OUTSTANDING Rebuttal to an Anti-Police Article

Discussion in 'Shop Talk' started by Hush, May 16, 2014.

  1. Hush

    Hush Moderator Staff Member

    The original article:
    http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2023610869_policingdeclinexml.html

    And an excellent rebuttal:
    Come on, Steve - how can anyone really be surprised? SPD has been treated
    with an appalling degree of shabbiness by a whole collection of know
    nothings for so long that any officer who is dumb enough to do
    self-initiated police work needs a guardianship, not a gun. The most likely
    outcome of doing so is the treads of a set of 22.5" bus tires right across
    their back.

    There is a pervasive belief that the City Attorney's Office hates cops. I
    don't know if that's right, but there is certainly something wrong. That
    office fought the effort to continue appealing a suit in which liability was
    found where it should not have been. They tried to end the practice of
    having outside counsel defending officers because the outside counsel
    actually knew what they were doing and would not kowtow to the wishes of the
    CAO. Inviting DOJ in, and then entering that consent decree, was if not
    malpractice, blatantly stupid. Not surprising considering that most police
    legal advising is abysmal at best.

    Force by cops. Hah. Fights are ugly. They are not the silly choreographed
    stuff shown on TV. They involve fists (if one is dumb); palm heel strikes,
    elbows, feet, sticks, and maybe guns. Lots of blood, bruising, and broken
    bones are predictable. An offender who really wants to resist will require
    several officers to be taken into custody, and injuries are a given. There
    is no such thing as a fair fight and the cops don't have the option of
    losing. Graham v. Connor only requires "reasonableness" in the use of force.
    It does not require that the police be correct. It does not require that it
    "look pretty" either, which is never going to happen. The use of force on
    persons who need it is always going to look ugly, more so to those unaware
    of reality.

    Most people don't know what they don't know about use of force. If one looks
    at the data, American LE is far too restrained in its use of force. With
    regard to lethal force, it is not used nearly as often as it should. I have
    seen a chart that indicates only 3.5% of those who assault cops with
    potentially lethal force are killed by the police. Consider that. It means
    that LE could and should be killing AT LEAST 25 times as many offenders
    without being "unreasonable", the Constitutional standard. That is both
    truly unfortunate, and indicates a need for further and validated training.
    Not only is the average private citizen utterly unqualified to opine on
    police work, especially use of force matters, but most lawyers, even those
    in the CJ system, are likewise unqualified. I've heard amazingly ignorant
    statements from lawyers, even on the record. I've refuted them with vigor,
    and successfully.

    Among the LEAST qualified in the criminal justice system are the attorneys
    and investigators of the DOJ. The case reports and other literature are full
    of incidents in which DOJ was wrong (because they don't even know the extent
    of their ignorance), and then dishonest in an effort to obtain convictions.
    (Not only in use of force cases.) I have been informed, but have not
    confirmed for myself, that when DOJ does a Civil Rights "investigation"
    involving LE, they by policy exclude the people who are most qualified:
    DOJ/FBI personnel who have ever served in a police position (most federal
    agents are not cops, but criminal investigators, with very real differences
    in training, skill set, and knowledge). This is insane, and indicative of a
    deliberate effort to obfuscate and come to a pre-ordained conclusion. Anyone
    who cooperates with a DOJ "investigation" is a fool, and has not gotten good
    legal advice.

    Demographics: The racial ancestry of the arrestees is only part of the
    issue. Look at the young men of color arrested, and I'll bet that the
    overwhelming majority are from lower socio-economic status backgrounds.
    Likewise the white arrestees, and women. Although the thug culture is not
    exclusively limited to the lower SES ranges (anyone can watch MTV and listen
    to music exalting that mindset), it is certainly more prevalent there.

    In addition, don't just look at the arrestees. Look at the complainants.
    Many of the complainants are of more or less the same background as the
    offenders, and tired of being preyed upon. When I taught college CJ classes
    for a year, the students most in tune with that were ... wait for it ...
    young men and women of color, first generation upwardly mobile kids escaping
    that lower SES background. Admittedly they had mixed feelings about LE, but
    they also knew that it was their moms, grandparents, siblings and other prey
    who bore the brunt of the violent crime. Often, the police were being
    brought into situations that had taken a while to develop (a feral teen does
    not spring out of the ground that way) and had little or no other option
    than enforcement.

    While there are certainly aspects of enforcement that will involve bias on a
    lot of different bases, including ethnicity, the picture is far more
    complex. I've been a cop and prosecutor in two states, mostly in areas that
    were not all that diverse (majority white). Setting aside color/ancestry,
    the problem offenders are similar to the point of being interchangeable.
    It's unfortunate that their lives sucked up to that point and they may not
    have had a good chance, but when someone presents a problem to the community
    by their actions, all other considerations become minimal.

    Is SPD perfect? Unlikely. No one is. Errors happen, and just like every
    other field, LE recruits from the community. It thus gets a small percentage
    of people who are flawed, sometimes deeply. I'd bet a good amount you've
    encountered other reporters who make you want to retch; I've certainly met
    cops and lawyers like that. However, SPD is not even close to the worst
    agency in the state in terms of civil rights and tort exposure. That one has
    such a good PR program that most people outside it have no clue, and I can
    assure you that the people who howl the most about misconduct in that agency
    are its lowest ranking personnel, a group of overwhelmingly excellent
    people.

    Sadly, low level public disorder crimes being tolerated leads to worse
    problems. Aggressive traffic enforcement was shown in a study known as the
    Kansas City experiment in the 70s to be the best single means of suppressing
    crime and criminals (and I have looked for but not found any subsequent
    study refuting that study's conclusion). SPD's current enforcement practices
    are a product of the community's actions and decisions. One should be
    careful what they wish for, as they might get it as they have here.

    Douglas R. Mitchell, JD, MPA
     

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