37: I was wondering if you were going to chime in on this -- my impression of poor bits of Scotland is movies and Ian Rankin novels driven, so probably not all that accurate, but that's what I would have thought.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 9:19 AM
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And why *can't* the cops watch over someone all the time? Isn't that what witness protection is for?

Sort of. But the charter of the police generally isn't to prevent crime but to catch it once it's happened.

ogged's nuts. Plenty of cities have places where the police fear to tread. What he should say is that we often think of lawless places as a problem in some developing place abroad, not in our own backyard, and really, we should not be so dumb.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 9:24 AM
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Of course, the no-snitch thing is dependent on circumstance, I am sure. Certainly, where I was from, if someone stole your car, there'd have been absolutely no problem in phoning the police.

But, if you knew who it was that beat Wee Mark up because Wee Mark owed someone for the 50 quid worth of speed he got on tick from Stuartie ... you'd keep your mouth shut.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 9:25 AM
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What he should say is that we often think of lawless places as a problem in some developing place abroad, not in our own backyard, and really, we should not be so dumb.

Fair enough, Bridezilla.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 9:25 AM
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my impression of poor bits of Scotland is movies and Ian Rankin novels driven

I'm so totally the same. (I think I admitted as much once.)


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 9:27 AM
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If you add Gregory's Girl and 80s indie music into the mix, you know everything you need to know about the place!


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 9:30 AM
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While it's easy to be a little bit white-dirty-hippie on this topic, I will none-the-less point out that more policing won't help unless it's also better policing. That is, in the sometimes-turbulent neighborhood where I live, the police are often part of the problem. I will reiterate that I have two separate friends who on two different occasions saw two different unarmed black male schizophrenics shot to death by the cops, essentially so that the cops wouldn't have the nuisance of dealing with them. There was a murder next door to where I lived a few years ago and the body was left uncovered on the street all night in the rain even after the cops had been called.

And that's just the theatrical stuff--it's not the routine harassment, the disproportionate consequences, the bad domestic violence policies, the "let's hassle the high school kids while leaving the crack house alone"...People often don't trust the cops because the cops aren't trustworthy, and that tends to interfere with effective policing.

(I don't call the cops, for example, because if something of mine is stolen or destroyed I know they can't do anything; and if I see something happening on the street I have to ask myself: "Is this worth the risk that the cops will cripple or kill someone, or that someone will get deported back to Somalia?" It has to be pretty damn bad before I will call the cops.)


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 9:37 AM
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I will reiterate that I have two separate friends who on two different occasions saw two different unarmed black male schizophrenics shot to death by the cops, essentially so that the cops wouldn't have the nuisance of dealing with them.

I deeply distrust your friends' perceptions, if that's the motivation they read.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 9:46 AM
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46 gets it wrong.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 9:51 AM
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No, I'm pretty sure about how I feel.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 9:53 AM
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You can't say that until you actually talk to these friends about their perception.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 9:54 AM
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Why? I'm assuming those perceptions in the "if" clause, right?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 10:01 AM
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Plenty of cities have places where the police fear to tread.

In the U.S.? I dispute this claim.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 10:06 AM
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re: 52

Really? I'll bet there are places they prefer not to go except in numbers.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 10:16 AM
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Plenty of cities have places where the police fear to tread.

Seconded.

Also, FWIW, there are some clinicians who have put extensive effort into figuring out how to educate the police about how to deal with unarmed people who have mental illness. Despite the fact that curricula have been developed, training sessions have been held, and special mental-illness response teams have been created, police have a lot of competing demands on them and the knowledge about how to defuse these situations is very poorly distributed.

It is still very dangerous to be poor, of color, and mentally ill. For example:
an Amtrak police officer shot and killed a man who police say was threatening police and other people with a chair (Source).

Note that this was a chair.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 10:21 AM
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My understanding--which may well be faulty--is that prior to WWII, you had the Great Depression, during (and even prior to) which time many, many people lived in conditions that would now be considered third-world.

Have a look at this interesting chart.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 10:24 AM
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54: Although I totally agree that that chart is stunning, it doesn't actually address the question of whether people lived in 3rd world conditions back then or not.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 10:27 AM
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46: Let me tell you about the most recent one--and this was seen from start to finish by friends who are liberal but by no means left-wing, and who certainly are not into politics.

It was night time. There was a small black man who was roaming up and down outside some houses on a residential street in near south Minneapolis. He was making noise and had been kicking things or throwing rocks. Someone (I don't know who) called the police. The man's sister was out there when the police arrived and begged them not to hurt him. He picked up a rock (it may have been a big rock, for all I know) and there was a barrage of shots and he was dead.

One of my friends, in shock, (and I emphasize that these are not my political friends; they don't have any theory about this stuff) ran up to the cops and started saying that this was fucked up and that they had killed him. They put her in a squad car for three hours to "straighten out her story".

Now, I'm not sure what the motives of the police were in this instance, but I cannot imagine a situation where a group of large, strong, sane men couldn't take down one small crazy guy who had a rock. And in fact, I always thought that it was the job of the cops to take risks, not to just blow people away because they had, OMG, a rock.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 10:29 AM
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It is interesting, but I'm not sure it goes to my sense. 90% of the population is a big one, and distribution within that group might be the issue, no? I would think, at a minimum, you'd want to look at share of income of the lowest 10% over time, and probably access to governmental (and certain kinds of non-governmental) goods and services--roads, electricity, healthcare, etc.--as well.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 10:30 AM
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That graph is pretty fucking amazing [assuming accuracy of numbers, etc].


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 10:30 AM
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45:

I find it hard to believe that a police officer would say out loud within the hearing of a civilian, "Gee, I don't want to have to haul this nutjob to the loony bin because it's the end of my shift and I just want to go home to the Lazy Boy and watch some WWE, so I'll just kill him instead. Oh, and all that paperwork I have to file when I discharge my weapon on the job for any reason? And the internal investigation that ensues after any application of lethal force by a law enforcement officer? Those are just urban legends we spread to keep the ACLU quiet. We shoot people all the time and get home in time for Smackdown."

Even if you believe that this happened (twice!), what are the odds that a law enforcement officer who would shoot an unarmed person just for convenience would leave your friends alive?

Seriously, I know that police officers can and do sometimes use lethal force in inappropriate circumstances, and there should be severe consequences for such actions -- including criminal prosecution. But the accounts of your friends don't make much sense to me. Just sayin.

Having said all that, yes, smarter policing is the answer, not just more policing. The only way to break down the barriers illustrated by this incident is to begin to build trust between communities and their law enforcement officers. Stories like the ones you're peddling here don't make that any easier.

And as to 53, ack, that sounds awful. I love me some law enforcement, but we really ought to be able to ask them to get hit by a chair without shooting someone. Unless the chair was lined with poisonous razor blades or something.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 10:31 AM
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56: That version of events is far different from the one in your original post.

BTW, are you talking about the Dominic Felder shooting last September?


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 10:36 AM
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New York had a crazy guy (white, though) with a hammer get blown away five years or so ago. Whatever happened to "Stand there and wait till he calms down?"


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 10:37 AM
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That's training, not a desire to make it home in time for American Idol.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 10:40 AM
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That version of events is far different from the one in your original post.

Can I state my general annoyance with this mode of argumentation? Unless you're talking about the kind of flat self-contradiction that makes discussion impossible, saying "OMG, I caught you in an inconsistency" doesn't say anything about anyone's credibility.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 10:40 AM
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Austin has had a series of over-enthusiastic police cases in the recent past. There was one case where the cops showed up at a park where gay men are known to hook-up and some guy took off running, and they shot him twice in the back.

This isn't really in response to anything in particular. I'm just sharing.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 10:41 AM
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Without judging the veracity of any given story, the willingness of cops to use force, whether it's a taser or choke hold or a gun, in the stuff I see online is pretty disturbing. Sometimes the cops are just obviously making the situation worse and I think SCMT is right that it has to do with their training.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 10:42 AM
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I'd like to see a chart showing the lowest 80%, too, but I don't have time to look for one now.

Heebie, my point is not that people were or were not living in third world conditions back then, but that in some ways current economic conditions more closely resemble the twenties than, say, the sixties. My personal opinion is that the US is on the road to replicating a third world economy, in that wealth is concentrating in a thin upper slice of the population while the middle class is eroding. Notice the slide begins with Reagan's tax cuts and accelerates with Bush's. All we need now is to do away with inheritance taxes and and mortgage deductions. It's fun to be a peasant. Morris dancing!


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 10:42 AM
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61: I thought that the NYC hammer guy hit one of the officers?


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 10:43 AM
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Ah, right. Right, the chart illustrates your point nicely then.

But can't the peasants eat cake?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 10:43 AM
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63: Um, in Frowner's original post, he said that his friends claimed that officers shot two mentally ill people "essentially so that the cops wouldn't have the nuisance of dealing with them." In his follow-up, he doesn't make any such claim. I'd posted a lengthy reply about why the first version didn't make any sense, and felt that I had to address the fact that, well, the versions had changed remarkably.

It wasn't a statement about his credibility.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 10:47 AM
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68: Maybe pie.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 10:47 AM
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Frowner: But I'm a girl!
NCProsecuter: That's the spirit!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 10:48 AM
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That's training, not a desire to make it home in time for American Idol.

It's both. If your experience of the system is that arresting a mentally ill person is going to get you 6+ hours of sitting around processing an involuntary commitment, plus numerous court appearances, plus lots of contact with unpleasant bodily fluids, plus some very angry family members of the person in question (who may not see another cycle of commitment as the solution for their loved one), plus plus plus....

People's quick reactions stem from their assessment of a situation. Their assessment is based on what they think is likely to happen next. Nobody could reasonably think a guy with a chair in a public, very busy train station (do you know 30th Street? It's Amtrak's major station in Philadelphia, well-lit with a high ceiling and lots of little cafe tables and chairs in the area where the shooting happened) is going to be an immediate harm even to himself, much less others. So the fact that the "quick reaction" was to shoot him -- well, that kind of reaction is in part "trained" into police by their own assumptions and previous experiences.

Police have an extremely difficult, often very unpleasant job. But it isn't necessary to assume nefarious motives to understand that they may make ultimately fatal decisions based in part on the nuisance factor.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 10:48 AM
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Unless you're talking about the kind of flat self-contradiction that makes discussion impossible, saying "OMG, I caught you in an inconsistency" doesn't say anything about anyone's credibility.

It's not a claim about credibility, as I read it. It's a claim that our responses don't match up very well with her second description because the second description doesn't match up very well with the first.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 10:48 AM
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65: And the fact that, while there are units (within larger police forces, anyway) specially trained to deal with mentally ill people, they very seldom get to the scene in time to do any good.

But yes, training is a big problem.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 10:49 AM
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re: 70

Those are clearly bowls of soup.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 10:50 AM
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Shorter 71: NCProsecutor is a sexist pig.

Seriously, sorry, Frowner!


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 10:50 AM
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67: Might have. But if a crazy guy hits you with a hammer, in a non-surprise situation, it's because you didn't have the sense to stay more than a yard away from him until you'd talked him into putting the hammer down. If you stand there for six hours, rather than shooting the guy, that's your job.

A lot of these 'Cop shooting unarmed or lightly armed nutbar' situations follow what looks like the same pattern, that also looks like bad training -- cop unnecessarily puts himself in position where crazy might hurt him, and then blows crazy away in 'self-defense', that wouldn't have been necessary at all if the cop had been patient.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 10:51 AM
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then blows crazy away in 'self-defense', that wouldn't have been necessary at all if the cop had been patient

Exactly right.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 10:55 AM
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Um, in Frowner's original post, he said that his friends claimed that officers shot two mentally ill people "essentially so that the cops wouldn't have the nuisance of dealing with them." In his follow-up, he doesn't make any such claim

Huh. That seems like a perfectly fair description of the full story: waiting around for the guy to calm down enough to be subdued, and then processing him, would have been a huge hassle. So they shot him. Are you just arguing with the fact that there's no claim that the cops explicitly stated their motivation?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 10:55 AM
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78: Agreed. But what if crazy guy makes a break for it?


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 10:55 AM
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79: Please see my 59 as to why this makes no sense at all.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 10:56 AM
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re: 80

Chase him, or let him go?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 10:56 AM
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what if crazy guy makes a break for it?

Then you chase him, tackle him, maybe tase him.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 10:57 AM
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79: This ignores that shooting him in and of itself is a huge hassle, and will keep them from getting home for American Idol.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 10:57 AM
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That seems like a perfectly fair description of the full story: waiting around for the guy to calm down enough to be subdued, and then processing him, would have been a huge hassle. So they shot him. Are you just arguing with the fact that there's no claim that the cops explicitly stated their motivation?

Are you kidding me?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 10:57 AM
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83: Yeah, I've often wished more officers carried tasers, and for just this sort of situation. Of course, tasers can also be problematic.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 10:59 AM
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84 makes an obvious (and good) point.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:00 AM
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tasers can also be problematic

Yeah, no kidding. One Arizona paper is keeping a tally of the people killed by tasers, and it's around 150 now. Not to mention that cops use them in situations where other options are clearly available. Still, better tased than shot.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:01 AM
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The thing is, though, it's a different sort of hassle. Hanging around all day -- maybe backing down or running away a little if the guy lunges at you -- and then getting a mentally ill person admitted someplace while their family bitches at you, is nothing but a drag. Firing your weapon at a dangerous individual is exciting, and lets you stand your ground, and you get to feel all persecuted if anyone gets mad about it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:02 AM
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Those are clearly bowls of soup.

Then that guy in the red hat is about to pour soup all over the table. And his fellow peasants are going to beat him to death for wasting good soup.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:02 AM
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And I am a girl. Maybe a bit gender-incorrect, but still a girl.

See, I think that cops don't want to deal with this stuff. Not on a consciously-articulated, "I'd rather kill some guy than miss my TV show" way, but I've seen (for a white middle class person) so many situations where the choice is between a protracted, low-risk confrontation and shooting or hurting someone, and the police have chosen almost every time that I've seen to shoot or hurt. It's quicker, it's surer, it has less physical risk, and there's almost no possibility of being disciplined for it.

Now, I'm in crappy neighborhood with crappy, corrupt police presence. I know that this isn't the way things work in richer, whiter neighborhoods--that's the whole point. When my sainted relative had a bipolar episode where she actually, right in front of me, threatened a police officer, the police acted with a lot of patience. Of course, they were in an upper-middle class white condo, dealing with an upper-middle class white woman and her family. But the thing is, if my relative had been a poor black woman threatening a cop while she was off her head, she'd be dead. Just like that guy. Instead, she got to go to the hospital and got better and lived long enough to go to the theater and the art museum a few more times.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:03 AM
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Are you kidding me?

Tim, can you explain your underlying assumptions here? (Mine are mostly outlined above, and I'm assuming Frowner and LB are more or less coming from the same perspective.)

I'm trying to understand whether your thinking is more: "The police must have chosen to shoot him because they were untrained and scared" or "The police, acting on the information they had in front of them, made a reasonable judgment that this person was a danger to others and shot him". Or maybe it's something else entirely...?


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:04 AM
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Whoops, italics missing on Are you kidding me?


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:04 AM
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Frowner, I'm in general agreement with your point about the willingness of cops to use force and of unequal treatment, but there just aren't as many police shootings as your telling might lead one to believe. Based on your descriptions, I'd guess that there must be around 20 police shootings a year in the Twin Cities, but a quick google suggests that it's more like 3-5.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:06 AM
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89: I'm not talking about standing around. I'm talking about the ass-reaming you get from internal affairs for shooting an unarmed person. I'm talking about the mountain of unfun paperwork you have to fill out for ANY discharge of your service weapon. I'm talking about having your picture in the paper for a not good reason, maybe being indicted, and maybe being sued by the victim's family.

Now THAT'S a hassle.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:06 AM
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Firing your weapon at a dangerous individual is exciting, and lets you stand your ground, and you get to feel all persecuted if anyone gets mad about it.

LB, this seems unwarranted and uncharitable. And, as several people have pointed out, there's at least a ton of paperwork and the threat of all sorts of more burdensome sanctions.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:06 AM
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91: The incident you described in detail -- was that the Dominic Felder shooting last September?


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:07 AM
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I'm trying to understand whether your thinking is more: "The police must have chosen to shoot him because they were untrained and scared"

This.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:08 AM
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91: Yeah, I don't have much of any direct experience of confrontations with police (mostly just as a teenager hanging around with a bunch of other teenagers late at night trying to look tough, being the officially designated go-over-to-the-cop-and-make-it-clear-that-we're-harmless person), but this is very much what I meant in 89.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:09 AM
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re: 90

There are also some people merrily tucking into what clearly looks like soup, with bowl tilted, eating it with a spoon. Maybe Brueghel is just a crappy food-painter. Although googling, the painting is described as containing people eating soup.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:09 AM
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I can't figure out whether LB is joking in 89 or genuinely holds that low an opinion of law enforecement personnel. Do you know any cops, LB?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:09 AM
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There's widely held (outside the States) to be a cultural problem with Dirty Harry mentalities in US law enforcement, which looking at some of the stories that come out of the States I can sort of believe. (OTOH, it may be more a large-metropolitan-area thing; Toronto cops are absolutely notorious for just the kind of shit that Frowner describes.)


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:10 AM
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96: It may be uncharitable, but I can't come up with a charitable explanation of why several policemen couldn't get a hammer away from a mentally ill man without killing him. The only psychologically coherent explanations I can come up with rely on impatience and unwillingness to retreat.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:11 AM
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94: Well, the thing is that they're disproportionately located--that's why my friends and I have seen so many bad situations. If you have 3-5 police shootings per year, and the victims are disproportionately black and poor (and, I would argue, crazy--since about 1999, I can think of five people shot to death in MPLS by the cops who were crazy and (in all but once case) unarmed), people get kind of irritated. (Oh, and don't forget to include our fair sister city, St. Paul, in your researches.)

And then, if you have a couple of shootings and some beatings and someone dies in custody, all in 12 months, all happening to poor people of color, that too makes people crabby. Plus all the stuff that doesn't make the media because it's small but harmful.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:12 AM
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I saw an interview once with a British police officer. They were talking about how he doesn't carry a gun, and how does he cope, etc, and the police officer said, "Control the man's thumbs; control the man."

(You can get a lot of mileage out of that statement. I like to use it as much as possible. I also like my friend's dad's statement, "An open coat is no coat at all.")


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:14 AM
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101: Do you know any cops, LB?

Do you? And if you do, why should the prospect of law enforcement attracting some gung ho assholes be so foreign? Most cops would not feel the need to deny that it happens.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:15 AM
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103: What about fear? Youth? Inexperience? Adrenaline? I'm not saying that any of these excuses the killing of an unarmed man. I'm just saying that they may help explain it in a way that makes more logical sense than what you've described.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:15 AM
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Frowner: earlier, were you describing the Dominic Felder shooting in September 2006? Because if you were, well, let's just say there's more to the story.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:17 AM
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101: The thing is, 19 out of 20 cops can be saints walking this earth, and that still leaves plenty to be a systemic problem. I don't think I have a low opinion of cops generally -- I don't meet someone and think "Ah, you're a policeman. Must be a violent moron." But I do think there are enough incidents in which the police appear to act in a manner marked by thoughtless use of violence and unwillingness to ameliorate a situation that it's a problem for police forces generally.

(Remember the Patrick Dorismond case? Undercover cop repeatedly hassles innocent securty guard to sell him drugs. Security guard refuses, repeatedly. Security guard gets mad, punches cop. Cop's partner blows security guard away. The cop couldn't have apologized, or run?)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:17 AM
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re: 105

British cops don't have a particularly good record on this one either. While it's true that most cops don't carry guns here, there are armed response units on call in most larger towns and cities. Those armed response units have been known to shoot people in just these sorts of circumstances.

What you need to deal with the mentally ill* is a couple of middle-aged nurses who've spent twenty years working in an acute admissions unit at a psychiatric hospital.

* semi-serious, here


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:19 AM
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107: Youth and inexperience aren't reasons to shoot someone. At all.

Personal fear justifies flight, not homicide, unless there's good reason to believe flight is impossible. Of course, if you think that you're entitled to kill someone rather than take a backward step, then fear becomes a reason to kill, but that's a bad belief for a policeman to hold, and that's exactly what I'm talking about.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:20 AM
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109: Wow. I guess that's one version of the Dorismond case.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:21 AM
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108: It was, but when I look at the news stories about the case, they contradict, seriously, what two of my friends saw from their front window. The stories claim that the guy fought with the cops, and that's not what my friends saw. In this instance, since I know the eyewitnesses, I believe my friends and not the cops.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:21 AM
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112: You've got a different one?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:22 AM
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Could we get the Felder story regardless, NCP?


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:23 AM
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There was a creepy guy in my high school (the kind with an affected pseudo-Brit accent, actually) who was obsessed with telling other people how to do things and got really freaked out when they didn't do them his way. I googled him during college and found out he became a cop and shot a kid during his first week on the job.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:23 AM
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What about fear? Youth? Inexperience? Adrenaline? I'm not saying that any of these excuses the killing of an unarmed man. I'm just saying that they may help explain it in a way that makes more logical sense than what you've described.

I'd agree that all of those are factors. But still, there are young, inexperienced police offers who are adrenalinzed and fearful in richer, whiter neighborhoods too. I think the softly-softly approach described in 91 tends to be used more in those situations.

Which would indicate that being young and scared and hopped-up on adrenaline is not by itself enough to make you willing to shoot somebody. You also have to have a tacit sense that you can, on some level, get away with it.

(Yes, I heard the chorus upthread about the consequences of police shootings for the individual officer. Even so.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:24 AM
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. But the thing is, if my relative had been a poor black woman threatening a cop while she was off her head, she'd be dead.

I think you're underrating the number of demented old poor black women or overrating the number of such that have ended up dead by cop. I haven't spent any time in MN, though.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:24 AM
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I'd say 19 out of 20 are ok if you're lucky. In my highly biased by personal experience view, something like 10-20% of every police force I've had dealings with really shouldn't be doing the job. And 10-20% are outstanding, no doubt about that. It's a tough job, and thankless sometimes -- but it also attracts a certain number of people who are psychologically ill-suited to the nature of it. Of course, like similar areas, police forces are aware of that and do have measures in place to address it. As far as I can see, they realize they can't actually make those measures realistic, because recruitment is already difficult. And some departments are clearly in a mess from the top down.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:25 AM
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Apparently I can't spell today. Adrenalized.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:27 AM
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If youth, inexperience, fear, and adrenalin are excuses for shooting someone, we should stop putting guns in the hands of police whose youth and/or inexperience make them unable to deal with their fear and/or adrenalin.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:28 AM
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118: Note that she'd threatened a cop. Now, I bet that if a poor black woman who was having a serious bipolar episode said to a police officer "I'm going to take your gun and shoot you" (which she said, in between quoting Shakespeare...she was totally, totally a fantastic relative, even when crazy), well...I wouldn't bank on good consequences.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:29 AM
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No one said they were excuses, and I don't think anyone disagrees that cops often use excessive or inappropriate force. The disagreement, as best as I can tell, is whether they're as blithe as Frowner and LB seem to think about shooting people.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:29 AM
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114: Well, for starters, the shooting occurred during a scuffle for officer #1's gun, and officer #2 claimed it was accidental. Heck, even the Wiki entry is more balanced than your version.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:30 AM
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The disagreement, as best as I can tell, is whether they're as blithe as Frowner and LB seem to think about shooting people.

'Zactly.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:31 AM
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124: Heck, even the Wiki entry...

Oh, man.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:31 AM
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123: And sure some of them are. It's not like examples of stupidly gung ho cop culture are in short supply.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:32 AM
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Arc of a policy debate:

1. This is a problem.
2. Not in my experience, it's not.
3. Well, in my experience it is.
4. Your experience is not representative.
5. No, your experience is not representative.



Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:36 AM
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I just shot DS.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:37 AM
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114: Wait, hey, your Wiki entry is not for Dominic Felder but for some other NY case. I live in Minneapolis, not NY.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:37 AM
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I suspect the problem is training. When all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. And if you're trained mostly to take down threats, and you have a split second to judge whether someone's a threat or just a schizophrenic person off his meds, and you have no training in the latter, you're going to end up shooting a lot of people because in your best judgment, they were a threat.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:37 AM
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Kinda tickles.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:39 AM
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130: In fact, I don't think there is a Dominic Felder wikipedia entry.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:39 AM
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131: training, but also culture and recruiting, I think.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:40 AM
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The "rock" was a 60 pound chunk of concrete, and according to the officers, Felder was shot while scuffling with them on the ground. This may not be the version that Frowner's friends would tell, but that's the cops' story.

Keep in mind that these cops faced a grand jury, a lengthy ongoing internal investigation, community investigations, and an audit by a former U.S. Attorney. Not exactly a hassle-free outcome.

===============

From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Minneapolis police shooting outrages relatives
Family members plan to dispute the police account of events that began with a domestic dispute call.

By David Chanen, Star Tribune

Last update: September 22, 2006 - 12:05 AM

Dominic Felder had been acting strangely for weeks, perhaps because of his struggle to provide financially for his children.

Then, on Wednesday, a 911 call about a violent domestic dispute went out to two Minneapolis police officers. A few minutes later, Felder threatened to kill his neighbor and chucked a 60-pound piece of concrete through their front window, police said.

Officers arrived just before midnight at the house at 39th Street and Bloomington Avenue S., and with guns drawn, chased and caught Felder, who struggled and was taken kicking to the ground, said his girlfriend Tiana Wilson.

A few seconds later, she said, she heard one pop and a pause, followed by three more pops. She knew the father of her 5-year-old daughter was dead. [SNIP]


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:41 AM
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I just shot DS.

Silly ogged, everyone knows you Left Coast types are too emo to carry guns.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:41 AM
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Well, agreed re. blithe. And while I wouldn't put things quite the way Frowner or LB have in this thread, I do think that picking nits over tone when, at least, it seems to me pretty clear that LB's statement was meant to boil things down. I don't think LB is saying that the cop sits there and thinks, "hmm, it will be inconvenient to do all that paperwork but hey! at least the shooting part will be fun!" and I think it's really uncharitable to her (and/or just dumb about what LB is like) to act as if that's what she's saying or implying. It seems clear to me that she's saying that, given that shooting someone is a Big Deal, the only possible reason people do it when there's no need is that, well, the adrenalin (excitement) kind of takes over.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:41 AM
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I seem to remember from some episode of Cops--I think if you've watched it enough, it's exactly like having been police--that cops are instructed to shoot someone who seems to threaten them from seemingly absurd distance based on the distance a person can get when moving at full speed (or by momentum) after being shot. My recollection is that this came up in connection with some person who had a knife. Not a specific rejoinder to anyone, just a note that a trained cop may be mis-trained for certain sets of circumstances.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:42 AM
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137: If only Marshall McLuhan were around....


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:44 AM
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138:
It seems clear to me that she's saying that, given that shooting someone is a Big Deal, the only possible reason people do it when there's no need is that, well, the adrenalin (excitement) kind of takes over.

How about it, LB? Do you agree with this reading of your argument?


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:44 AM
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Also, re. 135, imho even NCP's version of the story, which he says is the cops' version, is not justification for shooting someone. Period.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:44 AM
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140 --> 137


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:45 AM
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Hey I just found this great picture of ttaM online and was looking for an opportunity to post it.


Posted by: Clownaesthesiologist | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:45 AM
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And that if the problem is "well, the only kind of force cops have against a crazy man who can chuck a 60lb piece of concrete is a gun," then why the fuck aren't cops out there lobbying long and loud for non-lethal training and equipment?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:46 AM
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135: I know I am the crazed-frothing-at-mouth leftwinger on this thread, BUT when faced with an eyewitness version of something and the Star Tribune version, I take the eyewitness version. This is partly because I have seen two separate events reported in the Strib very differently from what I experienced while at those events, and partly because I have myself been misquoted in the Strib.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:46 AM
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141: Maybe not. But it's a far cry from the version we were told above, and, IMHO, makes it somewhat easier to understand how a cop in that position would use lethal force. Which is why I included it here.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:47 AM
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134: I don't know. I suspect that 'culture' might be to blame, but recruiting? Like if they just improved the sort of person they recruited there'd be no more bad shootings? Ehhhhhh. Teach 'em to use tasers first, maybe.

Disclosure: shivbunny's brother is a neophyte cop. I cannot think of someone with a better temperament for handling domestic violence disputes. The other law enforcement type I know went federal, and it seems that 'very serious minded' is a better description than adrenaline junkie.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:48 AM
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145: Just on this thread? Perish the thought... :)


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:48 AM
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124: The deal is, that's the cops' story and it makes no sense. Dorismond didn't have any drugs on him, and hadn't committed a crime. What on earth was he doing fighting with a cop if he knew the guy was a cop -- just lost his mind? I don't believe that the cop couldn't have gotten away from him or otherwise defused the situation -- as it happened, he continued the altercation until he thought he had to shoot the guy.

Shorter comment on the Dorismond situation -- if you're 'struggling for your gun' with someone who had no indications of any criminal intentions whatsoever until you started harassing him, his death is 100% your fault.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:49 AM
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a far cry from the version we were told above

Well, of course, because I'm left wing I lie all the time, and when I do say something that sounds a little out of the ordinary, it's because I just don't understand.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:50 AM
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146: It's not a far cry. It contains two additional details: that the guy threw a 60-lb piece of concrete, and that he threw it through his relatives' window rather than at the cop directly. If anything, those two details cancel each other out.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:50 AM
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150: I apologize. It was not my intent to imply that you lie all the time, or that you just don't understand. But your friend's version gave the impression that the man was standing there holding a rock and was shot by the police. I don't think it's insidious or insulting for me to point out that there is another version of what happened that night.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:52 AM
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Plus all the stuff that doesn't make the media because it's small but harmful.

There are some serious power-trippers on police forces, and that comes out when people aren't watching. Every homicide involves serious scrutiny, but a cop can beat the shit out of somebody, or arrest them arbitrarily, pretty much with impunity. It's inevitable that some cops take advantage of that opportunity.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:53 AM
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I think the issue isn't whether there's another version, but whether the different version makes the shooting less inexcusable. Non?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:53 AM
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106: yeah, I know several. And a few of them aren't actually what I would consider "good" cops -- they're exactly the young, relatively uneducated and arguably poorly trained, racist, overly-aggressive types of guys (all are guys that I know) that are most prone to the sorts of behaviours under discussion. But LB's thought that maybe "firing your weapon at a dangerous individual is exciting", blah blah, is just so very far from anything I've ever understood to be actual police psychology that it's almost humorous. To a man, they view any day in which they draw their weapons as a very bad day, whether shots are fired or not. And as NCP notes, they're all acutely aware of what an extraordinary hassle it's going to be for them if they have to actually discharge the weapon, much less (god forbid) hurt someone.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:54 AM
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151: Did you read the whole excerpt above? He was struggling on the ground with two police officers when he was shot. This wasn't a case where the guy is standing docilely inside a circle of armed officers when one of them decided he'd rather go home and wait the guy out.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:54 AM
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140: That's a little softer than what I'd say. I'd say that in the category of bad shootings we're talking about (crazy people without guns, and I'd throw Dorismond in as a justifiably angry person without a gun) police behavior seems to be characterized by a belief that lethal violence is justified by non-lethal threat, if evading the threat would require retreat or extended tolerance of non-compliant behavior.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:54 AM
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But your friend's version gave the impression that the man was standing there holding a rock and was shot by the police.

When maybe he had just hucked a chunk of concrete at a window and was shot by police. It's puzzling that you seem to think that version ameliorates anything, even were one to accept it.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:54 AM
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147: I say recruiting because I've had interactions with enough law enforcement personnel who made me think `wow, you are exactly the sort of person we don't want in this job'. I asked a couple of ones I knew a bit better about it (one a police officer, one mil. police) They were a little defensive, but did allow that they had both trained with people who concerned them a bit (i.e. too `gung-ho') but hoped training and experience would lift them up.

I'm not talking about just shootings though, I think shootings themselves are a bit of an edge case, particularly because it is a big deal to use your firearm on the job. I've known a fair number of abusive cops though, people who were just badly suited for the job. A couple who were just bad people. I don't know if they are more or less likely to be involved in a `bad shooting' as you put it, though.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:55 AM
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151: You think the story--what with the canceling out and all-- is tantamount to this? ". I will reiterate that I have two separate friends who on two different occasions saw two different unarmed black male schizophrenics shot to death by the cops, essentially so that the cops wouldn't have the nuisance of dealing with them."

It's a wonder the paper didn't run that as, at a minimum, it reads better as a lead.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:55 AM
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158: I don't think it excuses or ameliorates anything; it only explains it.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:56 AM
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It's amazing how contentious a thread where there's basic agreement can be. I'm off to swim. Remember, there's no need to shoot DS again.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:56 AM
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156: We've kind of come to a parting of the ways on this. The police say he was struggling with them. My friends say he was not. Who to believe depends on what you assume about the cops and the media, although in my case I believe the people I know. ( I wouldn't neccessarily believe someone just because I know them, though.)


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:58 AM
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156: "and wait the guy out" s/b "than wait the guy out."


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:58 AM
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But again, this is about whose narrative is more plausible. If you've witnessed incidents with your own eyes that later are borderline unrecognizable in the news story or police report, you're more likely to find Frowner plausible. If your experience with news stories and police reports is that they are assumed to be broadly accurate, and you feel comfortable using them as basis for action (professionally or otherwise), then she sounds crazy.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 12:00 PM
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156: Yes, I did read it. I don't see "struggling on the ground with police" as a reason for shooting *anyone*. I would *expect* someone taken to the ground by the cops to struggle. Also, if he's *on the ground*, he's really unlikely to be very dangerous. The only relevance of that detail, it seems to me, is if you think that "struggling" with police is relevant to whether or not they're "justified" in shooting you, which is ridiculous.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 12:00 PM
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161: it only explains it.

Well, it provides a possible alternate version, which doesn't go much toward explaining anything.

162: Remember, there's no need to shoot DS again.

That's how I'm gonna beat The Man, right there. He just keeps on underestimating me...


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 12:01 PM
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140 hits the nail on the head, I think, and cuts through a lot of the side-issues. Police should never escalate situations like this, but often seem to.

One of the strikingly consistent characteristics of the less competent police officers I've watched a few times royally screw ing things up is overreaction to rejection of their authority.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 12:01 PM
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police behavior seems to be characterized by a belief that lethal violence is justified by non-lethal threat, if evading the threat would require retreat or extended tolerance of non-compliant behavior.

I would agree with this 100%. And I think that it's what's at the heart of things like "but he was *struggling*!"


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 12:02 PM
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165: And this is very much about class and race. Until I moved to my crappy neighborhood, I lived an ordinary white middle class life and didn't really interact much with the police, and really had no negative interactions at all. (Even when I was arrested at a protest, the police office cut my plastic cuffs because they hurt my wrists and I told him I wouldn't run away, and since in life I am very mild-mannered, he trusted my general middle-classitude)

The more I see of life in my neighborhood, the more I am astonished by the power of class segregation in this country.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 12:06 PM
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170: I couldn't agree more.

See? Agreement!


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 12:07 PM
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I will back off 'exciting', which was a poorly chosen word. I was trying to describe the attitude I described, I think more accurately, in 157, without using loaded terms, and put it badly.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 12:08 PM
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I can't believe this is a post about neighborhoods over which the police have totally lost control, and you whiny liberals spending the whole thread talking about police violence.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 12:08 PM
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It's the blitheness that's at issue. Put it this way: Assume a leader of a criminal gang who continually bragged about the people he had killed and who was reasonably believed to have killed those people. If you told me he killed someone on "Fuck it, I've got a date" principles, I wouldn't believe it. I very much doubt many other people would, either. At least not once they left the movie theater.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 12:09 PM
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Because if the law abiding people in those neighborhoods, weren't justifiably afraid, of the police, maybe the police wouldn't have lost control. See Honey v. Vinegar.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 12:10 PM
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174: I think you (understandably), misunderstood the attitude being attributed to the police.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 12:11 PM
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169: I'm going to stop prolonging this in a bit, but I'm pretty sure that I've never said that struggling = license to kill.

Anyway, I got into this argument to point out that Frowner's friends had a pretty unbelievable version of the motives of the officers involved in shooting an unarmed mentally ill man. I made that point.

Oh, and LB? I never said that the Dorismond killing was justified; I was just commenting that your version of the events was not what I recalled. Believe it or not, I agree with your comment at 149, and had I been on the grand jury which refused to indict those officers, I'd have voted to indict. But what I've tried to argue is that it's not as simple as laziness or a macho attitude in most of these cases. There's also fear, there's adrenaline, and there's a lack of training in handling these dangerous situations.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 12:14 PM
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See, I think 175 is wrong. Many people in those neighborhoods don't trust the police, mostly for good reason, but their trusting the police wouldn't solve the problem. What we need are more aggressive police shootings, or, in the alternative, repeal of the drug laws.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 12:15 PM
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Weirdly, I agree with NCProsecutor. I think it's probably lack of training, fear, and an extreme anxiety of what might happen to the cops if they ever let (poor, crazy) people believe their authority isn't absolute. All of these things combined make it much more confusing than it needs to be to figure out when to use a weapon (just about never). I've read police training textbooks, and boy, you get to the end of the section on tactics and you're convinced there's an army of highly trained, well-armed off-med schizophrenics just waiting to use their superhuman strength and concealed machetes against any cop that shows up. With experience I'm sure you get better at rating relative danger, but lots of (beat) cops get in and out of the game pretty young.

Which is not to say racism and a natural penchant for authoritarian violence don't also occasionally play a role.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 12:21 PM
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Well, I don't think we're disagreeing as sharply as it looks like; I think there's been a certain amount of attributing mindless cop-hatred to me and Frowner, and attributing mindless cops-can-do-no-wrong to NCP, neither of which were justified. In practice, we're probably all pretty close.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 12:23 PM
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I think 178 must be missing a word, but the way it reads right now is cracking me up. We need more bullets in bodies! Dose beat cops with steroids to increase aggression levels!


Posted by: Tarrou | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 12:25 PM
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178: It is awe-inspiring to consider the depths of confusion or naiveity that must be plumbed to arrive at the idea that more aggressive police shootings would actually improve things in these neighborhoods. That the police have proved themselves to be largely both ineffectual and untrustworthy to the populations that live there is a problem sure, and it's come back to bite them on the ass. It's also largely a symptom. The monopoly of force is held by other groups in these cases, and those groups are quite happy to escalate at least as far as any police department is cut out for. So what response? Further militarization of police, with attendent failure in capability to do actual police work? Scorched earth policies? You can force people to move, but you can't solve the underlying social and economic problems with guns.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 12:25 PM
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180: yeah, I know. I still think it's weird. I have a friend who's an ADA, and I think that's weird too. Just knowing somebody who's in law enforcement who doesn't actually want to arrest or surveil me I find weird. This is a mostly vestigial response.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 12:27 PM
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I could be wrong, but I thought 178 was supposed to be humorous. Otherwise, 182 is quite obviously correct!


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 12:29 PM
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181, 182: Uh, I read Brock's second sentence as joke.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 12:29 PM
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ok, i ban my self for overly literal reading!


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 12:30 PM
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Brock does an awful lot of close to the line kidding -- jokes that aren't that far away from stuff he's genuinely advocating. I'm pretty sure, for example, that 'more aggressive police shootings' is a joke, but I think dismissing the importance of community relations isn't.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 12:31 PM
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187 has my number. At least I wasn't the only one to miss that particular tackle.


Posted by: Tarrou | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 12:32 PM
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(Just to be clear there, what I meant by 'the line' was 'the line between kidding and not' not 'the line' in some broader sense of acceptability.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 12:32 PM
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I thought 178 was supposed to be making the point that the drug war is incompatible with good police relations in poor neighborhoods, and that as long as you have punishment-oriented drug laws, you might as well have the police shoot everybody they can, because nothing short of that is going to reduce (non-police) violence.

But who knows, ask Standpipe.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 12:33 PM
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the drug war is incompatible with good police relations in poor neighborhoods

I don't think this is true, not that it matters much.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 12:34 PM
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191: I am only attempting to restate, not make any point of my own. I don't really have an educated (or, more relevantly, strong) opinion on the subject.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 12:36 PM
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135 pissed me off. Given the most charitible interpretation of events, those cops should do time. (Just to be clear -- it's not the posting of 135 that's pissing me off -- it's the events described.)


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 12:46 PM
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I can't believe this is a post about neighborhoods over which the police have totally lost control, and you whiny liberals spending the whole thread talking about police violence.

One important reason that police have lost control is that they can't be trusted to do the right thing. Why do you think "law and order" politics plays so poorly in inner cities, where it should be strongest?

That said, I am in general accord with the BL/NCP/SCMT axis on these issues. I think that B underestimates the potential lethality of any physical confrontation that involves people with guns. And while I share Frowner's skepticism of the police/media, I am also skeptical of eyewitness accounts of violence in general.

Talking more or less ex rectum here, it seems to me that the number of cold-blooded killers on police forces is likely to be pretty small.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 12:49 PM
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I have strong opinions about it, but I'm not really feeling them today. Comity!


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 12:53 PM
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195 to 192.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 12:58 PM
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I think that B underestimates the potential lethality of any physical confrontation that involves people with guns.

I don't see where you're getting that. I said upthread that the cops oughta be making a stink about wanting to have non-lethal weapons at their disposal if they care about not shooting people, precisely because I think that having guns around is dangerous. Which is why I'm anti-gun, for the record.

Also, 196 was me.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 12:59 PM
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Which is why I'm anti-gun, for the record.

Well, me too. But given the fact that we live in the NRA's world, cops have to be armed. And the rest follows ...


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 1:04 PM
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given the fact that we live in the NRA's world, cops have to be armed. And the rest follows ...

Ah, so, I guess it's just naive, really, to expect them not to shoot people.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 1:10 PM
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I've dealt with cops in many capacities -- victim of a crime; reporting apparent violence in my (gentrifying but still very mixed race & class) D.C. neighborhood; arrested at protests; at protests where I was not arrested but was shoved around a lot; via my (now ex-) brother-in-law, who's a racist MF; and in LGBT sensitivity trainings ("we're here, we're queer, please don't beat the shit out of us") and community relations.

I generally come down on the side of being skeptical about how a lot of cops handle things. (Though I think that the suggestion that violence stems from the hassle of processing someone is absurd.) Of course, I dealt with both good and bad cops, but most of them start from a very "us vs. them" and "do what I tell you or else" mentality. Along with their overall training and the paramilitary structure they're in, I think they're tacitly pushed toward using excessive force, and that's reinforced by what they see others doing on the job.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 1:20 PM
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Also, one issue I haven't seen above is that cops are supposed to be protecting other people in the area, so running, which someone suggested, isn't really a good option in a populated place. Not that that means the only other option is shooting.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 1:20 PM
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182: It is awe-inspiring to consider the depths of confusion or naiveity that must be plumbed to arrive at the idea that more aggressive police shootings would actually improve things in these neighborhoods.

Hey, a six-month increase in violence might be just the thing. We could call it a "surge".


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 1:22 PM
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Have folks been reading Bob Herbert's
recent columns
on police-community relations in Brooklyn and in schools. The latter will make your blood boil.

(Don't know if you have to be an elite Times Select subscriber to get the earlier columns. If so, I'll e-mail them to anyone who wants to read them.)



Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 1:27 PM
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I think you have to be a TS subscriber to get any Herbert columns at all. Agree that they were infuriating.


Posted by: Clownaesthesiologist | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 1:32 PM
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so running, which someone suggested,

Running in the sense of leaving the scene isn't an option in the 'crazy person' case (although it would have worked nicely in the Dorismond case, given that there was no need to protect anyone from Mr. Dorismond), but retreat is an option. The point I was trying to make is that in these cases (bad shootings of mentally ill people) that it often appears that the policeman had the choice between evading an aggressive move from the mentally ill person (like, the hammer guy in NY -- Gideon something?) or deciding that the aggressive move constituted a lethal-force worthy threat and shooting, and decided to shoot rather than to evade.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 1:35 PM
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Agreed, absolutely.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 1:36 PM
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i know a girl who is a cop who got beat up by black kids in her racially charged high school and still hasn't really got over it, but she's sweet and i would trust her with a gun.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 1:46 PM
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For the record, I did not say (or even think) that cops shoot people because they don't want to book them. What I said was that cops shoot people because they are unwilling to take the teensiest risk of harm, because it takes longer and is much harder to deal with someone when you have to wrestle them/talk them down/etc, and because there are inadequate sanctions when something does go wrong. I do think that this falls under the heading of "don't want to deal with a peaceful process", and I stand by my contentions.

Cops should be better than the run-of-the-mill person--that's the only justification for handing them guns and power.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 1:57 PM
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Going back to the original question -- what do we do about people who are scared to testify? I think the only possible answer is that they need to be more scared of what will happen if they _don't_ testify. This sounds horribly reactionary, probably because it is. But we nice middle class people put ourselves through al the hassle of reporting crimes, and testifying and so forth, partly because we can imagine a society where it isn't worth bothering, and that's much worse than the one we live in.

I reach the profoundly gloomy conclusion that only in Alameida's Narnia, where people are hanged, can gangesbe tacked quickly and efficiently. Because if Big Luigi sits in his cell and goes on running the gang, everyone outside will be almost as afraid of him as they were when he was on the loose.

Now I will await the storm of execration which this thought richly deserves.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 2:04 PM
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202 to 209.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 2:16 PM
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208:

...cops shoot people because they are unwilling to take the teensiest risk of harm, because it takes longer and is much harder to deal with someone when you have to wrestle them/talk them down/etc, and because there are inadequate sanctions when something does go wrong.

It seems clear to me that you have no idea what life is like for an officer who is involved in one of these shootings. Perhaps that is as it should be -- after all, an officer has shot and killed an unarmed mentally ill person. I'll admit that I'm not sympathetic about what happens to them after they've killed someone in that context. But if you're going to claim that they shoot mentally ill people because finding a "peaceful" solution is harder and takes longer, and because there are inadequate sanctions on the other end, then I think it's only fair that you consider what happens to these officers after something like this.

And what happens is this: they become the poster child in that community for reckless (or intentional) police brutality; they are investigated by internal affairs (something any cop will tell you is no picnic); they are subject to disciplinary action by their department that can and does result in suspension or firing; they are charged criminally, and can and do get convicted; they get sued in civil court, and can and do have judgments entered against them. Some or all of these things happen to a police officer when they shoot and kill an unarmed mentally ill person.

AND THAT IS AS IT SHOULD BE. They SHOULD face the scorn of their community for their failure, because shooting an unarmed mentally ill person IS A FAILURE OF THE LAW ENFORCEMENT FUNCTION -- the failure (either accidental or willful) to find a non-lethal solution to a confrontation that ended with a fatality.

But to say that cops shoot unarmed mentally ill people because dealing with them in some other way is harder and takes longer, and/or because not enough bad things happen to them afterwards, fails to recognize the reality of these officers' lives after something like this happens.

One other thing. Please don't think that police officers "are unwilling to take the teensiest risk of harm." They are. If they were "unwilling to take the teensiest risk of harm," they'd do something else for a living.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 2:43 PM
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What I said was that cops shoot people because they are unwilling to take the teensiest risk of harm

That's a load of shit. And seriously, you're on crack with this "he only had a rock" business. Mentally ill and/or guys on a bad high are often ridiculously strong, and it doesn't take that much force to cave in the side of someones skull with a rock. Also, there's a tendency to pay cops 15-20 bucks an hour, then wonder why they don't want to tackle the crazy guy swinging a rock.

A lot of people on this thread pretty obviously don't know a lot of cops.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 2:50 PM
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208 I did not say (or even think) that cops shoot people because they don't want to book them

Sorry (and to LB) I got it wrong. I have a bad habit of reading through a long thread all at once, which tends to jumble things up so that someone's characterization of what someone else said might stick with me. It's like believing Wikipedia without verifying the original source.

(I generally agree with your take on this whole thing BTW.)


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 2:54 PM
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The point of 'he only had a rock' isn't that you can't hurt someone with a rock, it's range. If you're ten feet away from the guy with the rock, he's not going to be able to do much to you. So you hang around until he puts the rock down, and then you tackle him.

Of course you can hurt someone with a rock, and of course there are moments when shooting someone who has a rock would be appropriate (that is, when they're going to hit someone who can't get away.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 2:54 PM
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211: I'm sure this is all true, but it doesn't seem to explain police behavior in this type of shooting. (It also doesn't really address the fact that the formal investigations seem overwhelmingly likely to vindicate the officers' actions in shootings like this, even when the public facts look as though there was wrongdoing, as in in the Dorismond case.) Maybe, onerous as the treatment of officers under these circumstances is, it's not harsh enough; maybe the harshness of the response isn't sufficiently communicated to them; maybe their training is just that bad.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 3:01 PM
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Or maybe media portrayals of police behavior in these types of shootings don't always fully reflect reality?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 3:03 PM
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214: From the coverage, it sounds as though he was tackled. They didn't shoot him for brandishing a rock; what for, I can't tell, but if the news reports are to be believed, it sounds as though they tackled him, he struggled and maybe went for the gun?

Now, maybe that's not what happened. But assuming for the moment the news report is accurate, it is easy to see how it could escalate. Guy heaves rock at neighbors house. Police tackle guy. Guy makes a grab for the cop's gun. Cop without non-lethal option or training in non-lethal shoots the guy to keep guy who just threw a rock at the neighbor's house from getting his hands on the gun.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 3:04 PM
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If you're ten feet away from the guy with the rock, he's not going to be able to do much to you.

I'm not sure that's right. It might be on average right, or in the vast majority of cases right, but I'm not sure it's always right. So then we're back to training.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 3:04 PM
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Or maybe media portrayals of police behavior in these types of shootings don't always fully reflect reality?

I'm morally certain they don't.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 3:05 PM
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216 was meant to be a response to 215; you're not allowed just to agree with it.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 3:08 PM
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216 seems just about right to me, too.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 3:09 PM
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I'm not sure how any press report of a shooting, generally, could be accurate. It's not like they're scripted like CSI.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 3:10 PM
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The point of 'he only had a rock' isn't that you can't hurt someone with a rock, it's range. If you're ten feet away from the guy with the rock, he's not going to be able to do much to you. So you hang around until he puts the rock down, and then you tackle him.

Yeah, but the range is much farther than you'd think. 10 feet is nothing. Someone can rush you and cover 20 feet or more quicker than you can draw a gun.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 3:11 PM
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And so you stay 20 feet away. And he starts running at you, you run away. You still don't get to shoot someone because "OMG he has a rock" unless someone is in immediate danger of death.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 3:14 PM
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209: Yeah, that's reactionary. I wouldn't "put myself through the hassle" of reporting a crime or testifying if I thought that doing so carried a likely risk of someone shooting my kid in retaliation. And neither would you.

People don't testify because they are afraid. They are afraid because the cops and other officials aren't doing their jobs right. Fine, you arrest a couple of people who accidentally shot a little girl--that doesn't address the fact that *there was a gang shootout in broad daylight* on a street where *kids were playing* in a neighhborhood where the cops obviously knew there was a gang problem, and by all accounts, there weren't any goddamn cops there when the shooting happened.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 3:16 PM
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"OMG he has a rock"

Yes, I'm sure this is exactly what was running through the officers' heads.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 3:16 PM
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I've noticed that LB likes to infantilize arguments she doesn't particularly care for by adding "OMG" to them.

Can I state my general annoyance with this mode of argumentation?


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 3:17 PM
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I'm not sure what you think the cops can do, B. If they're in one place, they're not in another. If someone wants to kill you, they'll kill you.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 3:17 PM
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211: I think that failing to empathize with cops who shoot unarmed civilians is really less of a moral crime than failing to empathize with unarmed civilians who get shot by cops. Personally.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 3:18 PM
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I reach the profoundly gloomy conclusion that only in Alameida's Narnia, where people are hanged, can gangesbe tacked quickly and efficiently.

Except that, by and large, crime has plummeted already. Your baby isn't about to be stolen, white women aren't disappearing off the face of the earth, and gangs don't control LA.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 3:18 PM
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225: Can't find anything in here to disagree with.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 3:19 PM
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220: Funny, I could have sworn I just did. Look, you read the papers, assess the credibility of the various sources of the various stories, and form your beliefs as to what happened.

Also, you want me to display a real prejudice against the police generally? The unnecessary violence thing is, I would agree, a problem of a small minority of police. As witnesses, on the other hand, I systematically do not believe police accounts of any incident. As against a witness with an extensive criminal record, I consider their credibility equivalent; as against an ordinary citizen, I'm always going to believe the man on the street over the police officer.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 3:19 PM
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208: Then why have I seen cops beat down a teeny-tiny totally unarmed white girl at a protest, a girl I could have lifted and who was not doing anything except refusing to move? They could have picked her up, you know. They could have picked her up and cuffed her. Hell, I could have picked her up and cuffed her, and I'm feeble. But they beat her up and dragged her off instead.

I'm just not gonna like city cops in general, sorry. I know that moves me from dirty hippie to crazy hippie, but I've seen cops lie and hurt people when they didn't have to do so, multiple times. When I got arrested at a protest, I saw a cop steal one of my fellow-arrestees' ID. He asked for it, he took it and pocketed it, and then he asked for it again, and whoops, now you don't have ID so I guess we can't just book you and release you, it's downtown time. I saw a cop steal and lie because who would believe a dirty hippie. I saw it. I used to make myself unpopular on the left defending the police, and even now I occasionally make myself unpopular by criticizing pointless anti-cop-ism at protests. But seriously, I've never seen our brave boys in blue act like popular media says they do.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 3:22 PM
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229: I'm struggling to see how this is a response to my 211, in which I excoriate police officers who shoot unarmed civilians.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 3:22 PM
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228: I think that in neighborhoods or cities with massive organized crime problems, where violent gangs are essentially running the show, there oughta be well-trained cops on every street corner 24/7. Just for starters. If that means fewer speed traps, so be it.

Emphasis on well-trained. Which ought to include things like blah blah community roots, blah blah after-school basketball programs, blah blah there to serve and protect the citizens of the area. I realize that this isn't the current world we live in.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 3:22 PM
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232: What are you basing theses assesments on?


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 3:24 PM
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334: Eh, you seem to be excoriating them only in order to sugarcoat the argument you're more interested in making, which is that cops have it rough. But as you said quite some time ago, we probably agree about the issue in terms of substance.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 3:24 PM
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And while I'm on the topic of cop stories, 'round here we have this activist who is an asshole. I loathe him. He's a byword in certain circles for being a sexist jerk, and he embodies every smelly stereotype of a hippie creep that you can possibly think of. The cops who tend to be at demonstrations hated him, partly because he was a jerk, partly because he put in a lot of work on some demonstrations. So a couple of them followed him in a squad car, calling out to him that they were going to track him down and beat him up. And he was always targeted at demonstrations.

If you get into that shit, if you can't rise above the stupid provocations of a stupid travelling hippie, you really should not be a cop.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 3:26 PM
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Well, this should give you a sense of the sort of thing I'm relying on. Add in every memoir I've ever read written by a police officer, and a long series of media reports of incidents where the police story makes no sense. Not every police officer is lying at all times, of course, but being a police office is, IMO, damaging to your credibility.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 3:27 PM
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233: The cops who did the things you describe did bad things. They deserve punishment. But it's relatively easy for cops to cover up stuff like that. Maybe cops should wear audio/video recording devices to record everything that happens on duty, so that petty viciousness like this would be curtailed.

But shooting and killing an unarmed person? Sorry, but the attending circus and justifiable outrage are unavoidable.

And are you saying you've never seen a police officer do a good and decent thing? Yikes. Remind me to stay out of Minneapolis -- and I've lived in Boston, L.A., and NYC!!!

PS -- What is is with you and the dirty hippie thing?


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 3:28 PM
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237: Cops have it rough WHEN THEY SHOOT UNARMED MENTALLY ILL PEOPLE. That is as it should be, because they SHOT AN UNARMED MENTALLY ILL PERSON.

The reason I want to make that point isn't to sugarcoat anything; it's to say that officers KNOW that they will be in the center of a shitstorm if they shoot an unarmed mentally ill person, and that because they know this, it doesn't make any sense to me that someone can argue that they shoot people anyway because finding a nonlethal solution is harder and takes more time.

Now that I've taken the trouble to do all this typing, please tell me again B what I *really* mean.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 3:33 PM
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240: I have never seen a police officer do a good and decent thing in my neighborhood or for the activists I know. (Oh, let's not forget the sheriff who gave a speech listing the bookstore where I volunteer (which is, seriously, a cute little hipster left-liberal place run by cute little left-liberal hipster incompetents) as a likely 9/11-type source of terrorist attacks, generating a brief media blitz which burned out and drove away one of our best volunteers)

That's not to say that police never do good things, but my experience with them has been so uniformly bad over so many years that I feel it reflects on the cops rather than being just a random string of coincidences.

Seriously, when I see the police lie and hurt people, it lends a lot of credibility to claims that the police also sometimes lie and kill people. In fact, I think a culture where cops have a vendetta against some stupid greasy hippie, a culture where cops feel free to lie and steal because they can--well, that seems to me to be a culture where the police might well be more inclined to shoot than not.

(In previous threads about protest and left-wing stuff and puppets, people have said "dirty hippie" as shorthand for, more or less, "radical left activist with political ideas very substantially at odds with the usual US approaches, and who probably carries puppets at protests and may even be a bit sanctimonious")


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 3:36 PM
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242: As to the dirty hippie thing, yes, I've heard this around the Interwebs, here and elsewhere, but I'm talking about you specifically. You seem to trot this out periodically (the last time I recall was when you suggested that Democrats weren't willing to expose corrupt Republican lawmakers because the Democrats wanted to be corrupt themselves), and I'm curious as to why.

And as for your uniformly bad experiences, have you ever wondered why not everyone else has the same uniformly bad experiences you have had?


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 3:42 PM
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243: have you ever wondered why not everyone else has the same uniformly bad experiences you have had?

I believe she already specified that the bad experiences have a lot to do with class and race. There's nothing really so shocking or untoward about saying this; law enforcement cultures having trouble dealing with the poor, minorities and activists is not exactly an unheard-of development.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 3:45 PM
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244: The activist part was sort of my point, and no, I don't think that's an un-heard of development. It shouldn't be that way, there's no excuse for law enforcement officers to act that way, but you're right, it's (sadly) neither shocking nor untoward.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 3:48 PM
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245 was, of course, me.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 3:49 PM
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243: I would wonder about this more if my personal interactions with police were the bad ones--that is, if you mean that I get what I deserve/am looking for. The only time that I personally have been arrested I was treated with every consideration. But I saw bad stuff happen to other people, and I feel all the more confidence in my observations because I myself was not hurt or frightened while all this happened.

Why do I see bad stuff? I live in a bad neighborhood in a severely racially segregated city. I live next to a housing project. I go to protests where people commit civil disobedience. I am in places where vulnerable people who don't have much credibility with the media come into conflict with the police. That's why I see this stuff.

As far as the dirty hippie thing goes, I think we would both agree that I tend to assert things that are much more on the radical left end of the spectrum than things that are asserted by many other Unfoggers. And it's my little gesture towards feeling like my beliefs often seem crazy to a lot of people who post here.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 3:49 PM
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Hrm. Does the time the police officers who came to my apartment after it was burgled and responded to all of my roommate's sexy underwear strewn across the apartment by the burglar, by holding up a pretty bra and asking what she did for a living, count as a bad experience not excused by culpable activism? It was certainly unpleasant.

Really, how does it excuse anything to say that it's not shocking that the police treat activists badly? It's shocking that the police treat anyone badly, outside of the necessities of law enforcement.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 3:53 PM
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The only time that I personally have been arrested I was treated with every consideration.

Yay!

And of course I don't think you deserve or are looking for bad interactions with law enforcement. Do you really think I'm that kind of person? Oh, wait, you don't really know me!

As I mentioned at 245, I was trying to point to the fact that you're a committed activist, and that committed activists rarely see law enforcement at their best. They've even been known to *gasp* provoke the police from time to time! As you mention in your comment above, the police should really be able to rise above that kind of thing.

Comity!


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 3:53 PM
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248: It looks to me as if you're just picking a fight at this point, so I'll just say that no, it doesn't actually shock you, it's completely expected by you. That's why you begin from the assumption that all police officers will "testily."

"Culpable activism?" Yeah, you're picking a fight.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 3:57 PM
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Even in Mayberry 50% of its law enforcement personnel were incompetent and/ or authoritarian.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 3:58 PM
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239: The first time I ran into "Testilying" was in 1963 and I think it's almost reflexive. Back then and in that neighborhood there was no "need" for it to get a conviction, any cop's word would be believed over those of any bunch of kids.

NCP, there wouldn't be the current amount of distrust if some threshold hadn't been reached a while back. I'd swear people are watching all those noble cop, dedicated lawyer, and dogged forensic tech shows the same way people watched movies about funny, beautiful, and rich people during the Depression and WW2, they're an escape from ugly reality.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 4:00 PM
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I'm responding to your 243. Of course Frowner knows that she's had bad experience with police officers acting wrongfully because she does things that involve getting arrested -- I've had very little direct contact with the police because I don't do that sort of thing (although I haven't enjoyed the contact I've had). Asking the question you asked comes across clearly as "If you're going to provoke the police, you can expect that they'll abuse you." And I don't accept that as any sort of excuse.

I don't mean to pick a fight with you personally, but it's been hard not to in this thread.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 4:02 PM
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Really, how does it excuse anything to say that it's not shocking that the police treat activists badly? It's shocking that the police treat anyone badly, outside of the necessities of law enforcement.

In what sense? It's a job where a large portion of the people you interact with on a daily basis are going to be pissed at you, a large subset of them are probably doing something that reasonably qualifies as "bad", involves a fairly high threat of physical violence, and pays fairly poorly. It's a crappy job.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 4:02 PM
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248: I don't think anyone's saying it excuses anything.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 4:02 PM
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255: Hrm. Perhaps my definition of 'not untoward' is non-standard.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 4:03 PM
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You all need to stop arguing and watch The Wire. All your questions will be answered.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 4:04 PM
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253: Then read my 245, my 249, and try not to read the most argumentative interpretation into my comments.

"If you're going to provoke the police, you can expect that they'll abuse you."

Jeebus.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 4:04 PM
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The original remark was phrased a bit confusingly. I said, and NCP agreed, that it's not untoward to acknowledge that it happens. Nobody said it's not untoward that it happens.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 4:05 PM
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258: Honestly, we're not having a personal fight here. We've been disagreeing about some stuff.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 4:11 PM
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You all need to stop arguing and watch The Wire Barney Miller. All your questions will be answered.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 4:14 PM
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I'm intrigued by NCP's defense of cops. On Law & Order (yes, everything I know about cops...), Jack McCoy always seems a little suspicious of the cops. Justify yourself, NCP!

Actually, I know one cop, who happens to be African-American. He used to be in Oakland, but left, because the department was too racist. He's a super nice guy, but probably not your typical cop.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 4:15 PM
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I've got a couple childhood friends who are cops, and my brother is as well.

But you can tell it's a liberal site when I'm the one defending the police. What Biohazard in 252. The distrust didn't spring from the ether.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 4:21 PM
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And I'm not systematically anti-cop. I've got a low opinion of their credibility, but the vast majority of them are doing vital work as well as they can. All I've been arguing here is that the cases where they fuck up fall into patterns indicating systemic problems.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 4:23 PM
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I've got a couple childhood friends who are cops, and my brother is as well.

Please tell me he's the one who took you to jail.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 4:26 PM
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Please tell me he's the one who took you to jail.

That would have been great. He's in the Atlanta area.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 4:31 PM
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I've forgotten the 'gswift gets arrested' story. What happened?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 4:33 PM
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Now that I've taken the trouble to do all this typing, please tell me again B what I *really* mean.

My dear Mr. Prosecutor. I was not trying to tell you what you "really mean"; I was telling you how I was reading your contributions to the thread. Nonetheless, I love you. Even though your job is evil. Except, of course, when you're prosecuting gangsters who shoot little girls, in which case, go you!


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 4:34 PM
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264: Exactly. I try, actually, to be extra careful giving the benefit of the doubt in this area because I have had a fair number of bad experiences, but don't want to paint anyone else with that brush.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 4:34 PM
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Police killings of the unarmed mentally ill are far from unusual -- I can think of three in my fair city in recent years, just off the top of my head. And while I don't dispute that the subsequent investigative process is miserable for the cops involved, the community's outrage when they're eventually absolved -- the rule, ime -- is understandable. Hence, distrust. Other things that breed distrust: when I'm stopped at gunpoint for missing my rear license plate, when I'm taken from my truck and frisked for a malfunctioning taillight, when my neighbors and I call the cops to report, say, nearby gunfire and they take 40 minutes to respond (to their credit, they're much more responsive now that the neighborhood is richer and whiter). I've liked almost all the cops I've met, but that doesn't make me trust the police force as an institution.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 4:38 PM
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This is a frustrating thread. Anyone who things cops can't be total bastards has clearly not been someone in a group that gets targeted by cops. Give those cops guns and the level of bastardry goes way up. *I*'ve had a cop begin to pull a gun on me, in Holland. Not because I was doing anything bad, but because I wasn't immediately and unquestionably obeying him. I was shocked and pretty fucking angry.

It's a cliché, but when you're only tool is hammer, every problem begins to look like nail. Ditto when the cop's main tool is the gun, or the nightstick.

Conversely, those who are saying that cops who shoot unarmed people are in for a lot of shit themselves have a point. Clearly they are in for a lot of shit. But how they behave in those situations is a product of how they behave in other situations. If cops are trained to expect total compliance and to respond to non-compliance with violence, and if they are armed, then this is what you are going to get. Even from well-intentioned non-malicious cops.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 4:46 PM
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'gswift gets arrested' story. What happened?

Been cuffed and put in the back of squad cars a few time, formally arrested twice.

Once when I was 15 in L.A. for blowing up shit like mailboxes. There's were pieces of a mailbox on the neighbors porch across the street. Perhaps a bit of overkill on the amount of explosive used.

Second time when I was 19 here in Utah. Had a traffic ticket go to warrant during the summer while I was back in L.A. Spent 4 or 5 hours in Utah county lockup in a holding cell with several other guys. Everyone else in the tank was in for minor drug charges. Hung out, played a little volleyball in the exercise area with the other guys with an old flat basketball. There was a Samoan kid in the cell next to us who'd shot and killed a guy at a party. He was on suicide watch. Bad times.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 4:46 PM
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Just a thought but the world record for putting the shot is about 75 feet. The shot is a sphere of heavy metal.

Now this guy who threw a 60 pound lump of concrete through someone's window - how far from the window would he have been? How dangerous would his concrete have been at a range of , oh, 10 feet?
Of course, he was shot after hte concrete had gone, wasn't he?


Posted by: dave heasman | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 4:50 PM
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Anyone who things cops can't be total bastards has clearly not been someone in a group that gets targeted by cops. Give those cops guns and the level of bastardry goes way up.

Wow...I never really considered that there might be cops without guns.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 4:50 PM
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274 is a joke, right?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 4:52 PM
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re: 274

As mentioned already, most British cops aren't armed. Although in large towns there will be an armed response unit on call. Only specially trained firearms officers carry guns. The main exception are airports and train stations, where, due to a long history of people blowing them up, there tend to be routinely armed cops.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 4:53 PM
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Sorry, the shot weighs 16 pounds


Posted by: dave heasman | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 4:53 PM
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My absolute favorite is cops on bicycles, especially without guns. I'm of the opinion that groups of thugs should beat bicycle cops routinely just on general principle.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 4:54 PM
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and some would call him "pig"

You know, anytime I hear one of these arguments in real life, or read one on the internet, the one thing that always sticks out is that the cop-lover side will continue to insist, against all reason and evidence, that things simply can't be that bad, because everyone would know about it and things would change.

Well guess what? In many of the circles I move in, everybody does know about it, and if they work to change it, they immediately go to the top of the list for some very scary routine harrassment by the bloodhounds. Strikingly, this has the effect of discouraging most people from participating in any serious activism.

Here's a short list of highlights of things that the Twin Cities cops have done, off the top of my head:
1. Jacking up 12-year-old black girls in my neighborhood for some imagined offense.
2. Jacking up a single, inoffensive Mexican guy (with SEVEN cops participating) whom they then turned loose.
3. Harrassing a local hip-hop group who dared to criticize the fact that a police dog that was shot to death got more column inches in the Strib than most murdered black men get.
4. Dangling my (white, punk rock, grad student) friend off a third story balcony because he was hosting a loud party (but really because he was a white activist living in a working-class black neighborhood).
5. Stealing weed from virtually every stoner I know in order to smoke it themselves.
6. Spending $1.1 million of my tax dollars to prevent me and my friends from engaging in a peaceful protest against GMOs.
7. Rounding up anyone with dreadlocks and a bicycle in preparation for repressing the protests in #6.
8. Sending undercover cops to publicly advertised anti-war and pro-choice activist meetings.
9. Using agent provocateurs to start the "violence" that would allow them to bust heads at several protests.
10. Failing to respond to legitimate calls for assistance on too many occasions to count.
11. And of course, murdering or allowing the murders of many, many people, including Lloyd Weiss, Lillian Smalley, Tycel Nelson, Abu Kassim Jeilani, Abuka Sanders, several Vice Lords (in retaliation for the death of Jerry Haaf), and many, many more.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 4:57 PM
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Anyone who things cops can't be total bastards .

I don't think anyone has said this.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 5:05 PM
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271 is great.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 5:09 PM
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275, no, but thanks for being patronizing.

Are there cops in the US without guns?

When I see a cop I think "There is somebody who could kill me with a gun if I appear to be threatening him." Of course, the chance is virtually nothing that that'll happen, but the fear is real.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 5:09 PM
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I wasn't patronizing, I honestly assumed that everyone in the world knows that cops in the UK don't generally carry guns.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 5:12 PM
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274 is a joke, right?

Why would this be a joke? UK style cops without guns is not the norm.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 5:12 PM
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re: 280

ffs. OK:

'anyone who things [sic] cops can't be total bastards' s/b 'those closer to the "Yay, law enforcement" end of the "Yay, law enforcement" "Off the pigs" spectrum'.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 5:12 PM
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So incidentally, personally, my direct experiences with cops have been perfectly pleasant, but cops have done really, really unfortunate things to friends of mine, things which sent them to jail for not-very-good reasons.

But then, you know, hackers, not like we're you're standard oppressed minority.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 5:14 PM
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I only know one cop. Really nice guy, childhood family friend. He's a bike cop on Telegraph Ave., unarmed.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 5:19 PM
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re: 282 and 284

A lot of friends of mine who've spent time in the USA still find the armed cop thing pretty frightening. Several have fairly frightening stories where they nearly got shot simply because they didn't understand the 'rules. Like the guy who got pulled over and asked for his driver's license. When he fished in the glove compartment to find it he turned to find the cop pointing a gun at his head.

My own personal experiences with British police have ranged from pretty life-affirmingly positive -- I've seen some pretty chilled out, positive cops doing really good things -- to total bastardry -- I've been flung in the back of a police van and intimidated* into confessing to a burglary I had nothing to do with.

* I didn't actually confess, of course. But they had a pretty good try at it.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 5:19 PM
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I've mentioned before that my best friend was sentenced to a year in jail for a crime which he did not commit (yes I'm sure). He was guilty of much lesser, almost trivial illegal act, but the police/prosecutor smelled blood and got the conviction, in part through rather unscrupulous behavior on the part of the police (including some CLEARLY unconstitutional, and dishonest, and factually incorrect tampering with his "confession"). He served six months and is still on parole. So I'm certainly not trying to pretend all cops are angels. But as I said upthread I've also go several good friends who are cops, some of whom are what I would consider better suited for the job than others. But saying they just shoot people for excitement, like it's a video game, is simply absurd. And saying they do it because it's somehow the "easiest" option for them is more absurd yet.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 5:30 PM
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278: Chicago has cops who patrol the parks & airports on Segways (they can outrace the people-mover, so there's that) but I assume they do carry guns.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 5:34 PM
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(Someone should totally make an action movie that features a chase scene & shootout w/ the Segways....I would pay for that).


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 5:35 PM
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OK, the thread's mostly burned out, but I would like to note for the record that I've personally assaulted a cop and later had him apologize to me. (I apologized too, and it wasn't much of an assault--I grabbed his shoulder and turned him away from trying to question someone who really didn't need to be questioned right then--but there was a fair bit of class privilege involved in how it played out.)

Also, LB and NCP get today's award for Best Argument Between People Who Are 99% in Agreement.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 7:59 PM
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289: But saying they just shoot people for excitement, like it's a video game, is simply absurd.

On the other hand, saying that some cops get off on the idea of being a real-life version of Dirty Harry -- which, a single case of hyperbole aside, is a fairer rendering of what's been said on this thread -- is not absurd at all.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 8:01 PM
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292: longest argument, in any case. Hate to see them face-to-face in a courtroom, particularly if I were on the jury.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 8:01 PM
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two new year's ago, i was wandering home, and saw a cop car. i opened up the door, looked inside, and was like HEEELLLLLLLOOOOOOOOOOOO?????????????


there was noone inside, and i was kinda confused. Teh cop comes up and is like WHAT ARE YOU DOING.

i explain i wanted to wish him a happy new years. he checked my ID and told me to go home.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 9:18 PM
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yoyo, whatever people might say about you, I admire your consistentcy, as well as your physical distance from me.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 9:20 PM
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"consistency"

Are you contagious?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 9:20 PM
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to be honest i'm not too consistent lately, what with teh depression and attendant anxiety.

you should know i'm extremely likeable in person, and have no ticks equivalent to my typing eccentricities


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 9:29 PM
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have no ticks

Fleas? Lice? Bedbugs?


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 9:36 PM
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i'm pretty thouroughly de-haired.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 9:37 PM
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Ebola? Meningitis? West Nile? Leprosy? Chlamydia?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 9:37 PM
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are those the main members of the set 'not-ticks?'


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 9:51 PM
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A tick is a parasite. The word you were probably looking for doesn't have a "k" at the end.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 10:04 PM
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The more you know.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 10:52 PM
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262: [LOOOONG response ahead. Feel free to skip it -- you've been warned!]

Law enforcement officers are human beings, and are therefore susceptible to all the human failings. Because we empower them with authority, and because we arm them in order to enforce that authority, their human failings can have tragic consequences.

My relationships with law enforcement officers generally fall into three categories. First, there are the cops who I believe are honest and hard working, who care about people other than themselves and their fellow officers, and who try their best to make a difference. Second, there are the cops who I believe are assholes who only care about themselves first and everyone in the world second, who will lie when it suits them, and whose cases I have routinely dismissed if other officers were not involved. Third, there are officers of whom I have no solid opinion, mostly due to the fact that I not worked with them enough.

Somewhere between 60-70% of the cops I've worked with fall into the first category. Exactly two law enforcement officers I've worked with have fallen into the second category. All others are in the third.

Under normal circumstances (excluding a family member being involved or something), I don't believe that any officer in the first category would make a perjurious statement while testifying at trial. Does that mean that I believe they're always telling the truth? Of course not. Police officers are fallible human beings with human failings who are generally not well educated and are paid comparably poorly to do one of the most dangerous jobs imaginable. In other words, like every other human being, they perceive reality through the lens of their own perspective.

Officers in the third category start off as a blank slate with me. As for the second category, well, let's just say that both of those officers know exactly how I feel about them, and I really wouldn't want to get pulled over in a traffic stop by the one of them still in the job.

But more to the point, Ogged, is this -- have I really been defending cops, as you say? What I've been trying to do is to argue that it makes no sense to me to ascribe to law enforcement officers the laziest of motives (i.e., it's too hard to do the right thing so I'll just shoot this guy instead) in these unarmed shootings. I've said that this makes no sense to me given the righteous shitstorm of public outrage that greets officers involved in one of these incidents, and that every officer KNOWS will follow such an incident. I've tried to make the case that there are other more logical explanations for why these confrontations between armed police officers and unarmed mentally ill people escalate all to often into the unarmed people being shot and killed -- youth, inexperience, adrenaline, fear, you name it. As people have pointed to specific instances of police misconduct, I've tried to explain that there are two sides to these incidents but that I believe that public condemnation of these acts is a good and righteous outcome. I've also voiced strong support for criminal sanctions against officers who fail in this manner, although I've been accused of posing for doing so. I've also resisted bringing my personal experiences into this discussion at any number of points throughout the day, at the same time addressing the personal stories of others in the best way I could. If I've allowed passion to color my arguments so as to appear to be a defense of police officers who shoot unarmed mentally ill people, that was not my intent.

On the other side of this argument, I've seen a person say that they've never seen a police officer do a good and decent thing in their neighborhood or in connection with respect to one of their activist friends. I've seen a person state unequivocally that their default position is not to believe police officers when they describe an incident. I've seen a person say that police officers are unwilling to take the teensiest risk of harm. Now tell me again why I'm the one explaining myself?

I know I work in a flawed system, folks; no one knows it more than the professionals who have dedicated their lives to making it work. I got into the prosecution business because I realized that poor people were impacted by crime more than any other citizens. My experience as a prosecutor has borne that out -- nearly every victim I've ever worked with has been poor -- and helping them has always felt to me like a progressive agenda in action.

As I've told LB previously:

...if people like you (and, I expect to a slightly lesser extent, me) don't do the job [of being a prosecutor], who will?

Better times, I guess, but that was just two weeks ago.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:36 PM
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Prosecutors are so touchy. Seriously, thanks for the reply, NCP. I've been agreeing with you in the thread, but I was genuinely curious about the relationship between you, as a prosecutor, and the police with whom you work. I could imagine it being anywhere from hostile to conspiratorial, so I figured I'd ask. Anyway, things get heated around here from time to time, but we'll totally chip in for your bail if you ever railroad an innocent man.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:44 PM
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306: Thanks!


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07- 9-07 11:48 PM
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305: You know, I wouldn't blame people who have had the kinds of experiences that minneapolitan and Frowner describe if they were a little impatient with being told that police officers are "human beings" as if they don't already know this. It would sure annoy me.

If human beings are part of an institutional culture that's ill-suited to dealing with certain communities, neighbourhoods and strata of society, it's perfectly possible for the statements that apparently offend you (about some people distrusting cops by default, for instance, or having seen their presence as overwhelmingly negative in a particular neighbourhood) to be supportable regardless of your judgements of 60-70% of the officers you've worked with.

I'm not meaning to knock the progressiveness of your work, and I make no pretense to being able to adjudicate who's right or wrong about the police presence in certain communities. But I don't find a lot of what has been said by the pissed-off-at-cops contingent to be wildly implausible. (And I'm not saying this as someone who has never known any cops or who thinks of them all as a bunch of fascist robots. I'm saying this as someone who thinks that the culture of law enforcement, at least at present, tends to have certain characteristic flaws.)


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 12:42 AM
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308: Thank you for your comment. I appreciate your perspective. Have a nice day!


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 12:46 AM
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I'll say I don't agree with a contention that cops might shoot people to avoid hassle, but that remark seemed enough like hyperbole to me that the apparent fixation on it puzzles me.

Also, this: I've tried to make the case that there are other more logical explanations for why these confrontations between armed police officers and unarmed mentally ill people escalate all to often into the unarmed people being shot and killed -- youth, inexperience, adrenaline, fear, you name it.

I think some got the impression you were making excuses because this set of explanations seems to carefully tiptoe around some obvious and less-flattering commonplaces (power-tripping and misplaced machismo among them). ttaM gets it right in 271, I think.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 12:52 AM
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Cross-posted with 309, obvs. And a fine day to you.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 12:52 AM
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Just thinking re Frowner and Minneapolitan's comments, that I have heard before that Twin Cities cops are notorious for abuse of power etc.(and I don't live in your country so that's some level of infamy there.) So it makes sense that they describe a much worse police culture than what other people have experienced.


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 3:45 AM
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224

"And so you stay 20 feet away. And he starts running at you, you run away. You still don't get to shoot someone because "OMG he has a rock" unless someone is in immediate danger of death."

I don't agree. IMO a police officer is entitled to shoot. Running is not a reasonable option. And if someone is crazy enough to do this they shouldn't be on the street in the first place, they should be locked up.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 10:43 AM
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