Bill Barr's Speech To Law Enforcement Officials Is Full Of The Sort Of Lies Cops Love To Hear

from the spinning-bullshit-into-morale dept

Very few people in law enforcement want to be told the truth. Fortunately for them, those that speak to and for law enforcement are similarly uninterested in speaking the truth. The man at the top of the law enforcement food chain -- Attorney General Bill Barr -- has turned his second tour at the head of the DOJ into a bullhorn for the airing of law enforcement grievances. He encourages their unwillingness to comprehend the damage they've done has led directly to the animosity they're now experiencing. He reflects their unearned outrage, allowing them to feel their anger is righteous.

It isn't. But that's not what any law enforcement officers or officials are hearing from Bill Barr. His speech to the Major Cities Chiefs Association contains little more than unbridled support for law enforcement and disdain for the ungrateful public. It's also full of provably wrong assertions. Apparently, if cops must be lied to improve their morale, it's lies they will get, courtesy of the head of the DOJ.

Barr opens up by bashing the media for turning cops into villains. He doesn't actually cite the "bad apple" analogy, but it's in there, even if it's unspoken.

[T]he climate today has made the job 10 times more difficult than it has to be. It is a climate in which politicians are sometimes inclined not to support the police and sometimes they throw the police to the dogs. And it is also characterized by a deceitful national media that seizes on a relatively few incidents to scapegoat police as a whole and cultivate a false narrative that our police are systemically evil.

Cops are facing difficulty because more people with power are finally interested in holding them accountable for their actions. And the incidents are not "relatively few." They are daily occurrences. They happen multiple times a day. Every so often, one of them provokes national outrage. But most come and go without much notice outside of the local area. The number of bad cops willing to abuse and kill citizens may be a small percentage of the total force, but it's the larger number that allows these cops to remain employed and unaccountable. And throwing police "to the dogs" is an interesting turn of phrase, considering how often cops are willing to throw citizens to their dogs.

Barr needs everyone to believe holding cops accountable will result in increased criminal activity. To do so, he must bend the truth. Here's him twisting something provably false into a conclusory statement that says only hardline cop tactics can keep an unruly populace in line.

As you know, I served as Attorney General in the early 90’s, '91 and '92, when violent crime rates were at an all-time high – twice the level it is today. We got there through three-decades of lenience – the 60s, 70s and 80s – with soft-on-crime policies very much like those that many states are now adopting – with revolving-door justice, sky-high recidivism rates, and an unwillingness to take chronic violent predators off the street.

This led to the unbelievable carnage which peaked in 1992. The country came to its senses and there was a consensus that we had to strengthen our criminal justice systems and start targeting and incapacitate the chronic violent offenders that have always been responsible for the lion’s share of violent crime.

Those policies worked as they always do and always will work. For over 20 years we had falling crime rates, and violent crime was cut in half from its peak.

But these policies didn't work. And if they didn't work -- or at least are not solely responsible for falling crime -- then they sure as fuck don't always work. Here's just one of several studies showing no conclusive link between "tough on crime" policies and lower crime rates:

What Caused the Crime Decline? examines one of the nation’s least understood recent phenomena – the dramatic decline in crime nationwide over the past two decades – and analyzes various theories for why it occurred, by reviewing more than 40 years of data from all 50 states and the 50 largest cities. It concludes that over-harsh criminal justice policies, particularly increased incarceration, which rose even more dramatically over the same period, were not the main drivers of the crime decline. In fact, the report finds that increased incarceration has been declining in its effectiveness as a crime control tactic for more than 30 years. Its effect on crime rates since 1990 has been limited, and has been non-existent since 2000.

More important were various social, economic, and environmental factors, such as growth in income and an aging population. The introduction of CompStat, a data-driven policing technique, also played a significant role in reducing crime in cities that introduced it.

There's what worked: a whole lot of different things all coming together to bring crime down to historic lows. Even as crime numbers have dropped, killings by police officers haven't. Barr wants to applaud officers for participating in bringing crime down, but doesn't want them held accountable for actions they've taken that have undermined the public's trust in their law enforcement agencies.

The list of complaints goes on and on. Barr decries the "demonization" of police following the George Floyd killing and claims attempts to rein in police power will just lead us back to the high crime 90s, as if that era was devoid of tough-on-crime politicians. And he has no time for advocates who suggest putting some police funds to better use might benefit society as a whole.

It is said, that you cannot address crime by going after the criminals, but you have to address the “root causes” of crime – which means more social spending. The defund the police movement reflects this philosophy – take funding from police and put it more into social programs.

But this is a false dichotomy. I think everyone here today would agree that tough law enforcement cannot be the only solution for crime. We must also address the pathologies that contribute to crime. But they are not alternative approaches. They must complement each other. Strong law enforcement may not be able to do it alone – but it is indispensable – there can be no solutions without it. Law and order is the foundation of all social progress.

On the face of the Department of Justice building in Washington there is the Latin inscription which reads, and I am translating: “From law and order, everything else flows.” All the social programs in the world will not result in a hill of beans if there is carnage on the streets.

Very few people are suggesting shutting down law enforcement agencies and replacing them with social programs. It's Barr who's offering up a false dichotomy. And he's doing it with superheated language, suggesting cuts to law enforcement agency budgets will lead to "carnage." This is familiar rhetoric -- something offered up by former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg after a federal court found the NYPD's "stop and frisk" program unconstitutional. The criminal apocalypse promised by the mayor and NYPD officials failed to materialize when the department was forced to go a little "softer" on crime.

Barr then purposely mis-defines "community policing" so it fits his narrative.

Community policing is great, and all of us are for community policing. But somehow the soft-on-crime crowd thinks of it (and they are not really sure what it means, they like it, it’s a nice buzz word) as an alternative to a strong police response to crime. They think it’s an alternative targeting the chronic violent offenders and getting them off our streets, it’s a nice idea because it does not require that kind of tough action. But it is not an alternative. In fact, it does not work at all unless you have a strong criminal justice system that is effective in taking those offenders off the street. People are not going to cooperate with police and identify the predators for the police if they think the criminal is going to be out on the street the next day.

People still want a strong response to serious crime. What they don't want is being treated like criminals just because they're a certain race or live in certain neighborhoods. They want cops to have a relationship with the people they serve -- something that goes beyond viewing almost every resident as a potential perp. They want law enforcement agencies to understand the challenges they face and to use their power appropriately to make people's lives better, rather than just rack up meaningless arrest numbers that leave communities underserved and overpoliced.

Barr also misstates the effectiveness of law enforcement agencies. The supposed thin blue line is very thin, indeed. But Barr apparently believes his own hype.

As long as I can remember, the police, at the front end, have done a pretty good job. They identify and catch the criminal.

That's simply not true. They catch some criminals because some criminals are easy to catch. But when it matters most, cops simply don't get the job done.

[I]n the last 10 years, some 26,000 murders in major US cities went without an arrest…

Maybe it's time for some actual community policing.

The [Washington Post] said police attributed much of their difficulty solving the homicides to strained relationships with residents — for instance, the officers may be aware of the killer, but unable to convince witnesses to cooperate.

That's the big one. And the cops aren't doing much better with smaller crimes.

Low arrest rates are an issue not just for murders, but for most crimes in general. In 2018, the most recent year for which data is available, just 45.5% of all violent crime cases reported to police in America were "cleared," typically meaning a suspect was arrested, according to the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting Program.

When it came to property crimes, the clearance rate was much lower, at just 17.6%.

According to Barr, the problem here is everyone else, not the fine men and women in blue.

It is the rest of the system that often falls down – the prosecution and adjudication of the case, and even the corrections system and the reentry system, and the system of guarding against recidivism. These are where our weaknesses are today, not the effectiveness of the police.

The police have failed no one. Everyone fails the police. That's the takeaway from Barr's bitter speech, one delivered to presumably equally-bitter (and equally-entitled) police officials.

Finally, Barr says no one should touch qualified immunity. It should protect officers from their own actions -- the way it almost always has in the past. It should keep them from being held personally accountable for violating rights. Barr wants this left the way it is: let the courts use the Supreme Court's truly despicable precedent to avoid setting standards for officers, allowing them to wield their deliberate ignorance of laws and rights with maximum efficiency.

Barr does believe one thing should change: the general public.

If we wish to minimize excessive-force situations, the most important step we could take is to re-establish the principle that there is no valid justification for physically resisting a police officer. It used to be understood in this society, and that’s why we have strong laws against resisting police. Resisting police puts everyone in jeopardy. It leads to an escalating situation which endangers the suspect and it endangers the officer, and it endangers bystanders and innocent members of the public. And we must have zero tolerance once again for physical resistance to officers. That will save lives. It will save the lives of our police officers, and of suspects and of citizens.

Take your beatings and like it, America. Stop resisting even if you aren't resisting. Allow cops to chant the "stop resisting" mantra as they brutalize your non-resisting body. Do it for America.

The whole speech -- and it's very long -- is worth reading. It clearly shows the AG's disdain for anyone who isn't him, the administration, or a law enforcement officer. Barr is supposed to be serving the public's best interests. But ever since he took office under Trump, he's only served the government. This is a man who thinks respect for law enforcement can be forced on citizens. He's wrong. But he's also very dangerous.

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Filed Under: doj, law and order, police, william barr


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2020 @ 4:00am

    Sorry Tim, but you have a logic error:

    And it is also characterized by a deceitful national media that seizes on a relatively few incidents to scapegoat police as a whole and cultivate a false narrative that our police are systemically evil.

    This is 'true' in that the majority to civilian/cop interactions don't end up in dead civilians.

    But Barr is also making some very important points: Barr is clearly saying "if less than 50% of civilian/cop interactions result in dead/mauled/etc civilians, Barr is OK with that". He is also clearly saying that police NOT policing police (how we get a few 'bad apples' ruining the barrel) is good and acceptable.

    (So if your values are anything like mine, aka you believe "murdering people is bad", Barr is also saying "Monsters in support of Monsters" )

    Incidentally, it just occurred to me that policing has relationship to moderation (though obviously any analogy is imperfect): At scale, mistakes will be made, and they will be made often. As a society we should be working to minimize mistakes.

    Instead we have government agencies saying "no mistakes were make, murdering of civilians isn't a crime for cops."

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2020 @ 5:35am

      Re:

      Dead people (wtf is it with "civilians"?) are not the only measure of how bad so many cops are at their jobs.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2020 @ 5:46am

        Re: Re:

        Allow me to rephrase for you: Barr's (roughly paraphrase) assertion that "we are murdering them slower than we are having encounters with them." is disgusting.

        While it is true, it isn't actually a good point.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2020 @ 8:20am

          Re: Re: Re:

          one murder is too many

          I don't know what is so difficult for these assholes to understand about that. ffs

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

      • icon
        Uriel-238 (profile), 22 Oct 2020 @ 12:00pm

        "civilians"

        Despite police training lip service to Peelian Principles and the notion of law enforcement by consent, these do not reflect the reality that is faced by the people of the United States.

        The police are a paramilitary state agency, and in fact have become profoundly more militarized since the aughts. (One of the examples is the average of 500 SWAT sorties a year in the 1970s, and 50,000 SWAT sorties a year in the 2000s)

        We are not being policed by consent but by force. We are civilians being held under an antagonistic garrison, and some people have likened it to living under occupation by Martians.

        So, civilians is entirely appropriate, and the indiscriminate slaying of them is a war crime (as well as often a crime against humanity).

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2020 @ 12:51pm

          Re: "civilians"

          While in Europe, various countries have a gendarmerie as part of their police force, and those are real military units that do not kill anywhere as many people as the US police do.

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

          • icon
            Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 23 Oct 2020 @ 2:17am

            Re: Re: "civilians"

            In fact many countries in europe have criminals who do not kill as many people per capita as US police do.

            The actual factor at which US police kills people as compared to the rate at which european police kills people is 1000:1 - or more.

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

            • icon
              Uriel-238 (profile), 23 Oct 2020 @ 12:11pm

              "Criminals"

              Here in the states criminal is a class distinction rather than the perpetrator of a crime. As an occasional jaywalker and an unapologetic media pirate, am I a criminal? Technically yes. (I also click through age gates, block ads and bypass paywalls and ignore TOSes without remorse or consideration. I'm a bad man.)

              But our Dear Leader has demonstrated how we so easily conflate people who commit terrible crimes with groups that make us uncomfortable: immigrants, non-whites, the impoverished, LGBT+, the disabled... all the people we've lined up on our purge list. Too often we've heard undocumented immigrants disparaged here on TechDirt as criminal (and, implicitly, deserving of the suffering the US has inflicted on them).

              On the flip side, the US entirely ignores elite deviance, those captains of industry who engage in mass fraud, ignore EPA and OSHA regulations and in so doing cause exponentially more death, destruction and suffering than all the crime in the US combined. And yet, as the current Google litigation demonstrates, we only use regulatory laws to prosecute perceived enemies of the administration, rather than best interests of the public. Otherwise, yeah, the DoJ would be crawling over big oil for its environmental impacts, and telecommunications for its abuses of regional monopolies.

              I've taken a liking to the Pirate Party notion that when a crime is committed it's a failure of relationship between citizen and state, and it's the responsibility not just of the citizen to comply (or try to comply when it's not necessary) but also a responsibility of the state to understand why the crime happened in the first place, and what can be done to assure citizens have alternatives.

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

              • icon
                nasch (profile), 23 Oct 2020 @ 1:04pm

                Re: "Criminals"

                As an occasional jaywalker and an unapologetic media pirate, am I a criminal? Technically yes.

                Neither of those are crimes, so technically no. I agree with the rest of your TED talk though.

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

                • icon
                  Uriel-238 (profile), 23 Oct 2020 @ 1:34pm

                  Jaywalking

                  Huh.

                  About fifteen years ago (-ish) I biked across Geary Sunset avenue on Geary street in San Francisco on Labor Day weekend. It was around 2am.

                  A police cruiser zoomed off Sunset and pulled me over and two irate officers put me against a wall for jaywalking. They were paranoid as fuck; I stood there nervously while the junior officer insisted I needed to keep my hand where he could see them. (I had already been frisked for weapons, and was clearly compliant.)

                  I walked away with a $125 ticket and a stern lecturing.

                  I realized after the fact that they were looking for drunk drivers going home from parties. I wasn't that, but it was a slow night, and they were chomping for a bust. The way they barked at me, the way they were suspicious and afraid, I imagined they expected me to werewolf out at any moment.

                  It seemed they really didn't like perps. Even perps of...traffic infractions? I felt like a fugitive felon. Maybe every fifth ticket turned out to be a mobster hiding an SMG in a viola case. I'd only learn later, researching after playing Payday 2 how that officers rarely get shot by perps in the line of duty, and precincts can memorialize all such officers on a short web page.

                  Denouement: Soon after, I removed running lights from my bike I had previously installed. They looked cool, but, I realized, there were advantages to biking unseen, and just assuming drivers don't see me.

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

                • icon
                  Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 28 Oct 2020 @ 6:39am

                  Re: Re: "Criminals"

                  "Neither of those are crimes..."

                  Depending on jurisdiction. Jaywalking is actually a felony (criminal code) rather than simply an unlawful (civil) act.

                  Most jurisdictions with some sense do not have a set penalty for jaywalking however. In Sweden, for instance, the actual penalty was abolished as it was considered ridiculous to impose a mandate to send to already overburdened courtrooms, hundreds of thousands of people who crossed the street while the light was still on "don't walk".

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2020 @ 1:01pm

          Re: "civilians"

          Consent of the governed in the US was lost some time ago.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2020 @ 9:25am

      Re:

      Incidentally, it just occurred to me that policing has relationship to moderation (though obviously any analogy is imperfect): At scale, mistakes will be made, and they will be made often. As a society we should be working to minimize mistakes.

      Ummmm, I have never seen a moderation mistake turn into a death sentence for somebody.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2020 @ 9:43am

        Re: Re:

        (though obviously any analogy is imperfect)

        The explanation was in the quote

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2020 @ 10:06am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Understood, but the analogy fails in the aspect that law enforcement can ruin your life, both figuratively and literally, whereas moderation comes nowhere close.

          Let's not cover up the fact that people can, have, and will die unnecessarily in the hands of law enforcement, and relating it to something much more benign will lose that aspect of the analogy.

          We should not try to create an analogy nor rationalize it, all bad cops must be held accountable as do the cops who stand by watching without stepping forward to try and stop such bad behaviour.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2020 @ 10:09am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Let's not cover up the fact that people can, have, and will die unnecessarily in the hands of law enforcement, and relating it to something much more benign will lose that aspect of the analogy.

            I wasn't.

            As long as there's water near humans, you will always have people drowning. As long as there's actual law enforcement officers, people may die in interactions with them.

            However my point was the murders we are seeing are not accidents. They are murders. We should try to minimize the accidents, but the murders should not be tolerated at all.

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

            • icon
              Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 23 Oct 2020 @ 2:24am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "However my point was the murders we are seeing are not accidents. They are murders. We should try to minimize the accidents, but the murders should not be tolerated at all."

              I'd take even the "accidents" with a decent shovelful of salt when it concerns US police. There are some pretty clear and damning statistics of police killing people - and in the US that's much more than a thousand times more often than is the case in most other countries.

              In fact the US police kills more people per capita than the criminals of many other countries murder people.

              Those numbers alone tell me the US isn't just utterly broken at a fundamental level - but that it's being discussed rather than the whole citizenry storming washington with pitchforks and torches tells me that as long as americans keep believing in myth and fantasy about the country they live in nothing will ever get fixed. The horrible murder rates by police have been normalized for half a century or more. No one's ever cared because the ugly truth is that as long as the only people getting killed were poor people, black people, and alleged criminals of some kind, no one gave a rat's ass about it.

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

          • icon
            nasch (profile), 22 Oct 2020 @ 12:55pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            We should not try to create an analogy

            Why not?

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2020 @ 3:02pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Why not?

              Let's not cover up the fact that people can, have, and will die unnecessarily in the hands of law enforcement, and relating it to something much more benign will lose that aspect of the analogy.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2020 @ 10:14am

      Re:

      "Incidentally, it just occurred to me that policing has relationship to moderation "

      Moderation: remove or flag a user input
      Policing: murder with impunity

      I'm sorry, but I just do not see the relationship. Am I not seeing the "big picture"?
      Are the police just moderating the public with their hollow point slugs?

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

  • identicon
    Rocky, 22 Oct 2020 @ 4:07am

    Barr's message can be condensed down to:

    The beatings will continue until morale improves.

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

  • icon
    Peter (profile), 22 Oct 2020 @ 5:58am

    The main problem is the lack of clear goals

    If the crime rate now is half of what it was thirty years ago - is that good enough? Can we tolerate a bit more crime for a lot more freedom (and much smaller police budgets?).

    Ever since 9/11, anyone associated with security services seems to work on the assumption that crime and terrorism can - and must be - eliminated completely. Instead of basing proposals on solid analysis, police use story telling and anecdotes to request more resources. (a single guy trying to smuggle explosives on a plane in the sole of his shoes led to instructions for millions of air passenger to remove their shoes before boarding).

    And if we want the world to be perfectly safe and free of crime and terrorism, Barr's speech makes a lot sense. We need more police with more authorizations. Better weapons and more surveillance. Obviously more police officers. It will work - there is practically no crime in totalitarian police states.

    Practically no freedom, either.

    So maybe we'll need to think about where to draw the line. And then get Bill Barr and his police teams to explain what they need to achieve the goals. And what other options they have. Force them to choose between a shiny new tank or half a dozen more officers to patrol the streets. And hold them accountable if the new surveillance authorisation they lobbied for does not lead to an agreed number of convictions.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2020 @ 8:25am

      Re: The main problem is the lack of clear goals

      Crime/Freedom trade offs ...

      I'm sick of hearing this bullshit argument.
      One trades freedom for "security" because asshole politicians say so? These people are idiots and I am supposed to just go alone with their false dichotomies. I don't think so Tim.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2020 @ 9:32am

        Re: Re: The main problem is the lack of clear goals

        The problem is that a lot of idiots go along with their false dichotomies, and this being a democracy, it means that, like it or not, you must follow that.

        The problem of all this isn't fixed with protests or revolutions (sometimes it's a push in the right direction, though), but rather, with education.

        And of course, we all know that politicians don't want to deal with an educated population, that's why they loathe education.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2020 @ 10:17am

          Re: Re: Re: The main problem is the lack of clear goals

          "you must follow that"

          I don't think so.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2020 @ 6:39pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: The main problem is the lack of clear goals

            Yeah first you correct, then if they still don't get it make it simpler and if that fails slip into outright merciless ridicule. At no point go along with their bullshit.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2020 @ 8:43pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: The main problem is the lack of clear goals

            Yeah, you must. Because that's how a democracy works and is part of the implicit agreement you reach when you are in one.

            You can oppose to it all you want, you can speak against it, you can vote against it; but once the vote has been cast, a decision has been made and you must, even if grudgingly, do what is been agreed by the vote.

            Does that mean that you can't keep opposing it? No. But until the decision has been changed or revoked, you have agreed to do what it says.

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

            • icon
              Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 23 Oct 2020 @ 2:46am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The main problem is the lack of clear goals

              "Does that mean that you can't keep opposing it? No. But until the decision has been changed or revoked, you have agreed to do what it says."

              By no means. Martin Luther King said it best about just and unjust laws.

              The democratic vote means the current legislator holds a mandate to make law. When those laws become unacceptable to the citizenry they are rarely or never overturned by discourse or votes. They are overturned because enough people begin violating those laws to show them as morally unacceptable.

              To whit; Almost every atrocity known to man has been lawful and the ones trying to fight those atrocities, unlawful, in defiance of the laws enacted by the democratic mandate.

              For an example of this, google the founding fathers and the founding of the United States of America.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2020 @ 4:13am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The main problem is the lack of clear goals

              You are wrong.

              Tyranny is unacceptable whether it is rationalized upon paper or not makes no difference to those being oppressed, they will resist. Slapping the Democracy label upon it will not make it more palatable.

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

        • icon
          Uriel-238 (profile), 23 Oct 2020 @ 2:05am

          "This being a democracy"

          The United States hasn't behaved like a democracy for over a century, and arguably never considering the efforts taken to deny people the ability to vote.

          At a point that it starts acting like a democracy, maybe we'll start regarding it as one, but for now a small powerful minority rule with brutality and cruelty over the rest of us. For now, it's wrong to suggest that anyone should behave as if the US is a democracy, or serves its people. It does not.

          But the social contract is older than even the United States, and it informs why we no longer outlaw, or at least are not supposed to. It turns out some people in the US are gunned down by agents of the state no matter what they do, and hence are in that position.

          Outlaws are under no obligation to show obedience or respect to the society that has forsaken them, and if our nation's founders are to inform us, outlaws are obliged to war on the establishment and rend it asunder, to be rebuilt again including those who were outlawed. But of course they were thinking of the relationship between colonials and the English empire, not those peoples that even the colonies were glad to subdue.

          Barr is not interested in democracy or a social contract, but classic feudalism in which the aristocracy takes what it wants from peons because they have the means of force to do so, and (according to Barr's own system of belief) that power of might is divinely ordained by his deity of choice.

          Curiously, it's the same faith that informs the Federalist Society five (soon to be six) on the Supreme Court of the United States.

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

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 23 Oct 2020 @ 2:38am

      Re: The main problem is the lack of clear goals

      "If the crime rate now is half of what it was thirty years ago - is that good enough? Can we tolerate a bit more crime for a lot more freedom (and much smaller police budgets?)."

      It's not an honest analogy.

      Start off by comparing US crime rates, murder rates, killings by police, police armaments and budgets, etc, with the same statistics in other countries. You'll find that by the numbers as compared to most of europe, for instance, the US looks like a war-riven third-world hellhole. Not even the thugs "upholding the law" for Afghanistan or Sudan warlords kill as many per capita as US police officers do.

      US police kills - per capita - over a thousand times as many people as police from most other countries. Let that sink in for a second. You're at the point where you'd be better off just investigating the whole police corps and sack everyone with signs of having an issue - even if that means half of them get to leave with black marks to their name.

      Perfect safety is an illusion. There'll always be that one guy who grew from being a bullied kid with undiagnosed NPF's into the serial killer making the headlines. There'll always be that guy who one day just has enough and takes leave of his senses for just long enough to take a hammer to someone's head.
      Still, if you want a great deal of safety without having to turn into a police state where crime doesn't exist because cops do all the violence and extortion, then a good start would be to try to rebuild your society into one where not quite so many people think murder is the only option left. That works in the rest of the world.

      After that you're in a better place to determine what reasonable level of policing you want.

      Your analysis and your questions operate from the flawed assumption that status quo is something you can build from. It's not. It's so far from acceptable levels you can't claim parity with ANY of the G20 - or even any other nation in the industrialized world.

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

  • icon
    Richard M (profile), 22 Oct 2020 @ 7:54am

    Good Cop vs Bad Cop

    Bottom line is that a cop is not a good cop unless he/she does something about the bad cops.

    If you are standing around watching one of your buddies abuse someone and do nothing you are a bad cop.

    If you let cops lie about what they did and do nothing you are a bad cop.

    The argument that there are only a small percentage of cops that use excessive force, kill, rape, etc etc. is probably true.

    However if they are such a small minority why is the majority of supposed good cops not willing to do anything about them.

    If 90+% of the cops are good then getting rid of the outliers should be a walk in the park.

    If the so called good cops are not willing to fix the bad cop situation then they are bad cops

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2020 @ 8:32am

      Re: Good Cop vs Bad Cop

      The fact that it so easy to be a bad cop is a bit concerning.
      I have read accounts claiming that cops are encouraged to be assholes, beat the shit outta someone, get a free steak dinner.

      It is sad that cops are being asked to police themselves, as if our esteemed governmental figures are not allowed to do anything but grift.

      Law enforcement needs to be held to a higher standard.

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

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 22 Oct 2020 @ 9:47am

        Re: Re: Good Cop vs Bad Cop

        It actually seems to be even worse than that in that it's not so much easy to be a bad cop(though it very much is) but really hard to not be one, as any good cops are likely to find any complaints dismissed, the workplace a decided hostile one and face chastisements for not being a 'team player'.

        A building full of people who hold public rights and public lives in contempt is not going to be a friendly place to be for someone who doesn't share those views, such that there are plenty of incentives for them to either change their view to conform and be a 'team player' or leave and find a more 'welcoming' job.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2020 @ 10:23am

          Re: Re: Re: Good Cop vs Bad Cop

          Agreed.
          I too dislike that not a team player bullshit. When my job function includes the verification/validation that design requirements have been met, I am by definition not a team player but an independent reviewer. Otherwise the product is compromised, the customer will be pissed, the contract may be lost and I probably lost my job. But at lest I was a team player! Yay team!

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2020 @ 11:09am

      Re: Good Cop vs Bad Cop

      There is no incentive to be a 'good cop', and plenty of reasons to be a 'bad cop'...

      When a 'bad cop' expelled from his job can turn around and find 5 other Police jobs in neighboring counties/cities, there is no disincentive to being bad, since the downside is you get to see a new group of citizens to abuse who aren't used to you and know nothing about you.

      Eliminate the unions, and establish "Law Enforcement Licenses" that are revoked upon being found to be a 'bad cop' and things would change in a hurry.

      Think about all the professions that have to be licensed to practice their profession, since poor performance could have impacts on your livelihood: Lawyers, Accountants, Nurses (many forms), Doctors. If they make a mistake, it could cost you financially or personally, but none of them wield weapons of deadly force (other than Doctors) that can end your life because the cop 'has a bad day' or 'flinches and fires'. Why shouldn't cops have to be licensed, and when they are fired from one job, they lose their license and should have to re-apply, including additional training in whatever area they were deficient in?

      The only reason not to do this is that the 'blue gang' really is a Gang of Thugs who will do anything to hold onto their power (including the police unions, which need to be abolished if there is no licensing requirement for police officers).

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

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 22 Oct 2020 @ 11:47am

        Re: Re: Good Cop vs Bad Cop

        I'm not sure if a license would really solve the issue, since it would still require that the cop in question be found to have acted outside of acceptable limits, which as we can see is a nearly impossible bar to reach these days.

        An alternative I've seen brought up and agree with is insurance paid for and covering individual officers, offered by a third party rather than the police department as a whole and meant to cover any legal costs they might incur.

        Much like auto insurance where the more you get in accidents the higher the amount you need to pay for the insurance 'police insurance' costs would likewise increase the more legal actions an individual officer racked up, until eventually they would be unable to pay the amounts and would no longer be able to work as a cop. At this point I'd consider it reasonable to bar them for life from applying for that particular insurance again, as if they reached that point I'd say it's pretty they are either unwilling or unable to clean up their act and as such have no business as a cop.

        While this wouldn't solve all the problems it would at least put the financial burden on the appropriate party and provide an incentive to not engage in actions likely to bring about lawsuits.

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

      • icon
        Toom1275 (profile), 22 Oct 2020 @ 4:09pm

        Re: Re: Good Cop vs Bad Cop

        What "good" cops get:

        At best, railroaded out of their careers. At worst, being targeted for murder by their former colleagues.

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

  • icon
    crade (profile), 22 Oct 2020 @ 8:27am

    Every time someone does a really violent crime, just make them a police officer... Since they aren't crimes if they are police officers, the violent crime rate will plummet! tough on crime!

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2020 @ 8:33am

      Re:

      This is brilliant!

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2020 @ 11:14am

        Re: Re:

        I agree... then when someone gets caught doing something horrible, they can claim they were just 'auditioning' to be a police officer... did I get the job, I mean I ran over 4 people in a crowded intersection, just like I watched the cops on TV do it...

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

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 23 Oct 2020 @ 3:18am

      Re:

      "Every time someone does a really violent crime, just make them a police officer."

      Going by the statistics of US police killings this is already standard recruiting policy, and has been for a long, long time.

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

  • icon
    Thad (profile), 22 Oct 2020 @ 8:28am

    Trump claiming to be tough on crime in one sentence and a champion of criminal justice reform in the next is one of the weirder bits of his hypocritical rhetoric.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2020 @ 8:33am

    Is there actually a high ranking official that doesn't do whatever possible, say whatever possible to continue the change of The Land Of The Free, Home Of The Brave into the Police State we have now, where anyone, especially of colored skin, can and is shot and killed for doing nothing, simply because those who are meant to protect us want to, can do and do? I cant think of anyone, can you?

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

    • identicon
      The Real Donald Trump, 22 Oct 2020 @ 8:36am

      Re:

      Land of the fee, home of the slave

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2020 @ 9:36am

        Re: Re:

        Slave to the money.

        Where your rights are decided by the size of your wallet. There is hardly a country where that doesn't happen, of course.

        Just that the Americans love talking about freedom so much that they don't realize that they have a master already. A very strict one.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2020 @ 9:11am

    Impeach Bill Barr.
    Law 'n Order is the mantra Bill - right?
    I'm sure there is some excuse as to why you do not belong in jail, perhaps Donny will share a cell with you?

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

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 22 Oct 2020 @ 9:20am

    'Maybe if we kill more of them they'll respect us again...'

    'I don't get it. We beat them, we tase them, we pepper spray and even murder them on a whim, and then when they complain we do everything in our power to shield the one who did those things from any sort of accountability, why doesn't the public respect us?!'

    It is beyond rich that Barr would be whining that the public doesn't respect police, since it's people like him that are the root cause of that. People that refuse to accept that there is such a thing as a corrupt cop and that maybe police shouldn't be treated as both the most fragile of snowflakes and the dumbest things in uniform and instead treated as full grown adults who can and should be held accountable for their own actions.

    If people don't respect the police then it's probably because there's nothing there to respect, and mindsets like his are a big part of that.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2020 @ 10:27am

      Re: 'Maybe if we kill more of them they'll respect us again...'

      I think they are conflating the words respect and adulation.

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

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 22 Oct 2020 @ 10:43am

        'Grovel peasant!'

        I don't think they want adulation so much as submission, for everyone around them to 'know their place' and be properly obedient and subservient whenever interacting with the police who are of course their betters and deserve to be treated as such.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2020 @ 1:05pm

          Re: 'Grovel peasant!'

          Yeah I think yer right, gotta get on yer knees before kissing their jack boots.

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

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 23 Oct 2020 @ 3:39am

          Re: 'Grovel peasant!'

          I think there's probably a lot of fear as well. Sure, there are plenty of police officers who may have joined up because they honestly wanted to do good. And who have never abused anyone else. You'd think a good cop would have little to fear...

          But it'll be a rare precinct indeed which never had any rotten eggs around. And no matter how decent a person you are if you know that reporting that rotten apple will turn every last member of the precinct into your enemy then that's a LOT of peer pressure. Most just pretend to look the other way. And then become really upset when now other people keep reminding the conscience they just lulled to sleep that what being a cop and turning the other way is BAD.

          So every officer becomes scared at the idea of public oversight, because an officer who hasn't either abused his position or shut up when another officer did is one hell of a rara avis.

          Police officers who don't "fit in" will request reassignment, and do so until they find a place which corresponds to their own code of behavior. So bad cops get funneled into workplaces where standards are low, and the reverse of that happens with good officers as well. So what's a precinct with high standards like? Well, it's the popular work place in the low-crime area where the wealthy and erudite live, or the peaceful rural town. A long waiting list to get a place there, because it's a nice job with few risks.

          The precinct with low standards, eager to take anyone? Responsible for the neighborhood on the wrong side of the tracks. Disproportionately black, dilapidated, and poor.

          It's no wonder that the increased stratification of US society now produces fucking horrifying numbers of police malfeasance aimed at the black and the poor. Every bad officer on the force is funneled into low-popularity areas. Which is why every time shit like Ferguson happens there's a list a mile long of hundreds or thousands of examples of officer malfeasance.
          Meanwhile in prosperous neighborhoods the odds are far better your only contact with local law enforcement is with polite and soft-spoken professionals because the openly unacceptable ones were quietly shuffled into the shit-pit precinct catering to the local ghetto.

          But when you start looking at the bad cops in that shit-pit of a precinct the trail will leave a wide track of breadcrumbs straight to the doors of the more upper-crust above-board precinct which bloody well knew every last offense made by the bad officer they urged to go elsewhere rather than report them. They know damn well they're guilty of negligence. Of turning the other way. Of not dropping their partner in the cacky just because he happened to be a racist thug or casual murderer.

          So every police officer, no matter their moral history, just bands together under Code Blue whenever any form of oversight threatens, or criticism comes up. It's a fear-driven response to questioning their authority because the question itself indicates others realize everything isn't right.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2020 @ 4:20am

            Re: Re: 'Grovel peasant!'

            I know someone who was considering a career in law enforcement until they saw the movie Training day.

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

            • icon
              Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 28 Oct 2020 @ 6:45am

              Re: Re: Re: 'Grovel peasant!'

              It'd be nice if that movie wasn't pretty much not a pretty good portrayal of a precinct infected with this precise sort of rot. What the actual hell are you supposed to do when the guy you have to trust to have your back in a possible armed showdown steals, deals drugs, or takes bribes?

              And thus good cops become shady, meaning outright bad.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2020 @ 11:37am

    That's a relief

    there is no valid justification for physically resisting a police officer.

    Oh good, for a moment I was worried... I was worried that police officers are normal human beings that can make mistakes, break the rules or even 'go too far'... so it's good to know that they're not... they must be some sort of angelic beings with divine infallible powers to know what's "good" and "bad"!
    Phew!

    That's such a relief!

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2020 @ 1:08pm

      Re: That's a relief

      Its funny that they call it disobeying a lawful order when they think it is lawful for them to order you to do anything they so please.

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


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