Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/16/2020: For Some Unexplained Reason, Police Officers Are Feeling Unappreciated

1. Even humor sites have to do better than this...FARK is an amusing news aggregator that headlines links to interesting stories from around the web with facetious comments, puns and snark, most of the time avoiding gratuitous political slant, This headline, however, was an outright deception:  Sure the police might have some bad apples, but a review of 2,400 cases only found misconduct 54% of the time.

If you read the story, you will find that those were not just cases, but cases in which innocent people had been convicted of crimes. A study showing 54% of all cases showing police misconduct would be a damning result, but if someone is wrongly convicted of a crime, there is likely to be misconduct somewhere in the process. For those cases, 54% strikes me as low. Moreover, while the headline implies that all of the misconduct found in the study was attributable to police, that’s not true either. The study found that in  the cases studied, 54% showed misconduct by police or prosecutors.

FARK’s headline was just gratuitous and unjust police-bashing. Not funny.

2. For the record…it’s 5:58 am, and I’m still furious over the cretinous response from the Boston sportswriter I discussed in item #4 of last night’s late warm-up.

3. Now THIS is an unethical teacher…and indiscreet!The South Carolina State Board of Education revoked the teaching license of  teacher Percy Berry after a student made a cell phone video  showing him snorting a substance from the surface of his desk. Berry was subsequently subjected to drug testing, and the results were positive for cocaine, heroin, and morphine.

4. Res Ipsa Loquitur. From the University of Chicago English Department:

‘Note: For the 2020-2021 graduate admissions cycle, the University of Chicago English Department is accepting only applicants interested in working in and with Black Studies. We understand Black Studies to be a capacious intellectual project that spans a variety of methodological approaches, fields, geographical areas, languages and time periods.’…English as a discipline has a long history of providing aesthetic rationalizations for colonization, exploitation, extraction and anti-Blackness. Our discipline is responsible for developing hierarchies of cultural production that have contributed directly to social and systemic determinations of whose lives matter and why… In light of this historical reality, we believe that undoing persistent, recalcitrant anti-Blackness in our discipline and in our institutions must be the collective responsibility of all faculty, here and elsewhere.’

5. I have a feeling the “Shocked…Shocked!” “Casablanca” clip is going to get a workout in coming weeks. During a two-hour Minneapolis City Council meeting on police reform this week, council members told police Chief Medaria Arradondo that their constituents are seeing illegal street racing,  daylight carjackings, robberies, assaults and shootings.The number of reported violent crimes like assaults, robberies and homicides are up compared to 2019, with more people  killed in the city in the first nine months of 2020 than  in all of last year. Property crimes have also increased. Arson is up 55% over this point in 2019.  Oddly, police seem reluctant to engage in proactive policing in a community where any situation involving a black lawbreaker has the potential to lead for a result that will lead to vilification, termination and prosecution of the officers involved.

“Residents are asking, ‘Where are the police’?” said city council member Jamal Osman. Where? Lying low, of course, as would I, or anyone rational, in their position.  Osman said residents are complaining that their calls for help from the police are not being answered. What could possibly explain this? Coincidentally, 100 officers have left the department or taken a leave of absence in 2020, more than double the normal rate.

Shortly after George Floyd’s death, the Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously to pass a resolution to replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a “community-led public safety system.”  Good plan! And such a supportive message to send to the police force! “Our commitment is to end our city’s toxic relationship with the Minneapolis Police Department,” City Council President Lisa Bender said at the time. “It is clear that our system of policing is not keeping our communities safe. Our efforts at incremental reform have failed, period.” Simultaneously, the congresswoman who represents the district, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D), called the police department a “cancer.”

Yet, for some mysterious reason, Minneapolis police are not aggressively enforcing the law.

Bender was asked during a CNN interview what would happen “if a killer was running loose and an armed police officer was needed.”  Bender responded, “We don’t have all the answers.”

51 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/16/2020: For Some Unexplained Reason, Police Officers Are Feeling Unappreciated

  1. #5 This was all predictable and it was predicted by many people. These problems will only get worse.

    People need to fully understand that police really cannot protect you when a criminal has their sights on you and puts you in imminent danger, police can only pick up the pieces afterwards and hope they catch the criminal. Immediate protection from imminent danger from criminal activity lies in your hands. People need to actively learn how to protect themselves.

    • Ultimately true, but the fact that when everyone sees the cops sitting on their hands, crime goes up would also indicate that a motivated, engaged police force is also effective at reducing crime. Even if it’s not via a function of police officers themselves stopping crimes. While it’s true that when seconds count, the police are only minutes away, this would also indicate that the looming, relentless figure of the detective, as well as the brass-buttoned shield bearing police figure, if properly venereated in society, also do their part to keep crime figures low. It likely also has something to do with clear boundaries, punishments, and unwavering standards, but all those got thrown out the window about 15 years ago, much good it has brought us.

      • As a crime deterrent, a strong police presence, the police catching criminals and the justice system throwing the criminals in prison for a very long periods of time works to a point but it will not deter those that are determined to be criminals regardless of the severity of any after-the-fact punishments. The immediate actions of an armed citizens exercising their rights to self preservation and legally protecting themselves, their family and their property from an invading and/or violent criminals stops the criminal in their tracks on the spot. The more often citizens stop criminals in the act of committing crimes against them the more citizens will learn that protecting themselves is appropriate and necessary and in-turn criminals will learn there are immediate consequences to their actions.

        Will this stop all criminals, nope.

    • I have to go downtown Minneapolis Friday for a hearing and I am a little apprehensive, even though I will be walking about 3 blocks to the courthouse and will walk right past the police station. I am sure it will be fine, but nothing is familiar right now.

      -Jut

  2. 1. On the flip side, “Fiery, but mostly peaceful protests” is slowly phasing out and being replaced with “93% peaceful protests” after two groups (Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project) aggregated the data on the number of protests and the number of violent protests and found things like:

    ” In the 2,400 locations surveyed nationwide, 220 protests (just under 10%) were categorized as “violent.” ”
    https://legalinsurrection.com/2020/09/princeton-report-several-hundred-violent-black-lives-matter-demonstrations-in-220-locations-in-past-three-months/

    Good to know. That’s actually 9.2%, but what’s a couple of stabbings between friends?

    Which means that I now have exact math for my “Mostly Peaceful Marriage” metaphor. So… The couple only knocks themselves around 7% of the time. That means in a 30 day month there are 2.1 violent encounters. Funnily enough, my previous assertion was that “Saying these are mostly peaceful protests is like saying that a relationship where the husband only beats his wife every second Thursday is a mostly peaceful marriage.” Which means that my math was close, but that .1 remainder means that there’s enough “mostly peaceful” left in that relationship for a bonus beating on their anniversary.

    • I take exception to this analysis. The issue is not peaceful protests. This issue is rioting. The so-called 93% have every right to protest – it is baked into the constitution.

      In your metaphor, there are 100 couples. 93% are cordial unions. 7% of couples “knock themselves around”.

      The issue is the media calling those 7% of marriages “mostly peaceful”, denying that abuse is occurring. 93% of marriages/protests may be made on contrived grounds, but they are still actually peaceful. To claim that 93% of protests are peaceful misses the point entirely – 200 hundred violent protests spreads pretty thick when there are only 50 states and a handful of major cities per state. It is precisely that 7% that people are rightfully frightened of, and that the media have been denying outright, and now obfuscating.

      • This is fair, if a little bit harder to convert into a witticism. The one pushback I’d have to that is that the people we’re engaging with set the terms, I’m just using them. They’re the ones saying that of the 100% of protests, 93% are peaceful. They are trying to hide the violence in the crowd. Is that a trap? Should I push back against their terms? Maybe.

        • Humble Talent wrote, “They’re the ones saying that of the 100% of protests, 93% are peaceful.”

          Personally I think their argument is completely void of reality when the 7% that turns into riots does millions ,if not billions, of dollars of damage to communities, businesses, and individuals and completely destroys the lives and livelihoods of many thousands of people. If these “peaceful” protesters want to separate themselves from the rioters then they need to take to the streets and protest the rioters with the exact same kind of rhetorical effort, energy, and enthusiasm they are showing towards protesting the police. Right now the “peaceful” protesters are openly enabling the rioters and it directly reflects negatively on their protests as a whole; that is the reality of the “peaceful” protests.

    • My beef with the 93% stat is it counts every “protest” and every “riot” equally.

      2 people in Smalltown, USA with a “end no knock raids” sign, and 1 person sitting on a corner in Randoville, America with a “require body cams” sign, and 200 people trying to burn down the Federal Building in Democratshire, Oregon, are counted as 2 protests and 1 riot. 67% of those demonstrations are peaceful.

      • Agreed, but even cooking the books as much as they have…7% is still crazy. In almost any other context, a 7% absolute critical failure rate would be brutal. It’s similar to playing Russian Roulette with a 12 chamber wheel. I would not play that game.

  3. 5. Look, I’ve said that America, generally, has a policing and justice problem. I am regularly shocked by the kind of things that result in prison time in the land of the free. I’m also regularly shocked by the kinds of ordinance your local PDs have access to. Some departments literally have a tank. You can’t argue that criminals have tanks so PDs need them. Criminals don’t have tanks. I know Americans live with it, so it seems normal. And to be fair, it is your normal. But as an outsider looking in, it’s rough.

    All that said…. As much as I see the need to change, as much as I can agree with some of the requests; Body cams, a bad officer registry, a reevaluation of qualified immunity, a dismepowering of police unions… suddenly Defunding your police, replacing them with social workers, and demonizing them in the media cannot possibly be an effective strategy. There needs to be a plan. But in order for there to be a plan, Democrats might have to start governing, as opposed to LARPing as a giant exposed nerve ending.

    And this is a Democrat problem, 100%. The places we’re talking about are Democratic strongholds, they’ve usually been blue longer than I’ve been alive, all the way from the local dogcatcher to the Governor. I refuse, utterly, to be lectured to about how the Republicans make everything bad when no Republican could possibly have even slowed down the policies the Democrats ostensibly want to push.

    This reminds me of Rape Culture theory and #MeToo.

    For almost a decade, progressives from high ranking positions in the media, academia, hollywood and government were lecturing to me about my toxic masculinity, telling me that we lived in a culture that didn’t care about the rape of women. That we celebrated the rape of women. I wanted to know which candy dish they were getting their coke out of; I knew that I didn’t glorify rape, I knew that I wouldn’t rape people, I really hope that I don’t know any rapists. That was not my lived experience. But it was theirs. They *did* live in a rape culture, they *did* know rapists, they *did* turn a blind eye, they *did* participate in that system. The entire racket was a case of mass-projection.

    This is not different, Democrats. This is you.

      • “Please tell me which department “literally have a tank”.”

        Before we devolve into the semantics of what does or does not constitute a tank, in your opinion, do you really not see my point? Because we could talk about whether or not the Lenco BearCat G5 “counts”, but the Lenco Bearcat is the most popular brand of APC used by America’s police. And while they’re the most common, there are more egregious examples of military sell-off to local PDd.

        As an example, throughout his tenure, Sheriff Joe Arpaio obtained five armored vehicles from the military, as well as a whole lot of other ordinance. In 2011, he let Steven Seagal command a self-propelled 155 mm howitzer for the duration of a SWAT raid against the home of Jesus Sanchez Llovera. Seagal crashed the howitzer through the stone wall surrounding the house, the SWAT team followed, entered the home, and arrested Llovera on the charge of, I shit you not, organizing cockfights.

        I’m just going to repeat that: The Sheriff of Maricopa County. Gave a 155mm howitzer on treds. Which he had. To a Movie Star. Who crashed it. While raiding a house. For cockfighting.

          • I am in awe. Horrified but at the same time awed.

            A 155 mm howitzer on treads, driven by a raving lunatic actor to bust down a wall to arrest some dumb bastard on a cock-fighting charge. It is almost too much to wrap my Rush-infused brain around. There is so much wrong but so much so right about that story.

            jvb

        • Humble Talent wrote, “Before we devolve into the semantics of what does or does not constitute a tank, in your opinion…”

          Oh don’t give me any of your spin factory bull shit HT, you are the one that said “literally”.

          Only a tank constitutes a tank, a Bradly Fighting Vehicle isn’t a tank, although some rally ignorant people have called it such, and APC is literally an Armored Personnel Carrier that might, and I emphasize “might”, have a small arms gun turret on it; an APC is not a tank! A self-propelled 155 mm howitzer is also not a tank. These things have names and those names mean something so don’t give me any of your semantics crap.

          Humble Talent wrote, “do you really not see my point?”

          Yes I completely understand your overall point and I really don’t have a problem with it, but if you’re going to infect an otherwise reasonable argument (whether anyone agrees with it or not) with baldfaced false exaggerations then you have to expect push-back to drag you back to reality, kicking and screaming if you like, but back to reality it is.

          Personally I don’t have much of a problem with police departments having an APC or two for SWAT kind of applications but they do need to limit the usage. Using them to roll up to peaceful protesters and toss tear gas out the top hatch is ridiculous or even rolling them out to tear gas belligerent and loud protesters is over the top but when dealing with actual riots and SWAT related extreme confrontations with armed criminals, roll the damn APC’s out and return peace to the streets.

          • Sigh…. “Tank” as described in the dictionary:

            “Military. an armored, self-propelled combat vehicle, armed with cannon or machine guns and moving on a caterpillar tread.”

            Which describes to a tea the self propelled combat vehicle, topped with a 155mm howitzer, moving on caterpillar tracks that Arpaio used. Again…. Look at this thing:

            https://www.snipershide.com/shooting/threads/sheriff-joe-arpaio-has-a-tank.71742/

            I’m not interested in being told. “ThAt’S nOt A tAnK, tEcHnIcAlLy It’S mObIlE aRtIlLeRy” as if you’re actually adding something to the conversation. There is no universe where driving a 155mm Howitzer cannon to pick someone up on a God Damned misdemeanor is anything less than full batshit insane.

              • Actually, HT is correct but, for the love of Pete, we are talking about fucking TANKS!!! These are things of beauty.

                An attorney I know in Houston bought one and parked it in front of his house, causing the River Oaks HOA to lose its mind! Remember, River Oaks is OLD Houston money. Nobody moves into River Oaks unless your have proper Houston pedigree. Along comes this obnoxious personal injury attorney and buys the house closest to the grand entryway to the River Oaks Country Club, where only certain people are allowed to think about joining, and he parks a tank – a fully restored and functional World War ll TANK – on the street in front if his house on display for all ROCC members to see as they pass by on their way to get to the club. Police were called (nothing – not illegal), local media made the rounds ( nothing – but got him more publicity (and some company of an enterprising evening dancer specializing in “adult” audiences, who supposedly stole an original Van Gogh from his home – she said he gave it to her), local politicians kvetched and shook their heads but didn’t do anything, all turning Tony Buzbee into a slightly interesting local celeb.

                A tank. My hero.

                jvb

                • I sorry to bust everyone’s bubble but a tank (M60 or M1 Abrams) and a M109 self-propelled 155 mm howitzer are drastically different! Just because they are armored, have tracks and both have a really big gun doesn’t make them both tanks. When I was in the Army I was around all three in training environments when they were in full operation, I’ve been inside all three for detailed familiarization, I’ve personally seen what it takes to fire one, tanks and M109 self-propelled 155 mm howitzers are drastically different vehicles serving drastically different purposes. The similarities do not make them equal as being labeled a tank, claiming they are both tanks shows ignorance; it’s a bit like calling a modern Browning BAR 30-06 deer hunting rifle an assault rifle because it has a stock, iron sights and a removable magazine.

                  There are videos of both tanks and M109 self-propelled 155 mm howitzer’s online, I encourage you to go watch them and pay attention to what they have to do to get each ready to shoot and what is entailed in loading the breech for one shot and then try to honestly tell me they are both “tanks”.

                  As for using the self-propelled 155 mm howitzer to bust down a wall it was ridiculous overkill and done for purposes other than real necessity, the same thing could have been done with a bulldozer or the back end of a dump truck. By the way, Arpaio’s M109 howitzer cannot be fired, it’s nothing but a damn show piece.

      • Probably some sort of AFV — they’d look enough like a tank to a civilian. There’s bound to be something in the inventory short of a Bradley, wouldn’t you think? And I can possibly imagine a situation where the police might feel the need for an armored car.

        On the other hand, didn’t we build like a gazillion or two Shermans back in the day? Do you think there are some of them stockpiled somewhere that would run, and could be had for a reasonable price? For the police, a Sherman would be almost as much overkill as an Abrams.

          • Sheriff Joe had a flair for “optics,” HT. And there are plenty of neighborhoods in metro Phoenix that if I were a cop, I’d just as soon use an APC to get in there to serve a warrant or take someone into custody.

            Cockfighting in Maricopa County, USA. Great. Let’s hear it for Mexican culture enriching American culture. Hooray diversity!

              • Yep. (Wasn’t it Obama who used the trope of “bringing a gun to knife fight?” One of the great one’s classier comments.)

                Joe actually had some sort of vehicle made up to look like a tank that he painted up as a campaign sign. He’d park it around town in various locations during the run-up to elections. Come down and visit your snowbird buddies in Phoenix or Scottsdale (when the wind hits heavy on the borderline), and we can drive around some of the Valley of the Sun’s nastier neighborhoods. In the daylight.

  4. Watching Patriots Day this past weekend I thought, “The police department needs an armored vehicle.” In the shoot out with Boston Marathon Bombers there was no secure place from which the police could make their stand. Does this happen every day? At one time I would have said no. With the insanity of riots taking place this year, I can no longer say that. There are times and places that an armored vehicle is absolutely needed by a police department.

    • I’ve been saying for at least the last twenty years that police cars should have bullet proof* glass for all windows in police cruiser vehicles, this would give patrol police the general protection they need from criminal shooters that they need, of course there are extreme situations where this won’t help.

      *Bullet Proof: ability to stop multiple hits from a rifle shooting .30 caliber or smaller bullets without full penetration.

        • I’ve talked with area police; they are just trying to stretch their budgets as far as they can. This is one of those things that a prominent business in the community could donate the dollars as a community service to get a bunch of them done. I’d pay an extra flat fee every year in my annual taxes to get something like this done as long as those dollars are not spent on anything else.

  5. 4. Re: the University of Chicago, of all places, English Department. I brought this up to a few college classmates, one of whom obtained his law degree at the University of Chicago law school. His wife is an East German born physicist. Here’s his take:

    “Isn’t this as simple as German Universities in the 1930’s requiring adhering to Nazi ideology in order to “teach” any subject? My wife, who grew up in East Germany and did her undergraduate degree in Moscow, says this is even worse than those two pillars of intellectual freedom. At least there, you could generally enroll in a program without committing in advance to your beliefs and one could in some instances get through with a course of study without being a true believer or studying abject nonsense. Chicago has removed that risk.”

    He goes on:

    “It is the modern equivalent of Stalin requiring written confessions in advance to be used later as desired. The Department Head will now play the role of Beria: Bring me the man and I’ll show you the crime. Postmodern/ deconstructionist “interpretation” combined with critical race theory guarantees that students, particularly the white ones, will be expected every day to prove their anti- racist bona fides, oblivious to the reality that the more they try the more they will be held in contempt by the apparatchiks. They, like the Jacobins (to mix historical metaphors), will end up at the guillotine too.”

    I find this development incredibly distressing. I hope this insanity will be addressed by someone with some sense somewhere in the University of Chicago administration or over all faculty.

  6. I was at one time the manager of my agency’s participation in the LESO or 1033 Program, that deals with military equipment donated to state and local police agencies. I have no desire to get involved in the debate about who does or doesn’t have a “tank,” but I can attest that in my state and all others of which I am aware, the state government (which must approve any equipment for agencies in their state) does not allow the acquisition of tracked vehicles, mainly because of the damage they do to the roads. My own agency obtained a Cadillac Gage “Commando” Scout Car (wheeled light armored vehicle). (Interestingly, this particular vehicle had been taken back from Panama after the 1989 invasion.) Later, we also obtained a somewhat more heavily armored MRAP wheeled vehicle. These vehicles were restricted to SWAT use, which means that except for training they might have been deployed two or three times a year. They were mostly to be used to transport officers through areas where their movement would otherwise have been without cover, or to evacuate others from similarly vulnerable situations. Prior to the 1033 Program, I know of agencies that obtained older armored trucks (like a Wells-Fargo truck) for the same purpose. I see nothing sinister about using these these vehicles as described, and we never had a complaint about them as of my retirement in 2014.
    As far as up-armoring regular police vehicles is concerned, you would have to spend around $40K (and up) to add armored doors, windows, windshield and rear bulkhead. These windows won’t roll down, except (on some packages) the driver’s window which will come down about 6″. The vehicle will be much heavier, which impacts fuel mileage, performance, and wear on brakes and suspension components. Patrol vehicles are normally dependable for about 200K miles, which includes idling time that effectively adds another 50K to 100K miles to the engine wear. Even with individually assigned units, this means replacing the cars about every five years or so. So far, no one has successfully marketed a purpose built police vehicle that could be “refreshed” every few years to replace worn components. Most agencies are strapped to purchase enough new vehicles annually to keep the fleet serviceable.

    • Good information James.

      One point, I don’t think you have to armor doors with steel armor, there are flexible and non-flexible options now now that will stop a bullet with much less weight.

      Here’s an interesting video about this.

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