Video vigilante stalked by cops
September 27, 2007 11:32 AM   Subscribe

On September 7, Brett Darrow drew national attention when he recorded video of an abusive police officer threatening to lock him up on "made-up" charges. The police officer was subsequently fired.

Now, the local police are staking out his home.

The tape from the police cruiser mysteriously disappeared, but fortunately for Darrow, he had previously installed cameras after receiving a traffic ticket he felt was undeserved.

This is not the young man's first run-in with the law. Last year, Mr. Darrow had a similar encounter at a police roadblock. Afterwards, he was the subject of posts containing threats of retaliatory harrassment and death on St. Louis CopTalk, a unofficial local police messaging board.
posted by LordSludge (144 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Second link may be NSFW for naughty language.
posted by LordSludge at 11:34 AM on September 27, 2007


Remind me to avoid St. Louis like the motherfucking plague.
posted by item at 11:37 AM on September 27, 2007


Also, this Darrow character is fast becoming a folk hero in my book.
posted by item at 11:38 AM on September 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


To protect and serve! Hooray for government agents!
posted by oncogenesis at 11:41 AM on September 27, 2007


I guess they've solved their crime problem, since they have time to keep an eye on attention whore traffic scofflaws now.
posted by 2sheets at 11:41 AM on September 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Awesome! Nothing I love like seeing a thug with a badge get shut down.

Now if only we could arrange something similar for those taser-happy campus cops in Florida and UCLA.
posted by EatTheWeak at 11:43 AM on September 27, 2007


I'm waiting for the "well, what did he expect" crowd to chime in. I mean, I don't agree with the cops... but I can understand.
posted by phaedon at 11:44 AM on September 27, 2007 [5 favorites]


wow.

just. wow.

(makes me glad that we didn't report our neighbour's dog to the police; she inferred that she "knew people" in the local sheriff's office. The next day a police cruiser sat on her driveway for an hour or so)
posted by Danaid at 11:44 AM on September 27, 2007


In before "fuck the police".
posted by Richard Daly at 11:46 AM on September 27, 2007


As a friend of mine once noted: "You never think about how many cops you see in a day, until they turn against you"
posted by aramaic at 11:48 AM on September 27, 2007 [7 favorites]


More Taser fun [context].
posted by delmoi at 11:51 AM on September 27, 2007


Give a coward power and you make a bully. Why don't these big men just ring his doorbell and tase him. It would save time.
posted by jsavimbi at 11:55 AM on September 27, 2007


Don't tase him, bro!
posted by spec80 at 11:57 AM on September 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wait, when did they start doing this to white people? I thought we had an agreement: cops can only bully minorities and political underclasses. What's this world coming to?
posted by geoff. at 11:57 AM on September 27, 2007 [10 favorites]


I guess they've solved their crime problem, since they have time to keep an eye on attention whore traffic scofflaws now.

St. George is a suburb of the Lou, so that's sort of like giving the cops in Hoboken shit for how lousy East New York is. (Not that that makes this particular cop less of a douche).
posted by Bookhouse at 11:59 AM on September 27, 2007


And awaaayyyyy we go!
posted by fandango_matt at 12:00 PM on September 27, 2007


I can't wait for someone to point out that it's just bad apples, most cops are great people.

Let me be clear on that: any cop that stands by idly while his coworkers are publically calling for the lynching of an innocent is just as rotten as the others.

Since cops stick together and look out for their own, and the law is in their hands, I am not opposed to accidents happening to them, the way they seem to happen so often to innocents who are for example suspected of dealing drugs and shot at point blank for holding a remote during a no-knock police raid.
posted by splice at 12:00 PM on September 27, 2007 [6 favorites]


When I was a kid I was mauled in the face by a cop's pet dog, and because he was a member of that sanctioned gang of thugs nothing could be done and even reporting it would be a mistake. It's sheer luck that most of the scars are inside my mouth and the two on my face are inconspicuous.
posted by bunnytricks at 12:01 PM on September 27, 2007


You never think about how many cops you see in a day, until they turn against you

I don't know. All I see where I live are cops out to ticket traffic violations at the end of the month (45 in a 40?), and I've got a friend who has been harassed by an off-duty cop. So I do take note of every single cop I see, because they are pretty much all against us. Which is a shame, because somehow "Serve and Protect" became "Harass and Generate Revenue." Listening to this video actually made me sick to my stomach.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:04 PM on September 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


The way that cop talks, it's like he's retarded. I mean, too many chromosomes retarded. These ease with which people can become a police office these days is absolutely criminal (ha!).
posted by billysumday at 12:06 PM on September 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


The police need to have their pay doubled--after the size of the force is cut in half and the bar for acceptance is made twice as high.
posted by sourwookie at 12:08 PM on September 27, 2007 [16 favorites]


"You never think about how many cops you see in a day, until they turn against you"

Everyone appalled at this sort of all-too-common behaviour among police officers takes an active interest in their City Councils and civilian police boards, right?

And they make consistent stands at these bodies against increased police budgets, in favour of increased civilian oversight, and for more effective and neutral complaints resolution bodies, yes?

Just checking.
posted by regicide is good for you at 12:10 PM on September 27, 2007 [5 favorites]


A judge also dropped charges from the June traffic stop after a Saint Louis police officer failed to show up at a trial where Darrow had been prepared to defend himself with video evidence.

I find that you rarely say things like "you bet your sweet ass he did" in the real world as opposed to just seeing it in the movies or on TV. It's pleasant surprises like this that make my day.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:11 PM on September 27, 2007


Aren't there RICO statutes in place to deal with organized harassment like this? He should lawyer up.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:12 PM on September 27, 2007


Darrow is now following after cop cars that are staking out his house? I admire him for standing up against the intimidation, but I'd be surprised if he gets through this unscathed.
posted by letitrain at 12:17 PM on September 27, 2007


Fucking pigs.
posted by c13 at 12:28 PM on September 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Everyone appalled at this sort of all-too-common behaviour among police officers takes an active interest in their City Councils and civilian police boards, right?

And they make consistent stands at these bodies against increased police budgets, in favour of increased civilian oversight, and for more effective and neutral complaints resolution bodies, yes?

Just checking.


Yes, because unless I personally take steps to change every single unjust behavior in the world, I am not allowed to point out how awful it is.
posted by eisbaer at 12:30 PM on September 27, 2007 [12 favorites]


...that's sort of like giving the cops in Hoboken shit for how lousy East New York is.

I have no idea what this means, but "Hoboken" is a funny word.
posted by NoMich at 12:33 PM on September 27, 2007 [3 favorites]


posted by regicide is good for you Everyone appalled at this sort of all-too-common behaviour among police officers takes an active interest in their City Councils and civilian police boards, right? And they make consistent stands at these bodies against increased police budgets, in favour of increased civilian oversight, and for more effective and neutral complaints resolution bodies, yes?

Interesting, that you've got enough time to sanctimoniusly patronize us on MetaFilter instead of spending every spare moment of your time at every single city council meeting and lobbying the city councilmembers to change every single law and policy you have determined is unjust and unfair while you simultaneously chair multiple civilian oversight committees and neutral resolution bodies.
posted by fandango_matt at 12:37 PM on September 27, 2007 [4 favorites]


I admire what Darrow has done I have a feeling though, that all of this will end badly for him.
posted by hexxed at 12:40 PM on September 27, 2007


These cops sound a lot like nickyskye's hyena-people.
posted by RussHy at 12:41 PM on September 27, 2007


I have no idea what this means, but "Hoboken" is a funny word.
| \ -- + punch?
posted by reformedjerk at 12:42 PM on September 27, 2007 [4 favorites]


These cops sound a lot like nickyskye's hyena-people.

Link?
posted by billysumday at 12:44 PM on September 27, 2007


These cops sound a lot like nickyskye's hyena-people.

How come nickyskye gets hyena-people and I don't?

Also, this is pretty appalling.
posted by languagehat at 12:45 PM on September 27, 2007


So Wait. This kid basically drives around at all hours, does "questionable" yet non-illegal things in front of cops and films the whole thing, hoping to catch them doing something they shouldn't be doing?

Who's stalking who?


Kid's an ass, the cop is a prick. Hope this guy and his family never have to call 911 to their home address... seriously, I bet this guy's gonna get robbed by some smarter than average criminal. It's free money! You know the cops ain't showing up for 30-40 minutes.....
posted by Debaser626 at 12:46 PM on September 27, 2007


Remember a few years ago how some plaintive voices were insisting that we didn't live in a police state?
posted by telstar at 12:48 PM on September 27, 2007


You know the cops ain't showing up for 30-40 minutes.....

Like they ever do?
posted by telstar at 12:49 PM on September 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Seriously, though, wasn't there a thread not long ago on the blue about sousveillance and the proliferation of tiny, ubiquitous, recording and video capture devices (phones, etc.)?
posted by eclectist at 12:49 PM on September 27, 2007


phaedon wrote...
I'm waiting for the "well, what did he expect" crowd to chime in. I mean, I don't agree with the cops... but I can understand.

Nah, the "what did he expect" crowd rightly notices the fact that he DID expect mistreatment from the cops (albeit not this particular type) and has handled the situation competently and in a responsible manner.

Notably missing from this case is a bunch of "cops are evil, civil authority is corrupt all the way to its rotten core" rhetoric from the victim. He got mistreated by a cop, and he got the cop fired. Good for him.

Now the folks in this thread who want to use this incident as a launching point for their own "cops are evil, civil authority is corrupt all the way to its rotten core" rhetoric have already begun to do so, but they're just a bunch of people talking on an internet bulletin board, not someone who actually did something.
posted by tkolar at 12:50 PM on September 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm waiting for the "well, what did he expect" crowd to chime in. I mean, I don't agree with the cops... but I can understand.
posted by phaedon at 11:44 AM

*********

So Wait. This kid basically drives around at all hours, does "questionable" yet non-illegal things in front of cops and films the whole thing, hoping to catch them doing something they shouldn't be doing?

Who's stalking who?
posted by Debaser626 at 12:46 PM


An hour and two minutes. To be honest, I thought it was going to be quicker. We need to start gambling on stuff like this. MetaNumbers.
posted by billysumday at 12:51 PM on September 27, 2007


posted by Debaser626 So Wait. This kid basically drives around at all hours, does "questionable" yet non-illegal things in front of cops

What exactly did he do that was "questionable?"
posted by fandango_matt at 12:53 PM on September 27, 2007


"Harass and Generate Revenue."??

For a second, uncleozzy, I thought you lived in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 12:54 PM on September 27, 2007


How many cops does it take to push someone down a flight of stairs?

None, asshole - he tripped. Now move it along!
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 12:55 PM on September 27, 2007 [27 favorites]


It's constantly depressing to me how different attitudes towards police are south of the border. My experience with cops up here has been uniformly positive--our cops (generally) seem to understand that they have a duty to the public. Yes, of course, there are bad apples and bad things happen. But it seems to me that when such things do happen, they're seen as anomalies, and not another reason to increase animosity between the police and the public they serve.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:56 PM on September 27, 2007


An hour and two minutes. To be honest, I thought it was going to be quicker. We need to start gambling on stuff like this. MetaNumbers.
posted by billysumday at 3:51 PM on September 27 [+] [!]


You'll notice that I never metioned the phrase "well, what did he expect?" I just think at 20 years old, you probably should umm... I dunno, get a life maybe? Here's an idea... if you're going to be driving around all night, look for Drunk drivers! actually do some good. KTHX.
posted by Debaser626 at 12:58 PM on September 27, 2007


What exactly did he do that was "questionable?"
Try sitting in an empty commuter lot (past schedule I assume) in the wee hours? God... dont' you people watch Cops? All the sexin' and druggin' that goes on back thar?
posted by Debaser626 at 1:00 PM on September 27, 2007


ah, bitter-girl, you live in the quasi-police state that The Heights has become, eh?

The tickets, they come fast and furious in Heights, I tell ya.
posted by tgrundke at 1:00 PM on September 27, 2007


Hey Debaser626, what excatly did he do that was "questionable"?
posted by fandango_matt at 1:00 PM on September 27, 2007


those cops are assholes, but that kid is a smarmy little dickface.
posted by quonsar at 1:02 PM on September 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


What exactly did he do that was "questionable?"
Try sitting in an empty commuter lot (past schedule I assume) in the wee hours? God... dont' you people watch Cops? All the sexin' and druggin' that goes on back thar?


not to mention, i think he saw the cop sitting in there and deliberately trolled him. he was supposedly on his way to pick up a friend from work. why did he even pull into the commuter lot? because he saw the cop in there and decided to get some more footage.
posted by quonsar at 1:04 PM on September 27, 2007


Everyone appalled at this sort of all-too-common behaviour among police officers takes an active interest in their City Councils and civilian police boards, right?

And they make consistent stands at these bodies against increased police budgets, in favour of increased civilian oversight, and for more effective and neutral complaints resolution bodies, yes?

Just checking.


Yeah 'cuz it is too much to ask that people act in a civilized manner, and that the instruments already in place to deal with things like this would work if every cop wouldn't be compliced in the crime.

How about loss of citizenship for every cop found guilty of crossing the line just to, ya know, send a clear message that this type of unlawfulness will not be tolerated?
posted by quintessencesluglord at 1:06 PM on September 27, 2007


Maybe regicide is good for you really did mean his comment as an indictment of the personal failings of every last person commenting in this thread and his clearly contrasting superiority, but maybe his comment is just a pointer on practical things one could do in addition to talking about it.

In any case, it's probably true that many people who participate in this community might do better at participating in the one in which they live, and while outrage is a fine start, it has its limits and there's more that can be done.
posted by namespan at 1:07 PM on September 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


those cops are assholes, but that kid is a smarmy little dickface.

Only cool people ("cools") should expect their civil rights to be respected.
posted by gum at 1:11 PM on September 27, 2007 [7 favorites]


I can't wait for someone to point out that it's just bad apples, most cops are great people.

/me waves at splice and does the pointing out thing he mentioned
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:18 PM on September 27, 2007


posted by quintessencesluglord How about loss of citizenship for every cop found guilty of crossing the line just to, ya know, send a clear message that this type of unlawfulness will not be tolerated?

Hey, great idea. To which country will they become citizens?
posted by fandango_matt at 1:19 PM on September 27, 2007


sourwookie : The police need to have their pay doubled--after the size of the force is cut in half and the bar for acceptance is made twice as high.

Amen to that; I've been preaching this point for years. The police are necessary to a civil society, but we have yielded way too much power to them with far too little oversight.

We also have pathetically low standards for hiring and even worse when it comes to investigation or discipline.

We need to make the job of being a cop a lot more valuable so that we can attract some really top flight talent. This would allow us to be a lot more choosy and permit us to have a full staff without needing to hire some bullying thug who wants to push people around from behind the protection of a badge.

I don't say 'fuck the police', I say 'fuck the people that the police tolerate in their ranks'.
posted by quin at 1:22 PM on September 27, 2007 [4 favorites]


billysumday:

nickyskye's infamous psychopath=hyena comment. See paragraph two where she lists the emotions she thinks Axis II Cluster B personalities can feel.
posted by RussHy at 1:22 PM on September 27, 2007


You know, I drive through St. George every morning on my way to work. Its been gloriously free of cops for three weeks. I'd wondered where they had gone. Now I know.
posted by khaibit at 1:23 PM on September 27, 2007


Hey, great idea. To which country will they become citizens?

Guantanamo.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:28 PM on September 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


FWIW -- "Darrow said he installed the cameras in his Nissan Maxima after past run-ins with police. He said he was involved in a physical confrontation in 2005 with an off-duty St. Louis police officer, in a case Darrow said was later dismissed."* [Previously - 1, 2, 3, 4).
posted by ericb at 1:30 PM on September 27, 2007


DNAB, I don't doubt that you're experience with cops has been Did the internal investigation reccomend pressing charges? uniformly positive, but I don't think that's necessarily the norm.

For instance, you weren't arrested for having an open beer while tailgating, then 20 minutes later, dead from a shot to the back of the head in self defense, according to the RCMP internal investigation. And where did this shooting take place? In a police station, in an interrogation room, where the video and audio equipment was mysteriously turned off. The only witness? The cop who pulled the trigger. No charges were filed.

Or, say you're Maher Arar.

Maybe it's time that we take away the right for cops to investigate themselves.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 1:31 PM on September 27, 2007


Deja frigg'n Vu. Some friends of mine had driven back from their honey moon on the coast and stopped in a commuter lot to exchange cars after 3am. They had borrowed a friends larger car and he had dropped off theirs earlier that night. After seven hours of driving they were dog tired. These are nice normal average people. Tired after a long drive.

So while they sat in the car talking and decompressing before they headed the remaining couple miles home some dude ran up screaming at them banging on the window. So naturally they freaked. It was like a horror movie. Scrambling around to get the keys in the ignition and starting the car. Suddenly another guy shows up on the other side of the car trying to get in - he smashes in the passenger window and grabs for my friends wife - snags her hair.

The other guy pulls a gun just as my friend gets his car in gear and guns it to the entrance of the lot. Suddenly a car juts out in front of them and my friend cranks the wheel and hits another parked car. The bad guys are running behind them screaming and swearing. The guy who was in the car that nearly hit them gets out with a gun. Naturally my friends open the car doors to make a break for it when finally they hear the guy in the car say "We are the police! STOP!" My friends notice he has a badge around his neck and the car has cop dash flashers.

Plain clothes cops. Staking out the lot. All of this happens so fast they can't think. This is how fast things that can kill you go.

The other guys catch up and throw my friend and his wife on the ground. They stand on her neck. Drag her around on the pavement. They pick him up and throw him over the car. I mean OVER the car. And then cuff them both. Screaming and yelling obscenities. Things like "You wanna die you stupid mother fuckers!" "Where are the drugs assholes!" Literally pushing Glocks right in their faces.

Scared shitless it takes them a while to even speak. It doesn't matter. The cops are too amped up. They both get arrested. Resisting arrest. Attempted assault. Vehicular assault. All sorts of trumped up shit.

It only get WORSE when the police realize they have made a HUGE mistake. And BTW the cops beat the shit out them - and their car. My friends were all banged up the windows of the car were all broken. And of course the other parked car they hit. The cops realize they have a huge potential law suit on their hands. So they get threatening and play hardball. The prosecutor says he can reveal to my friends employer that he has a prior arrest (possession of a joint - from college eight years before). The irony is my friends new father in law is a cop and he eventually get the cops to cool it if they don't sue them.

I have over a dozen stories like this. Some right from the horses mouth, so to speak. It is NOT a few bad apples. It is a systemic problem.

I train with cops 3 nights a week. I have for over 10 years. My brother trains LEO and parole officer in Florida. My wifes family are cops. I know what I'm talking about.

One on one these are wonderful dudes. But once that badge is on there is line drawn. Them on one side. YOU on the other. And that is the way it is.
posted by tkchrist at 1:34 PM on September 27, 2007 [41 favorites]


Oh, I forgot to add that in the Ian Bush case, the body was kept unrefrigerated, and was decomposed to the point where a proper autopsy was impossible. Not suspicious at all.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 1:34 PM on September 27, 2007


The police need to have their pay doubled...

They seem to be doing okay here in Boston.

Boston Police Among Highest Paid in Nation
"With high base salaries, opportunities to work lucrative construction details, and one of the nation's most generous overtime programs, Boston's rank-and-file police officers brought home $78,906 on average in 2002, and those who earned higher-education degrees made considerably more....Many detectives now receive salaries in excess of $90,000 a year."
"Average pay for Boston police patrolman, including overtime and other benefits...: $81,725 [in October 2004]"

Police Salaries in Major Cities [March 2004].*
posted by ericb at 1:35 PM on September 27, 2007


ah, bitter-girl, you live in the quasi-police state that The Heights has become, eh?

I used to live on the border... I wasn't crazy enough to buy there. Shortly after I'd moved in, my cat died. I was crying in the car and stopped -- but not for a "full 10 seconds" -- at a backstreet stop sign when the cop busted me for my HIDEOUS transgression.

A friend called down to Columbus to see if that actually was the law and they laughed at him: "You mean someone's actually trying to enforce that?" (Also, the cop laughed at me for crying over my cat. Pig).

I got the last laugh, though, the bastards. Anyone who's ever been to Cleveland Heights knows the parking lot at Coventry has one, sometimes two cops parked up there at all times, handing out $6 parking tickets like candy. Oblivious to everything but that sweet cop revenue, the city could give three fucks about the condition of the lot [they own]. I fell there, was badly injured, and ended up suing the living hell out of Heights and winning. Suck it, jerks.

It's stuff like that (well, and the fact my boyfriend owns a house there) that made me move back to the west side when I left Boston.

Don't even get me started on the end-of-month ticketing parties the cops throw at the top of Cedar Hill...
posted by bitter-girl.com at 1:36 PM on September 27, 2007


Everyone appalled at this sort of all-too-common behaviour among police officers takes an active interest in their City Councils and civilian police boards, right?

I think that if the linked articles teach us anything, it's that shining a light on police activity is a good way to get yourself threatened, stalked or assaulted by the police. So, no, I am appalled but stay far away from antagonizing the cops, even where such antagonism would be within my rights or even considered a duty.

Some would label this cowardice. I call it being an ordinary citizen. We don't all have to take action against things that we find distasteful, egregious, dangerous, corrupt or threatening.

In truth, I'd hate to live in a world where everybody was an activist.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 1:36 PM on September 27, 2007


not to mention, i think he saw the cop sitting in there and deliberately trolled him. he was supposedly on his way to pick up a friend from work. why did he even pull into the commuter lot? because he saw the cop in there and decided to get some more footage.


Because he and his friend had agreed to meet there so she could return his cell phone to him. The commuter lot is a 24 hour lot, so they chose that spot. The police chief confirmed the veracity of this story with the friend.

I've been following this for a while. I think Brett Darrow is awesome and maybe more people will take his lead. Time to turn the tables. If there must be such a gulf between the police and the average citizen, then it's time they're reminded who's on top.
posted by Danila at 1:37 PM on September 27, 2007


those cops are assholes, but that kid is a smarmy little dickface.

I fail to see the point of this comment. The cops are supposed to enforce the law, not use the law to bully anyone who doesn't say boo when they tell them to, regardless of whether they have committed a crime or not. The cop could have pulled over Hitler and he should still have been fired for this.

And, frankly, if the kid was trolling, I want a police force that is more responsible than a troll, not less.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:37 PM on September 27, 2007 [8 favorites]


@ fandango_matt

Any country that would accept them (I mean wouldn't you want a dirty cop emmigrate to your country?), or otherwise... nowhere (really not much different from the illegal aliens that already live here).

Just mostly to emphasize the point that if you enforce the law, maybe you should have a healthy respect for the rule of law, or maybe those protections that other citizens depend on shouldn't be afforded to you.
posted by quintessencesluglord at 1:42 PM on September 27, 2007


posted by ten pounds of inedita We don't all have to take action against things that we find distasteful, egregious, dangerous, corrupt or threatening. In truth, I'd hate to live in a world where everybody was an activist.

Yeah! The Founding Fathers should have just shut the hell up, and let England keep the colonies!
posted by fandango_matt at 1:43 PM on September 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


When trolling is outlawed, um, only trolls will...wait a minute.
posted by RussHy at 1:48 PM on September 27, 2007


There should be a non-profit organization that pays people to do exactly what this kid does in every city and town in America.
posted by ND¢ at 1:49 PM on September 27, 2007 [4 favorites]


posted by quintessencesluglord Any country that would accept them (I mean wouldn't you want a dirty cop emmigrate to your country?), or otherwise... nowhere (really not much different from the illegal aliens that already live here). Just mostly to emphasize the point that if you enforce the law, maybe you should have a healthy respect for the rule of law, or maybe those protections that other citizens depend on shouldn't be afforded to you.

So you'd strip the them of their citizenship, but they wouldn't have citizenship anywhere else. So we couldn't deport them, but they'd couldn't stay here. What happens if they own property? Do they pay taxes?

Yours is one of those ideas that sounds great until you realize it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.
posted by fandango_matt at 1:53 PM on September 27, 2007


I can't believe that anyone is focusing on Brett Darrow's actions after all this has occurred. It's beyond him now.

A militant group is using fear tactics in order to break people. These actions are aimed at the entire community, not just Brett Darrow. They want everyone to know what will happen if you get out of line. It's particularly scary because it is bloodless. No overt violence (yet), just threats and intimidation and the complete eradication of privacy.

The scariest horror movies only imply the violence and blood. A shadow you see out of the corner of your eye....a whispered threat in the dark of night...a villain who can cower you with a stare...

That's the stuff that really freaks you out. You know, I'd agree that it isn't necessary for everyone to be an activist. Most people wouldn't be very effective anyway. But don't be a Tory.
posted by Danila at 1:54 PM on September 27, 2007 [3 favorites]


ten pounds of inedita writes "In truth, I'd hate to live in a world where everybody was an activist."

I'd hate to live in a world where nobody did the right thing.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:54 PM on September 27, 2007


"Let me be clear on that: any cop that stands by idly while his coworkers are publically calling for the lynching of an innocent is just as rotten as the others."

Certainly. But that isn't every single police officer on the force. So ... going to dial 911 when someone's breaking in or having a heart attack and so forth? Or are we armed?
Nothing wrong with sounding off about bullshit like this. But (what regicide is good for you & tkolar sed) there are practical, reasonable, and most importantly effective responses.
Me, I could flood my street with bullet casings, and someone would be lucky if I call the cops, if only to haul away the body, so I personally don't need them. But I'd rather not have to kill them.

There's a difference between derogating "the pigs" even when one has an upper hand, and actually supporting a system in which things like this don't happen.
Instead of bringing anger or force into the conflict you can prepare the environment to eliminate the probability of conflict.
Funly enough, I and many other folks in my community do go to council meetings and the police here are very professional.

Darrow is doing an excellent service to his community, it's a shame he's not getting back up from other folks out there such that they can change the culture of their department so it's not a bunch of thugs and gypsy cops.
I guarantee the officers on that force who are squared away don't like their work environment either.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:55 PM on September 27, 2007


fandango_matt: Yeah! The Founding Fathers should have just shut the hell up, and let England keep the colonies!

krinkyfig: I'd hate to live in a world where nobody did the right thing.

I wasn't arguing for the (strawman) extreme, and I think, fortunately, that few people would.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 1:59 PM on September 27, 2007


posted by ten pounds of inedita I wasn't arguing for the (strawman) extreme, and I think, fortunately, that few people would.

Fortunately, we live in a country where people stand up for your right to say you think they shouldn't.
posted by fandango_matt at 2:02 PM on September 27, 2007


I'm curious how he installed the cameras in his car - how he mounted them and at what angles? Sounds like a pretty good idea in general, particularly for people in areas where the police don't have vehicle cams of their own.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:02 PM on September 27, 2007


So you'd strip the them of their citizenship, but they wouldn't have citizenship anywhere else.

You can still apply for citizenship to another country.

So we couldn't deport them, but they'd couldn't stay here.

See Pope Guilty.

What happens if they own property?

I dunno. What happens if they own property (however, you will not have a 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms)?

Do they pay taxes?

Everyone pays taxes :)
posted by quintessencesluglord at 2:07 PM on September 27, 2007


I'm curious how he installed the cameras in his car - how he mounted them and at what angles?

This slideshow has photos of the camera and its mount. Also, check out this NBC10 news report.
posted by ericb at 2:11 PM on September 27, 2007


Another Isolated Incident

"If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever."
posted by homunculus at 2:15 PM on September 27, 2007


Fortunately, we live in a country where people stand up for your right to say you think they shouldn't.

If by "you" and "your" you mean "one" and "one's", I agree. Big Voltaire booster here, thanks.

If by "you", you mean me, that's not what I implied. I said "...where everyone was an activist", not "...where anyone was an activist".
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 2:18 PM on September 27, 2007


Everyone appalled at this sort of all-too-common behaviour among police officers takes an active interest in their City Councils

If you want to have a daily tailing by a crusier from your home until the edge of the city limits on your way to work; be stopped and ticketed for BS violations requiring you take off work to fight them; be pulled over and physically threatened; go right ahead. Some of us have been down that road and have seen what happened to people who didn't heed the warnings from the boys in blue. You'd be lucky if planted drugs was the worst thing done.
posted by ryoshu at 2:21 PM on September 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


I thought this was the most revealing (and scary) exchange from the parking lot incident:

Brett: I really don't want any trouble officer.
Officer #1: What are you doin' with a camera hooked to your car seat?
Brett: I have lots of cameras in my car.
Officer #1: Why is that?
Brett: And they upload to secure sources
Officer #1: Okay. I don't really care about your secure sources. I've got one in my car. See that?
Brett: Okay.
Officer #1: It's a secure source.
Brett: Okay.
Officer #1: I really don't care about your camera system cause I'm about ready to tow your car. Then we can tear them all apart...
Brett: Oh well, it doesn't matter. The videos not even in here.
Officer #1: Okay, it doesn't matter, I really don't care about your video
Brett: I'm sure the news will like it.
Officer #1: I don't really care cause you're about ready to go to jail.


It makes you wonder what would have happened to the kid if he hadn't been recording the whole thing on a closed-circuit camera.
posted by Atom Eyes at 2:23 PM on September 27, 2007


Darrow's incident happened in St. George, a pathetic excuse for a town in suburban St. Louis County. It's a 1950s subdivision that has a four-lane road through the middle with a 35 mph speed limit and has been a speed trap for as long as I can remember.

I went to high school about a mile from St. George. I was arrested in St. George in 1983. I've been in its jail (a basement of a house) I've been in its courthouse (they used a rent-a-judge once a month in one of the subdivision houses). I mention this just as evidence that I'm quite familiar with the area.

Everyone I know from around here tries their best to stay the hell away from St. George unless you just have to travel that four-lane road, and then you drive 2 miles under the speed limit. It's a speed trap and those cops will pull you over for anything. I once had a St. George cop pull me over and yell at me for going 32 mph in the left lane instead of the right "slow lane." I had to prove to him that I was going to make a left a few block ahead before he'd let me go. Those guys are assholes.

Darrow knew those guys were assholes. Darrow lives less than a mile from my current St. Louis neighborhood and a few miles from St. George. Everyone I've spoken with around here thinks Darrow baited the cop. There are dozens if not hundreds of good places to meet around here, and at 2am St. George just isn't one of them-- especially if you're a bit touchy about the cops. Darrow knew what he was getting into, and did his little act for the camera.

Darrow is no saint in this, but I sympathize with him. I myself would like to see the St. George cops disappear. I can imagine myself pulling such a prank when I was 20.
posted by F Mackenzie at 2:23 PM on September 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Better avoid New York too
posted by rottytooth at 2:27 PM on September 27, 2007


The problem is indeed systemic, but that doesn't mean that all cops are causing the problem.

I'm cribbing half from my own anecdotal experience here, and half from the Amadou Diallo chapter in Blink, but I think there are some very simple steps any urban area can take to remove a lot of the Bully-panic that causes these incidents and change the us-versus-them mentality that flows through so many PD's.

1. Raise the pay, raise the standards. - Pretty simple and obvious, and even people who are opposed to anything that's not a tax cut generally would agree with higher salaries and better cops. The problem, of course, is the unions (and I'm usually pro-union) who don't want to lose anyone from their rosters, even if the deserving, qualified members of the force will get better compensated as a result.

2. Get rid of partners... - there is evidence that far more mistakes are made in terms of force used and poor assessment of situations when cops are two or more to a squad car. Again, read Blink to get the full theory on this, but when several people are put into what they believe is a tense situation, they'll depend on each other's actions to set the tone for their own, and act more rashly. A lone cop will treat a situation carefully.

3. ...for the most part - obviously detectives are best at working in teams, but their job generally involves more investigation than patrolling. Also, new recruits should spend their first few years partnered with a veteran in his last few years, preferably doing "milk runs" until the recruit has shown an ability to restrain himself and act sensibly. The veteran can collect his higher salary while avoiding the higher risks of being put in the line of fire for his last few years, while making the best of his experience teaching the young guys how to actually protect and serve.

4. Outside accountability and investigations - none of this IAB bullshit; they just tend to treat overuse of power as a PR problem rather than a justice issue. Not to shit on IAB guys - in some ways, being the cops called in to arrest other cops takes an insane level of bravery and thick skin - but its just the nature of politics in a closed system. And there should be outside evaluation of every officer (including interviews and field runs, matched up against past reports to see how they compare) before any promotion. This way, hopefully the fascist piggie assholes won't be the same guys who end up as veteran teachers for the next generation.

5. Fuck Quotas - Quotae? Anyway, these should simply be unconstitutional. Any system that uses police force for revenue and asks cops to issue however many tickets per month, or what have you, inevitably puts the police against the public their supposed to be serving, Seriously - should be unconstitutional.

Anyway, that's what I've got. Don't know who'd run the outside evaluations and keep them from becoming corrupt, but that's always the problem, I guess.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:30 PM on September 27, 2007 [4 favorites]


This country needs many, many more folks like Brett Darrow who have the guts to stand up to overzealous cops and expose them as the thugs that they are. Hooray for Brett Darrow, and I hope he pursues what will undoubtedly be a long and prestigious career as a lawyer who exposes thuggish cops and files lawsuits on behalf of the citizens they terrorize.
posted by fandango_matt at 2:32 PM on September 27, 2007


I can imagine myself pulling such a prank when I was 20.

Prank? OJ was running a sting. Now this is a prank. Jeebus.
posted by tkchrist at 2:39 PM on September 27, 2007


/cool, thanks ericb
posted by Smedleyman at 2:45 PM on September 27, 2007


Wow, sorry. I clearly forgot about some unwritten rule that outrage is good, suggestions of practical solutions are bad.

eisbaer: Yes, because unless I personally take steps to change every single unjust behavior in the world, I am not allowed to point out how awful it is.

No, of course not. Someone Else will do It.

fandango_matt: Interesting, that you've got enough time to sanctimoniusly patronize us on MetaFilter instead of spending every spare moment of your time at every single city council meeting and lobbying the city councilmembers to change every single law and policy you have determined is unjust and unfair while you simultaneously chair multiple civilian oversight committees and neutral resolution bodies.

Of course I don't. Someone Else will do It.

Just like Someone Else will acquire and prepare my food for me.

And I'm sure Someone Else will make my clothes, even if they don't get paid enough.

I'm sure Someone Else will raise the kids in my community. Even if they aren't doing the greatest job, at least I don't have to worry about it. They can just go hang out at the community centre.

And when the community centre starts to crumble, I'm sure Someone Else will take care of it.

And when those folks not getting paid enough and those kids not being properly raised find no assistance at the community centres that have started to crumble, there'll probably be a lot of crime to take care of. But I'm sure Someone Else will do that too.

And when Someone Else shows up at my door, or beside my car, or in my park, carrying a badge, a club and a gun, and feels like they'd like to take out their frustrations on someone else, I'm sure... oh. Hmm.

---

Look. I'm sorry if the tone of my post was offensive - it just seems like earnest idealism doesn't float here, so I sardonically candy-coated to help it go down easier. Bad move. Obviously I'm still getting my snark-legs. But I thought it would be obvious that my comment was intended as an offhand nudge for people who are asking themselves what's to be done. If you're not one of those people, why are we even discussing this?

I mean, come on. You're sitting there communicating with millions of people from the comfort of your home, and you really think I was suggesting that the only way to take political action is to spend "every spare moment of your time at every single city council meeting"? "

Thanks to THE POWER OF THE INTERNET, I know plenty of folks who devote anywhere between one and a few hours a week to networking and communicating with fellow residents, local politicians, and city staff, and have, yes, effected concrete changes in the way their city works.

Those who are more committed will show up once or twice a month to Council - not everyone has to do that. Some even network in person, in their actual physical community, but that's obviously for the advanced class.

The point is that there are numerous tiers of involvement based on how committed you are - from occasional letter-writer all the way up to city councillor. That's the basis of representative democracy, isn't it? Sorry for pointing it out, I guess.

Sorry for the long-winded response too - especially when someone else already said it better.
posted by regicide is good for you at 2:50 PM on September 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Fucking pigs.

If the pigs try to get at you
Park it like it's hot
Park it like it's hot
Park it like it's hot
posted by bwg at 2:57 PM on September 27, 2007


Darrow knew those guys were assholes. Darrow lives less than a mile from my current St. Louis neighborhood and a few miles from St. George. Everyone I've spoken with around here thinks Darrow baited the cop. There are dozens if not hundreds of good places to meet around here, and at 2am St. George just isn't one of them-- especially if you're a bit touchy about the cops. Darrow knew what he was getting into, and did his little act for the camera.

Darrow is no saint in this, but I sympathize with him. I myself would like to see the St. George cops disappear. I can imagine myself pulling such a prank when I was 20.
posted by F Mackenzie at 5:23 PM on September 27


I agree. I have heard about this town before somewhere, and have been posting about Darrow in comments for at least a few weeks now. This kid has brass balls, especially after the death threats. That the cop was fired brings some hope, but will the town crack down on the cops who continue to harass him? It's up to them now, do the right thing, or do nothing? That is almost always the moral decision we face in life. It's not about not stealing, killing, or doing other active wrongs, it's usually about standing up to wrong, especially when it is your job to oversee. Are you the mayor, the town council member, the chief of police over these guys? People outraged with this story may think the town leaders and police chief must actively support such abuse, but in reality it is usually a passive "do nothing" that enables such dysfunctional behavior. Let's see if they have integrity. Let's see if they continue to do the right thing. I have my hopes up.
posted by caddis at 2:57 PM on September 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


DNAB, I don't doubt that you're experience with cops has been Did the internal investigation reccomend pressing charges? uniformly positive, but I don't think that's necessarily the norm.


I think it's by and large the norm in Canada. As I said above--incidents do happen. Maher Arar's treatment was a travesty, and I am horrified that heads have not sufficiently rolled for it. What I'm trying to say is that Canadians tend to have a less adversarial relationship extant between cops and the citizens they serve, that's all.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:58 PM on September 27, 2007


Where can you get cameras that upload to a secure link from a car?
posted by lalochezia at 3:11 PM on September 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


I say good job Darrow. So hes a little prick? He trolled the cops? He pulled a prank? Hes not a saint? Most people seem to agree that the police in St. George are out to get you. Darrow proved this to be the case. The cop said he would make up nine different charges against this kid. You know what?
posted by Sailormom at 3:21 PM on September 27, 2007


Where can you get cameras that upload to a secure link from a car?

In the September 13 "What is the best way to make a car-mounted camera system, a la Brett Darrow?" AskMe question, 'Myself' had this suggestion:
"I got the impression from Darrow's "they upload to secure sources" comment that he might have more than just a recorder back there. I've thought about doing something like this for a long time, and with EVDO rev A and HSUPA it's finally getting practical. I'd want a laptop recording to local storage constantly, and when I flip a switch or press a button, it starts sending the last few minutes of video plus a constant realtime stream to some off-site host, so if the car is impounded or tampered with, the video survives.

Looks like the software side is gonna be strictly homebrew.

Little NTSC cameras are all over the place, and they're cheap. I'd want one facing forward from the rear, perhaps mounted in the third taillight, to capture actions in the pasenger compartment and out the front of the vehicle. I'd also want one facing back and left, perhaps mounted in the dash, to show the driver's and officer's actions more clearly."
posted by ericb at 3:26 PM on September 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Police officer tasers pregnant woman. Wonder how it impacted the three month old foetus?
posted by nickyskye at 3:29 PM on September 27, 2007


I'm hazarding a guess that Darrow's video was not being actively uploaded at all during the recording although, were I in his position at the time, I might have made the same claim.
posted by bz at 3:42 PM on September 27, 2007


If the video were getting piped to a laptop with a data link, it would've been entirely possible to have it streaming to a box elsewhere via the internet. HSPDA is pretty fast, you could probably send a couple low to medium resolution feeds with it.
posted by mullingitover at 3:55 PM on September 27, 2007


Yup, I've done this and it isn't hard. Set up a VLC server on a laptop with a webcam, make your home computer save the streaming video to a hard drive and constantly reconnect if the server goes offline (when you're out of high speed data coverage). You don't even need a laptop in the car if you get one of those self contained HSDPA/EVDOA boxes. Which would make it resistant to theft.
Oh, also you could tag the pics with location data from a gps unit.
posted by pantsrobot at 4:07 PM on September 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Police officer tasers pregnant woman."

To reiterate - most cops don't do that. You can have an impact on your department through the city officials...
...on the other hand that bastard I'd probably put in the ground.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:41 PM on September 27, 2007


For a look at how cops feel about the sanctity of law, see Cops Writing Cops. Apparently if you're a cop, and you give a speeding ticket to some other cop's wife, or close friend, or especially another cop, that makes you a dick.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:24 PM on September 27, 2007 [3 favorites]


Here in Chicago we've got some hot cop on cop action.
(Five grand for an ace mechanic? Horse manure.)
And a bit of a problem with the aldermen, and the mayor, it's still a machine city, but fortunately the state's attorney is pretty bad ass (Demacopoulos is going to bust him up) and there's plenty of feds here.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:32 PM on September 27, 2007


From the annals of "I Cannot Believe The Bullshit I am Reading":

"An Oklahoma City attorney accused of robbing an Edmond drug store last week jumped from the fifth floor of a metro hospital on Thursday, police said... Authorities said Behlen walked out onto a ledge, pacing back and forth while talking with negotiators.

About four hours into the standoff, authorities said they moved into a neighboring room and tried to bring him inside from off the ledge by offering him a cigarette. Authorities said a struggle ensued and that a Taser was used on him.

However, they said the Taser did not phase Behlen and that he leaped from the fifth-floor window head first."

posted by phaedon at 5:37 PM on September 27, 2007


Anyone from St. Louis here? I'd like to get ahold of him for a story.
posted by klangklangston at 5:43 PM on September 27, 2007


klangklangston, check your email
posted by Danila at 6:08 PM on September 27, 2007


hmm, actually, the email got bounced back to me. I can help you get in contact with him, drop me an email, it's in my profile
posted by Danila at 6:14 PM on September 27, 2007


Anytime I see a cop, I am reminded of this rant by Kumar in "Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle" after a local racist cop tickets them for jaywalking as well as mocking Kumar's name, " What's with that name -- Koo-mar -- with like three o's and shit. What happened to good old fashioned American names like Dave, Jim."

Kumar responds, "Let me guess. You were probably the big asshole in your high school, right? You'd pick on guys like us every day. But then graduation came, and we went to college and you went nowhere, so you thought, "How can I still give them shit? I know! I'll become a cop!" Well, congratulations. Your dream's come true."

*Is this the first time anyone's quoted Harold and Kumar a metaf discussion?
posted by Juggermatt at 6:20 PM on September 27, 2007


*on a...
posted by Juggermatt at 6:25 PM on September 27, 2007


I agree with the police!

Thanks, I just wanted to hear how that sounded.
posted by facetious at 6:37 PM on September 27, 2007


I agree with the police!

Thanks, I just wanted to hear how that sounded.
posted by facetious at 6:37 PM on September 27 [+] [!]


You what!!???
How could you even say that? Are you being...

Oh.
posted by pantsrobot at 6:46 PM on September 27, 2007


Darrow is no saint in this, but I sympathize with him. I myself would like to see the St. George cops disappear. I can imagine myself pulling such a prank when I was 20.

Was Darrow wearing a short skirt and whorish lip gloss, too? How else was he asking for it?
posted by mobunited at 6:49 PM on September 27, 2007


For those of you who say that cops like this are the minority, that may be true. But in small towns like this, especially in red states, where cops' patriotism is high and day to day responsibility and duties are low, it's a lethal mix for creating problems to solve. Years ago when I was in high school, I got pulled over by a cop for a busted headlight, and the officer proceeded to call in backup, two more cop cars showed up, and all four cops sooo wanted to bust me for something more severe, but finally couldn't--just a ticket for the headlight. It's even more remarkable in hindsight because as wimpy as I am normally, I was even more so back then and the least threatening person anyone can imagine.

But I digress. When it comes to pure abuse of power, small town cops are hard to top. And don't even get me started on Mexican small town cops...
posted by zardoz at 6:54 PM on September 27, 2007


This thread, and others like it, have really made me question a few things I previously took for granted. For example - if you hang out in a parking lot at midnight where criminal activity often takes place, I would not have thought a cop would be out of line cruising by to see what you were up to. I would of course expect that cop to apologize to the citizen and be on his merry way almost immediately. However I am coming to appreciate that it's rarely that simple.

A cop approaching a citizen behaving in a suspicious manner creates a 'guilty until proven innocent' dynamic. The citizen has to justify his presence, not the other way around, and the power is concentrated in the hands of the cop. If anything unfortunate happens it is your word against his and you need some pretty damn good evidence before a judge will believe you.

But what are the cops supposed to do? (I'm genuinely asking, not being rhetorical.) If nightly drug deals happen in a particular parking lot, and their job is to crack down on drugs, do they not have to check up on citizens in that parking lot? Wouldn't failing to do so lead to more crime? And until whatever systemic problems that create asshole cops get solved, are there any alternatives besides accepting more crime, or accepting occasional nasty confrontations like the one in question?
posted by PercussivePaul at 7:29 PM on September 27, 2007


Smedleyman More of Chicagos finest.
CHICAGO -- An off-duty police officer in street clothes was caught on video by a bar surveillance camera beating up a female bartender half his size, authorities said. But in his defense, he was off duty. I'm sure when he is on the clock he rescues kittens stuck in trees and helps old ladies cross the street.
posted by Sailormom at 8:01 PM on September 27, 2007


PrecussivePaul; you clearly haven't watched the video.
posted by odinsdream at 8:15 PM on September 27, 2007


PercussivePaul, good questions. I think we're so far gone that it seems normal that police should be all up in our business.

1. Even if this really were a high crime area (IT'S NOT, that was a lie), there is nothing suspicious about someone sitting in his car. But the Supreme Court has ruled that being in a high crime area is not sufficient.

Illinois v. Wardlow - "While "reasonable suspicion" is a less demanding standard than probable cause, there must be at least a minimal level of objective justification for the stop. An individual's presence in a "high crime area," standing alone, is not enough to support a reasonable, particularized suspicion of criminal activity.."


All he did was pull into a 24 hour commuter lot to meet a friend. It's no different than if he pulled into the parking lot of a 24 hour diner. What's a cop supposed to do? He can watch if he wants, but that's it. His mere presence would probably be enough to discourage an actual drug deal or a burglary.

2. I agree that you need to see the video. It's not just that the cop shouldn't have approached him. That happens, it's one of those rights we barely know we have anymore, the right to go about our business. No, the problem is that the cop threatened to make up bogus charges and arrest Brett Darrow, he attempted to physically intimidate Brett, and he threatened to destroy the camera equipment once he found out he'd been taped. He also "lost" his own video of the incident. He also lied and said that he had "reasonable suspicion" because the driver had not used a turn signal. But you can see on the video that he does in fact use his signal. It's just a lie, one of many.

And now that this cop has been righteously fired, his fellow officers are stalking the young man. He's also had his life threatened more than once by cops on a St. Louis police board. You ask what are the cops supposed to do? None of that.
posted by Danila at 8:36 PM on September 27, 2007


I have seen the video. It's one of the reasons why my opinions have changed. I agree that it's a travesty. But I was asking about police officers in general, not these ones in particular.

In this particular case I had the impression it was a high crime area. OK, so it's not. Let's take a hypothetical, identical case except this one actually does happen in a high crime area. Maybe drug deals happen and there's been a lot of violence and robberies in the neighborhood and the police have been told to clean it up. Then a solitary car pulls in and for whatever reason the cops decide it fits the profile of a drug deal.

According to this, police have the right to question you at any time, but you do not have to answer and are free to go. In this hypothetical high-crime parking lot, it seems within the rights of the police to knock on the window and say 'hello'. Or am I misreading?

The word 'profile' sticks out because it leads to situations like this particular case, and also the nightmare described by tkchrist. But I would like to know what it's like to be in the cop's position. My intuition, the reason I'm writing this, tells me that a large part of policework by necessity is up to the discretion and judgment of the officer, and that the line between a consensual encounter and a detention can easily be blurred, yet without consensual encounters policework would be much more difficult and thus crime would be higher. Can anyone speak to this?

(Again, please don't misunderstand me in that I am not defending these particular police officers. )
posted by PercussivePaul at 9:25 PM on September 27, 2007


Yes, that's right Paul, because drugs are bad, we must yield in every way possible to every cop's whim. Convenient, no?
posted by telstar at 9:35 PM on September 27, 2007


Fine. forget I said anything then.
posted by PercussivePaul at 10:08 PM on September 27, 2007


As I think about the technology that underpins this situation, I realize that reasonable resolution digital cameras have become trivially cheap. As have multiple-gig storage solutions in both flash and hard drive configurations. This is not to mention the near ubiquitousness of WiFi chips and the growing-cheaper-every-day GSM/ EVDO/ EDGE network hardware.

Someone soon is going to put together a box that you toss on your dash like a radar-detector, but it will provide 360 degree camera and sound coverage for several hours when activated. As a fallback, it will broadcast over any kind of network that it can gain access to, to ensure that the footage can't be erased easily.

Sensing a need, the Chinese, et al, will provide the solution.

And criminal acting law enforcement agents will have to come up with some new excuses.



What I'm saying is that dystopian futures could work both ways. Bitches.
posted by quin at 10:32 PM on September 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


PercussivePaul, I think I get what you're asking, and in my opinion these are really important questions to ask. I happen to live in a high crime area and I think greater police presence is a net positive here. As you point out, the police can approach and ask and have a consensual conversation at any time. I'm a little confused because I assumed that anyone can approach anybody and have a consensual conversation, provided there are no secret service or other obstructions around.

Not only that, but if police were more involved in a diverse community I think relations would improve and I agree that it would make their job and our lives easier (but at this point in time I'm not sure if the police and the average citizen would agree as to what their job is). It would be less "us vs. them" if there were less heated encounters. Unfortunately both sides perpetuate the adversarial atmosphere. But it's the police who have the weapons and the force behind them.

For example, the person in this case, Brett Darrow, did not always tape everything or much notice the police. The antagonistic relationship did not always exist. Until he was beaten up by off-duty police officers picking on kids (it seems a pastime of too many cops, and one reason why there is a great divide). He went through the proper channels and was basically laughed out of the precinct.

Ever since that incident he's been filming to protect himself (and he's caught several other disturbing encounters on video). And in the process, I believe he is protecting others and starting conversations that really need to be had, including this one.

I want police to be able to do their jobs. I used to support tasers and other "non-lethal" devices, and there was a time when I would have been bothered by a "vigilante punk" like Brett Darrow. But the sinister reality is that all of the rules, all of the tools and all of the power has been twisted. You're asking subtle, important questions about how the police are supposed to be able to do their jobs. Their job used to be "to protect and serve". I'm saying that I don't think they really see it that way. I think there's been a major attitude shift. We are the proles and they protect the elite, the ruling class. They're the enforcers who get the scraps that the ruling elite discard; i.e. the powerful politicians make the horrendous drug laws like asset forfeiture, really to the benefit of their supporters, but it's the small town cops who get some of the cash.

I just think something really big has happened, and I don't think it will change in this system.
posted by Danila at 12:03 AM on September 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


dirtynumbangelboy writes "It's constantly depressing to me how different attitudes towards police are south of the border. My experience with cops up here has been uniformly positive--our cops (generally) seem to understand that they have a duty to the public. Yes, of course, there are bad apples and bad things happen. But it seems to me that when such things do happen, they're seen as anomalies, and not another reason to increase animosity between the police and the public they serve."

Harassment still happens up here but there are differences that lead to fewer incidents. First Mounties are much less militarized and second I think the relative lack of handguns makes them a bit less paranoid on stops. Plus I get the feeling that there are fewer desperately poor/ghetto areas in Canada.

phaedon writes "About four hours into the standoff, authorities said they moved into a neighboring room and tried to bring him inside from off the ledge by offering him a cigarette. Authorities said a struggle ensued and that a Taser was used on him."

Cripes, ya how could tasering a guy on a ledge possibly turn out poorly. What's that saying about when the only tool you have is a hammer?
posted by Mitheral at 12:46 AM on September 28, 2007


I'm hazarding a guess that Darrow's video was not being actively uploaded at all during the recording...

You're right. He posts to freerepublic, and he says there:
When he sees the camera he said he would tear all of them apart. Only after I lie and tell him they are being uploaded to a secure source does he start sucking up to me. He even asked me one more time before I got in the car if the tape was in my trunk.
posted by rtha at 5:45 AM on September 28, 2007


In a time when our civil liberties are in jeopardy, all the kids are gettin out their video gear and pushin buttons, just to see what will happen.

Officer #1: Where you headed tonight?
Brett: I don't wish to discuss my personal life with you officer.

That's really where it all started. A simple question, a smart-ass answer that puts the cop on the defensive. Situation snowballs and everyone gets a forum for "cops are bad."

I've lived in Michigan my whole life. The only times I've had run-ins with the law where when I did something stupid and/or illegal. I answered the cops questions, did what he/she told me to do right away, and was never arrested.

Yes, there are officers who abuse their power. But for every incident of abuse that gets reported, there are hundreds of incidents where cops behave professionally that don't get reported because, well, they're not exactly newsworthy.
posted by boymilo at 6:35 AM on September 28, 2007


I love how people on here constantly say things like fawk the police, fawking pigs, road nazis and such. Grant it there are a few bad apples, like in all professions. However in policing everyone loves to focus on the bad and none of the good. We all focus on the bad here, kid who got tasered, this douche following around the cops, and the like. (BTW if you are stupid enough to push off and run away from 4 cops and charge a stage with a US Senator you deserve to be tasered.) Anyways back to my point, it pains me to see that everyone is "they are nazis and this is a police state we live in!!" God none of you ever say, " Wow that police officer just saved a family of four by pulling over that drunk driver" OR " Did you see those police officers running into that tower to save lives of people they don't even know!" OR "Hear the police catch that rapist!" Nope you never hear that, on here all you ever hear is Fawking pigs! Face it for every bad cop story you hear there are 100 good ones that never get reported. It is a thankless job and they deserve our respect.

On the same note, corrupt police officers do deserve what they get. However please learn to tell the difference between the two.

Also if you knowingly break the law, don't whine when you get caught! You should not have broke it to begin with.

BTW all this anti-cop and anti-religion talk on here recently got me to pony up the five bucks. First post.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 7:05 AM on September 28, 2007


boymilo - I understand where you're going with this, but the fact of the matter is that the kid does not have to explain to anyone where he is going. This would set the precedent whereby police could stop anyone and ask them at any time "where are you going?" I sure don't think the police have the right to know where I am going and what I am doing.

Now, that's not necessarily the approach *I* would have taken because quite frankly, it's not worth the additional aggravation to me. I was stopped at a DUI checkpoint after leaving a concert a few years ago. The police asked me where I was coming from, if I had had a beer, and where I was going. The answers were: "The Dave Matthews concert, yes, I had one beer, and we are headed home." To which he said, "okay, please drive carefully and have a nice evening. Thank you."

It may have helped that there were TV newscrews all around the DUI checkpoint so the police were on their best behavior, though....
posted by tgrundke at 7:15 AM on September 28, 2007


The only times I've had run-ins with the law where when I did something stupid and/or illegal.
You are fortunate. I have been stopped and questioned while walking on the sidewalk (and doing nothing else), in my home town, and in another small town's center. In that case, police cars blocked the sidewalk, and I was surrounded by police. A Barney Fife-type said I fit the description of a robber. I was eventually allowed to go on my way. In that same town, I was stopped one night because my yellow station wagon "looked like the 'construction-type vehicle'" used in a burglary. Both situations had me almost laughing at the cops, but if I had been in a contrary mood, things could easily have gotten ugly.

There are a lot of towns like that, where the cops don't have much to do for huge stretches of their on-duty time. They drive around in their Police Interceptors, wearing all their Serious Police Gear and looking for something to break the boredom. Often, they hassle kids and young adults, because kids are more likely to actually be doing something wrong, and because they're less likely to be lawyers or friends of the town bigwigs.

Police forces are necessary. Asshole cops aren't.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:17 AM on September 28, 2007


I've lived in Michigan my whole life. The only times I've had run-ins with the law where when I did something stupid and/or illegal. I answered the cops questions, did what he/she told me to do right away, and was never arrested.

Well, if you're happy to get down on your knees and kiss a little cop ass whenever the mood takes one of them, I'm sure that you'll do just fine -- because that's what's going on here. You were fortunate. You've only been stopped when you were in the wrong, so you had everything to gain by being deferential, and notthing to lose.

That wasn't true for Darrow though, and there are many, many people who experience the same situations. The term 'driving while black' comes to mind. The police are like a hoarde of little Eric Cartmans, demanding that we 'respect their authori-tah', and as long as you're happy to kow-tow to their overinflated egos and show them the deference they feel they deserve, they'll generally be happy to let you go along with your physical body intact, and only your ego bruised.

Should you happen to start insisting that they respect *your* rights as a citizen though, that's when you'd better watch out.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:20 AM on September 28, 2007


God none of you ever say, " Wow that police officer just saved a family of four by pulling over that drunk driver"...

Cops who are pulling over drunk drivers, arresting drug dealers, etc are doing their jobs, and doing a job rarely gets you in the news, because it isn't, you know, news. (Running into towers to save lives? Yeah, that made the news, and IIRC, a shit ton of people said "yay heroes!" for what they did.)

Cops who abuse their power and public trust deserve to lose their jobs, and deserve to have public disdain heaped upon them. If you're a cop who can't resist the urge to bully a mouthy kid at a traffic stop, well, you're a shitty cop.

I've been stopped at drunk driving checkpoints, and experienced nothing but courteous and professional behavior from the police running them. I've been asked where I've been, and if I've been drinking, but never where I'm headed (which seems an odd question anyway - what would they expect me to say? I'm on my way to my dealer's house to buy some excellent weed! I'm going to rob a convenience store, and then head home!).

In cases like these, I always think it's too bad we no longer have public stocks, with rotten tomatos available.
posted by rtha at 8:31 AM on September 28, 2007


What I'm saying is that dystopian futures could work both ways. Bitches.

It's Little Brother's Turn To Be the Hero
"But 'Little Brother' checking up on 'Big Brother' is just what democracy needs....The case of 20-year-old Brett Darrow from St. Louis represents exactly what makes the idea of citizen journalism so powerful....The video recording, which Darrow later posted on YouTube and Google Video, prompted more than 300 calls to the small St. George City Police Department. What a perfect use of technology....Technology such as blogs, camera phones and uploaded video features on the Internet gives the public more power in a democratic system, thereby allowing citizens to air dirty laundry that might not have been picked up by the mainstream media. Loose cannon authority figures beware - your inappropriate antics might be coming to an Internet site in the near future."
posted by ericb at 9:05 AM on September 28, 2007


boymilo writes "Officer #1: Where you headed tonight?
"Brett: I don't wish to discuss my personal life with you officer.

"That's really where it all started. A simple question, a smart-ass answer that puts the cop on the defensive. Situation snowballs and everyone gets a forum for 'cops are bad.'"


See one of the differences between a police state and a free society is in a free society the cops aren't entitled to know your every move.

Mastercheddaar writes "On the same note, corrupt police officers do deserve what they get. However please learn to tell the difference between the two. "

Problem is they all wear the same uniform, drive the same car, often have the same moustache. And once you've had a run in or two with a corrupt/ignorant/apparently insane/power tripping cop you tend to be mis trustful.
posted by Mitheral at 10:26 AM on September 28, 2007


Speaking of snowballing situations....a few years ago, Mr. Adams and I were exiting a parking lot onto a main road. There was a traffic light many feet south of the driveway we used, yet a cop stopped us for illegally turning right on red. (The light wasn't situated in front of the driveway, nor was there a "No Turn on Red" sign.") They ran Mr. A's license and stated he had an outstanding warrant and handcuffed him. Cop tells me I'm lucky they're letting me drive the car home; usually they'd tow it. I go to the police station, find out the charge (unpaid ticket for expired license plate). Bail Mr. A out ($200), spend most of the night rooting through boxes in the attic looking for check stubs and bank statements. Finally find the copies that prove he'd paid the ticket. Go to court on appointed date. Judge agrees the red light charge was bogus, and dismisses the warrant because we've previously paid. But before we leave we have to pay $200 in court costs. That's $400 for not doing anything wrong!!
posted by Oriole Adams at 11:09 AM on September 28, 2007


“See one of the differences between a police state and a free society is in a free society the cops aren't entitled to know your every move.”

They don’t. They can ask though. Is there some reason, if you have a body in the trunk, and you’re stupid enough to get pulled over, a cop shouldn’t ask “Can I look in your trunk?”
It’s called investigation.
Should you let him? No. Do you have to truthfully say where you’ve been or answer at all? No. Can they ask? Sure, why the hell not?

But this is all cultural. In any given department the brass can choose whether they want this good ole boy loyalty network crapola or they want professionalism. A bit back one of my guys was feeling his new muscles and got into a scrape with some law enforcement folks. The situation as it was, he could have completely gotten away with it. Not only did I take him down, I hauled his ass in myself (told the cops I’d take care of it personally) and brought him up on charges. I told him, if you’re doing things like that you are not on my side. That’s the point. You trust someone because you have the same convictions and duty as they do and they act accordingly, not simply because they wear the same uniform, or take the same risks or you just know them.
Certainly you’re all on the same team, but my team mate doesn’t hand the ball to the other team or take a breather in the middle of a play just ‘cos he’s tired. If he’s going to play dirty and cost us penalties and yardage every play, I don’t want him on my team because he’s not helping me. Same thing here, any corrupt cop is - precisely because of the distrust they create - a danger to every honest cop just trying to do their job. And it should be seen as such all the time. Because that’s the truth of it.
There are certain times where that gets fuzzy, especially in personal matters - but not in upholding the law.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:19 AM on September 28, 2007


Sounds like we're on the same page. The cop is of course allowed to ask and just because Brett tells the cop he's not going to tell him doesn't make Brett a smart ass.
posted by Mitheral at 11:35 AM on September 28, 2007


Kirth Gerson : "This would set the precedent whereby police could stop anyone and ask them at any time "where are you going?" I sure don't think the police have the right to know where I am going and what I am doing."

Mitheral: "See one of the differences between a police state and a free society is in a free society the cops aren't entitled to know your every move."

PeterMcDermott : "if you're happy to get down on your knees and kiss a little cop ass whenever the mood takes one of them,"

Herein lies our difference of opinion. There are bad cops. Agreed. But to see a police state on the horizon, or to assume that any police officer that you deal with is drunk with power I believe is throwing the situation way out of proportion and may be just a bit paranoid.
posted by boymilo at 12:26 PM on September 28, 2007


Kirth Gerson : "This would set the precedent whereby police could stop anyone and ask them at any time "where are you going?" I sure don't think the police have the right to know where I am going and what I am doing."
It's not me saying that, but I do agree that they don't have a right to know that.

... to assume that any police officer that you deal with is drunk with power I believe is throwing the situation way out of proportion and may be just a bit paranoid.
To assume otherwise may be terminally naive.


Or maybe not. What other extreme interpretations of people's opinions can we generate?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:40 PM on September 28, 2007


sorry Kirth, got my sources mixed up a little there.
posted by boymilo at 12:51 PM on September 28, 2007


Well it's not that I assume every cop is drunk on power. Experience has shown however that a significant fraction of them are so one is prudent to assume it's possible unless you know otherwise.
posted by Mitheral at 8:07 PM on September 28, 2007


About four hours into the standoff, authorities said they moved into a neighboring room and tried to bring him inside from off the ledge by offering him a cigarette. Authorities said a struggle ensued and that a Taser was used on him.

Too bad the guy wasn't a bear. He might have been treated wiuth a lot more compassion.
posted by homunculus at 11:11 PM on September 29, 2007


With, even.
posted by homunculus at 11:12 PM on September 29, 2007


CHICAGO - "Videotapes of angry officers savagely beating civilians and charges that a murder plot was hatched within an elite special operations unit have Chicago's troubled police department reeling again.

Adding to the department's woes is word from federal prosecutors that they are investigating claims that homicide detectives tortured suspects into confessing to murders that landed them on death row in the 1980s.
A four-year study by two special prosecutors appointed by a Cook County judge, released in July 2006, found that Chicago police beat, kicked and shocked scores of black suspects in the 1970s and 1980s to get confessions."

I know. Its just a few bad apples right?
posted by Sailormom at 9:29 PM on September 30, 2007


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