Legal Issues

by Tim Cushing


Filed Under:
law enforcement, police, victims



In The Post-Ferguson World, Cops Are Now Victims And It's The Public That's Going To Pay The Price

from the meanwhile,-cops'-death-rate-remains-envy-of-loggers-everywhere dept

There's a new narrative out there -- one that's being repeated by campaigning politicians and buttressed by fearful news reports. Apparently, the public has declared war on law enforcement. Each shooting of a police officer is presented as evidence that it's open season on cops. Officers aren't simply killed. They're "targeted." The problem is, the stats don't back this up.

Radley Balko has posted a very thorough examination of actual statistics pertaining to officers killed (or assaulted) in the line of duty, and there's not a single stat that agrees with these assertions.

So let’s go through the numbers. Again. So far, 2015 is on pace to see 35 felonious killings of police officers. If that pace holds, this year would end with the second lowest number of murdered cops in decades. Here’s a graph depicting annual killings of cops with firearms from Mark A. Perry at the American Enterprise Institute:
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No matter how you choose to slice the stats, none of them add up to a spike in murdered police officers. But you can cherry pick a number to make it seem worse than it actually is, like many pushing this point of view have.
[W]hen police advocates say that 2014 saw an 80+ percent increase in homicides of cops over 2013, remember a few things: First, 2013 wasn’t just an all-time low, it was an all-time low by a significant margin. Second, the 2013 figure was so low that even a small increase will look large when expressed as a percentage. Third, the figure for the following year, 2014, (51 officers killed) was essentially consistent with the average for the previous five years (50 killed), and still lower than any five-year average going back to 1960. (See this graph, also from Wang.) Fourth, again, 2015 is on pace (35 killings) to be lower than any year but 2013.
On the other hand, the killing of citizens by cops remains pretty much unchanged. Statistics are hard to come by, considering the FBI and DOJ haven't exactly been on top of collecting this data. Crowd-sourced information puts this year's killings at 817 as of September 13th. Last year, 1106 members of the public were killed by police officers. From May-December of 2013, 768 people were killed. And yet, there is no War on the Public or at least nothing that has been formally declared by pundits and politicians.

By espousing this narrative of increased unchecked aggression against police officers, those making these claims are making things even more dangerous for citizens and law enforcement.
When cops are constantly told that they’re under constant fire, or that every interaction with a citizen could be their last, or that they’re fortunate each time they come home from the job in one piece, it’s absolute poison for police-community relations. That kind of reminder on a regular basis would put anyone on edge. We’re putting police officers in a perpetually combative mindset that psychologically isolates them from the communities they serve.
This would be a problem even if the narrative were true. But it's much worse when the assertion is provably false.

What is true, however, is that the public's respect of law enforcement is eroding. In some communities, this trust was never there. Recent events like the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO and Eric Garner in New York City (along with Freddie Gray in Baltimore, etc.) have brought this to the surface.

A Gallup poll notes that current confidence in law enforcement has tied a 22-year low, with just 52% of the population stating they trust police officers. But the variations are small across the last two decades, maxing out at only 64%. Minority groups have experienced the lowest amount of overall change, largely because many have never trusted law enforcement.

The distrust seems more significant now because the public has far more outlets to express their displeasure. Twenty-two years ago, it would have been left to the odd protest and letters to editor. Now, it's everywhere, all the time. No wonder cops feels they're under fire. They've never had to deal with this level of pervasive criticism.

But for all the anger directed at law enforcement, there's been no spike in violence against police officers. This misconception stems from the same source: multiple expressive outlets for police officers and those who support them -- far more than have ever been available to the public historically. Additional criticism coming from unexpected sources -- prosecutors and politicians -- has caught law enforcement by surprise. They've been cut a lot of slack over the years but they're now finally seeing a bit of tension in their leads. This doesn't make their job any easier and it leads to additional resentment. But officers can't take it out on those up top, so it's everyone else on the bottom that pays the price.

So, a perceived war on cops will continue to be met with an unofficial war on the public. And, because we'll be able to witness more of this unofficial war, thanks to everyone (including police officers) wielding cameras, the public's faith in its public servants will continue to erode. Rather than being a source of strength in their communities, cops are now acting like victims. In this mindset, anything less than full, polite compliance will more frequently be greeted with shows of force, setting everyone up for a spin on the vicious cycle.


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Sep 2015 @ 6:02am

    doubling down on stupid...

    It seems this is the only reaction by law enforcement these days.

    Sure I still hear from time to time that police have actually helped the citizens, but by and large this is an exception and NOT the norm.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Sep 2015 @ 7:08am

      Re: doubling down on stupid...

      Police are scared because the press et. al. sensationalize every death in the line of duty and make them all think they are in extreme danger all the time. So they act aggressively. This escalates every situation and puts everyone into a them or us state of mind. So we have a vicious feed back loop.

      The only way to break the loop is for ALL the police officers to man up and not assume everyone is about to shoot them. Otherwise, we will likely have a violent revolution in a few years.

      A practical way of thinking about it is that there are a bit more than 35,000 officers on the NYPD. There are about 8.4 million people in New York City. Right now any given officer has about 35,000 friends and about 8.4 million enemies. If ALL officers were to treat EVERYONE with respect ALL the time, then over time, they could have about 8.4 million friends and a small handful of enemies. Which situation do you think is better?

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      • icon
        jupiterkansas (profile), 28 Sep 2015 @ 7:36am

        Re: Re: doubling down on stupid...

        Another solution would be to turn off the news.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Sep 2015 @ 7:38am

        Re: Re: doubling down on stupid...

        It is NOT the press that is scaring them! They have all the numbers they need to know that being a Police Officer is a very safe job to have, so I refuse to give them a pass on 'sensationalist media'. We all have to deal with the BS from the news and their stance cannot be justified by that.

        BUT, the rest of what you said is spot on! We just need to get the police to understand that. They already enjoy quite a bit of latitude in court and juries tend to defer to their judgements, however this does not seem to deter the 'Public is Enemy' concept that is rolling about in their brains!

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 28 Sep 2015 @ 8:48am

          Re: Re: Re: doubling down on stupid...

          I would argue it's the same for those claiming that guns are the cause of violence. The data shows there are 3 times the number of guns owned as there were just 20 years ago, yet gun-related deaths and violence in general is down.

          And let's not get into the feelings of cops in general on this site. A miniscule number of wrongful deaths and you guys hold the entire profession at fault.

          Your very comment implies that ALL cops have some "Public is Enemy" mentality. You, as well as all on this site, know that is FAR from accurate.
          Unless OOTB is right and your are all a bunch of freetards just railing against the 'Man'???

          I know better, and so should you. Bigotry takes many forms, my friend.

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          • icon
            That One Guy (profile), 28 Sep 2015 @ 9:15am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: doubling down on stupid...

            And let's not get into the feelings of cops in general on this site. A miniscule number of wrongful deaths and you guys hold the entire profession at fault.

            'Minuscule'. 817 so far is hardly 'minuscule', especially when you compare it to the 35 on the other side. That's approximately 23 fatalities caused by the police for every 1 caused by the public against them, and yet there's people claiming that it's the police that are 'under attack'.

            And let's be clear, it's not just the number of deaths caused by the police that have people upset, as bad as that number is, it's what happens after the deaths caused by police that has people angry. When you've got people injured, maimed or even killed by police, on camera at that, and the police and their unions act as though there's nothing wrong with it, defending the perpetrators? Yeah, people are going to be upset. When a cop injures, maims or kills someone and it never even goes to trial, despite the fact that similar actions done by a member of the public would absolutely result in a trial, exposing a glaring double-standard? Yeah, people are going to be upset.

            The deaths are bad enough, but the responses, or lack of to them take a bad situation and make it far worse.

            Your very comment implies that ALL cops have some "Public is Enemy" mentality. You, as well as all on this site, know that is FAR from accurate.

            The actions of the police say otherwise. Though 'all' would be stretching it, I'd say it's safe to say that the majority either do hold the idea that the public is the enemy, and deserves to be treated as such, or at the very least don't seem to care enough about the public to do something about those that do have that mentality.

            Bigotry takes many forms, my friend.

            Yeah, no, you do not get to play the 'bigotry' card here. It's not 'bigotry' to point out that good cops defending bad cops aren't good cops, meaning that the majority of cops are not good cops.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 29 Sep 2015 @ 6:25am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: doubling down on stupid...

              Each of your replies is nothing short of anecdotal opinion.

              The 817 number you are citing is wrong. There have been 385 deaths and that doesn't include filtering out the justified use of deadly force. That's TOTAL in 2015.

              https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/fatal-police-shootings-in-2015-approaching-400-nationwi de/2015/05/30/d322256a-058e-11e5-a428-c984eb077d4e_story.html


              Since you like numbers, lets look at numbers...

              https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2012/crime-in-the-u.s.-2012/violent -crime/violent-crime

              According to the FBI, there were 1,214,462 violent crimes committed in 2012. during the same year, there were 602 officer involved deaths. That's what percentage? .o5%

              The FBI reports that ~1 in 6 of the deadly incidents was unarmed... that's one sixth of .05% or .00425%.

              I would call that a damn good record.... name another cause of death with those percentages that gets as much attention from the media or any other source for that matter.

              Mountain, meet mole hill.

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              • icon
                That One Guy (profile), 29 Sep 2015 @ 7:51am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: doubling down on stupid...

                Since you seem to have missed it, the article you linked to is dated May 30, several months ago, whereas the Guardian database is current, so no, the 817 number is indeed accurate.

                I would call that a damn good record....

                'Only' killing 600ish people, 100 of which were unarmed is a 'damn good record' to you?

                Firefighting is a very dangerous job, would you say it's a 'damn good record' if firefighters prioritized their safety over the safety of the ones in the burning buildings and only let a few hundred people burn to death? Better the non-firefighters die than the firefighters, right?

                name another cause of death with those percentages that gets as much attention from the media or any other source for that matter.

                Name another profession where you can gun someone down, or choke someone to death, on camera no less, and not spend so much as a single day behind bars or even go to trial. Name another profession where you can cause permanent bodily damage to someone in response to an utterly harmless action by them, knowing that your co-workers and union will insist in court that you did nothing wrong.

                Fatalities caused by police would get drastically less attention if a) they weren't being caused by a group most people mistakenly believe is meant to protect the public, and b) the response by police and the courts weren't displaying a massive double-standard, where police can walk away untouched for actions that would get anyone else thrown behind bars.

                I'm curious, if 600 dead isn't a big deal, how many would it take for you to admit a problem? 800? 1,000? 1,500? How many corpses need to pile up before it becomes reasonable to ask just why so many people are being killed, and what can be done to decrease the number(other than 'let's give the police more military-grade gear')?

                Also, funny thing about trying to spin officer caused deaths as not that big a deal is what happens when you flip the logic around. For example if 817 isn't that bad given the overall population, then clearly 35 is nothing compared to the total number of police, and deserves no special mention, response by police, and in no way justifies special treatment or privileges under the law. It certainly doesn't justify the absurd ideas that the police are somehow 'under attack' or being 'targeted'.

                Nope, if 800+ isn't that bad, then clearly less than 40 isn't even worth mentioning.

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 29 Sep 2015 @ 12:08pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: doubling down on stupid...

                  Simple answer to your long winded response is that YES, in the grand scheme of things, out of millions of violent crimes, 800 people dead by cops is a damn good record.

                  The part you seem to have ignored is that those numbers INCLUDE justifiable killings along with wrongful deaths.
                  For every unarmed person killed by a cop, I can show you 10 people that could kill with their bare hands. So unarmed doesn't exactly mean what you would like to claim.

                  So to reiterate, there is no other cause of death that comes even remotely close to the success rate at which law enforcement deals with VIOLENT CRIME. Yet it seems to garner so much attention, why is that? Why does no one discuss the fact that 99.96 % of the VIOLENT crimes are handled without a cop killing someone?
                  If ANY other profession had that success rate, there would be dancing in the streets.

                  I would bet that you or any who cry foul could be trained properly and still not come close to those same stats.


                  As for the 35 dead cops... that is the nature of the work they do. Like the military and firefighting, it comes with the territory. I didn't make any claims about a war on cops.

                  I am addressing your bigoted attitude towards our law enforcement community. If I swapped the subject of any of your arguments from cops to blacks, you'd call me a racist for judging the whole by the actions of a few.

                  40 is not worth mentioning, you are correct.

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                  • icon
                    That One Guy (profile), 29 Sep 2015 @ 8:28pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: doubling down on stupid...

                    For every unarmed person killed by a cop, I can show you 10 people that could kill with their bare hands. So unarmed doesn't exactly mean what you would like to claim.

                    And for every 10 I could probably easily find 100 that would be all but harmless to anyone even remotely trained in self defense, of which police should be. So what? I'm guessing that the vast majority of unarmed people killed were not in fact trained in fighting that way, and could have easily been dealt with in a non-lethal manner. Cops carry more than just pistols for a reason.

                    'The part you seem to have ignored is that those numbers INCLUDE justifiable killings along with wrongful deaths. '

                    ...

                    'Yet it seems to garner so much attention, why is that? Why does no one discuss the fact that 99.96 % of the VIOLENT crimes are handled without a cop killing someone?


                    Because of what happens, or doesn't happen, after that. A cop shoots someone, or chokes someone to death on camera, and what happens? No trial, no conviction, maybe some paid leave.

                    Killings by cops get so much attention because of the double-standard they expose.

                    If a regular person kills someone, or even 'just' assaults them, you can be sure that they will go to court and be forced to present their defense over the killing/assault. If there's video evidence of the event, it's pretty much a guaranteed conviction. If a cop does the same though? Good luck even reaching the trial stage, given the prosecutors suddenly can't muster up the drive to get past the grand jury step, something they have no problem doing with anyone else.

                    Cops should be held to a higher standard, but instead they are held to a lower one and given special treatment, that is the main reason people are so angry and distrustful towards them.

                    I am addressing your bigoted attitude towards our law enforcement community. If I swapped the subject of any of your arguments from cops to blacks, you'd call me a racist for judging the whole by the actions of a few.

                    Are blacks hired and paid for by taxpayer money? Are they expected to act in a professional manner consistent with their duties serving the public in the course of their job? Do they get special treatment in the courts, with standards drastically lower than almost any other group? Do you regularly have blacks or groups representing them arguing that inflicting violence, even to lethal levels, is acceptable because of the difficulty or stress of their 'job'? That pointing a gun at someone 'just in case' is acceptable behavior?

                    No, it's not bigotry to expect higher standards from public servants, with the result of getting angry when the exact opposite occurs.

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                  • identicon
                    Klaus, 30 Sep 2015 @ 4:20am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: doubling down on stupid...

                    "800 people dead by cops is a damn good record"

                    Do I have this right? Are you seriously saying that 800 people killed by the police is ok? Because that number should be zero. Anything else is unacceptable.

                    No-one is a rock; you must have people in your life; loved ones, friends and relatives, colleagues, people you admire... And if you cannot imagine how you would feel if any one of those was in that 800 then I genuinely feel sorry for you.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 28 Sep 2015 @ 10:04am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: doubling down on stupid...

            A miniscule number of wrongful deaths and you guys hold the entire profession at fault.
            Why do cops carry guns? After all, most of them never have to use them. Then again, they never know which of the many people they interact with in a lifetime might turn out to be that rare violent psychopath.

            Why do most of us distrust cops in general? Same goddamn reason.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 28 Sep 2015 @ 8:53am

          Re: Re: Re: doubling down on stupid...

          I called out the press to give everyone an easy out. But I put in the et al to cover many of the real problems like:

          1) Many officers are cowardly bullies
          2) They are usually trained to be scared and aggressive
          3) Other officers, especially police union spokesmen seem to like to fan the flames.

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      • icon
        Padpaw (profile), 28 Sep 2015 @ 9:48pm

        Re: Re: doubling down on stupid...

        I suspect they are preparing for it.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Sep 2015 @ 6:11am

    Is the word repurcussions still in the english dictionary!?

    How about, responsibility, or, reasons /for, or
    morals
    peace
    Freedom
    Kindness
    Empathy

    Could someone quickly double check

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  • icon
    Whatever (profile), 28 Sep 2015 @ 6:19am

    Excelllent piece

    Excellent piece of writing, but I think you miss a couple of important points here:

    a) Cops are less and less likely to take the risks that would have gotten them killed in the past. See a traffic stop with two cars, four officers, and hands on their guns all the way? That's the unhappy solution to cops getting shot. It's the same reason why many marginal cases become "everyone in handcuffs until we are sure". It's all the stuff that typically gets criticized here, but it helps to keep the cops alive. We won't even get into stats related to wearing of bullet proof vests and other protective gears when do regular day to day police work, and not just in special situations.

    b) the peak during pohibition shows mostly a level of lawlessness that few in the world would want to return to. Eliminate that spike area, and what stands out is the area in the early 70s which was a very tough time in the US.

    c) It should be pointed out that with large variances year to year (around 40 some years, and nearly 70 the next) suggests that individual results for a single year may not be best measurement of the situation. Looking at 5 year, 10 year, and so on you can see a decrease but averages out, the last 5 years are nowhere near as significant as the 10-20 years before, as police militarized and moved towards self-preservation as their more overriding concern.

    The confidence in police dropping is in no small part in a shift of much of the US towards a "me" mentality, where people break the law all the time and don't expect to be held accountable. Law enforcement are left in the unhappy situation of enforcing laws that people refuse to respect - because their personal needs are way more important than societal peace and harmony. That last came to a head in New York in the early 70s, and Los Angeles in the 80s with street gangs who felt they had impunity to operate. The population at a whole seems to have caught this point of view, and the result is a society where the rules just don't seem to apply. Dissatisfaction with the police comes in no small part from the lengths police have to go to try to enforce the rules, and the nasty things that happen when they get carried away or frustrated while doing it.

    The real solution doesn't come from "fixing" police, rather it comes from fixing ourselves. Self control and enlighted social interest are not easy to obtain, sadly, and the street gangs and others who profit from the current social ills will keep it up as long as they can, stoking the fire with stories that justify greedy self-important people who feel they are above the law.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Sep 2015 @ 6:29am

      Re: Excelllent piece

      I see a whole lot of guessing and anecdotes and about zero actual evidence.

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      • icon
        Whatever (profile), 28 Sep 2015 @ 8:48am

        Re: Re: Excelllent piece

        That was exactly my opinion of the piece. No causal relationship from one thing to another, just a lot of guessing and supposin'.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 28 Sep 2015 @ 8:56am

          Re: Re: Re: Excelllent piece

          And of course, you expect everyone else to take your huffing and puffing at face value.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 28 Sep 2015 @ 9:00am

          Re: Re: Re: Excelllent piece

          Then you didn't read it. The "cause" of the decline in violence isn't relevant. The fact is that the "war on police" is a myth and every single data point confirms that.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Sep 2015 @ 6:31am

      Re: Excelllent piece

      b) the peak during pohibition shows mostly a level of lawlessness that few in the world would want to return to.

      There was a good reason for that, and politicians have forgotten that reason, going against what the majority want, or at least consider acceptable, leads to a lot of law breaking. That is the normal outcome when laws are passed based on a minority opinion or desire, which is why the war on drugs and pirates are so damaging to society.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Sep 2015 @ 6:42am

      Re: Excelllent piece

      Where do you get this idea of a "me" mentality? Could you back that up at all? Because it looks quite the opposite to me, but I have no evidence so I'm not claiming it to be true.

      How on Earth could you conflate the "law" the police enforce (i.e. their own whims) with "societal peace and harmony". I honestly see no connection between the two, unless you're referring to the "order" the cops protect, a.k.a. maintaining the current power structure.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Sep 2015 @ 6:50am

      Re: Excelllent piece

      So if the average person on the street gets shot, flashbanged, maimed or brutalized by cops, it's not because the cop is a raging psychopath no one decided should be reined in, or cops these days are regularly told to view normal citizens with suspicion regardless of whether they're armed/dangerous or not - it's because bad people exist, so the cops have to be given full license to treat everyone as such, otherwise social order is doomed.

      I don't usually wish for the inflicting of unwarranted pain on individuals. That said, if you did happen to get injured by a trigger-happy cop and subsequent investigations failed to exonerate you - but instead, incriminate you - few would shed a tear for the one who so fervently rallies support for a system he believes is his own personal lapdog army.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Sep 2015 @ 7:38am

      Re: Excelllent piece

      "they get carried away or frustrated while doing it"

      your bias became much more clear at this point

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    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 28 Sep 2015 @ 7:47am

      No mirrors in your house clearly

      And to the surprise of absolutely no-one, the authoritarian supports those in positions of authority, in this case the police.

      I can't help but laugh at how you make claims about the cops, without apparently spending even a second applying the same logic towards the public.

      See a traffic stop with two cars, four officers, and hands on their guns all the way? That's the unhappy solution to cops getting shot.

      Please, it's because they're cowards unnecessarily escalating situations because of said cowardice. In case you missed it, police deaths are at near record lows, so the idea that they need to 'protect' themselves with guns drawn at all times is absurd. Protect themselves from what? The mysterious gunmen that aren't there?

      Now you might claim that it's their cowardice that's responsible for the low deaths suffered by them, which might be a reasonable point, if said cowardice wasn't resulting in very real deaths caused by the police, even in situations where they was absolutely no threat present(well, no threat that wasn't wearing a badge anyway...)

      If anything the respective body-counts show it should be the public worrying about protecting themselves from the cops, not the other way around, and given that, would you support similar 'protection' measures applied by the public against the police?

      If police are justified in 'protecting themselves' by aiming a gun at someone because they might be armed, does that mean it's justified for a member of the public to 'protect themselves' and aim a gun at a cop, knowing that they're armed? If a member of the public holding something that might be a gun is considered a valid justification for a cop to shoot them 'in self defense', does it then become a valid justification to shoot a cop who is holding something that is a gun, again in 'self defense'?

      Your arguments are incredibly one-sided here, and if the same logic was applied against the police I'm sure you'd be absolutely against it.

      The confidence in police dropping is in no small part in a shift of much of the US towards a "me" mentality, where people break the law all the time and don't expect to be held accountable.

      I'm tempted to accuse you of attempted assault for this line, given how close I was to giving myself a concussion worthy facepalm after reading this line.

      'Break the law all the time and don't expect to be held accountable'?

      That very attitude by the police is the primary reason people are increasingly losing any respect they may have had towards them.

      Gun someone down because you 'feared for your life'? Even if the grand jury accepted the claim, you'd still go to court to prove it, but not if you're a cop.

      Kill someone(whether murder or manslaughter) on camera over a triviality? You better believe that you're going to court, and likely spending years behind bars for it, but not if you're a cop.

      Slam someone to the ground, bruising or even tearing ligaments and inflicting permanent damage? Yeah, you're absolutely getting charged with assault and held personally liable for your actions, but not if you're a cop.

      Starting to get the picture yet? If anyone is guilty of believing themselves above the law, it's not the public, it's the police.

      The real solution doesn't come from "fixing" police, rather it comes from fixing ourselves. Self control and enlighted social interest are not easy to obtain, sadly, and the street gangs and others who profit from the current social ills will keep it up as long as they can, stoking the fire with stories that justify greedy self-important people who feel they are above the law.

      And again, the willful blindness, the inability to take the same logic and apply it in reverse, is stunning.

      The real solution doesn't come from "fixing" the public, rather it comes from fixing [the police]. Self control and enlighted social interest are not easy to obtain, sadly, and the armed thugs with badges and others who profit from the current social ills will keep it up as long as they can, stoking the fire with stories that justify greedy self-important people who feel they are above the law.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Sep 2015 @ 8:01am

      Re: Excelllent piece

      TL;DR:
      1) Cops are too jumpy.
      2) Times are harder than the 90's were for a lot of people.
      3) Teenagers have ALWAYS done dumb shit, it's not a reason to clamp down on civil rights.
      4) If society can fix its fringe elements so easily why have laws and cops in the first place.

      1) The thing is cops have gotten very jumpy lately, all around the world, not just in the US. A jumpy cop makes for a jumpy citizen, through no fault of their own.
      Add guns to the equation and things get really nasty really fast. At the end of the day both the cop and the person being "targeted" want to return home in one piece so there must be some sort of balance.

      2) Implying that right now the times aren't very tough for a very large portion of the US population if not the world.
      2b) see point a) cops are too jumpy

      There is no shift towards a "me" mentality anymore than in the last 3 decades. Let me remind you of the games of "chicken" and the greaser culture as an example (and you can find many more). Teenagers have ALWAYS done dumb shit, it's no reason to tase and pepper spray legitimate protesters and clamp down on civil rights and freedom of speeech.

      Cops are ENFORCERS of law. They are there mostly to deal with situations society can't otherwise.

      What is this "self control" you speak of anyway? Most people aren't thieves or murderers or "gangbangers".

      Respect is one thing but, if you expect people to grovel at an officer's boot that's too much.
      Besides you can't expect ordinary citizens to "fix" serial murderers or violent revolts, that's what we have police for.

      Police-work involves (as it should) a lot more than just handing out speeding tickets and random frisking. If you feel you aren't cut out for it, don't join or quit.

      It's like being a miner because the danger bonuses are great but you don't want to actually GO INTO the mine because a rock might crush your leg.

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      • icon
        Whatever (profile), 28 Sep 2015 @ 9:05am

        Re: Re: Excelllent piece

        Okay, let's go down the list:

        1) Why are they jumpy? Answer is in part of the graph in the story, in the 70s they were getting mowed down at a pretty scary rate. Beyond that, you have to consider the numbers of cops beyond "killer" who are seriously injured in the line of duty. Few seem to want to discuss it. I would be jumpy too if a big percentage of the population was armed and had no problem mowing me down because I was trying to give them a speeding ticket (which is where a lot of cop shootings occur, traffic stops).

        2) Times are tough, no doubt about it. You never know where your next LTE connection or HD pirated movie will come from. Life truly sucks! Seriously though, Times are tough in part because there is no respect for others. We park out cars assuming they will one day get stolen, we don't dare chain up a bike for fear someone will cut the lock and take it, we triple lock our doors, install alarms, and still we get robbed, attacked, held up, etc. Old story, but: http://www.nytimes.com/1987/03/09/us/83-to-be-victims-of-crime-violence.html

        3) Teenagers will be teenagers - but now new and improved with gangsta mentality, guns, and a dumb attitude about getting "respect" by taking out someone or better yet taking out a cop. They have ramped way up, they make the bad teens of ever 20 years ago look like teddy bears.

        4) Society is often not defined by it's best, but by it's worst. We are sadly obligated to protect ourselves against the 10% of the population committing the crimes, who abuse the rights of others, and who drag us down as a people. Worse yet, western culture has grown to embrace and make role models out of these people, meaning that an entire generation has grown up thinking that capping someone for a dis or selling drugs for a living is good, and intimidating, harming, or even killing the people who get in the way is acceptable collateral damage. We are a society more concerned with Kim Kardashian's ass than dealing with issues like mental health, rampant drug use, and the recurring nightmare of inner city youth.

        We are defined by the tolerance and idolization of the lowest, the most aggressive, and the most evil. We believe that we too can ignore the laws and do what we want because, well, we can. It's right, but it's wrong.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 28 Sep 2015 @ 10:18am

          Re: Re: Re: Excelllent piece

          My god. There must've been a lot of kids on your lawn this morning.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          ottermaton (profile), 28 Sep 2015 @ 1:10pm

          Re: Re: Re: Excelllent piece

          1) I would be jumpy too if a big percentage of the population was armed and had no problem mowing me down because I was trying to give them a speeding ticket (which is where a lot of cop shootings occur, traffic stops).

          You can't just pull a statement like that out of your ass and expect people to believe you or be swayed by your argument. Where are the numbers to support it? I call shenanigans (in other words, I think you're full of shit).

          2) Times are tough, no doubt about it.

          Yea, crime sure has been spiraling out of control. It's hard to feel safe these days.

          Oh, wait. That's only what people who can't be bothered to educate themselves the tiniest little bit believe. Crime in the US has been on the decline for DECADES

          Spare us the boogeyman bullshit.

          3) Teenagers will be teenagers - but now new and improved with gangsta mentality, guns, and a dumb attitude ...

          Yea, yea, yea. This generation is SO much worse, right?

          I'm sure you don't know this, but EVERY generation says that about the next generation. Even Aristotle (or was it Socrates? I'll look it up if you need me to) noticed way back then that the same thing had been going on forever.

          Your "get off my lawn" is showing.

          4) Society is often not defined by it's best, but by it's worst.

          Really? How come cops aren't judged by the same yardstick? Why do bootlicking apologists like you always claim "it's just a few bad apples" (despite the daily FLOOD of evidence to the contrary)?

          Your arguments are weak and erroneous.

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          • icon
            Whatever (profile), 28 Sep 2015 @ 9:41pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Excelllent piece

            Well, lets see:

            1) http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2010-12-09/news/os-traffic-stops-deadly-20101209_1_phillipe-loui s-officer-jared-famularo-officer-edward-diaz

            Not just because of shootings that result in death, but in injuries, fights, and so on.

            2) reported crime. How much goes unreported to protect insurance, to avoid trouble, and of course "snitches get stiches"... plenty of victims of crime who won't speak up.

            3) the lawn thing is so used up. It's also dismissive of reality, that compared to a 50s thug or an 80s gangbanger, the average kid today on the street seems way more likely to resort to violence with a weapon, to group attacks, and so on. That stuff is real, it's not about "getting off the lawn" it's about opening your eyes and realizing the truth.

            4) "How come cops aren't judged by the same yardstick?" Actually, I do judge them by the same yardstick - but expecting them all to be perfect robots of civil order is just beyond understanding. They are human. In the same manner that a few doctors may do bad things, or a teacher may do something with a young student, or whatever... some people put in a position of power handle it poorly and break the law. I get back to the original point, which is in a country when 25% or more of the male population has a criminal record, the police in the UK are fine and upstanding compared to it. Perfect? Nope. Never will be - just seems like another sort of rant against authority that would be better directed against the public at large instead. It would certainly accomplish more if those complaining first controlled themselves and their offspring, don't you think?

            "Your arguments are weak and erroneous."

            You are entitled to your opinion. Respect my right to have one too, even if you don't agree.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 28 Sep 2015 @ 10:28pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Excelllent piece

              And it's evident that you're all too keen to mock people for their free speech and brag about your own supposed superiority.

              "Judge them by the same yardstick"? If someone throws a flashbang at a baby, you're against it. Until it's revealed that it's a policeman, then you'll hem and haw with blithe remarks like "Oh but gangsters are a thing, too bad!"

              You seem to consistently believe that you're not only entitled to behave like a giant asshole, you get to demand nothing less than groveling respect from anyone else then kick up a massive fuss when you don't get it. That's not how the world works. Then again, looking at your post history you honestly believe that you're entitled to play by a different set of rules that change whenever you see fit.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 29 Sep 2015 @ 8:54am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Excelllent piece

              IIRC, most police fatalities are a result of traffic related incidents (ie: not traffic stops but car or motorcycle accident related though some of those could be traffic stop related when pursing someone the police has stopped or is attempting to stop depending on how they categorize it). and with the way I routinely see cops driving recklessly it's no wonder. How many of those times are due to the officer's own reckless driving. Not to mention that street cops naturally spend more time driving so, statistically, you would expect them to get into more car accidents since accident rates are going to be a statistic of being per number of hours driven (ie: 1 accident every 15,000 hours driven, to make up a number as an example) and when you drive more you get into more accidents.

              Even your own stats don't really support the argument that being a police is such a dangerous job.

              "From 2000 through 2009, 118 officers were killed conducting traffic stop"

              that's 13.1111 officers a year, nationally (it would seem).

              and how much of that is driving related and due to the officer's own reckless driving (I suspect those statistics aren't driving related, based on other stats I remember reading, but your article isn't clear).

              " but now new and improved with gangsta mentality, guns, and a dumb attitude about getting "respect" by taking out someone or better yet taking out a cop."
              ...

              The statistics disagree with you

              " How much goes unreported"

              Ah, so you are basing your assertion that things are worse now than ever on what goes unreported. I can just as easily argue that fewer crimes go unreported than before, especially with the advent of more mass surveillance, cameras everywhere including on phones, smartphones everywhere allowing anyone to call 911 anywhere, etc... and so the rates of unreported crimes are declining. Basing your opinion on what goes unreported isn't really convincing. But we do know, from what gets reported and from the stats that we can gather, that crimes rates are declining in terms of what we can keep track of.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 29 Sep 2015 @ 11:41am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Excelllent piece

                The cop death rate is so low they have to use a 9 year period to try and make the numbers look larger than they really are. If these death rates were so bad why aren't they being reported on an annual basis?

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            • icon
              ottermaton (profile), 29 Sep 2015 @ 8:57am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Excelllent piece

              1) Ok, fair enough. Thank you

              2) False. See below

              3) ... compared to a 50s thug or an 80s gangbanger, the average kid today on the street seems way more likely to resort to violence with a weapon, to group attacks, and so on. That stuff is real,

              That stuff is NOT AT ALL REAL. This is:
              The murder rate worked out to six murders for every 100,000 U.S. inhabitants, the lowest level since 1966 when there were 5.7 murders for every 100,000 people.
              Source
              The US homicide rate, which has declined substantially since 1992 from a rate per 100,000 persons of 9.8 to 4.5 in 2013,
              That's less than HALF what the murder rate was 20 years ago!!! Source

              The boogeyman is NOT out there. Stop LYING and saying that he is.

              4) I don't believe for a second you judge cops by the same yardstick. You haven't shown any evidence of it here. You just like to make excuses for them.

              Respect my right to have [an opinion] too, even if you don't agree.

              You may have your own opinions. Try tempering them with FACTS sometime.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 28 Sep 2015 @ 1:35pm

          Re: Re: Re: Excelllent piece

          Times are tough, no doubt about it. You never know where your next LTE connection or HD pirated movie will come from. Life truly sucks!

          Sarcasm over piracy? It's like you're assuming that everyone on Techdirt is a pirate. You sound almost like... wait a flipping minute. OotB? Is that you?

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      • identicon
        Socrates, 28 Sep 2015 @ 12:13pm

        Citizen-fobia

        The fear mongering is based on actual fear, but it is worth while considering the origin of that fear, because it does not primarily come from the public (that is gunned down at an alarming rate), nor the police.

        It is also worth while to consider whom the police is, not just in the US, but everywhere and at all times. The police is the enforcers of the whims of those in power. This is true even in self declared dictatorships.

        Those in power in USA have reason to fear the public. USA is more mismanaged than most of the arab states before the uprising. USA is where the Investor-State-Dispute-Settlement comes from, the worst threat against democracy the last 70 years. Of course they know it is evil. Of course they know that by being the public's enemy the public might be theirs.

        And then you get surveillance, jumpy cops, militarized cops, military equipment dedicated against US citizens, and regular military army units dedicated to go to war against the civilian population.

        That is a recipe for disaster!

        It is a long bloody history to prove how quickly it goes bad, when it happens. And cops stand first in line.


        USA have a long tradition of gunning down people that demonstrate against regimes they oppose to inflame the opposition and make them rail against the government. If someone gunned down a few hundred demonstrators at Ferguson, USA probably wouldn't exist as a nation today. The perpetrator don't even have to be a jumpy cop, the government get the blame anyway.


        It baffles me to see the trifles of democracy removed as I cannot believe the spoils being worth the extra risk. If those who have the actual power in USA have any sense at all, they should reduce the conflict they have with citizens, while they still have the chance

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Sep 2015 @ 9:09am

      Re: Excelllent piece

      No. The cops need fixin.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 28 Sep 2015 @ 9:18am

      Re: Excelllent piece

      "The confidence in police dropping is in no small part in a shift of much of the US towards a "me" mentality, where people break the law all the time and don't expect to be held accountable"

      I see exactly no evidence that this is the case. I think the continual misbehavior and overreactions on the part of the police entirely explain the loss of confidence.

      People don't trust the police because the police are not trustworthy.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 28 Sep 2015 @ 10:04am

      Re: Excelllent piece

      Hmmm. Because all rules are reasonable and the common citizen can easily distinguish what is or isn't legal/lawful without being a fully trained lawyer, right? Because everybody has access to education, health, food, housing etc equally, right? There is some wisdom in parts of what you said but seriously, the police should be fixed yes. The Government needs serious fixing. It seems to me that the US (much like a lot of other places) is in a downward spiral where bad Government practices lead to the worsen of new generations that lead to more Government bullshit that lead to worse generations in a perverse cycle that won't be fixed unless drastic measures are taken. But I wouldn't blame the John Doe that was left in the margins of the society for this.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Sep 2015 @ 10:11am

      Re: Excelllent piece

      "b) the peak during pohibition shows mostly a level of lawlessness that few in the world would want to return to. "

      When the government insists on creating stupid and/or very controversial laws, like the war on drugs and prohibition, what do you expect?

      You assert in another post that crime from citizens is bad. You say (though I would like sources but I probably won't get any)

      " The normal crime rates in the UK suggest that more than 3% of the population commit crimes "of note" (ie, not jaywalking). "

      But I have a relevant response that relates to exactly what you said here. How many of these crimes are legitimate crimes vs how many are a result of the government either over-criminalizing everyone or creating laws that result in black markets and people committing crimes to get what they want.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Whatever (profile), 28 Sep 2015 @ 11:28am

        Re: Re: Excelllent piece

        UK Crime stats: http://www.ukcrimestats.com/

        You can start there. The Met Force alone (with about 8 million people current) reports 80,000 crimes per month - or just under 1 million per year. It means that in Metropolitain London, you are statistically going to be the victim of a crime sometime in your lifetime with almost total certainty.

        You can also look on Google and easily find basic stats: 15 % of people ages 10 to 52 in England and Wales have at least one conviction for offences on the standard list.

        More than 9 million men in the UK have at least one criminal conviction on their record. On a basic 50/50 split on population, that means 9 out of 34 million... more than 25%.

        The numbers are scary.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 28 Sep 2015 @ 12:30pm

          Re: Re: Re: Excelllent piece

          "The numbers are scary."

          What I find much much more scary is a government that over criminalizes everything. One that creates laws that result in violent black markets.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 28 Sep 2015 @ 2:12pm

          Re: Re: Re: Excelllent piece

          Most common offence resulting in conviction? Aggravated Refusal to Vacate Lawn.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 28 Sep 2015 @ 2:47pm

          Re: Re: Re: Excelllent piece

          Uhm ... one 'crime' listed is anti-social behavior crime. This seemed rather vague so I tried looking it up on Wikipedia and it still doesn't help clear things up much.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-social_behaviour

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 28 Sep 2015 @ 7:54pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Excelllent piece

            The impression I always got was that you get an ASBO for being a teenager, a bit of a dick, or both. In other words, it's the answer to the question "How can we charge people who haven't committed a crime with a crime?".

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        • icon
          ottermaton (profile), 28 Sep 2015 @ 3:06pm

          Re: Re: Re: Excelllent piece

          UK Crime stats: http://www.ukcrimestats.com/ You can start there.

          Cool story, bro. Except it's total horseshit.

          Nice way to play with the stats to make it look as though the boogeyman is already among us and ready to pounce. If you had a shred of intellectual honesty you wouldn't be trying to stoke people's fears and instead point out how crime has been falling for DECADES.

          Yea, you can start at the ukcrimestats.com site, but the place an intelligent and honest person (i.e., not you) should end is here: "Crime in England and Wales falls 16% to lowest level since 1981"

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          • icon
            Whatever (profile), 28 Sep 2015 @ 9:32pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Excelllent piece

            " If you had a shred of intellectual honesty you wouldn't be trying to stoke people's fears and instead point out how crime has been falling for DECADES. "

            First, it's a question of reported crime. How many people get their bike ripped off and just don't bother to file a police report because it takes too long, they don't have insurance, and they are upset as f-ck about it and don't want to spend more time on it? How many people come and find their car window broken and stuff taken out of their car, and don't bother to report it because their car insurance will go up and the repair is probably lower than their deductible?

            If statistically everyone on Metropolitain London will be a victim of crime in their lifetime, is that not already too high?

            Yes, the reported crime rate is down - but how much crime goes unreported or undocuments because they police just no longer have time, the citizens can't be bothered, or they would rather get even their own way?

            Try the real world... :)

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            • icon
              Padpaw (profile), 28 Sep 2015 @ 10:00pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Excelllent piece

              So you are basing your whole argument on what might be, but cannot be proven. But you claim that method of doing things in flawed when people do the same thing to counter your argument?

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              ottermaton (profile), 29 Sep 2015 @ 8:35am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Excelllent piece

              First, it's a question of reported crime. How many people get their bike ripped off and just don't bother to file a police report because it takes too long, they don't have insurance, and they are upset as f-ck about it and don't want to spend more time on it?

              Gee, you're back with even more complete and utter speculation (which happens to be TOTALLY wrong) and fear mongering. What is wrong with you? What do you have to gain by scaring people?

              Fortunately for anyone coming along that might be persuaded by your nonsense, I have this link to A handy myth-busting guide to UK crime statistics

              Guess where you myth of non-reporting comes on that list? #1

              You are totally, absolutely, 100% WRONG. At this point the only worthwhile thing you could say is to admit it and apologize.

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              • icon
                John Fenderson (profile), 30 Sep 2015 @ 6:31am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Excelllent piece

                In fairness, he's not entirely wrong on the nonreporting thing, at least in the US. I've been the victim of theft a few times, including one burglary, but never reported any of that because reporting it would require interacting with the police.

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                • icon
                  ottermaton (profile), 30 Sep 2015 @ 4:34pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Excelllent piece

                  I have also been non-reporting crime victim for the same reason.

                  But, you have to wonder: hasn't that always been the case? If so, the stats aren't skewed at all. Well, at least they're as skewed as they've always been.

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                • icon
                  That One Guy (profile), 30 Sep 2015 @ 6:55pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Excelllent piece

                  There see, police work in action! The very presence/reputation of the police causes less crimes, because if it's not reported, then it didn't happen, and if people feel that dealing with the aftermath of a crime is better than dealing with the police, then they won't report it. And as noted above, no report means no crime!

                  /s

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Sep 2015 @ 10:21am

      Re: Excelllent piece

      "The confidence in police dropping is in no small part in a shift of much of the US towards a "me" mentality, where people break the law all the time and don't expect to be held accountable"

      and I guess my point is that if everyone is breaking the law all the time perhaps the problem is with the law. This is supposed to be a democracy. If no one likes the laws, as is evidenced by the fact that you claim everyone always breaks them, yet the government still imposes them how are these laws in any way democratic?

      If the laws are such that everyone breaks them, or such a large percentage of people break them, all the time perhaps it's the laws that are wrong. But you, and government, seem to have a you're right and everyone else is wrong mentality. Everyone disagrees with the laws but they're all wrong. Only you are right because somehow your judgement is better than everyone else's. Everyone breaks the law because everyone is evil. Only you, oh self righteous one, are not evil. Arrogant. It's ironic how your opinion of how bad everyone else is demonstrates your own pride and yet somehow I'm supposed to take your opinion of everyone else seriously when clearly your own pride shows what kind of person you are.

      This is supposed to be a democracy. Laws should serve the values of all. If everyone is breaking them then perhaps they should be changed.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Gwiz (profile), 28 Sep 2015 @ 10:36am

      Re: Excelllent piece

      The confidence in police dropping is in no small part in a shift of much of the US towards a "me" mentality, where people break the law all the time and don't expect to be held accountable. Law enforcement are left in the unhappy situation of enforcing laws that people refuse to respect - because their personal needs are way more important than societal peace and harmony.

      I disagree with your correlation here. The disrespect for overreaching laws stems from a smaller segment of society attempting to force their morals upon everyone else.

      If you notice, both of those upticks correspond to attempts to impose the moral values of a few upon society as a whole. The first was Probation and the second was the beginning of the War on Drugs. In both cases, what was generally considered socially OK was all of a sudden prohibited. Neither actually stopped the activity, only drove it further underground which enabled the organized crime syndicates to move in and profit.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Whatever (profile), 28 Sep 2015 @ 10:56am

        Re: Re: Excelllent piece

        The problem at hand is that all laws are some sort of moral value. Theft, murder, jay walking, fraud, jumping the turnstile to get into the subway for free... the laws against them are all morals based.

        If a crime becomes popular enough, should we just revoke the law? If enough people get murders (say Chicago level all over the US), should the laws against murder be rescinded? When you start making laws based on popularity rather than what is better for society as a whole, you quickly turn towards anarchy.

        You only need to look at places where the laws are generally ignored. Would you prefer the US is turned into Brazil, as an example? How about just making it like Northern Mexico? Back to the old Wild West, where pretty much every dispute was settled with a gun and a resulting dead body?

        Sometimes the laws aren't popular, especially not with those who seek to break them. The common good is perhaps key here, elusive yet stunning obvious.

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        • icon
          Gwiz (profile), 28 Sep 2015 @ 11:26am

          Re: Re: Re: Excelllent piece

          If a crime becomes popular enough, should we just revoke the law? If enough people get murders (say Chicago level all over the US), should the laws against murder be rescinded? When you start making laws based on popularity rather than what is better for society as a whole, you quickly turn towards anarchy.


          Shouldn't ALL of a society determine what is "better for society as a whole"?

          In regards to the specific examples I highlighted, I think disrespect for these laws is rooted in the perception of them being "victim-less crimes". (I'm not looking to get into an argument about drug use being a victim-less crime here, I'm just acknowledging that the the perception of it being a victim-less crime exists). If you asked 100 people if the crimes you listed in your first line were immoral you will get an overwhelming majority saying "yes". Ask 100 people if smoking a joint in the privacy of your own home is immoral and you'll get a drastically lower number saying "yes".

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Ninja (profile), 28 Sep 2015 @ 11:58am

          Re: Re: Re: Excelllent piece

          You only need to look at places where the laws are generally ignored. Would you prefer the US is turned into Brazil, as an example?

          Actually Brazil is an example of a place with systemic Government failure. The criminality here is an evil mix of huge social gaps, outrageous basic education, neglecting of basic needs, impunity, corruption and others. That we actually have an insane number of laws and that a lot of punishments don't fit the crime is merely the cherry topping. Incidentally, there are poorer masses that are almost in that same situation in the US and you'll only see the problems rise one or two generations ahead.

          Still, Chicago level murders have nothing to do with society accepting murder or not. It's proof that Chicago sucks at multiple levels (not limited to law enforcement). I mean, even if you consider 1 murder case per murderer it's still a very small portion of society. But when you have a much larger part that finds something normal and it does not harm society as a whole then yes, that law should be adapted. Think homoaffective relations. A good portion of the society doesn't approve it due to religious motives or whatever bigotry but it does not mean it should be forbidden because there is a significant number of individuals in that situation out there and it harms nobody.

          And you can't see ti but there's no common good in making minor offenses felonies. But the harm will only appear in the long term.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 28 Sep 2015 @ 12:16pm

          Re: Re: Re: Excelllent piece

          "When you start making laws based on popularity rather than what is better for society as a whole, you quickly turn towards anarchy."

          The underlying assumption you make is that these very controversial laws that so many disagree with are better for society. That, somehow, your infinite wisdom is a better judgement of what's best for society than society itself. That the judgement of the few is a better authority over what's better for society than society itself. Because you said so. It's rather arrogant and the antithesis of a democratic society. It borders on dictatorship.

          That there are some laws that everyone agrees should exist says nothing about whether or not any possible law should exist. That murder should be illegal doesn't mean drinking water should also be illegal. That one thing should be illegal says nothing about whether or not something else should be. The problem is you conflate different laws and argue that because one thing, murder, should be illegal that justifies the very existence of another law. It's nonsense. With logic like this it's a wonder how you expect to ever be taken seriously.

          "you quickly turn towards anarchy."

          So lets ban drinking water. Allowing such freedoms is anarchy.

          To conflate detesting a specific law with advocating anarchy is very disingenuous. Your appeal to anarchy is an attempt to assert that the existence of a law is self justified and its abolition is what need justification. The exact opposite is true. Requiring that a law is just according to the values of a society is very different than advocating anarchy. The justification of no law should be taken for granted. Every law must earn their justification. Every law must earn social respect and acceptance. It shouldn't be asserted on society by the tyrant likes of you just because you think your moral values are somehow superior to everyone else's.

          "the laws against them are all morals based."

          Laws should reflect the moral values of those subject to them. Not your personal moral values. That is the hallmark of a tyrant. What makes your personal moral values better than anyone else's. Or the personal moral values of the few that dictate laws. You speak as though laws are written from people who are unquestionably morally superior than everyone else. Tyrant. Your attempts to unquestionably impose your moral values on others itself demonstrates how immoral a person you are. Why should I take an immoral person like yourself seriously when, clearly, your words demonstrate an immorally arrogant opinion of yourself.

          Laws shouldn't dictate morality. and just because a law does exist doesn't mean it morally should exist.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          jupiterkansas (profile), 28 Sep 2015 @ 12:32pm

          Re: Re: Re: Excelllent piece

          Theft, murder, fraud, and jumping the turnstile are all crime perpetrated against someone else. Those actions harm others - every single time. They share a common morality that it's bad to harm others. Even jaywalking is against the law because of the harm it can cause to others, and it's a shaky law at best (since the majority of the time, no harm is caused).

          This isn't the case with drugs, where like alcohol, most of the time no harm is done to anyone - not even the user. The moral case for prohibition has nothing to do with the moral case against murder or theft and they can't be compared on the basis of morality.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 28 Sep 2015 @ 1:28pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Excelllent piece

            I think you make a good point. When this person says

            "The problem at hand is that all laws are some sort of moral value. Theft, murder, jay walking, fraud, jumping the turnstile to get into the subway for free... the laws against them are all morals based."

            I think part of the very point of this discussion, aside from pointing out that laws shouldn't dictate morality, is to discuss the moral basis of certain laws. The best that whatever could come up with is to assert that some laws do have a moral basis therefore all laws have a moral basis. If that's really the best he can do then that shows me how lacking his arguments are.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Whatever (profile), 28 Sep 2015 @ 9:28pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Excelllent piece

            "Theft, murder, fraud, and jumping the turnstile are all crime perpetrated against someone else. Those actions harm others - every single time."

            I don't think that theft or fraud causes you any physical harm. They may cause mental anguish, but no actual harm done. If I digitally remove all the money from your bank account, have I harmed any bytes along the way?

            Murder, for that matter, is a question of morals as well. Consider some countries where killing your wife or daughter because they brought some shame to your family is an acceptable outcome. It's not acceptable in the US. Why? Well, morals. You can go on and on about harm, but the reality is in some places, murder is somewhat acceptable.

            Put another way (and this will make you groan) the easiest way to spot that laws are generally a moral issue is to match them up to the 10 commandments or other religious guidelines. They are "moral" rules which seem to line up nicely with the laws of a given country. The US is pretty darn christian, and as such, the laws pretty much follow those two slabs that a mythical being brought down from a mountain.

            The concept of moral value laws is in no small part based on the idea of common morals, of common good.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Ninja (profile), 29 Sep 2015 @ 5:39am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Excelllent piece

              I don't think that theft or fraud causes you any physical harm. They may cause mental anguish, but no actual harm done. If I digitally remove all the money from your bank account, have I harmed any bytes along the way?

              Have you heard of psychosomatic symptoms? Seems not. I like to tell this little anecdote to people like you: Brazil had a president that was impeached from his position for various crimes. Before it happened he confiscated most financial savings from the people. The result was a heavy spike in suicide rates from people that lost a life of savings overnight. I was too young to understand but my father was lucky enough that he had used up all his savings buying the apartment we lived for most of our lives or he would have lost everything. But he had 3 friends who lost everything, despaired and committed suicide. So there is a lot of harm even from crimes that don't directly cause physical harm.

              Murder, for that matter, is a question of morals as well. Consider some countries where killing your wife or daughter because they brought some shame to your family is an acceptable outcome. It's not acceptable in the US. Why? Well, morals. You can go on and on about harm, but the reality is in some places, murder is somewhat acceptable.

              Yes, undeveloped societies or extremist religions do that indeed. And, oh wow, we as a society decided that this is wrong and unacceptable. Unless, of course, you are talking about the Middle Ages. Have I told you that you are disgusting?

              Put another way (and this will make you groan) the easiest way to spot that laws are generally a moral issue is to match them up to the 10 commandments or other religious guidelines. They are "moral" rules which seem to line up nicely with the laws of a given country. The US is pretty darn christian, and as such, the laws pretty much follow those two slabs that a mythical being brought down from a mountain.

              Really? That's why we decided the Government should be neutral, laic. Interestingly I have quite a few atheist friends that don't thin murder is ok. Go figure. So the laws should be based on something that provides equal rights and protections for everybody independently from religion or minority morals. You cannot kill me even if your religion says it's ok to kill the infidels because we both have the right to live enshrined into the law.

              You are utterly wrong in almost everything you said so far. And again your little tyrant inside is showing its face.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                Whatever (profile), 29 Sep 2015 @ 10:58am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Excelllent piece

                "You are utterly wrong in almost everything you said so far. And again your little tyrant inside is showing its face."

                Nice personal attack. You just ended a great discussion by being a dick.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 29 Sep 2015 @ 6:00pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Excelllent piece

                  Because you're the epitome of civil, reasoned discussion?

                  Shouldn't you be looking for the bogeymen PaulTs under your bed?

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              jupiterkansas (profile), 29 Sep 2015 @ 8:19am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Excelllent piece

              Either you didn't get my point, or you're trying to change my argument.

              I never said laws don't have a moral basis, I said the moral basis of laws where others are harmed is completely different than the moral basis where nobody is harmed, so you can't compare laws simply because of their moral basis, which is what you were trying to do.

              Also, theft and fraud harm people - not physically but financially. It's an act against another person or their property.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          ottermaton (profile), 28 Sep 2015 @ 1:26pm

          Re: Re: Re: Excelllent piece

          The problem at hand is that all laws are some sort of moral value.

          Thanks for the belly laugh! It's incomprehensible to me how someone could be so naive to believe such a thing.

          But, it's possible you may be right. If you can go to this site and tell me the moral basis behind each of those laws, I will concede that you are correct.

          Good luck!

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 29 Sep 2015 @ 6:53am

          Re: Re: Re: Excelllent piece

          "The problem at hand is that all laws are some sort of moral value."

          Not even close. Some laws overlap into moral issues, but the vast majority do not. They are purely procedural.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JMT (profile), 28 Sep 2015 @ 6:07pm

      Re: Excelllent piece

      "The confidence in police dropping is in no small part in a shift of much of the US towards a "me" mentality, where people break the law all the time and don't expect to be held accountable."

      That's a pretty big claim to make with absolutely nothing to back it up, not even some examples that might give us half a clue about this supposed rampant criminality you're referring to.

      "Law enforcement are left in the unhappy situation of enforcing laws that people refuse to respect - because their personal needs are way more important than societal peace and harmony."

      If there are laws that a significant proportion of the populace don't respect, then the problem is with the law (and the lawmakers), not the people. Bad laws are the antithesis of "peace and harmony". But again you provide no examples of these personal needs clashing with the law.

      "That last came to a head in New York in the early 70s, and Los Angeles in the 80s with street gangs who felt they had impunity to operate."

      Street gangs only represent a small fragment of society, and it's ridiculous to claim their attitudes have spread to society in general.

      "The population at a whole seems to have caught this point of view, and the result is a society where the rules just don't seem to apply."

      About the only thing I can think of where you might be right is widespread copyright infringement, but you couldn't possibly think that topic has a place in a discussion about the dangers supposedly faced by frontline police officers...

      "Dissatisfaction with the police comes in no small part from the lengths police have to go to try to enforce the rules, and the nasty things that happen when they get carried away or frustrated while doing it."

      First, police should not have to "go to lengths" to try to enforce rules, they should operate under reasonable constraints that try hard to minimise that amount of force used and harm caused. And second, cops that "get carried away or frustrated while doing it" should not be cops! There should be no place in civil society for law enforcement officers that have low levels of self-control or tolerance. These are things that they should be better at than the average person.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Sep 2015 @ 6:21am

    Don't protect bad cops. It puts good cops in danger.

    The police need to be seen policing themselves as a start to rebuilding trust in the populace. Bad cops getting protected especially when there is video evidence just acts as proof that there are no good cops to many.

    They need to be fired and prosecuted quickly and publicly. The unions should be behind this when the evidence is clear.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Sep 2015 @ 6:48am

      Re: Don't protect bad cops. It puts good cops in danger.

      I wish my union would be so supportive. I've had a co-worker suspended for not wearing the correct protective gear while working near high voltage electrical sources. The reasoning was he didn't fully understand the safety policies and the correct protection level for work performed. I guess if you only jeopardize the health and well-being of others, you get a pass. The deciding element must have you put yourself and several utility grids at risk.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    br3n (profile), 28 Sep 2015 @ 6:27am

    very hard to respect anyone that can lie to your face and it is ok'd by judges.they think they are the only one with rights or law on their side and sadly it has almost gotten to that point.
    br3n

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Sep 2015 @ 8:22am

      Re:

      This is a strong point of distrust for me. A year ago, I got a ticket for something I didn't do. The cop also tailgated me before giving me the ticket and then he made up this entire false narrative that I found convincing evidence to disprove in a court and the judge still sided with his narrative. The judge also openly stated that he didn't know if the law allowed for the inability to avoid committing an offense and he didn't seem to understand that a judge is supposed to make a judgment about such things.

      If the cop lies about a minor traffic violation and the judge takes his word for it despite evidence to the contrary, what's happening when cops lie about suspects pulling guns or resisting arrest?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 28 Sep 2015 @ 6:52am

    Misplaced enthusiasm

    If police and those that defend them took even a fraction of the energy they spend 'defending' their own and instead applied it to rooting out the rotten cops from among their number, this wouldn't even be an issue. As it is their own actions, or inactions as the case may be has created the very problem they're whining about now.

    Police feel that the public doesn't trust them? Yeah, well, they've got good reasons not to, and pretty much every single one of those reasons wears a badge or works for someone that does.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Sep 2015 @ 6:57am

    This is a self fulfilling prophecy they are choosing then.

    Treat the citizenry as the enemy and they will treat you the same right back.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Sep 2015 @ 7:39am

      Re:

      The opposite also holds true; it's a full cycle, and it's difficult to say who started it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Padpaw (profile), 28 Sep 2015 @ 10:06pm

        Re: Re:

        I would hold to the police ignoring crimes committed by police but prosecuting non cops that do the same crimes. Probably has a very high share of the blame.

        You earn respect, you do not demand it at the point of a gun

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Sep 2015 @ 10:00am

    He's got a point. I mean civilians are driving around in tanks, clad in body armor and wielding assault rifles... oh wait, that's the cops.

    And indeed, civilians kill approximately a thousand police a year, while only suffering 50 fatalities in that same time frame... oh wait, no, that's the cops again.

    And, if a civilian manages to shoot a cop, he'll have the entire justice system defending him... oops, wait, no, no... that's the cops again.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Sep 2015 @ 10:28am

      Re: The real fallout from Fergurson

      Not so much 'backed off' as 'refused to do their job properly in order to protect coworkers that have always done it poorly.'

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 28 Sep 2015 @ 11:34am

    War on Drugs Prohibition

    Seems to me that we could reduce police fatalities even more by getting rid of the War on (some) Drugs, which is just a variation of Prohibition.

    If police lives matter, perhaps we need to understand exactly what laws we want them to enforce and if it's truly worth it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Socrates, 28 Sep 2015 @ 2:32pm

      Re: War on Drugs Prohibition

      The "war on" is half the problem. It's the same with other "war on" and "tough on" efforts. Mostly it is bullying people that is unable to defend themselves, and does little to solve the problem.

      The war on drugs is one of the worst though.

      1) Free and available treatment for those who want to quit is more efficient, and doesn't harm anyone. Quite the opposite.

      2) Improving the prospect of young people is remarkable efficient. Improving public schools and reducing tuition would save lives. Cops lives also. And it has this "side benefit", it would help all those individuals and make USA more able to compete.

      3 Investigate the hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits in USA. The victims is over represented in suicide and tragic drug use. Then give the victims help.

      4 Make it illegal, then prosecute and jail those who do a business of billing rape victims.

      5 Religious domination that rape children is common in USA. When the church, synagogue, or mosque actively sabotage investigations, make it complicit. Children that have been subject to such acts is over represented in suicide and tragic drug use. Then give the victims help.

      6 Ease up on medical use of softer drugs

      7 Treat fake investigations at least as serious as the "crime" faked. Let there be no time limit on prosecuting panting of "evidence". This will make fake investigations less tempting.


      Abroad, stopping to topple democratic elected governments around the world would also help squash drug production.

      And not the least, stop protecting drug barons in Afghanistan against the Taliban (that has an edict against drug production). The drug production in Afghanistan has skyrocketed since the US invasion.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Logos, 28 Sep 2015 @ 1:16pm

    I certainly agree that there is not an actual war on police being waged, as reflected by the statistics. That rhetoric is simply hand waving to distract from the publicity war which is actually being waged (justified or not).

    I realize nuance is a lot to ask from intertube media and commentators, but I believe the numbers of officers killed and assaulted bear a little parsing.

    The murders of police in the 70's and 80's opened a lot of eyes in law enforcement regarding deficiencies in training and equipment. The fact that cops began to be provided with kevlar vests through federal programs, and then eventually mandated to wear them by department policies over the following decade is one of the big reasons police line of duty murders went down.
    Switching from six shot revolvers to semi-automatic pistols over the same period also changed the equation for the police surviving and winning a gun fight.

    Training also changed dramatically. A California trooper who was murdered on a roadside during a traffic stop was found dead with all the brass casings from reloading his revolver placed carefully in his pocket...just like he was taught to do on a static range to avoid a mess. Police also found themselves out gunned and in over their heads in a number of high profile incidents. Thus began the slow trudge of 'militarization', in which police sought training from military personnel who had actually been in numerous gun fights to provide realistic scenario-based instruction that didn't consist solely of standing on a flat range with feet shoulder distance apart putting holes in a paper target.

    The prevalence and use of SWAT teams also rose dramatically during this period. So many dangerous felons and situations that at one time would have been resolved by an under trained patrol officer were able to be handled by better trained and equipped officers. (As an aside, I do believe that SWAT use has become highly overused in law enforcement today, however that doesn't change the fact that their use has affected the number of officers killed in the line of duty).

    Finally, murder rates of every kind in the US are held down considerably by modern emergency medicine, to include police assaulted in the line of duty.

    All of these changes are reflected in the numbers. Assaults with firearms have remained fairly consistent over the last couple decades even as the death rate fell a bit. There may not be a war on cops, but it certainly isn't some unprecedented era of peace either.

    Regarding the number of citizens killed by police, refer again to the number of deadly assaults against the same as shown in the Balko article. Consistently right above 2000 officers assaulted with a firearm annually over the last couple decades, and at least another 1000 assaulted with edged weapons. The article did not include assaults with other potentially deadly weapons, but considering that at police are assaulted with deadly force over 3000 times a year and are able to resolve at least 2/3 of those situations without killing the suspect, it appears to me they are exercising quite a bit of restraint. Police have certainly killed people unjustly and need to be held accountable for it, but just throwing a number out there with no context is simply agenda driven drivel, no better than the other side wailing about the 'war on cops'.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Socrates, 28 Sep 2015 @ 3:34pm

      Numbers

      over 3000 times a year and are able to resolve at least 2/3 of those situations without killing the suspect
      That would give about 2000 killings a year. That is the double of the number the OP cites. If you have references to more complete statistics it would be great.


      in which police sought training from military personnel
      Ferguson showed horrendously bad police weapon discipline. Besides the risk of shooting live firearms into a crowd because of a cough, bump, or whatever other random event,

      it removes ability to escalate gracefully. Ability to escalate gracefully is imperative. Speak softly and carry a big stick is NOT pointing a gun at them, it is giving them the choice to be your friend. And doing so as clearly as possible. The idiots from Ferguson would be dead withing a week doing patrols in Irak or Afghanistan.

      it also cements the view that the police is the citizens enemy. Together with the G20 police scandals in Canada, these acts have eroded much of the trust that ensures a civil society. It harms the entire western world.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Socrates, 28 Sep 2015 @ 3:45pm

        Re: Numbers

        s/withing/within/g


        It is also worth mentioning that a accidental shot (or any loud bang) sometimes put US cops into "massacre mode", where they "have to protect themselves". It too is a reason to make some effort to avoid accidental shots.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Vic, 28 Sep 2015 @ 1:33pm

    K9 statistics?

    From the same site used for statistics (odmp.org) - did anybody check the K9 stats? For this year - 24 dead service dogs. Of that number 11 (ELEVEN) are dead by heat exhaustion! Whenever this is the reason it's usually the owner's/caretaker's fault. So, if we to believe that site's numbers, the police is responsible for almost half of their own dogs lost this year.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Mike Shore (profile), 28 Sep 2015 @ 3:46pm

    It's all about perspective.

    When (cops are) the public is constantly told that they’re under constant fire, or that every interaction with a (citizen) non-white American could be their last, or that they’re fortunate each time they come home from the job in one piece, it’s absolute poison for (police-community) human relations. That kind of reminder on a regular basis would put anyone on edge. We’re putting (police officers) the public in a perpetually combative mindset that psychologically isolates them from the communities they (serve) live in.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Logos, 28 Sep 2015 @ 3:51pm

    Re: Numbers


    That would give about 2000 killings a year. That is the double of the number the OP cites. If you have references to more complete statistics it would be great.


    The statistics are from the Balko article linked to in the OP (which, in turn, references the FBI), but I believe there may be a misunderstanding.

    According to those statistics, police are assaulted with deadly weapons over 3000 times annually, and there are 'only' approximately 1000 people killed by police - i.e. 2/3 of these situations are resolved without the suspect being killed, even when it may be justified by the suspect's use of deadly force against an officer.

    Regarding police weapon discipline, I am in full agreement. There are way too many videos of police pointing firearms at citizens for no good reason to deny there is a problem that needs to be addressed in police training.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Socrates, 28 Sep 2015 @ 5:12pm

      Re: Re: Numbers

      I stand corrected. Thanks.


      Regarding police weapon discipline, I am in full agreement. There are way too many videos of police pointing firearms at citizens for no good reason to deny there is a problem that needs to be addressed in police training.
      There is also some training peculiarities that have caused fatalities, that is based on a failed assumption of efficiency. An example is one-on-one gun disarmament training; where one police officer disarms a gun wielding colleague, and then give the gun back and repeat the exercise, over and over. In a live situation police officers have done just that - including giving the gun back. This makes it psychologically very difficult for the person holding the gun to let go of the gun.

      I hope the procedures have been revised now, but for those that have them drilled into muscle memory it will cause bad situations from time to time.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    got_runs? (profile), 28 Sep 2015 @ 5:12pm

    Look you just made the police state cry. Now we'll never get him to shut up.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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