by Doctor Science
So a guy in Baltimore with no known gang connections shot his ex-girlfriend, then went up to Brooklyn, assassinated two police officers, and killed himself when confronted. His social media posts claimed he did this to avenge the death of Eric Garner -- though I've heard no explanation of why he started by shooting his ex. It does continue the American custom of start by shooting a woman, so I think it possible that attacking his ex was the original crime, assassinating NYPD cops was just a particularly dramatic suicide plan.
The NYPD is enraged -- after all, "up in arms" is already in their job description. When Mayor de Blasio visited the hospital where the officers died, the crowd of police waiting there deliberately turned their backs on him. Patrick Lynch, the head of one of the police unions (I don't understand why there are so many; is this just a NYC thing?), has said that the slain officers' blood is on de Blasio's hands -- I guess for the way he's been willing to listen to some of the protestors. Any criticism of the NYPD, as far as Lynch is concerned, is unfair, inappropriate, and "throwing cops under the bus".
Lynch's attitude is not new, for him or the NYPD. Back in the summer of 2000, Lynch was urging New Yorkers to boycott Bruce Springsteen, because the singer had the effrontery to write about the killing of Amadou Diallo.
Samir Chopra describes his encounter in 1997 with the deadly self-pity of the police, from an officer who was taking a philosophy class from him. That was the year that the big MYC police brutality case was the beating and rape of Abner Louima, and Chopra's student was deeply unhappy.
I was talking to a man who seemed curiously consumed by self-pity. He was not happy his profession was being maligned, but he didn’t seem to think it had anything to do with the way his colleagues–other than a few bad apples, who he wanted to disown all too quickly–behaved with the communities they policed. The police were the real victims here, unfairly made to bear the brunt of a community’s wrath. Louima might have suffered one night, but all the agitators and demonstrators–sometimes folks who didn’t even live in Brooklyn!–were now making life oh-so-difficult for the rest of the police, forced to deal with this daily reminder of their brutality.And via Balloon Juice, I'm reminded self-pity wasn't new then, either:
What makes policemen really dangerous, I think, is that their implements of destruction do not end with the deadly firearms that they discharge so easily and so carelessly. They carry around too, a toxic mix of self-pity, righteousness, and resentment at a deliberately obtuse world. When they walk the streets, they do not see a ‘community’ around them; they see the sullen, non-compliant subjects of their policing.
In 1992, more than 4,000 off-duty NYPD cops stormed City Hall, blocked Brklyn Bridge, beat up reporters. No arrests. http://t.co/MFKrPmqDta— Mister Bunny (@AskMisterBunny) December 21, 2014
While the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association had called the rally to protest Mayor David N. Dinkins's proposal to create an independent civilian agency that would look into police misconduct, the huge turnout -- estimated by the Police Department at 10,000 protesters -- and the harsh emotional pitch reflected widespread anger among rank-and-file officers toward the Mayor for his handling of riots against the police in Washington Heights last July, his refusal to give them semiautomatic weapons and his appointment of an outside panel to investigate corruption.In contrast, the police officers in Brooklyn Nine Nine aren't self-pitying, self-righteous, and resentful. The worst of them are goldbrickers, just waiting for retirement; none are aggressive, authoritarian assholes. Not all police officers are like that, of course, but I've never heard of a precinct without at least a few -- it would be like having all children above average.
I know B99 is "just a TV show", but as the months have passed it's become more and more difficult for me to just relax and suspend my disbelief. It starts to see less like an innocuously pretty picture, where attitudes have been cleaned up along with the cussing, and more like out-and-out propaganda.
I know B99 is better than other cop shows , which generally glorify the ~drama~ of police work and the shootings police do. In our last discussion about police culture, someone suggested disqualifying officer candidates who'd watched COPS. I don't know if they were joking, but I don't think such shows *help*. In an article about police militarization and community policing, DOJ analyst Karl Bickel talks about the dangers of
hiring officers in the spirit of adventure, who have been exposed to action oriented police dramas since their youth, and sending them to an academy patterned after a military boot camp, then dressing them in black battle dress uniforms and turning them loose in a subculture steeped in an “us versus them” outlook toward those they serve and protect, while prosecuting the war on crime, war on drugs, and now a war on terrorism-- bold mine. Even police officers have seen far more shootings on TV than they have in real life, and that will tend to shape their expectations -- about who gets shot, and why, and whose fault it is.