FBI Director: We Need More Data On Police Shootings So Law Enforcement Can 'Change The Narrative'

from the it's-not-about-accountability,-it's-about-control dept

FBI Director James Comey didn’t dig into his bag of “Ferguson Effect” rhetorical devices during his comments to a law enforcement conference on Sunday, but he came close. Under that theory, the possibility of being held accountable by citizens and their recording devices has apparently been holding officers back from enforcing laws, making arrests, or otherwise earning their paychecks.

The problem now is a lack of data, Comey claims. Law enforcement has lost control of the narrative, he stated, as if a one-sided portrayal of every police use of excessive/deadly force was somehow beneficial to the nation.

Dramatic videos of deadly law enforcement encounters and the absence of reliable data about how often police use force contribute to a regrettable narrative that “biased police are killing black men at epidemic rates,” FBI Director James Comey said Sunday.

That story line has formed amid a lack of comprehensive, national data about how many citizens are killed or injured at the hands of police officers.

Thanks to the DOJ and FBI’s active disinterest in collecting this data (until just recently), the “narrative” is no longer law enforcement’s to control. Comey at least admits the FBI — which was charged with collecting this data but somehow believed voluntary reporting would result in a comprehensive dataset — is partly to blame.

We do not know whether number of black, brown or white people being shot by police is up because we have not collected data.

The problem with Comey’s comments is that he apparently believes data on excessive force and killings by police officers will be ultimately exculpatory.

We need to show people what American law enforcement is really like, because if they see what we see, the chasm will close.

But the data collected by the public of its own initiative shows exactly what Comey claims it doesn’t: that law enforcement officers are killing black men at “epidemic rates.” Worse, Comey believes data collected and disseminated well after the fact will somehow be able to defuse immediate reactions to released video of officers killing or abusing citizens.

Videos of fatal police encounters that capture the public’s attention and are shared broadly across the internet can fuel the perception that “something terrible is being done by the police,” even if the data aren’t there to back it up.

Given the audience, Comey probably didn’t feel comfortable pitching the truth: that policing in America is every bit as bad as it’s portrayed to be. Comey thinks data will give law enforcement control over the narrative, but that seems to be his only concern. The culture of American policing needs to change before the data start matching law enforcement’s narrative.

Almost without fail, DOJ investigations of law enforcement agencies find two things: routine use of excessive force and biased policing. These aren’t anomalies or “bad apples.” This is how policing in America works.

As for the narrative, law enforcement still largely controls it. The corpse of the recently killed is barely on the way to the city morgue before law enforcement officials are dumping criminal records and officers’ “feared for their safety” claims into the hands of reporters. No amount of pointing to stats is going to change the fact that far too many interactions are needlessly escalated by responding officers, or that biased police tactics are generating far too many interactions in the first place.

While it’s good to know the FBI is finally going to push for better data collection on police use of force, the fact that it did nothing for nearly two decades counts against any goodwill it might hope to generate by finally doing its job. Unfortunately for those hoping this might lead to better policing, Jim Comey has made it clear it’s really about controlling the narrative and pushing the American public to view law enforcement the way Comey feels they should be viewed: as good people in tough jobs who rarely, if ever, screw up. We’ll just have to see what sort of spin is applied when Comey realizes the numbers aren’t going to add up to his preconceptions.

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Comments on “FBI Director: We Need More Data On Police Shootings So Law Enforcement Can 'Change The Narrative'”

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89 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Blockquote Comey claims. Law enforcement has lost control of the narrative,

The police are being criticized, so they have lost control over what the public is told. Trying to fix that problem will do nothing to restore the publics trust in the police, but wedge between the police and the public in even deeper.

beenaround (profile) says:

Re: policing

I have worked with the police at detox which often meant dealing with admissions that were out of control.
Although I meet a few bad police, there were much much more wonderful police that were spit at, swore at, dealt with violence night after night after night and remained good police. Some admissions knew they could abuse the police and staff because they are not supposed to react, or sometimes even defend, themselves.
It seems common to believe police are looking for a reason to restrain and shoot people. And that you can ‘talk down’ anyone, no matter how much they are out of control from drugs or whatever.
This simply is not true. Hardly anyone wanted to restrain a person because they and/or the patient could get hurt.
Yes, some videos are disturbing and the police didn’t try to talk down some incidents or even escalated the situation. But also remember that it’s easy to bash the police and some people have resentment from being arrested for the right reasons.
Good police officers are already leaving the force because they are afraid they cannot use force to protect themselves, are afraid of getting sued and sick of being criticized publicly and privately. Now criminals can use Ferguson and such to taunt the police.
Also remember that there are bad neighborhoods where the good people depend on the police for protection.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: policing

I have worked with the police at detox which often meant dealing with admissions that were out of control.

It is curious why police would be working with people on detox at all. Statistically, Crazy lives matter even less than blacks, and the mentally disabled demographic is even at greater risk for blue assault than Blacks.

As we’ve been seeing on line and in classrooms, people not only need to be completely rational to avoid getting shot by the police, but have to follow very strict specialized protocol (id est, they can’t act naturally), and that only reduces the risk of a civilian getting murdered or robbed. We now teach not getting shot by cops in United States high schools.

A detox center shouldn’t be staffed with law enforcement, but people trained to manage those with mental disorders.

Maybe by saying you worked with police you are referring to ones that brought sick people in, which means they’ve already decided to manage the poor sod humanely, rather than just shooting him or beating him unconscious. You’re probably seeing more of the duty-minded officers than the ones who’d just execute the poor sod where he stood.

As for police officers getting taunted and abused, they are paid and given power to be the babysitters of the world. The same reason we don’t accept that your hired fourteen year old neighbor isn’t allowed to beat to death your tantrumy toddler, it shouldn’t be acceptable for police officers just to shoot, or beat, or rob, or indiscriminately harass and jail whoever they want. And right now it seems the police (especially the police unions) are accustomed to having exactly that latitude. And no, statistically, police officer is not that dangerous a job.

It seems common to believe police are looking for a reason to restrain and shoot people.

Considering some of the videos and incidents we’ve seen, it’s evident that yes, some police officers are indeed looking for a reason to escalate a situation to violence. This is on account that police have been seen on video unnecessarily escalated situations to violence, often resulting in the severe injury or death of civilians. This is on account that officers discharged for being overly violent typically and routinely get rehired in new precincts to offend again… and again.

It may correlate with our current trend that some police, such as, Jeronimo Yanez, the one who executed Philando Castile was given days of don’t hesitate to kill training and only a couple hours of lecture on de-escalation, but we don’t have any clear statistics as to how many other officers have been similarly trained. I know in the 70s the local police of an LA suburb were trained more in negotiation and de-escalation than in tactics. And that was while the Mafia was still in full operation.

I’m sure there are police who don’t do this, on account of knowing some personally who’ve had a long, illustrious non-violent career of de-escalation. Not all are bad apples. But right now the bad apples are defining policy and the good apples are getting pushed out or forced to keep low and quiet (i.e. cease being good apples).

Also remember that there are bad neighborhoods where the good people depend on the police for protection.

Bad neighborhoods are the result of ineffective policing, usually when a county decides a given district deserves less priority on the presumption the people there deserve less. Then street gangs form as a reaction to this lack of state presence. It’s nice that sometimes a bad neighborhood might get someone that wants to make a difference, but remember, ghettos were made through preferentialism. The impoverished never choose to live in crime-ridden squalor. They’re forced there.

beenaround (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: policing

It’s sad that bad neighborhoods exist and we can debate why they exist until we turn blue. Yes, poverty and discrimination are major suspects and people are trapped there.
But it still means that some people are scared and need police protection. Yes, good police protection. But they are also afraid to report crimes in their neighborhood because some neighbors may hurt them and some police have gone bad. Read Ghettoside if you’re interested. https://www.amazon.com/Ghettoside-True-Story-Murder-America/dp/0385529996/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1477081626&sr=1-1&keywords=ghettoside+a+true+story+of+murder+in+america

It’s hard to recruit police for neighborhoods that don’t get resources, who are often hassled (and now are probably seem as all Ferguson type police) and now the true criminals have another reason to harass police, are in dangerous situations, have to try to solve societal problems like the dumping of the mentally ill onto the streets etc.

Then we have the major unspoken issue of our younger generation not being able to make smalltalk – the major skill needed to talk someone else down. They can’t text a person down and panic when comfronted will real situations. No matter how much training you give them, if their default communication is texting etc., they will find it hard to snap to actually talking to people.

Soon it may become a self-fulfilling prophecy; only criminals and the violent will want to be police?

I am sooo tired of hearing armchair quarterbacks thinking they know what police work is like. The map is not the territory.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 What police work is like...

My grudge is not about what police work is like, rather what it isn’t like, e.g. Law & Order, CSI, Without A Trace, even Hawaii Five-0 or Adam-12. Which is to say we on the civilian end cannot expect justice to be served. We cannot expect the police to book the right guy. We cannot expect to survive a police encounter with all our parts and belongings intact.

(That is to say I once considered a career in criminal investigation like all the other CSI-wannabe geeks until I learned enough to become dangerous.)

The notoriously corrupt GCPD in Gotham would be, compared to real-world precincts, a national exemplar of police honesty.

And yet, we, the public, are expected to regard the GCPD as so corrupt that only superheros could save it. Considering that the fictional Gotham is actually more honest than even provincial precincts, I’d say maybe it’s time to disband the entire system and start again with the Bow Street Runners.

Heck, the FBI lies to the fucking US Senate with impunity, in blatant defiance of oversight. US law enforcement has proven itself time and again to be nothing but another street gang with no interest beyond its own prosperity.

Eventually we should start asking if it would be better to just hire the Sicilian Mafia to keep the peace, because I’d wager they’d do a less bad job for cheaper.

So call me an armchair general if you like, but I know well enough that our entire Department of Justice is not doing any of the job that it’s supposed to do, except sustain an illusion that we live in a society of laws.

We live in a society of men, specifically, police officers, and we live free at their discretion.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 What police work is like...

” Law & Order, CSI, Without A Trace, even Hawaii Five-0 or Adam-12. Which is to say we on the civilian end cannot expect justice to be served. We cannot expect the police to book the right guy. We cannot expect to survive a police encounter with all our parts and belongings intact.”

What are yo talking about in most tv shows the cops go over the line a lot. Hell I’ll never go to Hawai for fear of having to deal with the cops, those fuckers violate people rights on a weekly basis.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 TV Cops going over the line.

Yes. During the 70s and 80s we had a lot of maverick / loose cannon / rule-breakers, which gave way to the police procedural in the 90s and aughts where they sought to find out who really done it.

But the police aren’t interested in who committed the big crime. They decided in advance whether you’re the bad guy, and once you’re targeted, figure out what to pin on you to give you prison time. And if you have something they want (say a swanky car) they’ll just figure out a way to get probable cause, so they can cease the car.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: policing

The police like to brag about the danger that they are in, but the murder rate of cabbies is more than five times the murder rate of police.

Those of us who were drafted or enlisted during the Vietnam war took a massively greater risk of being killed or wounded than the police ever have. Almost 60,000 dead, 500,000 wounded over the period of that war which started in ’55 and ended in ’75. Though US involvement started in 55, casualties did not reach the level of police deaths (~130) until ’64.

Listening to police claim that they were in fear of their lives when a man’s hand were videod above his head, or handcuffed behind his back is ridiculous. Hearing their “justifications” that it was proper to murder someone who didn’t immediately obey their often conflicting orders is disgusting. Some 1600 civilians are expected to be killed by police by the end of this year. Americans are many times more likely to be killed by a cop that a terrorist.

Padpaw (profile) says:

Re: Re: policing

Maybe if they turned in their dirty cop buddies the public would be more sympathetic towards the “good cops” instead of the current turning a blind eye to police brutality we have going on.

While some cops are good the fact most do nothing at all to prevent their fellow officers from acting like criminals means they are just as dirty to the public eye.

Try and spin all you like, won’t change perceptions when people keep getting murdered by badges.

Sketch (user link) says:

pick and choose

does no one find it strange that videos of cops shooting & killing whites or hispanics don’t drive the same hysteria?

While I have little love for cops, the current statistics show that the vast majority of REPORTED crimes are in the more poor, more ‘black’ communities. This would facilitate more policing if the majority of reported crimes are in that area, no?

Are statistics racist? are they wrong? if so, how? I’m sure some will say that simply asking the question is ‘racist’. Yes, i think we can all agree that the drug-war is stupid, and even racist – but if you look at the statistics for violent crimes (murder, rapes, etc…), you’ll see the same variances in neighborhoods. Do people not want the police to investigate or to ‘police’ high crime areas?

Sketch (user link) says:

Re: Re: pick and choose

The key word there was “REPORTED”. The police can not do anything with simple ‘suspicion’. They have to have probable cause. ‘Wall St’ has the money to get lawyers to force the police to go by the book. Folks in poor neighborhoods don’t. Just like not all poor folks are criminals, not all cops are criminals – but due to people’s nature, they tend to group them all together and you get your ‘bad apple’ excuses.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 pick and choose

Depends on Context, since that one group with the criminal is protected extensively by a parent group protecting the rest and there is no outcry from the “good cops”…

Then fucking yes… all criminals!

The police has zero fucks to give and will treat you just exactly like a criminal by association in the exact same way. Why is it that they should be treated any differently than they treat others?

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you! The Police conveniently forget that they are still just humans like the rest of us. If the people rise up… they will have no protection. Those in power and authority need to understand what can happen when the people they keep under their boots escapes those boots.

I have no love for the BLM movement since they have tarnished their own agenda with their racism, but just because I see one evil group (BLM) assaulting another evil group (police) does not mean I am going to start feeling sorry for one of them.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: pick and choose

“does no one find it strange that videos of cops shooting & killing whites or hispanics don’t drive the same hysteria?”

Not really. The majority of the videos that have been talked about with regard to black men tend to be those that show unnecessary escalation, sometimes regarding men who are unarmed or otherwise do not represent a threat that requires deadly force as a response. Are videos showing such actions spread equally among races, or do they tend to be more prevalent when the suspect is black? If the latter, then it’s not strange at all that people aren’t as concerned about the same trends when other races are involved.

“Are statistics racist?”

Not by themselves, but they can be manipulated and misrepresented by racists, or be skewed through flawed methodology.

“Do people not want the police to investigate or to ‘police’ high crime areas?”

With reasonable use of force, escalation without resorting to violence if possible and accountability for whenever they clearly overstep their bounds, sure. Policing such areas should not mean that they are given carte blanche to execute people on the spot. There’s definitely a lot of middle ground between “kill them for not instantly complying” and “don’t bother policing at all”.

Sketch (user link) says:

Re: Re: pick and choose

I think a lot of that has to do with the media sensationalizing things. “If it bleeds, it leads” mentality. Granted there are a few more-than-outrageous videos showing outright murder (IMO) by the police officer, but none go to prove that ALL of them are ‘racist’.

I think it all goes back to training. As some here have pointed out, cops demand instant compliance and do little if anything towards situational deescalation. A lot of that too also goes to how the call comes in as to how they approach people.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: pick and choose

I think a lot of that has to do with the media sensationalizing things. "If it bleeds, it leads" mentality. Granted there are a few more-than-outrageous videos showing outright murder (IMO) by the police officer, but none go to prove that ALL of them are ‘racist’.

The racist culture is not as much inherent in the killings themselves but in the surrounding culture: white officers killing black people rely on getting covered by their colleagues’ (of any color) testimony and the state attorneys and ultimately courts playing along.

This is how they act, this is what they expect. That is clear from the videos that one gets to see. And that is an even more disturbing element than the actual act of an officer killing a citizen due to a misjudgment: because that is something connecting the otherwise isolated events that are terrible enough on their own.

sketch (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 pick and choose

So black officers don’t kill black people? or black officers don’t rely on their fellow officers ‘covering’ them?

http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2016/09/meet-the-black-charlotte-police-officer-who-shot-keith-lamont-scott.php

While there are ‘false narratives’ from the police, ‘false narratives’ exist on both sides of the gun, a la the ‘hands up, don’t shoot’ movement.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: pick and choose

BLM and NAACP are definitely racist, absolutely no question about that.

The problem is like you said before… the REASON they are shot. I am deeply concerned that those not acceptable reasons are often defended and swept under the rug nearly every opportunity possible.

I have zero problems with Police shooting people when actually justified, but it is more than clear that the police use force far beyond what is necessary. More often than not, situations would be better resolved without police involvement at all as things tend to escalate with their presence and their “respect my authority” ego’s.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 BLM and the NAACP are ABOUT racism.

Black Lives Matter is addressing the issue that white lives are preserved in ways that non-white lives (e.g. the lives of blacks) are not, and that’s a racial discrepancy. If black lives mattered the way that white lives mattered, the number of innocent blacks killed by police would not be disproportionately high compared to the number of whites.

The NAACP was similarly founded to give black individuals a boost in academic advancement specifically to counteract what was an obvious disparity in opportunity: more blacks eligible for advanced college educations were being rejected or forced out due to financial concerns than whites. From what I understand their efforts are only partially successful, and they aren’t even able to reduce that disparity by even half.

(Granted, neither organization addresses the issue cleanly, whites vs. non-whites or blacks vs. non-blacks, so if you want to accuse them of racism you can point out that they don’t help non-whites outside the African-American demographic.)

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Different behavior

If black lives mattered the way that white lives mattered, the number of innocent blacks killed by police would not be disproportionately high compared to the number of whites.

Unless one group disproportionately behaves differently than the other.

Interesting qualification. What common different behavior do you imagine?

Are you meaning to imply there’s a racially- or culturally-compelled behavior on behalf of Black Americans that drives police to escalate situations involving them to hostility?

And if that behavior was common enough to create a statistical anomaly, don’t you think it is the state’s responsibility to accommodate for it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Different behavior

Doubt he means that.

Statistically blacks live in poorer areas.

And statistically poor areas have high crime rates (irregardless of race).

Add those two together and you get more violent crimes from blacks proportionally (less blacks than whites overall and more live in poverty % wise).

Which leads to more violent altercations with police and then unconscious (or conscious) bias from police to use force when engaging them.

Which leads to more deaths.

Don’t have to be racist to see this. But it does mean targeting the police is probably the wrong way to stop it. Bringing blacks out of poverty will help more.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Bringing blacks out of poverty

In 2007 (the stats I have) the poorest forty percent of US citizens had 0.2% of the wealth, where the top 0.1% owned 35%.

That was before the subprime mortgage crisis, during which our wealth became even more disparate and has only gotten worse ever since.

We like to dally about with what counts as poverty but I can assure you that all of those people in that 40% are in the police-can-kill-you-with-impunity category. They’re probably also in the bad-neighborhood category.

So, while I think helping Black families escape poverty is a splendid idea, I do not imagine we’re going to be making progress in that regard for decades. (Or ever, if our current temperature trends continue unabated.)

So we need to also get our law enforcement officers to stop shooting and robbing those who are neither rich nor government agents.

We should also make our bad neighborhoods less bad. Requiring state agencies to serve all neighborhoods equally would be a good start. Not that this will happen in our current corporate-controlled political clime.

While I’m wishing, returning the United States to a nation of laws, in which everyone is subject to the same laws and the same justice system, would also be nice. As things are, those of us who cannot afford a defense (including those of us whose assets get seized by the US) don’t get actual due process.

Since none of that will happen, I guess we’ll have to watch people continue to perish by blue murder, including a disproportionate number of black men, and watch as more and more civilians arm themselves and shoot back.

I’m sure at some point the numbers will become terrible enough that we’ll be willing to enact policy changes, rather than reframe it as It’s not easy being a cop.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Different behavior

It’s not a zero sum game. Improving the deprived areas, improving education available to minorities, etc. will definitely help. But, that doesn’t help the professional black man who is hassled by police because he drives a nice car, the unarmed black man who is shot because a police officer made an incorrect assumption, the black family who fail to get help when needed because they live in the wrong area. Only improvement in the police’s actions can do that.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 BLM and the NAACP are ABOUT racism.

I’ve often said – the problem people have with BLM is a mistranslation that says more about the people complaining about it than they intend. Those people tend to believe that it’s implying that only black lives matter, while the intention of the organisation is to state that black lives also matter.

Anyone who thinks this makes them inherently racist is completely missing the point, though it does make me question why they’re so concerned with them being treated equally.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 BLM and the NAACP are ABOUT racism.

For you to come back with “all lives matter” as a reaction to “black lives matter”, you need to have completely misunderstood the original phrase. Otherwise it makes no sense, as the phrase means the same as the original is intended to mean.

It could be ignorance, but it’s also likely to be that the person has taken offense to the idea that black lives are equally valuable. Not everyone who uses that phrase is racist, but they generally don’t seem to be people who agree on equality.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 BLM and the NAACP are ABOUT racism.

“It could be ignorance, but it’s also likely to be that the person has taken offense to the idea that black lives are equally valuable.”

They take offense at the idea that black lives are only equally valuable, not more so. Thus they find “all lives matter” to be offensive.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: pick and choose

“The simple truth is our brains treat those different to us as a threat until we unlearn the behaviour, ignoring the consequences of that is fatal”

You started out right but went wrong. It is the nature of all life to treat that which they are unfamiliar as a threat. This is survival instinct/mechanism, and is NOT racism. It also cannot be unlearned, though it can be tempered! The consequence of fatality exists on both sides of that aisle and makes the ending of that a non-sequitur.

Racism is the “conscious side” of a decision to treat someone either poorly or better than you should based on their race. People lashing out at things they do not understand is not racism, but ignorant bias! And that is why the default mechanism in humans is to protect ones self over the benefit of the community.

Fin says:

Re: Re: Re:2 pick and choose

You are right, the level of my comment was tailored at a different audience to yourself so apologies if I misjudged your level of understanding, I misread it and labeled it as the same as people who say;’I’m colour-blind when it comes to race’ ie nice thought but missing the point… Plus typing on phone. It’s really more complex than that as I’m sure you know, but going into the detail of the amygdala etc, sub concords biases and all that funky stuff ain’t best for an ad-hoc comment

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 pick and choose

It’s all good, I bork up my posts or misunderstand others often enough myself, we all goob it up from time to time.

We all have a bad post every once in a while! Especially when they are from a phone where it might auto correct you into something you didn’t mean to begin with it!

My problem is trying to actively avoid being abrasive, with it. I grew up in a military family where everyone says it like it is with vulgarity so I have to actively watch my F’s, D’s, S’s, and A’s.

Nilt (profile) says:

Re: pick and choose

Frankly, I don’t know that I’ve really seen all that many videos of white folks getting shot by the police. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, but I can’t recall any off the top of my head. I’m a white guy too, so this isn’t some sort of confirmation bias. I’ve always been fortunate enough to have decent interactions with law enforcement but I darned well recognize that were I a minority, this very likely wouldn’t be the case.

Bruce C. says:

Comey's remarks show two parts of the problem

1) People who benefit from the status quo often have no clue that there is a problem.

2) Right now too many people are making assumptions about what “real data” would show on both sides of the argument.

Comey is very confident that “real data” will show there’s no problem even as he admits that the data available isn’t reliable or complete, while the evidence from the “lives matter” side is mostly anecdotal in the form of videos. Such videos provide evidence in specific cases, but can’t confirm a nationwide conspiracy of silence.

At least he’s got the right solution: Get reliable data about police use of force (not just shootings) against civilians. Then at least the talking points will shift.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Wow, if you stop and think about what you said… this is hugely ignorant.

No one ever will NOT be a threat. If a person has the ability to think they can become a threat at any moment. The problem is that officers often have your posted mentality.

“everyone is a threat”.

Well everyone is in fact a threat! There never will not be a threat, therefore the operational thoughts that police have on this subject are guess what? Bankrupt!

Instead Police should be actively attempting to avoid escalation and determine if the “threat” is willing to become a “threat” or would desire to not be a “threat”.

I am not generally a “threat” but if someone threatens harm to my loved ones, then I become one… regardless of their “authority”.

So in short, the police are busy making sure EVERYONE is a THREAT! to justify their over use of force! Just like a self fulfilling prophecy!

I.T. Guy says:

Re: Re: Re:

Absolutely does. Cop shows up to an irate citizen. Nowadays he jumps out of the car gun drawn ready to shoot. Immediately escalating the situation.

The correct response is to CALL FOR BACKUP. Use force and numbers to overwhelm and save him/her from themselves, and the community around them. (To Protect and serve includes criminals as well.)

Unarmed

DannyB (profile) says:

Too many police interactions

It is not so much the number of police interactions that disturbs me. It’s the nature of them.

Once upon a time, police interactions were more of the form “how are you doing?”, “have a nice day”, etc.

Police acted like members of a community rather than an occupying military invasion force against a domestic insurgency.

Remember the saying, if you treat people like children, they’ll act like children? If you treat people like a military enemy (including shooting them with military gear), then they’ll start to act like a military enemy.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Too many police interactions

As someone who grew up in the UK (where, obviously, shooting a suspect was not an option even if the officer thought it was necessary), one of the things that always sticks out on these videos is the attitude of the officer. They never seem to attempt to de-escalate or calm a person down, they use tactics to intimidate or otherwise make the person defensive. They even seem to intimidate themselves in some cases, creating tension even when they have a fully co-operative person in front of them.

I’m sure this is necessary in some cases, or even a defence mechanism in areas where they know that whoever they’re talking to is likely to be armed. But, there’s so many incidents I’ve seen where what should have been a polite interaction became violent purely because of the officer’s attitude and actions. Even in the videos I’ve seen where no actual violence resulted, they often seem to be making things much more difficult for both parties. If this is your regular interaction with the police, especially if racism or other factors means you have regular such interaction while going about your normal business, it’s not hard to see why people will react the way they do when videos appear to show that officers are clearly in the wrong.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Too many police interactions

I call it “bigotry of fraternity.”

And it is every bit the same as racism, just targeted at different people, therefor a different meaning in definition. The same evil nature that creates racism is the exact same evil nature that creates bigotry of fraternity.

It is just simply, if you are not one of us, then you are less than us, worse than us, because we are better than you or are superior to you!

People like to think racism is something different or special, it is not… all people have a deep capacity for bigotry against any one or things they do not see as part of their group. So really “Bigotry of Fraternity” is the root problem, Racism is just a specification of that problem.

Once you put people into groups and classify them… they will hate on each other, it’s just our nature.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Sounds to me that he is admitting they are training police to act like this”

It’s anecdotal, but I’ve heard claims on more than one occasion that in US police training in order to justify whatever they do. For example, conflicting orders – one officer shouts “freeze” while another shouts “put your hands up”. No matter which officer you obey, you’re disobeying another and this can be used to justify any resulting violence.

In other words, rather than avoid confrontation and defuse situations before they turn violent, they are instead being trained in how to get out of resulting charges when they do become violent. I’m sure there’s more to the story and to every officer acts like this all the time, but if true they have problems from the moment they join the force.

TripMN says:

Absence of data doesn't equate to nothing happened

*Videos of fatal police encounters that capture the public’s attention and are shared broadly across the internet can fuel the perception that “something terrible is being done by the police,” even if the data aren’t there to back it up.*

An absence of data isn’t the same thing as having data that refutes a perception/position. Just because i haven’t measured and logged the amount of rain that has fallen in my yard doesn’t automatically mean it hasn’t rained there in the last 20 years.

I.T. Guy says:

Videos of fatal police encounters that capture the public’s attention and are shared broadly across the internet can fuel the perception that “something terrible is being done by the police,” even if the data aren’t there to back it up.

He says they don’t have the data, but here he projects that even if they did it wouldn’t back up the perception (read as hundreds of videos showing police misconduct)that police aren’t acting right.

The cognitive dissonance is strong with this one.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re:

He says they don’t have the data

Well you can get a good approximation to it just by Googling

police shootings US

In fact there is a US law, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, specifically Section 210402, the U.S. Congress mandated that the attorney general collect data on the use of excessive force by police and publish an annual report from the data. However this has not been done in recent years so the void has been filled by crowdsourcing.

SO who’s fault is it that the don’t have the data?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Blockquote Congress mandated that the attorney general collect data on the use of excessive force by police and publish an annual report from the data. However this has not been done in recent years so the void has been filled by crowdsourcing.

The problem with that law is the inclusion of the word excessive, and the police never use excessive force, so there is nothing to report.

I wish that was sarc but…

zboot (profile) says:

Not bad apples

They are in fact “bad apples”. These are bad apples that show us there is something rotten with our criminal justice system.

There seems of late an active forgetfulness of where the term “bad apples” comes from. Kinda like what ultimately happened with “uncle tom”. I wonder if I’m going to see the complete change within my lifetime.

Buckwally (profile) says:

Why people dont like police, and officer both love and hate the cameras...

The problem is there are two competing realities. For individuals of good standing with the law, who have a longstanding address, who pay their taxes, and generally can be counted on to pay their tickets and fines, who live in neighborhoods generally free of violence and crime, the police are little better than revenue agents of municipalities who can’t afford their own real police department and rely on the County, but can afford half a dozen traffic enforcement cars plus the constable and whomever else they can get out to stake out their few miles of highway or parkway territory. Once we hired Lawmen to protect us from Highwaymen who would stop and rob any that passed by. Now, in far too many jurisdictions, the Police are the Highwaymen we must fear, filling their monthly quota of tickets with automated license plate scanners and ‘subjective’, “officer’s word vs motorist” type tickets like not using a signal on a lane change or rolling a stop on a right turn. The people of property, who should honor and respect the police as the Peacemakers, instead view them as just a better organized and more entrenched class of Robber. Don’t get me started on the whole “arresting money and property” thing.
When these traffic enforcement types get into a tight situation, they are under-equipped by training or experience to deal with defiance and willfulness with anything but an unequivocal position of dominance, which often only enrages the situation, and is anybody surprised these jurisdictions don’t wan’t to see film of these guys in over their heads and falling back on “well, I have a gun, a taser and a club, plus the guys are watching, so which one can I justify on the paperwork?”.

In the neighborhoods where violence and crime are more prevalent, where we rely on the police to clean up the mess people (or their parents, or lack thereof)have made of their lives, the true Peacekeepers amongst our Lawmen live with the knowledge that the next traffic stop or domestic call may turn insanely violent at any instant, and that they only have their fellow officers who will come to their aide. They also have to put up with, to various degrees, the same revenue stream/ticket quota system other municipalities require of their less busy Traffic Enforcement types. Of those officers I have spoken to about this, they mostly embrace the cameras, except where the knowledge of their existence emboldens the public, their presence robs the officer of the chance to exercise some judgement or discretion in de-escalating (or decriminalizing) a stupid situation, and the potential for being the one who provides the footage of a fellow officer doing something that the armchair quarterbacks eventually decide they could or would have done differently. They have to rely on each other, the politicians and money grubbers have turned our Lawmen and Peacekeepers into (if we are lucky) revenue agents the rest of us avoid like the plague, or by the book robots who can’t risk looking bad on camera…

Anonymous Coward says:

I have been in law enforcement for 20 years in Arizona and I have never been so insulted and discussed by the ignorant disrespectful outright wrong depiction of police officers. It is even more offensive when the head of the FBI feeds into the narrative. As long as I have been doing this job, my full intent, and those whom I work with, has been to put in a good days work serving our citizens and taking criminals off the street. This slanted narrative against police could not be more wrong or irresponsible. In my agency there has only been one case of excessive use of force and that officer was immediately terminated and had to face the county attorney on charges. I stand by the fact that Law Enforcement is one of the noblest of professions and those who risk their lives for others continue to be extremely under appreciated.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I stand by the fact that Law Enforcement is one of the noblest of professions and those who risk their lives for others continue to be extremely under appreciated.I stand by the fact that Law Enforcement is one of the noblest of professions and those who risk their lives for others continue to be extremely under appreciated.

And convenience store clerks. Their jobs are even more dangerous.

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