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15 year old girl in holding cell beaten by Seattle Cop
February 28, 2009 4:16 PM   Subscribe

15 year old girl in holding cell beaten by Seattle Cop Caught on Camera. 15 year old girl in holding cell beaten by Seattle Cop. Not surprisingly the cop's lawyer didn't want this video published.
posted by ginky (157 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Thank goodness for videotape and for the judge that released it.
posted by MegoSteve at 4:30 PM on February 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


"We had argued strenuously that the videotape released to the media this morning not be released because it does not tell the whole story of the incident," attorney Anne Bremner said in a statement.
As if there was anything that could justify the assault. The rest of the article is as depressing because it clearly shows how far some cops are ready to go when lying and convering up their crimes:
In his own report from the incident, Schene wrote that the shoe hit him in the right shin, "causing injury and pain." He wrote that he "placed" her into handcuffs and that she needed medical attention for a "panic attack."
posted by Foci for Analysis at 4:31 PM on February 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


The video DOES tell the whole story. The cop claimed that she kicked off her shoe at him and that the shoe injured his leg and that that was the reason he roughed her up, threw her against the wall and then punched her a couple of times while she was held down on the floor.

Totally justified response, no?
posted by bz at 4:31 PM on February 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Absolutely excessive and unnecessary. The guy should be fired and tried criminally.
posted by Donnie VandenBos at 4:34 PM on February 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yikes. Yeah, it's hard to argue with that video. If you posted this on certain other blogs, you'd have to tag it with "possibly triggering." What sort of violation or threat committed by this teenager could possibly provoke such aggression and not result in the deputy being charged with criminal assault? It's hard for me not to see totally inappropriate (and scary) rage on the part of the deputy. For one, there's no reason he had to lift her by the hair.
posted by theefixedstars at 4:34 PM on February 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Let me say it now, before the compulsive cop apologists start weighing in, that she clearly had it coming and she shouldn't have kept pushing her face against his fist like that.
posted by Mental Wimp at 4:37 PM on February 28, 2009 [12 favorites]


Interestingly enough, it was a detective investigating the original auto theft and the assault claim Schenes made that uncovered this, according to this article. The detective watched the security footage and turned him in.
posted by MegoSteve at 4:38 PM on February 28, 2009 [7 favorites]


My God, the poor thing is half his size. He threw her by her hair. My God, if he weren't a cop he'd be in jail before he could blink, and every dad in a five-mile radius would be standing outside his cell with pitchforks and torches.
posted by schroedinger at 4:39 PM on February 28, 2009 [16 favorites]


I eagerly await news of his comeuppance.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:39 PM on February 28, 2009


Crikey! That'll learn her.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 4:41 PM on February 28, 2009


Almost more troubling is the presence of the other deputy, who makes no visible effort to aid the girl or control his colleague. Appalling.
posted by Graygorey at 4:41 PM on February 28, 2009 [9 favorites]


ARRGGGGGGHHHH!!!!!!!!!!
posted by Flex1970 at 4:42 PM on February 28, 2009


How the hell did this guy get to be a cop in the first place? If all it takes to rouse you to violence is a smartmouthed teenager, you picked the wrong profession. You'd figure tha'd either have been detected in pre-hiring screening or trained out of you in the Police Academy or via experience.
posted by jonmc at 4:43 PM on February 28, 2009


Just a year ago, Seattle police also tasered a pregnant woman.

They also have a lot of shootings involving unarmed black guys being shot in the back. You know, when they were doing their spinning ninja kicks. A block away. Or something.
posted by yeloson at 4:46 PM on February 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


How many more of these will it take before we gut renovate American policing?
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:48 PM on February 28, 2009 [6 favorites]


How the hell did this guy get to be a cop in the first place?

Huh? I thought this was typical police behavior. Video didn't surprise me in the least.
posted by knave at 4:49 PM on February 28, 2009 [9 favorites]


I'm always amazed at the bystander-cops who appear to support these beatings. I never see them trying to tear their colleagues off the victim. WTF.
posted by sunshinesky at 4:51 PM on February 28, 2009 [8 favorites]


Probably too late to make China's list of U.S. Human Rights abuses.
posted by spicynuts at 4:53 PM on February 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm curious as to why the other officer did not subdue and arrest the guy who was beating the crap out of an itty bitty girl. Oh, that's right, he's a "good cop." Mr. Tough Guy had his widdle shin hurt.

Every time I hear about an incidence of police brutality, I'm reminded of how small the department Justin Volpe was in, and that the other officers on duty at that time couldn't have failed to hear, you know, a guy being raped with a wooden stick. Not that it matters, though; Volpe paraded around with said stick and bragged to the other officers about what he'd done.

So how'd it get reported? A nurse. Not the other police officers.

Every police officer who is aware of this sort of thing and does not stop it is a bad cop. This is why trust in Officer Friendly has more or less vaporized. I hope a large, painful bite is taken from the city's budget, because that seems to be about the only semi-viable feedback mechanism that still exists that might, just might, get someone's attention.
posted by adipocere at 4:53 PM on February 28, 2009 [46 favorites]


I vomited all OVER a cop once, purposely, and he didn't beat the shit out of me. I guess I feel lucky?
posted by jamstigator at 4:54 PM on February 28, 2009 [2 favorites]




Can we still say "Surely this . . . . "?
posted by The Bellman at 4:54 PM on February 28, 2009


Police beat people countless times every single day. They also shoot people with an alarming frequency. And they are only held accountable when it is caught on video. You can't get twelve people in a jury box to convict an officer of assaulting a person based on the assaulted person's testimony. Having the friends of assaulted people testify doesn't help, either. You will always have the officer and any other officer present testify on behalf of the officer.

There seem to be two solutions. 1- We could try to convince people to start convicting police officers of assault (good luck on that one). 2- People need to start carrying video/audio equipment with them so they can record the police.

I would have thought that the Rodney King incident would have inspired the black community to carry recording devices and to record the actions of the police whenever they could. However, it did not. Cases like Rodney King happen every single day. If they are recorded, then it is a national story. If they are witnessed and not recorded, they don't make the local news.

I would hope that the fact that so many cell phones have cameras on them now would help to catch more police. I think it was a cell phone in San Francisco last month that caught the police. I don't know why some prominent black leader like Al Sharpton or someone has not implored the black community to start carrying and using recording devices. It is literally their only defense against police brutality.
posted by flarbuse at 4:55 PM on February 28, 2009 [26 favorites]


I really regret watching that video.
posted by milarepa at 4:55 PM on February 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


And dear god don't read the youtube comments.
posted by Rhomboid at 4:58 PM on February 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why did the news station edit Schene punching the girl? That part is missing from their version.
posted by MegoSteve at 5:01 PM on February 28, 2009 [10 favorites]


Holy shit. That's awful.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 5:02 PM on February 28, 2009


How the hell did this guy get to be a cop in the first place? If all it takes to rouse you to violence is a smartmouthed teenager, you picked the wrong profession. You'd figure tha'd either have been detected in pre-hiring screening or trained out of you in the Police Academy or via experience.

You're joking, right? The police force, like the military, attracts a fair amount of people who have anger and control issues, and whenever one is around cops it's best to assume they have volatile, hair-trigger tempers and behave accordingly: i.e be very, very, very polite and do as one's told. I wish it were not this way, but it is.

Obviously: the cop here behaved outrageously, the violence was totally unjustified, he needs to have his badge taken, he needs to be criminally charged, and he could have killed the girl.

But just as obviously the girl, by flicking her shoe, assumed that cops have a high threshold for things like flicking one's shoes. They generally don't. They tend to have a very, very low threshold for anything less than almost-cartoonish politeness and obedience. I wish it were otherwise, but it's not.

I am in no way attempting to justify or apologize for the cop's outrageous actions.

To repeat: I am in no way attempting to justify or apologize for the cop's outrageous actions

While we really, really need better training among police to prevent the epidemic of police brutality that infects our country, we also need to educate kids to deal with the reality that a lot of cops are itching for an excuse to pummel someone. In other words, people need to learn the unfortunate reality that it's just safest to be insanely polite and obedient around cops.
posted by ornate insect at 5:02 PM on February 28, 2009 [14 favorites]


the YT video may show the context, but she still appears to have done little more than toss her shoe at the guy. Even if it hit him in the face, it wouldn't have hurt for more than a second. He's much too trigger happy.
posted by sunshinesky at 5:03 PM on February 28, 2009


(I was pleasantly surprised to read that it was another officer who brought this video to light. "A detective assigned to the girl's case discovered the video Dec. 1 and immediately forwarded it to supervisors." Those of you who like to claim that there are no good cops, take note: there were a couple of good cops in this story.

Damn good thing, too. Both of the men in that video need to spend some serious time in jail, and with such unambiguous and shocking evidence against them there's a decent chance it'll happen.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:06 PM on February 28, 2009 [5 favorites]


This clip is better and shows a little moreless contexnt.

FTFY
posted by Mental Wimp at 5:06 PM on February 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


You're joking, right? The police force, like the military, attracts a fair amount of people who have anger and control issues,

Yeah, which means you'd figure they'd want to screen them out as much as possible to avoid shit like this, if only to avoid lawsuits and community backlash. (I meant the question not in the "OMG How ever did this happen?" sense but in the 'why can't we do some fairly simple things to prevent this type of thing?" sense.)
posted by jonmc at 5:10 PM on February 28, 2009


They tend to have a very, very low threshold for anything less than almost-cartoonish politeness and obedience.

Well put. I'd remove the "almost," myself.
posted by rusty at 5:10 PM on February 28, 2009


Yeah, which means you'd figure they'd want to screen them out as much as possible to avoid shit like this, if only to avoid lawsuits and community backlash.

On the one hand, lawsuits. On the other hand, incidents like this do serve to instill in the public mind that you don't ever, ever talk back to a cop.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:13 PM on February 28, 2009


In other words, people need to learn the unfortunate reality that it's just safest to be insanely polite and obedient around cops.

The "don't make trouble" attitude never really works in the long run. Just ask the citizens of the former USSR, or European Jews.
posted by Krrrlson at 5:13 PM on February 28, 2009 [7 favorites]




I like to think that most of that video's viewers will be people who are interested in doing something about police brutality — making that google ad oddly appropriate.

(I like to think that. But then I remember former co-workers of mine, who would have watched it and laughed at the victim. Who knows, maybe depressing assholes like that will turn out to be in the majority.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:17 PM on February 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Schene could face up to a year in jail if convicted. He has been on administrative leave since early December.

That's it?
If she'd done that to the cop, she'd be up for at least 15 years.

The 'justice' system in this country is sickening. One year with permanent ban from all police work and related positions is perhaps appropriate for everyone who knew this went on and did nothing. This monster should go away for far longer, and in the general population - hey, if it's not a safe place to send a cop, then it's not right to send anyone there.
posted by Mitrovarr at 5:20 PM on February 28, 2009 [7 favorites]


According to the AP story, "[t]he second officer shown in the video was a trainee at the time and is not under investigation[.]"
posted by ltracey at 5:20 PM on February 28, 2009


i am seeing red. what self-respecting MAN would dole out such a beatdown to a girl for any reason whatsoever? if that girl was my sister or daughter i would gladly take a jail sentence myself for the chance to dispense a little instant karma.
posted by Hat Maui at 5:22 PM on February 28, 2009 [9 favorites]


On the one hand, lawsuits. On the other hand, incidents like this do serve to instill in the public mind that you don't ever, ever talk back to a cop.

PG, I'm not a cop and won't presume to speak for them, but I did give serious consideration to becoming one a few years back. Speaking purely pragmatically, incidents like this would create public hostility toward police making the job more difficult, and so on and so on...
posted by jonmc at 5:22 PM on February 28, 2009


ltracey: According to the AP story, "[t]he second officer shown in the video was a trainee at the time and is not under investigation[.]"

Yeah, well, he should be. Also, he should be banned from any police or security work for life. This man fails basic humanity, and cannot be trusted in any position of power or authority.
posted by Mitrovarr at 5:23 PM on February 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


What a man.
posted by pianomover at 5:25 PM on February 28, 2009


I had a girlfriend who thought I was always being sarcastic when I treated police officers who pulled me over with an obsequious respect. I'm normally fairly polite, but the repeating of sir with every statement is something I only do when speaking with the elderly or police officers. It took a long time for her to understand that the kind of politeness I use with police officers was something I consider a necessary precaution to reduce the possibility of having my ass kicked, brutally.

As well, I would expect officers who regularly work with prisoners to be far more likely to react aggressively and disproportionately to the slightest provocation or sign of disrespect.
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:25 PM on February 28, 2009


Huh? I thought this was typical police behavior. Video didn't surprise me in the least.

Of course it is isn't. Police officers are macho meathead bullies heroes who do a hard job for little pay so they can have the power to bully people and get away with it because they are selfless altruists. They are there to protect the state, the rich, the elite and the status quo us. We shouldn't condemn them as a whole just because if you get 10 people in a room, 7 will have a story about themselves or someone they know being mistreated by the police, 10 if they are all minorities of a few rare, isolated incidents.

Also, the 15 year old girl had it coming. She clearly wasn't being obsequious enough.

Whether in a car or on a horse, we don't mind using excessive force... bad cops, bad cops...
posted by DecemberBoy at 5:26 PM on February 28, 2009 [8 favorites]


Eh.. good cops get no press. Bad cops do. So everyone thinks all cops are bad. Pretty lame if you ask me. That said, this guy is a total asshole and SHOULD be fired, but the corruption is as much a problem as the bad cops. Must REALLY suck to be a good cop and have to deal with shit like this.
posted by ChickenringNYC at 5:28 PM on February 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Eh.. good cops get no press. Bad cops do. So everyone thinks all cops are bad. Pretty lame if you ask me.

You're exactly right. Like I said, we shouldn't condemn them as a whole just because if you get 10 people in a room, 7 will have a story about themselves or someone they know being mistreated by the police, 10 if they are all minorities of a few rare, isolated incidents.
posted by DecemberBoy at 5:31 PM on February 28, 2009 [6 favorites]


Police beat people countless times every single day. They also shoot people with an alarming frequency. And they are only held accountable when it is caught on video. You can't get twelve people in a jury box to convict an officer of assaulting a person based on the assaulted person's testimony. Having the friends of assaulted people testify doesn't help, either. You will always have the officer and any other officer present testify on behalf of the officer.

I think in police investigating certain crimes they deliberately shift round officers into new teams every so often. This is to prevent the growth of corruption and graft and whatever. Maybe it's time that every police department rotated officers so that cops were less sure that their partners would be 'understanding' if they 'accidently' shot somebody.

On the other hand, incidents like this do serve to instill in the public mind that you don't ever, ever talk back to a cop.

You know, in some countries, cops don't tend to kill or beat up people who verbally or even physically assault them. The idea that you should learn to show total deference just because they're legally empowered to use force = bad road to go down.
posted by Sova at 5:32 PM on February 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


The "don't make trouble" attitude never really works in the long run. Just ask the citizens of the former USSR, or European Jews.

You've got several choices on how to make trouble, you can escalate to the maximum level of violence faster, or you can be polite, file a complaint later, and/or engage in activism and political maneuvering to place checks on police misconduct.

Rot comes from the top in organizations like this. I guarantee that 99+% of us would be abusive to prisoners if we were given absolute power over them with no monitoring of our behavior. That doesn't make this guy any less despicable, it just means that Seattle should be doing a better job of monitoring prisoner treatment.
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:33 PM on February 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


Just like the videotaped beatings of Rodney King, Christopher Long, and Oscar Grant, I'm sure we can expect the police apologists to alert us all that hey, we weren't there, and we haven't seen all the evidence, so we can't make a judgement on what we see in this videotape.
posted by mattdidthat at 5:33 PM on February 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


DecemberBoy, I'm glad you struck out the part about 7 out of 10 people having a story about being mistreated by the cops since you probably made that shit up and if you're trying to infer that 70% of cops are rotten, then you are an example of what pisses me off about people who take these incidents of police brutality and make blanket statements like 'all cops beat minorities.'
posted by ChickenringNYC at 5:38 PM on February 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


The idea that you should learn to show total deference just because they're legally empowered to use force = bad road to go down.

Why? I shouldn't make an effort not to get my ass kicked? What I should constantly make aggravating provocative comments to police officers in an effort to ferret out which ones have poor self control? I think you are confusing my survival strategies with some kind of moral condemnation of the victim in this case. How does recommending people treat each other with wary deference increase harm?
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:40 PM on February 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


So, I came up as a punk rocker. I always read the lyrics of the bands I liked (Op Ivy/Rancid/Dropkick Murphys etc.). Skinheads kept coming up and I thought "weird, aren't skinheads a bunch of Nazi shitheads who most people wouldn't piss on if they were on fire?" Why is Dropkick Murphys singing about being Oi Oi Skinheads and stuff?

So I looked into it, and there it was. I learned how it was a working class British thing at first. How it actually was connected with the second wave ska scene and how all sorts of integrated bands would sing songs like Skinhead Moonstomp and the whole thing was pretty positive. Then racist assholes started taking over and because of their penchant for senseless violence, those skinheads got all sorts of press. Soon skinhead became a synonym for "violent Nazi asshole".

The original skinheads protested and insisted that they shouldn't be judged by these dickheads, and I can see where they were coming from. They had essentially had their scene and subculture, which meant the world to them, sold out from under them by the dumbest sons of bitches ever to figure out how to lace up their docs. It must have felt like the exact opposite of being beaten by the best. Nevertheless, they couldn't stop them. For whatever reason, these pieces of shit continued to infect the scene. Lots of bands and fans tolerated them even though they knew what they were, and in the end their protestations about skinheads being about unity and stuff fell on deaf ears.

Dropkick Murphys could say they were positive skins all they wanted, but the damage was done. Their crew hadn't done adequate damage control with the assholes, and now no one was willing to give the traditional Oi Skinheads the time of day. Why take the chance with someone who might just as soon kick your teeth in as look at you? The really sad thing is that I saw the same shit go down with the straight-edgers right before my eyes.

What I'm getting at is that "good cops" are only worth anything when they take stands. Saying that "only bad cops get press" is part of the problem. If good cops would turn in bad cops, I assure you that they would get some serious fucking press. As it stands now, I am about as willing to make a distinction between a good cop and a bad cop as I am to make a distinction between a good skinhead and a bad skinhead. The ship hasn't sailed for cops entirely yet, but it will.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 5:46 PM on February 28, 2009 [46 favorites]


what pisses me off about people who take these incidents of police brutality and make blanket statements like 'all cops beat minorities.'

Not all lions are going to eat me, but I still stay the hell away from lions.
posted by regicide is good for you at 5:51 PM on February 28, 2009 [28 favorites]


Exactly regicide you have a point there. Most I deal with cops is the odd speeding ticket, so no beatings for me. Yay.
posted by ChickenringNYC at 5:54 PM on February 28, 2009


I'm with BrotherCaine here. The thing about cops is that they're people. "Cops" don't constitute an essential, cordoned-off category of the human species any more than "black people" do. If you put people in a Stanford Prison Experiment, they will act like it. And I'm *not* saying that there are no local variations within large populations of individuals, and I'm not saying that police work doesn't attract people with authority/control issues. I'm just saying that how you organize/monitor/reward the department is by and large going to control your outcomes.
posted by facetious at 5:55 PM on February 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


ChickenringNYC, the problem is that not everyone can choose to limit their interactions with police.
posted by regicide is good for you at 5:58 PM on February 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


you probably made that shit up

Yeah, you're totally right. I've never been roughed up by cops. I've never had a warrant put out for my arrest for basically no reason and the meathead high-and-tight asshole who didn't serve that imaginary warrant didn't draw his gun on my father because my dog was barking. I've never had to sit handcuffed on the curb while the cops searched my car for 3 hours because they didn't like the looks of me and my friends. I don't know anyone who's ever been roughed up by the cops either. I totally made that shit up.
posted by DecemberBoy at 6:05 PM on February 28, 2009 [14 favorites]


copoutragefilter
posted by LarryC at 6:09 PM on February 28, 2009


Pigfucking cops.
posted by drstrangelove at 6:11 PM on February 28, 2009


Eh.. good cops get no press. Bad cops do. So everyone thinks all cops are bad. Pretty lame if you ask me. That said, this guy is a total asshole and SHOULD be fired, but the corruption is as much a problem as the bad cops. Must REALLY suck to be a good cop and have to deal with shit like this.

The problem is in a lot of cases, but apparently not this one (thank god) the other cops STICK UP for the bad cops. In the Galveston incident we talked about the other day, even the DA and city stick up for the bad cops and the 12 year old girl ended up being charged with "resisting arrest" and when the jury couldn't reach a conclusion, they tried her again!

In this case, it was another cop who saw the video and turned the guy in. But what about the trainee who didn't say anything? As long as there is toleration for this kind of thing, it's a huge problem.

What I would like to see is police be required to wear audio/video recording devices while on duty. If the surveillance society is good enough for the proles the police shouldn't have any reason to be opposed. The equipment today would probably cost less then their guns or tasers.
posted by delmoi at 6:15 PM on February 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


For the record, this is not a member of the Seattle Police, it's a King Country Sheriff, an entirely separate department that is well-known for incidents like this.
posted by bizwank at 6:15 PM on February 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


2- People need to start carrying video/audio equipment with them so they can record the police.

I think it needs to start here, but I think it needs to go a step further than this.

We need a right to keep and bear the arms of the information age. We need it enshrined more deeply in law and culture than the second amendment is. Firearm advocates talk about how second amendment rights are important, for self-reliance, for personal protection, and as a last resort against potential tyranny of the state. They're right. The same logic should apply to cameras. Except that given the fact that cameras aren't lethal and carry no potential for immediate injury, the rights protecting their use ought to be 1000 times stronger.

It's not just about the police. Read Marylin Parver's Jet Blue Story. Police officers are far from the only line of work where people might get on power trips, and they're not the only ones who need to be held accountable for their actions.

There do need to be some counterbalancing provisions. Especially as automated recognition technology becomes more prevalent, and electronic storage potential becomes larger and larger, we're going to have a hell of a privacy problem.

But I don't think the problems of drawing lines where people have reasonable expectations of privacy and where they don't are intractable. And I think it's pretty clear -- especially where we're talking about public service activities such as police -- that where they don't, the idea of being asked to surrender a camera or footage is fundamentally antithetical to that of a free society.
posted by weston at 6:20 PM on February 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


Actually, this isn't a cop thing, this is an American cop thing. There is a poisonous institutional culture in American policing, which is sustained through the bad training systems. The Toronto police union has been bringing American practices to Toronto, and it is noticeable in the behaviour of the police: they are more agressive, and less friendly and approachable.

My experience in Britain, however, has been that the police are polite and helpful - and are trained to be that way no matter who they are talking to. Even on their version of "C.O.P.s" - you can see some drunk idiot yelling at them, threatening them, and they are trained to be calm, orderly, and to diffuse the situation.
posted by jb at 6:31 PM on February 28, 2009 [7 favorites]


Well said, ornate insect. Sorta what I wanted to say, but my version would come over as making excuses for the cop. Keep ya fucking gob shut ya fucking cheeky bitch. Giving lip to a cop and flicking your shoe at him? A 15 YEAR OLD? Fucking unbelievable.

I went to a Catholic boys school and was on the receiving end of bashings from teachers. And witnessed many more, some that went way over the top. It ain't no big thang, people. You could get clobbered for not calling the teacher "Brother / Sir" so as for backchat. BACKCHAT??? You ass would sooo be grass it wasn't even worth contemplating.

I've got absolutely no time for rude little shits like her. Please be tolerant of my beliefs.

Doesn't excuse the cop.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 6:44 PM on February 28, 2009


Somewhere, Officer Friendly is crying.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:44 PM on February 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Actually, this isn't a cop thing, this is an American cop thing. There is a poisonous institutional culture in American policing, which is sustained through the bad training systems. The Toronto police union has been bringing American practices to Toronto, and it is noticeable in the behaviour of the police: they are more aggressive, and less friendly and approachable.

You guys should try and catch the NZ version of Cops. I think it's called Highway Patrol. It's a feel-good trip.

The calming* way the police talk "we're ya from bro'? what's up bro'?" Half the time they end up driving his drunken ass home. "we're you live, bro'?" No smackdowns. No cuffs. No trips downtown.

I don't know if racist is the correct term, but I can definitely notice the white cops "dumbing it down" and changing accents when talking to a Maori or Islander perp. But heh, if ever the ends justify the means then this would be one.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 6:52 PM on February 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


We need a right to keep and bear the arms of the information age. We need it enshrined more deeply in law and culture than the second amendment is.

Wonderful insight.

I guarantee you authorities will soon move to have mandatory RF activated jamming and erase switches on digital video recorders of all kinds, most especially cell phones, and they will justify it in terms of national security-- you know, preventing terrorists from compiling information about police tactics and equipment, and particularly preventing them from having galleries of photos of cops (can you imagine what might happen if those were to fall into the hands of drug gangs?).

Come to think of it, it's probably already in the works.
posted by jamjam at 6:53 PM on February 28, 2009


+1 to JB

having ridden with the Brit cops in the most crime infested parts of London, and having watched Canuck cops shoot someone dead from my office in one of the most crime infested parts of Toronto, that rings entirely true.

Canuck cops are an odd breed. Very very personable and polite and relaxed as a rule, and then they shoot someone. Then it's all relaxed again and back to the donuts.

Also +1 being ridiculously polite to cops. It works.
posted by unSane at 6:53 PM on February 28, 2009


At least he didn't excute her like he did the mentally unstable guy a few years ago. Seriously though, cops have so much power and almost nothing they do can get them into trouble.

In a just society he would never be allowed to work again as a police officer or ever carry a weapon. In a more just society he wouldn't be allowed to exist.
posted by tarvuz at 6:54 PM on February 28, 2009


"Eh.. good cops get no press. Bad cops do."

Why should they get press for DOING their jobs? What even motivates people to want to become cops?
posted by tarvuz at 6:57 PM on February 28, 2009


There is another article with additional info by Dori Monson with larger video HERE at MyNorthwest.com
posted by augustweed at 7:01 PM on February 28, 2009


What even motivates people to want to become cops?

Anecdotes are more fun than evidence, chapter XVI: two different guys I went to high school with were planning on becoming cops, or at least trying to, because they wanted, quote to beat the shit out of people and get away with it. End quote.

This was, granted, before handheld video cameras and the internet, so I like to think the second part of their life's ambition didn't work out, even if they achieved the first.
posted by rokusan at 7:06 PM on February 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is why being a cop should require several years training. It should at the very least require full-time attendence at a registered training facility with courses in everything from psychology to self defence, weapons handling to communications. Helps weed out the psycopaths.

Plus you'd get cops who know how to use their words as well as their guns. Be a whole lot less need to go all gangsta on Joe Public's ass. Or Teen Sally's, for that matter.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:11 PM on February 28, 2009


"if you're trying to infer that 70% of cops are rotten"

I'd say that's accurate. See, the "Good Cops", who don't 'retire' the "Bad Cops" aren't "Good Cops". They're aiding and abetting felons. That makes them "Bad Cops"
posted by mikelieman at 7:16 PM on February 28, 2009 [6 favorites]


"A violent confrontation between a teenage girl and deputy."

That's how the TV anchor describes it that link Rhomboid provided. WTF. While technically correct, I suppose, this is a shitty "sexy news headline" way of describing the incident. There wasn't much "between" in this confrontation. It was pretty much all "to" the girl. She kicked off her shoe with about as much force as I do before I curl up on the couch with a book.
posted by desuetude at 7:19 PM on February 28, 2009


What even motivates people to want to become cops?

Power attracts the same people who shouldn't have it.
posted by augustweed at 7:21 PM on February 28, 2009 [9 favorites]


Absolutely sickening. David Brin's ideas on ubiquitous surveillance can't come soon enough.
posted by bshort at 7:21 PM on February 28, 2009


The problem with carrying surveillance devices (cameras, &c) is that the cops will lobby for laws prohibiting citizens from filming/taking-pictures-of police and something as ubiquitous as a cell phone with a camera then becomes grounds for probably cause (for harassment).

---

I don't know what it is about the USA, especially small-town cops, but... I'm ethnically Chinese FFS, a Dean's List student every year I was there, and an elected officer of a couple of school organizations at a small liberal arts college in a small (pop ~2000) town in Iowa. FUCKING pig cops harassed me all the time. Flashing lights and pulling me on a regular basis, checking my ID time and time again even though they knew I was legal to drink, driving by my apartment and 'stopping by to say hi.' For a while there, my landline (this was back before 2000) had odd things happening to it such as clicks and cutouts and friends calling back asking if I had called (I hadn't) as my number showed up on their missed calls list.

... as for people defending or advocating being obsequiously deferential to police - do you also get really really annoyed at people who even suggest that aspects of the United States of America is sliding towards Fascism?
posted by porpoise at 7:29 PM on February 28, 2009 [6 favorites]


What even motivates people to want to become cops?

I considered doing it because I wanted to help, wanted to do good, be a hero blah blah.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:34 PM on February 28, 2009


Power attracts the same people who shouldn't have it.

Not to derail the thread too much, but this comment is extremely insightful in ways that transcend the discussion here. The pathology of power, and the criminal psychodynamics of its organized abuse, particularly its abuse in secret at much higher levels than that of the police, is something that remains really misunderstood and under-analyzed: as long as basically ethically good people are not attracted to such positions, they will be continually shocked by their abuse. But they should not be shocked; we need to better understand the psychology of people in all walks of power. For instance, an intelligent psychopath and a cunning criminal is not especially interested in becoming a cop, and his or her problems are generally not that of self-control or temper. Such a person seeks out other avenues to power and its corruption--instead of the police he or she moves perhaps towards positions in banking fraud, in financial crime, in the FBI, in the CIA, in Congress, in organized crime, or perhaps to some combination of organized crime and the preceding, etc.
posted by ornate insect at 7:41 PM on February 28, 2009 [11 favorites]


I'd echo Brandon and I'd add that in a big city like New York it seemed like it's be interesting work, especially if you managed to become a detective.
posted by jonmc at 7:41 PM on February 28, 2009


We could simply test the "7 out of 10" theory informally if everyone who comments in this thread also mentions yea or nay, whether they personally have or haven't ever been mistreated by a police-man. Considering the demographic composition of MeFi's readership, that would be very interesting to me. I know categorizing "mistreatment" is incredibly subjective, but even as a gauge of perspective, I'd be curious.

In my case, yea. Big-time.
posted by hermitosis at 7:42 PM on February 28, 2009




"Eh.. good cops get no press. Bad cops do."

Oh, let's just give it a couple of years:

"Today! An officer DIDN'T broomrape, taser, hospitalize and shoot repeatedly in the back, a 5 month old infant for wailing at him, despite the child's clearly dangerous and unpredictable flailing and loud noises ...

'And were you afraid for your life?'
'Yes, they trained us for danger, but, but... it was too much. The noise, the movement... I just froze up!'

The City Police Board is reviewing whether the officer can be properly retrained or if he just doesn't have what it takes to keep our streets safe.

'If our officers can't shoot a flailing child, what will they do when an 8 year old girl plays double dutch? When a black kid runs away? Or, when someone lays on the ground insensately, twitching? How will they deal with the threats of tomorrow if they can't call in the necessary backup of 20 officers to handle the threats of today?'"
posted by yeloson at 7:44 PM on February 28, 2009 [5 favorites]


Yea (redundant)
posted by porpoise at 7:56 PM on February 28, 2009


This might be a good addition to the pile-on, Video Sinks Case Against Man Held in Police Assault:
Charges against a man accused of assaulting two Prince George's County police officers during an October traffic stop were dropped yesterday after the defense attorney gave prosecutors a video recording that does not support the arresting officer's allegations.
...
The video does not show Rodriguez, 30, assaulting either officer. The audio captured one of the officers mocking the Latino driver's accent moments before the confrontation.
...
The three men go out of camera range, then Rodriguez comes back and sits down near his car. Seconds later, [Officer] Wynkoop returns, grabs Rodriguez by the shoulders and slams him against the Prizm. At this point, [Officer] Wilson strikes Rodriguez several times in the head with his retractable police baton.

The three men again go out of camera range, and Rodriguez is heard repeatedly crying, "Don't kill me!"
posted by peeedro at 7:59 PM on February 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


> What I'm getting at is that "good cops" are only worth anything when they take stands. Saying that "only bad cops get press" is part of the problem. If good cops would turn in bad cops, I assure you that they would get some serious fucking press.

Like an FPP about the NYPD officer who testified against fellow officers recently in a brutality case? Never made it to the front page of Metafilter, what a surprise.
posted by nautical-by-nature at 8:01 PM on February 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


schroedinger : and every dad in a five-mile radius would be standing outside his cell with pitchforks and torches.

We've had countless police behavior threads here on the Blue and in some cases I've tried to defend their actions, though I've certainly been critical as well. And you know what? I think it's time to break out the pitchforks. I really do.

I want good police. I want people that I can call, and trust that the officer who shows up is going to demonstrate the utmost in professionalism. I've met many cops that fit this description, and I'm completely confident that if I walked into my local station, any 9 out of 10 cops I picked would be someone I can completely rely on.

But I've seen too much in the last year to really believe that the 1 in 10 is being properly dealt with. When this kind of thing comes out, and the cops haven't been placed in custody pending a hearing, I'd like to see an army of people waiting outside of the doors of the station. Quietly and non-violently standing there with pitchforks, refusing to move until the officer is brought to justice.

Moreover, I'd like to see something like this become a standard practice for a protest. Because a pitchfork isn't a weapon. It's just a tool; something to turn over the soil when it's become rancid and damaged and it needs to be tilled to allow new growth.

Though, if the powers that be decide that they don't want to act on obvious criminal behavior in their ranks and disperse the crowd, a tool for turning soil becomes surprisingly frightening when held by someone with a grudge. So it's got that going for it as well.

Seriously, I don't want riots, because that gets innocent people and property hurt. But I do want the honest-to-god threat of riots on hand at all times when this kind of thing happens. We need to show that a slap on the wrist isn't going to do anymore. When an officer breaks the law, they need to be fired and punished.
posted by quin at 8:11 PM on February 28, 2009 [6 favorites]


For instance, an intelligent psychopath and a cunning criminal is not especially interested in becoming a cop, and his or her problems are generally not that of self-control or temper. Such a person seeks out other avenues to power and its corruption--instead of the police he or she moves perhaps towards positions in banking fraud, in financial crime, in the FBI, in the CIA, in Congress, in organized crime, or perhaps to some combination of organized crime and the preceding, etc.

More bouquets for you, ornate insect. Lately it's surfaced that we might have a real problem with our state's DPP (what I believe Americans call the DA's office). I don't know if psychopath is too strong a term but the latest story in the scary trend is thus:

[MENTALLY UNSTABLE WOMAN] My brother fucked me!
[PSYCHOPATHIC HIGH RANKING DPP OFFICER] Let's prosecute!
[SANE DPP ADVISORS] Er. Are you sure? We don't think this woman is telling the truth.
[PSYCHOPATHIC HIGH RANKING DPP OFFICER] Pig's arse. Let's prosecute!
[BROTHER, 2 years, 50,00 grey hairs, and $60,000 later] Thanks for destroying my life.

These are the people I really worry about. Calculated decisions to destory lives.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 8:17 PM on February 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Somewhere, Officer Friendly is crying.

Somewhere, Officer Friendly rolling over in his grave.

Hopefully, this cop will be convicted and sent to the big house for a 15 year hitch.

If he's smart, he'll ask for protective custody as soon as he gets there. As a bad cop in general population, they will definitely tear him a new asshole.

Put me down as a "yea". I used rude words to a cop once, and I discovered that getting billy-clubbed hurts like hell
posted by SteveTheRed at 8:21 PM on February 28, 2009


Like an FPP about the NYPD officer who testified against fellow officers recently in a brutality case? Never made it to the front page of Metafilter, what a surprise.

Why should that merit special attention? Upholding the law is his fucking JOB.
posted by stavrogin at 8:44 PM on February 28, 2009 [5 favorites]


Like an FPP about the NYPD officer who testified against fellow officers recently in a brutality case? Never made it to the front page of Metafilter, what a surprise.

Nautical by Nature, that was your chance to make a FPP!
posted by ginky at 8:51 PM on February 28, 2009 [6 favorites]


We could simply test the "7 out of 10" theory informally if everyone who comments in this thread also mentions yea or nay, whether they personally have or haven't ever been mistreated by a police-man.

I've never met a cop that didn't treat me like shit. I'm always respectful, but man you'd think I was Sydney Poitier In the Heat of the Night. I grew up thinking cops were men and women of honor trying to stop dark hearted assholes from knocking over old ladies and stealing their food stamps. In real life I've had no such encounter. They never seem to be of any use, and the always seem to fucking make your day worse when you've got to interact with them. Sorry officer, thats my story and I'm sticking to it.
posted by nola at 8:56 PM on February 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


DAMN!!! You know it's really beginning to get fucking hard defending the police profession when assholes like this keep popping up! We need to stand up and put in place no exception policies in place. Fuck police like these. They give a bad name to good officers everywhere. Also I know Blah blah blah all cops are bad... blah blah blah. Please trust me... good officers do exist. (right as I say this another cops doing fucking stupid shit story pops up.) Sigh sad day for honest cops everywhere.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 9:07 PM on February 28, 2009


For the record, 'yea' to hermitosis. I don't have much else to say as I feel my own sentiments have been well expressed above by ornate insect and others. It's a shame that these things that have been going on probably since the dawn of our modern PD have only started getting so much press lately. Thanks, technology. You make me horribly depressed, energized, and grateful all at the same time.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 9:20 PM on February 28, 2009




The only test of whether someone should be allowed to be a cop is whether the concept of "the thin blue line" makes them vomit or not. If it doesn't, no badge.
posted by maxwelton at 9:27 PM on February 28, 2009


I've worked with young offenders in Australia and the States for over a decade, and I know lots of truly "good cops" in both places. It was my job to advocate for young people in custody. A good deal of my time was spent interviewing young people regarding their complaints of excessive use of force. I also interviewed the accused officer or youth worker so I heard both sides of many cases of excessive use of force.

I always found it difficult to reconcile the obvious distress and feelings of powerlessness of the accused. They would spend hours telling me how the young person had pushed them, or wouldn't take orders,verbally threatened them or actually physically assault them.
The problem was that none of those behaviors condones excessive use of force.

In my opinion a "good cop" has good communication skills, an innate sense of conflict resolution skills, and a warm but firm personality. A good cop can make a world of difference to a young offender, but cops who are good with kids often find it difficult to balance the relative inflexibilty of the justice system and the lingering Bad Old Days police culture.
I wonder what makes a "bad cop". I have met "bad cops" who seemed to be nice people. I would guess that besides the obvious lack of training, bad cops have a tendency to personalise encounters. They haven't learned the dynamics of conflict resolution, they haven't had the chance to study the effects of childhood abuse, social injustice etc.. and many of them probably haven't had the opportunity to address those issues in their own lives.

Training could address a lot of these issues. But when we would suggest to state governments that more money be put into training budgets, well, you can guess the response....

Of course none of that is an excuse for what we see in that video. I am just trying to understand why.
posted by ginky at 9:30 PM on February 28, 2009 [5 favorites]


Portland police seem to be on the right track with their crisis intervention team.
posted by ginky at 9:38 PM on February 28, 2009


Context: Tibetan monk 'shot' while on fire. No video, no judge, no possibility for redress or justice. Thats an example where broken institutional structure is causing worse and worse outcomes.

Contrast that with this situation where institutional checks and balances have forced the Sheriff's Department to implement a recording system which in turn has collected key evidence that will lead to personal punishment for an outrageous offender as well as even more institutional reform.

Considering how heated the public reaction has been even when the institutional response has been correct (publicly releasing the video and pursuing action against the officer), I see very little chance that there will be backsliding. Cheer up guys, you are winning.
posted by ethansr at 9:41 PM on February 28, 2009


My favorite part was where the officer walked back into the room to check for evidence of the beating on the wall & floor. While on camera. There should really be a "world's dumbest cops" show for this kind of thing.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 10:10 PM on February 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


"Good cops" who say nothing while the blue curtain is drawn shut on power-tripping abusive assholes like the pig in question are no such thing.

Cops need to realize that the blue wall of silence is the single biggest obstacle to achieving the level of respect their job deserves.
posted by Aquaman at 10:24 PM on February 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


King County Sheriff -- Questions to Ask Yourself

If you meet the basics, you're off to a good start. Your answers to the following questions aren't part of the application process, but can help you decide if a law enforcement career with the KCSO could be right for you.

* Do I tend to size up situations pretty quickly and prioritize what to do next, even in rapidly changing situations with several different things going on at once?
* Am I pretty good at staying calm during emergency situations and making good decisions without having to have every last detail answered for me first?
* Do I enjoy identifying problems and digging into possible causes and solutions? Am I resourceful?
* Am I willing to work in dangerous situations and use physical force to overcome resistance if necessary, up to and including use of deadly force?
* Am I consistently a dependable and honest person, able to adhere to the highest standards of ethical conduct?
* Am I self-disciplined in my emotions, avoiding saying and doing things that are inappropriate or disrespectful to others, even under stress?
* Am I diplomatic, tactful and respectful of others, and prone to conveying empathy and understanding when I am dealing with others?
* Do I work well as a part of a team?


FITTING THESE CRITERIA?


Thursday, June 8, 2006 -- Shooting isn't first for deputy


Thursday, February 1, 2007 -- Deputy thought, 'This guy's gonna kill me'

Friday, February 2, 2007 -- Inquest jury backs deputy in shooting
posted by Hammond Rye at 11:09 PM on February 28, 2009


Avoid cops whenever possible.
posted by telstar at 11:23 PM on February 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


The thing about cops is that they're people. "Cops" don't constitute an essential, cordoned-off category of the human species any more than "black people" do.

Gotta disagree, agree more w. the thought that power attracts people who shouldn't have it.

Best thing that came from a defensive-driving class long ago in Fla.: The guy who taught it left the Fla. Hwy. Patrol after a few years because--he said--too many of the officers were the last guys picked for sports teams, rarely if ever got dates much less girlfriends, etc., but they got badges and guns and they were The Man.

Anecdotally, friends, family members and I are law-abiding and responsible, have had the occasional traffic ticket, reason to call cops after a break-in, car break-in. We've all seen far more rude, hard-ass, to-an-extremely-hard-line behavior from cops than we've seen 'em being polite, respectful, much less helpful.

A sister got a ticket for what was said to be an unsafe left turn (oncoming traffic too close). Sis said--and I assume she's telling the truth--she thought it was more than safe, went to court, related that she was at ___, the closest oncoming car was at ___, she didn't have to gas it hard, etc. She said the cop lied about the distance to the oncoming car, she related this to an attorney she knows, related she was surprised the cop lied, the attorney told her she was fantastically naive.

British cops FTW. Got chewed on a bit for riding a motorcycle through a crosswalk, related I was new to the country, honestly didn't see it. Was told to look out for 'em and ride safely.

Got a speeding ticket I deserved, riding the bike briskly on a road I knew, could see through the corners, etc. Cop said I was "riding like an imbecile" in what struck me as a funny voice/accent. Spontaneous reaction was to burst out laughing. Cop got a bit irked, asked what was so funny. I told him the truth, that I was new in the country, hearing a policeman use the word "imbecile" and his accent was new, something I'd only encountered in movies. He understood, asked what part of the states I'd come from, what the cops there were like, etc.

Also had someone throw a fruit juice bottle through the rear window of a rental car, needed a police report for the rental co. The police, in a raucous area of Liverpool when the bars were closing, were helpful and friendly, posed with us for tourist snaps at the police station, etc.
posted by ambient2 at 11:23 PM on February 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm glad I live in Seattle where things like this don't happen.

oh wait...

Can we nuke ourselves from space yet, or do we have to wait until the bacteria mats take back control of earth?
posted by b1tr0t at 11:52 PM on February 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Never made it to the front page of Metafilter, what a surprise.

Seriously? What, you had ten broken fingers that day?
posted by hifiparasol at 12:01 AM on March 1, 2009 [7 favorites]


Feels great knowing that the people who we pay to protect us from bad people are the very people we want to be protected from, eh?
posted by mullingitover at 12:22 AM on March 1, 2009


More bouquets for you, ornate insect. Lately it's surfaced that we might have a real problem with our state's DPP (what I believe Americans call the DA's office). I don't know if psychopath is too strong a term but the latest story in the scary trend is thus:

[MENTALLY UNSTABLE WOMAN] My brother fucked me!
[PSYCHOPATHIC HIGH RANKING DPP OFFICER] Let's prosecute!
[SANE DPP ADVISORS] Er. Are you sure? We don't think this woman is telling the truth.
[PSYCHOPATHIC HIGH RANKING DPP OFFICER] Pig's arse. Let's prosecute!
[BROTHER, 2 years, 50,00 grey hairs, and $60,000 later] Thanks for destroying my life.

These are the people I really worry about. Calculated decisions to destory lives.


The sad thing is, uncanny hengeman, that I knew you were from Western Australia before I even clicked your profile link.

Robert Cock needs to be shot. Preferably out of a cannon or on a beach at dawn. That fuckwit caused a friend of mine to be imprisoned for a year of his life and sent his parents broke defending some trumped up charge from a mentally unstable bitch accusing people of rape.

The funny thing is, on the eve of the trial the girl accused a couple of other people of raping her. The prosecutor stil proceeded simply because if they dropped the case at that point it would leave the state open to compensation.

And the fucking right wing nutjobs want these assholes to have more powers to hamstring the defense? More power to give out harsher punishments summarily? (license suspended on the spot? Car impounded on the spot? Due process? DON'T NEED THAT SHIT AROUND HERE! YOU'RE JUST STICKING UP FOR THOSE EVIL HOONS!)

I swear the city of Perth needs to be nuked from orbit.
posted by Talez at 12:40 AM on March 1, 2009 [1 favorite]



NYPD officers rape drunk East Village woman.


also nth-ing the "i thought cops were good guys until I had to interact with them as a teenager/young adult." Systemic problems require systemic changes.
posted by anti social order at 12:47 AM on March 1, 2009


> We could simply test the "7 out of 10" theory...

Nay. So far, I've had five encounters with the police, three of which were with college campus cops. Each one of them has been relatively brief, to the point, and professional.
posted by simoncion at 1:01 AM on March 1, 2009


Perth is in orbit?

At least that explains why the place doesn't have any atmosphere.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:23 AM on March 1, 2009


whether they personally have or haven't ever been mistreated by a police-man

Yea, twice resulting in settlements paid by the police. These settlements were both substantially less than my legal fees, but what the hell, someone has to call 'em on their bullshit.
posted by ryanrs at 1:44 AM on March 1, 2009


American law enforcement, like the media, like the healthcare, like the politics, like the economy is basically and fundamentally broken.

Fix these and this really will be the New American Century.
posted by fullerine at 1:46 AM on March 1, 2009


The cop who administered the beating is scum. The cop trainee who stood by while this happened was at best a useless newb, who had no idea what to do in the heat of the moment, and at worst complicit. The cop who turned the other cop in when he saw the video, however, is what might be referred to as a "good cop," which apparently doesn't exist.
posted by moonbiter at 3:17 AM on March 1, 2009


... something I consider a necessary precaution to reduce the possibility of having my ass kicked, brutally.

"Have you ever been face to face with a police officer and wonder: is he about to kick my ass?"*

*Obligatory Chris Rock clip
posted by bwg at 4:24 AM on March 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


The 'injury and pain' to the officer's shin reminds me of a somewhat more light-weight case.
posted by asok at 5:13 AM on March 1, 2009


If good cops would turn in bad cops, I assure you that they would get some serious fucking press.

It might have escaped attention, but the cop in this incident was turned in by the detective handling the girl's case. As soon as he saw the video, he kicked it straight upstairs. A lot of cops would have simply hit the erase button.

Had the victim been male, black and in his early 20's, the detective might not have been quite so scrupulous, but who knows? In this case, a cop did the right thing.

My experience in Britain, however, has been that the police are polite and helpful - and are trained to be that way no matter who they are talking to.

We've got our fair share of arseholes as well, but arseholism doesn't appear to be a constitutional right, handed out on graduating from the academy.

And they're definitely improving here.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:22 AM on March 1, 2009


Even Kermit the frog and the rest of the characters from Sesame street agree: Fuck tha police.
posted by 445supermag at 6:14 AM on March 1, 2009


Seconding uncanny hengeman's suggestion that Americans watch some of the New Zealand reality cop tv sometime. It's amazing to see how chilled out they are compared to the ones in similar US shows. A++ WOULD GET PULLED OVER AGAIN
posted by harriet vane at 6:52 AM on March 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


The only test of whether someone should be allowed to be a cop is whether the concept of "the thin blue line" makes them vomit or not.

This was another reason I didn't become a cop, don't think I could cover up fucked up shit.

For the record, I firmly believe there are good cops and bad cop and it can be a shitty job. I was talking to one a few months ago, after a neighbor got purse stolen in front of her house. Seemed like a good guy, solid, calm, good with people. He said, for Savannah cops, what was really holding them back from doing a great job at times was the amount of BS they had to deal with calls that really shouldn't have happened. A lot domestic violence stuff and people being drunk and doing stupid things and things getting outta. He said that was the majority of the calls, leaving them spread thin for routine patrols and the really serious stuff. As he said, they have to investigate every call and especially with drunk people stupid shit happens, like people acting menacingly towards cops, forcing them to respond, haul them to jail and deal with the paperwork, while other stuff was going on. He liked the challenges and variety of work on the job, he just people would get their act together a bit more and stop bringing in the cops in entirely preventable situations.

In my interactions with cops, I've always felt it was important for me to be polite and do my best to make it a calm situation. Yes, the cop may be wrong at times or being an asshole, but he has a gun and right or wrong, he might use it. I'd prefer he didn't and that everyone go home in one piece. Never understood why someone would want to fight or argue with a cop on the spot. It's not a fair fight and the fallout from it going in the wrong direction could be enormously bad.

it seemed like it's be interesting work, especially if you managed to become a detective.

Yeah, the challenge of solving the puzzle would be interesting, but the grind of it would take it's toll. Not sure I could handle repeated murder scenes.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:54 AM on March 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


FTR, yea. Cop damn near pulled a gun on me when I was CHANGING A TIRE.
posted by sperose at 7:02 AM on March 1, 2009


Is it just me or is the rookie cop trying to get the older cop to stop punching the girl at around :20 in? Looks like he is. The whole thing happens so fast, but it does look like he's trying to block the older cop with his arm from punching a third time.
posted by mediareport at 7:58 AM on March 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Probably the best UK Police blog.

I've also had the chance to read the book and whilst it (and the blog) are a little too Conservative for my tastes it really does give an excellent idea of what British policing involves. I'd also recommend -

PCBloggs - a female police constable (also published and an excellent read).

PC Copperfield - now an officer in Canada (one of the first police blogs and again, published).

and Nightjack - a detective. His "24 hours to crack the case" stories can be heartbreaking. He's also a huge Snow Crash fan with decent taste in music.

I read these all fairly regularly and having seen these and then also been present on US Law Enforcement forums where the discussion revolves around which rounds are best to carry for stopping power it gives you a very different idea of how our nations carry out policing.
posted by longbaugh at 7:58 AM on March 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


I wondered how many cops are in the United States?

A quick Google search indicates there are just under a million.

I expect that if you took *any* population of a million people there would undoubtedly be more than a few violent assholes in your sample. We rightfully expect a higher standard of behavior from our public servants, if for no other reason than we are the ones paying them, but these MeFi cop bashing threads almost always paint with far too broad a brush.

If any other group of a million people (Muslims, inner-city black kids, service members, etc.) was consistently referred to as being sociopathic maniacs, the PC police would be out in force emphatically pointing out that not all Muslims are terrorists, not all kids wearing red in the 'hood are Bloods and all members of the US Armed Forces are not torturers. Yet, when it comes to cops, anyone who speaks positively about them, any of them, is branded a 'police apologist'.

Since anecdotal evidence carries the day here, maybe I could tell you a story about the half-dozen or so cops I spent last summer working with. I do some community based stuff and one of our projects was cleaning up a gang infested park, a hellhole where kids walking home from school regularly had to duck under police tape. These guys took unpaid time and spent weekend mornings cleaning the park, raising funds for new equipment and generally making themselves available to the community. Eventually the gangbangers moved on (it ain't exactly good business slinging rock in the middle of a summer camp) but not before a few took advantage of a long languishing city gun buyback program. As far as I know, the only compensation these guys got was a cheap plaque and some crappy food.

It is also worth noting that in the case, the system worked perfectly. The cop was caught, charged and the events were made public. No thin blue line, no institutional denial, no cover up -- I'd go as far to say that the police did their job. Here, their job was simple, charging a criminal who just happened to be a cop.

That said, I too find the frequency of these events appalling and am unclear what the solution is except that on a micro scale we have had success in reforming an incredibly corrupt city PD by implementing residency requirements (people don't tend to shit where they eat), putting some teeth in a Civilian Review Board (up until recently disciplinary issues were handled by the union -- I know, crazy) and giving them more money (if you want the best and brightest you should pay them a little more than the guy patching potholes).
posted by cedar at 8:05 AM on March 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


New York City police, who in all my interactions have been very professional, do have a little in house secret policy when it comes to punching police. If you punch a cop while in custody, the others will hold you down while the one you hit repeatedly stomps on the hand you punched with. This results in what is known as the "melon hand," because that's what your hand will look like, and of course you caused the injury yourself when you punched the cop in the first place.

Aside from florrid mental illness, I don't see why anyone would think it was a good idea to punch a cop while in custody. There is a certain logic to this policy, but it's nothing I would allow in anyplace I was managing. It's a crime, it can breed more violent criminals, and it could accomodate an attitude that expands into other forms of brutality.

The melon hand recipient who told me about this said he ultimately thought he deserved it, and besides he got unlimited food and cigarettes from the others in the holding cell who knew exactly what his injury was and saw it as a badge of honor.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:52 AM on March 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


If any other group of a million people (Muslims, inner-city black kids, service members, etc.) was consistently referred to as being sociopathic maniacs, the PC police would be out in force emphatically pointing out that not all Muslims are terrorists, not all kids wearing red in the 'hood are Bloods and all members of the US Armed Forces are not torturers.

Yeah... And in every police thread, the police police are out in force emphatically pointing out that not all cops are crooked & etc. I think what angers people is that the police have (in practice) so much more power than normal citizens, abuse that power so often, whether severely or only just mildly, are so rarely punished for abusing that power, are punished so lightly compared to normal citizens when they do so, and often to cover up each others' crimes and abuses even though their job is to enforce the law.

And the perception of most is that there's nothing they can do about it.
posted by Juffo-Wup at 9:00 AM on March 1, 2009 [6 favorites]


Let me say it now, before the compulsive cop apologists start weighing in, that she clearly had it coming and she shouldn't have kept pushing her face against his fist like that.
posted by Mental Wimp at 7:37 PM on February 28


Positively eponysterical. I mean really, that's some first class pre-emptive thread shitting there. kudos.
posted by butterstick at 9:14 AM on March 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


And the perception of most is that there's nothing they can do about it.

This is the problem.

These people are public servants and should (and can) be held accountable. I don't just mean charged when they commit crimes but accountable in the sense that they represent a municipality and taint the publics perception each and every time they are rude to a motorist, too quick to employ force during a minor misdemeanor arrest or overheard spitting out racial slurs.

The negative impression that people have about the police is illustrated in threads such as this. This thread could just as easily been titled, "Rogue cop arrested and charged by capable supervisor."

What people can do is vocally, and publicly, hold them accountable. If my garbage isn't picked up I'm calling the city. I pay taxes for that service. If my garbage still isn't picked up, I'm writing to the Dept. of Public Works. If my garbage *still* isn't picked up I'm speaking at the next city council meeting and in lieu of a reasonable explanation expect the employee not doing his/her job to be looking for another one.

I expect civility and competence from the people I employ. The police are no different and if you are having a problem with yours, I'd suggest dealing with the people (usually elected) who determine policy and who gets hired. I have seen dramatic turnarounds once a bit of civilian oversight is implemented.
posted by cedar at 9:32 AM on March 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Do US cops receive any training?

In Canada, all RCMP go through a 24 week training course.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:36 AM on March 1, 2009


For the record, I'm firmly on the nay side.

In every dealing I've ever had with the police, the officer in question has been professional, polite and calm. I've also always only treated them with respectful courtesy on my end. I can't imagine why anyone wouldn't treat someone in a position of authority respectfully, honestly.

I know that, statistically speaking, we must have our share of "bad cops". I also know, from having worked in an addictions treatment facility for a while, that our police force does have a huge problem with alcoholism abuse by their officers.

But my experiences (reporting vandalism, stopped a couple times for speeding) have all been positive interactions that left me feeling good about the police officers in our area.

YMMV--I'm a white, 42yo woman in a reasonably affluent neighborhood, FWIW.
posted by misha at 9:44 AM on March 1, 2009


of course you caused the injury yourself when you punched the cop in the first place

Given that the cop chose, entirely of his own free will, to stomp on your hand, and his colleagues chose to hold you down, that argument would hold up only outside of court, and only in a minority of situations there.

If you had the means, you'd be perfectly justified in applying deadly force to any group who held you down and began attacking you.
posted by oaf at 10:06 AM on March 1, 2009


Interesting Op-Ed from David Simons about the current sorry state of police reporting and the effect that has on the police.
posted by shothotbot at 11:03 AM on March 1, 2009


I'm another 'yea'--while I've had plenty of good experiences with police, I've also had some very bad ones.
posted by box at 11:19 AM on March 1, 2009


cedar - It's not about a few bad apples - it's about the instutional culture of law enforcement in the United States.

The UK has as many police officers per person - perhaps even more - and have had their problems (esp with visible minorities and the police), but the whole culture of policing is different there. And you've heard from people in NZ - their police are trained to deal even with drunk people in a calming way.

The culture of the police in my own city (Toronto) has changed since I was younger. Under influence from American police unions and training practices, the police have started wearing their bullet proof vests more visibly, and started being more agressive and less friendly when walking around communities. It used to be you could ask a cop for directions, and they would smile and help you; now they glare at you in public parks.

Basically, they are doing everything that good community police are not supposed to do, and alienating the very people they should be establishing relationships with. But the culture of policing by conflict, rather than co-operation, is very ingrained in the American law enforcement community.

The actual violence comes from bad apples. But the culture that lets them express this violence is systemic and wide-spread. And it doesn't need to be that way. The American police must look to other systems - like the UK (and before anyone says the UK is small, non-violent, etc, let them hang around on a Saturday night when the pubs let out - that is a scary place to be) or NZ - and they need to remember that they aren't fighting some kind of war, but are there to protect and serve.

(Actually, my last statement is a point on why occupations so often fail - you are trying to use soldiers to do police duties.)
posted by jb at 11:26 AM on March 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Since this thread is still going on, I'll answer yea to bad experiences with the police. Of course there are good cops; this winter my car broke down on the highway, a cop found me walking by the side of the road, gave me a lift, called a tow truck, and then drove me back to my car where we sat and chatted idly until the tow arrived. He was a pretty affable older guy that reminded me of someone I used to work with. However I've had the opposite happen where getting pulled over for a bad turn, and what should have just been a routine traffic stop, ended up being a dangerous situation due to police aggression and blatant attempts to provoke any sort of breach in politeness so they could haul everyone off.

Not knowing if any random police officer is going to be a capable public servant or a power tripping asshole effaces the whole point of having a police force and largely negates the influence of good cops. After all, an encounter with a good cop means they simply do the job they're paid to do, while a bad encounter can potentially end in imprisonment or death. Given also the very limited recourse available if you do encounter abuse from the police, and no guarantee that there is any kind of meaningful oversight, the only reasonable thing to do is to avoid them on the whole as much as possible and always assume the worst from the police until proven wrong. I don't think that kind of mindset is good for society, but it's pragmatic to hold until such time as the American police force chooses to prove their interests lie in the peace and public good rather than in being a bludgeon for the prison-industrial complex. As far as jb's points go, rhetoric like "the war on crime" and "the war on drugs" goes a long way towards facilitating an us-versus-them siege mentality when the real solution to those issues probably lies in fostering trust and cooperation between the police and the public.
posted by CheshireCat at 12:24 PM on March 1, 2009


We could simply test the "7 out of 10" theory...

Yea.

While I've also had some "good" (i.e. noneventful) experiences with cops, I've also had two or three where they seemed to arrive with nightsticks pre-inserted up their own anuses so far that they refused to stop treating me like I was a suspect in need of a beating long enough to do their actual job.

(Including one case of "that guy right over there.... that guy down the street... that guy who just got into that car.... oh fuck never mind.")
posted by rokusan at 1:04 PM on March 1, 2009


What even motivates people to want to become cops?

My boyfriend wanted to be a cop. He is a complete goody two-shoes, he's extensively trained in hand-to-hand combat, and he is kind, thoughtful, and mindful. He wanted to be a cop so he could help do the right thing. (He's considered fire-fighting and the military for the same reasons. He is a hero just waiting to happen.)

He's paid into the application process a few times now, and he's been ignored. (You can't just use your eye exam from last time either. You have to get those tests done anew each time. Even in Canada that's expensive.) Meanwhile, we keep hearing stories about cops who don't even try to deescalate the situation anymore, they just grab the old Taser, and start zapping.

I do know a couple of awesome cops (Okay, two.), but they are too few and far between. There should be no place for the fat cop who can't even chase a suspect, let alone catch him or disarm him without excessive force, or the indifferent cop who forgot who he represents, or the dirty cop who threw his ethics and brains out the door upon graduation.
posted by digifox at 2:09 PM on March 1, 2009


WTF?
"Several years ago, Schene shot and killed an unarmed, mentally disturbed man following a traffic stop that degenerated into a 'knock-down, drag-out' fight," noted William Grigg at lewrockwell.com. "The shooting was ruled 'justifiable.' Shortly after that incident, he was stopped for driving under the influence (apparently of prescription medication). He was given a deferred sentence and placed on probation, so that he could continue to bless the people of King County with his singular professionalism."
This dangerous psychopath has a chance of remaining a cop?! FFS.
Schene faces a maximum penalty of one year in jail and reprimand or termination from the department pending the results of an internal investigation.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:16 PM on March 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I like how this jerkoff's lawyer basically said "the presentation of evidence may have impact on the outcome of the trial." Heaven forbid!
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:42 PM on March 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


We could simply test the "7 out of 10" theory...

OK.

I've posted a survey over at MetaTalk. I thought it would be good to collect answers in one place, rather than scattered across different brutality threads. So, tell us.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 3:13 PM on March 1, 2009


If you watch carefully, you can see the other deputy cup the girl's chin to keep it from shattering against the floor.

Not only do I NOT believe that it was an act of kindness, I DO believe that he was just doing damage control that seemed to be almost routine.

Those guys knew EXACTLY what they were doing.

Fuckers.
posted by snsranch at 4:27 PM on March 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


> Under influence from American police unions and training practices, the police have started wearing their bullet proof vests more visibly

Wow. Finding fault with police officers wearing bullet proof vests "more visibly".

Are you certain of the influence of "American police unions"? Wearing a vest over a uniform shirt is more comfortable especially when it gets above 85 degrees or so (30 °C).
posted by nautical-by-nature at 4:38 PM on March 1, 2009


As the police hold more power than civilians they should be held to higher levels of accountability. They must be ''whiter than white" in their actions, and there should be zero tolerance for failings.

I hold the police to a higher standard than I do the people they're dealing with.
posted by knapah at 4:46 PM on March 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


We should also hold our politicians to a higher standard.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:56 PM on March 1, 2009


They must be ''whiter than white"

I think that's part of the problem.

I keed, I keed.
posted by hifiparasol at 5:34 PM on March 1, 2009


We could simply test the "7 out of 10" theory

I was pulled over for not having the requisite city sticker on my license plate. The cop asked for my license and registration, and I told him, entirely truthfully, that I had been mugged the day before, and my purse had been stolen. He asked me if I could prove it by giving him the police report number. I said I had nothing with me with the number on it, but couldn't he call my local precinct and ask for it? He said, "Get out of the car, bitch. You're under arrest. You don't fucking talk to a cop like that." I was frozen in fear, I stared at him in disbelief. He pulled my driver's side door open, yanked me out of the car by my arm, and threw me against the side of the car while talking on his radio. When he moved around to the front of the car, he suddenly "had to go" because "something important" was happening and I was "really lucky". And he took off. I realized a few minutes later that he must have taken off because I did, in fact, have the city sticker on my license plate -- only it was on the front one, not the back one. And he didn't think to check there before doing all the rest of his bullshit.

And if you think they only do this to "suspicious" people, I'm a 5'1" white girl who was driving a really boring two-door Buick from the late 80s.
posted by tzikeh at 7:05 PM on March 1, 2009 [6 favorites]


> Under influence from American police unions and training practices, the police have started wearing their bullet proof vests more visibly

Wow. Finding fault with police officers wearing bullet proof vests "more visibly".

Are you certain of the influence of "American police unions"? Wearing a vest over a uniform shirt is more comfortable especially when it gets above 85 degrees or so (30 °C).
posted by nautical-by-nature at 7:38 PM on March 1 [+] [!]


Well, this is in Toronto. Bullets and gunshots aren't common here - and I come from a bad neighbourhood. When we have a rash of gun crimes, it's national news.

Also, if it were just the bullet proof vests, that would be one thing - but it comes with a whole set of behaviours which has made our police worse. The whole vest thing probably just sticks out with me because my mother was running a breakfast club for little kids (ages 3-10), and when she invited the local police they came wearing bullet proof vests, and were really gruff. She was trying to help kids from an area with bad relations with the police meet some friendly Officer Ed types, and what she got was the LAPD.

She never invited the police back to that kid's club.
posted by jb at 7:31 PM on March 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sorry, that was an apostraphe disaster. It should read "that kids' club".
posted by jb at 7:35 PM on March 1, 2009


I can hear the tin foil hat accusations coming already but honestly people this is so simple: society consists of 3 groups, A, B and C...

A - Rich and Powerful
B - Regular, middle class people
C - The poor, uneducated and powerless

Cops are members of group C allowed to be group B in exchange for protecting group A from Groups B and C.

The cop did nothing to upset this agreement and therefor punishment will be little or nothing, now if the girl was a senators daughter...
posted by Cosine at 12:34 PM on March 2, 2009 [3 favorites]


Was anyone else reminded of this?
posted by zekinskia at 1:06 PM on March 2, 2009


of course you caused the injury yourself when you punched the cop in the first place

Given that the cop chose, entirely of his own free will, to stomp on your hand, and his colleagues chose to hold you down, that argument would hold up only outside of court,


Maybe you missed my sarcasm, oaf. I know, I should have put in "wink wink, nudge nudge." The whole point was plausible deniabilty, and I'm sure they knew exactly where the cameras were pointed.

I know for sure that the melon hand "victim" appreciated one thing about this ad hoc instant justice, and that was that after getting back at him this way, the police did not file any additional assaulting an officer charges, which would have been a felony, and he walked out with his disturbing the peace misdemeanor.

Like I said, the "victim" thought he was treated fairly, all in all.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:41 AM on March 3, 2009


And, I know police can be difficult, but in case any one out there is listening, big shout-out to Precinct 1 in Manhattan. That crew is top notch.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:45 AM on March 3, 2009


I know for sure that the melon hand "victim" appreciated one thing about this ad hoc instant justice, and that was that after getting back at him this way, the police did not file any additional assaulting an officer charges, which would have been a felony, and he walked out with his disturbing the peace misdemeanor.

Not that I yearn to go back to the days of ad hoc instant justice, but I sometimes wonder if we as a society lost something when plea bargains + long periods of incarceration replaced much of the arbitrary police beatings dished out for minor crimes. Now we have an ostensibly non-arbitrary justice, but at the cost of vast numbers of individuals locked up.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:36 PM on March 3, 2009






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