Police brutality is a blue-state problem

tamirriceIn December, a grand jury in Cleveland followed a prosecutor’s recommendation and declined to indict the officer who killed twelve-year-old Tamir Rice. More than a year after the incident that officer, Timothy Loehmann, remains at work drawing a salary from taxpayers. Cleveland’s District Attorney, Mayor, and Police Chief are all Democrats. The Cleveland Police Chief, Calvin Williams, is black.

Last summer in the Dallas suburb of McKinney, a white police officer was recorded pulling his gun on black teenagers at a pool party. At one point the officer wrestled a 14-year-old girl to the ground with no provocation. The officer’s actions were denounced by McKinney’s Police Chief the very next day. Three days later the officer stepped down. He no longer wears a badge or collects a taxpayer-funded salary. McKinney’s civic leadership is white and Republican.

There is a missing element in public efforts to end the culture of police brutality against black Americans. More than racism is at work in this problem. Black Lives Matter has displayed the courage to challenge the structural racism that subjects black and other minorities to humiliating and occasionally lethal mistreatment by public servants. Yet, neither BLM nor any other major force on the left has mustered the courage to tackle the rest of the problem. As a consequence, their efforts to date have generated nothing but heat.

Police brutality as a structural issue grows from two sources: racism and an absence of accountability. Red states are rich with racism, but the relative weakness of their public employee unions leaves open a potential path to accountability. For all the racism that plagues Southern states, police there are less likely to mistreat black citizens and far more likely to face discipline when they do.

Our largest, oldest urban areas have a long history of entrenched union power. No force at the state or local level possesses the political muscle to hold police (or educators) accountable for any failure to serve the public interest. That fact is reflected in the quality of their public institutions like police and schools.

This is a very simple problem. When a public servant in a place like Oklahoma or Texas abuses the public trust, elected officials there possess the authority to discipline them. In Northern states where government employees are insulated by the overwhelming political influence of their unions, no one has the power to subject public servants to appropriate discipline. Create an environment in which the worst performers cannot be properly weeded out and your bottom ten percent will set the tone for everyone else.

A quick survey of police brutality cases, North and South, makes the problem starkly obvious. Here are a few examples of police abuse in the North with links to the case details and a summary of the outcomes:

Ohio – John Crawford III – Killed by police in August, 2014

Officers in the case were not charged with any crimes. They remain on duty receiving pay. The department still has time to pursue some form of disciplinary action, but will probably decline.

New York – Eric Garner – Killed by police in July, 2014

Perpetrator remains on duty. None of the officers involved in the incident have faced criminal charges or internal discipline. Only one officer is being referred for discipline, a black supervisor who never laid a hand on Garner. Deadline for disciplinary charges has passed. A civilian who filmed the incident is the only person charged with any crime.

Maryland – Freddie Gray – Killed by police in April, 2015

Officers on leave, but still employed and receiving their pay. Police arrested one of the people who filmed the incident. First of six trials of the officers resulted in a mistrial. Interesting note here, three of the six officers involved are black and one is a woman. Apart from a newly elected Governor, every official in the chain of authority all the way to the US Justice Department was a Democrat. All of the local officials, including the police commissioner, were black.

By contrast, a few examples from Southern states demonstrate how justice operates where public employee unions cannot block accountability:

Texas – Sandra Bland – Suicide in police custody after needless arrest in July, 2015

Arresting officer has already been indicted for perjury. Termination proceedings have started. All of the officials involved at the state and local level are Republicans.

North Carolina – Jonathan Ferrell – Killed by police after a car accident in September, 2013

Officer was arrested the next day. He was suspended without pay and charged with manslaughter. Trial ended in a hung jury. City of Charlotte settled a claim with the family of the victim for $2.25m.

South Carolina – Walter Scott – Killed by police fleeing traffic stop in April, 2015

Officer who shot Scott was fired within days. Two months after the incident the officer was indicted for murder. Trial is pending. The state and local officials involved are all Republicans.

These are only a few examples that demonstrate the wider pattern. How this problem actually works on the ground can be illustrated with a look at the union contract that blocks the City of Chicago from disciplining officers.

Officers cannot be charged with perjury unless they were first allowed to review prior statements and other evidence, making a perjury charge (as in the Bland case) virtually impossible. Officers under investigation get to know the identities of those who will interrogate them. They get to keep disciplinary proceedings private.

Officers can’t be removed from paid status until an arbitration process has been completed. They can even decline a lie-detector without facing any penalty. Most importantly, they get to make their first statement in any disciplinary case in private, with their supervisor. It is virtually impossible to subject a Chicago police officer to discipline without the full cooperation of the department and the union. In other words, so long as an officer does nothing to upset his union hierarchy, they are beyond accountability.

Why do officers in Chicago and other big cities enjoy this degree of immunity while public servants in the South do not? Southern states never developed powerful public employee unions. In the North, unions deliver enough of the political ground game to elect the public officials who will subsequently be on the “other side” of contract negotiations. And state laws force local governments to reach agreements with those unions, effectively blocking any escape. The Democratic Party to which black voters owe unquestioned loyalty is controlled by unions that will always place their own interests above black voters. Checkmate.

Southern states generally lack mandatory collective bargaining agreements and their public employee unions lack the political organization enjoyed by Northern peers. Southern states have plenty of racism, but the public will not tolerate extreme abuses. Much more importantly, the public possesses the power to hold police and other public workers accountable. Voters in Chicago or Baltimore may be less influenced by racism, but voters there have no leverage to hold police consistently or reliably accountable.

If Black Lives Matter is serious about stirring up more than passion, they will have to find the courage to tackle the other half of the police brutality problem. For a movement on the Democratic left, tackling the white supremacy element of this problem is too easy to be taken seriously. There is no major constituency on the left committed to preserving white supremacy.

So far, BLM is still pulling their punches when it comes to public employee unions, reflecting their weakness beneath the surface. The movement is rich in left wing performance art, putting on obnoxious shows at Sanders’ campaign rallies and blocking traffic. Yet their supposedly ambitious ‘Campaign Zero’ amounts to a polite request for police unions to remove contract provisions insulating abusive officers. They’ll congratulate themselves for shutting down the Bay Bridge, but when it comes time to confront a real political powerhouse, they are suddenly flush with pragmatism.

When reformers muster the will to challenge their union “allies” on the left, we may see an opening for real change. That kind of change could open up a new era of prosperity for Northern cities stunted by corrupt and unaccountable public institutions. Unfortunately, it is far more likely that this movement will simply be absorbed into the numbing static of the professional left, filling a booth between Code Pink and Occupy Wall Street at a future progressive bloggers convention. That would be a loss for all of us, left, right and center.

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

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190 comments on “Police brutality is a blue-state problem
  1. […] From a post in January, Police brutality is a blue-state problem: […]

  2. Titanium Dragon says:

    Tamir Rice isn’t an example of police brutality. And you are, I think, a bit confused about what is going on here.

    Rice’s death was tragic, but it was a tragedy of his own making.

    Garner’s death was the result of him being obese and unhealthy and resisting arrest.

    The Walter Scott shooting, conversely, was much more obvious and direct malfeasance.

    That said, police unions are often bad.

    The thing is, though, I think you’re assuming that the liberals are going to jettison the blacks before they jettison the police unions. That’s a dangerous assumption to make.

  3. hfuyf ugyuftu says:

    In Red State Texas the cops like to shove their hands up your cooch and bum on public thoroughfares, even after they had to make it specifically against the law last year.

  4. johngalt says:

    So if Trump actually wins the nomination, who is his Admiral Stockdale?

  5. rulezero says:

    Chris, looks like your blog post about whites realizing that nonwhites are on a more level playing field is spot on. Check out this CNN article:

    http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/27/politics/donald-trump-voters-2016-election/index.html

    • johngalt says:

      I was just about to post the same link. Here’s the gist of it, boiled down…
      “I mean, it seems like we really go overboard to make sure all these other nationalities nowadays and colors have their fair shake of it, but no one’s looking out for the white guy anymore,” he said.

      He being, I kid you not, a guy named Rhett. He was from North Carolina and not Georgia, but still.

      • flypusher says:

        Whites, as a group, still have most of the wealth, and hold most of the elected offices. Now as an individual White person, YMMV, but Whites as a whole are still the best off.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I think the character of Rhett Butler was actually from South Carolina.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I think what it all boils down to is that most people, no matter the ethnicity, will vote for whom or what is in their own best interests. Voting is rarely completely altruistic.

      • johngalt says:

        You’re right, Tutt! From Charleston, I think. As a native Atlantan I should be ashamed of my GWTW lapse but, in fact, I’ve only seen the movie once (and once was enough).

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I read Gone With the Wind, all 1024 pages of it, when I was 16, before I ever saw the movie. I prefer the book. It’s much richer in detail.

      • objv says:

        Tutt, I also read Gone with the Wind when I was young. A few years ago, I decided to read it again and was shocked at how offensively the black characters were depicted. I wondered how the stereotypes didn’t make an impression on me when I was younger. I guess I was more interested in the romance at the time. 😦

  6. MassDem says:

    It looks like the strategy of letting the Bundy Gang come and go as they pleased finally worked. The FBI arrested most of them at a traffic stop while they were heading to some out-of-town destination. One of the militia men was killed when he resisted arrest. The FBI has since caught up with the remaining guys.

    They are in HUGE and well deserved trouble.

    http://news3lv.com/news/nation-world/leader-of-oregon-occupation-ammon-bundy-three-others-arrested

  7. Ryan Ashfyre says:

    Good ol’ David Brooks is starting to freak out. Nobody tell him that if Trump takes Iowa this Monday, even Cruz has said that he thinks he’ll be unstoppable.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/26/opinion/stay-sane-america-please.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-left-region&region=opinion-c-col-left-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-left-region&_r=0

    Choo choo, Republican Party. The sound of the pain train is getting closer and closer…

    • Griffin says:

      I’ve had the opinion for a while now that Brooks is sane but also something of a coward and sellout who will always be around to have some apologism or denialism on hand for the “Establishment Republican” crowd so that they can continue to believe their party is functional.

      He’s not showing many signs of improving, as seen by his rampant denial of the problem here (and thus refusal to deal with it) along with his false equivalence between the full on crazy Trump/Cruz (who are both so unstable that they have both burned every bridge even with politicians in their OWN party) and the very liberal but not actually crazy Bernie Sanders, mostly so he can pull a “BOTH SIDES DO IT” gambit (which allows Establishment Republican types to default to their favorite copout, Both Sides Are Bad So Vote Republican”). If there is a pundit who embodies the concept of a Very Serious Person more perfectly than Brooks they would probably fade into non-existance from how transparently fake they would be.

    • MassDem says:

      Trump boycotting Thursday’s debate on Fox…good idea or nah?

      • rulezero says:

        I think it’s brilliant, personally. He has nowhere to go but down at this point and another debate could possibly bring about something that would potentially reduce his numbers. This way, he can still keep the media spotlight on him without even being present.

        As an aside, I think it’s funny that for all of his talk about immigrants, he likely would’ve been castigated as Irish if this were 120 years ago. I guess he got lucky.

      • MassDem says:

        I’m not a huge Michael Moore fan, but this is hilarious.
        Recently he went on “The Kelly File”, ostensibly to plug his latest movie, and ended up hijacking the entire conversation. Enjoy!

      • flypusher says:

        I have to agree that it’s a smart move. He really has nothing to gain by debating, and look at all the buzz he’s getting. Buzz is a narcissist’s lifeblood.

      • johngalt says:

        A savvy GOP candidate (if such a think exists) would pound on Trump for not respecting the process and not respecting the voters. This message would probably be effective with Iowans.

      • flypusher says:

        “A savvy GOP candidate (if such a think exists) would pound on Trump for not respecting the process and not respecting the voters. This message would probably be effective with Iowans.”

        In normal times, I’d agree, but look at what Trump has gotten away with saying, with no decline in his poll #s. We are living in very strange times, and the old rules are on shaky ground.

      • johngalt says:

        I don’t think such an approach would peel off too many die-hard Trump supporters, but it might help the candidate who made that argument.

  8. rulezero says:

    If I’m reading Nate’s article correctly, he’s just as clueless as the rest of us when it comes to what the Republican Party actually is:

    http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-republican-party-may-be-failing/

  9. tuttabellamia says:

    One thing that is cool about this blog is that we the participants are from different parts of the world, yet we all come together here to share our personal perspectives.

  10. The union theory is interesting, but… I think in the vast majority of these cases, by the time the wheels of justice are done grinding, justice is generally served. With respect to police shooting incidents, the bottom line is very simple: if responding officers have reason to believe that a subject is, a) armed, and b) poses a clear and present threat to public safety, then you can rest assured they are going to aggressively interdict that individual. Gunfights are not fought under Marquess of Queensberry rules; officers are under no obligation to be shot at by an armed subject *before* responding with deadly force. Sadly, toy guns and BB guns are often indistinguishable from the real thing under the dynamic circumstances of such encounters. This was the case in both the Crawford and Rice (not listed) incidents. Such incidents are tragic, and while it’s often possible to fault the decision tree in the events leading up to the shooting, when it comes to the event itself, it’s difficult to prove any wrongdoing on the part of the officers involved.

    • johngalt says:

      Did you watch the Tamir Rice video? It is hard to watch it and argue that there is any remote way those officers should still carry a badge. As someone who loudly proclaims his rights to be armed at any and all times, you might want to think twice about your standards for police restraint in the “dynamic circumstances of such encounters.” You are one nervous cop away from encountering some significant unpleasantness.

      • “You are one nervous cop away from encountering some significant unpleasantness.”

        Indeed. Something to remember *every* time you interact with a person in blue, jg. The firearm on his/her hip is not a fashion statement. Precisely because I am usually armed, I am extraordinarily polite, cooperative and compliant whenever I am afforded the “opportunity” to interact with law enforcement. (Although I tend that way regardless; my family includes LEOs, so I’m a bit sensitive to the crap they are subjected to.)

      • And jg, I have of course watched the T. Rice video, many times. I believe the officers involved made a severe tactical blunder by rolling up directly upon Rice; this made it impossible for the officer who did the shooting to react in any other way. A slower approach, with contact initiated at a greater remove, and Rice might still be alive. Then again, maybe that kind approach ends up with shot up or dead officers, and a cop killer on the loose. It’s really, really hard to second guess that kind of situation.

        There’s a lot that happens before shots are ever fired. (In fact there are whole books written on the subject, e.g. http://www.amazon.com/Left-Bang-Marine-Combat-Program/dp/1936891301 and http://www.amazon.com/Gift-Fear-Gavin-Becker-ebook/dp/B0036Z9U2A) There are also entire books written on the topic of the opposite tragedy, when officers fail to react to a deadly situation with sufficient violence of action (e.g. http://www.amazon.com/Newhall-Shooting-Tactical-influential-Concealed-ebook/dp/B00APPBRUM and http://www.amazon.com/Brandishing-Bud-Bradshaw-ebook/dp/B005LXX7B0) In all of these tragedies (and that’s what they are, in the classical sense) there are a chain of events leading up to the incident that are generally completely unseen by the public. But those investigating the incident, whether it’s a grand jury, or internal investigation staff, do see (and study) that chain of events in detail. We have to trust that those people will get it right; we are in no position to do so.

      • goplifer says:

        Tracy, this is a suspicious spot for your libertarian impulses to suddenly fail.

        When my kid took his airsoft gun to the park and the neighbors called the cops, the officers didn’t shoot him. I wonder why…

      • johngalt says:

        It’s not really that hard to second guess the Tamir Rice incident. Every single thing the officers did was wrong. That they still have badges is a crime.

        Tracy, let’s say you have the misfortune of being in a store being robbed. You decide to play hero and pull your gun to protect yourself just as the cops burst in. Or maybe you don’t, and raise your hands as ordered, and your shirt tail lifts up exposing your weapon to jittery cops assessing this tactical situation. What are the chances of this situation going south? What are the chances of that if the officers know they can act with impunity? What are the chances if your skin tone is a few shades darker the the smiling guy in your avatar?

      • jg, any time weapons are drawn or even just exposed in a situation like you describe, you have to understand that you’re in high jeopardy – it comes with the territory. There’s voluminous literature on how to conduct yourself after a self defense shooting (e.g., http://www.amazon.com/Gravest-Extreme-Firearm-Personal-Protection/dp/0936279001), but there is nothing that absolutely guarantees you won’t get shot by responding officers. Avoiding getting shot by the bad guys is only the first hurdle in what is obviously a horrible, no good, very bad day.

      • “When my kid took his airsoft gun to the park and the neighbors called the cops, the officers didn’t shoot him. I wonder why…”

        Well, Chris, I am shocked, simply shocked, that you would allow your child to have such a horrible toy! What are you thinking? 😉

        As for why your boy wasn’t shot, ask yourself a few questions: When was the last time a cop was shot, or even assaulted, in your sweet-polly-purebred neighborhood? When was the last time *anybody* was shot, or assaulted in your neighborhood? When was the last time somebody was arrested in your neighborhood for felony firearm possession? Or dealing drugs? Or soliciting? Or public intoxication? Or disturbing the peace?

        Do you honestly believe cops don’t tailor their conduct to their surroundings? Is there not a reason why you choose to live in your white-bread subdivision, rather than the projects? Whatever that reason might be, Chris, I’m pretty sure it’s not driven by the political power of your local police union. Nope, I’m guessing other factors might be at play.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        >] “As for why your boy wasn’t shot, ask yourself a few questions: When was the last time a cop was shot, or even assaulted, in your sweet-polly-purebred neighborhood? When was the last time *anybody* was shot, or assaulted in your neighborhood? When was the last time somebody was arrested in your neighborhood for felony firearm possession? Or dealing drugs? Or soliciting? Or public intoxication? Or disturbing the peace?”

        Interesting approach, Tracy. By your line of questioning, one might infer that a young black child carrying an airsoft gun (or really any toy that resembled a firearm) in an otherwise peaceful neighborhood would be at the same supposedly virtually nonexistent level of danger that Chris’ boy was.

        How about we perform a thought experiment and flip your logic on its head, shall we? Say we have a hypothetical high-crime neighborhood and your ten-year old boy somehow manages to get a hold of a loaded shotgun and sneaks out of the house with it. Someone sees him and calls the police. As a right-minded father whose concern is first and foremost the safety of his son; given the choice, would you rather your son be White Caucasian or African-American?

        Please tell me I don’t have to answer that for you. Pretty please with sugar on top? 🙂

        That aside, you actually do have a point in that cops, of course, tailor themselves to their surroundings. You can say the same for anyone who wants to do a good job, but that’s really just a cute little argumentative tangent to divert personal responsibility away from individuals. The buck has to stop somewhere, as any responsible, law-abiding gun owner would tell you.

        A police officer doesn’t have to be an overt racist to drive right up to an African-American boy and shoot him dead. Things would be so oh so much simpler if that were the case, but it ain’t. And each and every time an incident like that occurs and goes unpunished, we’re all the worse off for it because it sends the message that white privilege still exists and treats people as unequal simply because of the color of their skin.

        Now we’re absolutely going to win out over that in the end, don’t you worry about that. As for what to do right now, we need to find a way to get this kind of open discussion out into the political mainstream, and we a need a strong and healthy Republican Party with people like Lifer and others leading the way to help do that.

      • flypusher says:

        “And jg, I have of course watched the T. Rice video, many times. I believe the officers involved made a severe tactical blunder by rolling up directly upon Rice; this made it impossible for the officer who did the shooting to react in any other way. A slower approach, with contact initiated at a greater remove, and Rice might still be alive. Then again, maybe that kind approach ends up with shot up or dead officers, and a cop killer on the loose. It’s really, really hard to second guess that kind of situation.”

        This type of excuse making is a big part of the problem. Are you really trying to sell the notion that setting up, say, 20 yards away, using the car for cover, and having your guns already drawn and aimed at the suspect as you order him to put up his hands is going to be more dangerous than what they ended up doing? No. Just no. That’s bullshit. If you can’t figure that out, you shouldn’t have the badge and the gun (and surprise, surprise, the guy who fired the shots has a rather spotty employment record!). That these two screw ups are STILL drawing a paycheck is an outrage, and we haven’t even mentioned that they made no attempt to give first aid or even call for it. Damn straight I will second guess when the screwups are this egregious.

        “But those investigating the incident, whether it’s a grand jury, or internal investigation staff, do see (and study) that chain of events in detail. We have to trust that those people will get it right; we are in no position to do so.”

        This case is a textbook example of why people are losing trust. They say a DA can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich if they really want that conviction. But the less discussed flip side is that they can also no-bill Charles Manson. You don’t think it’s just a wee bit biased that they cite “expert” reports about how the officers faced a split second decision life and death decision (technically true), but somehow those experts don’t have much to say that this decision was easily avoidable, and was caused by poor choices? That’s a big missing detail.

        They never gave that kid a chance. I doubt he even had time to realize what was happening.

      • Ryan, we know statistically that the violent crime rate is far higher in the African-American segment of the populace than it is for other races/ethnic groups, so even in your hypothetical reversal of setting, it would be objectively safer for Chris’ son to be white. You’ll note this has absolutely nothing to do with white privilege, per se, but is rather a simple statement of fact based on FBI crime stats. Now, I’ve no doubt that you’ll come up with some cockamamie explanation for how violence in the black community stems from white privilege, or some such, but its not particularly germane to the matter at hand. Cops want to arrive at home alive at the end of the day just like you or me. When confronting a putatitively armed black subject in a high crime neighborhood, you can expect that said cops will be more aggressive and more solicitous of their own safety than they might be in a less dangerous setting. Racism doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with it.

      • goplifer says:

        ***You’ll note this has absolutely nothing to do with white privilege***

        Why are people so blind? Had a great conversation this week with a colleague at work about her kid’s “arrest” for marijuana possession. The entire conversation was about something else – ACT prep. The marijuana arrest was just a side-note about the “pressure.”

        The cops just brought her home. They give the kids a specially-designed “warning” that doesn’t go on their record. Not even an arrest record. No deferred adjudication. Nothing. No concern, no worry, the whole story was about something else.

        Had another conversation with another colleague the same week about kids getting in a fight that had to be broken up by the cops. No arrest. Not even a warning. Kids delivered to their parents in a squad car. It’s good to be white.

        In white neighborhoods the cops are an extension of the community. In black neighborhoods they are an occupying force with no ties, no accountability, and only the barest capacity to communicate.

        With all due respect, and I acknowledge Tracy that much respect is due, those stats about race and crime are total horseshit.

        White kids get treated differently for exactly the same behavior. It’s nice, really. And frankly it works a lot better than slamming the door on them the moment they step out of line, but we only extend that privilege to kids in certain neighborhoods who match certain demographics.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        ^^Lifer pretty much stole all the thunder there, so there’s not much else I can add that he didn’t just say. Still, might I say that I think it’s really just adorable how you always seem to be just one short step away from conceding what pretty much everyone else here already admits? For example:

        >] ” You’ll note this has absolutely nothing to do with white privilege, per se, but is rather a simple statement of fact based on FBI crime stats.”

        And those stats are based on a foundation of… what, exactly? Magical fairy dust that just so happens to have black communities at a lopsided rate of increased poverty, unemployment and incarceration? Whatever could the reason for all that be, I wonder?

        That aside, this is one area in which Republicans, whatever their intent, royally f***** up on. The so-called War on Drugs, which Nixon started and Reagan escalated immensely, has been disastrous for the African-American community. Democrats are hardly innocent in this either, as Clinton doubled-down on crime in the 1990s purely for political reasons in that he wanted to get the GOP off the Democrats’ back for their tough on crime stance.

        One can only be grateful that we’re finally starting to making substantive reforms on this, with bi-partisan support in Congress actually making some inroads on what to do next.

        >] “Now, I’ve no doubt that you’ll come up with some cockamamie explanation for how violence in the black community stems from white privilege, or some such, but its not particularly germane to the matter at hand.”

        Cockamamie? I dunno why, but that word always cracks me up, kinda like Scalia’s infamous “argle-bargle.” 😄

        Anyways, much as it pains me to do so, I’m going to have to stick the proverbial stake into your assumption there. It’s not as simple as that. Persistent rates of poverty, unemployment, incarceration and other sordid statistics stem from decades and even generations of discrimination that has essentially left the African-American community playing catch-up. Setting aside the fact that we could make immense inroads into this problem with a basic federal minimum income, this is the reality behind why we have insulated communities like the one Lifer lives in and why we have others with majority African-American populations that seem far and away like second-class areas, subject to lackluster response on the state and local level, and even at the federal level. Just take a look at the pathetic early response to Flint, Michigan if you want to see what I mean.

    • duncancairncross says:

      Hi Tracey
      We don’t have enough information to “judge” on the merits of any individual case
      BUT
      The fact that your police kill people at about 100 times the rate of the rest of the western world shows that there is a tiny tiny wee problem there

      • Well, duncan, the plebs throughout the rest of the world have generally been disarmed by their betters (i.e., the ruling class), so that might have a wee bit of something to do with it. And, hey, as long as the ruling class is in a benevolent mood, why it’s all just peachy, isn’t it? Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll take our liberty (along with the unpleasantness that occasionally accompanies it); you go right on ahead and enjoy leading the life of glorified livestock. 😉

      • duncancairncross says:

        Second Amendment
        A wonderful example of unintended consequences
        You have your “Second Amendment” – to prevent a “Police State”
        Having the “Second Amendment” then causes a “Police State”

        Your police kill about 2000 people every year – if you had the type of “Police State” the UK has that would be 20!!!

      • johngalt says:

        The Brits, Australians, French, Italians, New Zealanders, Japanese, Spanish, and dozens of others living in liberal democracies that are vastly safer than the U.S. might have a different opinion of their liberty. Duncan has a very good point that you ignore at your peril.

      • Really, jg? How’s this for safe:

        My favorite part? The lady walking by the bloody butcher with her shopping cart, staring at the beheaded body in the street (6:40). Simply priceless. Can you say, sheeple?

      • MassDem says:

        Tracy, low crime doesn’t equal no crime. Surely you, as a functioning adult, know this.

      • johngalt says:

        The power of isolated anecdotes – that video is powerful precisely because it is rare. Go find me a video of the last murder in Houston – you won’t find much, I’ll bet. The homicide rate in London is a fifth that in major U.S. cities. Yes, London is a safe city despite (probably because of) not being awash in guns. In fact I’m planning a trip there with my kids; I’d much rather go there than Detroit or St. Louis (whose murder rates are closer to 20 times that of London).

    • Griffin says:

      Hmmm the usually fanatically anti-government Tracy suddenly starts to give the benefit of the doubt to civil servents when it involves people being shot. So welfare is tyranny but actually being wrongfully gunned down by unelected representatives of the goverment without due process can be excusable? Weird priorities.

      • Griffin, I presume your community has a ride along program of some sort. I invite you to partake of it. Then feel free to get back to me.

        As for government’s monopoly on force, I’m entirely OK with it; that’s what government is for. The thing naifs like yourself too often forget is that the monopoly on force is present in ***every little thing*** the government does. That’s why our country was founded on the notion of ***limited*** government. So if you’ll pardon me, I happen to think *your* priorities are a bit weird. 😉

      • Griffin says:

        Yeah that’s what I’m saying. You have an utterly bizarre notion of what constitutes “limited” government when you seem to shrug off kids with BB guns being shot to death by unelected civil servents and the cops who did it not being punished but freak out about comparitavely minor uses of government actions like higher progressive taxation. If you actually cared about limited government you would be pulling your hair out over this and wanting to make an example of government officials who wrongly took a life without due process.

      • Griffin, I don’t shrug off police shooting of civilians; I merely call attention to the obvious. If you wave a gun around, or something that looks like a gun, in front of the police, you are putting yourself in line for a Darwin award. Simple as that, really.

    • MassDem says:

      Wanted to post this chart earlier, but it’s trapped in comment Purgatory until the end of time.
      (Lifer, you can go ahead & delete it cuz I can’t figure how to)

      Anyway, an interesting point is that there seems to be NO correlation between police killings and the level of violence in the community. If you check out the chart, you will see that there were significantly fewer people killed in high-crime Detroit than in low-crime Bakersfield, CA.

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/campaign-zero-debunks-police-killings-myth_us_5678c575e4b014efe0d6a2cd

      Gee, I wonder why that is?

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      Tracy, you say this:

      “if responding officers have reason to believe that a subject is, a) armed, and b) poses a clear and present threat to public safety, then you can rest assured they are going to aggressively interdict that individual. ”

      I don’t think I’m being off base by saying pretty much everyone agrees with this.

      The issue comes that it has to be a REASONABLE fear of harm to themselves or the public (being black with a hoodie on doesn’t qualify) and you would also hope the cops training would be such that they don’t unnecessarily put themselves in situations where they only have a split second to decide. The cops in the Rice case had absolutely no reason whatsoever to storm up on Tamir like they were storming a position in Fallujah. It did not put themselves or the public in ANY danger to pull the car up 100 ft away, get out, take up defensive positions behind their cop car, and try to deescalate the situation.

      In fact, they PUT THEMSELVES (and the public, including Tamir Rice, who was not a criminal who deserved to die) in danger by their actions.

      Most of us would agree that cops who genuinely fear for their life have a right to defend themselves. But when we get what seems like weekly videos of cops shooting unarmed, often black men, to death, with some even like Walter Scott being shot in the back as he runs away, it starts to make the narrative of the police as the good guys seem a little hollow. Especially when almost every single one of these videos are in direct contradiction of the official police story AND are corroborated by every cop on the scene.

      Cops cannot act in a way that severely undermines the public trust in their behavior and then complain that the public has lost trust in their behavior.

      • “…you would also hope the cops training would be such that they don’t unnecessarily put themselves in situations where they only have a split second to decide.”

        Rob, I believe we are in violent agreement on this particular point. However, you might want to consider the difference between cover and concealment. A car door provides concealment, but not cover – bullets go through car doors like tissue paper. With two cops in the vehicle, one is going to be exposed no matter what when they pull up on a subject. I have no idea what the doctrine of that particular PD is in such cases, but rapidity and violence of action is one way to mitigate such exposure. It’s possible that those cops *were* following their training. (I don’t know, one way or another; just laying out a possible explanation for what appears to be unexplainable behavior.)

        With respect to the Scott case, that cop was charged with murder in short order. As I said somewhere far above in this thread, I believe these things generally work out as they should.

    • Crogged says:

      I’m usually the last person who’s dishing respect to that dastardly other side-but all the facts regarding the Tamir Rice incident are not being provided here and the provided, but cryptic, ‘other events’ regarding beige children can’t be compared. There was nuance in the call to the 911 operator, there was no nuance in the call from 911 to the police. You can’t train for every situation and avoid judgement of those involved. Couldn’t’ there be situations in which a peace officer ‘driving up’ on a suspect may direct attention to themselves which spare others at the scene? They become the target

      Man with a gun at a playground is what the officers were told they would find-when you are told what to expect, it effects what you see.

      I’m not defending the actions-I merely offer that the rush to judgement is more about the rush.

      • Hi Crogged
        So they were told
        There is a man carrying a gun in a playground?
        (In a state where this is completely legal)

        With NO evidence of any type of crime being committed they charged in guns blazing

        This reminds me of an ancient British joke about somebody being suspected of being in possession of big lips and frizzy hair

  11. johngalt says:

    “The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected.”

    What a perfect quote for the present day from G.K. Chesterton. I had heard this name before, but knew little about him before seeing this quote and doing a little reading. There is a lot of wisdom there – he seems like the Mark Twain of the early 20th century.

  12. rulezero says:

    If you aren’t aware, I’m a police officer. If you’d like to ask questions, go ahead. Keep it civil.

    Keep the following in mind:

    -I’ve only been an office for just over two years. I was a dispatch operator for seven years before that.
    -I work in a metro suburb in the South.
    -My state is At Will and Right to Work. I have practically zero knowledge or experience with unions or union membership.

    Have at it.

    • Tuttabella says:

      First of all, thank you for your service. May I ask your gender, race, and ethnicity?

      Have you witnessed or personally experienced a culture of racism or antagonism towards minorities at the police department?

      Have things changed, for better or worse, during your 9 years working for the police department?

      • tuttabellamia says:

        What is your position on the use of cameras, whether they be dashboard cameras, body cameras, or bystanders with phone cameras?

        What is the effect of social media on police behavior, including your own?

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I will do my best to keep it civil. 🙂

      • rulezero says:

        Male, White – Non-Hispanic, Southern American, Irish on my mother’s side, Melungeon on my dad’s.

        Witnessed – No. Experienced – Once. A deputy I worked with at a prior agency once referred to the President as “that n****r” on a phone call once. He was dismayed when he realized that I voted for him twice.

        Hard to say. I came from a very rural sheriff’s department in Tennessee to an exurb sheriff’s office in Georgia to a metro police department in Georgia.

        These days, I don’t get much flak. I’ll have the occasional black person tell me, “I have to reach in my wallet for my driver’s license. Is that okay?” I’ve had a few kids tell me that police scare them. After the encounter, they seem genuinely surprised (I don’t arrest kids for weed).

      • rulezero says:

        Cameras are always good. I’ve never had a situation where I’ve gone, “S***, if only that camera was off, this could’ve been better.” We don’t have body cameras yet, but my department has been exploring the option for some time. The problem with cameras isn’t negative feedback from officers – it’s extremely cost prohibitive. The cameras themselves aren’t all that expensive. It’s the data storage. You need a local server (don’t put sensitive videos on a cloud, ever). Then, you need a back-up server in case the main server goes down. You’ll be uploading terabytes of data per week, then you need to store it for a minimum amount of time. Gets expensive.

        It’ll be a good addition of technology.

      • rulezero says:

        Social media has very little to do with my particular agency. I think you’ll find it depends on the demographics, the income level, whether the agency has a big social media presence, and what’s being said.

        I do know that anyone that complains on the city’s Facebook page will, at the very least, have their complaint forwarded by City Hall to whatever department it’s in reference to. You’ll be pulled aside and asked to explain what happened. 99% of the time, the in-car audio/video will exonerate the complaint, which is typically rudeness.

        For those rare times the complaint is sustained, it will be logged into a computer software system that tracks all manner of incidents, from negative items such as suspensions and counselings to positive comments and commendations. In this case, it would be logged as a verbal counseling. If an officer has a particular habit or series of negative items, it will flag that officer’s profile and will generate a notification which would require some type of intervention or more in-depth investigation.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Based on your experience as a police officer and dispatcher, and having worked with police, what do you think would be common reasons for police brutality? Pure racism on the part of police? Defensiveness on the part of Blacks who have become used to expecting the worst treatment? Too much psychological pressure on the job for police? Things just getting out of hand and escalating to the boiling point?

      • rulezero says:

        “Based on your experience as a police officer and dispatcher, and having worked with police, what do you think would be common reasons for police brutality? Pure racism on the part of police? Defensiveness on the part of Blacks who have become used to expecting the worst treatment? Too much psychological pressure on the job for police? Things just getting out of hand and escalating to the boiling point?”

        Before I can answer this, we have to establish what you mean by “police brutality.” Do you mean any use of force that is deemed to be out of bounds by law and policy? Do you mean any use of force that is deemed to be out of bounds by the public at large? Do you mean any use of force that other police deem to be out of bounds? Because everyone has an opinion.

        First, we must establish what the standard is for any use of force in the United States. Per the Supreme Court, the established standard for any use of force is the objective reasonableness standard which is provided in Graham v Connor. What Graham v Connor states is that any use of force must objective reasonable from the perspective of a reasonable officer at the scene, and not from the perspective of clear 20/20 hindsight. The court recognizes that police encounters are “tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving.” And it recognizes that reasonableness “must embody an allowance for the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second decisions about the amount of force necessary in a particular situation.” Lastly, there is no established litmus test that can be self-evident in a use of force scenario – there can only be guidelines because every situation has different variables.

        Any use of force is a possible 4th and 8th Amendment violation. The problem is, uses of force are VERY large grey areas. There is no “yes, you should have shot – no, you should not have shot” statute or case that you can fall back on.

        So, please define “police brutality,” because it’s a completely subjective term.

      • Tuttabella says:

        For me, “police brutality” would range from gratuitous force at worst, which I hope would be clear from an objective standpont, to unnecessary force, or force that becomes “unnecessarily forceful,” which, as you point out, would have to be defined on a case-by-case basis, or something you wouldn’t know was necessary or not until you viewed it from hindsight.

      • rulezero says:

        “For me, “police brutality” would range from gratuitous force at worst, which I hope would be clear from an objective standpont, to unnecessary force, or force that becomes “unnecessarily forceful,” which, as you point out, would have to be defined on a case-by-case basis, or something you wouldn’t know was necessary or not until you viewed it from hindsight.”

        Gratuitous force can or cannot be justified, depending on the circumstances. The only reason force is used is to maintain or regain control. Once control is established or reestablished, then force should stop. Anything after that is likely a 4th Amendment or 8th Amendment violation.

        The Rodney King interaction is a great example. If I remember correctly, only the last eight baton strikes were considered improper. There is no level or limit of what force can be used until control is reestablished.

        As for what causes this? As a relatively new officer, I would say the grand majority of improper uses of force are either one of two things: fear or anger. You will find very, very few officers that actually wake up in the morning hoping to find a minority to shoot and kill. Is there some department out there with a horde of officers looking to keep minorities down? Possibly. I’d like to say that every officer is a modern day paladin, armor gleaming in the sunshine, ready to shield the downtrodden, but that would be incorrect.

        Part of the problem is that people don’t understand the standard that’s used for justification. You end up with questions like, “Why didn’t you use your Taser?” “Why didn’t you shoot him in the leg or arm?” “He was only 17; how could you kill a child?”

        Like I said. It’s completely subjective and very, very gray.

      • flypusher says:

        ‘Part of the problem is that people don’t understand the standard that’s used for justification. You end up with questions like, “Why didn’t you use your Taser?” “Why didn’t you shoot him in the leg or arm?” “He was only 17; how could you kill a child?” ‘

        Thanks for giving us your perspective. I’ve read a lot of comments online about the various police incidents, and there can be at lot of stupid on both sides. There really does need to be some kind of educational campaign here. The whole trick shot idea seems to be one of the most common misconceptions. The Tamir Rice case has had a lot of people arguing about the wrong things. You can’t rightly blame the cops for not knowing the gun was a toy. It looked real, and that’s reason enough. You also can’t blame them for not knowing that Rice was only 12. He was adult sized, and the 911 dispatcher didn’t pass all the information along. But asking if you go in with the assumption that this is a grown man with a real gun then why do you roll up right on him is a very relevant question.

      • texan5142 says:

        rulezero says:
        (I don’t arrest kids for weed).

        Thank you.

        In the late seventies early eighties before Reagan and the supposed war on drugs most kids did not get arrested for weed, me being one of them. At that time they would just take it away and give you a verbal warning. Now they will ruin someones future and or life over a joint, hell even supposed “shake” they might find. The drug war started by Reagan took away the discretion of the police and ruined many more lives than the evil weed every did.

        Question for you rulezero,

        Do you ever encounter other officers who push for a minor violation because of the power the badge gives them, or do most use discretion and common sense and let some things slide. Also you said you don’t arrest kids for weed, what are your feelings on arresting adults who are caught with a small amount of weed for personal use? I realize you probably do not have a choice if it involves DUI.

      • rulezero says:

        “Thanks for giving us your perspective. I’ve read a lot of comments online about the various police incidents, and there can be at lot of stupid on both sides. There really does need to be some kind of educational campaign here. The whole trick shot idea seems to be one of the most common misconceptions. The Tamir Rice case has had a lot of people arguing about the wrong things. You can’t rightly blame the cops for not knowing the gun was a toy. It looked real, and that’s reason enough. You also can’t blame them for not knowing that Rice was only 12. He was adult sized, and the 911 dispatcher didn’t pass all the information along. But asking if you go in with the assumption that this is a grown man with a real gun then why do you roll up right on him is a very relevant question.”

        Right, there’s that objective reasonableness standard. What would a reasonable officer at the scene, with the exact same information, do in that situation? Just from the video, I have no idea why that unit decided to power slide 10 feet away from the suspect. I, personally, would have tried to stay back and give commands.

        But, again, it’s subjective. Why did that officer do that? I have no idea. Maybe it’s because he’s new, maybe it’s because he had tunnel vision, maybe it’s because that was the only clear point of entry due to other vehicles or ice… I have no idea. That’s why it’s difficult for other officers to say definitively, in my cases. I don’t know what he was thinking and until I do, I have to withhold judgement.

      • rulezero says:

        “Thank you.

        In the late seventies early eighties before Reagan and the supposed war on drugs most kids did not get arrested for weed, me being one of them. At that time they would just take it away and give you a verbal warning. Now they will ruin someones future and or life over a joint, hell even supposed “shake” they might find. The drug war started by Reagan took away the discretion of the police and ruined many more lives than the evil weed every did.

        Question for you rulezero,

        Do you ever encounter other officers who push for a minor violation because of the power the badge gives them, or do most use discretion and common sense and let some things slide. Also you said you don’t arrest kids for weed, what are your feelings on arresting adults who are caught with a small amount of weed for personal use? I realize you probably do not have a choice if it involves DUI.”

        Let me give you a little secret about police: most of us want weed legalized. I consider it a huge waste of my time to arrest someone on something that I used to do. I have a spiel that I give to young people. I ask them if they want to do something besides pump gas and they always say they do. I ask if they want to go to college, and they say they do. I explain to them that a drug conviction can eliminate their chance of receiving financial aid. I then explain to them that I’d rather give them a warning and have them go to college and cure cancer than to get an arrest stat. I’ll seize it and stomp it into the ground. If they have a large amount, I’ll write them a ticket and send them on their way. Our court usually does community service sentencing for young people.

        My home state, Tennessee, is very different. They will arrest you for weed no matter what. They don’t really have any choice. I have several options: arrest on a warrant, arrest on a citation under the city ordinance, issue a ticket under the city ordinance and release, or just give a warning. I’ve only done that last two, barring some other factor that’s causing them to go to jail anyway.

        You’ll find that older officers tend to arrest more and younger officers tend to give more warnings, just from the way they were taught and how they grew up. Older persons with weed, quite a bit of the time, have some other issue that makes it more serious – they’ll have a stolen bottle of pills or methamphetamine. Young people tend to just do what young people do. It’s the same with kids having sex in a park or something. I can arrest them for public indecency and put them on the sex offender registry for the rest of their life, I can arrest them on a disorderly conduct citation under the city ordinance, I can issue a ticket and release, or I can give them a stern talking to and release them. I have NEVER issued anyone a charge for that – young people do that sort of thing.

        I’ve never arrested anyone, ever, solely on possession of marijuana. I can count the number of tickets I’ve written on one hand. I have arrested two adults for DUI that were charged with less than an ounce as well. It will be better for everyone when it’s legal. I don’t have to search as many vehicles, it will reduce tension during traffic stops, it will cause less people to flee on foot, etc.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Sir, what is your view regarding the detention by police officers of illegal immigrants with no other violation besides being in the US illegally?

    • johngalt says:

      Thanks for the offer rulezero and I’ll take you up on it. I’m a scientist and am always on the lookout for sources of bias, which can often be subconscious. Do you sense that you approach situations differently based on the race of the people involved? Imagine any number of scenarios – pulling over two similar cars because you suspect a DUI, one driven by a black guy and the other by a white guy, or two groups of teenagers loitering somewhere, probably up to no good, one black and one white. Do you consciously or subconsciously feel more anxious/cautious/defensive approaching one group versus the other?

      If your “suburban metro” department in Georgia is Roswell, then you’re in my old haunts, though I left a number of years ago.

      • rulezero says:

        It’s very difficult to explain. It’s more gut feeling that anything. When you get out of the vehicle and approach, you learn to listen to that wave of dread that washes over you. There is no definite pattern, rhyme, or reason. I’ve pulled over a car load of young black males and didn’t have a bit of a problem. I’ve pulled over over white men in trucks that caused me to keep my hand on my weapon. There’s a large affluent black population where I am and they typically react the way any upper middle class person would – typically like you’re wasting their time and that you’re revenue-hunting because there are Real Criminals™ out there that you should be looking for instead. Very rarely do I hear that it’s because they’re black. I’ve never gotten a complaint for racial profiling.

        In the academy, we’re taught to profile behavior, not race. I will say that my level of apprehension and alertness begins to rise when I’m outnumbered. Apart from that, it really depends on the individual. I find that “please and thank you” tends to take you farther than “f*** you, I’m a cop.”

      • johngalt says:

        Fair enough, Rule. Thanks for the response.

    • Bobo Amerigo says:

      rulezero, thanks for your responses.

    • MassDem says:

      Hello rule zero, and welcome!

      I have some questions, but they concern on a politically sensitive subject,so it’s okay if you don’t want to answer.

      Here in Massachusetts, we have relatively strict guns laws. The same cannot be said for other parts of the country. I myself lean toward sensible & fair gun control, although I realize that what I consider “sensible & fair” is not a universally shared opinion.

      I would love to hear a trained law enforcement professional’s opinion on various gun issues:

      The “good guy with a gun” scenario–realistic or not?
      Do looser gun restrictions make your job easier, harder or have no effect?
      Are there any gun control measures supported by police? Which measures do you think are meaningless?

      If you feel comfortable responding, I would love to hear your take on any, or all, of these. Thank you!

      • MassDem says:

        BTW, I’ve always assumed that the number of guns in circulation (lawfully as well as illegally) makes the job of the police harder, but I don’t know if that is actually true.

      • rulezero says:

        It’s completely subjective, depending upon where you were raised and what culture you grew up in. I was raised in rural Tennessee and we had a firearm in every room of the house. All of them were loaded, none of them were secured, and we never had an issue. We were taught at a very young age what firearms will do to someone or something if that weapon is discharged. At the same time, firearms were tools – not items that you show off on Facebook or YouTube. Do you brag when you get a new chainsaw? No. Do you brag when you get a new leaf blower? No. You don’t brag about firearms. You maintain them, you respect them, you use them when needed. I’m not a super big gun nut, either. I know that I have hollow points in my duty weapon, but I have no idea how many feet per second they travel or what their grain is or what their stopping power is.

        Good guy with a gun – sensible and honorable in theory… can be disastrous when applied. There was a recent story about a lady that shot a shoplifter. Did she have good intentions? Yes, she saw a criminal and tried to stop him. Should she have shot? No. You don’t shoot a non-violent fleeing suspect who just committed a low-level misdemeanor. I don’t remember if she got charged, but she’s going to be sued and she’s going to have a very difficult defense.

        Gun restrictions – No effect, but again, I live in the South, where guns are just part of the culture. I’d say 60% of the people I encounter, of all races, have firearm carry permits and are armed when I make contact with them. I’ve never had an issue. I ask them if they’re armed and they tell me yes. I ask them where it is and they tell me. I tell them I won’t point mine at them if they don’t point theirs at me. I then go through my normal spiel. Fun fact – there is a large amount of black people with carry permits down here and, again, I personally have never had a problem and I know no other officers that have ever had a problem. I typically tell the person thank you for exercising their 2nd Amendment rights and shake their hands. I do that with veterans, too.

        Gun control measure – I don’t like the fact that Georgia issues carry permits will-nilly. Tennessee actually does it better – you have to take a firearms safety course prior to getting a carry permit. I completely agree with that. Now, if you ask an uber-NRA/GA Carry supporter about this, they’ll go on about constitutional carry and big government, but I’m pretty sure Tennessee is a conservative state and they seem to get along fine with it.

        Most police are pro-2nd Amendment. We can’t be everywhere at once, and we’d rather see the bad guys get shot than an innocent become a victim. That said, it would be helpful if people actually knew when they can and can’t shoot at someone and that they’ve taken a training class to actually know how to put that round where it’s supposed to go. It would also be helpful if suicidal people had health insurance that could get them some intervention before they end up going off of the deep end. Lastly, the era of weapons normalcy would be a good thing. End the whole bad boy, good shooter romance that seems to be going on these days. Treat weapons matter-of-factly as tools and not as some phallic symbol to show off to your buddies.

        The 2nd Amendment is in the Constitution. Unless that gets repealed, most gun control measures are meaningless, in my opinion. Even a nationwide complete ban of weapons and shut down of all manufacturers will not eliminate the problem – it will cause a black weapons market to appear that makes the present day look positively tame. Think about
        Prohibition and look at how the Mob was created as a reaction to that. Now imagine that you’re moving large amounts of weapons and who would be controlling them.

        These are just my perspectives. You put three officers in a room and ask them about guns, you’ll get five different answers.

      • MassDem says:

        Thank you so much for your very thorough answer! Although I’m not a big fan of guns, I don’t disagree with anything you said. Gun safety classes–how I wish they were mandatory in all states (I feel the same way about boating safety too). Too many people get their hands on potentially dangerous things like guns (or fast boats) and then go do something stupid. MA also requires you to take a training course before you get your license.

        I think you brought up a really good point with the comparison to Prohibition. I hadn’t considered that before. Driving all sales underground would be catastrophic. With the large number of guns in circulation, banning them isn’t remotely realistic anyway.

        I grew up in a rural town in western CT, so we had hunting culture, which seems a lot different in retrospect than today’s gun culture. As kids, we ran all through the woods (in our bright red or orange parkas) and saw shotgun shells all the time, and it wasn’t a big deal. How times have changed–one of the local schools had a 4 hour lockdown cuz some little kid brought a shotgun shell to school & dropped it on the playground. That’s the way we have to live now, and I hate it.

        I’m a substitute teacher for high school students, and I really, really don’t want guns in schools unless they’re carried by a trained officer (most high schools around here have a Resource Officer who is at the school full time and who talks to the kids about alcohol abuse, dangers of speeding etc.). Although active shooter situations at high schools are mercifully rare, they are not unknown. I honestly don’t know what the solution is to this.

        Again, thank you so much for taking the time to answer–I’m afraid you set yourself up for “Ask a Policeman Day”, so your time & efforts are appreciated.

        Btw, I’ve never heard the term “Melungeon” before. Interesting history.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        MassDem, we are kind of like little kids — fresh-faced, polite, and eager with our questions for Mr. Policeman.

      • MassDem says:

        So true!

      • rulezero says:

        “Thank you so much for your very thorough answer!

        I’m a substitute teacher for high school students, and I really, really don’t want guns in schools unless they’re carried by a trained officer (most high schools around here have a Resource Officer who is at the school full time and who talks to the kids about alcohol abuse, dangers of speeding etc.). Although active shooter situations at high schools are mercifully rare, they are not unknown. I honestly don’t know what the solution is to this.

        Again, thank you so much for taking the time to answer–I’m afraid you set yourself up for “Ask a Policeman Day”, so your time & efforts are appreciated.

        Btw, I’ve never heard the term “Melungeon” before. Interesting history.”

        You’re welcome. I offered, so ask all the questions you want.

        I don’t know the answer to that, either. Having each teacher armed, in theory, would be an excellent deterrent. In practice, I try to imagine the average stress level and aggravation of any high school teacher, and I start to realize maybe it’s not so good.

        Any place with a high amount of people is a target – schools, malls, government buildings. I think that we could probably do with some design standards that incorporate sally ports or external magnetic locks. Probably need more SROs as well, but that means raising taxes which never, ever goes over well, even if it’s something that people actually like.

        Fun facts about my own ancestry – the alleged patriarch of my lineage was very likely a black slave in Virginia in the 1600s. Barack Obama is also alleged to be descended from him, making he and I something like 14th cousins, if the information is true. He even has his own Wiki article.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Punch_(slave)

        I also had a 3rd-Great Grandfather who fought for the Confederacy and had a daughter. Another 3rd-Great Grandfather fought for the Union and had a son. The son and the daughter married each other and are my 2nd-Great Grandparents.

        I’m a mutt of the highest pedigree.

    • rulezero says:

      “Sir, what is your view regarding the detention by police officers of illegal immigrants with no other violation besides being in the US illegally?”

      No need to sir me. My grandfather was worth a sir. I haven’t earned a sir yet.

      Most police officers have not received training and are not allowed to enforce immigration law. The county that I work in is a 287(g) participant and will enforce immigration after the suspect has already been arrested for something unrelated.

      Now, when you say detention of illegal immigrants, do you mean out on routine patrol and encountering a group of Hispanic persons? If they don’t have articulable reasonable suspicion or probable cause, then what they’re doing is likely illegal. I can’t pull over a Hispanic driver just because I think he or she is in the country illegally. Even if they were, I cannot enforce Federal law. Then again, maybe other states have completely different laws than Georgia does.

      Now, if you mean Border Patrol and ICE, then I’m fine with it. They have the training and knowledge needed.

      You’ll find that most cops are on the fence. On the one hand, I believe that we are a sovereign nation with sovereign currency and sovereign borders. I don’t believe that people should just be able to walk into this country willy-nilly. On the other, I don’t believe that you can realistically deport 13 million people. The cost would be astronomical. Even if you could, suddenly removing 13 million people would cause massive chaos in local economies.

      I’m a big supporter of mandatory E-Verify. The President’s proposal for immigration reform included this and I thought it was a great idea.

      Here’s the thing, though. Democrats and Republicans will NEVER remove illegal immigrants from the United States. The Democrats keep a handy supply of non-whites that work for near slave wages whose children will grow up to likely vote Democratic. Republicans, for all of their bluster, LOVE having a steady supply of cheap, off the books labor that they can exploit.

  13. johngalt says:

    “Unpopular Police Officer Thinking About Committing Racially Motivated Offense For A Little Support”
    http://www.theonion.com/article/unpopular-police-officer-thinking-about-committing-36790

  14. MassDem says:

    Most dangerous police departments for black people in 2014, in chart form. In this case, all deaths due to police action of black people are included, not just those of unarmed individuals.

    http://mappingpoliceviolence.org/compare-police-departments/

    Despite the high profile of the Eric Garner case that year, NYPD is actually not as bad as most departments. Surprised?

    And here’s yet another interesting chart from 2015. Some might think that the incidence of police killings (all police killings, any race) might correlate with community violence, but that does not appear to be so:

    http://static1.squarespace.com/static/54ecf211e4b0ed744420c5b6/t/5677f85d1115e0704eb36ed3/1450702944850/?format=750w

    Maybe some departments are more trigger-happy, Bakersfield being the most highly suspect. Oklahoma City isn’t much better.

  15. MassDem says:

    Please forgive me… I am so, so late to this particular party, but it’s been a busy weekend.

    Lifer, you don’t like public employee unions. Fair enough. I’m not that crazy about police unions myself…in glorious Boston, policemen earn scandalous amounts of overtime pay, as ridiculously generous terms are baked into their contracts, even during times of great fiscal pressure. Here is an oldie but goodie from the Boston Globe:

    http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2010/05/06/police_pay_can_exceed_250k/

    And how about that Patrick Lynch (NYPD Union President) in NYC? That man sounds like a mean-spirited jerk every time he opens his mouth, and I think he might actually be a mean-spirited jerk….

    http://gawker.com/nypd-union-president-patrick-lynch-is-completely-nuts-1674178970

    But even with that said, I don’t think you have proven your premise, that the wrongful deaths of black people caused by the police are more likely to go unpunished in cities with stronger unions, and those are more likely to be in blue states. It looks like cherry-picking here. Let’s see if this holds up by looking at a larger data set:

    http://mappingpoliceviolence.org/unarmed/

    I used your “blue wall” post to assign states to red, blue and purple categories. I went by the information on the site as to whether a police officer had been charged, except for one individual in Ohio, who I had to look up the information as it wasn’t given (likely prosecution). Washington D.C. was included in the blue states.

    In 2015, there were 24 total incidents in 10 red states, of which 19 had no charges filed.

    There were 43 total incidents in 14 blue states, of which 42 had no charges filed.

    There were 35 total incidents in 7 purple states, of which 31 had no charges filed.

    There were 0 incidents in the remaining 18 states (9 red, 7 blue, 2 purple).

    At first glance, it seems like there is a much bigger problem in Blue states. But we haven’t accounted for population yet.

    The estimated 2015 population of the 10 red states in question is around 66 million, the 14 blue states is 136 million, and the 7 purple states is 72 million.

    So, the frequency of these incidents per million people is:
    Red states: total 0.36; 0.24 no charges filed
    Blue states: total 0.32; 0.31 no charges filed
    Purple states: total 0.49; 0.43 no charges filed

    If you account for the differences in population, the blue states had the lowest frequency of incidents but a higher frequency of no charges being filed than red states. Purple states are clearly the worst for both total incidents and ones in which no charges were filed.

    What’s going on in the purple states? In a word, Florida-this one state accounts for about a third of all incidents (11 total), none of which had charges filed. Georgia also accounts for 8 incidents, with charges filed in 1 case. Ohio had 5 total; 2 with charges filed; Virginia had 4 incidents, no charges filed. Remaining purple states had 2 incidents each.

    Texas dominates the red state totals, with 9 total incidents; 1 had charges filed. The rest of the red states had 1-3 incidents total each.

    California accounted for 13 incidents in the blue state column (0 charges filed); next two were Maryland (7 total; 1 with charges filed) and New York (7 total, 0 charges filed). Remaining blue states had mostly 1 incident with New Jersey having 4 total (0 charges filed).

    So, can anything be said about this situation after crunching all these numbers?

    How about “Police Brutality is an American Problem”? Also, Florida is scary, and not just because of the reptiles. That’s what these numbers say to me.

    • Ryan Ashfyre says:

      Admittedly, “police brutality is a blue-state problem” is a bit simplistic in retrospect. “Blue-state unions defer police accountability” or something like that is more to the point.

      That said, I haven’t seen anyone seriously question the idea that unions do need reforms to stem the corruption that protects too many law-breaking officers and/or others that would otherwise have been arrested/indicted, so there’s broad agreement on that front, IMO.

      That aside, it’s not like the red states are a bastion of progress on this front. The most anyone can say is that they perform more on average since this particular kind of large-scale corruption doesn’t occur down there. It’s still a fact that they’re not handling the underlying problem that these kinds of incidents still occur in the first time; treating the symptoms instead of the disease, as it were. Anyone who would applaud that needs a smack upside the head.

      You’re right when you say that this is an American problem, but the larger problem at hand isn’t policy brutality. That too broad a term and detracts away from the underlying racist inclinations that lend to the brutality in the first place. You want to change that? In the short-term, we need better training and psychoanalysis attuned to identify officers at potential risk for the kinds of incidents we’ve grown far too used to seeing. We also, of course, need reforms of union contracts to prevent officers from feeling insulated from the consequences of their actions.

      In the long-term, frankly, we need time for these racist inclinations to die out, and that means exactly what you think it means. There’s no nice way around it. In the mean time though, what we as a society can do is to continue to stand up and shout with a unified voice that these kinds of incidents will not be tolerated and push for reform. Evil only triumphs when good people stand by and do nothing.

      • MassDem says:

        To Sir Magpie’s list I would add educational inequities & the school to jail pipeline, injustice in sentencing laws & the administration of the death penalty, lack of affordable housing & access to healthy food in our inner cities, denial of voting rights, the list goes on and on…

        Ryan, I did not intend my comment above to be the last word on structural racism in our country. It’s an indictment of all of us that not one of the above issues is new; they’ve been with us since forever. And you are probably right, that it will take generational turnover to see real progress made on these fronts.

        I guess what it was about Lifer’s post that brought out my inner anger-bear was that I felt that he was using a real & serious issue to score some political points which IMHO were not really supported by evidence. There’s plenty to talk about with public union reforms to be sure, but this argument is very weak tea.

    • Sir Magpie De Crow says:

      Police brutality, environmental racism, xenophobia, know-nothing demagogues and unforgivable political stagnation in the face of other monumental problems facing America. Daunting stuff to be sure…but somehow watching the following video gives me hope.

      The hope that I can still laugh my a$$ off even in the ruins of a future gold plated hellscape dominated by the Back to The Future bully.

    • goplifer says:

      There’s a reason I posted a link to the Chicago PD’s union contract in the piece, rather than a statistical analysis. This is not a data piece, nor can it be. Every incident of police violence is a snowflake. That incident where the cop threatened black kids at a pool party is radically different from the John Crawford shooting. Frankly, the differences in the way the cops were treated in those different incidents only heightens the contrast. You can’t derive context from the statistics.

      As an aside, there is a much better database of police shootings assembled and maintained by the Guardian online here: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/ng-interactive/2015/jun/01/the-counted-police-killings-us-database#

      How many of the police officers involved in those shootings *should* have been dismissed, and how many were acting with the highest professional standards of courage and restraint? You can’t tell from the stats.

      However, when you dig down into the incidents, rather than skimming along at the data level, the pattern is impossible to ignore. It is easier in every way to dismiss a lousy public servant in Dallas than it is in Chicago. Period. There is no credible argument to make.

      And when you look at the outcomes in the most egregious incidents you notice a horrible pattern – public employee unions in the North use their power to shield the worst the worst public servants from discipline at the expense of the entire force in every case. Roosevelt was right.

      Public employees need representation. Just like realtors have their own professional organizations that represent their interests and control access, cops, firefighters, clerical workers and other employees need the same. In places where these institutions were organized and hardened into place by the mid-20th century, they are now out of control. Almost all of the most intractable public challenges in places like Boston, Philly and Chicago grow from their inordinate power. Sooner or later they will have to be reined in.

      • johngalt says:

        It may be undeniably easier to dismiss a public employee in Dallas than in Chicago. It does not necessarily follow that this leads to more egregiously bad behavior (amongst police in this case). MassDem may not have had the most complete dataset, but his is absolutely the right way to address this question. Anecdotal accounts are powerful, but prone to cherry picking that can lead to unwarranted conclusions.

      • flypusher says:

        Add to that the incompleteness of the data. One thing I find absolutely astounding is that there is no requirement to keep a national accounting of all the times police use force against civilians. How can you even start to solve a problem when it isn’t even properly defined. There are some people working on such a database of their own initiative, but this is something that the FBI ought to be doing.

  16. tuttabellamia says:

    Donald Trump’s latest arrogant comment, bragging the he could shoot someone and not lose supporters, brings to my mind Pope Alexander VI, the notorious Rodrigo Borgia, who made a mockery of the papacy and was said to have trampled on the holy host during Mass. Trump has shown disrespect to his Republican rivals and to journalists in the most shameless manner, and now even to his supporters. He would be a disgrace to the office of the Presidency.

    I am still not convinced this guy is for real, and polls don’t carry much weight in my book. Let the primaries begin, so the truth can be laid bare.

    • Griffin says:

      If Trump sweeps the primaries, which is looking increasingly possible unless he seriously falters during Thursday’s debate, would that make it much more likely the GOP would line up behind him? I can’t see them just ignoring their bases choice without knowing it would cause the Party to finally implode.

      If the party does split in two and Trump runs on a third-party ticket then random wingnuts running on a Trump ticket (I imagine it would be called “The American Party” or something like that) on the local and state level could very well cause the Democrats to retake the House due to a far-right ticket stealing a chunk of the GOP’s support. It’s the only way I see the Dems having a decent chance of retaking the House of Representatives and a whole host of state level positions.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        Trump won’t falter in Thursday’s debate, nor does he need to stand out. Iowa will be just days away at that point, so Cruz coming off as too aggressive could actually work against him; no doubt something Trump would take full advantage if it did happen, but even if it doesn’t, they’re essentially locked in a stalemate. That being the case, The Donald goes into Iowa leading in all three of the latest polls out, so place your bets on what to believe.

        As for the House, let’s assume that Trump is the Republican nominee, loses in a rout and the Democrats take a very small majority. They will absolutely lose it in 2018, so if they’re going to do something to try and address partisan gerrymandering past 2020, then they need to do it and do it fast. That obviously entails being prepared to do away with the filibuster for legislation in the Senate as well.

        The outstanding issue in all of this is what happens to the Republican Party in the meantime. If Republicans reform themselves and become something more akin to what Lifer advocates for, I have no problem in them retaking the House. That’s the elephant in the room (no pun intended) and it’s what makes these next few years the critical ones.

  17. MassDem says:

    Cultural Awareness time!

    • Creigh says:

      Now that is amazing. And scary.

      • flypusher says:

        While there are more issues/ problems in play than economics, I think the most immediate need here is to deal with this group’s economic problems. Whether it’s through a basic income, or some sort of economic revamping, something needs to be done for people getting zapped by this new economy. Lots of angry people with no prospects of improving their lot, let alone providing the basics for their families, is a very dangerous thing.

      • texan5142 says:

        Some of those with no prospects of improving their lot are unemployable.

      • texan5142 says:

        That is where a basic income should come into play. Hiring people in a tight job market is a crap shoot. Those with little or no prospects in a tight job market are not employed as a direct result of their own making. I have a couple people working for me now that I would like to get rid of, they are not worth a shit. Just about everyone not employed in my town are not employable for a reason. The jobs are there.

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        texans, I know whereof you speak.

        I was living in MA in the 80s when the unemployment rate was 2%. It was not an economic miracle.

        People incapable of performing any task at all had jobs. Checking out of most retail stores was torture. I was working for a large computer company. Any marketeer who could utter the phrase “we could leverage…” had a job.

        Trying times.

      • flypusher says:

        I’ve been fortunate in that the vast majority of people I’ve worked with have been good at what they did, but there were a (fortunately) few glaring examples that made me wonder how the @#$% they ever got hired (or got that degree).

        But along with the unemployable because they’re not competent, we have the people who used to be employable, before everything changed. It’s really a cruel joke to tell some middle aged person whose blue-collar job got outsourced/ became obsolete to just go get some technical/ computer training because 1) some of those jobs are also getting outsourced, and 2) age discrimination is a real thing, even if it’s technically illegal. Those people worked hard and followed the rules and now they’re up &*~# creek without a paddle. They’re pissed and Trump gets that.

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        I hear you, Fly.

        It is indeed amazing time to be discussing reparations for both slavery and globalization in the same brief time span. Both affected parties have legitimate claims.

        (I must say, as someone who grew up in middle America, I don’t quite get why some there think change shouldn’t affect them. It affects us all.)

        Is there a way to construct policy/programs that address both slavery AND globalization economic issues rather than one OR the other? I think political power comes with the second, not the first. And that’s sad.

    • Ryan Ashfyre says:

      No doubt that this has been in the works for a while now, but consider me a skeptic that things could’ve come to a head any sooner than they did. Trump’s rise is thanks to a whole bunch of circumstances coming together to create a near perfect political storm. Perhaps Buchanan could’ve mounted a stronger challenge in 1992 if he’d followed this advice, but it wouldn’t have had the same effect.

      • flypusher says:

        I can agree with that. Timing is everything.

      • Sir Magpie De Crow says:

        What I find amazing is that so many people in genuine tough economic circumstances would put their faith in a guy who (perhaps rightfully) claims he could shoot someone in the middle of the street and his support among his fans would not diminish. Correct me if I am wrong, but if that came out of the mouth of anyone else that person would be flagged as a psychopath. I find this particularly galling phenomenon of “special” privilege given I can get harassed by some virtuous guardian of the suburbs as a common criminal for merely trying to use public transportation after sundown.

        But getting back to the orange haired wonder:

        Is the desperation of struggling middle class whites,etc. for a would-be savior that severe? Doesn’t it speaks volumes of the failings of the GOP in responding to their distress? Not that it absolves people of the ramifications of their monumental misjudgement in attaching their hopes to Donald Trump, our universe’s version of “Casino Mogul Biff”.

        I find myself often laughing at the conservative/Republican castigation of Obama for not responding effectively to the emerging threat of ISIS, whom they believed he could stopped if only he bullied the resisting Iraqi government into allowing more unending occupation in Iraq. If they had all the answers to that issue they surely would have prevented the rise of this minor political insurgent known as the Donald… right?

        Maybe we should all tell the “valiant” and “idealistic” writers/editorial authors at the National Review in the wake of their “Against Trump” broadside that it is perhaps too late.

        Sorry you jacka$$es, you twiddled your thumbs for too long and now “Mosul” has fallen.

      • flypusher says:

        “I find myself often laughing at the conservative/Republican castigation of Obama for not responding effectively to the emerging threat of ISIS, whom they believed he could stopped if only he bullied the resisting Iraqi government into allowing more unending occupation in Iraq. If they had all the answers to that issue they surely would have prevented the rise of this minor political insurgent known as the Donald… right?”

        Foreign policy has always been an easy diversion for politicians when domestic issues get too complicated. I have no doubt that ISIS would like to kill me, but they’re thousands of miles away, don’t know who I am, and I have better odds of winning the lottery than I do of getting killed by them or any other foreign terrorist group. I’m more concerned about VanillaISIS; those yay-hoos could stir up plenty of trouble here.

        And to anyone who complains about Obama not forcing continued occupation of Iraq while saying not one word about W starting that whole mess, just STFU. You are hypocritical to the point of abject stupidity and not worth listening to.

      • Creigh says:

        Ryan, you’re right that Trump combined a group of circumstances that were unprecedented, so that he is really the first person to put Francis’ strategy to good use. But unless the issues mentioned by Francis are addressed, he won’t be the last. Trump’s popularity had better be a wakeup call.

  18. Creigh says:

    I’m not sure I have the numbers exactly right, but looking through news reports, from 2010 to May 2014, the Albuquerque PD shot 39 people, 26 fatally. One of the last was a mentally disturbed man camping in the Foothills open space. That shooting brought on a huge backlash, and an investigation by the Justice Department. 2 officers were charged. Since then they have shot 3 people. Same union.

  19. n1cholas says:

    It’s more than just police unions, or blue states. I mean, police brutality happens in red states, as you yourself cite.

    The main problem is that the DA/Prosecutor decides whether charges are brought against the police officer who commits a crime. From the get-go, every cop is protecting their fellow cop, and then the police administration is protecting the cop. Assuming the brutality is severely indefensible by the police department, you still have the politics of the DA/Prosecutor, who ultimately decides whether charges are brought…as a Grand Jury is the complete property of the DA/Prosecutor, to do with what he or she wishes.

  20. rightonrush says:

    Most likely he’s right and that speaks volumes about the intelligence of his followers.
    “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters,” Trump said.His supporters can be heard laughing in the background.

    http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/23/politics/donald-trump-shoot-somebody-support/index.html

    • Ryan Ashfyre says:

      It reminds me of that time in 2012 when a Republican debate audience cheered the prospect of a gay man’s death, only this is arguably even worse.

  21. johngalt says:

    Michael Bloomberg is considering an independent run. That would throw a huge monkey-wrench into the mix – a successful mayor of New York willing to spend $1 billion of his own money. Who would you vote for in a Sanders-Trump-Bloomberg race?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/24/nyregion/bloomberg-sensing-an-opening-revisits-a-potential-white-house-run.html?smid=fb-nytimes&smtyp=cur

    • flypusher says:

      I’d have to take a serious look at Bloomberg. Trump is a “OhHELLNo!!!” no matter who runs against him in a general election. I’d have to consider whether a vote for Bloomberg would end up being effectively half a vote for Trump, because of splitting the opposition.

      That worked for Rick Perry once.

    • vikinghou says:

      I think a Bloomberg candidacy would be more harmful to Democrats. As we’ve discussed at length on the board—for a large slice of the GOP electorate, social issues trump economic ones, and Bloomberg’s support for gun control, gay rights, etc. would be disqualifying.

      For me, Bloomberg is more palatable than Trump. But I agree with Sanders on the majority of issues and would stick with him.

      • rightonrush says:

        I sure as hell am not voting for Trump or Cruz, so I’d consider Bloomberg. I’d really prefer Kasich but that isn’t going to happen.

    • goplifer says:

      With Trump as the GOP nominee and Sanders the Dem, Bloomberg would take a huge chunk of Republicans. Look at key states like Colorado, Ohio, Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, and Nevada. Bloomberg would have a solid shot at winning just about any of the swing states.

      • Haionous says:

        Could you end up with a LePage scenario like Maine though?

      • Griffin says:

        Yeah that’s what worries me. Bloombeg could actually take off a chunk of moderate/conservative Dems along with Independent leaning Democrats. It’s such a wild card factor that it could be one of the few ways Trump wins the White House. As much Lifer wants to believe it, Trump realistically wouldn’t beat any of the current Democratic nominees without some Black Swan event helping him, not even Sanders. Sanders is basically a liberal democrat and he isn’t a black swan in and of himself because he’d still have the Democratic party infrastructure in his favor, but a third party run from a former Democrat could actually change things.

        Mark my words within two weeks of a Trump administration people who did a protest vote for Bloomberg (a rare case where the Establishment IS the protest vote) are going to realize Sanders really was the far more reasonable of two populists and start kicking themselves, much like liberals who voted for Nader instead of Gore in 2000.

    • flypusher says:

      What if it’s Hillary-Bloomberg-Trump? Bloomberg would take a lot of the GOPer who would otherwise hold their noses and vote Dem, I’d bet.

      • flypusher says:

        Never mind, upon actually clicking the link, I see that’s not a possibility. But what’s the latest an Indy could jump into the race and get on the ballot? If Sanders did end up winning I doubt it wouldn’t be a done deal until very close to the convention.

      • johngalt says:

        The article said that he’d have to make the decision by early March to still get on the ballots in all 50 states.

    • Ryan Ashfyre says:

      Trump is cuckoo for cocoa puffs and Sanders is running a campaign that’s 50+ years too late, so it’s gotta be Bloomberg.

  22. Ryan Ashfyre says:

    And actually, now that I sit back and think about it, this just entrenches my belief that Sen. Sanders stands absolutely no chance at getting the Democratic nomination. His pro-union stance and his attempts to garner favor with the African-American community obviously stand in stark contrast to each other – most noticeably in the aforementioned blue states at least – without addressing the underlying corruption that takes place.

    Hillary Clinton may not be much better in this respect, but she’s the lesser of two evils by comparison and won’t lose out in this respect so long as things stay as they are. That is, of course, unless Sen. Sanders decides he wants to take a politically costly stance and actually confront unions on what many would see as an untenable status quo and offer serious reforms in the hopes of correcting it.

    . . . . . .

    • goplifer says:

      Black communities have very real access to Clinton and her staff. Nothing remotely like that exists in the Berniesphere. It’s a much bigger deal than some abstract debate about health care or a minimum wage.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        Makes sense given how much effort the Clintons have given to sustain their ties in the African-American community, but that begs the obvious question as to whether that access translates into influence strong enough for Clinton to support policies that would upend the corruption in those communities.

        I have no expectation for her to openly encourage such a fight in the primary of course, but it would be a show of strength on her part and force Sanders into an uncomfortable position all at the same time.

  23. Ryan Ashfyre says:

    This really is the kind of intolerable shit that would seem to scream bipartisanship in order to solve. Democrats want collective bargaining rights for workers and funding for unions; Republicans want accountability so if someone does something wrong, their union can’t act as a shield and prevent them from being prosecuted.

    Yeah, let me know when the pigs start flying.

  24. duncancairncross says:

    Utter total nonsense
    Unions DO NOT have that power
    Unless management has totally abdicated its responsibilities

    I have seen this sort of thing – and it is happening due to bad management that is all

    All that is required is for the management to DO ITS JOB

    What is it about “HR” that seems to remove peoples spines??

    • goplifer says:

      ***Unions DO NOT have that power***

      There is no voting bloc in the northern states more powerful than public employee unions. Honestly, you have no idea what you’re talking about.

      • duncancairncross says:

        If a voting block of what 0.3%? of the population is the most powerful voting bloc????
        Then you guys are doing it all wrong!!!!

        IMHO the main reason that you have problems with police brutality (as well as racism) is that your officers have about 1/10th the training that a UK policeman gets

      • goplifer says:

        You really can’t be serious.

        Well over a quarter of the DNC delegates are union members, and that’s just the ones coming in through the primaries and caucuses. There are positions reserved among the super-delegates for the leadership of the major unions and state level officials. More than 1 in 10 are from the teachers’ unions.

        Unions are the entire Democratic ground game in the North. They actually get paid hourly to canvass. Some unions require it. Here’s a union flier from suburban Chicago: http://local1211.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Paid-Volunteers-Labor-Walk-Flyer.pdf

        No other political entity in either party has a paid body of election workers they can depend on in every race. Black voters on the South side have nothing on their side that can match the organization, money, and embedded political heft of the unions. So they lose every single political battle to the unions. Every. Single. One.

    • unarmedandunafraid says:

      Duncan – I agree, management is culpable. That is the point. Political forces use these powerful unions to win elections. Then the elected officials allow contract negotiations to extend to unions, protections from reasonable responsibilities. It is made worse by most cities requiring police and fire employees to live within the city limits which concentrates their political power.

      Most people see it as a Democrat vs Republican problem and it is not. It isn’t a liberal vs conservative problem. It is just a way of preserving power, no matter what the ideology.

      It is short-sighted and it must be fixed. No matter your political leaning.

    • Ryan Ashfyre says:

      Right, just like how it’s entirely Congress’ fault that it’s stuck in seemingly perpetual gridlock. If only they would get their lazy asses in gear and get their heads screwed on straight, everything would be sunshine and rainbows.

      Please. Even in this detestable political climate, it’s ultimately the people to whom responsibility falls on. When they lack the collective will to give a f***, the status quo ensues and nothing ever changes.

  25. 1mime says:

    I realize the focus of this post is police brutality, but I thought it worth noting that injustice occurs throughout the justice process for poor people.

    https://www.splcenter.org/news/2016/01/21/judge-who-forced-defendants-give-blood-or-go-jail-censured-after-splc-complaint

  26. Anse says:

    I don’t know. Almost unquestioned support for law enforcement gives cops considerable power even in states where unions are typically weak. The Blue Shield exists everywhere in America. Cops don’t snitch on other cops, from what I can tell, whether they’re in New York or Houston. In cases where there is no contradicting eye witness testimony and often even when there is, you rarely see police charged. In the case of Walter Scott’s murder, it took video evidence submitted by a bystander to prove the police report was false. Even with the autopsy showing that Scott had been shot in the back, I doubt charges would have been filed.

    I have had incredibly professional encounters with cops here in Houston and with the Texas DPS. In fact, Texas state troopers are some of the most level-headed, professional officers you will ever meet. (I say this as a white guy, of course.) But they aren’t above lying. There are ample examples of it. I just can’t give police default credibility in a case. I don’t regard police as any more given to honesty than any other person.

    • goplifer says:

      You really have to find it remarkable that the cop who arrested Sandra Bland is facing a criminal prosecution. I mean, seriously, have you spent any time in Waller County?

      And that cop in McKinney getting dismissed so quickly gave me whiplash.You are absolutely right about the general insulation that cops experience, but how much more powerful is that barrier when they also have mandatory collective bargaining. It seems like a no-brainer.

  27. texan5142 says:

    Completely off topic. This is one of the best political commercials I have ever seen.

    • texan5142 says:

      Brought tears to my eyes.

    • goplifer says:

      OMG the folk music… It’s only the only form of artistic expression more repugnant than mimes. Well, maybe clowns are worse.

      I owe Bernie Sanders a debt for one thing only – He reminds me why I became a Republican.

    • Griffin says:

      Meh it was alright for a political ad. It lacked the usual policy positions of his other ads though, anyone could’ve made this ad, except for Trump/Cruz because folk music is for hippies and nobodies yelling angrily.

      I almost wish he was as crazy as Lifer made him out to be, it would make it a lot easier to pick Clinton without any regets. I also wish Clinton was as evil as the GOP makes her out to be, it would be easier to pick Sanders. Right now I’m changing my mind every other day. I suppose my best case scenario is that Clinton wins the White House but Sanders becomes much more influential in the Senate and pressures Clinton a bit leftward and towards political reform.

    • Ryan Ashfyre says:

      Superimpose a “Make America Great Again” logo on there, replace that god-awful music with some Neil Young and you’ve got yourself a bonafide Donald Trump ad. Scary how easy that is.

      • Tuttabella says:

        Neil Young is Canadian, so it would be sacrilegious to use his music.

      • Tuttabella says:

        Or they should play SOUTHERN MAN, in which Neil Young addresses reparations:

        “Southern man, when will you pay them back??”

      • Tuttabella says:

        I wouldn’t be surprised if Trump promised “reparations completed by the end of my first term in office, and that way we can all put this behind us and move on.”

      • Tuttabella says:

        Just testing my Bluetooth keyboard.

  28. libtard says:

    You might have a good argument here, but I question your “data” to base that on.

    There are too many confounding factors and too few examples if you just use the highest profile cases and their outcomes to make any sort of judgement based on them.

    For example, blue states could have higher percentages of black citizens, which means greater number of potential protesters to highlight abuse. Red state abuse might be happening in equal proportion and just not getting national airtime.

    Red states like Texas have significantly smaller black populations and much greater Latino populations that aren’t as well organized politically as black groups which have existed for much longer. Abuses against Latinos might not be making headlines for this reason.

    The details of the cases are wildly different as well. Freddie Gray died with no one but cops watching. Jonathan Ferrell died with the clearest possible video anyone could hope for showing the cop’s wrong doing. Differences like this eliminate any real strength these examples have to compare one region to another.

    I’m not saying you’re wrong, but you should probably back up your claims with better examples, like arrest rates vs population, shooting rates of unarmed individuals by race, sentencing by race, etc.

    • goplifer says:

      You are right to point to the anecdote vs. data weakness. That said, this anecdote ends up being remarkably consistent in the data. And all you have to do to cut through the fog of false correlation is look at the collective bargaining agreements. That’s the only reason why the cop in McKinney got fired and the cop who killed Tamir Rice is still at work.

      As for some of the other factors, the highest concentrations of black citizens (and voters) are in the red states of the Deep South. The margin isn’t close (37% in MS and 15% in NY).

      Lots of people witnessed the Freddie Gray incident. One guy recorded the arrest and got arrested and interrogated for it. And Tamir Rice was gunned down on live video. Didn’t matter.

      Believe me, I’ve been working on this one for half a decade. A union contract makes it hard to fire a hotel janitor. Who cares. A union contract also makes it hard to fire a teacher or a cop. That matters a lot. You won’t get accountability unless you insist on accountability.

      • Utter and total CRAP

        In most of the rest of the world ALL WORKERS have the same protection as “Tenure” or police union membership

        It is still EASY to sack a poor performer

        BUT it requires that HR managers get off their duffs and actually do something
        It’s not difficult
        Verbal warning
        Written warning
        Opportunity to improve
        Then POW!

        If there is “poor performance” it’s easy – BUT it does involve the HR guy actually doing something for his/her large salary

  29. texan5142 says:

    You and this guy must be on the same wave length today.

    http://reason.com/blog/2016/01/21/the-twisted-politics-of-police-violence

    “The theory is the same for teachers unions—that, like with police unions, they by design produce rules that protect bad actors. “

  30. Griffin says:

    I think that relatively soon most police unions are going to break with the Democratic Party, especially if the Dems progressive wing continues to win on the state and local level. I just don’t see how a party can contain both Bill de Blasio and the police unions members protesting him.

    In fact I think Donald Trump would bring many police officers more comfortably into the Republican fold. He has already said he would give the death penalty to anyone who kills an officer (regardless of whether or not he has the power to do that), and his mix of social conservatism, nationalism, and limited welfarism is a perfect match for alot of the members of powerful police unions in blue collar areas. Yes it will be interesting to see what happens if he’s the nominee and this continues to be an issue, but I think we’re going to see a party flip in the leanings of police officers in blue-collar areas.

    • goplifer says:

      It’s weird, but that break has already happened with the police (and firefighters) themselves, and it happened a long time ago. The relationship of their unions to the Democratic Party is very complicated. The ties exist mainly at the top (which seems backward) and the connection is based on money and forced participation in Democratic GOTV activities.

      Really, this is the area, overlapping with teachers’ unions, where Republicans could begin to forge a new alliance across racial lines with urban black communities if we had any idea what we were doing. It is amazing that we haven’t already.

      • Griffin says:

        I could see the current GOP going after teacher unions but weirdly enough they seem to adore police unions, and always stand by the officers when they wrongly attack someone. I think the reason for the exception is that police unions could generally be considered “right-wing unions”, in that their members are largely reactionary politically speaking, unless the issue is unions themselves or something like Social Security. Also the current GOP’s racist wing quietly loves the idea of cops putting minorities “in their place”.

        The only reasons I can think of that the top figures in the organizations are involved with Dems is because of historical connections (when the Dems had a more powerful right-wing) and because the GOP doesn’t have much hope of winning in these states so there’s not much to gain by siding with them. The latter is probably the only major factor keeping police union bosses aligned with Republicans, but I could see this changing incredibly quickly if Republican nationalists started gaining a bit more power in these areas or if the Democrats became too ideologically progressive for them to even tolerate anymore.

      • goplifer says:

        Police are generally perceived by whites as a the blue line holding back the brown tsunami. That makes it very hard to tie these issues together.

        Plus, in urban areas where both white and black residents are fed up with the schools, many of the remaining white residents either are cops, or are in police or firefighter families. Awkward.

      • Griffin says:

        “The latter is probably the only major factor keeping police union bosses aligned with Republicans”

        Whoops I meant to say “aligned with Democrats”. I finally mixed them up after typing only two names a gazillion times. Duck season, rabbit season, duck season, rabbit season….

      • flypusher says:

        “Police are generally perceived by whites as a the blue line holding back the brown tsunami. That makes it very hard to tie these issues together.”

        Which is one of the reasons I don’t have a lot of hope for solutions happening on the local level. The excuses some people will come up with for the actions of some of these wayward LEOs, even when their own departments have agreed that they acted improperly, is mind blowing. Multiple times I read comments about how that state trooper had every right to insist that Sandra Bland put out that cig, because she could have used it as a weapon by flinging it at him! WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot??????? Then we have all the conspiracy theories who claim that Freddie Gray injured himself (to sue for damages, of course), never mind that failing to belt in a restrained suspect was in blatant violation of stated department policy, and never mind that Gray was far from the first person to go into a Baltimore police van intact and come out grievously injured. Then we have the knee-jerk police apologists either completely ignoring the stupid tactics of the police rolling right up on Tamir Rice, or trying to spin it as the only way they could have handled an armed suspect. These people watched the tape of Eric Garner getting choked to death, and said it was justified because he didn’t comply enough. Obviously off the other deep end you have those who think the cops are always wrong, and even when they shoot someone who is armed, going berserk, and had already assaulted a couple people, it wasn’t justified. It really hard to find the reasonable middle here.

  31. 1mime says:

    Space constraints aside, I would be very interested in seeing this thesis plumbed by BLM or the ACLU, or Southern Poverty Law Center. Are there other civil rights entities that are respected that should be listed?

    Wherever injustice occurs, by whomever, under whomever, is just as wrong. If the problem is systemic, as you suggest, and more likely in Democratic led justice programs, that needs to change first as people come and go but systems perpetuate themselves.

    I wish I had time to really dig into this, Lifer, but for me it is simple: wherever injustice is being meted out, it is wrong. If there is a political dimension as you suggest, that tips the scales of injustice away from Democratic leadership, that needs to change.

    I hope you get a lot of feedback on this post as your hypothesis is most interesting.

  32. flypusher says:

    I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, it’s time to take investigations of police misconduct away from the local level and kick it up at least to the state level. With or without strong police unions, the local DAs office is going to feel pressure from the police if one of their own could be charged. Let the state AGs offices handle these.

    • goplifer says:

      In Chicago, just as one example, they already addressed that in the union contract. You can’t do it.

      Chicago’s police contract not only dictates who can investigate a police misconduct case (the police department), it also dictates how many police can be involved (2) and that their names have to be released to the perpetrator.

      Yes, theoretically, you could move the authority for the prosecution to a different figure, but before those people can even get involved the union has built a machine that will dismantle almost any potential prosecution. Needless to say, prosecutions of police officers almost never happen, even when they beat up civilians while off-duty.

      http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/Cops-in-Jefferson-Tap-Fight-Found-Not-Guilty.html

      If an institution is constructed in way that makes accountability impossible, that institution will become corrupt. It’s not about unions or Democrats or big cities, It’s just the basic physics of power. Fail to remove the immunity that unions grant public servants in northern states and nothing will change.

      • flypusher says:

        Would a union contract override a federal law? I’d like to see this type of mandate to state AGs as one of the first things a new President and new Congress could work on in 2017. I understand there will be various constituencies that won’t like it, and it’s far easier said than done, but if there ever was a stand on a burning issue that would tell minority voters that you were taking their concerns seriously, a plan to require police accountability would be an obvious one.

      • goplifer says:

        It doesn’t override federal law, but as in the Baltimore example, it helps to distort potential federal law enforcement. By dictating the terms under which the officer can be investigated during the first few critical days, it gives the officer and local police officials so much power in the initial stages that in many cases a subsequent investigation is impossible.

        In Chicago the officers apparently failed to realize that one police dashcam had captured the Laquan McDonald murder, otherwise we’d never know about it. Surveillance footage from a nearby Burger King was commandeered by officers at the scene. For ‘unexplained’ reasons that footage is now blank for 86 minutes during the time of the shooting. Five other officers’ dashcams had ‘malfunctioned,’ failing to capture the incident.

        When you give an institution that much authority to manage its own discipline even the feds have limited power to intervene. Anytime you want to look at questions of justice, you have to start by understanding how institutions are rewarded and punished.

      • flypusher says:

        “When you give an institution that much authority to manage its own discipline even the feds have limited power to intervene.”

        Can that be bypassed with properly crafted laws? Could you require reporting of any such incidents to the state AGs office within 24 hours? Could so many “lost videos” be reasonable grounds to levy obstruction of justice charges? Can you put the power of discipline into other hands that don’t have conflict of interest?

        I realize the difficulty. So on the meantime I think it should be a civil duty comparable to voting that if a citizen sees something (police misconduct-wise), they should record something. The only reason Walter Scott’s family has a chance at justice is because someone with a smart phone got involved.

      • goplifer says:

        Here’s a carefully crafted law tailor-made to fix this problem: Stop forcing municipalities into these contracts. Cities will still enter into collective bargaining agreements for lots of good reasons, but mandatory collective bargaining makes this situation almost impossible to stop in the largest cities.

  33. CL says:

    Ohio – I’m not sure why you felt the need to leave aside local and state leadership. Certainly not because, like some of the Southern states you laud, the governor’s chair and legislature are both Republican-controlled.

    Maryland – contra your assertion that “every official in the chain of authority all the way to the US Justice Department was a Democrat,” Republican Larry Hogan was governor when Freddie Gray died.

    2 of your 3 cases of virtuous red-state redemption occurred after a string of high-profile police brutality cases that resulted in needless death and widespread protests nationwide.

    But the magic bullet in all these cases is the presence or absence of public-employee unions. Leaving aside that, taking culture into account, it’s pretty ludicrous to lump police unions – far more attuned to Red America than Blue – in with the rest of the public sector unions. Okay then.

    Show me on the doll where AFSCME’s Lee Saunders touched you already. Seriously, you’re a good read, and you have your head screwed on remarkably well compared to most of your cohort, but this post is beneath you.

    • goplifer says:

      Ohio makes a perfect example because it’s had both Democratic and Republican leadership in recent years, yet it retains its traditional union mandates in all but a few exceptions.

      You’re right about Maryland. I was thinking 2014, but it was 2015. Correction made, but not sure how that makes any difference. Same for Ohio, Go ahead and explain how Kasich managed to block every local Democratic official from taking any action to discipline an egregiously bad cop.

      Police officers themselves may often be Republicans. Their unions are deeply embedded in the Democratic infrastructure of every Northern state. Occasionally they may back a Republican Governor like Christie or Walker, but they are almost entirely absent from Republican politics at the state and local level and dominate Democratic politics at every level.

      Ask a black activist why they don’t take on the police union and they’ll re-write this post for you. It is entertaining to watch the contortions when this looming wedge issue is mentioned among Democrats. Someday, when Republicans emerge from our racist fever, we will figure out how to be factor in that debate. It gets really heated when the subject switches to the impact on schools.

  34. Doug says:

    Nice post, Chris.

  35. Peter Gray says:

    Really? TX, SC, and NC, 3 of your 7-element dataset, are in the North? When did that happen?

    • Doug says:

      You just skimmed, didn’t you?

    • goplifer says:

      There are lots of examples and only so much space. I perhaps should have included this one as it may serve to best illustrate my point.

      On July 19, 2015 a University of Cincinnati police officer shot and killed an unarmed black man during a traffic stop. Within a week he was fired and indicted for murder.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/30/us/university-of-cincinnati-officer-indicted-in-shooting-death-of-motorist.html?_r=0

      Now, the University is a state institution, so why were they able to act so quickly while the City of Cleveland still hasn’t done anything about the guy who killed Tamir Rice? The answer is Ohio House Bill 187 from 2006.

      A tiny paragraph on this website (https://www.uc.edu/hr/lrpd/policy_manual.html) mentions the fact that HB 187 exempts universities from the state’s civil service requirements, including collective bargaining. The university still chooses to engage in collective bargaining, but with more flexibility comes greater negotiating power. Also, university officials are not elected, thus not subject to the same direct dependence on public employee unions.

      Police for Ohio’s state universities have none of the ridiculous protections from discipline that you’ll find in contracts negotiated under a mandate. They had no trouble dismissing their bad apple, instead of being forced to harbor and pay him more or less forever. Also, without those protections, they were able to access, review, and publicly release his body camera video promptly, without it being subject to tampering. Strangely, the cameras in Chicago police vehicles seem to consistently malfunction. Probably just the harsh weather.

      Here’s a link to the university’s collective bargaining agreements.
      https://www.uc.edu/hr/lrpd/collective_bargaining.html#agreements

      • duncancairncross says:

        When you talk about police unions and their power there is one thing to consider

        In most of the USA (and the UK) police ARE NOT ALLOWED TO STRIKE

        So you have a union – without any teeth
        Comprising 0.3% of the population
        Paying what 5% of the “lobbying fees” that business does? – less??

        And you complain that they have too much power??

        Where does this power come from??

      • goplifer says:

        In the Illinois Governor’s race last year, public employee unions were the 2nd largest donor. Only a self-funded candidate could top them. Corporations are banned from donating directly or through proxies.

        That power comes from a lock on the political system, thanks in large part to declining party power. They are the most critical force in electing the people who will then negotiate their contracts.

        By the way, you mentioned lobbying. In Illinois, lobbyists for the public employees unions get to participate in their retirement fund.

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