My Photo

« Your curious borders open thread | Main | Touristic futures and white elephants open thread »

August 13, 2014

Comments

All well motivated ideas; the devil's in the details, as always.

But it's not like there aren't paths to federal enforcement even now, although rarely used. While RICO prosecutions are mostly aimed at standard "organized crime", violation of citizens rights "under color of law" is a RICO predicate.

Anyone the feds drop a RICO case on will be in a world of hurt, in the case of the Ferguson PD, that is as it should be.

(caveat: not a lawyer, so my understanding may be totally garbled. YMMV. See your doctor if you have an election lasting more than 48 hours)

Insofar as police are tools of the 1% and the racist white majority, they are just doing their jobs. What is a disgrace is not the police, it is our public policies that promote unemployment. It is our public policies that promote "disparate impact". It is our total inability to deal with the real issues that beset our nation.

When you worship accumulation for the sake of accumulation for the few (white) sliver upper class, this is what you get.

Conclusion: Perhaps unrestrained property fetishism isn't so good for us after all.

There is an increasing pattern of shooting dogs, too.

I am very concerned about the militarization of the police. It goes hand in had with the privatization of prisons and the criminalization of poverty. And the shooting of family pets.

Anybody else notice in all those pictures of the heavily armed white gendarmerie in Ferguson that they are all WHITE?

Just askin'.

I've been watching footage. I could see the cops but saw that one of their incendiary deices set a house on fire. It was unprovoked police violence in the footage I saw. The cops were too far away when they started shooting to tell they were even human, let alone see skin color. And the crowd absolutely did nothing to provoke. People were standing with their hands up in the air to show they hand nothing, no weapons, rocks, nothing. The cops were shootin at them from what looked like about a distanc eof two city blocks.

bobbyp, yes others noticed. But while a majority of the population of Furgeson is black, the police department has 53 police officers of whom (according to the cheif of police) only 3 are black. So the odds are that any confrontation will involve white policemen and black civilians.

it has to be a federal crime, because the Blue Code of Silence means that local police can't be trusted to investigate themselves.

Dr. S, I understand your point. But it isn't obvious to me (IANAL) what Constitutional basis there would be for making this a Federal offense.

I suppose you could make some convoluted case that civil rights are being violated. But it would be even more convoluted (read "implausible") than some of the other laws of dubious justification which have used that frail reed.

Veterans on Ferguson: a collection of tweets by military veterans about what they're seeing from Ferguson.

The general consensus here: if this is militarization, it's the shittiest, least-trained, least professional military in the world, using weapons far beyond what they need, or what the military would use when doing crowd control.

Well, that's what you ought to expect when you spend lots of money on bigger and fancier toys (every small town needs a SWAT team!), but very little on actually training in their use. It's militarization of equipment, without militarization of training. (And we won't even start on how much more closely the military demographics reflect the population of the nation than this police force does that of their town.)

I suppose you could make some convoluted case that civil rights are being violated.

wj,

IANAL either, but do you really mean "convoluted"?

It seems to me that what makes the US a single nation is that individual Americans have certain rights (and obligations) whether they live in Missouri or Massachusetts. State and local governments can try to forbid American citizens in their jurisdiction to peacefully assemble (or absolve them from the income tax) if they like, but when they do the federal government gets to step in.

I suppose it would be less convoluted to just give up and let states be "sovereign". But in that case, I'd agitate for MA to require visas for visitors from MO, and to maintain a consulate in Saint Louis. And of course, the Ferguson police would have to buy their war gear with MO tax money, not my federal tax dollars.

--TP

But it isn't obvious to me (IANAL) what Constitutional basis there would be for making this a Federal offense.
I suppose you could make some convoluted case that civil rights are being violated.

That'd be my angle- anyone killed by the police has had their life taken from them without due process. Which could still be justified, but as Doc Sci observes the local police are likely too close to the matter to provide an unbiased oversight.
Of course, when we're talking about city or county police, that oversight could be provided by the states. And maybe that oversight could be oversight rather than taking the case entirely out of the local jurisdiction.
One other problem- each case will have occurred in the context of all of the local laws governing the use of force etc- is this a call for a federal standard for use of force by police against civilians, or for federal courts to hear cases based on local laws?

I even think direct but accidental deaths, or deaths when the police are mistaken, should be punished. Yes, maybe it was "just a mistake" -- but the police are too dangerous to be allowed to get away with unsanctioned mistakes. Basically, any mistaken or accidental death by police should count as negligent homicide.

That seems to me too low of a bar; normally negligient homicide includes some amount of recklessness or failure to exercise normal care. Why get rid of that standard? All this does is make police responsible for deaths that occur when they *were* demonstrating due care, but circumstances were beyond their control.
There's an argument to be made about how proper police training makes their level of care and responsibility to predict events higher than in civilians, but I don't see why we would dispense with this entirely. There's also an argument about how normalizing dangerous practices (eg tasers) is used as a defense, as if "everyone is doing it" was a legal doctrine that pierces through civilians' civil rights. And I would very much want to *expand* the potential defendants to include anyone who 1)failed to provide the proper training that foreseeably put civilians at risk or 2)approved a policy that created a threat to civilians without a demonstrable overwhelming need on the part of the police to protect themselves or other civilians.
But still, if eg a police car is driving normally through a neighborhood. A kid runs directly out in front of the car, no time to stop, kid is killed. Any other driver we'd not have a case against them: no way to predict or see that the kid was going to jump out. But now you say that for a cop, it doesn't matter if he could predict this sequence of events of if he took every possible precaution: dead civilian, accident, cop goes to jail?

maybe this will help.

getting that f'd-up wanna-be-military police force off the job is about the best thing that can happen, right now.

From the Doctor's link:

Ask for free equipment that would otherwise be scrapped, or look for money in their budgets to prepare for an unlikely scenario.

One of the reasons the PDs take the equipment because its free and/or subsidized because its military surplus. Would you spend 50k on a police cruiser or a van when you can get an MRAP or Humvee for free or close to it? Why buy handguns and tasers when M16s are free?

This is one more way our wars abroad come back to harm us at home.

In response to the calls to get the federal government involved, I would point out that they are already involved. They are giving and granting money for military equipment. Even under the guise of community-oriented policing (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/09/doj-agency-warns-of-polic_n_4412377.html ). Indeed, the FBI and DEA coordinate with local SWAT teams to execute paramilitary raids (http://articles.latimes.com/2001/jan/16/news/mn-12868 ).

In addition to wj's legal concerns, I'm skeptical the DOJ would be more willing to prosecute local PD than state LE. Or if willing, any more able. The victims and non-PD witnesses are rarely white middle class citizens with no criminal records. They are generally disadvantaged minorities living in areas where they will be frequently contacted by police, and suspected of crime even if they aren't convicted. Both our law enforcement and our court system will be biased against them, and for the hard working officer with a distinguished record of service.

The problem isn't just that local LE doesn't have the firm hand of the DOJ on its shoulder. It's that we, as a nation, are fighting wars against drugs and terrorism. Wars lead to excessive force and collateral damage. If we want to stop the violence, we have to stop the wars. In my mind, the positive role the federal government can play is to encourage actual community-oriented policing strategies, as some voices in the DOJ are urging (see the HuffPo link above).

I completely agree that getting the military equipment out of the local police grab-bag would be a good idea. And we can do that by the relatively simple process is just stopping having the Federal governmeny buy/subsidize it. The sooner the better.

But I'm not seeing the idea that death when the police are involved is a civil rights violation. On that basis, ALL deaths would be Federal crimes. For that matter, all robberies could be as well. In fact, most conduct which is currently criminal, by anyone. Is that really the way we want to go?

That isn't to say that nothing can be a violation of civil rights. Just that some things, however reprehensible, are not.

1. The shooting and killing of an unarmed citizen who does not have an outstanding warrant for a violent crime should be a federal offense.

A very well thought out idea. Not only will this will be a great recruiting tool for police departments across the country, it has the added benefit of outlawing the use of deadly force in police work except when the officer actually knows that the person shooting at him/her has the proper warrant out for their arrest. Why this isn't already the law in every civilized country is beyond me.

2. Choke holds and chest compressions by police (what the coroner lists as the official cause of death for Eric Garner) should be federally banned.

Why stop there? Why not limit officers' ability to restrain violent suspects to a polite, verbal request to cease and desist?

3. All police officers must wear forward-facing body cameras while on duty. They cost just $99 and are having a signficant, positive impact in several cities around the United States and the world.

And if a violent suspect dislocates or removes the camera while the officer is politely requesting the suspect's cooperation, we will lock up the officer.

4. Suspensions for violations of any of the above offenses should be UNPAID.

Sure. Nothing like suspending the presumption of innocence.

5. Convictions for the above offenses should have their own set of mandatory minimum penalties.

Absolutely. No less than five years. Anybody thinking about a career in law enforcement? It's getting more and more attractive by the day.

I think the police-mediated death *by any means* of a citizen who isn't imminently threatening someone's life, or who doesn't have a warrant against them, should be a federal offense.

I am not clear on what a 'police-mediated death' is, but let's suppose this means an officer kills a suspect in the line of duty. The good news here is that, for example, if a suspect who is not currently under an arrest warrant is raping a fourteen year old victim, the officer will refrain from the use of deadly force and must instead limit his response to a verbal and polite request to cease and desist.

I even think direct but accidental deaths, or deaths when the police are mistaken, should be punished. Yes, maybe it was "just a mistake" -- but the police are too dangerous to be allowed to get away with unsanctioned mistakes.

Absolutely! For example, if an officer is pursuing a suspect, both of them in cars, and the suspect has an accident and is killed as a result, the officer should go to jail. Or, if a suspect is shooting at an officer and the officer returns fire but misses and the bullet passes through the wall of a home and strikes an innocent resident, the officer goes to jail, end of sentence.

Insofar as police are tools of the 1% and the racist white majority, they are just doing their jobs. What is a disgrace is not the police, it is our public policies that promote unemployment. It is our public policies that promote "disparate impact". It is our total inability to deal with the real issues that beset our nation.

And there you have it. Rich, racist white people hiring police to kill off minorities, particularly African Americans. And, of course, the national public policy of promoting unemployment. Obama won his second term on the strength of his record of failing to mitigate unemployment. There is nothing us rich, white racists like more than killing off the random African American and touching off a riot. And unemployment. Don't forget that, because we *love* unemployment. Good, clean fun all the way around.

Now, for a more nuanced view: when an unarmed citizen, particularly a minority, is killed by an officer, questions are going to be asked. Hard, pointed questions, and rightly so. Whether the shooting was clearly justified or not, as a matter of course, the matter should be referred to both a state and a federal grand jury (in Texas, a grand jury looks at every police shooting). If charges are warranted, they should be vigorously prosecuted, at both the state and federal levels.

If the police department does not have, as it should, a solid record of community outreach and confidence building in the minority community, all citizens should be rightly suspicious and should demand an accounting. Protests are going to happen and they should. Rioting, OTOH, has to be suppressed.

One can reasonably infer that the Ferguson police are over-equipped and under-trained, but while this is a reasonable inference, it has yet to be proved. We are getting bits and pieces of a complex and varied panoply of police/citizen confrontations. A rioter shot by a rubber bullet is not a peaceful protester shot by a rubber bullet. Bias, motive, etc drive everyone's perspective. Just because someone said something happened doesn't mean it did or it did not. Putting the pieces together, from the killing of Ferguson to who did what, and whether the what was wrong or justifiable, requires competent, independent investigation, not instant and conclusive rushed judgment.

The Ferguson PD should be recused from conducting the investigation. This much is obvious. The Missouri state police and the FBI should conduct independent investigations of this particular matter. If there isn't a legal mechanism for making this a matter of course, there should be. There probably should be a threshold, beyond which any police shooting is investigated by the FBI, but I don't know what that threshold is. Shooting a bank robber who won't drop his/her gun is below the threshold; shooting a suspect in the throes of a seizure is over the line. I don't know where to draw because I haven't thought it through, and if I tried, I'd likely conclude doing so is beyond my abilities. Maybe just leave it to the FBI's discretion. They do have other items on the 'to do' list and there will be clear cases of justified use of force and then there will be gray areas. The gray areas require something more than a cursory review.

Police officers should be held to a different standard than private citizens and should be trained to meet that standard. It is up to the voting public to decide how its money is spent. You get what you pay for, or what you can afford.

There is, in fact, a federal law that affords both criminal and civil redress for deprivation of civil rights under color of law. You can find it at 42 USC 1983. I suspect we'll be hearing more about that later. Later, as in weeks and months from now, after the dust has settled and most of us have moved on to other burning topics immediately before us.

The governor is taking the St Louis PD off the job in Ferguson.

A very intelligent move, IMO.

It's time to wrap up the war on drugs, and it's time to get freaking military ordnance, gear, and tactics out of community policing.

But I'm not seeing the idea that death when the police are involved is a civil rights violation.

If a cop decides to louse you up because you're not walking on the sidewalk when he told you to, and then shoots you down like a dog if you resist being manhandled, I would say the possibility that a civil rights violation may have occurred is fairly high.

Someday the cops will tell us their side of the story. The sooner the better, and it better be damned good.

Folks seem to be unclear on the concept of "protect and serve".

McKinney,

I tend to agree with your points @ 2:01 above except for the last part about my thread spew. My point is rather obvious, it we had policies such as a jobs guarantee, and less institutional racism (and racism in general) we would have fewer instances as we see at Ferguson (and sadly, all too many elsewheres). This strikes me as intuitively obvious. Insofar as you support public policies that shift income upward and tilt public spending to respond to an exaggerated fear of inflation at the expense of greater unemployment, then you simply are saying that this kind of social carnage is a price worth paying.

Also, your comment at 2:14 was indeed nuanced.

Well done.

Well done

Thanks.

I suspect we could have a useful conversation if we could dispense with the hyperbole on the touchy topic of racism. To that end, I am still looking for a business reason to get to Seattle.

My second comment had a mildly humorous--or at least that was the attempt--illustration using you as focal point. Upon rereading, I concluded the topic didn't lend itself to humor of any kind, notwithstanding that gallows humor is my default position in real life.

it has the added benefit of outlawing the use of deadly force in police work except when the officer actually knows that the person shooting at him/her has the proper warrant out for their arrest

How exactly is an unarmed person shooting? I think your eagerness to comdemn this has outrun your reading.

Choke holds and chest compressions by police (what the coroner lists as the official cause of death for Eric Garner) should be federally banned.

Why stop there? Why not limit officers' ability to restrain violent suspects to a polite, verbal request to cease and desist?

How about we just take each others' positions and extend them beyond all reason and then set fire to the strawmen and have a bonfire! My turn: why are you arguing that cops should shoot every citizen on sight, you monster? :)

And if a violent suspect dislocates or removes the camera while the officer is politely requesting the suspect's cooperation, we will lock up the officer.

I see you've got ahead of me on the exaggeration thing. Bravo!

The good news here is that, for example, if a suspect who is not currently under an arrest warrant is raping a fourteen year old victim, the officer will refrain from the use of deadly force and must instead limit his response to a verbal and polite request to cease and desist.

I think you're shooting (har har) a little bit past even my ridiculous vision. Rein it in a tad.

Now, for a more nuanced view

My vote: do this one first next time. Maybe then this exaggeration-for-effect stuff won't feel necessary.

One can reasonably infer that the Ferguson police are over-equipped and under-trained, but while this is a reasonable inference, it has yet to be proved.

They're arresting (and 'accidentally' knocking around) reporters, tear-gassing reporters, harassing anyone who tries to capture their actions on film, etc. I don't think those points are in serious dispute (unless *everyone except for the police* are lying their heads off). So I think we can relax about jumping to conclusions about whether they're behaving badly. Question is what to do about it, and what to do to stop it from happening again.
The question is, how much of this sort of bullying, agressive behavior is tolerated among police as a general practice? IMO the problem isn't that all police are bullies, it's that police culture and police tactics allow for quite a bit of bullying of citizens and excessive use of force.
I want to be tough on crime *including crime committed by the police*.

If there isn't a legal mechanism for making this a matter of course, there should be. There probably should be a threshold, beyond which any police shooting is investigated by the FBI, but I don't know what that threshold is.

And after all of that condemnation, we end up in mostly the same place, preparing to debate about exactly when a police shooting should get a federal investigation. Weird.

Anybody thinking about a career in law enforcement? It's getting more and more attractive by the day.

Im all for 1)demilitarizing the police, both in gear and mentality 2)training them properly, paying them well, giving them as much support as we can 3)supporting their legal position when they're behaving well, even when they're forced to make snap decisions in difficiult circumstances that don't end well 4)KICKING THEM IN THE NUTS WHEN THEY ACT LIKE GESTAPO. I want happy police who are part of their community, trusted by their community, acting as the protectors of their community.
[Corrolary: let's let teachers beat students with whatever comes to hand and claim it's a necessary part of the learning process. They should get truncheons and tasers and the right to delete any pictures or video taken of them by students. Otherwise, how are we going to keep teachers in the classroom? Answer: we don't really want the violent bullies in the classroom anyway, and the ones that are there for the right reasons won't be chafing under the restrictions to not escalate the use of force arbitrarily].

I suspect we could have a useful conversation if we could dispense with the hyperbole on the touchy topic of racism

Without wishing to stir the pot, I'll just say that dispensing with hyperbole is fine, but assuming race is not a factor here seems, to me, naive.

We'll see what the various investigations produce.

but assuming race is not a factor here seems, to me, naive.

I'm not making that assumption. I'm waiting for the investigation and, I think, making the point that when race *is* involved, people's antennae are raised, as they should be.

sounds like we're on the same page.

meanwhile, on the broader topic of police accountability, over here in my neck of the woods, we have this.

As part of the American Civil Liberties Union’s recent report on police militarization, the Massachusetts chapter of the organization sent open records requests to SWAT teams across that state. It received an interesting response.

The interesting response was "No".

Basically, a bunch of police chiefs in MA formed an organization to pool resources, incorporated it as a 501(c)(3), and now say that because they're a private corp they are immune from public open records laws.

They're funded with public money, operated by public officials on the public payroll, provide services for public law enforcement and public safety.

But they're a 501(c)(3) so they claim exemption from public laws.

More here.

Seriously, WTF.

Delurking for a moment--

"2. Choke holds and chest compressions by police (what the coroner lists as the official cause of death for Eric Garner) should be federally banned."

"Why stop there? Why not limit officers' ability to restrain violent suspects to a polite, verbal request to cease and desist?"

If only there were some methods that fell in-between strangulation and mere verbal admonitions that could be used to control a person and could be taught to police and even to hobbyists in what we might call "martial arts classes". Tragically the only choice given all the policemen present at Garner's death was either a chokehold or allowing this maddened cigarette vendor to go on selling more people cancer sticks.

Back to lurk mode. Avoiding sarcasm is harder than I thought.

But they're a 501(c)(3) so they claim exemption from public laws.

Un-effing-believable. There oughtta' be a law. I've heard right wingers opine that from time to time....government haters that they claim to be....

Delurking again. I suppose I should give a more direct response to MckT's weird point.

I wouldn't make strangleholds a federally banned technique, any more than I would make hitting someone over the head with a brick or a baseball bat a federally banned technique, or for that matter, shooting them with your pistol. They are all methods that could well lead to someone's death, but a policeman engaged in a life and death struggle with some bad guy might do any one of those things and be justified, either because he has to do it to save his own life or some other person. But those should be the only circumstances where you do such a thing.

They're funded with public money, operated by public officials on the public payroll, provide services for public law enforcement and public safety.

But they're a 501(c)(3) so they claim exemption from public laws.

This kind of crap is an example of the growing danger of public/private partnerships. Government action through private entities is an incredibly effective end-around of the limits of government power. IMHO, NEMLEC is basically the local PD version of Blackwater (or whatever it is named this month).

Another example is third-party doctrine with regards to needing warrants. All the power of the government, none of the limits or requirements.

Rand Paul:

“Given the racial disparities in our criminal justice system, it is impossible for African-Americans not to feel like their government is particularly targeting them...Anyone who thinks that race does not still, even if inadvertently, skew the application of criminal justice in this country is just not paying close enough attention,”

I'd agree.

Whether Ferguson was a racially motivated shooting or not is somewhat besides the larger point. Black men and other minorities are bearing the brunt of the excesses of paramilitary police tactics. It's a disgrace, and a divisive force in our nation.

russell: But they're a 501(c)(3) so they claim exemption from public laws.

That's why we have courts. I'll put money down that they will lose.

thompson: Rand Paul, the champion of the right to discriminate, is now a civil rights leader?

Also, when you're citing legal doctrines, it's always good to provide a cite or two, or people might not know what you're going on about.

Also:

But they're a 501(c)(3) so they claim exemption from public laws.

Let's all ask Darrell Issa to stage a Congressional freakout if the IRS takes a closer look at that alleged 501(c)(3) status.

And, by the way, there's a link to the organization from russell's ACLU link, that doesn't work. It appears that perhaps the organization's website is defunct. Would need more research than I am willing to do tonight to find out what the organization is all about, but a "public/private partnership"? Not sure that's really applicable here.

Concerning chokeholds: They were already banned for decades in New York. The officer in question ignored existing regulations that were in force longer than he (probably) was part of the police himself.

russell, any word on the religious beliefs of that 501(c)(3)? Just wondering....

I suspect we could have a useful conversation if we could dispense with the hyperbole on the touchy topic of racism.

Hyperbole? Why, I am mortified. If it is "touchy" then just about anything one could say qualifies as hyperbole...no? When this kind of crap comes down, I always try to imagine it happening in a lily white suburb, and my mind always draws a blank.

But yes, conversation, useful or not is welcome.

To that end, I am still looking for a business reason to get to Seattle.

What if I sued you? As a practicing attorney, what would you recommend?

Regards,

"any word on the religious beliefs"

Two tear gas canisters shot at every pregnant blackbird shall be ignored but an IUD in the bush shall be prohibited, despite the superior lethality of the former.

A choke hold that smiteth a man walking home to impregnate his female lover shall not be considered an abortifacient, nor shall bulletproof condoms be mandated, for the sperm not shot presently can be shotteth later when it achieves on-its-own-hood during teenaged jaywalking.

American military hardware, manufactured in the city in the hill, and not utilized to kill just about anyone and everyone in the fertile crescent of the Middle East, even us, shall be conserved and distributed among the domestic fuckwads to bring God's wrath to the darksome loiterers and the domestic loathed, and turning thy swords into ploughshares shall not be countenanced among the deficit-minded, nor shall cracker police forces be denied their bullet-stamps by unanimous consent.

Permitting devilish alcoholic spirits at gun shows shall be denied for it may lead to the prohibition of weapons fondling, but by all means carry thy mausers and deringers into wine bars and dive bars for the unarmed may require killing.


Question:

Are the armed Bundy libertarian freedom-fighters manning their SUVS and heading for Ferguson to counter government tyranny there?

I think the Pentagon should start distributing missile launchers, grenade launchers, armored vehicles, and other heavy weaponry to poor citizens in poor neighborhoods around the country, instead of to local police forces (the government closest to the people has the best shot at the people), just to even things up.

sapient:

Rand Paul, the champion of the right to discriminate, is now a civil rights leader?

I don't have to agree with everything someone does or says to credit them when I do agree. Nor does Rand being right in this comment make him a 'civil rights leader'.

Also, when you're citing legal doctrines, it's always good to provide a cite or two,

While I do like to cite legal doctrines, I can't find where I have done that in this discussion. Perhaps you could point it out?

but a "public/private partnership"? Not sure that's really applicable here.

To quote russell from a few hours ago:

Basically, a bunch of police chiefs in MA formed an organization to pool resources, incorporated it as a 501(c)(3), and now say that because they're a private corp they are immune from public open records laws.

They're funded with public money, operated by public officials on the public payroll, provide services for public law enforcement and public safety.

But they're a 501(c)(3) so they claim exemption from public laws.

I think that is a pretty concise description. The organization is a private 501(c)(3) organized by public officials with public funding to further a public goal of law enforcement. If you have a better phrase than 'public/private partnership', or think that phrase is misleading in some way, I'm all ears.

You said it would take more than you are willing to do tonight to find out what the organization is about. I encourage you to take the time to learn about what is, IMHO, it is a dangerous, and important, development.

It is a mechanism that further reduces accountability of local LE, by shielding some of their actions from public review. Something which is normally facilitated by Freedom of Information laws in the US (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_information_in_the_United_States ) and in MA specifically (http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/Massachusetts_Public_Records_Act ).

It appears that perhaps the organization's website is defunct.

A questionable organization shuttering its website after it stumbles into the public eye? Shocking. Hope nobody knows about the wayback machine...

http://web.archive.org/web/20140718205955/http://www.nemlec.com/">http://www.nemlec.com/">http://web.archive.org/web/20140718205955/http://www.nemlec.com/

Note, I have no specific objections to LLE sharing resources across jurisdictions. That's actually way better than every municipal police force having its own SWAT team and having to spend money on unique and rarely used investigative units like dive teams. I just think they should do it in a publicly reviewable way.

If you have a better phrase than 'public/private partnership', or think that phrase is misleading in some way, I'm all ears.

Public/private partnership brings to mind public officials partnering with preexisting private entities to accomplish public goals, not public officials incorporating and posing as a private entity to avoid the FOIA (with which I am familiar - my comment encouraging citations was about a seemingly extraneous reference to the "third-party doctrine" - had trouble following your train of thought with that one).

My previous comments were not written to encourage public officials to use corporation laws to avoid public scrutiny; in fact, I'm not at all sure that their attempt to do so will hold up when challenged. As the ACLU, and Radley Balko suggest, the attempt to do so is certainly legally questionable.

This is an example of public/private partnerships:

"Veteran police chiefs who have served on the front lines of America’s biggest police forces are voicing their concern. Norman H. Stamper, the former police chief of Seattle, has written with regret about the military-style tactics employed during the protests against the 1999 World Trade Organization conference in Seattle; he now advocates “an authentic partnership in policing the city,” involving rank-and-file officers, civilian employees and community representatives."

That's why we have courts.

Which is to say, there is a possible remedy available.

All good, but that doesn't detract from the fundamental horse-sh*tness of the situation.

It appears that perhaps the organization's website is defunct.

They are, however, on Facebook.

They are modern major generals.

Also - McK, was your Seattle comment a reference to this?

sapient:

Alright, fair enough on public/private partnerships. It's a fairly common term among libertarians I know, encompassing both what you described and what I described. I thought it was a more generally recognized phrase, but perhaps not.

Could you suggest a better description?

Regarding 'third-party doctrine' I just assumed that both the concept and problems associated with it would be well understood by the commenters here, as its come up multiple times in the past.

I apologize, here is a decent breakdown of the legal precedent involved, how private parties can collaborate with public entities to null the need for warrants:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/12/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-third-party-doctrine/282721/

As the ACLU, and Radley Balko suggest, the attempt to do so is certainly legally questionable.

I would hope to agree, although I am really unclear on the legal precedents involved. In other words, while it seems obvious to me that the ACLU *should* prevail, it doesn't seem obvious to me that they *will*.

Regardless, I don't think the courts are necessarily the best vehicle for preventing this. I think local populations need to insist governments and police chiefs that believe in transparency in police actions and administration. While the 501c3 is a problem, it is just a symptom of a larger problem, that is, public servants believing they don't owe the public an accounting.

this might change things:

Michael Brown, the African-American teen who was shot by Ferguson, Mo., police Saturday, was the primary suspect for an alleged robbery at the time of the shooting, according to reporters on the ground piecing through a police report released Friday.

not sure why they didn't say that five days ago...

But still, if eg a police car is driving normally through a neighborhood. A kid runs directly out in front of the car, no time to stop, kid is killed. Any other driver we'd not have a case against them: no way to predict or see that the kid was going to jump out.

Coming from Finland, I'd say you should have a case against them. Here, children under 10 years of age are considered completely irresponsible for their actions in traffic. If you are driving through a neighbourhood, you should anticipate that children may jump in front of your car. The standard of care is heightened because of the location. In fact, your speed should be so low that the child won't be killed if he jumps in front of you. It might, and just might be possible for you to demonstrate that no one could have avoided killing that kid but your chances are pretty low.

Of course, we have a also a very low mandatory minimum for negligent homicide. An old lady was killed by a driver in my neighbourhood when getting her mail. The road was slippery and the street lighting was poor. The driver, also a woman, was duly prosecuted and convicted of negligent homicide of "ordinary" kind, although her speed was clearly within the limits. She received a fine of 30 day-fines, meaning about one half of her monthly salary. That is a very typical punishment for accidental vehicular homicide here.

So, the driver in your case should be prosecuted, cop or not.

cleek, was the policeman firing the shot aware of that?

this might change things

It could explain why the officer confronted Brown, and it could explain why the officer might have thought deadly force was appropriate if he thought Brown was trying to flee or resist arrest.

It doesn't explain why the PD felt that military gear and tactics were needed to address the resulting public response.

Minority communities are understandably sensitive to their people being shot by cops. Their concerns deserve respectful acknowledgement on the part of public actors.

Community police departments have been flooded with weapons and other gear that are extraordinarily excessive for anything resembling community policing.

Those two things are not changed by Brown's guilt or innocence.

It could explain why the officer confronted Brown, and it could explain why the officer might have thought deadly force was appropriate if he thought Brown was trying to flee or resist arrest.

An officer is only justified in using deadly force if there's a threat of deadly force to the officer or the public. Fleeing or resisting arrest by themselves would not justify it.

Community police departments have been flooded with weapons and other gear that are extraordinarily excessive for anything resembling community policing.

Although I completely and heartily agree that "military gear and tactics" were not needed to respond to public protest, I'm not sure that police departments don't need significant weapons since many in the "community" (perhaps not the Ferguson community, but in many communities) own assault weapons.

I would be in favor of strong community gun control, with community police carrying bobby sticks. But I'd rather have the police at least as well-armed as the average joe. That doesn't mean that police should murder unarmed citizens, etc.

I think local populations need to insist governments and police chiefs that believe in transparency in police actions and administration.

Sure, but how do you suggest that local populations insist on it other than insisting that the law be enforced against them?

Fleeing or resisting arrest by themselves would not justify it.

I stand corrected, thanks for that.

I'm not sure that police departments don't need significant weapons

I understand that cops in many places have to deal with the presence of heavily armed people in their jurisdictions.

That said, the city of Keene NH has an 8 ton armed personnel carrier.

Because Pumpkin Festival, or something. Seriously, the annual Keene Pumpkin Festival is mentioned in the article as a possible target of terrorism, so obviously they need a heavily armored military transport, complete with thermal imaging and biohazard sensing technology.

And, they own it in the face of significant resistance from the people who actually live in Keene. The town got a grant to buy it, so they bought it.

It's crazy.

Regarding 'third-party doctrine' I just assumed that both the concept and problems associated with it would be well understood by the commenters here, as its come up multiple times in the past.

When it's come up, it was in an area where it had some applicability, and has nothing to do with anything regarding the Ferguson matter. The extent to which the doctrine is problematic is a matter of opinion, and of context. But it's a different topic altogether.

And, they own it in the face of significant resistance from the people who actually live in Keene. The town got a grant to buy it, so they bought it.

It's crazy.

Okay, yep. It is crazy.

It doesn't explain why the PD felt that military gear and tactics were needed to address the resulting public response.

right. but the shooting and the response to the protests are two very different things.

if the Brown was, in fact, a criminal, it changes the narrative a bit. he's no longer just an innocent kid on his way to college; he's a guy who was probably expecting some police attention.

either way, the shooting seems out of proportion. no doubt.

Article with picts.

the shooting seems out of proportion. no doubt.

Agreed.

Sapient: "Although I completely and heartily agree that "military gear and tactics" were not needed to respond to public protest, I'm not sure that police departments don't need significant weapons since many in the "community" (perhaps not the Ferguson community, but in many communities) own assault weapons."

Oh? Then we should be seeing lots of police officers killed in the line of duty in that area every year.

How many have been?

But it's a different topic altogether.

Government using information held by private parties to avoid needing warrants.

Government using information held by private parties to avoid responding to FOIA requests.

Seems really similar to me. Maybe it doesn't to you. If that's the case, I don't see much to discuss.

Fleeing or resisting arrest by themselves would not justify it.

Agree. You are absolutely right. But the legal result is likely going to be influenced by public opinion, by the narrative.

The police release their suspicions, and the press will repeat it, often uncritically. Eventually it will be repeated often enough, and it will be part of the narrative: a criminal killed in an unfortunate encounter with police. If only he wasn't a criminal. If only he had complied. If only it hadn't come to this. Etc, etc.

Lost in the narrative will be that deadly force was likely not justified, even if he was guilty of robbery and was fleeing.

Sure, but how do you suggest that local populations insist on it other than insisting that the law be enforced against them?

By petitioning their government for a redress of their grievances. By contacting their representatives. By voting.

Then we should be seeing lots of police officers killed in the line of duty in that area every year.

I'm not following your logic. Gunfire is the most frequent cause of officers killed in the line of duty. You can look at the link for 2014, which is even more striking.

Maybe it doesn't to you. If that's the case, I don't see much to discuss.

Agreed.

Lost in the narrative will be that deadly force was likely not justified, even if he was guilty of robbery and was fleeing.

I disagree. Obviously, court isn't perfect, but the jury would be instructed very specifically on the point, and a judge would know it very well. Of course, you're welcome to dismiss the value of trials if you want. Clearly, it's always preferable for bad things not to happen.

By petitioning their government for a redress of their grievances. By contacting their representatives. By voting.

Voting results in representatives creating laws that are enforced, with violations being adjudicated by the courts. Not sure why you think that voting is an alternative to the way the system currently works. (I'm all for voting! I do it every election.)

From russell's link:

The public must stop blaming these events on bad cops or bad departments. Too many people are willing to accept that because being a cop is risky, they have to punch, shoot or tase at the slightest provocation. Such attitudes enable the cult of compliance.

I agree.

sapient:

Of course, you're welcome to dismiss the value of trials if you want.

I don't want to, and I didn't.

Not sure why you think that voting is an alternative to the way the system currently works.

I didn't. I said it was a method for the public to insist on something from public officials.

sapient,

you don't seem to understand my comments. That's perfectly fine, I don't really care. I also rarely get your overall point. It is apparent we have little to constructively discuss.

if the Brown

sheesh. that was an ugly typo.

It turns out the officer who shot Brown was not aware of the latter's status as suspect in the aforementioned robbery.

This according to the Ferguson police chief. Story at DKOS.

Also this, not directly on topic, but educational:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/08/14/virginia-deputy-shoots-daughter-mistaken-for-intruder/14086355/

Are the police trained to shoot on sight, even in their own homes? Who told them that bullshit? Joe Pesci?

My opinion: Too many weapons in an America that seems to be full to the brim of armed assholes, uniformed or not, encouraged by a rabidly testorerone-filled political culture and media. And there is something about a handy weapon which brings out the inner asshole in those who don't appear to be assholes on first inspection.

Disarm authorities at all levels of government (by which I mean an Andy of Mayberry arrangement: no weapons worn in public, one bullet per deputy, and the arms kept locked up at the armory unless there is a damned good reason otherwise) and then sharply curtail a citizen's so-called right to amass armaments, other than hunting implements.

Shut down all gun manufacturing and sales in the U.S, outside of those weapons required for reasonable hunting.

All lobbying to the contrary would be prohibited. That way we curtail both the First and Second Amendments to make everyone angry on high principle.

Any politician who poses with a weapon or uses images of guns in their political horseshit pandering would face a fine in the first instance and prison in the second.

Draconian prosecution for the black market in weaponry that is sure to be developed by the usual murderous and enterprising suspects.

End the drug war and find smarter ways of fighting it. End the war on terror and find better ways of defending against it.

Transfer those monies to ridding the entire country of all weaponry outside of hunting implements.

No more gun shows. Instead, drinking shows.

Anyone doesn't like these measures can go fuck themselves. The cocksuckers can find me and shoot me and probably will, being peculiarly American.

I wouldn't miss if I were you.

Chips in guns that require the owner only may load the weapon or take the safety off.

Chips in people who use a firearm in any crime whatsoever that will prevent them from ever using a weapon again, by allowing the hunting rifle, cause that's all that will be available, mate, to identify a convicted asshole.

Are the police trained to shoot on sight, even in their own homes?

Actually, the situation in the linked article is really common, not just among police officers, but people who have guns for "self-defense". I heard about such instances growing up, which was one of the top 100 reasons my family had no guns.

In fact, the number of homicides by gun each year is over 10,000 (2011 stats). Police killings (justified or not) is about 600.

Obviously, these stats may be unreliable. Still, people with guns shoot people. Police are part of the problem. Not sure that they're the problem.

Are the police trained to shoot on sight, even in their own homes?

Actually, the situation in the linked article is really common, not just among police officers, but people who have guns for "self-defense". I heard about such instances growing up, which was one of the top 100 reasons my family had no guns.

In fact, the number of homicides by gun each year is over 10,000 (2011 stats). Police killings (justified or not) is about 600.

Obviously, these stats may be unreliable. Still, people with guns shoot people. Police are part of the problem. Not sure that they're the problem.

Yes, and so my point is, and remains, people with guns kill people, people without guns rarely do, though I will concede Brett Bellmore's stance (wide, though tightly cross-legged at times), that sans guns death by SUV and Agatha Christie poisons would rise, but not nearly enough to make up for death by gun, despite the admirable efforts by the NSUVA and the NPA, staffed by former conservative staffers of the NRA, now illegal and defunct under my, uh, plan.

I'm with you, Count.

Sorry too for my double post. Got a weird error message, so tried again, got another weird error message. Low and behold ...

in addition to deaths by gun, there are tens of thousands of injuries by gun - many of which probably would've been deaths but for insufficient target practice on the part of the shooter.

By petitioning their government for a redress of their grievances.

And get clubbed and shot with rubber bullets/wooden plugs/CS gas for your trouble.

By voting.

how does the old chestnut go? If voting could change anything, it would be illegal.

McTex writes :

"when an unarmed citizen, particularly a minority, is killed by an officer, questions are going to be asked. Hard, pointed questions."

If only it were so.

One of the characteristics of privilege is to believe that it is so.

McTex, with all due respect, in many parts of this country, no questions will be asked, particularly if there are no (white civilian) witnesses. Hardly anyone will even notice - but if they do, the police will stonewall to protect their own (as they seem to have done in Ferguson), no matter how egregious the misbehavior. It takes the concerted and public outrage of a community, as in Ferguson, or Rodney King in LA, to cause questions to be asked, and even then it's a safe bet that the internal affairs investigation will exonerate the cop.

As privileged people, we only notice the exceptional cases that make the news.

My mother, a nice white lady who has lived all her life in small towns without significant minority population, believes that police would never stoop to planting a weapon or drugs on an inconvenient brown corpse, and that "they must have done something, or the police wouldn't be after them". She is wrong.

Training was criticized when right wing bigots were found to be instructors at US and Israeli military academies....flogging hate of Islam/Muslims contrary to official forces' policy of religious nondiscrimination . Today police are benefiting from the same sort of institutional mindwashing. http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2014/08/israeli-police-training.html#more

A few observations that may or may not be relevant;

1. Re, people with guns shoot people. While the circular logic of that thought is impossible to deny, it is barely applicable to our societal reality. Overwhelmingly, it is not the often demonized (by the left) rural gun collecting NRA member that is murdering. It is, rather, minority criminals that are committing gun violence. Remove murders committed by blacks (and to a lesser extent, Hispanics) in inner cities and the US homicide rate drops below that of the stringently gun controlled European countries. We don't have a gun problem in the US when it comes to conservative whites. We have a problem with minority criminals that, incidentally, comprise a good chunk of the democratic base. Considering that the white mass shooters - such as at Newtown - are mostly from democrat families, it can justifiably be said that gun violence is a liberal problem.

2. Murder is not a federal crime. Look it up. There is no federal statute criminalizing murder.

3. The assumption that the Brown was inappropriately shot and killed is just that, an assumption - moreover, an assumption based on a political agenda. A charging violent 290 pound 18 year old can kill you, or maim you for life, easily, armed or not. It happens frequently.

4. Brown was not killed by a police force all kitted up in mil. gear. He was killed by a lone officer using a standard issue medium caliber handgun.

5. Responding to an incendiary, violent mob (witness the fires and looting and, more recently shootings by rioters) by kitting up in mil. gear is not unreasonable. In fact it makes perfect sense.

6. Blacks get a lot of police attention because they commit a lot of violent crime; per capita. This is not police racism at work. It is police going after criminals per their raison d'etre.

7. Everying McKinny Texas has said.

1. ROTFLMAO

2. Everybody knows that. So what? Has anyone argued differently? The closest I have seen is the suggestion that killing someone (especially based on race) might be a civil rights violation. Although, since I haven't read the details, it may be that the Federal program that provides all that military gear comes with some strings about the recipient police force's behavior.

3. You do notice that you have a few assumption there yourself, don't you? Like, you are assuming that Brown was charging and violent. Dare one note that your assumption might, just might, be based on a political agenda as well?

4. And your point would be? Nobody was arguing that he was killed by the militarized police in Furgeson. They were saying that the militarized response of the Furegson police made the situation afterwards worse.

5. That would be true, of course. But in this case, the responding, all kitted up in military gear, happened before there was an "incindiary, violent mob." Unless, I suppose, you consider people standing there with their hands up incindiary....

6. I would be fascinated to hear your rationale for why two people who commit the same drug offense get such radically different treatment correlated with race. Or why traffic stops seem to correlate so much as well. Surely you are not suggesting that white drives are completely law-abiding -- and if you are, try getting out on the freeway some time.

Then again, maybe you know all that, and merely forgot to include the /sarcasm tag....

It's interesting that "informed observer" agrees with "McKinny Texas" but what I really want to know is whether McKinney Texas agrees with informed observer.

--TP

1. ROTFLMAO

Enjoy yourself and then, if you don't mind, show me where I'm wrong. Thx.

3. You do notice that you have a few assumption there yourself, don't you? Like, you are assuming that Brown was charging and violent. Dare one note that your assumption might, just might, be based on a political agenda as well?

My only assumption is that a man is innocent until proven guilty. There are two sides to this story, at least, and M. Brown as the noble innocent minority murdered by racist police is a story that will be proven totally wrong, IMO. Mark my words.

4. And your point would be? Nobody was arguing that he was killed by the militarized police in Furgeson. They were saying that the militarized response of the Furegson police made the situation afterwards worse.

5. That would be true, of course. But in this case, the responding, all kitted up in military gear, happened before there was an "incindiary, violent mob." Unless, I suppose, you consider people standing there with their hands up incindiary....

Yeah. Because blacks are stupid irresponsible undisciplined children. It's natural for them to react to cops in riot gear by committing arson, looting, shooting and throwing Molotov cocktails. Is that what you're saying?

6. I would be fascinated to hear your rationale for why two people who commit the same drug offense get such radically different treatment correlated with race. Or why traffic stops seem to correlate so much as well. Surely you are not suggesting that white drives are completely law-abiding -- and if you are, try getting out on the freeway some time.

How about addressing what I actually said instead of deflecting. I wasn't talking about traffic stops or drug offenses. I was talking about violent crimes like murder. I was pretty clear about that, though I recognize that the truth and ramifications don't fit well with your liberal agenda.

Well, now another noble misunderstood minority has been shot and killed in the St Louis area. He was wielding a knife and came at LE officers with it. They shot him down. Maybe Dr. Science and minions would have busted out some bad ass, but harmless, kung fu moves and disarmed the man without really hurting him too much. I await the demonstration.

WTF i don't even

"My only assumption is that a man is innocent until proven guilty."

"He was wielding a knife and came at LE officers with it."

Hmmm....

Not wishing to respond to the troll, but on the point about 'Molotov cocktails', has anyone seen actual evidence (as opposed to claims) of their being thrown?

The only thing I've seen so far is this:
https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3912/14959347871_bc253ac4aa_n.jpg
which is fairly obviously a CS canister being thrown back.

$10 says "informed observer" has relatively unpigmented skin, which would help explain the unexamined and unrecognized privilege that characterizes his views.

Sorry, Joel, not winning any sucker bets today. (And I doubt anyone will take a bet that IO is in the upper 1/3, probably upper 10%, of the income/wealth range either.)

it is not the often demonized (by the left) rural gun collecting NRA member that is murdering.

Yes, when rural gun collecting NRA members shoot somebody, they generally shoot themselves.

Apparently, it's lonely out there in the boonies.

Or, in some cases, they shoot somebody else through carelessness or mishandling their weapon. Those are not reported as murder. Most often they aren't even crimes. More's the pity.

Yeah. Because blacks are stupid irresponsible undisciplined children.

Your opinion is noted, and will factor into my opinion of everything else you ever have to say.

My only assumption is that a man is innocent until proven guilty. There are two sides to this story, at least, and M. Brown as the noble innocent minority murdered by racist police is a story that will be proven totally wrong, IMO. Mark my words.

Pop quiz - who can spot the contradiction in this statement?

Don't everyone raise their hands at once.

russell, if trolls were smart, they wouldn't be trolls now, would they?

Or, in some cases, they shoot somebody else through carelessness or mishandling their weapon.

Or so it is reported. Because, out there in the boonies, perpetrators of killings are "innocent until proven guilty", and people aren't so anxious to find guilt. Would rather look the other way.

Delurking for the briefest of moments...

"The assumption that the Brown was inappropriately shot and killed is just that, an assumption - moreover, an assumption based on a political agenda. A charging violent 290 pound 18 year old can kill you, or maim you for life, easily, armed or not. It happens frequently."

"My only assumption is that a man is innocent until proven guilty."

Two stated assumptions, one assuming guilt, one assuming innocence. Funny thing, that. Did you even bother to read what you typed before hitting the 'Post' button?

bobbyp

Link didn't work.

Intended to go to Max Speak ?

He is indeed back.

Joel: Yep. I made a typo...fat fingers.

Thanks.

Murder is not a federal crime.....poorly worded by me. My point was that it is a state crime if it happens within a state's borders.

"Yeah. Because blacks are stupid irresponsible undisciplined children" That is NOT my opinion of blacks. That was snark in response to the idea that because police were in riot gear blacks were somehow caused to loot, commit arson, do shootings, etc.

Black voter turnout in Furgeson was only 6% in the last election; which was for local government seats, but 80% +/- in the previous election when Obama was running. So who is to blame for lack of representation.

I believe that blacks could be responsible, well represented, productive, law abiding citizens *if* they were not told by liberals and other enablers that they are victims deserving of gittin' paid.

They oppression theory fails. Black crime has increased dramatically since civil rights.

But perhaps police are supposed to police because black criminals need a leg up?

That was snark

OK, I can see that in context. Thanks for clarifying.

I believe that blacks could be responsible, well represented, productive, law abiding citizens

No need for the conditional mood.

I believe that blacks could be responsible, well represented, productive, law abiding citizens *if* they were not told by liberals and other enablers that they are victims deserving of gittin' paid.

So IOW, if they weren't stupid irresponsible undisciplined children? Because the corollary to your assertions here appears to be that blacks are uniquely susceptible to evil liberal pandering, while other minorities and poor whites lack this very specific vulnerability. For some mysterious reason. The unthinkable alternative being that you're spouting shallow talking points unsupported by anything but a fierce desire for your pat worldview to be correct.

Out of my great respect for TP, my comments on IO's initial comment:

1. Re, people with guns shoot people. While the circular logic of that thought is impossible to deny, it is barely applicable to our societal reality. Overwhelmingly, it is not the often demonized (by the left) rural gun collecting NRA member that is murdering.

I think this is a generally true statement. As Russell notes, accidents happen. Accidental shootings, usually with a child involved, are not numerous, compared to the number of firearms owned by private citizens.

It is, rather, minority criminals that are committing gun violence. Remove murders committed by blacks (and to a lesser extent, Hispanics) in inner cities and the US homicide rate drops below that of the stringently gun controlled European countries.

Crime statistics speak for themselves. The subtext here, however, implies that race is the driving factor rather than a common factor. The African American community has a statistically much higher rate of relatively uneducated, young mothers giving birth to children whose lives pattern those of their only parent. High crime is one of the predictable sequelae of this dynamic.

We don't have a gun problem in the US when it comes to conservative whites. We have a problem with minority criminals that, incidentally, comprise a good chunk of the democratic base.

Actually, we don't have a gun problem with any ethnic group that is reasonably well educated and/or gainfully employed. I do not agree that "minority criminals" comprise a good chunk of the democratic base.

Considering that the white mass shooters - such as at Newtown - are mostly from democrat families, it can justifiably be said that gun violence is a liberal problem.

I do not agree with this.

2. Murder is not a federal crime. Look it up. There is no federal statute criminalizing murder.

I do not agree with this and IO has since clarified.

3. The assumption that the Brown was inappropriately shot and killed is just that, an assumption - moreover, an assumption based on a political agenda.

I agree with the first part. I agree that some people with political agendas are committed to this view and I will go a step further and say that their views will not change regardless of the facts. Those with politically motivated opposite views, i.e. that Brown's death was justifiable homicide, will not let the facts, once they are known, affect their viewpoint either.

A charging violent 290 pound 18 year old can kill you, or maim you for life, easily, armed or not. It happens frequently.

I don't know about 'frequently', but the point is generally valid--if I were a police officer, I would not want to go hand-to-hand with anyone who could bench press more than 40 pounds. Upthread, Carleton rightly calls me out for missing the 'unarmed' qualifier as I snarked at the esteemed Doctor. Fair point. That said, I would like to know if an exception can be made for 5'2" female police officers who are attacked by much larger, unarmed males--deadly force allowed, or must these women limit themselves per the Doctor's post?

4. Brown was not killed by a police force all kitted up in mil. gear. He was killed by a lone officer using a standard issue medium caliber handgun.

True statement.

5. Responding to an incendiary, violent mob (witness the fires and looting and, more recently shootings by rioters) by kitting up in mil. gear is not unreasonable. In fact it makes perfect sense.

True statement. To quote me, 'the easiest job in the world is someone else's.' When confronting a potentially hostile crowd, or even a seemingly peaceful crowd, the police have no idea who is armed, or has a brick, or whatever. If I were a police officer, I would want to go home in one piece after a day of crowd control. If I were in charge of crowd control and I thought there was even a 10% chance of someone in the crowd being armed and dangerous, I would turn my folks out in full kit. Why? To let the potential bad actor know that my side is equipped to deal him/her.

6. Blacks get a lot of police attention because they commit a lot of violent crime; per capita. This is not police racism at work. It is police going after criminals per their raison d'etre.

Hard to know where to begin. Sounds like profiling to me. See my comment above. The police take their crime where they find it. The underlying causes are a matter of ongoing debate. I don't think skin pigmentation is the deciding factor, or else the Irish need to be put on the Watch List, given that milieu in the 19th century.

7. Everying McKinny Texas has said.

With the exception of the defect pointed out by Carleton, I agree completely.

McTex, with all due respect, in many parts of this country, no questions will be asked, particularly if there are no (white civilian) witnesses. Hardly anyone will even notice - but if they do, the police will stonewall to protect their own (as they seem to have done in Ferguson), no matter how egregious the misbehavior. It takes the concerted and public outrage of a community, as in Ferguson, or Rodney King in LA, to cause questions to be asked, and even then it's a safe bet that the internal affairs investigation will exonerate the cop.

This is one of those broad, sweeping assertions that goes without critical comment here at ObWi because it is settled, received wisdom on the left. Yet, if you try to find articles that have actual, valid statistics rather than brief, conclusory assertions of mostly anecdotal evidence, good luck. I tried and found nothing other than 'more of the same' purporting to speak authoritatively.

My anecdotal experience is this: (1) black-on-black crime passes almost entirely without comment; (2) Black-on-white crime passes with minimal notice, even when truly horrendous; and (3) White-on-black crime tends to get noticed to one degree or another, depending on case-specific facts.

As for the general statement that incidents like what we currently see in Ferguson are rare because most (implicitly unjustified) incidents of police use of force are ignored, I disagree. There is no shortage of community activists and others who actively follow events such as these. These folks are ready to move when the opportunity presents. My take is that most police/minority violent encounters are pretty cut and dried. The gray areas do get looked at with a fair degree of regularity. No sane police officer wants to go through what the Ferguson officer is now facing. Of course, no sane officer wants to wind up dead, either. Which doesn't mean that an objective investigation of every 'use of force' incident doesn't go with the territory--you sign up to be a cop, you sign up to have your paper graded.

It's America. If folks want to protest, they can. If the feds want to investigate, that's in their jurisdiction to do so. But, to assert that unjustified police shootings of minorities are common place and that they are routinely concealed is likely very, very wrong--there is real downside for the cop who does the shooting, and too many urban police departments have too many minority officers for that kind of thing to go by without comment.

The asterisk to this statement is that police departments--and the military--draw a number of sociopaths. I remember a Houston officer who clearly murdered an African American suspect. It was covered up and the cop went on to be a sheriff's deputy in rural Texas. He went on to cripple a Hispanic suspect. That was in the 90's and it was a double, very profound injustice.

So, I'm not saying it doesn't happen. It does. I question the received wisdom that it is commonplace.

I also realize that the Ferguson PD is pretty white. That's a factor, but only one factor. It is given more prominence that it deserves *at this time*.

Another unpleasant angle is that police collectively and at some level, *do* equate skin color with suspicious activity. I suspect the profiling is more specific than just skin color. I suspect the profiling category is 'male, Hispanic/African American, ages 14-mid-thirties.' I also suspect that any group of young males, of any color, who are somewhere without apparent purpose or goal, get noticed.

Police profiling spills over into the justice system generally. If a career DA sees excessive numbers of black defendants day in and day out, at some level, blackness gets associated with crime. I'm not defending, I'm observing.

The solution isn't guaranteed jobs. It isn't sensitivity training or civil rights prosecutions. The problems are more fundamental--until black babies are born into families that can offer the nurturing, guidance, etc. that most of us need as basic character set to stay focused in school, desire a job, actually do the job and so on to the end that most black children, and all other children, are competent players in life, the problem isn't going away.


As for the 'privilege' thing, I again call BS on this. This is the left's one-stop-shopping rhetorical device to address any observation by non-minorities that might undercut an aspect of firmly entrenched, left of center dogma. Sure, the right has its dogma, but so does the left.

The African American community has a lot of issues. Issues which do not appear with comparable frequency or generational continuity in any other ethnic group. There are reasons for this, as I've alluded to above. The reason isn't skin color or institutional prejudice (too many other ethnicities seem to regularly overcome 'institutional racism', whatever that is--at bottom, it is conflating skin color with behaviors associated with skin color without regard to underlying causes), but it is a handy marker that let's the left blame everything on prejudice and privilege while excusing that slice of the African American community from personal responsibility (yes, I know, another 'white privilege' concept). by the same token, as I've tried to illustrate, it let's too many on the right correlate skin color with behavior. GWB was right when he talked about the soft bigotry of low expectations. He should have completed that thought by addressing the 'complacent bigotry of expecting good citizenship from children born without a chance.'

I'm ready to have that conversation with BobbyP. Why don't the bosses around here let him guest-post? My challenge to BobbyP--a post written with the idea of opening a dialogue with an audience that considers itself fair-minded but doesn't share your basic outlook.

My anecdotal experience is this: (1) black-on-black crime passes almost entirely without comment; (2) Black-on-white crime passes with minimal notice, even when truly horrendous; and (3) White-on-black crime tends to get noticed to one degree or another, depending on case-specific facts.
(Emphasis added)

McKinney, can you back up #2? Because, unless you are speaking only of views on the (far) left, that seems rather in conflict with every "law and order" political campaign (and there have been a lot of them) I can recall in the last several decades.

If I were a police officer, I would want to go home in one piece after a day of crowd control. If I were in charge of crowd control and I thought there was even a 10% chance of someone in the crowd being armed and dangerous, I would turn my folks out in full kit. Why? To let the potential bad actor know that my side is equipped to deal him/her.


There's more than one kind of "full kit". The police gear that's being complained about isn't riot control gear. It's combat armor - it's designed for confronting opponents with non-improvised weaponry. Indeed, some of the modern, expensive gear they're wearing - while very tacticool, high-speed, and practical for a firefight - would be less practical in a riot than comparatively cheap riot gear from 20 years ago.

This is setting out police in situationally-inappropriate equipment as an intimidation measure. And an assertion that they should be wearing armor that's not suited for what they are facing because it's possible it could escalate into a situation where that would be appropriate is about as sensible as saying they should be wearing bunker gear because someone could potentially throw a firebomb. The hypothetical is indeed possible - probably moreso than that arguing for the gear we're seeing - but I can't imagine anyone taking it seriously for a moment. This isn't about force protection. It's about intimidation.

There's so much to say on the collection of issues raised by Ferguson that it's hard to know where to start.

First and foremost, a scenario where "hey, get on the sidewalk" ends up with somebody dead tells me that something went horribly wrong.

Absent Brown being some kind of homicidal freak, my inclination is to think the cop caused things to go south. It's a cop's job to *not* let things escalate to the point where force, especially deadly force, is needed.

The cop says he was rushed. That isn't consistent with the available eye witness testimony. I would absolutely not be interested in letting the Ferguson PD sort that out, but I'm fine with letting other parties do so.

If it turns out that, as some of the eyewitnesses have it, the kid was shot while surrendering and no longer resisting arrest, IMO the cop should be looking at murder charges. Period.

In any case, we'll see what we see.

Other things that are clear to me:

Young black and other minority guys get hassled by cops every freaking day of the week. Neighborhood punks, but also professional people, doctors lawyers teachers and what have you.

Talk to *any black man* you know, and they or someone they know has been hassled by cops. It's just part of the weather, for them.

Why are folks in Ferguson so pissed off?

They left the kid laying in the street for over four hours. No ambulance, no medical attention, just dead meat laying on the street.

If a dog got hit by a car, they'd move the body faster than that.

Just for example.

Folks talk about why black people can't seem to get ahead. Crap, they've been here forever, why can't they find their way, like every other ethnic group has done?

There are two possible explanations that I can think of.

1. Black skin is somehow correlated with some fundamental, inherent incompetence.

2. The culture they are living in presents them with persistent obstacles.

Pick one.

For anyone here who does not already read Crooked Timber (and if not, why not?), a comment relative to McKT's preference for police approaching a crowd arm(or)ed to the max:

“I was the city police chief during 1999’s so-called “Battle in Seattle,” the clash between anti-globalization protesters and my police officers. I realize now that the way we looked – and the way we behaved – provoked and exacerbated the violence. My decision to authorize the use of so-called “hard gear” (black uniforms with ballistic helmets and face shields, and the use of chemical agents) in our interactions with nonviolent, nonthreatening World Trade Organization demonstrators heightened tensions and put everyone – cops and citizens – at greater risk. The militarization of the WTO protests did untold damage to our efforts to build a positive, trusting partnership with our community.

I’m saddened to have watched the situation unfold in Ferguson and see almost none of the lessons I’ve tried to offer since then put into effect. It’s difficult to implement any best practices when the everyday relationship between a city’s cops and its citizens is so broken.

It may be too late to have prevented violence in Ferguson, but the community and others like it must come together now and make immediate changes to establish a baseline of behavior for law enforcement – to abide by today and to build upon for the future. The situation in Ferguson is no longer just about Michael Brown’s death: it’s about systemic racism and patterns of neglect, about leadership and the ability to influence angry, sometimes criminally motivated, individuals. Beyond the lifted curfews and long after the National Guard’s presence attempts to restore some semblance of peace, real accountability for everyone’s actions – cops and citizens – is imperative.” The Guardian

The culture they are living in presents them with persistent obstacles.

I'm not going to speak for McKinney, certainly, but I think that many people would agree with this, but disagree that the "culture" has anything to do with mainstream America, and "white" culture.

For example, McKinney says this: "The African American community has a statistically much higher rate of relatively uneducated, young mothers giving birth to children whose lives pattern those of their only parent. High crime is one of the predictable sequelae of this dynamic."

I'm pretty sure that, throughout history, many mothers have been uneducated and young. In America, kids seem to blend into American white society better when their mothers are educated, not super young, and married. This is partly because more money is available, and not so much stigma. It seems to me that class has more to do with it than predictable sequelae.

"This isn't about force protection. It's about intimidation."

Probably both.

The best defense is a good offense; or at least an good offensive posture in this case. The strong posture should keep the situation from getting out of control. The current situation did get a little out of control, but who is to say it wouldn't have been worse without the strong police posture?

"Young black and other minority guys get hassled by cops every freaking day of the week."

This is a questionable statement rife with assumptions. First off, define "hassled". I suspect the definition coming from blacks contains a lot of cultural bias and paranoid perception (i.e. the cop did X, Y or Z because I'm black). Whites are also stopped by LE all the time - often quite arbitrarily - for all sorts of minor or non-existent infractions or suspicion thereof, but whites tend to not assign the sweeping conspiracy of racial profiling to the encounters (for obvious reasons). Yet they occur all the time.

I've personally been stopped by cops for BS reasons. I interact with LE in a polite, but firm manner and they let me go each time. I can easily imagine that if I had become sketchy in some way that the situation could have escalated to a bigger "hassle" or worse.

I'm sure many whites can relate similar experiences. Do I think it is ok for LE to make random stops, ask questions they're not necessarily legally entitled to have answered based on the semi-veiled threat of arrest (or something) if not answered? No. Ideally, definitely "no!".

However, most cops are "policing" their AOs. That is the job the community has hired them to do. They're between a rock and a hard place. They see something or someone suspicious or unknown to them and they are remiss if they don't check it out and possibly being a-holes (possibly in violation of rights) if they do. Communities ask cops to perform this duty. Along these lines, I have also known cops who are sensitive to the criticism that they only show up to take reports and draw chalk lines around bodies *after* crime is committed. Again, the community - and the cops themselves - seek to be proactive.

The best response by a civie is to simply recognize what the cop is probably trying to do and be polite and straightforward. Getting all up in their faces about rights violation at the time of the interaction is really not a good idea; not is running, fighting, swearing/yelling, threatening, etc.

It has been leaked (though far from firmly established) that the officer who shot Brown had a fraction cheek bone and/or eye socket after the interaction with Brown. As I have said, liberals and race baiters are going to find that they chose the wrong hill to fight on in this case.


The comments to this entry are closed.

Whatnot


  • visitors since 3/2/2004

December 2014

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31      
Blog powered by Typepad

QuantCast