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The General Police Brutality Thread

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Cheetah, Sep 1, 2015.

  1. Lexicus

    Lexicus Deity

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    Well, if the implication is we ought to get rid of them, I disagree. I think we are better served by having a mechanism for police officers' concerns and interests to be reflected in our institutions.
     
  2. Timsup2nothin

    Timsup2nothin Another drone in the hive mind

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    I didn't say get rid of them. It's just important to recognize things for what they are. "Organized labor" refers to the valid need for labor to have representation in negotiation with management. Police unions have the additional undesired function, which in many cases is their higher priority, of protecting their members from any consequences their brutal actions might bring upon them.
     
  3. EgonSpengler

    EgonSpengler Deity

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    These 7 are the officers who tried to cover up the shooting. The lieutenant and deputy chief who were involved have both retired already, and the shooter himself is awaiting trial on murder charges.

    This is something, I guess, as long as this isn't "well, these 10 guys were a problem, but we've gotten rid of them, so we're good now." I think, for now, we can cautiously call it a rung on the ladder of progress. We'll see.
     
  4. Timsup2nothin

    Timsup2nothin Another drone in the hive mind

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    Thing I hate about that is the two rapid retirements. If you are a supervisor and SEVEN guys working for you are bad you either didn't know it, which is terrible, or you did, which is worse. Being allowed to retire and collect your pension rather than face discipline is flatly wrong.
     
  5. Lexicus

    Lexicus Deity

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    Well, I agree, but take what you can get eh?
     
  6. Timsup2nothin

    Timsup2nothin Another drone in the hive mind

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    Oh, definitely. I just don't want to take it lying down. Baca Tanaka syndrome.
     
  7. tetley

    tetley Head tea leaf

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    It depends on how high up you are. If you have 7 reports and all 7 are crooks, then yes. If you are Chicago's police chief then no (assuming all the rest of the police force is squeaky clean).
     
  8. Timsup2nothin

    Timsup2nothin Another drone in the hive mind

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    Agreed. It was in reference to the lieutenant and deputy chief in this particular case.
     
  9. EgonSpengler

    EgonSpengler Deity

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    There was a discouraging report in The Washington Post the other day that at least one of the recommendations/demands being made of police departments under agreements with the Justice Department is being routinely brushed off. More than 30 different police departments have failed to track incidents of excessive force and citizen complaints against officers.

    The theory is that the majority of problems are caused by a minority of officers, and if those officers can be identified, they can get training or counseling, or be sanctioned, as necessary. These tracking systems are databases that, when used properly, will alert supervisors to individual officers who have complaints leveled against them or who are repeatedly involved in use of force incidents (even incidents which, when looked at individually, are legitimate uses of force - indicating an officer who gets into such situations more often than his colleagues).

    The tracking systems are not being used properly. At all. Some departments compile the information, then file it away and never look at it. Some fail to input the necessary data. One police department - Newark, NJ - simply dismantled the system after 1 year.

    These systems, as I understand them, are not purely punitive. There are three ways I can see that these systems would benefit the law-abiding, well-intentioned officers that "Blue Lives Matter" people are always saying get no attention:

    1. They would help identify the few, bad apples. In fact, they're entirely predicated on the "few bad apples" theory (a theory I don't necessarily subscribe to myself, but anyone who does ought to appreciate these systems).

    2. They would help relieve the well-behaved officers of the responsibility of "ratting on" their unprofessional or incompetent colleagues.

    3. They would help identify the well-intentioned officers who need help, either in the form of more training or psychological counseling. An officer who gets into an unusually high number of use-of-force incidents is putting himself, his colleagues, and the community in danger, even if every single one of the incidents was perfectly justified (e.g. maybe his tactical skills or ability to identify potential danger aren't up to par).

    This article was only about this one facet of the agreements that departments make with the Justice Department, but it makes me even more skeptical about these departments' good intentions. Don't get pulled over in Newark. Apparently they don't even care to know which of their officers is misbehaving.
     
  10. Timsup2nothin

    Timsup2nothin Another drone in the hive mind

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    But, as even the "good" cops will tell you, the public complains all the time, about all the cops, because they just don't understand the rigors of the job...so tracking public complaints just unfairly focuses the spotlight and doesn't do anything about the "bad apples" that are simply a figment of the public imagination.

    The problem here, really, is that such data collection is actually unnecessary. The problem cops would be readily apparent to the good cops they work with, if there really were any good cops. Unfortunately, what we have are problem cops, and cops who aren't problems but don't do anything about them. The good cop that is willing to police the police is a leprechaun riding a unicorn by the light of a blue moon.
     
  11. Lexicus

    Lexicus Deity

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    Something something Frank Serpico, something something.
     
  12. EgonSpengler

    EgonSpengler Deity

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    Right, this might not help with that. But you can tell your "good cop" friends to rest easy, because civilian review boards often bring the overall number of complaints down and tend to exonerate cops who've done nothing wrong even as they incriminate the cops who misbehave. (I did a research paper on it in college. Of course I don't have any sources anymore. One of the few things I miss about being in college was having access to all those research databases.)

    I don't subscribe to the "few bad apples" theory either, at least not entirely. I think the police departments that get these Justice Department investigations are bad fields, and nothing planted in them can flourish. In the case of these departments that have tracking systems and don't make use of them, it's the supervisors and senior officers who are to blame. A well-intentioned, well-behaved subordinate officer would simply be up a creek in those places and should probably just find another job.
     
  13. Timsup2nothin

    Timsup2nothin Another drone in the hive mind

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    So if failure to use a tracking system makes a "bad field" what do you call it when a federal investigation into corruption in the jails is met by taking the feds' informant and rebooking him into a different jail under a different name so the feds can't find him? This plan was hatched by the sheriff (who the feds dutifully informed of the investigation) and his loyal under sheriff and carried out by dozens of deputies in full view of hundreds more.

    Sort of a Romans at Carthage salted earth thing, where we should expect that nothing even resembling a good cop will ever stand a shred of a chance?
     
  14. Lexicus

    Lexicus Deity

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    "Systemic problem" y'all. This stuff doesn't happen because cops are bad people, cops act like bad people because our whole system of policing more or less forces them to.
     
  15. EgonSpengler

    EgonSpengler Deity

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    A minor clarification: I don't think the failure to use a tracking system makes a bad field, I think it's evidence of one. With the (obvious?) caveat that any of these systems could be too hard to use, or be inefficient or poorly designed, or otherwise suck, the departments failing to use them aren't even trying to reform. Newark apparently didn't even feel the need to pretend.

    Yes and yes.
     
  16. Timsup2nothin

    Timsup2nothin Another drone in the hive mind

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    Sure, but the number one thing holding that system in place is cops.
     
  17. Lexicus

    Lexicus Deity

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    Is it? I'm not sure that's true. There are interests much more powerful than the cops involved here. The cops are just enforcers; they didn't design the neoliberal order that they enforce.

    Just as two general examples, the police are not responsible for apartheid in development - real estate developers are. The police aren't responsible for the decision to farm out the prison system to private rent-seekers. Nor are the police responsible for the federal governments' refusal to spend money to help municipalities with their budget problems, leading city governments to use the police as a collection agency/protection racket.

    You can also lay a healthy portion of blame at the feet of voters who turned to racist and authoritarian solutions to the crime wave of the late '80s, and the politicians who embraced 'tough on crime' nonsense because it was popular. I seem to recall you defending Clinton's crime bill for example. That was reflective of seriously perverted social priorities: as many, many rappers have asked, what does it say about a society that it spends more on incarceration than education?
     
  18. Timsup2nothin

    Timsup2nothin Another drone in the hive mind

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    That crime bill was responsive, not causative. There are lots of things that can be blamed for the crime, among them first and foremost the "war on drugs" that by then was well into its third decade, but it isn't like someone said "hey, we might have some crime coming, let's pass this crime bill rather than try to avert the future problem." The racist and authoritarian solutions favored by the "law and order" candidates aren't just a random choice by voters either, though they certainly bear some responsibility. But let's not forget that until very recently one of the most powerful endorsements available has been the leaders and unions from the police department. A mayoral candidate denounced by the police chief and/or the police union is still an unlikely bet, but that was literally the kiss of death as little as ten years ago in most places. So letting cops off the hook as far as responsibility in this matter goes is a charity I don't support.

    The whole "private rent seeker" prisons is a false issue. Incarceration to support profits and jobs didn't start with privatization, by any stretch of the imagination, and it wasn't compounded by it either. On that front nothing has changed and the focus of attention there, while exciting, is of little actual merit. The cops owed their jobs to ever expanding definition of criminality long before prisons went private.

    Apartheid in development certainly isn't the fault of police, I'll give you that. I don't really blame it on real estate developers either though. It's more like just an artifact. The "black communities" in the region I live in are black communities because most of the families, churches, and businesses in them have roots that run deeper than the fair housing act. They became "black communities" at a time when they were the only places in the region that African Americans were allowed to own property and change is slow.
     
  19. Lexicus

    Lexicus Deity

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    Of course the crime bill was causative. The crime bill caused the systemic movement of resources from things like education, housing, drug treatment, to policing and incarceration.
    EDIT: not that this stuff wasn't a problem before the crime bill but the crime bill accelerated and affirmed that process.

    Yes, and again - that the voters are susceptible to this stuff speaks of a deeper problem than just the police unions themselves.

    You're right that it didn't start with privatization, but it has certainly been compounded by privatization (private prisons also present a whole different set of problems viz. the conditions in the jails and so on, but that's a separate issue).

    Apportioning blame is beside the point. The system must be changed and focusing on the police is necessary but not sufficient.

    Also, keep in mind that where you live is not representative of everywhere. Where I live, many of the historically "black" communities have become "white" communities because development plans have priced all the black people who used to live there out. This is the fault of developers pursuing profit at the expense of anything else, and the fault of a political establishment more concerned with placating the moneyed interests than with the communities they were supposed to be serving, which have now been destroyed -and full disclosure, I am a beneficiary of that destruction living as I do in a thoroughly gentrified neighborhood.

    Of course, an exclusive focus on the developers as 'to blame' for this is IMO as misguided as a focus on the police as 'to blame' for it. I was in a socialist group meeting a few months ago where one of the topics was actually, if you can believe it, whether "development" might actually be a bad thing. I said no, it's the specific model of development that's driven by the imperative to create revenue streams rather than build healthy, livable communities that's the problem (not that you can't do both, obviously). A black guy at the meeting said the same thing: development isn't bad, because people need things to do (his tone of voice was like explaining something very rudimentary to a five-year-old), the problem is who controls the process and for whose benefit it happens.
     
  20. Timsup2nothin

    Timsup2nothin Another drone in the hive mind

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    I'd have said "continued" rather than "accelerated," with a nod to the fact that there was nothing on the horizon that even hinted towards "discontinuing." But, as is often the case, because both of us care we are arguing nuances while most people ignore the issue entirely.

    That susceptibility is created and fed by a steady stream of fearmongering. While that fearmongering isn't done exclusively by police, they are a primary source for a whole lot of it.

    Once again, you use compounded where I'd say continued. :dunno:

    I think the concern over privatization would be better directed at that "whole different set of problems," but that's just me.

    So, this apartheid in development is a very interesting issue.

    What happens to the people who are forced out of the "black" community when it redevelops into a "white" community? If they are dispersed among the rest of the population, is that not an "end to apartheid"? Is that not the goal?

    I can't answer those questions, by the way, other than from personal experience and preference. I attend church in one of those black communities, to the horror of many white people. My church pays a price for allowing me to attend as well. But we all seem to get more out of the arrangement than the costs...or at least they don't kick me out. I also do volunteer work out there, and have made friends with the town council, and over time I have become an accepted part of the community, to some extent, but there is no question that I am still an outsider. I appreciate the unique culture, but I recognize that there is a price being payed for maintaining that unique culture and that every young adult that escapes into the surrounding no longer apartheid communities is in many ways "winning."

    So, when that township gets run over by the inevitable sprawling of suburban greater LA who wins, and who loses?
     

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