Law Enforcement: This Is Not Working

Videos of the police encounters with Lt. Caron Nazario in Virginia and Daunte Wright in Minnesota have been viral for the past several hours. After watching these, I’d like to suggest that we fire every cop in America and start over.

It’s beyond obvious that what went wrong in these encounters — as well as with George Floyd in Michigan, Maurice Gordon in New Jersey, Sandra Bland in Texas, Elijah McClain in Colorado, Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, Philando Castile in Minnesota (again), and so many others — is that police officers unnecessarily took what should have been routine, low-tension situations and escalated them into life-and-death struggles.

Of those mentioned above, only Lt. Nazario survived. This is because he was admirably disciplined and kept his head, but it should be police who are disciplined and keep their heads. Instead, in videos more often than not you see shouting and screaming and foaming-at-the-mouth hysteria on the part of the cops. Are they not trained to de-escalate tension rather than ramp it up? Apparently not.

The officer who killed Daunte Wright was screaming “taser! taser! taser!” just before she shot him with a gun. It’s obvious she was not thinking straight. And she was a 26-year veteran, news stories say, not a rookie.  Somethng is seriously wrong here.

And no, I’ve never been a police officer. I am sure they face many challenging and dangerous situations. But you’d think they’d be better trained to be controlled and disciplined, not volatile and erratic.

In my life I’ve been stopped for traffic violations a couple of times (although it’s been years). In my experience as a middle-aged white lady the cop comes to the window and says, Lady, you were speeding, here’s your ticket. Bye. Nobody screamed at me, made me get out of the car, tried to put me in handcuffs. If the cops had come at me the way they came at Lt. Nazario or Duante Wright I’m not sure how I would have reacted, but I don’t think anyone should be faulted for having a meltdown or trying to get away. That must be a terrifying experience, and it shouldn’t be the responsibility of a person being arrested to keep the cops calmed down.

In the case of Lt. Nazario, the cops should have just told him “We stopped you because you don’t have a license plate.” And then the Lieutenant would have pointed to the dealer temporary license plate, which may have been hard to see because of the tinted windows. And then the cops could say, “Oh, okay. Never mind. Have a nice day.” End of encounter. Why is that so hard?

In Georgia, an intoxicated Rayshard Brooks fell asleep in his car in a Wendy’s drive-through line. When cops arrived to deal with him, by all accounts he was genial and cooperative, but still very drunk. He wanted to lock up his car and walk to his sister’s house nearby, and maybe they should have just taken his car keys and let him go. Indeed, they could have driven him to his sister’s to sleep it off.  They had his name and license plate number; somebody could have followed up and taken him to court in a few hours when he was sober. But Brooks became agitated and tried to get away, and he was shot and killed.

The excuse one hears is that if people being arrested would just comply with police, these unfortunate outcomes wouldn’t happen. Explain to me what undercover St. Louis detective Luther Hall could possibly have been doing that justified his brother officers beating him to a pulp?

In the case of George Floyd, it’s unclear that anyone ever explained to him why he was being arrested. He was obviously terrified. Derick Chauvin, the cop who killed him, is an even worse example of malpractice than the over-excited officer who mixed up her gun for a taser. If you saw the highlights of the prosecution’s case at Chauvin’s trial, you know that happened to Floyd was just stone-cold murder. For once, even Chauvin’s superior officers clearly said Chauvin was in the wrong. For once, maybe this time there will be a conviction. But as Eugene Robinson wrote today, one fears Chavin will get off, because that’s what always happens.

Still from bodycam video of Daunte Wright’s death.

12 thoughts on “Law Enforcement: This Is Not Working

  1. I don't see how any jury could let Chauvin go.

    Otoh: How many times have I made that same statement when there's a different cop, and a different dead black male killed by the cop?

    But juries have let cops like Chauvin walk for killing black men like Floyd before.  Far too often, for far too long.

    But there's something going on here in America right now.  

    I had this same type of feeling years ago*: Back in the very late-70's and 1980, you could literally sense the country's changes from a liberal society, to a conservative one.  There was almost a sound – like a ripping noise.

    I knew a depressing depression of mental depression would settle over America for a while in 1980.  I just didn't know it was going to last for 4 fracking decades!

    So hopefully there'll be a verdict of "guilty" for Chauvin. 

    Maybe this'll be (another) sign that it's time for Conservatism to stut and fret its last hour upon the stage.

    And truly, this is a tale told by an idiot.  Many idiots, actually:  All the bozo's at all of the Fox media personalities at all of the Fox media properties; Reich-Wing talk-radio yakkers; the Op-ed pages chock full of  of local/state/regional/national magazines and paper writers; conservative inter-tube sites; and finally, the new "conservative" TV "news" stations/shows.

    Hope.

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    • I had this same type of feeling years ago*: Back in the very late-70’s and 1980, you could literally sense the country’s changes from a liberal society, to a conservative one. There was almost a sound – like a ripping noise.

      You were way ahead of me. I never picked up on this^ at that time. For me the 1960s were officially over when Lennon was shot, in December 1980. I remember where I was when it happened.

    • The 'star' defense witness was on the stand all day today in the Chauvin murder trial.  Google "Dr David Fowler Lawsuits" and scroll down to read the articles about why he resigned as the Chief Medical Examiner for Maryland.  

      He testified that he is retired even though he was forced to resign the last employment he had.  It also was NOT admissible into evidence of lawsuits against him or the similarities to the George Floyd murder by cop.  His history is that of providing medical excuses for cop violence and murders.

      Chauvin Defense Witness Faces Lawsuit Over Death of Black Teenager in Police Custody (theintercept.com)

       

       

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  2. The broken-policing incidents are piling up and overlapping. Chauvin, gun for a taser, brutalizing an Army lieutenant; all three in the news at once. Time was, the police would wait a day or two between violations of the law.

    If Chauvin gets off, it won't be despite his obvious guilt, but because of it. That's how gangstas flex.

  3. Suppose… I got flustered or confused. In a moment of stress intending to pick up a widget (anything) I accidentally picked up a handgun and shot my brother dead. the authorities would undoubtedly say, "gee whiz, it was a mistake?"  And that would be the end of it.

    No? You think I'd be cuffed and charged? Manslaughter? Jury trial and almost certain conviction. Why is the mistake by anyone wearing a blue uniform any different? 

    The problem, simply, is that if a cop shoots anyone dead, the burden of proof is on the deceased victim to prove it was excessive force. Reverse that. Anytime there's a dead victim, the officer(s) involved would bear the burden of proof. Cops and cop unions should demand body cameras and dash cameras as the best way of showing they did everything to avoid lethal force. 

    How do you impose that standard on cops? I'm not sure. Identifying what the standard on use-of-force should be is the first step. We need to define what we expect, demand it and accept nothing less.

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  4. I remember 1980 and how the 80's became a right wing parade that has lasted until today. I truly hope "conservatism" is on the way out. 1/6/21 truly showed what the self righteous white right is all about. It is time for a real shift. Like who is government and policing for? Why are car registrations or tags more important than lives? Why are a few protesters more important to control and arrest than the murderous insurrectists we saw jan 6th? It is time to through out the entire policing paradigm.

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  5. I recommend the "Honeybee Rule". The honeybee dies whenever she uses her stinger; likewise, a policeman's career on the force should end if he kills a civilian. No delays, no excuses, no exceptions. If a civilian dies, then the policeman's out of the force, automatically, permanently, that very day, them's the rules.

    Pension? Or prosecution? Let the civilian review board decide. But we, their taxpaying employers, don't want killers on the force, period.

    Sure, I'm being unfair to the cops. Yes, it's a hard job. In fact I'm being an a-hole about it. But who is to be master and who is to be servant? The boss gets to be an a-hole, and the theory of democracy is that the people are the boss, and the cops are servants. The opposite theory is not recommended.

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    • Also, require cops to be bonded, like so many other professions that don't carry anywhere near the potential for deadly results as policing does, at least these days.  Instead of the cities and ultimately the taxpayers being on the hook to pay for damages to victims, let that burden be on the cops and their insurance companies.  Insurance companies in turn, will raise the standards for who they will bond.  The goons that accosted Lt. Nazario will think twice before indulging their inbred prejudices and engaging in such thuggish behavior, just because they can, and feel like it.  Some will say, that's a heavy burden to put on cops.  What, doing the job by the book and not letting your emotions or prejudices rule your behavior on the jobs is "unfair"?  Then that means being a cop is not for you.  And insurance companies will weed such people out to the extent police departments don't because they will refuse to bond them.

      Lastly, if the taxpayers have to pay millions in damages whenever these cops kill someone unjustly, then taxpayers need to have more say in what they can and cannot do.

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  6. It is simpler and worse.  It is only about one thing: accountability.

    If I paint every surface of my house, inside and outside, fire-engine red, what will I learn?

    I will learn which of my friends don't like red: because they won't come round any more.

    Unaccountability is a color.  People who don't like it don't go towards it.  People who do like it surround themselves with it.

    Long ago, police began to exploit situations of civil unrest.  They would initially disengage and let the situations get worse.  Then they would go to the politicians, behind closed doors, and say, would you like us to clean this mess up for you?  Then we must have a free hand.  Bingo: permanent structural unaccountability.

    Police are only one of the unaccountable professions.  When you modestly propose firing all the police and starting fresh, you have have the answer, but you neglect the necessary precondition for that action to have an effect, which would be societal unanimity that unaccountability is impractical and wrong.  That unanimity is not attainable.

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  7. Watch this video and you'll understand the scope of the problem with police violence against black and brown people: 

    Whitewashed: Unmasking the World of Whiteness https://youtu.be/rdaF_h06YX4 

    Here you have everyday white folk talking openly about whiteness, the privilege derived therefrom.  These people are conscious of it and how it does play out in their lives in terms of how they perceive minorities, consciously and subconsciously.  Its this kind of honest examination we need more of in order to solve this.  

    Imagine that many white officers carry this same baggage.  For some, again, its subconscious, others not.  But its what drives them to see black people they encounter differently than they do white people.  Stereotypes that are the foundation of white supremacy come into play: black people are inherently dangerous, lazy, dishonest and intellectually inferior.   And our society reinforces this in our culture, through advertising and the way news stories are covered.  

    Thus the answer for the police is not just retraining in police methods.  The focus has to be on these prejudices, honestly acknowledging them, which is something we as a country have been incapable and/or reluctant to do, as the people in this documentary are doing, and how people, consciously or not act out on them adversely effect minorities.  Take the unemployment rate, for example.  The extent that racism in employment has become accepted and institutionalized is evident in the fact that we accept as "normal" the black unemployment rate being twice that of whites.  We accept as normal, and thus there is nothing we can do about it, that black family wealth is exponentially less than that of whites.  Here, all you need to do is acknowledge how black WWII veterans were excluded from getting mortgages through the GI program and redlined out by banks from buying homes, which creates wealth and is passed down through generations, to understand the wide disparities in family wealth.

    This is the root cause of police violence against black and brown people.  You can "retrain" all you want, but until we are honest as a society about these prejudices and getting people to accept that they do have them, and get off this obsession with being "a good person" versus an honest one, I guarantee nothing will change.  "Waiting for the facts to come out", "violence is unacceptable," "why don't they comply" are nothing more than red herrings and a dodge from examining the heart of the real issue.

    I just read that Tucker Carlson, who openly spews some of the worst racist tropes in support of white supremacy on his show every night its on, has the highest rated show on CATV.  That's because there's an audience for it, and as a nation that's a sad reality we need to acknowledge.  Many of the people who are regular viewers will tell you they're not racist and they are "good people," and yet, Tucker resonates with them.  That's because, as is the case with some of the people in the video, Tucker is speaking to ideas that are inherent in them, and in our culture.

    As a nation, we have to acknowledge that this IS who we are, before we can begin to address racism in this country.  

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  8. I remember 1980 and how the 80's became a right wing parade that has lasted until today. I truly hope "conservatism" is on the way out. 1/6/21 truly showed what the self righteous white right is all about. It is time for a real shift. Like who is government and policing for? Why are car registrations or tags more important than lives? Why are a few protesters more important to control and arrest than the murderous insurrectists we saw jan 6th? It is time to through out the entire policing paradigm.

    For Job news Niyogbd

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