Police Union Boss Attacks New DA For Daring To Speak To Police Recruits About Deadly Force

from the 'based-on-misinformation-and-prejudices...' dept

The residents of Philadelphia elected new District Attorney Larry Krasner because he wasn’t like the long line of police misconduct enablers that preceded him. Fed up with crumbling relationships between law enforcement officers and the people they served, Krasner secured the position by promising to clean house and start representing the people’s best interests, rather than just law enforcement’s.

Disruption ensued.

Just days after he asked 33 prosecutors and staff members to turn in their resignations, Krasner defended his actions saying this is no different than what others have done when taking over a ship that has been troubled and trying to right its course.

“The coach gets to pick the team. It doesn’t necessarily mean the players who were traded are bad players. Some of them might be, some of them might be great players, but they simply do not fit into the strategy of the team,” Krasner said.

If prosecutors aren’t safe, then no one’s safe. That’s the message being sent, one that has trickled down to police brass and to the beat officers far below them. Krasner dropped all existing marijuana possession charges and stated his office would no longer pursue charges against people possessing minor amounts of the drug.

Cash bail was targeted, too.

Calling the current cash-bail system “imprisonment for poverty,” Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner announced Wednesday that the city’s prosecutors will no longer seek cash bail for nonviolent defendants while they await trial.

Krasner’s options are limited on the bail front, as it would take legislation to completely overhaul the system. But it does promise some relief to those charged with minor crimes. As it stands now, one out of every five people incarcerated in Philadelphia have yet to be tried, much less convicted. The bail system keeps poor people locked up and puts them in an even worse position even if they’re ultimately proven innocent.

Krasner has made no friends with longtime law enforcement officers. But if he’s going to change police culture in Philadelphia, he’s going to need the help of new blood. Change will still need to be made up top, but if he can reach those just entering the system, some helpful changes could also bubble up from the bottom.

So, Krasner addressed a class of police cadets, offering some insight and commentary on his office’s place in police accountability. This resulted in the head of the local police union publicly blowing a gasket and sending all police union members a letter disparaging the DA and his conversation with cadets.

Krasner’s attempt to share practical information with the soon-to-be officers was “ridiculous and dangerous” and “intentionally sought to endanger your lives,” Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) leader John McNesby wrote in an open letter to the cadet class. He told them to “completely disregard any and all advice received from self-appointed ‘experts’ who seek to deceive or mislead you.”

What made McNesby apoplectic? I don’t think McNesby can say for sure since he wasn’t even present during the talk and hadn’t seen the recording of the presentation made available by the DA’s office. Instead — based on nothing — McNesby declared DA Krasner an enemy of the police force who wished to see officers injured or dead.

If he had bothered to see the presentation firsthand, he might not have been so quick to remove all doubt that he is a fool.

On Friday morning, Waxman played the video for a reporter. Krasner can be seen discussing several scenarios, including one in which officers fatally shoot an unarmed and mentally ill man who had reached for another officer’s gun and struggled with him over it.

The video shows Krasner referring to “some mistakes that were made” in that scenario, and saying the man could have survived had the officers not displayed “an eagerness to shoot center mass.”

But, the video also shows him saying: “That does not mean those officers committed any crime. That does not mean there’s any disciplinary violation. That means those officers acted with preliminary information, under a whole lot of time pressure with things developing quickly, [and] made an honest mistake. And this District Attorney’s Office is not going to second-guess that.”

All in all, the presentation was supportive of officers and the split-second decisions they make when deploying force. The only thing that might seem unsupportive — and only in the fever dreams of union bosses who will defend the worst of the uniformed worst — was his suggestion that officers try something other than “shoot to kill” tactics if at all possible.

He suggested training could help guide when officers choose to fire their weapons, and — in a line that likely riled police the most — whether every shot needs to be “center mass.” Police and military members have for decades been trained to shoot for a suspect’s chest or back, as opposed to arms or legs, to more effectively stop a threat.

A police force that kills fewer people is a good thing. There’s no disputing this point. And that was the point implicit in his statements. Fewer deaths mean fewer lawsuits and better relationships with the public. Not everyone carrying a weapon needs to be killed. And those that aren’t carrying weapons have a better chance of survival if “reasonably scared” cops try to neutralize the perceived threat, rather than banish it from existence.

The union boss’ letter is an ugly testament to the natural state of police unions. When even slightly threatened by a small shift in the status quo, they lash out at everyone — victims of police violence, political activists, local residents — with unhinged arguments that assert their desire for zero law enforcement accountability. FOP president John McNesby is no exception. But he is one of the worst. Having already called Black Lives Matter protesters a “pack of rabid animals,” he’s following up this PR coup by claiming, sight unseen, the new DA doesn’t care about “blue lives.” It a garbage letter from a garbage human being with more power than wisdom.

Filed Under: , , , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Police Union Boss Attacks New DA For Daring To Speak To Police Recruits About Deadly Force”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
That One Guy (profile) says:

"If you're not shooting first, you might not get to shoot at all."

Krasner’s attempt to share practical information with the soon-to-be officers was “ridiculous and dangerous” and “intentionally sought to endanger your lives,” Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) leader John McNesby wrote in an open letter to the cadet class.

Thing is, even if he had seen the talk or the video of it before speaking, he would still be wrong, just in a different manner.

The argument that he would be presenting in that case, that if your first response to a possible threat isn’t a lethal one you’re ‘intentionally endangering your life’ would be horrifying in any profession, but when it comes to people who are armed by default and given massive leeway by the legal system when it comes to using force, that rises to whole new levels of disturbing and horrible.

That is the kind of mindset that causes people to distrust and fear police, the idea that anything less than lethal force is ‘risking your life’, and that anyone who suggests anything less essentially wants you dead, such that if you want to stay alive you’d best be willing to pull that trigger.

Hopefully the new DA can root out at least some of the rot that’s infested the local police; if the union head is anything to go off of it sounds like he’s got a lot of work to do in that regard.

The Wanderer (profile) says:

Re: "If you're not shooting first, you might not get to shoot at all."

Not to mention – what would he think of applying that standard to those who are not police officers?

Police officers frequently pose a threat to those whom they’re attempting to arrest, or sometimes even to question. If those people adhered to the principle that “if your first response to a possible threat isn’t a lethal one, you’re endangering your life”, we’d probably wind up with a lot more dead police officers.

It’s just as bad and as wrong when police officers do it as when anyone else does it. (If not more so.)

Anonymous Coward says:

this is the mentality of so many people in the USA who are in positions of power! mouth is in operation before brain is in gear and it doesn’t matter who ends up in the ‘cross hairs’, or why, as long as someone, anyone, apart from a member of the police or other security service, ends up losing their life!! and dont forget to add in the ‘all hell let loose’ when the lethal actions are condemned!!

Christopher (profile) says:

This DA might be onto something, if...

… he decided to allow police officers to carry PR-24s again.

Despite what you might think, having a non-lethal baton gives a police officer an immediate non-lethal option to something less than a knife or gun in the fight. Well-trained and experience police officers with a PR-24 are easily a match for a knife as well, but that’s besides the point. Point: once departments ditched batons, PR-24s, and other kinetic options, the move went to sprays — which really don’t work in all situations and comically get misued — and technology like tasers and stun guns.

Training is important. Having trained officers makes a huge difference in how they police. Training them to engage without killing is kinda obvious, but the move to point-and-click policing is making it easier to simply harm people who don’t comply fast enough, and that removes a bit of humanity from the encounter.

Good luck.


Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: There was this logic regarding Tasers and pepper-spray

Both of which have better take-down rates than handguns anyway.

The thing is law enforcement officers on the field typically don’t pull these out to subdue a threat, rather they yank them out to attack suspects who are non-threatening to comply with further, irregular instructions.

Essentially they’ve become pain compliance tools. Torture implements.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: There was this logic regarding Tasers and pepper-spray

> Both of which have better take-down rates than handguns anyway.

I suspect by this you mean that they have better less-than-lethal take-down rates. The handgun has close to 100% take-down rate when applied correctly. The problem is that the person on the receiving end is far less likely to live the experience (especially when the cops stand around and allow the person to bleed out as part of the process.)

However, it is important to note that there is some portion of the population that is unaffected by pepper spray and a portion of the population who are killed or seriously injured by the use of pepper spray or taser (rare, but not impossible.)

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: "when applied correctly"

If you’re saying that any shot that doesn’t put the victim into instant shock by hitting a vital organ is not applied correctly I’ll agree with you, but unfortunately, most shots fired, by police or otherwise, don’t put someone into shock. Bullets mostly rely on doing enough damage that the subject bleeds out.

Tasers on the other hand will incapacitate someone instantly, though yes, provided they connect. And temporarily.

The same with pepper spray. And yes, the ones that fire a tight stream are ineffective. But riot-control guns that fire a cone tend to connect, and wreck the day of anyone not wearing safety goggles.

And yes, some people are underwhelmed by less lethal weapons where others are killed by them. But guns have a narrower take-down vs. kill threshold than either.

And the police still rather use them to harass and torture rather than an alternative force

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Clarifications

Regarding the threshold in which a target is taken down but not killed, guns have a narrow range, much narrower than less lethal alternatives.

And the police current use less lethal devices more to harass and torture, rather than an alternative to shooting someone. Typically less lethal weapons are used on subjects before the situation has escalated to shooting.

SirWired (profile) says:

Some of the criticism was correct.

Yes, officers should prioritize de-escalation over violence, and resort to non-deadly force if possible.

But once an officer has made a decision to deploy their firearm, the correct choice is indeed to go for center-of-mass. Somebody who thinks it’s no big deal to try and hit something crippling like an arm, leg, or shoulder, has clearly watched too many action movies and never tried to shoot somebody who’d like to not be shot. The chest is simply a much easier target to hit than extremities. And the more shots that must be fired, the more risk to people the officer isn’t trying to kill.

SirWired says:

Re: Re: What are you talking about?

I didn’t say anything about emptying the clip. (And neither did the speech or the response to it.) Don’t put words in my mouth.

That said. One or two shots that HIT is enough in center-of-mass. It’s not always obvious where shots landed. (Sometimes it is, yes, but not always.)

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: "center of mass"

I think part of the problem is how rapidly officers come to the decision to deploy their firearm, as the news is lousy with incidents in which officers do so long before there is cause.

Sure, I wasn’t there at any given incident to judge, but of the thousand-a-year or so slain by police officers in this country, an awful lot of them were unarmed or facing the wrong way or not even in a state where they could fight (e.g. driving a car away from the officer). And we can’t even convict an officer who was caught on video planting evidence to cover his tracks for gunning down an unarmed man in the back.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: "center of mass"

“e.g. driving a car away from the officer”

then its the cop’s job to jump in front of the car, and if the car does not immediately stop on a dime, then the cop is justified in defending himself by emptying his gun’s bullets into the driver’s body to “stop the threat”

Anonymous Coward says:

I agree with a lot of what he says, but have 2 points.

First is you always shoot center mass. Shooting for arms or legs isn’t really a thing. You aim for the big areas.

2nd is that while arresting people for pot may or may not be good or bad, if you let people get away with little crimes, they turn into big crimes later on.

SirWired (profile) says:

Re: We ignore crimes all the time

We ignore crimes all the time; traffic laws, drunken bar brawls where nobody gets seriously hurt, small-scale fraud, etc.

The question to ask is, “what form of activity detrimental to society are you trying to prevent through the enforcment of a law?” What interest is served by locking somebody up for a dime bag, especially if it may lead to the loss of their job or other serious consequences all out of proportion to the nominal penalty for the crime? What “big crime” is smoking a couple of joints going to lead to?

MathFox says:


In the Netherlands (ok, we have less guns on the street) a policeman is taught to aim at the legs or arms first and aim to kill only when direct harm is threatening.

For your second point: the subculture someone hangs out in, is a major guiding factor for his (criminal) career. Chances that a student doing pot will become a violent criminal are likely lower that that for a random person. Making marijuana (semi-)legal (and still prosecuting harder stuff) is a way to make use of other drugs less attractive, reducing the change of becoming involved in bigger crimes.

(And there’s the question of why one should make using drugs a crime, the user is the victim, addiction is better treated as illness.)

Twich says:

Re: Re:

if you let people get away with little crimes, they turn into big crimes later on.

That’s not really true. How often do you speed? Or do a California stop? Or any more of the multiple small incidents people do every day. I know that I have a lead foot. Doesn’t mean I’ve wanted to ever up my game on the vehicular crimes.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

In fact, arresting people for little crimes, creates bigger crimes later on. It’s super easy for a simple arrest for something innocuous to cause a downward spiral of losing a steady job due to not showing up, leading to larger crimes being necessary to support oneself or dependants. Those crimes lead to the parent being locked up, leading to the kids falling into the same spiral…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Minor drug possession MAY lead to ‘bigger’ crimes, yes. But imprisoning someone for a minor crime is not something we should be condoning as a society to begin with. You’re advocating locking up non-violent offenders with violent offenders since nearly all jails are overcrowded thanks to a culture heavy on punishment for small as well as big crimes but unwilling to invest in the infrastructure to effectively reform and rehabilitate these people back into being productive members of our society. Guess what you get coming out of jail? Even more violent offenders and people that end up being in and out of jail for most of the rest of their lives. Why? Because LEOs love, and I mean LOVE, harassing even reformed ex-convicts, especially former addicts.

They’ll go after these people for the least reasons because they just “know they’re doing something wrong again”, and they “should never have been let out of jail to begin with, right?” (Direct quote from a deputy sheriff) regardless if they were doing anything to be pulled over or a “usual suspects” visit. In this case, both the jackass of a deputy and the rehabbed addict were white. It’s even worse if the ex-con is black or hispanic.

This is no way at all to get a community behind your LEOs. In fact it makes the community mistrust, and ignore crimes because they like the police even less. Then you add in jackasses like the alt-right (who LOVE authoritarian law enforcement!) and a Jackass-in-Chief who actively remove support mechanisms for the poor (regardless of race) and even legal immigrants, there’s even less reason to want to help LEOs, especially if there are cases where those LEOs have shot and/or killed unarmed people in your community!

Anonymous Coward says:

It’s interesting that the police call gun shots basically aimed at a person’s heart to be “center of mass” shots when in reality a human body’s true center of mass is a point in the upper hip/lower abdomen area, as anyone can easily see for themselves simply by trying to balance themselves horizontally on a rail of some kind.

But then a shot to the gut (the human body’s true center of mass) is not as immediately disabling or ultimately lethal as a shot to the upper chest.

Instead insisting that cops blindly follow what amounts to an age-old religion regarding lethal use of force, police depts might do well to experiment with modified procedures, emphasizing de-escalation over lethal termination and at least see the results of such a change rather than flatly rejecting it as “endangering officers’ lives” when there is no hard evidence to prove that assessment.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It’s interesting that the police call gun shots basically aimed at a person’s heart to be "center of mass" shots when in reality a human body’s true center of mass is a point in the upper hip/lower abdomen area,

I doubt most officers can shoot a handgun accurately enough in a crisis situation to reliably hit the upper chest rather than the lower abdomen unless it’s close to arm’s length. Center mass means aim for the torso.

Anonymous Coward says:

From an insurance point of view...

“Fewer deaths mean fewer lawsuits and better relationships with the public.”

That’s debatable. Better relationship with the public, sure, but fewer lawsuits, not necessarily.

The example preceding this statement indicates that non-fatal shots are better than center-mass shots as it will kill fewer people. However, there are some states where injured civilians (who most likely deserved to be shot) are a larger liability than a dead one.

I won’t say this isn’t partially the fault of law enforcement, but after enough lawsuits paying out millions to thugs who threatened a cop and got shot, you start changing your policies to make sure they won’t show up in court with to get paid.

Full disclosure: I work in the insurance industry, and some of our customers provide law enforcement liability insurance.

Whoever says:

Ad on page

Someone at Techdirt might want to take another look at the ad for the Developer eBook Bundle that is advertised.

Specifically, the third book from the left, where one can see the first 4 letters of the word "ANALYSIS" and the picture looks like a tube of something.

To add to this, the image on the fourth book could, at a quick glance, look like a finger that is getting the product from the tube on the third book.

Anonymous Coward says:

It’s been quite a few years but if I recall correctly the only reason for using deadly force is to stop an imminent threat of death or grave bodily harm to yourself or someone else.

The whole point of shooting center of mass is to do just that. Shooting someone in an extremity doesn’t mean they can’t still hurt someone. ( Please refer to above about when deadly force should be used )

Just to play the devils advocate here and not to necessarily side one way or another. There is a stolen vehicle pursuit with shots fired. It was carjacked at gunpoint. The vehicle being pursued looses it and ends up in a ditch. The driver and passenger both jump out and start running towards a shopping area or a schoolyard or playground. The officer(s) did not see either discard a weapon nor can they plainly see a weapon in either of their hands. Neither suspect surrenders or responds to commands to halt.

The decision to shoot or not shoot could have very serious and potentially very sad outcomes.

Do you shoot a suspect fleeing towards an area with several bystanders to prevent potential harm to them and then find out the suspect had left gun in car? Or do you not shoot the suspect in the back ( center of mass ) and he/they end up killing/gravely injuring a bystander(s)?

I certainly don’t have the answer and am thankful I have never had to make that decision.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Fortunately your scenario is a rare situation

Your scenario starts approaching the specificity of the trolley problem and few police have to deal with such a situation even once in their lives.

Given that police are human beings, they tend not to be able to reason and don’t generally handle themselves well after an adrenaline-pumping car chase, whether or not shots were fired, and whether or not they are deontological ethicists when they’re calm and contemplative.

Anonymous Coward says:

To clean House from top to bottom
They should recruit firefighters to become police officers.
Firefighters have the courage to face danger while police cover their asses first .
Police “oh my god I could get hurt Shoot em”
Fireman “Burning building ? I’m in”
Just think if on 911 the fireman were replaced with police?
“what go into a hazardous situation were I could get injured ? I’ve got a family to go home to screw that”
“lets wait and see what happens in a few hours if they can walk out on their own”
Two completely different philosophies
“save other lives , save my life first”

Qwertygiy says:

Re: Re:

I think this is an inaccurate viewpoint caused by a higher visibility of police misbehavior vs. firefighter misbehavior, which is in part due to higher amounts of police activity than of firefighter activity.

If a firefighter becomes an arsonist and it’s just a minor fire that gets put out within a day, it’s very likely they never get discovered as the culprit. When they are discovered, it’s rarely as widespread of an uproar as when a police officer shoots someone without just cause.

Additionally, there’s usually a lot fewer dangerous situations that firefighters respond to than police do. In my city, a force of 51 firefighters responded to just over 100 situations where they might be in actual danger. Whereas there were nearly 600 legitimate cases of dangerous situations (burglary, auto theft, assault, etc.) responded to by 41 officers of the PD.

I think it’s fair to assume a crew of 5 per firefighter incident and a crew of 2 per PD incident. That would be 10 dangerous incidents per firefighter per year, and a significantly higher 29 dangerous incidents per police officer per year.

And finally, on top of all that, police officers are usually out on patrol. They are actively out looking for situations every day, in addition to being on dispatch. Firefighters aren’t. They’re waiting around at the fire station on 24 hour shifts. They don’t have to make any sudden decisions, or stay constantly alert — when they get a call, they go. If they don’t get a call, they don’t go. That’s a lot simpler to handle, mentally. They’re not constantly pushing their fight or flight instincts by “hunting” for emergencies the way that PD officers are.

The problem is not the officers, it’s the bosses. Nobody’s going to tempt the chief of fire with bribes, and nobody’s going to go after the position because of power. What’s the gain? They look the other way on fire safety inspections?

But there’s many, many reasons for unscrupulous people to curry illicit favor with the chief of police, or to run for the position and enjoy the nearly unfettered power that comes with it.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...