Tag Archives: police

The Charlotte Riots: Good Work, Everybody! It Is Now Officially Impossible For Police Officers To Do Their Jobs…Now What?

Thank you,  George Zimmerman. Thank you, Mike Brown, and Freddie Gray. Thank you, Marilyn Mosby, Barack Obama, Ta Nihisi Coates. Thanks, Charles Blow, and Al Sharpton, MSNBC, Sabrina Fulton,  Lezlie McSpadden, and the Democratic National Committee. Thanks, Baltimore Police, Ferguson Police, and Bill DeBlasio.  Thanks, Eric Holder. Thanks, Black Lives Matter. And thanks to you too, Michael Slager, Timothy Loehmann, and the other trigger-happy cops who made their fellow officers around the country vulnerable to accusations of racism and murder by your incompetence. Thanks to all of you and others, it is now impossible for police to do their jobs without fear of being demonized and destroyed if they are wrong, or sparking riots and violence if they are right.

Now what are we supposed to do?

 A Charlotte, North Carolina police officer named Brentley Vinson, an African American, shot and killed Keith L. Scott, 43, after he posed an “imminent deadly threat” to police officers by refusing to drop the weapon he was carrying when ordered to do so.  The shooting sparked night of rioting and violent confrontations between police and “protesters.”

According to police, officers were searching for a suspect with an outstanding warrant. Around 4:00 pm yesterday, police observed Keith Lamont Scott inside his car. (Scott was not the person being sought.) Scott exited the vehicle carrying a firearm, got back into his vehicle, and when officers began to approach his car, got back out of it, again carrying his handgun. Officers ordered him to drop it, and he did not.  The officers fired their weapons at Scott, who was hit and fell. They immediately requested medial assistance and began performing CPR.

Following the pattern of the Ferguson and Freddie Gray incidents, unverified reports spread through social and broadcast media that the victim was a disabled man, holding only a book and no weapon. A woman claiming to be the victim’s daughter used Facebook Live to give her angry, emotional and quite possibly fanciful account of what was transpiring. About a hundred protesters arrived at the site of the shooting. #KeithLamontScott began to trend on Twitter.

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Observations On A Bad Police Stop

 

The ACLU of Colorado last week posted the above  video of an Aurora, Colorado police encounter with two black citizens last February.

The sequence, drawn from one of the officers’ body camera, shows Darsean Kelley and another man being stopped by police after they had received a call about a man allegedly pointing a gun on a child, but with no description of the man. Kelley and his companion were standing on the sidewalk in the vicinity of the alleged incident. Police asked the men  to sit down, which Kelley said was impossible to do because he had a groin injury. Officers then told both men to put their hands behind their heads and turn around. As his friend remained silent and apparently compliant, Kelley kept his hands raised and asked why he was being detained. Immediately after he said, “I know my rights!” one of the officers shot him in the back with a stun gun. He fell backwards into the street.

The police then arrested Kelley on a charge of disorderly conduct for failing to obey a lawful order. In his report, the officer wrote that he thought he might be reaching for a weapon. The ACLU of Colorado then filed a motion to dismiss the case arguing that Kelley was unlawfully detained and arrested without probable cause or reasonable suspicion.

Observations:

1. Kelley and the other man were unlawfully detained and arrested. Were they unlawfully stopped? No. The police could stop men in the vicinity of a complaint like the one they had received in order to investigate it. When people become belligerent or uncooperative during such legal stops, cops sometimes become suspicious, or decide to use their power to stick it to an individual who shows hostility when the officers feel they are just doing their jobs, or trying to. This is when such situations escalate.

I’m sure the officers regarded the “I can’t sit down” claim as suspicious and provocative. I would. Note that no harm befell the other man, who remained quiet and followed the officers’ instructions. This is the correct way to respond.

2. I’m sure Kelley felt that he was being “stopped for being black.” I would if I were him. How are police officers today supposed to allay this suspicion at the outset of a legitimate stop? (Or maybe they WERE stopped for being black…)

3. What is the policy for tasing? The typical hierarchy for the use of force in police departments used to be this:

Table 1: Use-of-Force Continuum
Suspect resistance Officer use of force
1. No resistance 1. Officer presence
2. Verbal noncompliance 2. Verbal commands
3. Passive resistance 3. Hands-on tactics, chemical spray
4. Active resistance 4. Intermediate weapons: baton, Taser, strikes, nondeadly force
5. Aggressive resistance 5. Intermediate weapons, intensified techniques, nondeadly force
6. Deadly-force resistance 6. Deadly force
(Adapted from the Orlando, Florida Police Department’s Resistance and Response Continuum)

 

 

 

 

 

After the introduction of more powerful electronic control devices, many departments changed  their use-of-force directives  for handling suspects who were only passively resisting the lawful orders of the officer, and increased the required level of resistance by suspects to warrant use of stun guns or tasers from passive resistance to active, physical resistance.

Table 2: Levels of Resistance Defined

Passive Resistance The subject fails to obey verbal direction, preventing the officer from taking lawful action.
Active Resistance The subject’s actions are intended to facilitate an escape or prevent an arrest. The action is not likely to cause injury.
Aggressive Resistance The subject has battered or is about to batter an officer, and the subject’s action is likely to cause injury.
Deadly-Force Resistance The subject’s actions are likely to cause death or significant bodily harm to the officer or another person.
Adapted from the Orlando, Florida, Police Department’s Resistance and Response Continuum

I don’t know what the Aurora police policy is, but certainly under the kinder, gentler, saner revised standards above, stunning Kelley was excessive. Police brutality is not an unfair description of what he experienced. Continue reading

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Stupid Cops Matter

Perfect match.

Perfect match.

In a case where Hanlon’s Razor (“Never assume malice is the explanation if stupidity will suffice”) applies but one can’t really blame a mother for thinking otherwise, police in Newark  inexplicably mistook an innocent pre-teen black boy for an adult robbery suspect and chased him through a Newark neighborhood with guns drawn. This is stupidity, not racism. Well, who knows: there could be racism mixed in there too, but what jumps out is the jaw-dropping incompetence.

Legend Preston, just ten years old, was fetching a basketball that had rolled into the street when he looked up and saw armed cops running towards him as if they meant business. So he ran.

“I was scared for my life,” Legend told reporters. “I was thinking that they were going to shoot me.” Good thinking, kid. If these cope were inept enough to get a ten-year-old  confused with Casey Joseph Robinson, a 20-year-old, dreadlocks-sporting perp with facial hair (he was arrested in the next block), who knows what they might do?

Legend was quickly surrounded by neighbors  who emphatically pointed out to the police that they were chasing a child, as the officers stammered that he “fit the description” of the criminal. Well, sort of. Okay, okay, now that we’re up close, we see that he’s under five feet tall, dressed like a kid, doesn’t have dreadlocks or facial hair, and looks nothing like the guy, except that he’s black, which means we also could also mistake him for Bill Cosby, Jesse Jackson, Morgan Freeman, or LeBron James. Continue reading

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Comment Of The Day: “Sarcasm-Tainted Observations On The Milwaukee Riots”

Milwaukee rioting

Chris Marschner, a grandmaster of the Ethics Alarms Comment of the Day feature, issued another deserving one with his thoughts on the Milwaukee riots. It is a highlight of the threads generated by this topic, but there are many other highlights amid the 90+ comments, including an Alamo-like stand against overwhelming odds (and logic) by that prolific, embattled, and adamant EA progressive, deery. The whole discussion is well worth reading. Deery also authored the comment that inspired Chris’s response below.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, “Sarcasm-Tainted Observations On The Milwaukee Riots”:

For the life of me I cannot see how any rational human being can justify rioting and the looting businesses because they feel they are owed something for being “oppressed”. What the hell did the gas station or auto parts store do to them? Does that case of Cheezits being carried out of the store address all of your complaints, or is it just a partial down payment on a never ending invoice for the injustice you perceive? Sorry I have no sympathy for anyone who had myriad opportunities to become educated in a manner that would permit them to read, write, perform arithmetic calculations, and just plain think.

No amount of funding can overcome community apathy. Especially, when apathy is the root cause of the need for funding in the first place. The community needs to recognize that if it wants things to be different then it needs to come to grips with the idea that they must take on the lion’s share of the work to enjoy a better life; it cannot be bestowed upon them. It must pool its own resources first before it requests resources from others. It must demonstrate that it is committed to being responsible for the work of changing the situation. Any one who thinks jobs and opportunities will simply emerge with more government spending in areas that suggest crime is rampant needs his/her head examined. No amount of tax abatement will overcome the cost of rebuilding a business that has been burned to the ground. It should be noted that the police did not spray paint tags all over other people’s buildings. It’s not urban art, it’s vandalism. The police did not create the need for security grates over the glass windows of shops. The police did not throw litter all over the street and dump furniture and tires wherever they pleased. More importantly, within the BCPD, the officers charged with various felonies while on the force were predominantly non-white so it not always a racial issue.

I grew up in Baltimore City. I lived there from 1956-1989. I went to Balto. City public schools (BCPS). I went to Woodbourne Jr. High and graduated from Northern High in 1974. Both schools were integrated and each had its share of bad actors be they white or black. In those days black parents wanted to keep their kids away from the “element”. I don’t think that is the case today. Today we celebrate the gangsta persona.

I was neither a star pupil nor a bad student. What I did learn from my father was that college was not something I could ask for help with and no school counselor ever suggested that I consider college. I saw the battles my older brother went through to get him to fill out the financial information on the financial aid applications. My father hated to disclose his income. Perhaps it was because he felt inferior to what others made or maybe he just did not like the idea of getting government assistance. I don’t know. I just learned not to ask about college. To this day I don’t remember either parent talking to me about college except for when I was in 8th grade and I could not pass the foreign language class which was required for college prep.

I did not go to college immediately after high school. Ironically, both my parents were Baltimore City Public School teachers for much of their lives. My mother who taught English was known as that white honky bitch at Northern Parkway Junior High. That’s what the parents called her when she called them to discuss a student’s lack of progress. She got called that a lot. I saw the tears of frustration.

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Sarcasm-Tainted Observations On The Milwaukee Riots

Milwaukee riots

From CNN:

Angry crowds took to the streets in Milwaukee on Saturday night to protest the shooting death of an armed man by a police officer hours earlier.
Protesters burned several stores and threw rocks at police in the city’s north side, leaving one officer injured. Smoke and orange flames filled the night sky. The incident started Saturday afternoon when two officers stopped two people who were in a car in the north side, according to the Milwaukee Police Department.

Shortly after, both car occupants fled on foot as officers pursued them, police said. During the chase, an officer shot one of the two — a 23-year-old man who was armed with a handgun, according to authorities. “He (officer) ordered that individual to drop his gun, the individual did not drop his gun,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said. “He had the gun with him and the officer fired several times.”

The man died at the scene. It’s unclear whether the second occupant of the car is in police custody.

First Observation: The dead man, the armed suspect, the man whose death was the spark for the violence, was African-American. CNN’s report doesn’t mention that at all! Why? Is the information unimportant? In fact, it is the most important feature of the incident. It pains me to say it, but riots don’t happen when white citizens are shot by police, whether the victim was armed or not. CNN’s coverage is political correctness and cowardice, not journalism. A critical fact was omitted because it is unwelcome, not because it is superfluous.

This is news manipulation and misrepresentation by omission. This is unethical journalism.

“This is CNN.” Continue reading

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More Unethical—But NICE!— Police Tricks

This nice officer appears to be lobotomized, which at least gives him an excuse for his conduct...

This nice Halifax, VA. officer appears to be lobotomized, which at least gives him an excuse for his conduct…

The politically-fanned hatred and distrust for police has seemingly caused the profession to lose its bearings entirely. We have the Ferguson Effect in major cities, where police avoid proactive law enforcement for fear of getting in any confrontations with  African Americans, and now the desperate efforts of police to be loved is starting to spawn the Police As Cuddly Do-Gooders movement.

This will not end well.

Last week on a hot Friday in Virginia, Halifax police pulled drivers over to—SURPRISE!— hand out ice cream instead of tickets, and captured some of the reactions on camera. Officer Brian Warner said his officers “just wanted to spread some summer sweetness in the community.” They had patrol cars  equipped with coolers of ice cream, and they stopped about 20 motorists, handing out cones instead of tickets after the drivers were convinced they were being stopped for infractions.

Awww!

Warner, I’m afraid, is an idiot. Stopping a car to do anything unrelated to police work is an abuse of power and authority, and unethical. It doesn’t matter if it’s a well-intentioned abuse of power, or a nice abuse of power. It’s wrong, and I would make the case that it’s also illegal, no matter how nice it is.

I’m glad I wasn’t caught on camera, because my message would have been this: Continue reading

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So It Has Come To This: Criminalizing Burps In Middle School

At  Cleveland Middle School in Albuquerque, a persistent class clown, age 13, kept burping in class, followed by the usual titters from his classmates.

I was in class with one of these characters in the 8th grade, and I must admit, his burp was something: loud, long, low, and seemingly inexhaustible. He was yanked out of class, he was sent to detention, his parents were called, he was suspended, and eventually, without too much conflict, he learned to cut it out. (They never caught the guy who shouted “HOG!” in a raucous voice during study hall.) Apparently this method was beyond the abilities of the  Cleveland Middle School staff to execute.

The teacher, Ms. Mines-Hornbeck, called the police, who arrested and eventually cuffed the boy. Principal Susan LaBarge and Assistant Principal Ann Holmes  not only suspended him for the rest of the school year, but allowed the criminal justice process to proceed, with the boy being processed for the charge of  violating a New Mexico statute, N.M. Stat. Ann. § 30-20-13(D), that reads…

No person shall willfully interfere with the educational process of any public or private school by committing, threatening to commit or inciting others to commit any act which would disrupt, impair, interfere with or obstruct the lawful mission, processes, procedures or functions of a public or private school.

That’s right: arrest and criminal prosecution for burping in class.

None of the staff at the school, apparently, had an ethics alarm go off that induced them to point out that the year long suspension was an unethically harsh punishment, and the criminal charge was tantamount to child abuse. I remember that in the fourth grade at Parmenter School in Arlington, Mass, my friend Timmy Russell was moved to leap to his feet during a math lesson and do a ten second imitation of Elvis singing “Hound Dog.” Everyone laughed, including the teacher. Then, that burst of childish energy over, she went on with the lesson, because she was a confident professional.

In New Mexico, 2016, Timmy would have broken the law. Continue reading

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