"I don't want to shoot you, brother."
November 29, 2018 4:10 PM   Subscribe

This is what can happen when a cop decides not to shoot. TW: suicidal ideation, suicide by cop, tragedy. Via ProPublica.
posted by Alensin (52 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
 
Fascinating read. I should have been asleep 20 minutes ago.
posted by biffa at 4:57 PM on November 29, 2018 [4 favorites]


This article proves that being a member of the police force is viewed, from the inside, as a job where it is your duty to shoot anyone or anything that moves. No matter what. But especially if it's a black person. That if you don't shoot a black person, you aren't protecting your fellow cops. That if you don't discharge your weapon - if you dare to think and consider the gravity of the responsibility that comes with being an armed officer brandishing a gun - you're labeled a "coward" by your colleagues and essentially excommunicated.

I don't know how a "good cop" (heh, what even is that?) could ever survive. Cop culture is so powerful in maintaining its own rot and bile that it is impenetrable.

ACAB.
posted by nightrecordings at 5:44 PM on November 29, 2018 [26 favorites]


While reading this I was reminded of Ken Lam, the cop in Toronto who didn't shoot the van driver who had just killed and injured many on Yonge and Finch. He's seen as something of a hero. This is not to say that Canadian cop culture is significantly different. However I believe that there are more cops like Mader and Lam, that some cops are different. Somehow we need to support those guys who, like Chuck Wexler says near the end of this piece, believe that an officer’s true responsibility is "... to honor the sanctity of human life."
posted by kneecapped at 6:15 PM on November 29, 2018 [7 favorites]


Read part 1 on tenterhooks. Saving the rest for tomorrow so I won't be kept up by worse nightmares. Tears are gonna flow.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:56 PM on November 29, 2018


If you ever need proof that cops have fucked up priorities this is the article for you because, smack in the middle of an already fucked up story is this gem...
The second incident involved Mader’s response to an April 12, 2016, call about a woman in cardiac arrest who eventually died. When Mader arrived at her home, emergency medical technicians were working unsuccessfully to revive the woman, and they had moved her to a staircase landing inside. Mader and two other officers who joined him regarded the incident as tragic, but in the end a medical call, and they soon left. A supervisor later determined that Mader had failed to deduce that the woman might have been the victim of foul play. Parts of her body, the senior officer said, were contorted in a way that might have suggested she had been assaulted.

The department never determined if foul play was involved, and no one was ever arrested for the woman’s death. Still, a supervisor wrote a memo suggesting that Mader be disciplined for his handling of the call. Alexander, the police chief, later said under oath that Mader should have stopped the EMTs from trying to save the woman so as to preserve a potential crime scene.
Emphasis mine. So the position of the body, which HAD BEEN MOVED BY THE EMTs indicated foul play? This is so stupid as to be unbelievable but then you get to the part where letting a citizen DIE to preserve a crime scene is what they determine the correct course of action should have been.
posted by Defective_Monk at 7:13 PM on November 29, 2018 [25 favorites]


So there's obviously a macho element to the "you froze" charges against Mader by his colleagues.

But pretty much every time I read an incident like this and the police attitudes & training around it I'm struck by how much it mirrors the OSHA-compliant approach I see in the lab. Each incident and especially fatality is analyzed for what went wrong, then you use all sorts of hard sell strategies to make immortal-feeling 20-somethings internalize these rare but dangerous events and follow safety procedures.

In the lab you don't want people saying "oh, I used my judgment that this gas cylinder didn't need to be strapped down and I was proven right and I got my job done faster so what's the problem?" Because eventually someone with that attitude will get a co-worker killed. So in a good lab no one accepts that behavior in a colleague.

If Mader's colleagues were policing workplace machinery, and not other human beings, their attitude towards his judgment call would be ethically correct.
posted by mark k at 7:17 PM on November 29, 2018 [4 favorites]


I think there's an obvious problem (if not many) with framing the idea that cops should be able to shoot any person, due to their possible unpredictability, as a "safety procedure." People are not gas cylinders. Logically speaking, your analogy says literally nothing about the ethical correctness of his judgment call.
posted by axiom at 7:24 PM on November 29, 2018 [14 favorites]


Sorry, apparently I was too understated at the end. The colleagues attitude I described would be correct only in the situation they were dealing with inanimate objects. In point of fact it is ethically horrendous, because people are not gas cylinders.

The article really upset me and *not* because the police are doing what they can to keep themselves safe. It's because they've apparently internalized this attitude that rates non-police humans as if they were objects.
posted by mark k at 7:39 PM on November 29, 2018 [6 favorites]


Previously on TechDirt. TechDirt is pretty good on covering all sorts of civil rights issues that technically have nothing to do with tech, except that defending our rights in general has a lot to do with tech.
posted by M-x shell at 7:46 PM on November 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


The idea that an American cop did the right thing and de-escalated the situation, and the other cops in his department saw that as a failing rather than gold-standard policing, is disgusting.
posted by Merus at 7:52 PM on November 29, 2018 [15 favorites]


I think the fact that the dispatcher was informed that the gun was unloaded and that did not get relayed on is a big deal. The second and third officers on scene should have had that information.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 8:01 PM on November 29, 2018 [6 favorites]


Yeah, the dispatcher should be charged with (at least) involuntary manslaughter. But that will never happen, because the US is a police state, in the most literal sense of the term.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 8:38 PM on November 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


It's extremely telling (and also disgusting) that the police department preferred the responses of panicked terrified cops shooting wildly in fear at the sight of a black man (in a way that endangered fellow cops at the scene and random bystanders to boot) rather than the calm attempts at deescalation of someone who is literally displaying courage under potential fire. It's even more telling when you see which response was labeled as cowardice.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:17 PM on November 29, 2018 [10 favorites]


.
posted by limeonaire at 9:25 PM on November 29, 2018


Ah yes, ACAB, the gold standard for thoughtful engagement with difficult issues.

Anyway.

I would venture a guess that most of the commenters so far believe that attempted suicide by cop is uncommon. It's very much not. Most cops I know could tell you about handling at least one legitimate such call. We've all had lots that aren't really legitimate - the homeless guy in the winter that waves around a knife until people call 911, tosses it as we arrive, and gets a warm night or two in the hospital. Those guys aren't really in crisis, they're just drunk and cold. So during the winter you'll handle calls like that, or "robberies" that are the same deal, pretty regularly.

My clearest attempted suicide by cop was as follows. A young woman one summer called 911. I forget what she said exactly, but it was enough to generate a priority 1 call to her address. Priority one means immediate response from a 2 person car in my agency. No one was free but me and my partner weren't down too much paper so we upped for it even though it was out of our sector.

Caller had hung up and dispatch got voicemail on three callbacks. Caller's home was in a secured apartment building but she had propped open the secured door to the building, then gone back up inside to her apartment and left that unsecured also. She then pretended not to hear my partner and I trying to call her out of her apartment. So, because that's our job, we went inside even though we very much didn't want to. As soon as we got within about three feet of her she grabbed a knife she had ready to go on the counter next to her.

We were close enough that we both grabbed a wrist. I got the side holding the knife. I dug my fingers into her arm above the wrist, in between the two bones, and she yelped and dropped the knife. She sounded hurt and somehow indignantly said "I wouldn't have hurt you." Obviously I can't know for certain but I am confident with a high degree of certainty that she intended that we kill her. I can't think of any other reason she'd have laid out the crumb trail and waited at its end. We put her on an ambulance, screaming and crying, and she went to the hospital. Then we went to the next call.

Almost every cop I know has some similar kind of a story. Jumpers, knives, shotguns, etc. I'm one cop in one middling-large midwestern city. I work in a precinct that gets busy, especially in the summer, but certainly isn't our busiest. However many thousands of such calls occur nationwide every year remarkably few of them get pro-publica thinkpieces. 0 in fact. Now that I think about it, none of them get any coverage anywhere whatsoever. And of course it would be ridiculous if they did, just like it would be ridiculous if every strongarm robbery got a breathless report in the national press. The difference is that most people are aware that robbery is common while they seem increasingly less aware that things like attempted suicide by cop, attempted swatting, and other hot-button issues are just part of the workaday din of police work.

Watching people try to judge "police culture" from the outside is always kind of interesting. It's like people trying to describe a landscape by looking through a pinprick hole patched with waxpaper. It would be fine if people understood that it was necessarily a drastically incomplete perspective but (as with this thread) any such pinprick is treated as if it grants you instant insight into the entire profession. It doesn't.

I remember when this incident first hit the outrage stream. Cop forums chewed on it a fair bit. Some people agreed that he put his partners in danger. Some thought he did ok. In my agency this would never be dispatched as single-officer response and I would argue that this call should NEVER be single officer response.

One point of consensus was that probie cops - as Mader was - are easy to fire for a reason. In my agency to fire a cop off probation requires that administration document actual misconduct as well as failure to respond to correction. Firing a cop on probation is a much lower bar and the union probably won't fight it, depending on circumstances.

Taken at face value this story also illustrates admin's near-universal penchant for digging up old calls that weren't an issue at the time to justify actions taken against someone who finds themselves on the shitlist.

Regarding the decision to pull the trigger or not, I think my conclusion is that the call was a shit sandwich and there's no good way to eat it. Would I have pulled the trigger in Mader's shoes? I don't know. Did Mader have time to communicate his read of the situation to responding officers on the radio? If he had taken a second to calmly communicate with his partners en route to his aid, do you think they might have approached differently? Radioing "got a gun here" and then going silent (if that is what happened) is a good way to get me to think you're in a gunfight at best. But I don't know, maybe that wasn't practical, and even if it was practical it's not like it's easy to remain calm in these situations.

I think at the time that someone points a gun at me, another officer, or someone else, I am going to pull the trigger.

Just as a thought experiment for the commenters here:

Imagine yourself in Mader's shoes. Imagine that instead of continuing to wait outside, Williams turned around and started to walk back inside the house. You know your scared ("hysterical") caller is inside. He's not an immediate threat to you. His back is turned towards you. You've got, depending on the length of the sidewalk, 2-5 seconds or so to decide what to do. What's your answer?

Personally I would argue that you should shoot him in the back before he reaches the door. You absolutely should NOT tackle the man with a gun. And if you let him back inside the house there's a good chance that you're signing the caller's death warrant. Of course that depends in part on your making the correct read of the situation, which is that this is a domestic violence call. This:

"Her name was Bethany Gilmer. R.J. Williams, her ex-boyfriend and the father of their baby, had a gun" (emphasis mine)

And this:

"Williams went to his car and got the Smith & Wesson. Back in the house, Williams asked Gilmer if the police were coming. Gilmer now had Tre in her arms.

"He held the gun to his head and said he was going to kill himself in front of the baby and me.""

Very standard domestic violence. Recent baby. Recent breakup. Access to firearms. Control by means of threatened suicide ("do what I want or I'll kill myself"). Argument. Intoxication. Physical fighting. History of DV.

This is an extremely high risk DV situation, for the female half more than anyone. These are all factors used in standard DV risk assessment tools and this particular caller at this particular moment is statistically at an extremely high risk of murder. I think this piece goes to great lengths to cast Williams purely as someone with depression in a moment of crisis. Which, maybe, but almost certainly not.

What I will say is that if I handled this call and I didn't have to shoot Williams, after I sent him on the ambulance I would have a long conversation with Gilmer. I would tell her all the things I'm trained to say. I'm worried that she'll be killed. I'm worried that her baby will be killed. I would mean those things and they would be true. And most likely she would agree that night and then the following day she would probably refuse to follow up with any investigation or victim's services. Maybe she would be murdered, maybe she wouldn't. It's how the job goes.

The recent shooter at the hospital in Chicago was DV. The guy last year that facebook live streamed himself killing a random old man was DV. According to NCADV, "72% of all murder-suicides involve an intimate partner; 94% of the victims of these murder suicides are female".

Action and inaction are both choices. Just because you chose not to act doesn't mean that your choice won't have consequences.

"I think the fact that the dispatcher was informed that the gun was unloaded and that did not get relayed on is a big deal. The second and third officers on scene should have had that information."

Typically the air is held during high-risk situations. Emergency traffic only. Those notes may or may not have been visible on a CAD screen for the assisting officers, and those officers may or may not have seen them while driving code 3. I think dispatch's call not to chew up air time while an officer is out with one with a gun is the right call and would be the right call per policy at my agency.

Regarding the failure to investigate the death: if I understand correctly, admin's position is that Mader didn't actually determine if the medics moved the heart attack victim or what. I don't have the specifics of that call. Maybe Mader screwed up. Maybe he didn't. I think it's very likely that he did screw up. He's a new cop. New cops screw things up. Veteran cops screw things up.

It's our responsibility to think the worst and take basic steps on scene to falsify or corroborate any potential allegation of criminal activity. Yes, it was a heart attack. You still have to be thorough and document everything because sometimes it wasn't a heart attack, sometimes (very rarely) the burglar pushed her down the stairs.

Should he have been fired? Enh? I dunno? Did admin do a rink-a-dink job and fuck up the whole deal? For sure, but what's new?

"It's extremely telling (and also disgusting) that the police department preferred the responses of panicked terrified cops shooting wildly in fear at the sight of a black man"

Why do people do bad faith stuff like this? Williams had a gun and pointed it at them. White guys that point guns at the police get shot too. People in general that point guns at the police tend to get shot. And, yes, there tends to be a certain amount of adrenaline that you experience when someone points a gun at you. Sigh.
posted by firebrick at 9:57 PM on November 29, 2018 [22 favorites]


Great digital journalism, thank you.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 10:30 PM on November 29, 2018


Imagine yourself in Mader's shoes. Imagine that instead of continuing to wait outside, Williams turned around and started to walk back inside the house. You know your scared ("hysterical") caller is inside. He's not an immediate threat to you. His back is turned towards you. You've got, depending on the length of the sidewalk, 2-5 seconds or so to decide what to do. What's your answer?

Personally I would argue that you should shoot him in the back before he reaches the door.


I would use my training and expertise, first with words and then if necessary with less-lethal means like tasers, to keep the man outside. You cannot let him go back inside, obviously. But there are a suite of tools that every other police force in the world are able to use to keep aggressors away from victims without shooting him in the back.

Your preferred response is murder, plain and simple, and I don't think you should be in a position where you're expected to keep the peace.
posted by Merus at 10:32 PM on November 29, 2018 [23 favorites]


He's not an immediate threat to you. His back is turned towards you. You've got, depending on the length of the sidewalk, 2-5 seconds or so to decide what to do. What's your answer?

Personally I would argue that you should shoot him in the back before he reaches the door.


This sounds like a textbook definition of premeditated murder to me
posted by CrystalDave at 10:52 PM on November 29, 2018 [21 favorites]


Taser is a good tool but a highly fallible one. The X2 is defeated by a sufficiently baggy t-shirt. By all means, thought experiment you can try it, but you're choosing to play games with Gilmer's life and that of her son when you do so. Words are just words. Usually they work. Sometimes they don't.

TBH even a lethal gunshot wound won't necessarily stop him in time unless it hits the central nervous system, it's a higher level of probability though.

Few other police forces, especially in the developed world, routinely encounter suspects armed with firearms.

The emphasis on the point of impact is one of the things that makes it look to me as if a particular person hasn't thought very seriously about the issues involved. If I arrive on a scene of an active shooter and have the ability to shoot him in the back, clearly I should do so. In the thought experiment scenario I am acting to defend the 911 caller inside; why does it matter where the bullets impact? Point of impact is only relevant insofar as it helps evaluate the reasonableness of the shooter's reported perception, officer or not.

Calling that murder is also strictly untrue in a legal sense. All murder statutes I'm aware of require some kind of depraved mind. "I didn't want him to kill his girlfriend and I had several articulable facts that led me to the reasonable belief that he was going to do so imminently" isn't really depraved. And in no way would "premeditated" be even close to sensible in that scenario.
posted by firebrick at 11:04 PM on November 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


[I'm gonna go ahead and say that "but what if we imagine a scenario in which you definitely should kill a guy, imho" direction is a crappy one to drag one of the rare cop-doesn't-shoot-black-guy stories to come along in. Please give the thought experiment notion a rest pronto.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:18 PM on November 29, 2018 [17 favorites]


Few other police forces, especially in the developed world, routinely encounter suspects armed with firearms.

And yet when they do they have sensible and humane de-escalation procedures that secure the scene and protect human life. It's almost as if they're better trained than you.
posted by howfar at 11:31 PM on November 29, 2018 [16 favorites]


I still think that 16 weeks of police academy is ridiculously short. Both the officers and the community deserves a much higher investment in education.

(Here it's 3 years, in Germany it's 2.5 years, in France just one year, but still...)
posted by Harald74 at 12:08 AM on November 30, 2018 [7 favorites]


White guys that point guns at the police get shot too.

Not nearly as often as people of color do, and you know that just as well as the rest of us.
posted by jesourie at 1:08 AM on November 30, 2018 [18 favorites]


He's not an immediate threat to you. His back is turned towards you. You've got, depending on the length of the sidewalk, 2-5 seconds or so to decide what to do. What's your answer?

Personally I would argue that you should shoot him in the back before he reaches the door.


Sneering at someone for using the term ACAB, framing yourself as the calm sensible one in the room, and then advocating for shooting a black man in the back - "Calling that murder is also strictly untrue in a legal sense, jesus fucking christ - is as succinct an argument as I've seen that yes, ACAB. "Sigh" indeed.
posted by ocular shenanigans at 1:31 AM on November 30, 2018 [12 favorites]


I'm one cop in one middling-large midwestern city. [...] Personally I would argue that you should shoot him in the back before he reaches the door.

Please tell us which city this is so I never come within fifty miles of the place. Jesus Christ.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 2:03 AM on November 30, 2018 [13 favorites]


Since hypotheticals are so fun, I have my own little scenario. Suppose I’m a mute concealed carry license holder. There’s a black kid playing with a relatively realistic toy gun. A lone police officer sees the kid, and tells him to drop the gun. The kid, confused and panicked, freezes with the toy still in his hands. The officer is reaching for his holster. He’s clearly agitated.

The officer is facing away from me. I have no way of getting his attention without escalating the situation further.

So this is my question: given the likelihood that the officer will murder (sorry, kill but not technically murder, apologies) the kid, am I justified in shooting the officer in the back? I’d argue that by the standards you set, shooting the hypothetical officer is the right thing to do. Or does that rule only apply when it’s a cop with the gun?
posted by Green Winnebago at 3:15 AM on November 30, 2018 [8 favorites]


Watching people try to judge "police culture" from the outside is always kind of interesting. It's like people trying to describe a landscape by looking through a pinprick hole patched with waxpaper.

Sure - but the same way that our views on policing reflect an ignorance of what it's like to be a cop, your comment reflects the same kind of waxpaper pinprick view of the ramifications of policing on culture.

I get that it's really fraught to second-guess actions taken in a split second.

At the same time I think there's a lot of room for you to acknowledge that what happened here was, at first, something that society at large sees as a good outcome - but that the PD viewed as a fireable offense. That this conflict exists is a problem.

Personally, I don't look for insight into the entire profession; I judge based on outcomes. I think you'd probably agree that it's a hard job and worth holding to a high standard - sometimes one needs other people to set standards, especially when one's work affects them so much.
posted by entropone at 4:55 AM on November 30, 2018 [11 favorites]


A number of people here are saying that this shoot-them-all attitude is a universal norm for American cops. It is not. In recent years, police in the Boston area have arrested numerous armed suspects without shooting them. These included at least one who had just shot an officer, and suspects who were not white. My point is that there is obviously nothing intrinsic to being an American cop that makes one homicidal. The departments where this is the norm are failing the public.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:24 AM on November 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


Unfortunately, I think the dispatcher's failure to tell officers the gun wasn't loaded is a red herring. The responding officers can't be sure the gun actually is empty and the shooting probably would still be deemed justifiable. All it does is make Williams' bid for suicide by cop crystal clear after the fact.

Mader was perceptive enough to see it for what it was even without that knowledge. The institution still brokenly demands a deadly response every time.
posted by hollyholly at 5:39 AM on November 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


firebrick, thank you for your thoughtful response. All details aside, it appears the the guy who had control of the situation and was de-escalating the issue was a "Good Cop" ( certainly in his subsequent gig as an MP with the National Guard, he's a Good Cop for the US military ), and instead of a stream of "Bad Cops" being let go like this, it's the "Good Cop" who does.

I guess the thing I want to express is that MOST COPS ARE GOOD COPS. But their tolerance of any Bad Cops, the "Blue Wall of Silence", the fact that Good Cops don't take care of the Bad Cop problem.

That makes me think the Good Cops aren't as Good as they think they are.

I think a good place to start is training out the habit of calling us "Civilians". You are not in the military and you're a civilian too. End Daryl Fucking Gates' militarization.
posted by mikelieman at 5:53 AM on November 30, 2018 [17 favorites]


I guess the thing I want to express is that MOST COPS ARE GOOD COPS.

Ok, but if we look at this story, there are about 5 cops discussed in this by name, and one of them is a good cop, which is not "most". (Cops who are mocking him for trying to de-escalate are not good cops.)
posted by jeather at 7:11 AM on November 30, 2018 [4 favorites]


Yet again, firebrick, when reading your stories I must recall how you have, in the past, deliberately lied to us right here on MetaFilter.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:39 AM on November 30, 2018 [4 favorites]


"At the same time I think there's a lot of room for you to acknowledge that what happened here was, at first, something that society at large sees as a good outcome - but that the PD viewed as a fireable offense. That this conflict exists is a problem."

Boy howdy it sure is. I think admins across the country have largely done a terrible job of helping the public understand policework. They put a lot of energy into feel-good programs where cops hand out stuffed animals or whatever but very few administrations are willing to talk honestly about the hard truths of the job in general or of specific controversial calls. Or even things like explaining just how important the difference between a probationary officer and a full officer is. "Fireable offense" means something very different for those two categories. And in this particular case it looks very much to me like admin did a comically bad job of documenting and articulating their reasons for the firing and were humiliated on the stand because of it, which ended up costing the city money in a suit.

"A number of people here are saying that this shoot-them-all attitude is a universal norm for American cops. It is not. In recent years, police in the Boston area have arrested numerous armed suspects without shooting them. These included at least one who had just shot an officer, and suspects who were not white. My point is that there is obviously nothing intrinsic to being an American cop that makes one homicidal. The departments where this is the norm are failing the public."

In fact it's not a norm anywhere. My agency arrests a few hundred people every year for illegal possession of a firearm. Similarly we have hundreds of robbery, aggravated robbery, aggravated assault, and so on arrests every year. The majority of arrests in my agency (and across the country) are effected without any use of force at all. This is what I was talking about with my personal story from my first comment. The public has no idea of the regularity with which police in the US are able to resolve situations like this without any use of force. Not using force is the norm. But because most people live their day to day lives in worlds where violence is uncommon they massively - massively - underestimate the level of violence police are addressing.

The public also massively underestimates the degree to which police in the US put themselves at risk in order to avoid the use of force, especially deadly force. Every time a cop is shot or shot at, that's an incident in which an officer could have better protected their own safety. In 2017, according to the FBI UCR data, police were assaulted with a firearm (i.e.: shot at) 2,677 times; 273 were injured in those assaults (these numbers are in addition to the officers murdered by felonious assault) (link). Only about 60% of agencies report to UCR so the actual number is much higher. In addition to that there's another 11,292 assaults on officers committed with dangerous weapons (knives, bats, crowbars, etc) followed by 46,242 assaults with personal weapons. And again, remember: the actual numbers are higher than what gets reported to UCR. Again, I would argue that every single one of those assaults is a time when an officer in some way compromised their own safety.

If police in the US actually operated as people believe we do there would be many, many more OIS than there are. In my career I know for a fact that there are several people who could have shot at me if they'd decided to. If their first rounds didn't immediately disable me they might or might not have won the gunfight. But I - as is the norm - leave the decision as to whether they will initiate that use of force up to them. And because someone will always be able to act before you can react that means they always get the first 1-3 rounds.

If Williams in this scenario had kept his gun loaded he absolutely could have shot at Mader first. In fact he could have fired at Kuzma first. And if the cops aren't working fast enough for your preferences you can always start pulling the trigger, more of us will come and eventually we'll get the job done.

"sometimes one needs other people to set standards"

Are you under the impression that there aren't standards? Everything I do as an officer is governed exhaustively by constitutional law, state law, and policy. From front to back a misdemeanor domestic assault arrest that's going in the trash bin the next morning when the victim refuses to cooperate will take 90 minutes minimum because of the protocol we follow. A reportable use of force requires supervisor response to the scene and is automatically forwarded to IA. IA reviews BWC video and reports for every single reportable use of force on my department. I don't work for NYPD but go read their patrol guide sometime.

"I think a good place to start is training out the habit of calling us "Civilians". You are not in the military and you're a civilian too. End Daryl Fucking Gates' militarization."

Enh. I know people get annoyed by it so I don't use it but I think it's a stretch to say that it makes some kind of difference. We just don't have a good term to distinguish between cops and not-cops. I'm using "the public" here which is I guess ok but not intrinsically any better than "civilians."

"I still think that 16 weeks of police academy is ridiculously short. Both the officers and the community deserves a much higher investment in education."

I'm always on board for more training. I'll leave getting the taxpayer to pay for it up to you. My academy was 28 weeks and its since ballooned to 40 for new hires due both to state mandated changes as well as additional training demanded by city hall. That's followed by 5 months of field training, typically followed by a sort of informal system of mentorship. We exceed my state's POST-mandated annual training hours by a few dozen every year. Activists in my city are hammering admin and demanding reduced funding for police. Hiring new cops is unbelievably expensive and we're understaffed across the board. 911 response times have gotten longer every year I've been working and investigative units are barely able to keep up with in-custody cases, much less make headway on cases with minimal suspect information. So sure, I'm always happy to go to more training, but at some point we do have to answer calls for service. Good friggin' luck getting a hit and run crash report in my city.

At least we're not where Flint is at, honestly from what I hear from cops in other urban agencies we're doing relatively good.

"Not nearly as often as people of color do, and you know that just as well as the rest of us."

Untrue.
posted by firebrick at 7:41 AM on November 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


Agreed about the gun being unloaded as a total distraction - a basic element of firearm safety is to treat every gun as loaded, even if you just unloaded it yourself.
posted by aspersioncast at 7:44 AM on November 30, 2018


If I arrive on a scene of an active shooter and have the ability to shoot him in the back, clearly I should do so.

Police shoot, kill black security guard detaining suspect after Illinois bar shooting

Alabama police offer new explanation for shooting wrong man
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:46 AM on November 30, 2018 [8 favorites]


What is crucial here is that Mader acted on intuition and was right, and Kuzma acted on intuition and was wrong. Mader seems to be the only person who has this straight. Neither he nor Kuzma had all the facts of the case, or time to get them. Mader had more information, but he was new on the job and Kuzma had no reason to rely upon him. This is why Mader doesn't say Kuzma did wrong.

However, Mader was right. That counts. Either he was lucky, or he is uncommonly lucid, smart, and calm under pressure, rather as you would expect someone accustomed to searching out IEDs to be. The only way to find out was to keep him on the job. I suspect that the reason this wasn't done is that his bosses are the sort of stupid people who can't know that there is anyone smart.

It would be interesting to know how Mader does as an MP.
posted by ckridge at 7:51 AM on November 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


The public also massively underestimates the degree to which police in the US put themselves at risk in order to avoid the use of force, especially deadly force. Every time a cop is shot or shot at, that's an incident in which an officer could have better protected their own safety.

You signed up for this level of potentially fatal risk. The people you refer to as "civilians" did not. Cops are given license to use deadly force-- let's put it in actual terms-- they have the ability to legally murder people. That's just about the highest level of responsibility you can have over human life in a professional capacity. That puts you up there with doctors, nurses, and emergency medical responders. Any of whom can and will rightfully lose their licenses and face prosecution when they abuse their powers. If you don't want to be held to strict professional standards, why did you enlist in the profession? There are other ways to make a living.

And if the cops aren't working fast enough for your preferences you can always start pulling the trigger, more of us will come and eventually we'll get the job done.

.... So it really doesn't matter to you whether the situation is contained or escalated? Whether one person dies in an altercation, or two or three? I can tell just by the callousness of this sentence that you're completely emotionally disconnected from "civilians" or "the public," which is frightening because you need empathy for those you ostensibly serve. Again: why are you in this job?

Activists in my city are hammering admin and demanding reduced funding for police.

@ everyone else on this thread, imagine what we could do with less money allocated towards police (and military, for that matter) and more money going towards on funding for mental health services, addiction treatment, jobs training, and other community resources to help people get back on their feet instead of the arrest-and-incarcerate model we have now.
posted by coffeeand at 8:13 AM on November 30, 2018 [8 favorites]


Ok, but if we look at this story, there are about 5 cops discussed in this by name, and one of them is a good cop, which is not "most". (Cops who are mocking him for trying to de-escalate are not good cops.)

I consider the issue to be training more than anything.

The training to shoot first and think later.
The training not to look for reasons to de-escalate.
The training to "always have each other's back", which when actually under fire is fine, but when "having each other's back" extends to testilying, that's wrong.

The training that that job #1 is "Police the Police" and ensure that each one is above the appearance of impropriety is what they need.

Making doing what's RIGHT the easy path is the challenge, but I think with the right training, MOST COPS aren't bad cops. I would agree that without that training, they sure ain't Good.
posted by mikelieman at 8:35 AM on November 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


I don't have a problem with money being spent training or paying officers.

I have a problem when money is spent on military-grade weapons and assault vehicles.
posted by graventy at 8:37 AM on November 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


Someone gave some directions about the basis of policing...
The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder

The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval of police actions

Police must secure the willing co-operation of the public in voluntary observance of the law to be able to secure and maintain the respect of the public

The degree of co-operation of the public that can be secured diminishes proportionately to the necessity of the use of physical force

Police seek and preserve public favour not by pandering to public opinion but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law

Police use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient

Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence

Police should always direct their action strictly towards their functions and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary

The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.
That hippie, calling for "persuasion, advice and warning" before and in favour of violence? Sir Robert Peel, the father of modern policing, in 18fucking29.

Only one cop here had any loyalty to the basic requirements and dignity of his profession, and we can all agree it's the one these motherfucking slavecatchers fired..
posted by howfar at 9:07 AM on November 30, 2018 [9 favorites]


I just want to share my own feelings on what it's like to be approached by a police officer as a person of colour who lives in 2018 in North America (Canada). It might provide some personal insight into why people react the way they do to these types of threads.

I was pulled over this past summer, and I made sure that I had my driver's license/registration/insurance on my dashboard easily viewable and reachable. I made sure my hands were on my steering wheel. Music was off. And I only answered questions I was asked and did not provide any additional information. It felt very much like I was at the border, the need to justify my existence to prove that I'm allowed to live and be a human in my city.

I've had a lifetime of racist/bigoted microaggressions in my day to day and this might be why I feel so worried/panicked during these moments. It's a feeling in my gut that makes me feel ill. I truly worry about the police. Some people might think that the police are there to protect and maintain peace/law & order, all of that. That's not how I see the police. I largely feel threatened and under the microscope.

I know that there are police officers that are good people but it's hard for me to really focus on that when I see so much evidence, read so many stories about violence inflicted on visible minorities, lgbtq, brown bodies, immigrants, women, children, people who are not in positions of power.

I'm glad that this police officer in the article made a choice to not shoot, to preserve life, but that this article exists as some kind of shining example only demonstrates how broken I feel the entire system truly is. It shouldn't be this surprising or positive to hear of an instant where a police officer made the choice to not take a life. It's institutional and pervasive and I dread any time I see those lights and hear those whoop whoops.

I'll continue to read this thread but I don't think I'll be commenting further. This is just how I feel, and it might not match your own experience, but it was something I just wanted to get out there. Thanks for letting me share.
posted by Fizz at 9:24 AM on November 30, 2018 [23 favorites]


This is real journalism. I was totally sucked in by this story.
posted by wheat at 1:17 PM on November 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


"Not using force is the norm. But because most people live their day to day lives in worlds where violence is uncommon they massively - massively - underestimate the level of violence police are addressing."

Police seem to overestimate how much risk they face compared to other professions. They're not the profession most likely to die on the job in America. They're not even in the top ten.

51 police died on the job in 2016, according to the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries of that year, well below the most dangerous profession in America, loggers, who suffered 91 fatalities (which is 135.9 per 100,000 workers). 918 truck drivers died. 260 farm workers died. 134 supervisors of construction and mines died - not actual construction workers, but supervisors.

A lot of people do risky jobs, and a lot of people don't get the resources cops do. But cops are trained to see their profession as uniquely risky, in part to excuse their use of excessive force, based on isolated incidents in an increasingly unequal (and therefore much more dangerous) society. Police could choose to advocate for policies that address the root causes of crime, that free up resources on policing easy busts of people who aren't much danger to society. They could choose to use their respect to advocate for a safer, more just world. Instead, they choose to do the opposite.
posted by Merus at 5:00 PM on November 30, 2018 [15 favorites]


Forgive me for quoting a book review at such length, but I thought firebrick's unexplained link to an NBER study shouldn't go unchallenged, as though it were the final or only word on racial bias in police killings. Reasonable scholars may find different results in the data, which, as Franklin Zimring's "When Police Kill" and the NBER study both point out, suffer from huge gaps.

Two Books Argue the Case for Police Reform from Within
Zimring’s book, “When Police Kill,” is essentially a 300-page riff on a single statistic: Roughly 1,000 Americans die each year at the hands of the police.

There are several remarkable things about that number. First, it is about double the official counts by agencies of the Justice Department, an extraordinary margin of error for something so important. (The higher, and now generally accepted, estimate of deadly encounters comes from investigative reporting by The Washington Post and The Guardian. The paucity of good official data as a policy-making handicap is a major theme in both books.) Second, the civilian body count does not seem to be declining, even though violent crime generally and the on-duty deaths of police officers are down sharply. Third, as in so many aspects of criminal justice, violence by police and against police are orders of magnitude greater than in other developed countries. (Credit our promiscuous affair with handguns.) Fourth, police kill African-Americans at more than double their share of the population, a phenomenon Zimring painstakingly demonstrates is not explained by higher crime rates in black neighborhoods. Zimring calls this “a civil rights crisis that nobody had seen on the horizon” — until the anger that boiled up after the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and the subsequent cases recorded on bystander video. Fifth, about 400 of these targets of deadly force carried no firearm, and more than 100 had no weapon of any kind. Sixth, the average number of those 1,000 deaths per year that result in felony convictions of a police officer: one.

Zimring’s most explosive assertion — which leaps out of a work that is mostly policy-wonk nuance — is that police leaders don’t care.

“The circumstantial evidence suggests that police departments do not regard whether the victims of police shootings live or die as a matter of great moment,” he writes. Zimring argues that unnecessary deaths are excused by rules of engagement that encourage cops to keep firing after a suspect no longer represents a real threat, and by fake science, like the “21-foot rule,” which holds, on the basis of no credible evidence, that a subject with a knife represents a lethal menace if he gets within 21 feet. The default assumption is that a perceived threat is real and a police killing is righteous. To Zimring’s point, the F.B.I. compiles its unaudited reports of these deaths under the rubric “Justifiable Homicide, by Weapon, Law Enforcement.”
Emphases mine. Amusingly, the review ends with a paraphrase of the ultra-reactionary Joseph de Maistre, apparently without irony.

Zimring's book is very balanced, almost to a fault, taking into account the dangers police face in the line of duty as well as the danger they present to the people they are supposed to defend. I highly recommend it despite its often dry prose. It's very frank that more research has to be done and more data have to be tracked before we can reach stronger conclusions.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 5:22 PM on November 30, 2018 [12 favorites]


ckridge:

You and others in this thread are doing a little low-level hagiography on Mader. I would caution you against that project. You're working backwards from a single decision you feel that you liked based off of this article and extrapolating that 2-5 seconds to every aspect of his life and person. In reality it's vanishingly unlikely that you would approve of how he handled every call and stop he made, and I think especially if you found the parking ticket fracas you'd be less enamored of his deescalation. Yes, he was a combat vet. So am I. So are some cops I know that you very seriously would not like. Again, you're evaluating his status as a veteran based on the article. Had Kuzma been the vet you would likely be talking about militarization or whatever.

coffeeand:

The only time I've written the word "civilians" is to say that I don't use it. If you're talking about policing in a given context you need some way to refer to the not-police other than "not-police." You can see in your own comment that you would find literally any term I use objectionable. That makes conversation pretty close to impossible.

I think it's pretty easy to tell someone else they signed up to get killed. I also think in this case it's not an especially accurate or useful statement.

My principal job is to prevent crime and apprehend criminals. You would appreciate the importance of this job if you spent a few months taking reports from victims. I am provided with a level of training and equipment with the goal of bringing crises to a conclusion in a manner that is as safe as possible for all involved. "All" includes the police.

There is some degree of unavoidable danger in the work. There is also a lot of extremely avoidable danger. There is an enormous landscape of grays in between the two extremes.

"That puts you up there with doctors, nurses, and emergency medical responders. Any of whom can and will rightfully lose their licenses and face prosecution when they abuse their powers."

This is broadly untrue. Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the US, with death estimates of somewhere between 250,000 to 400,000 annually (link). Those deaths are racially disproportionate, by the way. Doctors can surrender their license in one state and practice in another (link). Doctors work very hard to keep allegations of malpractice secret (link). Medical malpractice is a very deep rabbit hole. It's extremely uncommon for physicians to lose their licenses and tiny fractions of a percent ever face criminal prosecution.

"So it really doesn't matter to you whether the situation is contained or escalated?"

That is a deeply weird misreading of what I wrote. I was pointing out a simple fact: had Williams's gun been loaded he could have shot at either or both officers. Full stop. I guess you just don't like my tone (too flippant?), but I mean, it's just not possible to maintain the same outlook having done the job. If you're scandalized by my tone here you really shouldn't listen to ER staff BSing and laughing with each other over the top of a corpse of a murder victim they couldn't save. You also shouldn't see how paramedics get all excited talking about how to handle and transport a unique trauma victim. Like I'm sorry guy but if you want me to be preternaturally calm handling the lady who's screaming, naked, and covered in blood (some hers, some another person's) that's going to have some knock-on effects.

"Again: why are you in this job?"

It took me ten minutes to answer that question in my initial interview, it's not on topic for the thread, and you don't care what the answer is anyway.

"mental health services, addiction treatment, jobs training, and other community resources to help people get back on their feet instead of the arrest-and-incarcerate model we have now."

I believe these projects to be largely ineffective. I live and work in one of the most liberal cities in one of the most liberal states in the country. We have an extremely strong social welfare system. The core population that I come into contact with at work I'm making contact with over and over and over again. By the time someone's an adult it's almost impossibly difficult to make them make better choices. If you want to go to treatment in my city you can. If you want housing you can get it. Essentially none of my robbery suspects are homeless or hungry, it's just easy for them to threaten to kill or injure people for their phones and they like getting things like shoes with the proceeds from their crime. The same families and the same names have been stealing cars and shooting each other in my city going back decades. The first time I recognized a name from a SCOTUS case from my city was weird until I realized I was arresting two grandsons of the person from the case (they were driving a stolen car).

The only time when it seems like investment has an ability to make a difference is education but that's hit or miss. Mostly miss. My city has the highest per-student spending and worst outcomes in the state. They ask for extra levies every election and I vote yes every election. Never seems to make a difference but I doubt less funding would make things better.

Meanwhile, people expect someone to come when they call 911. I would really recommend watching Flint Town on netflix if you can. The opening scene where a robbery victim with 27 stitches in couldn't get a squad for over a day blew my mind. My city has problems but his call would have had multiple cars responding in under a minute. But like I said, stuff like a hit and run report? Get ready to wait for three hours if you want a report. Got home and your house was burglarized? Get in line, we'll get there when we can. I would argue that citizens not experiencing an immediate life or death crisis should also get police service within some kind of sensible time frame, but maybe you disagree?

"Police seem to overestimate how much risk they face compared to other professions. They're not the profession most likely to die on the job in America. They're not even in the top ten."

I will quote myself in response:

"The public also massively underestimates the degree to which police in the US put themselves at risk in order to avoid the use of force, especially deadly force. Every time a cop is shot or shot at, that's an incident in which an officer could have better protected their own safety. In 2017, according to the FBI UCR data, police were assaulted with a firearm (i.e.: shot at) 2,677 times; 273 were injured in those assaults (these numbers are in addition to the officers murdered by felonious assault) (link). Only about 60% of agencies report to UCR so the actual number is much higher. In addition to that there's another 11,292 assaults on officers committed with dangerous weapons (knives, bats, crowbars, etc) followed by 46,242 assaults with personal weapons. And again, remember: the actual numbers are higher than what gets reported to UCR. Again, I would argue that every single one of those assaults is a time when an officer in some way compromised their own safety."

Only 69 firefighters died in the line of duty in 2016 but I would hope you wouldn't feel the need to tell them they're "not even in the top 10" and "not uniquely risky". Counting corpses is not without value but it's not the only measure. If you can credibly find a profession in the US other than "gangmember" that's shot at thousands of times every year, not to mention the tens of thousands of other assaults, I will eat my hat.

I've watched FFs work a medium size fire. It was pretty neat. They have their own jargon about which wall is which and what they're doing. They worked in coordinated teams, each team taking a 15 minute shift before being relieved. They used huge amounts of equipment and had multiple ambulances staged and ready. They do these things because that's how they keep their fatality county low despite doing an extremely dangerous job. I hope the parallels are clear.

"Zimring’s book, “When Police Kill,” is essentially a 300-page riff on a single statistic: Roughly 1,000 Americans die each year at the hands of the police."

That is its failing, yes. This is the usual failure of critical thought made by persons who bandy about that number as if it is, alone, proof of misconduct. Of course it isn't. That's part of why Dr. Fryer's study was so important - it actually looked at the circumstances in which force was used. And it was hardly laudatory of all police conduct, as he found that police were more likely to use lower levels of force with African American suspects given equivalent behavior. Not that anyone actually read the link I posted. As I've already pointed out in this thread, police in the US are shot at over 2,500 times in an average year at an absolute minimum, with only information from 60% of agencies. Assaulted with dangerous weapons at least 10,000 times. So yes 8% of the times when police are assaulted with deadly force the suspect ends up dead. Although again, the actual percentage is much lower since the 1,000 is generally considered to be a good countrywide figure, unlike the UCR.

And yet somehow "less than 8% of the time police faced with deadly force kill someone" has become "cops are just killing people all willy-nilly."

And yes, roughly 25% of the persons killed by police are African American. Between 2008 and 2017, 38% of the people that murdered officers, where offender is known, were African American (link). For known offenders between 2008 and 2017, 39% of the people that assaulted police officers with firearms, edged weapons, or other dangerous weapons were African American (link). Note that the percentages match pretty closely, so it would be weird if police were playing games with reporting when it comes to assaults and it just so happened to match up with the numbers where a cop ended up dead.

The fact that Zimring failed to ask the really really obvious questions of "what are people doing when they get shot" and "who's actually murdering and assaulting cops" doesn't really do his case a whole lot of credit. Tortured analysis of crime rates isn't especially relevant. What's relevant is the behavior that lead to the use of force.
posted by firebrick at 6:18 PM on November 30, 2018


I don’t accept firefighting as a useful analogy to policing, because firefighters are fighting the fire, not trying to mediate, allow the fire to participate in a community, help its kids feel safe at home, make sure the fire has access to resources...they’re there to destroy the fire. Police are not there to destroy criminals because “criminals” are part of the community, too. Crime is not a burning building, it’s the people inside the building. The dangers of policing would be (maybe, almost, kinda, poorly) comparable to firefighting if fire services did not include the Fire Marshal office, which exists to work with the community to ensure there aren’t as many fires!
I don’t call the police any longer because it usually feels like calling a spree arsonist to a house fire. Arguing that a person with a weapon is to be fought like a burning building and not solved like a community problem just fucking solidifies my position. Congrats.
posted by zinful at 7:54 PM on November 30, 2018 [8 favorites]


My little brother is law enforcement in my hometown. I asked him if he learned how to de-escalate force or talk someone down so you don't have to shoot and kill them.

He doesn't talk to me anymore.
posted by blessedlyndie at 7:59 PM on November 30, 2018 [5 favorites]


I would venture a guess that most of the commenters so far believe that attempted suicide by cop is uncommon. It's very much not.

Only a few sentences in and you've already lost the plot.

I find it concerning how much your comments read like propaganda, as opposed to thoughtful discussion and consideration of the depth of the topic at hand. I'm not sure you are here to argue in good faith. If it's just to raise eyebrows and feel (an arguably smug) satisfaction in typing out and seeing your own viewpoint posted on an internet weblog, well, mission accomplished.

I'm curious if you at all see it as a priority that all police receive extensive training, with semi-annual continuing ed, on how to respond to those suffering from mental health conditions. It doesn't matter how often cops "deal" with suicide-by-cop situations. If they never learn anything, or try to learn anything, then I don't see how it makes they (or you) at all experienced with the complexity of mental health emergencies. This is not to mention the number of other sensitive issues here, chief among them racism.
posted by nightrecordings at 11:21 PM on November 30, 2018 [3 favorites]


Only 69 firefighters died in the line of duty in 2016 but I would hope you wouldn't feel the need to tell them they're "not even in the top 10" and "not uniquely risky".

No. That's because they don't keep using the risks of their profession as an excuse for killing people.
posted by howfar at 12:59 AM on December 1, 2018 [6 favorites]


If there's any doubt as to what pretty much every cop believes their mission, go look at them dressed up for combat.

However, the only one who was RIGHT, and fuck every hypothetical, we're talking facts, was the ex-soldier, who is now working as an MP.

Hypotheticals mean shit when we're talking about bad police training resulting in even ONE DEATH of someone they shouldn't have killed.

I think the easiest policy way to fix this is, "Any officer who shoots and kills someone is retired from the force."

That'll make people stop being so trigger happy, and start using their brains. If you train a dog to kill, that dog will kill. Stop training cops to kill. You take the oath, and if you make it to retirement, you get a pension. You OWE everyone the benefit of the doubt.
posted by mikelieman at 5:41 AM on December 1, 2018


That is its failing, yes. This is the usual failure of critical thought made by persons who bandy about that number as if it is, alone, proof of misconduct. Of course it isn't. That's part of why Dr. Fryer's study was so important - it actually looked at the circumstances in which force was used. And it was hardly laudatory of all police conduct, as he found that police were more likely to use lower levels of force with African American suspects given equivalent behavior. Not that anyone actually read the link I posted. As I've already pointed out in this thread, police in the US are shot at over 2,500 times in an average year at an absolute minimum, with only information from 60% of agencies. Assaulted with dangerous weapons at least 10,000 times. So yes 8% of the times when police are assaulted with deadly force the suspect ends up dead. Although again, the actual percentage is much lower since the 1,000 is generally considered to be a good countrywide figure, unlike the UCR.

Zimring's book does, in fact, look at the circumstances in which police use deadly force, and finds that overwhelmingly, the deadly force used is shooting a gun. Conversely, the book claims, when a policeman is killed in the line of duty, the overwhelming cause is death by shooting. Stabbings, stranglings, beatings, or every other way a person could kill a policeman, the book says, are almost a rounding error in comparison. In a country as saturated with guns as the United States, policemen's fear of death by shooting is perfectly reasonable, but that reasonable fear encourages particularly aggressive standard operating procedures which cause more deaths than necessary. They continue to apply these standard operating procedures even to people armed with nothing but knives, even as they stand 21 feet away. Police death by knife is, again, almost a rounding error in comparison to death by shooting. Zimring writes that basically the only time it happens is when the killer pulls out a knife and surprises the officer. Otherwise, police combat training and armor protect them pretty well.

If you look at other rich countries, policemen are much, much less likely to kill in the line of duty than they are in the United States, and likewise, they're very unlikely to be killed in the line of duty, suggesting that as long as the United States is as well armed as it is today, police will have good reason to use lethal force if they see a gun.

Furthermore, the book is careful to point out, the data are spotty: For instance, they suggest that when a policeman is alone, he is more likely to use deadly force, and when he shoots more than once, the person, suspect, or whatever you want to call him is more likely to die from the shooting. The data on hand often don't record whether an officer was alone or how many times he fired. So one problem for anyone making definite conclusions, myself included, is that the circumstances of a killing by the police are not known as completely as they ought to be, however suggestive the current data are.

The data we do have, the book says, suggest avenues for further investigation and reform of police procedures from within police precincts themselves. This is hardly an unhinged, irrational position, and contrary to what you write, it does not found itself on the number of killings by police alone. Nor does it really found itself on the conviction that policemen are all racists resisting reform, simply that police leaders, easily understandably, don't have any reason to check whether their precincts' use of lethal force is excessive, and make changes as necessary. The book, as I wrote, is pretty balanced. I wonder whether you read it.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:33 AM on December 1, 2018 [4 favorites]


Hey firebrick, I appreciate your taking the time to let us know how you see it. Also, respect how you stayed in the conversation in the face of some righteous anger. My concept of police work expanded a little. If I have a 911 and you respond, I like my chances.
posted by M-x shell at 4:05 PM on December 11, 2018 [1 favorite]


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