Restraint

Avatar

Mark of New Jersey

Mark is a Founding Editor of The League of Ordinary Gentlemen, the predecessor of Ordinary Times.

Related Post Roulette

64 Responses

  1. Avatar Dan Miller
    Ignored
    says:

    I wonder how much of this has to do with high levels of gun ownership here. The omnipresence of guns makes policing more risky and police more jumpy, leading to more cops shooting people?Report

  2. Avatar joey jo jo
    Ignored
    says:

    “What, if anything, can or should be done about this?”

    with the powerful gun lobby, i’m not sure anything can be done.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to joey jo jo
      Ignored
      says:

      Because, surely, it’s the fault of the citizenry.Report

      • Avatar Dan Miller in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        And surely not the fault of a well-armed society.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Dan Miller
          Ignored
          says:

          If I got rid of every gun in the US except for the guns carried by Our Betters, there would be no appreciable change in the shots fired in NYC in 2011 and 2013.

          There would be no appreciable difference in number of dogs shot, for that matter.

          The culture that needs to change is not the culture of the citizenry.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird
            Ignored
            says:

            Is there any evidence for this, JB?Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater
              Ignored
              says:

              The guns per capita numbers that are as high (if not higher) in the Mountain West without the same number of shots fired by police? Wyoming, for example, has the highest guns per capita rate in the country.

              How relevant is that?Report

              • Avatar Dan Miller in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                If we’re comparing it to NYC, the whole “6 people per square mile” stat is probably relevant.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                I’m not sure it is relevant. But what the claim you made upthread is an empirical one: that eliminating private gun ownership wouldn’t reduce cop shots fired or dogs killed. That seems to beg the question of where the disparity on cop-rounds-fired comes from.

                On your view, it’s internal to police culture (I guess). But even that requires an explanation, no?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                I’d actually guess that it’s related to Urban vs. City culture. To jump up to Canada with the hypothesis, I’d ask whether Toronto had more police shots fired than the entirety of Saskas… Saskac… British Columbia.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Fair enough. But the figures for Germany included the urban centers as well.Report

              • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                If it’s an urban vs. city thing, then NYC hurts this argument, rather than helps it, since it actually seems to have a significantly lower than average rate of shooting people.

                Some more data that is relevant here, but which I advocate taking with an unbelievably large grain of salt because of the non-reporting issue mentioned below and also because of the way the DOJ classifies regions:

                Homicides by police, 2003-2009, by region:
                Northeast: 387
                Midwest: 566
                South: 1061
                West: 944Report

              • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Mark Thompson
                Ignored
                says:

                Is that “homicides” in the sense of number of police officers convicted of one or another kind of criminal acts involving the killing of a human being? Or are we talking officer-related shootings resulting in death which are not cleared as “righteous”? I’d find the latter more credible than the former.Report

              • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Mark Thompson
                Ignored
                says:

                From the report, the use of the word “homicide” in this context just means “killed by a cop in the course of an arrest.” It doesn’t have any meaning in terms of criminal charges against the cop or any intent or justification on the cop’s part, just that a cop killed the person by his own direct act (presumably shooting in every or almost every case).Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mark Thompson
                Ignored
                says:

                I am fascinated to know what the “West” number looks like without California.Report

              • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Mark Thompson
                Ignored
                says:

                They’d be reduced by about half. However, this is where that giant grain of salt comes in, because the West winds up with a lot of incomplete reporting, especially in the later years.* Still, California definitely doesn’t come out of this looking very good. Florida, though, probably comes out looking the worst.

                *Because the incomplete reporting is worst in the later years, the dramatic uptick in those later years despite the lower amount of reporting is something that I think is especially significant.Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Mark Thompson
                Ignored
                says:

                Can we get a per 1000000 people rate here? The numbers might look skewed, but it might help to have population figures for context per region.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Mark Thompson
                Ignored
                says:

                What are the demographics of the victims? If certain subsections of the population (male vs female, black vs white vs hispanic vs Asian, old vs young) are more likely to be shot than others, then the demographics of particular areas could mean something.Report

              • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Mark Thompson
                Ignored
                says:

                Nob – I thought about doing that, but it’s really not terribly worthwhile because of the inconsistent reporting. It’s certainly possible to calculate this in a way that at least partly controls for the inconsistent reporting problem, but that would take more time than I’ve got available right now. In general, and despite the fact that I used it in this post, I’m not a fan of relying too heavily on these DOJ reports for more than very limited purposes for reasons I’ve previously explained here:
                https://ordinary-times.com/blog/2009/11/23/the-annual-misuse-of-hate-crime-statistics/

                In this case, I’m comfortable with the way that I’ve used the data because it at least establishes a reliable floor that is useful in comparison with the NYPD-specific data (which I think is reasonably complete and accurate, using criteria that is both very broad in scope yet unambiguous). In other words, I can be comfortable saying that everything listed in the report as a homicide during an arrest in fact occurred (who is going to report that one of their own killed someone during an arrest when they actually didn’t?), but I have no confidence whatsoever that all such homicides are listed. I have even less confidence that data for one state, even when there is a complete set of reports to the DOJ, is collected in a manner that is any more or less reliable than any other given state.

                So if the data suggest shooting rates that are higher than one might expect, then that is really cause for alarm, since the actual rate can only be higher; but if they show rates that are lower than one might expect, then it tells us relatively little because of the many possible discrepancies in the way the data is collected.Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Mark Thompson
                Ignored
                says:

                It just seems to me that the numbers for the South seem disproportionately high for its population. Even accounting for the fact that there’s probably systematic underreporting for urban localities like Chicago (I bet they’re underreporting for the Midwest)….

                That said, it wouldn’t surprise me if this were the case, because the law enforcement culture in Southern states is horrifying.Report

              • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Mark Thompson
                Ignored
                says:

                A good chunk of the South’s numbers can be accounted for by virtue of the fact that the DOJ considers an awfully large part of the country to be the “South.” It includes pretty much everything from Maryland to Texas, inclusive of both. On the other hand, there’s no numbers at all for two of those states (Georgia and Maryland). But still, given what they include in the “South,” it’s a virtual guarantee that it’s going to have far and away the most deaths of this type.Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Mark Thompson
                Ignored
                says:

                Isn’t that similar logic to the west’s numbers? I bet if you cut Texas out of it, you’d see a huge drop in numbers, too.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Mark Thompson
                Ignored
                says:

                Nob-
                It also probably depends on where we are drawing lines. Does DC go in the South? Maryland? Is Texas South or West?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mark Thompson
                Ignored
                says:

                Baltimore is part of The South? That’s a nigh-useless categorization.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Mark Thompson
                Ignored
                says:

                We all sort of converged on the same line of thinking at the same time.

                Baltimore is south of the Mason-Dixon Line, JB! Shit gets real country, real fast in Maryland.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Mark Thompson
                Ignored
                says:

                Maryland was a slave state that sent something like 25k troops to the Confederacy, and had about a third of its legislature arrested because they were secessionists. It shares our nation’s capital with the state that was the capital of the Confederacy. It’s definitely southern historically.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mark Thompson
                Ignored
                says:

                Can you get decent sausage gravy there?

                I’m guessing “no”.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Mark Thompson
                Ignored
                says:

                Damn, JB. Shit just got real.

                And now I’m hungry for sausage gravy. Double-damn you.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Mark Thompson
                Ignored
                says:

                Can you get decent sausage gravy there?

                I’m guessing “no”.

                You’d be wrong.Report

              • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Ehh….looking at the report I linked to above more closely, it looks like Wyoming’s numbers are primarily explained by the fact that they also didn’t submit data for virtually any of the years on this particular issue. They submitted numbers of cops from what I can tell, but it looks like they just are amongst the handful of states that chose not to participate in reporting arrest-related deaths at all.

                One thing that’s important to be aware of with the DOJ report is that it establishes a floor, not a ceiling. We can say with certainty that “at least” this many people were killed incident to arrest nationally, but we can’t really say that “no more” than this many people were killed incident to arrest nationally.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Mark Thompson
                Ignored
                says:

                “They submitted numbers of cops from what I can tell, but it looks like they just are amongst the handful of states that chose not to participate in reporting arrest-related deaths at all.”
                The fact that states can “cho[o]se not to participate” in this type of reporting is mind boggling. Information about arms of the government killing citizens should be some of the most stringently reported data available.Report

          • Avatar Dan Miller in reply to Jaybird
            Ignored
            says:

            Assuming that you mean the cops by “our betters”, I think you’re wrong. NYC cops fired 184 rounds in 2009; in that same year, there were 386 homicides (not counting vehicular). Even if we assume that each of those required only 1 discharge, that’s still more than double the police rate–hardly unappreciable. American cops shoot people a lot, but Americans in general shoot people a lot (#1 in the first world AFAICT). You can say that this is an acceptable price to pay for the freedom of being armed at all times, but you can’t say it isn’t happening.Report

            • Avatar Plinko in reply to Dan Miller
              Ignored
              says:

              There’s a pretty gaping problem with your logic there, like, say, the relative sizes of the population of NYC vs. it’s police force.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Plinko
                Ignored
                says:

                Maybe. But it puts the burden back on the initial claim for justification. And that claim was that even if we lived in an unarmed society, we’d still see the same number of rounds fired at people and dogs as otherwise. That seems improbable.Report

              • Avatar Dan Miller in reply to Plinko
                Ignored
                says:

                Not necessarily–after all, it’s not necessarily a sign of a diseased culture if police fire more shots, because they’re much more likely than, say, accountants to be in a position where it’s justified. The problem, rather, is that the police in the US fire more shots than the police in Germany. And that problem can’t be explained solely by cop culture, I don’t think–I’m saying it probably matters that the homicide rate in NYC is much higher than the rate in Berlin.Report

            • Avatar Dan Miller in reply to Dan Miller
              Ignored
              says:

              .Report

          • Avatar Scott Fields in reply to Jaybird
            Ignored
            says:

            What culture is it then? And how does that culture stand isolated from the culture of the citizenry?Report

      • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        Police are employees of the state. If they’re doing something we don’t like, it is — in general — because we don’t dislike it enough to stop it.

        Or because enough of our fellow citizens like it enough to protect it.

        Not a huge fan of Michael Moore, but he was right about America’s Culture of Fear. You just have to turn on the local news to see that. Our media, 24-7, is driving home the message that we’re surrounded by threats and are in terrible, terrible danger.

        Are child molesters working in your school? Is the water safe to drink? If it’s not outright focus on local crime, it’s sensationalist scare stories.

        We are a nation afraid of it’s own shadow. Is it any wonder we keep giving the police bigger weapons and more authority and accepting things like tasers as pain-compliance if they can keep the boogeymen away?Report

      • Avatar joey jo jo in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        no, JB. not surely the fault of the citizenry. i simply doubt that any meaningful results would occur even if a majority of the citizenry endeavored to implement any solution.Report

  3. Avatar Morat20
    Ignored
    says:

    I can suggest a lot of things — the militarization of the police springs most heavily to mind, and that was going on even before 9/11 and the massive security fetish the nation underwent.

    Secondly, and this is entirely anecdotal based from a few conversations I’ve had with cops (and some ascribed to this view, and others didn’t) there’s both a burgeoning culture of fear among cops (a legacy of the drug war, perhaps. They feel outnumbered, outgunned, and underappreciated) and what amounts to an unwillingness to risk.

    I’m not exactly of the mind that police should be taking unnecessary risks. However, a good percentage of those I’ve listened to (10% or so, anecdotally) feel that they shouldn’t have to take ANY risks. That they are justified in reacting excessively (escalating to tasers or guns) rather than take even a calculated risk. No attempts to deescalate a situation, no attempt to assess anything other than force — and a lot of it.

    It went kinda hand in glove with a more authoritarian mindset (the ones I remember the clearest were VERY fond of tasers as pain compliance tools) and a sort of persecuted feeling. They weren’t police officers so much as a besieged soldier surrounded by criminals and hippy enablers. Maybe I was just talking to burnout cases, but I swear it was kind of frightening listening to these guys — they sounded one bad day away from pistol-whipping a jaywalker. Everyone was against them, and if you dared — DARED — imply a cop’s particular actions in a particular situation were anything less than PERFECT AND TOTALLY LEGITIMATE you were an enemy. There was a total unwillingess to believe that anything they, or a fellow officer, did was in any way less than perfect and fully justified.

    In addition to simply arming the snot out of cops and generally pretending the US is in the middle of some massive crime wave (generally as a reason to justify all those paramilitary goodies), there seems to be a…disconnect…between the police and the public.

    I don’t blame the police, in general. It seems a tough job with high stress. I blame the citizens, for abrogating their rights, for allowing police to turn themselves from peacekeepers to something closer to a local milita (you should see the SWAT crap our tiny municipality has. For what reason, no one knows), and more than anything for the public’s general worship of authority.Report

    • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Morat20
      Ignored
      says:

      This is a really good comment, by the way. I also expect there is a good amount of truth in it.Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Morat20
      Ignored
      says:

      It’s always struck me as fascinating that the demeanor required of police officers, and in fact what the citizenry expects of them, is one of simmering contempt towards the citizenry while on duty. I was actually drinking with a cop in a bar over the weekend and was struck by the fact that it’s a role they’re expected to play while on duty, and are quite different when off-duty. I suspect this has to do with them being power figures, instead of authority figures.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Rufus F.
        Ignored
        says:

        Must be about fifteen years ago now, I was driving to work, when a cop pulled me over. I knew I wasn’t speeding (traffic was down to about 25 on the freeway), so I had no clue what the problem was. I did the approved rolling down of the window, and waited for him with both hands on the wheel.

        “Is your car registered?’

        “Yes, of course.”

        “I don’t see the stickers.”

        “I’m sure I put them on.”

        “Give me the registration.”

        “It’s in the glove compartment. Is it OK if I …”

        “Just find it and give it to me.”

        All of this perfectly stone-faced, without any hint of humanity. I eventually found the current registration and handed it to him. He took it back to his car. After a few minutes he returned, looking like a completely different man.

        “Sir, do you ever park your car in public places?”

        “Yes, I’m on my way to BART now.”

        “Someone stole your stickers. That’s probably where it happened. I’m going to write you a fix-it ticket, but it’s not a violation and it won’t go on your record. You’ll need to go to the DMV, wait in line there, and pay them seven dollars. I’m sorry, sir, but that’s the only way to take care of this.”

        “No, I understand.”

        “Well, you have a safe drive, sir.”

        That is, once I went from perp to victim in his eyes, he was as friendly and helpful as he could be.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Mike Schilling
          Ignored
          says:

          Guy without stickers = perp? Scary.

          I had a similar experience just the other day. Cop pulled me over for have windows tinted too darkly. The car came from CA, where the laws are different, and after getting pulled over previously for it and being advised by the officer that I could avoid that ticket and any future tickets by getting a doctor’s note (I confirmed this with a close reading of the statute), I did so and kept this in my glovebox, as instructed by the judge at the initial hearing. I explained this to the officer, showing him the prescription. He was livid. He had never heard of this exception and insisted that I simply should have worn sunglasses or tinted only one window. He insisted that the town where I initially had the interaction didn’t know what they were doing and they are all idiots over there (for the record, I don’t really have a medical condition that requires the tint, but we like it and *HE* didn’t know that). He eventually threw my paperwork back at me and stormed off, mumbling something about a “warning” before speeding off. It was as if he was mad that he didn’t get to right me a ticket and that I had the gall to not be guilty (at least not in the eyes of the law) of what he wanted me to be guilty of. And I did all the same stuff you did (both hands on the wheel until he was at the door, slow movements, calm voice, never interrupted him).

          I’m not going to generalize him to all cops. But not all of them get friendly and helpful upon realizing you weren’t doing what they thought you were doing.

          And, again, this was over tinted windows.Report

          • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Kazzy
            Ignored
            says:

            Guy without stickers = perp? Scary.

            Equals fishhole who could clearly afford to register his car but decided to cheat. If it stays at disgust and doesn’t escalate to violence, it’s pretty much justified.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Mike Schilling
          Ignored
          says:

          Interesting. I had a similar experience only a coupla weeks ago. I bought a new trailer and had it loaded down with rafting gear en route to the river when a cop pulled us over. My registration was out of date. The whole vibe was that I was a law-breaker and a parasite on society … until I provided proof that the registration on the plates was current. Then it was all sunny and light, jokes and charm.

          Why not the sunny and light, jokes and charm before they found evidence to the contrary? I think the answer to that is part of the problem with cops. And why don’t hate them, but just feel better when they’re not around.Report

        • Avatar joey jo jo in reply to Mike Schilling
          Ignored
          says:

          the stone faced visage is a calculated tactic. when an officer makes a stop, they are carefully observing the person’s actions to determine safety/if a driver is hiding anything in the vehicle/other concerns. lots of times an officer will take his or her sweet time in even approaching your vehicle. once the officer approaches the vehicle, they cannot tip their hand in any way. any hint of humanity may embolden the driver to try and talk their way out of the situation or worse, make a move. there is plenty of time (as you suggest) for pleasantries after a determination has been made.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy in reply to joey jo jo
            Ignored
            says:

            I don’t really buy that.

            The cop pulled the guy over for a registration violation. How much more likely was the guy to be a violent offender who might try to “make a move” on a cop when he was suspected of having an out-of-date registration than when he was a guy up to date on his paperwork? I’m sure the answer is more than zero, but probably not enough to justify the disparity in treatment.Report

            • Avatar joey jo jo in reply to Kazzy
              Ignored
              says:

              The ability to pull over a driver for tint/registration/etc is a powerful tool to uncover larger offenses. Officers must, for their own safety, treat each stop as the potential worst case scenario.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to joey jo jo
                Ignored
                says:

                Understood. But does the fact that I have a waiver for the tint make the WCS any less likely? Why get all chummy? I’m the same dude Iwas 30 seconds earlier and he has learned bery little about me in that time.Report

              • Avatar joey jo jo in reply to Kazzy
                Ignored
                says:

                What I’m saying in my response to mike S’s situation is that the stone face treatment is s.o.p. It sounds like your officer was just a cockbag. There may be other drivers for his attitude. Some jurisdictions have ticket quotas, for example. He could have “wasted” a good stop on you.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to joey jo jo
                Ignored
                says:

                It may be a powerful TOOL, but what it seems to be used for is…fishing, which I’m NOT fond of. I don’t think the cops need to be pulling over people on the off chance they can find some ‘real’ reason rather than, you know, failure to signal when changing lanes.

                Secondly — and more importantly — take that stone faced “calculated tactic” — what’s that saying to the COP? The cop who repeats it, day in and day out? It says “Everyone out there who isn’t a cop is potentially a violent perp. I have to treat everyone as if they’re likely to engage in violence”.

                And then we wonder why cops see everyone as violent? Maybe because we told them to act like every interaction might turn into a shoot-off, and they start to buy into the act through sheer repitition?

                If you told ME to assume each and every one of my customers was a complete and utter idiot, but “try and stay professional” I can assure you that after a few months the professionalism is gonna slip because obviously I’m dealing with idiots day in and day out.

                Cops needs to move back to believing the folks they interact with are innocent, rather than assuming they’re guilty of something the cop needs to watch out for.

                Slightly more risky for the cop? Probably, but have you looked at crime stats? Police used to hack it just fine back when there was a LOT more violence. How come in a less violent society, they’re better armed, more combative, and a heck of a lot quicker to pull out a taser, gun, or nightstick?Report

              • Avatar joey jo jo in reply to Morat20
                Ignored
                says:

                i would be more concerned if they could make a stop for NO reason (and AZ 1070 verges on this in some respects). failure to signal is a moving violation. there can be good results from these stops.
                i don’t thing your example of a commercial transaction or customer relationship is a good analogy. The officer’s safety is the driver for remaining stone faced. cops must believe that people are legally presumed innocent but they have no duty to assume that the person they stopped is a good person or not dangerous to them. when a stop occurs, the officer does a preliminary check on the registration and license of the vehicle—-but, they have no idea who is actually driving the vehicle.
                best to err on the side of officer safety. i think there is a difference between how an officer is trained to observe/interact with someone who is stopped and subsequent decisions to draw a weapon.
                i’m also unsure how you quantify that police “hacked it just fine” when there was a lot more violence.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to joey jo jo
                Ignored
                says:

                “best to err on the side of safety”. So much can be excused by that simple sentence.

                And so much IS.

                All those fun videos of cops tazing a pinned down guy? They’re erring on the side of safety, you know. Sure, sometimes it kills people, but that’s the price we pay for the safety of cops.

                And sure, you have a right to drive your car and a right to live your life, but if a cop needs to pull you over or search your car on spurious grounds — just to make sure you’re not doing something he disapproves of — well, they’re just erring on the side of safety!

                No, we shouldn’t “Err on the side of safety”. Cops have guns, a legal right to use them, and a LOT of other cops to help them. They should err on the side of “I work FOR the citizens of the United States, not against them”Report

              • Avatar joey jo jo in reply to Morat20
                Ignored
                says:

                i think you’re expanding the topic of an officer’s demeanor during a stop to subsequent decisions to use force. i agree with you for the most part regarding the use of force. but during the initial stop, officers are trained to be stone faced, neutral and observant.
                i’m not sure how stopping someone for a moving violation and then discovering subsequent violations during a (presumably) legal search or observation is spurious. if the subsequent search was legal, it would pass legal muster.
                the counter to your argument re: working for the citizens is that in justifiably stopping somone, they are working for the citizens as a whole.
                the hysterical counter to your argument on err on the side of safety is: how many cops would you have killed?Report

    • Avatar damon in reply to Morat20
      Ignored
      says:

      Yeah, cops have it bad. Their job is so much more stressful and hazardous than being a lumber jack or a commercial fisherman (some of the most hazardous jobs around last time I checked). Maybe if we stopped this whole war on drugs the stress level would go down?

      Frankly, it’s the quality of the recruits, the entitlement, and the attitude that’s the problem. If we also got rid immunity and actually started prosecuting cops for criminal actions I’m quite convinced that things would change radically quite quickly. Balko has plenty of examples of criminal behavior by cops. But now, whenever we get a “whistle blower” they are the ones that get pushed out.Report

  4. Avatar Burt Likko
    Ignored
    says:

    My experience with German culture, the result of literally months of time spent in the Saar and mid-Rhine regions, is that these are people who are very lawful, and who do not seem to understand why someone would want to defy authority. So the issue may be that the now-ancient Robin Williams joke about unarmed British police (“Stop! Or I shall stay ‘Stop’ again!”) is actually very resonant in German culture, or at least an element of it.

    Obviously, this is not a complete assessment of the society. Germany has crime, it has violence, it has people who do disobey authority, and it has a culture that, thanks to Germany’s very unpleasant and not-very-distant past, wrestles continuously with the issue of when and to what extent authority should be questioned and challenged.

    For our purposes, let’s at least consider the possibility that Germany, not New York, is the outlier in this comparison.Report

    • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Burt Likko
      Ignored
      says:

      I think this is fair and certainly entirely appropriate to consider.

      One thing I just want to make abundantly clear, if I didn’t emphasize this enough above, is that to the extent New York is an outlier compared to the rest of the country, it is a GOOD outlier. NYPD seems to shoot less than other American law enforcement agencies.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Burt Likko
      Ignored
      says:

      That may be true (the part about Germans being more respectful of authority, not the part about Germans being an outlier) but even if it is, if you couple disrespect for authority with gun ownership, aren’t you effectively inviting the disparate numbers in rounds fired at people?Report

      • Avatar Snarky McSnarksnark in reply to Stillwater
        Ignored
        says:

        I’ve lived for a time in Germany, and they are, on the whole, profoundly suspicious of authority. But they do have a deep-seated belief in the value of “rules,” (whether they be scientific, philosophical, or political). I can’t tell you how many times I received a finger-wagging from a stranger after I make a bonehead traffic move, or cross the street against a light.

        But authority? Power? Germans–particularly the post-war generations–don’t trust it. They have the historical example, of course, to color their recollections, but German cops are quite formal, polite, and non-confrontational, particularly when compared to their American counterparts.

        My nephew went through the L.A. Sheriff’s police academy, and was a police officer for about two years. But ultimately, he decided that we wasn’t a good fit for police culture: in the main, police–or at least Los Angeles police–have an authoritarian, black-and-white, good-and-evil mindset. Tasers, when introduced, were presented as an alternative to the use of deadly force. Now they are mostly used as a means for obtaining “compliance.”

        So part of the problem is that precisely the wrong people become police.Report

        • Avatar krogerfoot in reply to Snarky McSnarksnark
          Ignored
          says:

          As a U.S. exile, part of the eye-opening experience of seeing my culture from the outside was the realization that we U.S.icans have an extremely confrontational culture overall. It is really disorienting to go from that to a culture where people who nominally have authority don’t seem to feel compelled to assert it in every interaction. This feature of American culture hits me hard every trip back, starting with every new encounter with the TSA.

          But it’s the chicken/egg conundrum, isn’t it? Is our terrible police culture a reaction to, or one cause of, our hyperviolent citizenry?Report

  5. Avatar The Phantom
    Ignored
    says:

    “So what’s going on here? Why are Americans so much more likely to be shot by the police, and why is this likelihood increasing? What, if anything, can or should be done about this?”

    Some things worth noting.

    In the United States (and Canada) the places where the violent crime happens are geographically small and located in large urban centers. Basically little pustules of extreme dysfunction surrounded by the Sea of Normal. The places where the people (legally) own guns is not where the crime happens. This can be checked on the web by googling crime maps and looking at the relative concentration of red dots in American cities. Its an education in where not to get off the highway if nothing else.

    I do not believe this is the case in Germany, but I haven’t had much luck looking it up so I could be wrong.

    Therefore you can’t generalize statistics by population and try to draw conclusions regarding “cultural values” from them because its a purely local phenomenon. If you can’t compare police actions between two different parts of Chicago, comparing two nations in this way is not particularly useful. The reality of the situation is some departments see shootings all day every day, whereas most departments see it rarely if ever.

    Second, in my experience American city cops have terrible marksmanship training. Their rounds fired to hits ratio is abysmal. I knew quite a few of these guys in NYC in the 1990’s, their firearms training was a running joke. Also to be considered is the change from revolvers to semi-auto pistols with high capacity magazines, which encourage spray-and-pray style marksmanship. It would be interesting to compare German police to American ones in this regard.

    Third, according to Dr. Martin Fackler the ratio of hits-to-fatalities for pistol caliber ammunition is more like four to one, not two to one. Rifles and shotguns are generally much more damaging, larger calibers approach 1-1 ratio for center of mass hits. However people hardly ever get shot with those, even by police. Most police forces use 9mm, .40 cal and .38 cal, most punks carry crappy little .22s and .32s because they are cheap and easy to hide. In a reverse of what one would expect, more people have been killed with .22s than any other caliber.

    Bottom line, correlation does not equal causation.Report

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *