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December 13, 2007 10:02 AM   Subscribe

The rush to clear police in shootings. An eight-month Chicago Tribune investigation of 200+ police shootings going back 10 years. (h/t Radley)
posted by i_am_a_Jedi (165 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
This comes as absolutely no surprise. Just part of the reason I'll never trust a cop in uniform.
posted by splice at 10:08 AM on December 13, 2007


Weren't we talking about tazing cops, so that they know what it feels like, so they might be less inclined to abuse the use of the taser? Perhaps something similar can be done with pistols.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:13 AM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


there is an annoying confusion between criminal and civil culpability; admittedly shooting a parapalegic driver and then claiming he had a gun crosses the line but in general, having trigger happy cops strikes me more as a civil rather than criminal issue. it's hard to determine just what constitutes a threat ahead of time (and in a legal fashion) but very easy to see culpability afterwards. so, while unsatisfying emotionally high dollar civil judgements I think can change the atittitude of a department and reduce the number of shootings by officers.

on the other hand, when a cop shoots someone in the back that raises much more serious issues i think.
posted by geos at 10:19 AM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Roundtables usually begin with the lead detective giving an overview of the shooting, referring to a hand-drawn diagram on the blackboard or grease board. Basic physical evidence often is not available or is sometimes neglected. Witnesses are brought in one at a time to give brief statements, but these are not under oath or recorded.

Bleah. This is Chicago, indeed.

Thank goodness for civil suits.
posted by tkolar at 10:21 AM on December 13, 2007


Just part of the reason I'll never trust a cop in uniform.

Until you need one, that is. Sure there are bad cops - but there are plenty more who put their life on the line to save your miserable, ungrateful ass.
posted by three blind mice at 10:25 AM on December 13, 2007 [2 favorites]



Until you need one, that is. Sure there are bad cops - but there are plenty more who put their life on the line to save your miserable, ungrateful ass.


Hush now, don't rile up the hippies.
posted by tkolar at 10:26 AM on December 13, 2007


A real shocker. (three blind mice, is there a way to determine ahead of time whether you're getting the trigger-and-tazer-happy type or the helpful type when you call 911? Is it a keyword or something?)
posted by maxwelton at 10:28 AM on December 13, 2007 [5 favorites]


Until you need one, that is. Sure there are bad cops - but there are plenty more who put their life on the line to save your miserable, ungrateful ass.

Statistics or it didn't happen.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 10:32 AM on December 13, 2007 [3 favorites]


I feel that we need a LOLCOPZ category to go along with LOLXIAN.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:33 AM on December 13, 2007


Statistics or it didn't happen.

Speaking of statistics, I'm unable to glean from the article how many of the 250 or so shootings the Tribune in claiming are suspect. They give 4 pretty nasty examples in the article, but they don't really say if that's just it or if the list is longer...
posted by tkolar at 10:44 AM on December 13, 2007


TheOnlyCoolTim : Statistics or it didn't happen.

Really? Because the article cites as many as 200+ over 10 years, or 20 per year, or slightly more than one and a half or so incidents per month. This is, of course, completely atrocious, but I don't need statistics to tell me that in that same time frame, many more people were aided by law enforcement.

I don't doubt that there are tons of corrupt cops who have been involved in unrighteous shooting; they should be kicked off the force, if not tried and jailed. As I'm also sure that there are cops who are covering for these guilty apples, they also need to be investigated.

But it's completely unfair to paint the entire law enforcement community as guilty because of a few (very) bad cops.

I say, try the hell out of the guilty, make an example, and work to ensure that only the best are on the streets, and a lot of this animosity between civilians and police will go away.
posted by quin at 10:47 AM on December 13, 2007 [4 favorites]


... although now that I think of it, if the oversight system isn't working that makes pretty much all of them suspect.
posted by tkolar at 10:49 AM on December 13, 2007


Until you need one, that is. Sure there are bad cops - but there are plenty more who put their life on the line to save your miserable, ungrateful ass.

More commonly, in my experience, when you need one, they are completely useless. Presumably because they're busy gunning down poor people and arresting drug users so they can seize their property like privateers.
posted by enn at 10:49 AM on December 13, 2007 [5 favorites]


It's absolutely crazy to me that officers who carry weapons only have to qualify once a year.

We have all of these people walking around with loaded guns who aren't required to keep up with their training. It's a wonder to me that more incidents like this don't occur.
posted by thebigdeadwaltz at 10:49 AM on December 13, 2007


(Incidentally, this is the same police department which assassinated Fred Hampton and then complained last year when somebody wanted to name a block after him.)
posted by enn at 10:52 AM on December 13, 2007


quin writes...
and a lot of this animosity between civilians and police will go away.

I think you may be engaging in a bit of wishful thinking there. As long as there is such a thing as an authority figure in the world, a certain percentage of the population is going to hate them.

No matter how gentle and just the shackles of law may become, the mere fact of having their behavior restricted drives some people nuts. If you don't believe this, try raising teenagers.
posted by tkolar at 10:52 AM on December 13, 2007


An interesting blog run by a Chicago cop...anonymously...the comments on the posts are gold. Borderline and fully in-country racist stuff too (from other cops). Sometimes you have to wade through that sh1t to hear what is really going on. The best part of the blog is that they talk about all of the back-room deals that the police department brass have with the politicians (and their supporters). Who is untouchable? What city department had their vehicles towed after a "war" started after they towed a cop's squad during lunch (it was only in front of a hydrant)? Gossipy and enlightening.

For those of you not from Chicago, imagine the Bears Fanatics from Saturday Night Live reading the posts to you. That is what they would sound like in real life. Seriously.
posted by zerobyproxy at 10:58 AM on December 13, 2007 [3 favorites]


Until you need one, that is. Sure there are bad cops - but there are plenty more who put their life on the line to save your miserable, ungrateful ass.

Fine. That said, when they do show up, I still won't trust them. Here's the reason why: if a hypothetical good cop shows up to save my miserable, ungrateful ass and happens to see my hypothetical concealed gun or my hypothetical grow op, is he, speaking hypothetically, going to pass on busting me after my ass is saved?

No?

Then why on earth should I extend trust that I'm clearly not getting in return? If "people in trouble" are still potential criminals to the police, then I don't see how "good cops who save your ass" shouldn't be potential bad cops to me. Blame the siege/paramilitary/us-vs-them mentality of the law enforcement system if you want to, but don't act as if ordinary people are "miserable" or "ungrateful" simply because they've decided not to be suckers anymore. I'm polite with the cops, and I don't start trouble, but I avoid the police as long as I can and I do NOT trust them. If that makes me ungrateful, so be it. Better judged by twelve (or in mefi's case, 60K) than carried by six -- I'll take "ungrateful" over "dead" or "jailed" any day of the week.
posted by vorfeed at 11:01 AM on December 13, 2007 [10 favorites]


tkolar: Conversely, as long as there are positions of authority, some percentage will abuse that authority. And, experimental and anecdotal evidence both seem to indicate the abusers are a far higher percentage than the "irrational" haters. Abuse of power disparity is one of the halmarks of humanity.
posted by absalom at 11:09 AM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Until you need one"
Yeah, I could never fill out all that paper work myself.
Seriously, when are cops ever available when you "need one"?
Thank goodness they arrest people when they can, but how often do they actually protect someone or their property?
It's not that I'm anti-cop, but let's not get carried away with the notion that they actually protect anybody.
posted by 2sheets at 11:11 AM on December 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


Oh, and it's the same police department which continues to pay a pension to Jon Burge, whom they admit tortured suspects with (among many, many other things) electric shocks to the testicles. None of this waffling about waterboarding here, no sir! In Chicago, we torture like we mean it!

Thankfully we have John Conroy at the Reader, who's been digging this stuff up for years and calling the police department on its bullshit. Oh, wait, no. Thanks, Creative Loafing!

And we're number one in subprime lending among U.S. metro areas! Oh, Chicago, is there anything you can't do?
posted by enn at 11:14 AM on December 13, 2007


Seriously, when are cops ever available when you "need one"?

I presume you live in a large-ish city and not in the rural boondocks ... but dial 911 and tell them there's an emergency requiring the immediate presence of a police officer (e.g. not just a noise complaint, but someone waving a gun). I'll give you a gentleman's bet of $1 if you don't have a police officer show up within 5 minutes of you placing the call.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:19 AM on December 13, 2007


tkolar: I think you may be engaging in a bit of wishful thinking there. As long as there is such a thing as an authority figure in the world, a certain percentage of the population is going to hate them.

You are, of course, absolutely correct. But I do think that by applying a higher standard to police behavior than we currently do, we could remove some of the justified complaints that people have about the police.

I mean, I get that any authority figure is going to be a target for some animosity, but there is a big difference between:

"Fucking cops, one gave me a ticket last week for riding on the roof of my buddies car."

and

"Fucking cops, one shot my buddy last week because he couldn't get out of his car quick enough."

I'd vastly prefer that the hate for the police came from the first over the second example. The first is bitching, the second is hate worthy.
posted by quin at 11:22 AM on December 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


Sure there are bad cops - but there are plenty more who put their life on the line to save your miserable, ungrateful ass.

I do wish this wouldn't get trotted out so much, as if being a police officer is just soooooo dangerous.

There are *googles* 676,000 sworn officers in the US. Of these, 147 were killed in the line of duty in 2006. Note that this is the most "generous" number, including people who died of heart attacks while on duty.

This works out to a death rate of 21 per 100,000. For comparison, the death rate in childbirth in the US is 17 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.

More dangerous than many other occupations? Sure.

Among the most dangerous jobs? Nope. If you go by actual risk of death, electricians are more heroic than cops. Roofers face death in ways that cops don't. Driver/sales workers brave tougher odds of death than cops do.

Unreasonably dangerous as an activity? Not unless you think that giving birth is unreasonably dangerous.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:30 AM on December 13, 2007 [19 favorites]


zerobyproxy, I was just about to link SCC. For really fun reading, search for Jon Burge and read not only the blogger's post, but subsequent comments. I'm partial to this one.

While the SCC blogger reads like a prick, and most of the commenters are clearly like-minded cops themselves, I have to agree with quin. The majority of police officers don't act or think like this.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 11:32 AM on December 13, 2007


Thank goodness for civil suits.
posted by tkolar at 12:21 PM on December 13


Tort reform to the rescue!
posted by goethean at 11:39 AM on December 13, 2007


Thank goodness we have incredibly polarizing statements to distract us from seriously contemplating the gray areas.
posted by unsupervised at 11:42 AM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


three blind mice: Sure there are bad cops - but there are plenty more who put their life on the line to save your miserable, ungrateful ass.

I think that is true. I'll even go for a majority of cops having good intentions and wanting to do the right thing in society.

But then the question becomes, what happens to a group when the good ones tolerate, or even cover for, the bad ones? Take when someone in your church/mosque/synagogue/whatever espouses hate and violence and everyone stays silent. Or when the villagers look the other way when the insurgents move in. Or when the organization just moves the child molesters. When the good sit by (or even help) while others carry out their acts, at some point we start to hold them responsible too. I am not sure that is right or fair, but I have a hard time letting them off when it is repeated over and over.
All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
Helping cover up is just being proactive about it.
posted by Bovine Love at 11:44 AM on December 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


quin: But it's completely unfair to paint the entire law enforcement community as guilty because of a few (very) bad cops.

As long as the "good" cops cover up for the bad ones, they are all suspect. For us non-LEOs, that's known as obstruction of justice.

Cool Papa Bell: I presume you live in a large-ish city and not in the rural boondocks ... but dial 911 and tell them there's an emergency requiring the immediate presence of a police officer (e.g. not just a noise complaint, but someone waving a gun). I'll give you a gentleman's bet of $1 if you don't have a police officer show up within 5 minutes of you placing the call.

In my very urban area if you call the police and tell them you see someone breaking into a home, the plain clothes cops will show up, not identify themselves as officers, then beat the piss out of you (resisting arrest when you answer your door and two guys who don't identify themselves jump you). That's in the rare instance you can actually get the police to show up. Call the police and tell them someone is brandishing a gun outside the deli downstairs? That's a half an hour wait. And this is less than a block away from an internal affairs office. The fire department has a better response time than the people that are supposed to serve and protect.
posted by ryoshu at 11:46 AM on December 13, 2007


quin: But it's completely unfair to paint the entire law enforcement community as guilty because of a few (very) bad cops.

And it's completely fair to note that whenever you have an office which is given life or death power over their peers, a) that office tends to attract a lot of unsavory, power-hungry people, and b) it will tend to corrupt a lot of the "good" people it attracts.

Furthermore, we should all, as grownups, be aware that idealists are often the biggest hypocrits. And there are a lot of idealists on police forces.

So, no, it's not fair to paint the entire law envorcement community as guilty. But it's stupid not to keep a close, close watch on what they're doing. Because they sill stray from the straight and true.
posted by lodurr at 11:48 AM on December 13, 2007


Extra credit assignment: Compare and contrast the Blue Code of Silence with the Stop Snitchin' movement.
posted by mhum at 11:54 AM on December 13, 2007


Wow, that Second City Cop blog is really something else!

Excerpt:
"Here's another liberal fantasy destroyed - police don't have that many run-ins with decent people. Decent people of any color don't need to call the police for every problem. Decent people raise their kids right, solve their own problems, properly license their vehicles, drive correctly and don't attract attention to their own decency. They live by example. If you're seeing the police or interacting with the police, more often than not something has gone wrong or, to put it quite simply, you've fucked up."
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:00 PM on December 13, 2007


Until you need one, that is. Sure there are bad cops - but there are plenty more who put their life on the line to save your miserable, ungrateful ass.

And every fucking one of them will swear up and down that "he had a gun, Officer Pigfucker didn't have a choice."
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:02 PM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


"if you don't have a police officer show up within 5 minutes of you placing the call."
You're right, I live in a large-ish city and I have plenty of experience with calling 911.
Once again, I'm not saying this to put down cops but even if they do show up within 5 minutes, that's not fast enough to protect anybody.
What they do at that point is tape off the crime scene take a report.
Solve crimes maybe, protect someone - rare.
posted by 2sheets at 12:04 PM on December 13, 2007


Solve crimes maybe, protect someone - rare.

I'll keep your admonishment in mind the next time I think about this list, that most of them were there to "solve the crime" and weren't actually trying to help anyone.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:11 PM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


The fundamental problem is the cover-ups. When a cop kills an innocent person, try them for manslaughter, like everybody else. Period. No exceptions. Let a jury of their peers figure out whether or not they go to jail.

If they speed, and they're not on the way to a crime, pull them over and give them a ticket. Period.

Illegally parked, give them a ticket, tow their car.

It's the sense of entitlement amongst law enforcement and the us/them mentality that's behind all these problems.

Who watches the watchers? It needs to be us, and it needs to be the criminal justice system. There need to be impartial, independent investigators outside of the police force who investigate these things. There is simply too much at stake otherwise. The police themselves clearly can't be trusted with the responsibility.

Once all the "bad apples" are in jail for 10-20 years, I think you'd find that the remaining cops aren't nearly as bad. If, say, 5-10% of the police force got put behind bars, do you think the remaining 90-95% would pull the same shit? I don't think so.

There shouldn't be two sets of standards, one for us, and a totally different one for law enforcement.

You kill an innocent person, you get tried before a jury. Period. All the rest of this is just cronyism.
posted by MythMaker at 12:15 PM on December 13, 2007 [7 favorites]


Extra credit assignment: Compare and contrast the Blue Code of Silence with the Stop Snitchin' movement.

Ooo! Ooo! I know: one's just a natural reaction to constantly being placed in situations in which one might get beat up or shot by the "other side" in the Drug War, and the other is... miserable and ungrateful!

Once again, I'm not saying this to put down cops but even if they do show up within 5 minutes, that's not fast enough to protect anybody. What they do at that point is tape off the crime scene take a report. Solve crimes maybe, protect someone - rare.

Yep. The Supreme Court already cleared up that whole "police are there to protect you" myth.

Solve crimes maybe, protect someone - rare.

I'll keep your admonishment in mind the next time I think about this list, that most of them were there to "solve the crime" and weren't actually trying to help anyone.


Um, yeah, because events like 9/11 aren't pretty much the definition of "rare", are they?
posted by vorfeed at 12:16 PM on December 13, 2007


There is no such thing as a good cop who covers for a bad cop.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:18 PM on December 13, 2007


Chicago Deal to Pay $20 Million in Police Torture Case Hits Roadblock
posted by homunculus at 12:18 PM on December 13, 2007


Listening to the author on NPR he pointed out that the *vast majority* of shootings appeared justified. However, because the proccess of sorting out which are and are not justified is completely rigged there's no good way to say exactly how many, or which cops need to be disciplined. The point of the article wasn't cops suck and like to shoot people it was we need a better way to see who's using force correctly.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 12:20 PM on December 13, 2007 [6 favorites]



Imagine the stuff cops pull that goes unreported. Remember, local news assignment editors rely on the police to get breaking news. They can't step on any toes.

And it is also for that reason that the reporting is always slanted to favor the police.

Fox 5 in New York City even has an ex-cop reporter- Mike Sheehan, for crissakes.

By the way, Sheehan was a detective who was intrumental in convicting the wrong people (young black males, of course) in the famous Central Park Jogger attack.
posted by wfc123 at 12:24 PM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


instrumental
posted by wfc123 at 12:25 PM on December 13, 2007


Until you need one, that is. Sure there are bad cops - but there are plenty more who put their life on the line to save your miserable, ungrateful ass.

If saving people's asses were all that the police force did, I think the police forces of America would be more respected. When police enforce poor laws or politics, that's when the distrust starts on both sides.

Hippies are a classic example from older times; nowadays the classic example is victims of the "War On Drugs" and the sector that gets targeted the most (youth and poor minorities). (Drug crimes are not the only place where outrageous sentencing occurs, but it's a pretty big example.)

Personally, I think that the police complainers are often looking at the wrong target -- the root cause is both the politicians who are making poor law out of society hysterics. Nevertheless, it's impossible to look at the American prison system and *not* see why distrust of the police exists.

The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, and 1/4 of the world's prison population. A huge amount of those in prison aren't in there because they threatened someone's ass; instead, they are in for "non-violent" offenses.

Sure, I bet that the incarcerated, or those who might be incarcerated by some of our poor laws, don't respect police officers. That's a minor problem compared to the various other social ills our "prison, prison, prison!" attitude causes.
posted by soundwave106 at 12:48 PM on December 13, 2007


Remember kids, the police are responders.
It's up to you to protect yourself.
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 12:48 PM on December 13, 2007


"Here's another liberal fantasy destroyed - police don't have that many run-ins with decent people. Decent people of any color don't need to call the police for every problem. Decent people raise their kids right, solve their own problems, properly license their vehicles, drive correctly and don't attract attention to their own decency. They live by example. If you're seeing the police or interacting with the police, more often than not something has gone wrong or, to put it quite simply, you've fucked up."

...or you're black or hispanic.

Just wanted to finish it off with a little accuracy.
posted by davejay at 12:57 PM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


By the way, having grown up in a neighborhood in Chicago populated almost exclusively by Chicago Firemen and Policemen, I can say the following with reasonable certainty: I'd be surprised to meet a policeman of any experience who *wouldn't* cover another policeman who shot someone he shouldn't have, and I'd be surprised to meet a fireman of any experience who *would* cover for another fireman who intentionally set a fire.
posted by davejay at 1:01 PM on December 13, 2007 [4 favorites]


If you're seeing the police or interacting with the police, more often than not something has gone wrong or, to put it quite simply, you've fucked up."

And if you haven't done anything wrong, then you don't have anything to worry about.

Everything is just an exploded, noisome version of what we had a hundred years ago. Maybe one day people will see the value in running things differently instead of running things the same way on a grander scale. In the meantime, we've become just a bunch of furtive survivalists at heart. When one hold humanity in higher esteem than the people who are charged with protecting it, one is pretty much bound to have that heart broken again and again.
posted by hermitosis at 1:03 PM on December 13, 2007


Interesting link, vorfeed. What I'm hearing is that I'm ultimately responsible for protecting myself, but I'm not allowed the tools to do it.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:12 PM on December 13, 2007


Weren't we talking about tazing cops, so that they know what it feels like, so they might be less inclined to abuse the use of the taser? Perhaps something similar can be done with pistols

All police officers issued a taser or other non-lethal weapon are required to have the weapon used against them.

I regularly defend police officers in such circumstances. I grew up in the Chicago area, but do not live or practice there now. It is my understanding that the system is quite broken in the city.

In other areas, the officers are much more tightly monitored.

I will add that this is exactly what the American people should expect when they have legalized firearms and pay the people with the most dangerous jobs a pittance.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:13 PM on December 13, 2007


"Here's another liberal fantasy destroyed - police don't have that many run-ins with decent people. Decent people of any color don't need to call the police for every problem. Decent people raise their kids right, solve their own problems, properly license their vehicles, drive correctly and don't attract attention to their own decency. They live by example. If you're seeing the police or interacting with the police, more often than not something has gone wrong or, to put it quite simply, you've fucked up."

and all this time I thought the "few bad apples" theory was supposed to be about the cops, not civilians.
posted by Challahtronix at 1:13 PM on December 13, 2007


You fucked up by being born poor and in a shitty neighborhood. Better luck next incarnation.
posted by absalom at 1:25 PM on December 13, 2007


Ironmouth: from here.
#Starting Salary of $43,104, increased to $55,723 after one
year and an additional increase to $58,896 after 18 months
# Annual Uniform Allowance of $1,800
# Annual Duty Availability Bonus of $2,920
# Health Insurance
# Tuition Reimbursement up to 100% (includes advanced degrees)
# Prescription Drug Plan
# Vision and Dental Plan
# Paid Sick Leave
# 20 Paid Vacation Days
# Retirement Plan
# 13 Paid Holidays
# Home Purchase Assistance

My understanding is that there are other raises and bonuses for things like promotion, and that a significant amount of income comes from overtime. Chicago police are actually extremely well compensated.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 1:28 PM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


I haven't looked. But if a thesaurus has oxymoron followed by 'honest cop' I wouldn't be surprised.
posted by notreally at 1:32 PM on December 13, 2007


My guess is "paid a pittance" better describes the people they're shooting.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:33 PM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Roundtables usually begin with the lead detective giving an overview of the shooting, referring to a hand-drawn diagram on the blackboard or grease board. Basic physical evidence often is not available or is sometimes neglected. Witnesses are brought in one at a time to give brief statements, but these are not under oath or recorded.

This is highly unusual. In my jurisdiction, a Force Investigation Team responds to the scene of each and every police shooting. They offer to interview the officer in question. The interviews are recorded and a full investigation ensues. However, most officers are advised (rightly so) not to give a statement until the question of criminal liability is determined and a declination is issued by the prosecuting body in the jurisdiction. I have allowed an officer to give such statements when video evidence demonstrates conclusively that the officer was right in opening fire when he or she did.

Once a declination is issued, the Department may order the officer to answer questions

What Chicago must not understand is that the more they investigate police shootings, the more they will learn about how to avoid them.

However, having worked a good number of these cases, it is my personal experience that the vast majority of police shootings are justified. No officer wants to be involved in a shooting--it is both personally psychologically traumatic and professionally difficult for the officer in question. The defense attorneys in these cases are trained to get psychological help for the officer as quickly as possible.

Before I started doing this sort of work, I held many of the same attitudes towards the police expressed by many on this thread. Once I encountered the actual workings of the police internal investigation and discipline system, my opinion changed.

I'm personally more aware of actual police misconduct than most, if not all on this thread. I've seen the most serious charges officers can face. For ever case I've tried, I've read dozens more reports on other incidents and court decisions. Despite this, I have to say that the people who get all crazy against cops in this thread have no idea what they are talking about.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:35 PM on December 13, 2007 [3 favorites]


I had a firmly neutral-to-positive attitude towards what was my impression of the average (Finnish) policeman -- until I had to deal with some real ones. Three times I've been either a victim or a witness, and each time the police have displayed glaring indifference, if not outright hostility, towards the people who've needed their help. Three times, of course, is not much, and I suppose there's a good chance that my sample isn't representative, but it sure has made it a hell of a lot easier to believe those who claim to know that depravity among the police force is systematic.
posted by Anything at 1:42 PM on December 13, 2007


#Starting Salary of $43,104, increased to $55,723 after one
year and an additional increase to $58,896 after 18 months
# Annual Uniform Allowance of $1,800
# Annual Duty Availability Bonus of $2,920


Your figures illustrate my point. $43,104 is very low considering the level of risk of physical and psychological injury that goes along with the job. The annual uniform allowance is out there because officers are required to have their uniforms cleaned, the leather shined and the like. It works out to $34 a week, which must cover the dry cleaning and purchase of 5 uniforms and associated equipment, plus the cost of going to and from the dry cleaners.

Duty availability bonus of $2,920 is a $56 per week payment for having to be available 24 hours per day. There is no chance of saying no. When ordered to show up, you must do so. And you will be asked at any time and any place. Are you willing to get paid only $56 extra per week for that?

Not only that, but every police department I have ever worked for has within their general orders a requirement that the officer is to be considered on duty at all times. Out with the family doing Christmas shopping and you see a car being stolen? You MUST respond. If you do not, you will face discipline.

One department I have worked with has a regulation forbidding its officers from ever being intoxicated, even on their own time. Have a few too many at the bar and slip and fall and go to the emergency room? If the department finds out about it, you will be disciplined.

Are these things that you are willing to put up with for $58,896? Even with overtime (often mandatory), you won't ever make over $100,000 a year. Doctors don't have to put up with this crap, but we continue to pay our police officers a pittance to do a job that barely pays and that few of us would be willing to do for three times the salary.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:45 PM on December 13, 2007


What Chicago must not understand is that the more they investigate police shootings, the more they will learn about how to avoid them.

As if they give a shit.

$43,104 is very low considering the level of risk of physical and psychological injury that goes along with the job.

You have no idea what low-education, high-risk jobs pay, but don't let that stop you!

I mean, Jesus, Ironmouth, you've peddled this asininity before. Nobody's buying.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:48 PM on December 13, 2007


I'd say that the overall tone is one one of "crazy against" but of "mistrust", no? You're don't doing the discussion any favors by turning your reasoned opposition into a bunch of shrieking ninnies. I agree with everything you're saying, Ironmouth, and it's been true with both the law enforcement officers I've known and the psychologists who do work for the precincts, but that does not mean that the BWoS is not a real and powerful force in law enforcement. Also, there are very good reasons to be suspicious of law enforcement, especially depending on the neighborhood you are in. Makes an enormous difference. I don't think someone who things that greater transparency and civilian oversight is really best classified as a "cop hater" (which you did not do, but other upthread have at least hinted at).
posted by absalom at 1:50 PM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oakland, California cops' salaries start at $69k, says their website, just as a data point.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:57 PM on December 13, 2007


Ironmouth: Also, there is a lot of hyperbole going on above from both sides, but not everyone is talking about Untouchables and Copland levels of corruption in law enforcement, but even the small, everyday abuses of power lead rightfully to levels of mistrust and suspicion. Law enforcement officers have to deal with life risk and rude ass people both, but they also are stewards of the public trust. (Funny it's called that.) As such stewards, and in consideration of the powers they are given, they should be held to a higher level of standard than those they protect. When they are not, that trust is damaged, be it one officer or a hundred. Even though I believe those acts of true and gross corruption are still the rare exception, every encounter were the officer acts as a petty tyrant, every time I'm needlessly hassled, each syllable of disgust and look of suspicion, all of these reinforce the reality of the differences between civilians and law enforcement, and serve to remind of the worst of police abuses.
posted by absalom at 2:00 PM on December 13, 2007


Ironmouth: As ROU pointed out upthread, many many other lower wage jobs face statistically higher risks of physical danger and death. I would not call $61.5k BASE 18 months in a pittance, nor would most people. The median family income in IL is about $49.5k for comparison.

You mentioned doctors, and that's kind of funny. Your average psychiatrist makes about $130k last I checked. Your average GP $150k. They also go to school for about 7 more years than a Chicago PO, many have to take enormous loans, and make around 40k to start as a resident (which lasts, depending on specialty 4-5 years, more for a fellowship) working 80 hours a week (unpaid overtime) in the hospital. They are also required to have emergency availability and call. They're also personally liable if they screw their jobs up, and pay for that. There is a reason that they have higher salary. They rarely get shot at, but the emotional toll is also enormous.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 2:07 PM on December 13, 2007


I mean, Jesus, Ironmouth, you've peddled this asininity before. Nobody's buying.

The fact that certain people have closed their minds to something doesn't mean they are right. Would your Metafilter experience be improved if I stopped saying things you didn't agree with?
posted by Ironmouth at 2:08 PM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


"One department I have worked with has a regulation forbidding its officers from ever being intoxicated, even on their own time."
Perhaps with good reason.
Shocking surveillance video shows off-duty Chicago police officer Anthony Abbate, 38, a 12-year veteran of the force, brutally beating a female bartender.
posted by Sailormom at 2:09 PM on December 13, 2007


Interesting link, vorfeed. What I'm hearing is that I'm ultimately responsible for protecting myself, but I'm not allowed the tools to do it.

More or less, yeah. But like I said earlier, better judged by twelve than carried by six -- I think that being ready to protect yourself, even if that involves breaking the law, is a lot better than dying or being raped or beaten as a law-abiding citizen. On the plus side, many states now have concealed carry laws, which are meant to close this very loophole. Also, any house without a shotgun is not a home!

(Off topic: does anyone know what happened to packing.org? It was by far the best concealed-carry site, but it seems to be down...)
posted by vorfeed at 2:11 PM on December 13, 2007


They are also required to have emergency availability and call. They're also personally liable if they screw their jobs up, and pay for that. There is a reason that they have higher salary. They rarely get shot at, but the emotional toll is also enormous.

I've actually represented police officers who have taken a life. I have been at the scene of a fatal police shooting. I have spoken with the officer very shortly after they have killed another person. There is nothing a doctor can do which remotely compares to that. These people come to work every day facing the possibility that they may take a life that evening. Doctors don't get PTSD very often. Police officers get it all of the time.

The reason doctors have a higher salary is that someone makes a lot of money off of what they do. In other countries, doctors make far less than they do here. It has nothing to do with the "stress" of the position.

As such stewards, and in consideration of the powers they are given, they should be held to a higher level of standard than those they protect.

That they are. If society wants better police officers, it should pay them more. This is simple capitalism. Is there anyone that seriously doubts that this is true? Look at the quality of your average FBI agent (I've represented Bureau personnel as well). It is generally higher than that of a street cop. I've worked with over a dozen law enforcement agencies and it is my experience that the ones that have higher salaries have a much better quality of officer. I've known dozens of officers personally and have represented them in civil, criminal and administrative contexts--the amount they get paid has a real impact on the quality of the officer.

Ironmouth, and it's been true with both the law enforcement officers I've known and the psychologists who do work for the precincts, but that does not mean that the BWoS is not a real and powerful force in law enforcement.

The "Blue Wall of Silence" is a poor metaphor for the myriad ways in which police internal affairs and officers interact. Note that internal affairs is made up of police officers, who, like other officers, are looking to make busts to get ahead and promoted. My experience of the alleged "wall of silence" is this: Officers will not go out of their way to report instances of misconduct, but when asked directly in an investigation, officers other than the target of the investigation in the vast majority of cases will give truthful and detailed answers. I've seen targets I am representing foolishly answer all questions truthfully becasue police officers are trained like dogs to observe and report everything.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:22 PM on December 13, 2007


Doctors at high risk for developing PTSD.
posted by absalom at 2:24 PM on December 13, 2007


As for the pay requirements: Look at level of education required.

Federal Officer: College Degree in Applicable field or fields.

Local law enforcement: Some number of hours at department run training facility.
posted by absalom at 2:27 PM on December 13, 2007


You have no idea what low-education, high-risk jobs pay, but don't let that stop you!

You have no evidence to back that up. You have no idea what I do or do not know regarding what jobs pay. I don't only represent police officers. I'm an employment and labor lawyer. I get paid to know about what risks jobs have, how much they get paid, and how much education is required. Everytime I look at a case, I have to take those factors into account before I recommend a course of action. I used statistical information about job risk, pay and education requirements on a daily basis. What experience do you have with those things?
posted by Ironmouth at 2:27 PM on December 13, 2007



tkolar: Conversely, as long as there are positions of authority, some percentage will abuse that authority.

No question about it, oversight is key. When that's broken, as it appears to be in Chicago, things go way out of whack for the reasons you're talking about.

And, experimental and anecdotal evidence both seem to indicate the abusers are a far higher percentage than the "irrational" haters.

I'd love to see the experimental data you're talking about. 'Cuz I'm pretty sure I can show that at least 90% of teenagers have an irrational hatred of authority, and all we're talking about is the people who fail to grow out of it.

On the anecdotal side, every Metafilter post about the police (whether it's good news or bad news) draws a huge response from the "cops are evil" crowd. Certainly in terms of noise made, irrational haters outweigh the number of crooked cops by several orders of magnitude.
posted by tkolar at 2:28 PM on December 13, 2007


As for the pay requirements: Look at level of education required.

Federal Officer: College Degree in Applicable field or fields.

Local law enforcement: Some number of hours at department run training facility.


Incorrect. Most every police job these days requires at least 2-years of college level education. Many departments now only hire those with 4-year degrees. Most every federal law enforcement officer requies a 4-year degree.

But if your argument is that we need better paid, better educated police officers, I agree wholeheartedly.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:30 PM on December 13, 2007


tkolar: I was speaking particularly of the Stanford Prison Experiment, since my point was about people given authority having a tendency to abuse that authority. Sorry for the miscommunication.
posted by absalom at 2:33 PM on December 13, 2007


Doctors are very, very rarely killed in the line of duty. In D.C. there is a memorial for police officers. Almost 15,000 were killed on the job in the 20th century.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:35 PM on December 13, 2007


Interesting link, vorfeed. What I'm hearing is that I'm ultimately responsible for protecting myself, but I'm not allowed the tools to do it.

Few statements are dumber than this one. The police protect us by their mere presence and actually deter crime. Fools who think that having a gun protects them from criminals are sadly mistaken.

Guns kept in the home for self-protection are more often used to kill somebody you know than to kill in self-defense; 22 times more likely, according to a 1998 study by the Journal of Trauma. 45(2):263-67
posted by Ironmouth at 2:39 PM on December 13, 2007


An associates? Well, I stand corrected. The department in question requires "at least 60 semester (90 quarter) hours of credit from a college or university accredited by one of the six regional accrediting bodies responsible for evaluating two and four year institutions that grant Associate's and Bachelor's degrees. Also acceptable are applicants with four years of continuous active duty in the armed forces of the United States or applicants who have completed 30 semester (or 45 quarter) hours from a college or university accredited by one of the six regional accrediting bodies responsible for evaluating two and four year institutions that grant Associate's and Bachelor's degrees, and one year of continuous active duty in the armed forces of the United States."

To be a federal agent, in addition to a four year degree, "Special Agent candidates must qualify under one or more of the following four entrance programs: Law, Accounting, Language, and Diversified." Then the academy on top of that.

That strikes me as an overwhelming difference in education. If you want a higher pay, increase the quality and requirements of candidates. Also, since there is only one national government and countless number of states and municipalities, they have a tremendous candidate pool to select from, meaning the best in their fields from the entire United States population. Makes sense to me they'd get paid a lot more.

But, as has been stated above and as a fellow underpayed and underapprecated government employee, that sounds pretty good, especially when you consider those average figures don't even count overtime pay.
posted by absalom at 2:40 PM on December 13, 2007


FBI has the toughest requirements of all law enforcement agencies in the country.

I agree that the quality needs to be increased. But that requires that you and I be willing to pay more in taxes. Are you willing to pay more? I suggest you contact your local government and ask that the requirements and pay for police officers in your jurisdiction be increased.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:46 PM on December 13, 2007


60 semester hours is an associates degree.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:46 PM on December 13, 2007


Certainly in terms of noise made, irrational haters outweigh the number of crooked cops by several orders of magnitude.

Yeah, but which does more damage? Those who fear the police, or police officers that wound and kill innocents? The police are doing more damage.

Plus, this is a meaningless statement. It's like saying the people who hate George W. Bush outweigh he and the neo-cons in the White House by several orders of magnitude.

Well, duh. In both cases we're talking about a smaller number of people who have positions of authority, and who have abused those positions of authority. The rest of us, quite rationally, have problems with those abuses of authority.
posted by MythMaker at 2:47 PM on December 13, 2007


Cops don't do unjustified shootings because they are underpaid.
posted by Bovine Love at 2:51 PM on December 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


Fine. That said, when they do show up, I still won't trust them. Here's the reason why: if a hypothetical good cop shows up to save my miserable, ungrateful ass and happens to see my hypothetical concealed gun or my hypothetical grow op, is he, speaking hypothetically, going to pass on busting me after my ass is saved?


Um.. why should you get a pass? Cop saving your life & cop busting you for criminal behaviour is--wait for it--the cop doing his(her) job, both times. We'll leave aside the merits (or lack thereof) of drug laws, ok?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:55 PM on December 13, 2007 [3 favorites]


in the end, the biggest risks to cops are psychological/internal, not physical/external.

the statistic i like to quote is that police officers are twice as likely to kill themselves than they are to be killed on the job. the stats on domestic violence also look bad for cops. in all cops are disproportionately dangerous to themselves and to their families / loved ones.

so i think its correct to say that the job is dangerous, mainly because it turns people into self-hating violent assholes who are a danger to themselves as well as society.

and why do people become cops? because the money is better than anything they could otherwise hope for. so add self-interested to the list of inherent psychological afflictions of police work. i could go on, but it would only get rantier, im extra pissed off right now because a cop in a roid rage shot a kid in my neighborhood in the back two months ago and they havent charged him yet.
posted by mano at 2:55 PM on December 13, 2007


Cops don't do unjustified shootings because they are underpaid.

Yes they do. Simple economics tells us that people who are highly skilled and educated tend to take jobs that pay well. Less educated, less skilled, less intelligent persons are more likely to have trouble learning the regulations and skills needed for the job of police work and are therefore more likely to be involved in police shootings.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:58 PM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


mano: I think the real question is, how can we change the structures of our law enforcement so that a career of service does not end up costing the individual his or her soul.
posted by absalom at 2:58 PM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


You have no evidence to back that up. You have no idea what I do or do not know regarding what jobs pay. I don't only represent police officers. I'm an employment and labor lawyer. I get paid to know about what risks jobs have, how much they get paid, and how much education is required. Everytime I look at a case, I have to take those factors into account before I recommend a course of action. I used statistical information about job risk, pay and education requirements on a daily basis.

The simple fact that you think $43K a year is very little for a job that requires little education and is fairly risky indicates that you're either lying about believing that to be very little or in that entire paragraph above.

I think the real question is, how can we change the structures of our law enforcement so that a career of service does not end up costing the individual his or her soul.

Completely overhaul society such that the police aren't the strong arm of power and wealth.

C'mon, let's hold our breath in shifts.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:02 PM on December 13, 2007


Completely overhaul society such that the police aren't the strong arm of power and wealth.

Why yes, why don't we suggest something that could never happen for a perfect world instead of trying to do what we can now? There's so much that can be done. Linking it to a pie-in-the-sky dream of undergraduates everywhere doesn't help anyone.

If you want to reform policing, call your political representatives now. I'd bet they hear nary a peep from the populace on this issue.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:08 PM on December 13, 2007


You have no evidence to back that up. You have no idea what I do or do not know regarding what jobs pay.

Well, either you don't know, or you do know and are intentionally lying.

Finding risky occupations is trivially easy. Law enforcement is not on the list.

Roofing is. Roofers make, on average *googles* $37K for journeymen. This is also trivially easy to find.

So it's not like cops make especially low pay for their risky job. Their pay is, at worst, similar to other relatively risky occupations with relatively low education requirements.

I have spoken with the officer very shortly after they have killed another person. There is nothing a doctor can do which remotely compares to that.

Knowing that makes me feel better -- I mean, here I was thinking that physicians sometimes killed people. Knowing that they don't ever do anything close to that makes me much more comfortable about occasionally receiving medical care.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:10 PM on December 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


$43K a year is very little for that job. I've seen it destroy people. It is very risky, and not just physically.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:11 PM on December 13, 2007


Why yes, why don't we suggest something that could never happen for a perfect world instead of trying to do what we can now?

Says the man whose job is keeping police officers from suffering the consequences of their brutality.

There's so much that can be done.

We can apply all the band-aids we want, the sucking chest wound isn't going to go away.

If you want to reform policing, call your political representatives now. I'd bet they hear nary a peep from the populace on this issue.

Okay, that's it. I'm 100% convinced that every word you've ever typed about being involved with the political system or the cops is a lie. C'mon, just tell us all that we should be grateful for the cops because without them it'd be Thomas Hobbesland out there. There's no need to lie and try and stir up sympathy for murderers and bullies.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:14 PM on December 13, 2007


$43K a year is very little for that job. I've seen it destroy people.

Millions of people get destroyed doing jobs that pay far less.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:15 PM on December 13, 2007


OTOH:

If society wants better police officers, it should pay them more.

This, I got no beef with. Shifting police work to higher pay, higher educational requirements, etc seems reasonable to me.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:18 PM on December 13, 2007


Millions of people get destroyed doing jobs that pay far less.

Millions? Come on, even this is way out for you, Pope Guilty.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:26 PM on December 13, 2007


Says the man whose job is keeping police officers from suffering the consequences of their brutality.

I am an attorney. My job is to defend people. If attorneys selected for who they defended by whether or not they felt the client was guilty, this would be a much worse place. It isn't my job to decide whether or not they are guilty--that job is for the trial boards and juries my clients face. I have a duty to zealously represent those who are my clients. If I decided that my client was guilty--I might be wrong. That's why we have such a system. If you have a better way of doing things which can be implemented, please point it out now.

There's no need to lie and try and stir up sympathy for murderers and bullies.

That's the second time you've accused me of lying on this thread. I think such accusations do not advance debate in a meaningful fashion.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:39 PM on December 13, 2007


I've actually represented police officers who have taken a life. I have been at the scene of a fatal police shooting. I have spoken with the officer very shortly after they have killed another person. There is nothing a doctor can do which remotely compares to that. These people come to work every day facing the possibility that they may take a life that evening. Doctors don't get PTSD very often. Police officers get it all of the time.

This is factually wrong in a number of ways. First, physicians are at high risk for PTSD, alcoholism, depression, and other psychiatric issues. I have to say that I have a guess at why. Working in the PICU I got to watch physicians inform parents that their children were dying/dead. Working in the burn unit one sees incredible suffering and deformity on a daily basis. A palliative care physician I know signs an average of twelve death certificates a week of only his patients. And yes, I know a lot of well-meaning people who've killed someone. Except it wasn't self defense, it was a fuck up or their human inability to know/do the correct thing. The direct similarity of "these people come to work every day facing the possibility that they may take a life that evening" is what I thought was so hilariously ill-chosen about your example.

The point of the many extra years pre-work is that the pay figures you keep citing are ridiculous. You acknowledge up-thread that the $43k is to start as a 21 year old. By the time they're 23 they're making $62.5k before overtime (and other things). The average income for CPD is more like $80k-$100k. By the time that GP is making $150 she's 40. It's not at all a fair comparison to just pick the starting salary of a 21 year old PO and compare to a 40 year old physician. $43k is kind of low for the stress (but not physical danger) of CPD, but $80-100k before 30, no degree? That's not bad at all.

This is aside. Developed nations which pay physicians less have at least two different elements. First, they typically have shorter training lifecycles, sometimes much shorter. Second, they have a government monosopy which simply decides what they'll be paid. If you want to go this "elsewhere the pay is different" track think of army recruits who get about $18k (that's combat pay).
posted by a robot made out of meat at 3:51 PM on December 13, 2007 [4 favorites]


I think it's also worth noting that to continue in other fields, such as teaching and medicine, you are required to take post-graduation hours related to your field. How difficult would it be to require that law enforcement do the same, especially continuing education in dealing with the public, diffusing crisis situations, etc.?

Or, I'm sorry, did this thread leave sensible ideas and discussion a few rhetorical stops behind?
posted by absalom at 3:51 PM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Millions? Come on, even this is way out for you, Pope Guilty.

You really are some kid in a basement, aren't you?

I am an attorney. My job is to defend people. If attorneys selected for who they defended by whether or not they felt the client was guilty, this would be a much worse place. It isn't my job to decide whether or not they are guilty--that job is for the trial boards and juries my clients face. I have a duty to zealously represent those who are my clients. If I decided that my client was guilty--I might be wrong. That's why we have such a system. If you have a better way of doing things which can be implemented, please point it out now.

Here's a better way of doing things- stop defending police. You make a living helping cops escape the consequences of their actions. Ordinary people accused of crimes have an entire legal system designed to convict them with as much speed as possible, including your clients' constant and well-known propensity to lie at every turn to defend their own. The cops have the system set up to protect them from consequences, and you're helping to make it worse.

That's the second time you've accused me of lying on this thread. I think such accusations do not advance debate in a meaningful fashion.

That's funny, I don't think lying advances debate in a meaningful fashion.

(As a side note, I'm also in the middle of an argument elsewhere in which I'm defending state- or community-based policing against an anarcho-capitalist who insists that policing should be done by private companies. Hi-larious!)
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:52 PM on December 13, 2007


What I'm hearing is that I'm ultimately responsible for protecting myself, but I'm not allowed the tools to do it.

Few statements are dumber than this one. The police protect us by their mere presence and actually deter crime. Fools who think that having a gun protects them from criminals are sadly mistaken.


Nice. First of all, nothing in my statement contradicts anything you've said, so though it might be "dumb" I'm not sure why its ruffling your feathers.

Second of all, I doubt your statistics about gun violence carry across every neighborhood. Anecdotally speaking, I just moved from an affluent, very anti-gun town that funded it's police department to an absurd extent, to a Oakland, CA, whose reputation precedes it, and whose residents are armed as often as not. Since moving to Oakland my car hasn't been broken into even once, where as in the anti-gun town any car parked on the street was broken into weekly. (Despite the fact that the police not only showed up for each break-in in a very timely manner, but took fingerprints!)

Thirdly, I will agree that having multitudes of cops around deters easily visible crime and, as I know from personal experience, keeps the jaywalking to a minimum. The cops around Berkeley, at least, sensibly seem to stay away from the neighborhoods that have lots of prostitutes and shooting, and concentrate instead on seatbelt violations and bicycles rolling through stopsigns. Frankly, I don't blame them, and I get as annoyed about bad bicycle habits as anyone else. But it doesn't help their credibility.

I won't even start on Sonoma County and north whose police departments seem as close to blatantly corrupt as I've run into, as opposed to the casual abuses of power that one expects from cops.

These days I'm respectable, white, heading towards middle aged, etc etc. and the police are practically obsequious, but I will certainly always remember how these same police treated me when I looked like a punk, a Chicano, (it was the car, mostly, and a mis-assumption of my last name's spelling.) and a hippie. Apparently I was convincing in these roles, because although I have been as squeaky clean as you can get, I was treated very very differently in each of these incarnations.

/rant
posted by small_ruminant at 3:52 PM on December 13, 2007


Also, did no one else find this statement funny?

"I've seen targets I am representing foolishly answer all questions truthfully ..."
posted by small_ruminant at 3:55 PM on December 13, 2007


Oh, and you noted that CPD requires some community college. 60 hours is not necessarily a degree, that could just be randomly cobbled together hours. The de facto standard may be an associates degree; I don't know.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 3:56 PM on December 13, 2007


That's funny, I don't think lying advances debate in a meaningful fashion.

You have no evidence of any lying on my part. What you are really saying is "I don't like what you are saying and the fact that you won't give in to my ill-informed shouting."

You really are some kid in a basement, aren't you?

I'd check the mirror on that one, Ace.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:59 PM on December 13, 2007


Ironmouth, thanks for your reasoned, well-informed and patient posts — you made this thread worthwhile.

Pope Guilty, I think we'd all be better served if you left the thread to go read a book or something.
posted by orange swan at 4:06 PM on December 13, 2007


I prefer the rush to shoot police in clearings!
posted by symbioid at 4:07 PM on December 13, 2007


Also, did no one else find this statement funny?

Yep. It is my job to make sure my client doesn't hurt their position with their own statements. I do defend people who, in my subjective opinion, have probably committed the infraction they are accused of committing. That goes for my clients, and it would go for you if I was representing you in a criminal situation. You would follow my advice to the letter and wouldn't give up anything if I told you not to, because the instinct for self-preservation is strong. You criticize this now, but if you were in that position, I am certain you would be as quiet as a mouse if accused of a crime and I told you not to say anything. You would likely think it entirely proper that you say nothing. But when it is someone you don't like, you think it a bad thing.

If you don't like our legal system, perhaps you'd like another one? Perhaps you think it good that those accused at Guantanamo have no rights. Perhaps you'd like to see us torture people to get them to confess? Because that's what other legal systems without the right to a lawyer have. Our system is not perfect. But I would rather be accused in our jury-based legal system than any other on the planet.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:08 PM on December 13, 2007


maxwelton: "A real shocker. (three blind mice, is there a way to determine ahead of time whether you're getting the trigger-and-tazer-happy type or the helpful type when you call 911? Is it a keyword or something?)"

Shhh... It's not a keyWORD... It's a keyCOLOR... It matches the sheets they like to wear on their heads, if that's clue enough.
posted by symbioid at 4:11 PM on December 13, 2007


Ironmouth: "Millions of people get destroyed doing jobs that pay far less.

Millions? Come on, even this is way out for you, Pope Guilty.
"

Ironmouth, that is a damn fact. Or are you talking in your privileged, white, North American capitalist framework?

Because I'd argue there's probably a billion or two doing shit job that's hella more dangerous than what cops do for WAY less pay. Sure we could get into the merits of relativity when it comes to income... But his point is correct.

Where was it that I heard something like a waste collector actually has a more dangerous job than cops do? That said, I'm not stating it as some solid fact, as I've never researched it much. If it wasn't for OSHA and the limited regulations we have, there'd be a lot more in the US who work in even riskier jobs.
posted by symbioid at 4:18 PM on December 13, 2007


So if I'm not for our screwed-up jury system I must be in favor of Guantanamo and torture? Do juries fall for this sort of reasoning?
posted by small_ruminant at 4:23 PM on December 13, 2007


This works out to a death rate of 21 per 100,000. For comparison, the death rate in childbirth in the US is 17 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.

More dangerous than many other occupations? Sure. Among the most dangerous jobs? Nope.


This is a perfect sample of missing the entire point of the debate. This statistic proves nothing by itself on the need for officers to defend themselves. What we need to know is how often officers save their life, or that of an innocent person, by their use of force.

Not easy to get that information is it? Welcome to the debate.
posted by Brian James at 4:25 PM on December 13, 2007


that is a damn fact.

Please, please somebody cite something to me on this damn fact.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:35 PM on December 13, 2007


I'd love to see the experimental data you're talking about. 'Cuz I'm pretty sure I can show that at least 90% of teenagers have an irrational hatred of authority, and all we're talking about is the people who fail to grow out of it.

Right-wing Authoritarianism.
posted by Ritchie at 4:37 PM on December 13, 2007


Well, since only 158,857 people die each day worldwide, I have trouble to believe that millions die each day from workplace fatalities.
posted by absalom at 4:40 PM on December 13, 2007


Yeah, police sux, blah blah blah. How dare Ironmouth counter general feelings and hyperbolic examples of police behavior with his direct experiance yadda yadda yadda.
RTFA. It’s a good article.
The corruption in Chicago is (as Lenny Bruce said) thrilling. It’s so wholeheartedly and in earnest about it, it’s hard to even know where to start. Power changed hands out here because department heads locked up the salt trucks and plows during a major winter storm.
The problems here go way beyond the cops.

That said, just recently we had a nut take over an office building and take hostages. He killed three. He was later shot by a SWAT sniper.
I’d say the other 10-20 odd people working in that office would say the cops helped them and were there when they needed them.

But can we have a reasonable discussion of the article in question without all the ‘hurf-derf cops suck’ bullshit? Yes there are corrupt cops. Yes there are corrupt departments. Yes, it needs to be fixed.
Do we need to hear rant after rant ignoring the root causes of why they go bad, the remedies to fix it and the fucking article itself - to again hear “cops suck” in yet another meaningless form that implies nothing other than how terrible and bad they are? Yeah, great. Why are they bad? What makes them act that way? How does the system work such that these things happen?
People try to explain the ‘how’ of it and the response is this blather from folks who can otherwise put forth cogent reasoned arguments and modulated responses to critique are otherwise absolutely stymied by this “police” thing. Utterly mystified as to how crime is affected at all by them. As though they’re apart from society at all, we have no control over these authoritarian parasites hatched from another species. So they’re an alien species? They’re f’ing jocks from high school who beat you up? They’ll never change and were always evil?
No, there’s a “pattern of officials rushing to clear officers who shoot civilians, an eight-month Tribune investigation found.”

Gee, is it because the cops can do anything they want?
No, “Those shootings have helped fuel public outcry over excessive force and misconduct.”

Well, do cops get off because they all suck?
No, the civilian oversight has failed, was underfunded, and the methodology in investigating shootings is terrible, not recorded, not under oath, evidence is not presented, and cases aren’t reopened and cops aren’t punished, etc.

Explain to me how this ‘screw the pigs’ blather is equvalent to the Trib reviewing thousands of documents from internal investigative files, the county ME’s autopsies and depositions.
Clue me in on the FOIA requests you’ve put in on your police department.

The Trib says “police have shot innocent, unarmed people” - yeah, that’s dead on, but when they say “Officers face potentially life-or-death situations that require an instantaneous decision: to shoot or not to shoot. In many instances the use of deadly force is justified, and that decision saves lives.” - Oh, no, that’s all bullshit.

It’s obvious the CPD is covering up. It’s obvious there’s corruption and police malfeasance. I’m interested in the ‘how’ of it. For some reason some of you are arguing the ‘how’ with this broadbrush ‘cops suck’ garbage.

State and county prosecutors are now telling the CPD they want more oversight themselves, more people are getting involved - this is, y’know, doing something about the problem.

Whether society should be changed such that ‘x,y,z’ is a whole other issue that what is wrong with policing - in execution - in the U.S.

You don’t trust the cops? Swell. Don’t like them and think everyone else should hate them too? Fine. Looking for a radical revision of society where cops aren’t needed? Dandy.

But that doesn’t change - or even explain at all - thing one about what the issue at hand is, what’s going wrong right now, or how it can or should be put right, etc. etc. etc. whether you “win” your little argument here on the web or not.
And it’s getting in the way of the explication of the information as to what the issue is composed of. The nuts and bolts of it. The why’s and wherfores.

/on preview but Smedley, all cops are bad.
// really, don’t know why I bother. The folks I’m arguing the position to probably think I’m talking about the police. Or championing ‘police good.’ More’s the pity.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:49 PM on December 13, 2007 [5 favorites]


I have trouble to believe that millions die each day from workplace fatalities.

You should stop beating up on Ray Bolger like that.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:50 PM on December 13, 2007


A cop bit my sister once.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:54 PM on December 13, 2007


You are correct, I misread the original statement, and my mischaracterization was unintentional, and for that I am sorry. I still stand by the fact that there is a tremendous amount of hyperbole going on here that is not contributing to the discussion.
posted by absalom at 4:57 PM on December 13, 2007


You criticize this now, but if you were in that position, I am certain you would be as quiet as a mouse if accused of a crime and I told you not to say anything. You would likely think it entirely proper that you say nothing. But when it is someone you don't like, you think it a bad thing.

Oh come the fuck on!

Yes if i was a criminal and had done something wrong which had me looking at jail time i am sure i would follow my lawyers instructions to lie (by ommission) in order to get myself off the charges. If i have, for instance, killed someone what difference does a little deceipt make?

I realy couldn't argue with you with regard to the need for a legal system that requires a robust defense of the accused (It would be nice if that system was more open to the less well off though). I have no problem with you assuming the innocence of every client you deal with and acting accordingly.

But calling it foolish when someone who has done wrong and broken the law fails to lie effectively, thus subverting the entire system? That there is why people hate lawyers.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 5:08 PM on December 13, 2007


The point is not that the police don't face shitty situations every day. The point is that that does not exempt them from the obligation to be law-abiding in the way that they appear to believe it does.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:09 PM on December 13, 2007


Please, please somebody cite something to me on this damn fact.

Truck drivers, the aforementioned garbage collectors, cab drivers... just about any profession that requires you to be driving for extended periods of time is statistically more dangerous that police work. Construction jobs are up there as well: roofers (also mentioned), electricians, etc. Then there's the whole meat-packing industry. Sharp knives that slice through bone like butter, clean-up hoses running a hundreds of pounds per square inch, filled with various caustic agents... And don't get me started on fishermen (probably the single most dangerous profession in America). There are about a million and one more dangerous jobs out there.

But what really chafes our collective asses is this: the important part of those statistics is that all the jobs I just mentioned don't have anywhere near the kind of benefits to compensate for their inherent danger. Cops are dealt one of the sweetest hands in all of job-dom when it comes to bennies. Injured on the job? Here, take a month off and get paid your full wage while you recover. Fuck up on the job? Don't worry, your ass is covered by your brothers.

And in the meantime, there are hundreds of subtle ingratiations you'll be privy to as a Respected Member of the Police Force. Free coffee at any Dunkin' Donuts. Commit moving violations at will. Work need you to come in for the weekend, or pull a few late-nights? Hey, that's time-and-a-half! You'll have your Christmas shopping list checked off in no time. Starting salary in the $40's, quickly jumping to the $50's after a couple of years of directing traffic and "supervising" city utility trucks. And the job requirements? Pshaw. I couldn't get a telemarketing job making $25k a year with the credentials required to be a police officer. And I sure as fuck wouldn't have health benefits for myself or family. Or life insurance. Or dental insurance. Or free eye-care. Or paid time off. Or anywhere near the vacation time. Or overtime of any kind.

Yeah, cry me a river for the poor, sad cop.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:17 PM on December 13, 2007 [3 favorites]


er, cops are not supposed to be educated. thats not in the job description. moreover, it misses the point, since educated does not mean highly trained. a highly educated person will be less predictable and less likely to follow orders and more likely to figure out how to take advantage of the power. if you want to reduce cop brutality it requires more training and much more accountability.
posted by mano at 5:20 PM on December 13, 2007


As a native Chicagoan I have had a long like/dislike relationship with the Chicago police force. Last year, however, I had a LOVE experience with them when we found a strange man sleeping on our sofa in the middle of the night.
Our Maltese woke us up with wild barking and my husband crept downstairs to investigate the noise. (toilet flushing.) He found a young man lying on the sofa in black silk boxer shorts.
Bottom line - we called "911" and waited breathlessly for the cops to arrive.
In just a matter of 2 or 3 minutes we heard the car doors slam (no sirens) and about 20 cops - with a sargent leading the way. They surrounded our building front and back.
The "dude" in question was a very inebriated neighbor (5 identical buildings) who lived next door (no one knows each other in neighborhoods such as this) and he had forgotten his keys. He climbed up to our top deck and "popped" the patio door, came in, left his jeans on the floor, and collapsed on our couch, thinking he was home.
He was so drunk he couldn't speak and his face was as red as a tomato. The cops threw him in the "pokey" for the night but let him go the next day as he did not have a record. We pressed charges against him but dropped them at the time of the hearing
After that experience I love the Chicago Police Dept - I know there are rotten apples but I love those guys. I'll never forget the terror we felt with this strange man in our apt - who knew he was not a violent nut? The sound of those squad cars arriving and the police running up the stairs was music to our ears - thank you CPD.
posted by Tullyogallaghan at 5:20 PM on December 13, 2007


Brian James: There's kind of two debates happening. The original was on how much justified police violence there is, and everyone seems to agree that most of it is justified, but that better investigation than the CPD conducts is called for. Second, Ironmouth decided that CPD a) are paid "a pittance" and b) have uniquely risky lives and c) are uniquely subject to psychological stress. ROU and I are arguing that these are all incorrect. The stat you quoted was just to show that there are lots of comparatively risky things in life. I don't know that I believe 21/100000 person years; the expect mortality in the general population is 400-800/100000py in that age group. Or was that per ten years (intro epi was a long time ago)? Either way.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 5:23 PM on December 13, 2007


Oh, and if you actually wanted a real link to some actual statistics before blindly believing any of the CRAZY, here you go. America's Most Dangerous Jobs as of 2005.

What's that? Don't like clicking links? Here's the list:
  1. Logging workers
  2. Aircraft pilots
  3. Fishers and fishing workers
  4. Structural iron and steel workers
  5. Refuse and recyclable material collectors
  6. Farmers and ranchers
  7. Roofers
  8. Electrical power line installers/repairers
  9. Driver/sales workers and truck drivers
  10. Taxi drivers and chauffeurs
Notice any group conspicuously absent from that list? That's fucking right.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:23 PM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


ironmouth:

hello?

are you saying you dont know how to use google? its ok, the internets are confusing. if using a telephone is more to your liking, you can always get in touch with the BLS to verify the stats.
posted by mano at 5:24 PM on December 13, 2007


oops.
posted by mano at 5:25 PM on December 13, 2007


perhaps ironmouth also needs metafilter's help with the payroll statistics for police?
posted by mano at 5:26 PM on December 13, 2007


And in the meantime, there are hundreds of subtle ingratiations you'll be privy to as a Respected Member of the Police Force. Free coffee at any Dunkin' Donuts. ...

And every now and again, you'll have to tackle somebody frying on PCP.

And listen to someone rail about their rights, man, when you ask them to turn their stereo down.

And tell a mother that the 5-year-old light of their life, their only child, was just flattened by a beer truck.

But hey, man. Screw the police.

Civil_Disobedient, you really act like a jackass sometimes.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:33 PM on December 13, 2007


Tullyogallaghan, what if you missed your destiny?

Personally, I doubt I'd have even considered pressing charges in such a case, but I certainly would have strongly considered calling the police if I didn't recognize him, depending on what city I was in, and how my previous interactions with the police there had worked out.
posted by small_ruminant at 5:41 PM on December 13, 2007


And every now and again, you'll have to tackle somebody frying on PCP.

And listen to someone rail about their rights, man, when you ask them to turn their stereo down.

And tell a mother that the 5-year-old light of their life, their only child, was just flattened by a beer truck.


And all of that makes being a protestor-gassing, suspect-brutalising, perks-getting criminal fuck acceptable?

Shit, given what soldiers have to go through, who are we to complain when they torture a few people to death or kill a family to keep them from reporting a rape?
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:43 PM on December 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


Well, I'll just add Pope Guilty to the List of the Willfully Obtuse while I've still got the book open...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:45 PM on December 13, 2007


Okay, fine, what was the point, if it wasn't "cops have to go through lots of bad shit so step off"? Since I'm so dumb, educate me.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:50 PM on December 13, 2007


There should be zero tolerance for unjustified police violence. Every innocent person killed by police should provoke a firestorm of outrage that, these days, just doesn't seem to be happening. And saying there's more good apples than bad strikes me as a pitifully poor yardstick.

On dealing with "nuts," remember: everyone is a nut to someone else. It's just shorthand for everyone who doesn't perceived to fit the speaker's social norms.
posted by JHarris at 5:56 PM on December 13, 2007


The Most Dangerous Jobs in America, or Why Don't We See More Action/Adventure Shows Starring These Folks?
1. Truck driver 8. Taxicab driver
2. Farm worker 9. Timber cutter
3. Sales supervisor/proprietor 10. Cashier
4. Construction worker 11. Fisherman
5. Police detective 12. Metal worker
6. Airplane pilot 13. Roofer
7. Security guard 14. Firefighter

Source: U.S. Labor Department
posted by Ironmouth at 5:58 PM on December 13, 2007


On dealing with "nuts," remember: everyone is a nut to someone else. It's just shorthand for everyone who doesn't perceived to fit the speaker's social norms.

I used to think that before the internet.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:01 PM on December 13, 2007


Thank you, Ironmouth, for that list of high-paying jobs.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:13 PM on December 13, 2007


Yeah, all soldiers torture people. Except those from other countries. So all American soldiers - torture. Ok, I'll make an exception for American soldiers who don't interact with the enemy, but all American soldiers torture. Unless they're non-combatants. So except for non-combatants and those that don't interact with the enemy, all American combat soldiers torture. Of course, the Judge Advocate General's office prosecutes people who torture, so those people don't torture. But all American combat soldiers not in the JAG office, torture. And civil affairs folks wouldn't, they're doctors, lawyers, engineers, and farmers and such. And a lot of the Navy, they're on ships most of the time, and Air Force guys are in planes. Infantrymen are mostly out fighting or at a post. Really, you'd have to have time and opportunity to torture someone, and lack of oversight. And you'd really have to be motivated to do it, it's not like everyone is a pure sadist so either you really hate some son of a bitch or you're a bastard or want revenge because they killed your buddy or something, maybe the CIA is encouraging you or - Ok, look, all American soldiers who have the time, motive and opportunity to torture people, do so.

Oh, wait, I had all that and I didn't.

So ok, all American soldiers torture everyone, whenever they can, unless they don't.

Can we make more generalizations? Convict entire classes of individuals? Or can we, y'know, prosecute the ones who commit crimes?
In retrospect apparently we can't. I wonder why? Meh. They're all whatever.

Why does there need to be an ideological test/conflict for explaining how something works?

"As you can see, the reason your car is misfiring is that the fuel injectors..."
"Are you pro-life or pro-choice?"
"Huh? I'm pro-life"
"Fascist bastard, how dare you tell me my fuel injectors are misfiring. Maybe I want them in my car?"
"Uh, I am a mechanic"
"And that give you the right to tell people what's can be in their car engines?"
"I'm telling you why it's misfiring."
"That's only because you sympathize with Detroit automakers."
etc.
posted by Smedleyman at 6:24 PM on December 13, 2007


Well, in this case, if we look back at the FPP, we see that the thesis of the reporting is that the Chicago police department appears to basically be covering up every time a police officer shoots someone. Or, at least they don't seem to have much desire to probe too deeply.

The obvious answer is have an impartial outside agency, entirely unaffiliated with the police department, *not* some kind of internal affairs, but rather an independent investigator check into these cases, and try the polices officers for homicides.

That's not what's happening. Because that's not what's happening, and, in fact, they don't seem to be trying police officers for killing people much at all, in spite of the fact that they keep killing people, causes problems.

Is every cop out there shooting innocents? No, but it's happening.

And, at least in Chicago, it has become clear that the police are not the right people to fix the problem.
posted by MythMaker at 6:57 PM on December 13, 2007


I think it takes a lot of nerve to show up in a thread that cites statistics that show an almost unadulterated wave of un- or under-investigated violence against civilians by police officers, where corruption has been so thorough that we can't even be quite sure of the degree of the harm done, and yank the conversation back and forth like this until it's all but meaningless.

I think it's more fucked up to come in and start defending police officers and acting like those who are outraged are babies. Because outrage is a really healthy response to this, even if it winds up being articulated poorly. And because in your rush to be sanctimonious you are forgetting that the bullet that misses its target in a police shoot-out may go through your window; it doesn't matter whether you are involved or even know that a crime has taken place. If I was a moron with a gun who had killed people unjustifiably with it, you'd be looking for ways to get me shut down and you'd be angry that no one else had thought to do anything about it, right? So are you just trolling here then? You think you're being met with willful obtuseness, but you're the ones who came to a thread about cop corruption and started singing about how great cops are.

And while it's not exactly a helpful contribution to any discussion, "fuck the police" etc. is a pretty understandable gut reaction, which I personally tend to share often as the NYPD has taken the opportunity to let me down every time I've encountered them. It's a beshitted system and causes unnecessary suffering and waste at every turn. When you make your thread about how great and noble and hard police-work is and people come tracking their muddy boots through it, I'll happily flag right alongside you. Trying to make people feel dumb for expressing incredibly justified anger in an appropriate thread in the meantime is pretty lame.
posted by hermitosis at 7:13 PM on December 13, 2007 [6 favorites]


Rather than look at webpages which say "Source: DoL" I went to the damn BLS site and found the following:

a) There are aprox 610,000 LEOs
b) The number of fatal workplace incidents for LEOs is about 131 per year (page 10)
c) By mathemagic, the rate per 100,000 per year is about 21.5
d) This does not make the top ten, but is close (page 5).
e) Again by mathemagic, fishers/fisheryworkers have a risk about 6.5 times greater per person.
f) from the same (first) link you can see that those fishermen make about half on average of what the LEOs do.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 7:19 PM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


And every now and again, you'll have to tackle somebody frying on PCP.

Most of the cops I've known got into it either because the had cops in their family, or they're adrenaline junkies that like being able to legally take justice into their own hands.

And listen to someone rail about their rights, man, when you ask them to turn their stereo down.

...or when you pull them over because you haven't hit your quota yet for the month. Man, I know. That's so damned annoying. They're all like, "Stop tasering me! I'm doing everything you asked!" and I'm all like, "Fuck you, bitch, that's what you get!" and then they're all "My Rights!" I hate that shit.

And tell a mother that the 5-year-old light of their life, their only child, was just flattened by a beer truck.

Huh?

Civil_Disobedient, you really act like a jackass sometimes.

Sometimes, yes. But not this time.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:31 PM on December 13, 2007


5. Police detective

{Detectives} ⊂ {Law enforcement officers}.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:39 PM on December 13, 2007


And in case you were wondering if Chicago was especially risky, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page the CPD has be averaging about 1.6 deaths per year for the past ten years. At 13.6k officers, that's about 12 per 100000 man-years, way lower than the national average. The CPD memorial site wasn't cooperative with listing by date, but if you have a better number for the past five or ten years, please.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 7:40 PM on December 13, 2007


Few statements are dumber than this one. The police protect us by their mere presence and actually deter crime. Fools who think that having a gun protects them from criminals are sadly mistaken.

Guns kept in the home for self-protection are more often used to kill somebody you know than to kill in self-defense; 22 times more likely, according to a 1998 study by the Journal of Trauma. 45(2):263-67


Kellerman's studies on this subject have been debunked rather thoroughly. For one thing, they don't take into account the goal of self-defense, which is not to kill or even injure the attacker, but to deter him or her. Between five hundred and one thousand guns are used in self-defense for each one that kills in doing so (see the link above), for a total of more than 800,000 per year. 500 being significantly larger than 22, I'd say that a gun in the home is far more likely to protect you than it is to kill either someone you know or a criminal.

Also, the data set from the study you linked to was collected from all of three cities, and includes just ~600 shootings... not exactly the sort of data one can extrapolate to the entire country. And, again, this study did not take into account instances of self-defense in which the gun used did not wound or kill anyone. Given the extremely limited scope of the study, I don't find its conclusions surprising at all -- should it really be a surprise to anyone that murderers, persons committing assault, and suicides wound & kill more often than people trying to defend themselves? The former intend to kill, the latter do not.
posted by vorfeed at 10:09 PM on December 13, 2007


Me: Cops don't do unjustified shootings because they are underpaid.

Ironmouth: Simple economics tells us that people who are highly skilled and educated tend to take jobs that pay well. Less educated, less skilled, less intelligent persons are more likely to have trouble learning the regulations and skills needed for the job of police work and are therefore more likely to be involved in police shootings.

Now, Ironmouth, you don't seem dim or uneducated, so sure you can see that your argument is actually telling us that cops are less educated, less skilled and less intelligent? And after you defended them so vigorously. I am not arguing that better pay would not attract a better breed of cop; I am arguing that the cops we *have* are sub-optimal (well, some of them) and that is the immediate problem at hand. This negates your ongoing argument that they are all great guys, when you yourself say they are underpaid and therefore not good at their job.

I do, however, have some issues with the argument about money (within some limits). In reality, we really want people to be police because at some level they care about the job. We need to pay them enough to have a reasonable lifestyle for themselves and their families, but money beyond that is likely to attract a lot of people who joint solely to make a good buck. These are not terribly likely to make good cops, either.
posted by Bovine Love at 10:11 PM on December 13, 2007


Let's face it: Some people think the police are there to help them because their mommy told them so. To recognize law enforcement malfeasance as anything other than a few "bad apples" would be to slight mommy. And we can't have that.

/thread ender (yeah)
posted by Reverend Mykeru at 10:28 PM on December 13, 2007


You are a dick

/thread ender
posted by absalom at 4:04 AM on December 14, 2007


Ugly thread, mostly pointless posturing back and forth when, as I said at the outset, and as Ironmouth pointed out before he leapt so gloriously into the long and bitter derail, it's just plain practical to keep a very close eye on cops -- especially when they're using their weapons.

Hermitosis states the emotional truth of the situation well and passionately; I'd point out that his "outrage" can be seen as a pragmatic thing, something we ought to know by now that we need in a society to keep it healthy.
posted by lodurr at 5:11 AM on December 14, 2007


You guys are right last week a cop totally arrested/tased/shot me because I asked him what "confirmation bias" means.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 7:15 AM on December 14, 2007


“And while it's not exactly a helpful contribution to any discussion, "fuck the police" etc. is a pretty understandable gut reaction, which I personally tend to share often as the NYPD has taken the opportunity to let me down every time I've encountered them”

So, yeah. Gut reaction. It’s a human reaction then. Ok. Are the police human? Think they ever act from their gut? Maybe say “fuck this guy”? And they’re angry too. And they have a gun.
Either a behavior is right or it’s wrong. If it’s poor in execution, chances are even if the motive is right on - it’s wrong.
What then is the matter at hand? Police - ostensibly trying to do something right - executing it poorly.

Seriously, no one sees the fucking irony there?

It’s ok for YOU to say “fuck this class of people” but wrong for the police to say it? It’s ok for YOU to perform (or demand) irrational action, but it’s wrong when the police do it?

Fuck understandable. Understandable is shooting someone because you’re pissed off and terrified all the time and everyone hates your guts even when you’re trying to help them.
Doesn’t make it right.

And that’s exactly what we’re supposed to be talking about. The behavior. Instead there’s this rage driven generalizing going on which obfuscates the issue. And yeah, it’s been yanked back and forth and is meaningless, there’s outrage here - in stereo - think that helps clarify anything?
Outrage alone doesn’t get anything done, effective, coherent, properly executed well planned courses of action gets things done.

Vigilance alerts you to the need of getting something done, oversight is a tool by which you maintain accountability and foster greater vigilance - all that is necessary and proper to have a professional police department.

Outrage diffuses rational action. If it’s not coupled to action it leads to nihilism and feelings of impotence, especially where solutions go undefined.
Outrage leads to you mistakenly shooting someone or convicting the wrong guy or making irrational generalizations (all blacks are criminals) because you’re all pissed off and poorly directing your anger so you want retribution to assuage it.
Oh, but that’s all ok, if you’re not a cop.

Meanwhile, our aldermen (here in Chicago - y’know, the place the FPP addresses?) are working on serious recriminations for folks who feed pigeons. Why? Because people are outraged over it.

God forbid they formulate clear questions essential to the issues that critically impact them and formulate reasoned conclusions based on practical consequences and communicate them effectively to their representatives and hold them accountable for consequences such as irresponsible police shooting deaths in their community.
That’s just fucking crazy talk right there.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:27 AM on December 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure I am following you, Smedleyman. Are you suggesting that saying "Fuck this class of people" is morally equivalently to shooting them? I fail to see the how inappropriate opinions are equivalent to inappropriate behaviors. One may lead to the other, but not necessarily; that is why, so far, we don't have thought crime.

As far as "understanding" the reason for shootings, that is the job of the justice system (all of the system, not just the front end). They can exonerate a cop on the basis that he/she was justified in their action in spite of the fact the wrong person was killed, or they can mitigate the sentence based on the circumstances. I believe one or both of those should occur sometimes (or even most times); accidents happen, especially in high stress situations. From the FPP, it appears the police have taken the entire role of the justice system on themselves for themselves, which strikes me as more then a bit of a problem, since they aren't exactly the most unbiased judges.
posted by Bovine Love at 12:37 PM on December 14, 2007


And to further clarify, I’m not pointing to any particular comment(s), merely the pattern these discussions as related to police and policing seem to take. Confirmation bias all around. Rather than the specific matter at hand. The issue - here at least - is not do all cops everywhere suck or are they great - but do these particular cops suck - or more accurately - does the CPD do a lousy job overseeing cops who suck with the assumption (and an accurate one) being that cops who shoot innocent people do indeed suck.
Well, if we’re to take the FPP as read, and accurate - yes. Undisputably.

So why reiterate arguments that have been gone over in other threads again and again and again?
There’s no question cops who shoot innocent people are wrong. There’s no question the Chicago Police Department does a poor job of investigating such shootings. There’s no question a department which resists FOIA requests is covering something. There’s no question there needs to be remedies in oversight. Instead of discussing methods, similar situations, things that worked or didn’t, or even the FPP itself we relate vague anecdotes and sentiments about other departments elsewhere that has no relation to the topic(s) at hand (innocents shot by police, Chicago police, police oversight, civilian action, etc.) other than by the uber-broad topic “police” and some police somewhere being generally bad and untrusted and whatever information vaguely mitigates that sentiment.
That’s the pattern being repeated. Whatever the merits or flaws in any given comment.
And, similarly, as definition and observation is ignored on this topic generally in favor of ideology (and confirmational bias) - so to is that specific statement of basic fact.
Folks want those types of threads every time any matter vaguely related to policing comes up - swell. I’m of the opinion it’s contrary to productive explication of whatever the post itself is. Whatever it’s value may be to the overall topic. Which, I’ll admit, is arguable (as Hermitosis posits) in any specific instance. But as a matter of repeating the same ground in each iteration, no, I don’t think it’s all that useful. Particularly when the outrage is so generalized and the FPP is so specific.
‘Course, no one’s putting a gun to my head to comment, but I think that’s the general frustration with these discussions - on whatever side of the issue.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:37 PM on December 14, 2007


Smedleyman, I'm a rationalist. I agree with you that a planned oversight which is designed to get at truth is the best way to approach things like controlling abuse of power (in the case of police, the power of lethal force).

But different things move different people. You're basically a rationalist, or so it seems: You analyze situations and respond rationally, until you don't, and even then you seem to be able to step back and recognize that. That just doesn't work for a lot of people. It's not really a choice they make, it's part of who they are: Their most important motivating connection to things is emotional. That doesn't seem to be you, I know it's not me, but I know it's definitely my wife and most of the people I work with. It's not that they can't do rational; it's that rational is not their primary mode, it doesn't come naturally for them. They're never going to feel like they're doing the right thing unless they're acting from what they perceive to be an emotional truth.

That's where outrage can come in handy. Some people need it to get up the head of steam that they need to overcome their natural desire for order. Because challenging law enforcement is basically challenging order -- you've got to damn well believe in what you're doing, if you're an idealistic person, before you challenge order.

Anyway, I think there's a difference in scale between outrage over illegally feeding pigeons and outrage over shootings. One is a great example of people not really having appropriate priorities; the other is people maybe feeling impotent about something that really is pretty important. So I don't think outrage is all bad. I just think you have to have a sense of perspective about it.

And maybe that's where you're going, I don't know: People have gotten to feel so impotent that they can no longer have any sense of perspective in their outrage.
posted by lodurr at 12:40 PM on December 14, 2007


absalom:

You are a dick

And the sky, it is blue.
posted by Reverend Mykeru at 12:42 PM on December 14, 2007


absalom is a private detective?
posted by lodurr at 12:47 PM on December 14, 2007


“Are you suggesting that saying "Fuck this class of people" is morally equivalently to shooting them?”

No. The patterns are similar in form, that’s all. Poor behavior (’poor’ for whatever reason, irrationality, acrimony, flaw in execution, etc, etc.) supporting a ostensible good.
I’m not addressing the issue itself as a matter of argument or morality (if that’s not clear from what I just commented).
I’d argue for example the latter part of your comment is relevent to the issue (and doesn’t replicate the pattern of behavior it criticizes), whether I agreed with the substance of it or not. (I do. Police should not police themselves).

“And maybe that's where you're going, I don't know”

It is. And I agree. Perspective is crucial. You can’t simply say “all politicians are crooks” and grind your teeth. You run around like the minotaur, easily provoked, easily distracted.
(One of the reasons I can still fight well with younger, stronger guys - they’re easily angered, they lose focus, throw strikes wildly, etc. I’m just some knucklehead, think politicians don’t know how to play public outrage like a violin?)
Some politicians are crooks. Perhaps many. We must learn why they are. What factors contribute to it. How can we prevent it systemically and how we can punish it - for specific persons.
Same criticism I have for the “nuke ‘em all” crowd on Iraq. You can’t just bust into a country and expect to be able to kick things into shape.
You have to know your enemy (soak into them as Musashi puts it). You can’t simply rely on force - in whatever form - whether that be public pressure in the form of outrage - whatever.
So too - you have to know the police to fix them. Hatred often comes with abjuration and distancing. The FPP doesn’t do that, the article delineates the issue accurately and is critical without acrimony.

I thoroughly take and grant the meaning of outrage as an initiative force - but I take it as a given. I doubt Ironmouth - et.al. are championing cops shooting kids down in the street. Unquestionably that’s wrong. People should be upset about it. And hyperbole is expected in some cases. But it’s easy to lose focus when engaging in it whatever side of the issue you’re on, whatever perspective you have.

And, manifestly, focus here was lost.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:08 PM on December 14, 2007


(And, I’ll add - that’s one of the causes for mistaken police shootings - that alienation and distance from, and misunderstanding of, the people they’re ostensibly there to serve, that loss of focus that, yes, they are supposed to serve us. That’s not an argument for mitigation of police shootings, that’s an explication of one of the root causes.)
posted by Smedleyman at 1:11 PM on December 14, 2007


I will be happy to inspect any privates that are offered to me.
posted by absalom at 1:30 PM on December 14, 2007


They change the laws to suit their cause.

Wake up people - it's them against us!
posted by LowDog at 2:47 PM on December 14, 2007


In Canada, we've had a lot of upset about our cops. It's having results:

Report calls for RCMP to split from federal government.

RCMP must curb Taser use, watchdog says.

RCMP to limit Taser use after critical report.

Mountie to be disciplined for using Taser on double-parked senior. Said senior is reportedly an extreme asshat.

Yes, we have watchdogs overseeing some of our federal agencies. They are apparently effective.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:45 PM on December 14, 2007


just about any profession that requires you to be driving for extended periods of time is statistically more dangerous that police work.

I thought that a large number of police officers spend a great deal of their time driving around. Certainly it's like that here in Los Angeles.

Most of the cops I've known got into it either because the had cops in their family, or they're adrenaline junkies that like being able to legally take justice into their own hands.

That's the shoe salesman thing, then, isn't it? Police officers would need to be paid more if there weren't people willing to do it at the current price, and presumably they get something else out of the job.
posted by davejay at 10:14 PM on December 14, 2007


I thought that a large number of police officers spend a great deal of their time driving around.

Yeah, I can't understand why "golf caddies" aren't up there as well, since they're driving around all the time, too. Right? After all, driving is driving.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:09 AM on December 16, 2007


More
posted by Smedleyman at 4:49 PM on December 18, 2007


See Something, Anything? Call 911!
posted by homunculus at 8:25 PM on December 19, 2007


Wow, using a camera while taking notes. I do that a fair bit. I'm gonna have to be awfully careful visiting chicago. It is surreal with that being in the same list as trying to improperly acquire explosives, which I would imagine (hope) is a criminal offense.
posted by Bovine Love at 8:48 PM on December 19, 2007


Six years on and still the sense of literal panic is pervasive, homunculus. One would think Chicago were under siege. Be Suspicious Of Everyone!

It's quite the dystopian culture you've got going on these days.

One hopes a truly inspiring, forward-thinking, progressive politician will take the Presidency within our lifetime.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:56 PM on December 19, 2007


FFF- that's not going to change Chicago tho. The up side is, the politicians are mercenaries and will change when the wind blows the other way.
The down side is, the politicians are mercenaries and will change whichever way the wind blows...
Although not wholly. There's a nice "you're not from around here" thing going on. Like we got in BP's face over dumping mercury in the lake. Which, to be fair, is our drinking water so they would get sick as well.
So 'Chicago: corrupt, but hey, not so corrupt that we're going to kill ourselves over it. And you might catch a beating from our cops. Unless you're from out of town, then we'll point out where to eat.'
posted by Smedleyman at 11:45 AM on December 20, 2007


Here's a good one - a cop pulls his gun on a butcher that didn't season his deer jerky correctly. Didn't even get arrested, although you can bet dollars to donuts that if he wasn't a cop he would have been cuffed and pushed into a cop car right quick. Normal procedure would be to confiscate the weapon but they didn't do that either.

How about we lay odds on his actions being found justified? Another day, another cop gets to flaunt the law, be an asshole and still keep his job. Sorry if I'm being ungrateful, but I have something against shitheads that abuse their authority and those who protect them.
posted by splice at 7:23 AM on December 24, 2007


"Don't suffer from PTSD, go out and cause it"
posted by homunculus at 11:41 AM on December 26, 2007


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