Police Kill Good Guy With A Gun

Jemel Roberson was a security guard at Manny’s Blue Room, a bar in Robbins, Illinois. Patrons there got drunk and were asked to leave and, although they initially did so, they then returned and started shooting. Roberson was armed. He returned fire and eventually apprehended one of the shooters. Then, the Midlothian Police Department arrived. Patrons told the police that Roberson was a security guard at the bar.

Four people were injured in the shooting but will survive. A fifth was shot and killed. The fifth was Jemel Roberson. He was, by every imaginable measure, the platonic ideal of the NRA’s “Good Guy With A Gun” argument. The police killed him anyway. His heroism had not mattered in the end. 

Meanwhile, all of the following people survived their encounters with the police:

The police are capable, in other words, of not shooting, or at least, it would sure seem like it. They choose not to in certain cases. Roberson’s mistake was not being one of those certain cases.

Please do be so kind as to share this post.
Share

193 thoughts on “Police Kill Good Guy With A Gun

  1. It’s just like the NRA has been telling us: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a white guy with a gun.”

    Add: Already popping the corn for when Mike Dwyer accuses you of anti-cop bias for posting this!!

      Quote  Link

    Report

        • Or, instead of being snarky, you could express your sincere views.*

          *I realize that since South Park it’s been, well, difficult for some people to actually care about stuff without feeling like they’re losers about to get owned, but nevertheless, sometimes sincerity has value, especially on a personal level. :)

            Quote  Link

          Report

          • I sometimes wonder if we’d be better off without police at all.

            Then the police in Baltimore went on strike (effectively) and crime went up.

            So I had to rethink that thought experiment.

            The police need to be completely reformed from the ground up into a Peelian police force or, if it must be a paramilitary, it needs to have Rules Of Engagement that include stuff like “holding them to a higher standard than civilians”.

            But I don’t know how we do that when the worst cops are in Democratic strongholds. It’s not like the Republicans will run on police reform.

              Quote  Link

            Report

            • Is there any evidence that police in Republican strongholds are decent human beings who don’t see color when making life or death decisions? Because I’d be willing to wager fairly significant money that this problem is extremely widespread and exists regardless of political outlook.

                Quote  Link

              Report

              • Do we want to do an investigation on police shootings and on the parties of the people in power where they take place? I’ve idly thought that maybe we should do that but never really put my back into it.

                I don’t know how to look up the state level legislators based on a zip code search and it’d be a lot of effort and I’m lazy and I’m not entirely certain that it’d result in any changed minds.

                  Quote  Link

                Report

              • I think his point isn’t that cops in GOP areas are paragons of virtue, but that the GOP governments are least likely to work towards police reform; and if the worst PDs are in Democrat cities, then the Ds* are either also unwilling to attempt police reform, or incapable/ incompetent of it.

                *Ideally the party most willing to engage in reform

                  Quote  Link

                Report

                  • (Dang, it’s easy to find who is the mayor of any given city but trying to find out their party? It’s like pulling teeth. And then looking up representatives by zip code? Ugh.

                    Which also speaks volumes about how states and states legislatures are not where local people can solve governance issues. Because states are extremely opaque on who owns the issue and how it’s handled.

                    You didn’t find legislators by zip code because districts at the state level are even more gerrymandered. My zip code has several legislators, they don’t campaign (they frequently don’t even point out their party in the rare signs you might see in the street) and definitely, they don’t tell you what they think about police, Medicaid, the environment, taxes, or any topic that should be reserved to our betters.

                    You know who knows every legislator, R and D, though? Lobbyists do. Legislators and lobbyists both prefer that you don’t meddle. It’s how “laboratories of democracy” work best.

                      Quote  Link

                    Report

                    • Have to push back on this… it is trivially easy to find out who governs Cook County, the City of Chicago, and even easier at the state level.

                      Here’s the guy from the district where I grew up: Larry Suffredin. It seems he even sits on the Criminal Justice committee (proving that they at least have one).

                      I’m assuming that JB is being, erm, polite because the entirety of Chicago is in the hands of the Democrats… which is the sub-point here.

                      State and local politics are not in any way Byzantine labyrinths… if anything they are labyrinths of Banality where indifference is the key to governance. I have no idea why Police incompetence/corruption is a matter of indifference to Chicago and the greater Cook County area. I’m pretty sure it has nothing to do with the NRA or Republicans, though.

                        Quote  Link

                      Report

                  • Jaybird was neither criticizing Sam nor telling him anything personal. He was talking about his own depressing views about police reform.

                    This isn’t even a Jaybird-explainer, it’s patently obvious.

                    Plus you’re the one who asked for his sincere views, then when he gave them, you metabolized them into this BS? Jeez dude.

                      Quote  Link

                    Report

                    • Oh, I liked Jaybird’s sincere views. I just didn’t like Oscar’s short-take on them. Not sure why this is a problem for Jaybird, to be honest, unless he subscribes to the view. Which he did, which I didn’t know at the time.

                      THe problem continues to be that “above the fray” types (like Oscar and Jaybird…) view the Dems/liberals as having agency but the GOP/conservatives as not.

                        Quote  Link

                      Report

                  • Nah, not my argument.

                    My argument is that, to the extent that this is a political problem, it’ll likely require a political solution and one of the few options that we have to enact political solutions is via electing officials who will run on stuff like “we need to reform policing”.

                    Some small part of that is noticing who the current elected officials are and saying “maybe this can be fixed by voting for the other party?”

                    But if the other party is the Republicans, that’s probably not the case.

                      Quote  Link

                    Report

                    • It moves the relevant political level down a notch, to the primaries. When one party dominates a region’s politics, that doesn’t mean that every politician is a lefty, if a blue region, or a righty, if a red region. It means that a bunch of guys move in who would be happy in the other party–perhaps happier than in the dominant party. So in one of these areas, the fight against the vile incumbent is couched as an intra-party rebellion rather than an inter-party struggle and the fight takes place in the primary rather than the general election. But it is essentially the same fight.

                      This, incidentally, is why I am registered as a Republican. I am a genuine RINO because Democrats aren’t elected in my county. The Republican primary is the relevant election, and some of the people running are barking mad. I am a Republican so I can vote against those guys when it matters.

                        Quote  Link

                      Report

                    • If Oscar’s comment is correct – that conservatives are a lost cause on police reform – then why do you expend all your energy on this site criticizing liberals who express a desire for police reform?

                      The house isn’t in order, that I agree with. But you selectively criticize only “one side” when that side expresses criticisms that the house isn’t in order. To say it again, it’s like you (and other above the fray types) accept the view that conservatives aren’t agents in their political destiny.*

                      *Do you think they’re too stupid to be persuaded by a rational argument? I don’t mean that derisively. I’m just looking for a reason why you think liberals are always the problem it comes to political issues…

                        Quote  Link

                      Report

                      • This is a political problem and if the democrats are the ones in power in these jurisdictions where these police shootings take place then I’m not sure why you want me to be criticizing conservatives more.

                        That said, I think your framing is bad. For one, I don’t think that conservatives are a lost cause on police reform.

                        Neither are liberals.

                        But Republican politicians won’t run on police reform. They’ve got different fish to fry.

                        The politicians that you’d think would be down with some serious police reform are therefore the Democratic politicians and they’ve already got their hands on the levers of power in the city where this happened.

                          Quote  Link

                        Report

                        • All that to say you’ll continue to criticize liberals for criticizing police practices on the understanding that that you won’t criticize conservatives for criticizing police practices because conservatives won’t criticize police practices and only liberals will. It’s all political, see.

                          OK.

                            Quote  Link

                          Report

                            • Wait. What are we arguing?
                              How to fix this?

                              Well, insofar as there are two sides to this issue, we don’t fix it by saying a) conservatives are immovable objects and b) liberals should be criticized when they advocate fixing it.

                              That’s what you’re doing, whether you realize it or not.

                                Quote  Link

                              Report

                              • It is not my position that it will be fixed by saying that conservatives are immovable objects and liberals should be criticized when they advocate fixing it.

                                And if we agree that the problem won’t be fixed by voting for Republicans (we agree on that, right?), then I’m not sure why it’s important that I criticize them more when they aren’t even in power in the first place.

                                  Quote  Link

                                Report

                                • And if we agree that the problem won’t be fixed by voting for Republicans (we agree on that, right?), then I’m not sure why it’s important that I criticize them more when they aren’t even in power in the first place.

                                  So, Dems are the real racists. Got it.

                                    Quote  Link

                                  Report

                                  • Try “Democratic politicians who have power and refuse to contemplate / take action on police reform are *really* contributing to structural racism, and are definitely more fixable than Republican politicians are, thus Republican politicians are irrelevant. Democrats, being in a position to affect Democratic politicians more than Republicans are, are far more of a relevant audience / entity to mass critique than Republicans are on this issue.”

                                    Or maybe I just think that he thinks that because *I* think that.

                                    He wasn’t criticizing Sam. Nor was Oscar.

                                      Quote  Link

                                    Report

                                    • So, by this argument the burden for changing our police practices falls squarely on those few Dem politicians willing to go gainst – by definition, according to ya’lls view – the status quo. The status quo itself is a fixed point, immovable and unchangeable, *except* by the agents of change, exemplified by the few souls who could but fail to move it.

                                      No wonder liberal Democrats advocating criminal justice reform don’t have a more receptive ear in the electorate. They’re constantly criticized for failing.

                                        Quote  Link

                                      Report

                                      • The problem with structural racism is that the people within it are more or less interchangeable.

                                        The problem is the system and the system needs to be changed and given that we’re talking about Chicago I’m pretty sure that swapping out all of the Republicans with clones of Mitt Romney (or whichever Republican you wouldn’t complain about me putting in there) will not really have an impact on the system because they won’t get elected in the first place.

                                        The system needs reforming and since it’s a system in Chicago the system needs to be reformed by Democrats.

                                        This isn’t a problem that would be fixed by getting better Republicans to not win the elections.

                                          Quote  Link

                                        Report

                                  • If we’re talking about structural racism, the people in power are the real racists.

                                    And I went to Vox’s article about school segregation and put in the Midlothian (the district where this shooting took place) school district into the tool and, looky there, the way stuff is zoned makes segregation worse (well, by a little, not a lot).

                                    If racism is structural, of course.

                                    If it’s all about how people feel about black people, I’m sure that Republicans are the real racists. Many of them are neo-nazis too. You’ve just got to wonder about the real reasons they all collect WWII memorabilia…

                                      Quote  Link

                                    Report

                                    • If we’re talking about structural racism, the people in power are the real racists.

                                      This is a joke, right? I mean, you present as an intelligent person on the internet., so I don’t want to make assumptions.

                                        Quote  Link

                                      Report

                                        • The thing about structural racism is that it allows for a system to have racism without racists.

                                          That. That exactly.

                                          And, at that point, you can have good people in the system and they’ll still be engaging in racism. Even if Republicans aren’t around.

                                          Not just “can”, we’ve seen this demonstrated, and it probably describes the bulk of our current problem. It’s why replacing white cops with black cops isn’t a magic bullet. It’s how solid blue Dem cities can end up with something that acts a lot like segregation.

                                            Quote  Link

                                          Report

                        • This is a political problem…

                          Yes. But is it a partisan issue? That’s much less clear, at least at the level of local politics. And we may be suffering from some hangover from Dems/liberals being demonized from the right as being “soft on crime” (Willie Horton?) and trying too hard to shed that label.

                          But fundamentally I think this is a systemic issue stemming from the types of personalities that are drawn to police work in the first place. Thought experiment: what if our police were drafted at random from the population rather than recruited? Not seriously suggesting it, but just wondering how that would affect their behavior.

                          There’s also structural issues stemming from the working relationship between the police and the prosecutors. This leads me to believe that the path to serious reform begins with oversight from a higher level (federal probably) with no other policing/prosecutorial duties and, at least in theory, no conflicts of interest.

                            Quote  Link

                          Report

                          • Thought experiment: what if our police were drafted at random from the population rather than recruited? Not seriously suggesting it, but just wondering how that would affect their behavior.

                            I think that that is a great thought experiment.

                            And in my quick run-throughs, I’d say that the early part of the experiment has a lot *FEWER* police shootings than we see now.

                            Unfortunately, more police deaths.

                            (I don’t know what the constraints are for the experiment. Two year tours and then another police lottery? One lottery, once, and then those people are cops for the next 20-30 years? If it’s the latter, we go back to baseline after 20-30 years.)

                            As for whether it’s a partisan issue, I don’t know. You’d think that Democratic leaders would be able to run on this sort of thing and win in the districts where this sort of thing happens. The “soft on crime” argument deflates when you point out that the police shooting the bodyguard was a crime and it’s an argument between the people who want that crime punished and those who are, presumably, soft on that crime.

                              Quote  Link

                            Report

                            • I don’t know what the constraints are for the experiment.

                              I don’t either. It’s just something that occurred to me literally as I was typing out the comment and I just threw it in there. My main point being that there’s a huge Venn overlap between the type of people attracted to police work in the first place (i.e., positional authoritarians) with the type of person likely to exert undue lethal force.

                              I mean, are you attracted to law enforcement as an occupational choice? No? Me neither. That’s because neither one of us is that type of person. But that type of person is, well, that type of person with all the baggage that carries.

                                Quote  Link

                              Report

                            • Democrats tend to win in big cities, where there’s (effectively) often a one-party power structure that means that the winning mayor, city council members, et c. may well feel more beholden to constituencies that would be, well, Republicans if they weren’t in a place with a one-party power structure.

                              And of course Dems often do vote for people who want police reform, they just often end up in other levels of government, which provides for real, if less direct, evidence.

                              Which is also why partisanship matters, since there you see Republicans sticking by cops no matter what, now matter how egregiously those cops behave. And when you’ve got a Republican running the DOJ or the like, that really matters.

                                Quote  Link

                              Report

                          • what if our police were drafted at random from the population rather than recruited?

                            At some point you end up giving Willie Horton a gun and badge and he’ll stab/rape people with them. You also end up with a generic 90lb civilian trying to enforce her will, which probably ends up with the gun being drawn.

                            So presumably we impose some type of background check(s), physical/moral checks, and probably make it volunteer… and then we’re looking at something close to what we have now.

                              Quote  Link

                            Report

                              • Are we going to be excluding the mentally ill from this thought experiment? Drug dealers? Known criminals? Random implies without-filters.

                                If memory serves most cops have some college and a high school diploma, that’s multiple filters right there. There are large groups of people I’d really rather not see with guns and law enforcement abilities.

                                I don’t trust myself at age 25 to be given a gun, badge, law enforcement power; not because I was a criminal but because I wasn’t socially skilled enough. I’ve known a lot of people over the years, some of them relatives, who I seriously wouldn’t want to have badges.

                                  Quote  Link

                                Report

                                • If memory serves most cops have some college and a high school diploma, that’s multiple filters right there.

                                  Education screening can be peculiar. In the metro area where I live, the two biggest cities require a high school diploma and then pay to have people they accept go through the 26-week academy training. My smaller suburb (~115K) requires a bachelors degree and academy training, but doesn’t pay for the academy. It’s fairly clear that we’re skimming off some of the more-educated officers from those bigger cities.

                                    Quote  Link

                                  Report

                            • So presumably we impose some type of background check(s), physical/moral checks

                              As I noted to Jaybird above, this was a thought that popped into my head, quite literally, as I was typing out my comment rather than something I’ve been mulling over for months. So if forced to flesh this out, yes, imagine it as completely analogous to the military draft with those types of filters.

                              … and probably make it volunteer

                              Then it’s not a draft is it? The point being to neutralize the self-selection for authoritarian assholes that we currently see. Not that every LEO is an asshole or that even every asshole is a positional authoritarian but voluntary recruitment for that kind of work disproportionately attracts that kind of person.

                                Quote  Link

                              Report

                            • I don’t see how you could have civilian (i.e., not military) police literally subject to the UCMJ but I was aiming for something similar with “…oversight from a higher level (federal probably) with no other policing/prosecutorial duties…”

                                Quote  Link

                              Report

                      • view the Dems/liberals as having agency but the GOP/conservatives as not.

                        That’s a big ol’ pile of nope. The GOP absolutely has agency, they just have no interest in exercising that agency in the realm of police reform (except, perhaps, to reform things to grant police even more protections, etc.).

                        then why do you expend all your energy on this site criticizing liberals who express a desire for police reform?

                        Because the Democrats have agency and (ostensibly) desire police reform. As Jaybird says, they have their hands on the levers of power, and either they have no idea how to use them to enact police reform, they don’t really want to expend political capital enacting police reform, or (the most likely case) enacting police reform is tricky, because there are lots of contracts, and legal decisions, and a half dozen other things that get in the way of reform that tend to be resistant to simple political will to alter (largely because those people know they only have to delay change until the next election cycle).

                        Ergo, while it’s effectively a political problem that will need a political solution, ultimately it’s a ‘hearts and minds’ problem of the population at large, in that the bulk of the population still side with the police when in the clinch. As long as a jury is consistently more likely to acquit a cop of murder with the barest of justifications, there will be very little ability to reform the police.

                          Quote  Link

                        Report

  2. In discussions of police shootings and spree shootings, the consistent thread is the relationship that some gun owners have with guns.

    I use the word “relationship” in the way it is used by therapists regarding food or drugs, where anorexics and drunks have a toxic relationship with a substance.

    In this particular instance I am assuming race has a lot to do with Jemel’s death, but the root is the toxic relationship to guns and gun violence.

    I can say this because this shooting isn’t some freakish man bites dog while being struck by lightning story. It fits a pattern that we see over and over again so often as to be almost a template.

    It isn’t possible to reach an workable policy by some analysis of the Constitution or the letters written by the Founders or some statistical regression analysis of police reports.

    There is a small but dangerously potent group of Americans for whom a gun is a sacred totem of masculinity, and gun violence a preferred vehicle for assertions of power and status. And unfortunately this toxic relationship to guns is driven by an underlying fear and loathing of others.

    These damaged people aren’t the hunters, target shooters or antique collectors.

    We know who they are, and at present, they enjoy the cover and protection of one of the largest lobbying groups in the nation, with the consent of our largest political party.

      Quote  Link

    Report

    • In this particular instance I am assuming race has a lot to do with Jemel’s death, but the root is the toxic relationship to guns and gun violence.

      Except that cops interact with armed white people all the time and somehow manage not to shoot and kill them. The other day I saw a video of police chatting amicably with armed members of a National Socialist Movement protest in Little Rock, AK. I can’t find the video, saw it on Instagram, but here is a story about it: https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2018/nov/12/state-capitol-officer-appears-give-weapon-advice-n/

      Police don’t kill black people because of toxic masculinity. Police kill black people because of white supremacy.

        Quote  Link

      Report

      • White supremacy and misogyny tend to intertwine, for they share a lot of the same attributes.

        Both are the aristocracy of the mediocre, that sort of compensating entitlement that gives an unearned privilege. Someone might be mediocre in every aspect, but being born with a pink penis confers power.

        And in both cases, they lash out with intense violence when it is threatened.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • Except that cops interact with armed white people all the time and somehow manage not to shoot and kill them.

        It just doesn’t make the news. We’re not cherry picking data to support that narrative.

        We could. In the local news we had four departments set up and kill a white heavily armed survival nut, they even had a car chase and weeks to plan it out. Similarly there are lots of black criminals in prison for gun crimes, some of them must have been arrested on camera.

        Make those national news every time it happens and display them side by side. Presto. We’ll have a totally different narrative, one that says the police are unjustly flustered and get violent when dealing with whites but the experienced cops in the inner city deal with violence just fine.

          Quote  Link

        Report

          • …the margins, when cops have to make a split-second decision about whether to shoot your or not, being black is a liability.

            That is a very different argument than “the police can interact with whites without killing them” (implying that they can’t interact with Blacks) and presenting carefully picked points of data.

            The obvious solution from that line of thought is to deal with racist cops, and then after we try that we’re going to be just *shocked* there are larger structural issues that dominate the numbers.

              Quote  Link

            Report

            • That is a very different argument than “the police can interact with whites without killing them” (implying that they can’t interact with Blacks) and presenting carefully picked points of data.

              No it’s *exactly* the argument that cops can’t interact with whites without killing them, restricted to interactions using lethal force. This comment was expressed in clear English, Dark, so not hard to understand. What the hell is wrong with you?

                Quote  Link

              Report

              • No it’s *exactly* the argument that cops can’t interact with whites without killing them, restricted to interactions using lethal force.

                I’m going to assume you have an extra negative in there.

                We have roughly 800k police in the US (google), assume 50 “interactions” with the public per cop per working day. 250 working days in the year. That’s 10 Billion encounters per year. From that we end up with less than a thousand corpses.

                As a country we have armed lunatics like school shooters, armed gangs, armed organized crime, and suicide by cop so very likely a large percentage of that less than a thousand wasn’t avoidable and is outside the scope of this conversation.

                The racial break down of those deaths is something like this: https://www.statista.com/statistics/585152/people-shot-to-death-by-us-police-by-race/ This year we’ve had 318 whites shot dead and 158 blacks shot dead.

                It’s misleading to the point of disingenuity to claim the system “can’t interact with people without killing them” in a general sense. We have about 50 people a year die from bolts of lightning, the police shooting innocent people is roughly on that scale.

                Every police shooting we talk about on this site is a statistically significant amount of the total problem. That’s not saying we don’t have a problem, but imho it’s intrinsically worthless to compare the most innocent black guy shot of that 158 to the nastiest white of that ten Billion.
                The police have enough resources that something really awful or stupid needs to happen for someone to die.

                  Quote  Link

                Report

                • This year we’ve had 318 whites shot dead and 158 blacks shot dead.

                  So here the problem with your argument is that adjusting for proportion of the population, blacks are indeed disproportionately likely to be killed by police. African Americans are about 13% of the population, yet overall they are represent 31% of police deaths, 39% when they aren’t actually attacking the police. Whites are roughly 63% of the population and yet overall represent 52% of deaths. ()

                  So while the overall picture is a small contribution to total gun deaths, AA persons are in fact more likely to die at the hands of police.

                    Quote  Link

                  Report

                  • Phillip,

                    Citing this (emphasis mine):

                    Both sociologists and criminologists agree that violent crime is a complex socioeconomic phenomenon. Generally speaking, research shows that poor people commit the most crime: According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, during the period from 2008 through 2012, “persons in poor households at or below the federal poverty level (FPL) (39.8 per 1,000) had more than double the rate of violent victimization as persons in high-income households (16.9 per 1,000) … The overall pattern of poor persons having the highest rates of violent victimization was consistent for both whites and blacks.”

                    We know that more blacks live in poverty, so they commit a disproportionate amount of crimes. That has nothing to do with their race. It has to do with the inability of our country to pull people out of poverty. With that said, that fact brings them into contact with police officers more often, proportional to the population, than whites. And before you say anything, yes I do understand that a not-small amount of those interactions are also due to racial profiling.

                    The truth is, statistics about police interactions with the public as well as how the justice system works beyond arrests, are very hard to come by. There has been a lot of investigations via podcast series in the last few years which are (thankfully) exposing this. In the meantime though, no one is compiling a comprehensive list of police interactions with the public and how those turn out. Sam culling stories from the news and holding them up as proof of his thesis is poor science, but it does help him control the narrative, at least on this site.

                      Quote  Link

                    Report

                    • We know that more blacks live in poverty, so they commit a disproportionate amount of crimes. That has nothing to do with their race. It has to do with the inability of our country to pull people out of poverty. With that said, that fact brings them into contact with police officers more often, proportional to the population, than whites. And before you say anything, yes I do understand that a not-small amount of those interactions are also due to racial profiling.

                      well . . . our “inability” exists in large part because a certain white segment of the population doesn’t want to pull African Americans out of poverty, much like well to do white don’t want to pull poor whites out of poverty. We as a nation could do it, but that threatens the power of some white men. So while racial profiling is indeed a thing with black men – and likely was in this case since it appears no one actually tried to understand what was going on before they started shooting – that racial profiling exists on the back of a large institutional racism structure.

                      I agree that this is conversation that’s largely statistic devoid – and as a scientist that bugs me to no end. It doesn’t change the fact however that what statistics we do have point in a specific direction, as does history. Remember – most of the initial Sheriff’s Posses (our earliest police forces) were just run away slave patrols with badges.

                        Quote  Link

                      Report

                      • I largely agree with you except for this:

                        “…because a certain white segment of the population doesn’t want to pull African Americans out of poverty, much like well to do white don’t want to pull poor whites out of poverty. We as a nation could do it, but that threatens the power of some white men.”

                        It’s not that I don’t think inaction exist, I just don’t think it’s quite as conscious or nefarious as you make it sound. It’s more often just naivety or ignorance.

                          Quote  Link

                        Report

                      • our “inability” exists in large part because a certain white segment of the population doesn’t want to pull African Americans out of poverty,

                        What are you calling “poverty” and what do you suggest would fix it that we’re not doing?

                          Quote  Link

                        Report

                    • Sam,

                      “…versus what they do when confronting innocent black individuals.”

                      When you can provide actual statistics that back up these claims instead of anecdotal stories from your Google Alerts, it would make a stronger case. As previously noted, police have shot over 300 whites this year and how many blacks did they interact with without shooting? That fact alone completely refutes your thesis.

                        Quote  Link

                      Report

                      • I don’t have the stomach to go back through Sam’s police shooting posts but I’m wondering if he has ever highlighted the shooting of a white person? It seems like the usual methodology here is that everytime he gets a Google Alert that seems sufficiently egregious, he then finds a few examples of the police interacting with white people and not shooting them so he can compare and contrast as if that is actual good reporting.

                        If the numbers were actually available, assuming that cops harass blacks much more than white, I would guess that we would see the ratio of police interactions to shootings actually refute Sam’s thesis.

                          Quote  Link

                        Report

                        • As has been noted several times in these comments, there are no good numbers on police use of force, specifically because the police are very hesitant to compile such stats, or if they do bother to compile them, they sure as hell don’t want to share them with a fellow LEA like the FBI (and what does get shared is often so inconsistently tracked that it’s nearly useless for statistical analysis).

                          The police work for us, the fact that very few members of the population seem interested in even this barest form of transparency from public servants is further evidence that the public at large will still defer to the police narrative whenever possible.

                            Quote  Link

                          Report

                          • I’m not disagreeing with you on the need for transparency and better data. My point though is that Sam’s campaign is based on anecdotal observations, not anything resembling scientific analysis.

                            Recently I listened to Season 2 of the In the Dark podcast and they were investigating the case of a (likely) wrong conviction in Mississippi. They wanted to specifically look at black jurors being struck from jury pools because of their race, which is illegal. They had to comb through over 100,000 documents and could only get racial data for something like 250 cases. That effort took them the better part of the year and it was for a district covering a few counties. If it is that hard to draw conclusions for a tiny area, why do we continue to explore the issue of police shootings in the United States as anything other than a gut-level conversation? There are literally thousands of police departments having hundreds of thousands of interactions with the public every year. Cherry-picking stories about individual police shootings so the liberals and libertarians on this site can tut-tut about how terrible police departments are is an exercise in sensationalism.

                              Quote  Link

                            Report

                            • Sam,

                              I thought you had promised to ignore my comments, etc? If you don’t want to keep that promise, that’s fine with me, but at least stop playing this game. You literally hit reply to my comment, critiqued my comment, but addressed it to someone else. Is that your idea of keeping your pledge via loophole?

                              Anyway, I’ll address my comment to YOU like a grownup. One definition of ‘bad faith’ is a refusal to confront facts. There are lots and lots more facts about how minorities are treated by the justice system post-arrest and that issue also affects millions more people than police shootings. You could talk about the privatization of prison systems, the pointless drug war, the injustice of sex offender lists, how bail requirements disproportionately hurt minorities, how Chicago’s crime problem has ties to white flight in the first half of the 20th century or the impact of civil unrest in the 1960s on police tactics…etc, etc. All of those things are conversations that have far more data available, could be tackled far more scientifically and have the potential to be less partisan in how they are discussed (I can promise you that I am solidly liberal on every one of those topics).

                              None of those things are probably as clickable and none of them would probably give you the opportunity for as much snark and sarcasm in your posts, but they would all have the opportunity to move the ball forward. It really makes me wonder why you avoid those topics. I can only assume it’s because you can’t force people to prove negatives, can’t claim the moral high ground and can’t rely solely on anecdotal stories to make your point. You are really good at telling other people what their motives are. Maybe it’s time to talk about yours.

                                Quote  Link

                              Report

                            • Cherry-picking stories about individual police shootings so the liberals and libertarians on this site can tut-tut about how terrible police departments are is an exercise in sensationalism.

                              In the absence of actual data, this is what happens. If people who wish to defend the police from such accusations want such anecdata exercises to come to an end, they need to help put pressure on PDs to compile useful stats and submit them to the FBI like they have been supposed to be doing since 1994!

                              The fact that PDs actively resist compiling such stats and submitting them to the FBI is taken as clear evidence that the PDs have something to hide.

                                Quote  Link

                              Report

                              • The entire judicial system resists compiling data. As I noted though, because court proceedings are generally better documented than police interactions with the public, at least there is a foundation to build on.

                                % effective is calculated as Number of Fails/Number of Tests. In this case it would be (B) Number of Shootings/(A) Number of Police Interactions and then filtered by race. In order to prove Sam’s claims wrong, police officers would have to document every single interaction with the public so that we had reliable A data. That means, you talk to a black guy at the Circle K for a few minutes and don’t shoot him and that needs to be recorded as an interaction. You give directions to a white guy who has his hands in his pockets and you don’t shoot him, you record that too. And that is self-reporting, not 3rd party observers. As a Quality guy, I can tell you that we would never consider self-reported data to be reliable. I suppose we could have body camera footage randomly pulled and sampled to give us an idea, but you would need to define criteria for an interaction (I’m happy to go through that exercise here).

                                In general though, I do agree with you that pressure needs to be applied. I just don’t see a call to action in Sam’s posts. I see a call to outrage and maybe a vague conclusion that we should elect more liberals (i.e. non racists) but as Jaybird points out, they don’t really have a great track record either.

                                  Quote  Link

                                Report

                                • Even what you describe wouldn’t be sufficient, I think.

                                  What led to the interaction taking place in the first place? So the cop saw somebody fiddling with their bike lock, and thought “Are they having a hard time getting their key to turn, or are they stealing the bike? This looks suspicious enough, I’m going to go over and talk to them for a minute.” You’d need a base rate for how often the cops’ eyes pass over people fiddling with their bike locks, sorted by race.

                                  And so on.

                                    Quote  Link

                                  Report

                                • I’d start with the stats the 1994 law asks for, which (IIRC) is anytime the police have to use force (any contact that results in an arrest/attempted arrest where the suspect actively resists complying with officer instructions*).

                                  Let’s hit the low hanging fruit and work from there.

                                  *A person going limp and becoming dead weight is passively resisting. The suspect is not resisting, they are just not actively cooperating.

                                    Quote  Link

                                  Report

                                  • Many of the examples Sam has cited over the years involve black men being killed that were not in the process of being arrested. Those data points wouldn’t even be captured in the scenario you describe, which makes me think it would skew the data.

                                    Another ancillary issue we might look at is how many of these shootings occur with sheriff departments and ow many with police departments. I suspect that information may be important.

                                      Quote  Link

                                    Report

                                    • If a cop pulls a gun, that counts as “the officer is attempting to arrest the suspect”. There is exactly zero reasons for a cop to pull a gun except to use the threat of violence to enforce compliance prior to an arrest. The fact that the attempt to arrest failed and it quickly escalated to lethal force is irrelevant. Police are not actually permitted to kill people, only to arrest them.

                                      This is an obvious point of fact, there is no honest hair splitting possible here.

                                        Quote  Link

                                      Report

                                      • Is Sam’s thesis that when guns are drawn, the inherent racism of cops makes them more likely to kill black people or more broadly that racism makes every encounter with the police more likely to end in the death of a black person? If the former, then your angle makes sense. I have always interpreted Sam’s position to be more broad than that.

                                          Quote  Link

                                        Report

                                    • The federal law requires all LEAs to submit use of force stats. State Troopers all the way down to rinky dink PDs, and everything in between (state level Dept. of Education has badged officers, they have to do it to if they effect arrests or otherwise expect to have to use force).

                                        Quote  Link

                                      Report

                          • Gordon This is a perfectly good example of the unbelievably bad faith that this argument always ends up at. Police refuse to compile/release data that would almost certainly indicate that the problem is even worse than it is already understood to be, which forces critics to work with the available evidence instead, which is then dismissed by those desperate to protect the police from criticism because the available data isn’t suitably comprehensive. (Comprehensive, in this case, being defined as the X+1 that we always see, with X equal to whatever data is available at that exact moment in time.)

                              Quote  Link

                            Report

                            • Sam,

                              I thought you had promised to ignore my comments, etc? If you don’t want to keep that promise, that’s fine with me, but at least stop playing this game. You literally hit reply to my comment, critiqued my comment, but addressed it to someone else. Is that your idea of keeping your pledge via loophole?

                              Anyway, I’ll address my comment to YOU like a grownup. One definition of ‘bad faith’ is a refusal to confront facts. There are lots and lots more facts about how minorities are treated by the justice system post-arrest and that issue also affects millions more people than police shootings. You could talk about the privatization of prison systems, the pointless drug war, the injustice of sex offender lists, how bail requirements disproportionately hurt minorities, how Chicago’s crime problem has ties to white flight in the first half of the 20th century or the impact of civil unrest in the 1960s on police tactics…etc, etc. All of those things are conversations that have far more data available, could be tackled far more scientifically and have the potential to be less partisan in how they are discussed (I can promise you that I am solidly liberal on every one of those topics).

                              None of those things are probably as clickable and none of them would probably give you the opportunity for as much snark and sarcasm in your posts, but they would all have the opportunity to move the ball forward. It really makes me wonder why you avoid those topics. I can only assume it’s because you can’t force people to prove negatives, can’t claim the moral high ground and can’t rely solely on anecdotal stories to make your point. You are really good at telling other people what their motives are. Maybe it’s time to talk about yours.

                                Quote  Link

                              Report

                              • You also promised to not comment on his posts with personal attacks, only critiques of his argument, and yet you do that all the time. You do both, but you definitely do *both*, not just the one you promised you would stick to.

                                Complaining about his loopholes when you deliberately break the meat of your promise on the regular is beneath you.

                                  Quote  Link

                                Report

  3. It would be interesting to hear the 911 call, to hear how urgent it sounds.

    Is it just more widely reported, or are there really that many cops who just rush in pell mell, guns drawn with itchy trigger fingers?

      Quote  Link

    Report

  4. Stillwater,

    I want to thank you for your challenge at the top of the thread. Too often I keep falling into the trap laid out in Sam’s OPs and play the part in the comments. So I sat back and watched this comment thread for the last 20 hours or so. It’s illustrative in a lot of ways.

    One of my primary complaints with Sam’s posts is that they are very descriptive of a problem, but not very prescriptive as to solutions (I am certainly guilty of this myself but I am making a conscious effort to do better). What I would really like to see is a lot more of our writers and commenters taking a risk and actually suggesting paths forward, even if their logic is only half-formed. I will point out both Jaybird and Road Scholar doing that below and commend them both for the effort. It’s very easy to criticize, complain, make snarky comments about the police, etc but it’s a whole lot harder to actually attempt to understand a problem enough to advocate for something more than a generic ‘reform’ which is all I see from you and many of our other liberals on the site. I mean, it’s cool to quote Rage Against the Machine lyrics, but not very conducive to actually moving forward.

    What I would suggest is that you hit Ctrl+F and type Stillwater into the little box and then scroll through every one of your comments on this thread. At no point do I see you offer a policy prescription. You criticize Jaybird for his half-baked ideas but at least he is trying to think through solutions. Road Scholar suggests an interesting idea and you don’t really offer much response to it i.e. collective brainstorming to make an idea better. You are also notable for being the first liberal to mention ‘racism’ in this thread…which is definitely an award that I would formalize if I was king of OT for a day. I’m still not even clear why you brought it up other than it is hands-down the most popular word on the Left side of the site these days.

    So again, thank you. This comment thread has taught me a lot and I sincerely mean that. Police shootings are absolutely a problem which deserves a solution, but I certainly don’t think any good ones will be crowd-sourced here in a bipartisan way. That means even if we had a direct pipeline to Congress, they are dead on arrival because many of the members of this small community seem more interested in re-running the same squabbles rather than actually working through an issue intellectually. Sad, but true.

      Quote  Link

    Report

    • P.S. I had a pretty solid piece up about border security a couple of weeks ago that was actually pretty liberal on its take. Not a single comment from you. Geez, it’s almost like if you can’t find something to fight about you just aren’t interested.

        Quote  Link

      Report

      • The border is a primarily a political issue right now, one used as a wedge by Trump and (recently) GOP politicians to drive the party further to the “populist” right. The tragedy here is that the over the last forty years or so the Dems have been much more hawkish on immigration than the GOP. Labels and propaganda do a lot of work here. The Dems are now viewed as soft on immigration* just as they’ve been labeled soft on crime by the political/partisan right. Neither is true yet both are politically effective.

        *In fact, conservative conventional wisdom is that Dems favor open borders for purely electoral purposes, going so far as to bus or fly in hordes of illegals on the expectation that those folks will vote D in future elections. God help us as a country!

          Quote  Link

        Report

    • So you’re *not* going to accuse Sam of having poorly concealed anti-cop motives?

      Dang. (Dumps popcorn into the garbage.)

      On the substance, Jaybird and I largely agree on the necessary remedies to the problem of cop violence: break up cop unions, get rid of or at least reduce the scope of qualified immunity, decriminalize possession, etc and so on. The discussion we were engaged in wasn’t about those remedies, tho. It was about the politics of enacting them, one in which he conceded that conservatives are a lost cause on police reform leaving only the Dems holding the ball. Should Dems run with it? We both agree that they should, but given that police reform is a political issue, Dem politicians can only run with it if thy can run on it. That means getting more votes advocating for real reform than they would have received had they not done so. Blaming Dems for the practices both Jaybird and I (and others at this site, but notably not everyone) find objectionable may be – and is – descriptively accurate but unhelpful – counterproductive even – if Dems are, as we all agree, the only political party which will take these reforms seriously at the level of policy. And that requires voting candidates who support those policies into office. Ie., voting Dem.

      Make of that what you will, Mike.

        Quote  Link

      Report

      • Now those proposals are actually interesting. Obviously, I am especially excited about the prospect of liberal union-busting, but I digress…

        I do think Jaybird is correct to point out that in places where Democrats have heavy control over police departments, we should be seeing improvements, not those places being some of the worst examples of police using deadly force. I also don’t think it’s fair to characterize Jaybird or Oscar as ‘above the fray’. They aren’t above it, they are outside it. We have a two-party system and that marginalizes a lot of people. I feel it too, even if I am much more mainstream than Jaybird.

        Here’s some advice I received lately that i think we can ALL benefit from: Create more than you criticize. Create reform by advocating for detailed policies, defend them if you must, but move forward. When we spend more time on this site defending charges against our team and debating what is racist and what isn’t…we don’t accomplish much. That’s a lot of smart people wasting their talents IMO.

          Quote  Link

        Report

        • Creating reform requires accurately describing the problem. Eg., Sam attributes cop violence against black men as being caused by racism within the police force. Is that an accurate description? Seems to me conservatives at this site reject that description. For my part, I agree with it 100%, *but* concede that while racism is a real problem in our criminal justice system it a) can’t be fixed directly via legislative reforms and b) there are plenty of other problems which *are* amenable to legislative fixes which would reduce the prevalence of some profoundly disturbing discriminatory police practices.

            Quote  Link

          Report

          • “…racism is a real problem in our criminal justice system it a) can’t be fixed directly via legislative reforms and b) there are plenty of other problems which *are* amenable to legislative fixes which would reduce the prevalence of some profoundly disturbing discriminatory police practices.”

            I agree with this assessment 100%. I can’t speak for everyone but the reason I avoid the racism discussion like the plague is that it’s not productive. I can’t see into someone’s heart and I can’t legislate feelings. What we can do is a lot of the things you describe above and more. I’m actually very, very interested in criminal justice reform, but I also believe that police shootings, while incredibly tragic, are a tiny part of the problem. It’s similar to mass shootings. They are horrible and scary but a very small % of overall gun violence. When we keep allowing ourselves to get sucked into these discussions of marginal issues nothing gets accomplished.

              Quote  Link

            Report

              • That seems to refute this earlier statement:

                ““…racism is a real problem in our criminal justice system it a) can’t be fixed directly via legislative reforms and b) there are plenty of other problems which *are* amenable to legislative fixes which would reduce the prevalence of some profoundly disturbing discriminatory police practices.”

                It’s like you had a moment of clarity but then remembered it’s way more fun to fight about racism so you backtracked. Ugh.

                  Quote  Link

                Report

                  • One of many and yet far and away the most popular. Ironic considering how subjective it is. It’s almost like you want to avoid discussion which could revolve around proveable things rather than a strong suspicion about someone’s motivations…

                      Quote  Link

                    Report

                    • Mike, this literally makes no fucking sense. Last time you played this game with me I told you that in my experience the most racist places I’ve been in this country are Dem controlled big cities. What the fuck are you talking about?

                        Quote  Link

                      Report

                      • You brought race up in this thread. My point is that if it is one of many problems, why is it the one you want to talk about the most? Especially when you admit that actual policy responses to racism are extremely difficult? You would think it would be more productive to discuss the actual other good ideas you mentioned above.

                        Let me put it this way. Just out of curiosity I tried a keyword search on the site’s comments. These are the results:

                        racism – 6,030 comments
                        racist – 7,872 comments
                        ———————————–
                        poverty – 3,452 comments
                        civil rights – 2,412 comments
                        judicial system – 148 comments
                        justice system – 915 comments

                        So we have had 13,902 comments about racism and 6,927 comments about all those other topics
                        combined. And honestly, how many of the 13,902 comments about race were some conservative on the site hopelessly trying to prove they weren’t racist when the charge was directed at them? You said it yourself, “…[racism] can’t be fixed directly via legislative reforms…”, but all those other topics are things we very much can do with better policies…and yet we keep talking about race.

                          Quote  Link

                        Report

                        • Speaking as someone who googles for a living (more or less), that’s a very weak argument, and not very well constructed either.

                          At the very least you should describe your method so that others can try out other words.

                          For example, a keyword search through Google, limited to ordinary-times.com, gives me low 1200s for racist (I realize that is a totally different method, not doubting that your number is factual) and high 4200s for “poor” (spotchecks indicate that almost every page hit, all the way down the list, is talking about poverty, not doing something else with the word). There are way too many relevant synonyms excluded from your list for it to be conclusive, or even leading, and you don’t describe your method adequately for someone else to flesh it out.

                          Useless stats are worse than no stats. Self-generated stats without a well-described method are useless.

                          Love,
                          Resident Information Literacy Specialist

                            Quote  Link

                          Report

                          • OK, I figured a method that gets close to your exact numbers. (doing a keyword search when logged in, in the comments area of the dashboard).

                            First problem: you’re adding two things that have a huge venn diagram overlap. Many comments that contain “racism” also contain “racist” and vice versa. So adding them as you do above is a very big error. I’d guess in the neighborhood of 60-80 percent but it’s a guess, I don’t have time to do the math on it right now.

                            Second problem: We don’t know the exact synonymization methods of the search we’re using but I’m pretty sure there’s some wobble room toward the less relevant end of the search results for “near hits”. there almost always is. those two terms would overlap rather a lot when it comes to “near hits”.

                            I’d go more in depth, but I’m at work and so falsification (b/c of problem one) seems entirely sufficient for my purposes at the moment.

                              Quote  Link

                            Report

                        • And honestly, how many of the 13,902 comments about race were some conservative on the site hopelessly trying to prove they weren’t racist when the charge was directed at them?

                          If there are that many more comments about racism, how much of that is due to the fact that racism is a topic people here disagree over, thus generating more comments?

                            Quote  Link

                          Report

                          • In my experience with this site the commenters will disagree about any and everything. So I don’t think that explains it. Ultimately, I think it’s just a knee-jerk topic that gets brought up a lot by the liberals on the site. I’m sure you could find a conservative equivalent and I’d be happy to check those stats, but this was the topic I investigated. I just find it disappointing considering how unlikely those conversations are to yield any progress (to the contrary, in many ways those conversations push us backwards).

                            On the other hand, I would have been thrilled to see us talking as much about poverty, for example, which is something that can absolutely be mitigated by policy. Or even more broadly, the justice system, which is something a lot of liberals and conservatives should be able to find common ground on (I for one am very Progressive on this topic).

                              Quote  Link

                            Report

            • The problem with the racism discussion is that people like Stillwater seem to think it’s the only discussion worth having, and that the “discussion” consists of an accusation that so-and-so is racist and those who don’t agree wholeheartedly, unequivocally, unreservedly, and immediately are probably racists too.

                Quote  Link

              Report

          • “Seems to me conservatives at this site reject that description.”

            Like…where, actually?

            Can you provide some examples of conservatives at this site rejecting the idea that racism is the reason why there seem to be so many more cases of black men being undeservedly shot than white men?

            No, not “well you definitely know it happens”, go get the quotes.

            I’m hoping you can do better than “well here’s so-and-so saying it’s not the ONLY reason”, or “here’s this guy presenting statistics that, he claims, show blacks and whites are shot in equal numbers”. Like, I want to see support for your accusation that when someone says “cops shoot black men because they’re RACISTS”, the Conservatives On This Site say nothing more than “no they aren’t”.

              Quote  Link

            Report

            • Or, yknow, you could provide us the evidence of some of our most aggressive commentators saying, “American policing has serious problems when it comes to race, up to and including a subset of officers who are plainly and clearly motivated solely by their own racist hostility. Until it acknowledges as much, and endeavours to undertake the work necessary to address these obvious disparities, we are going to continue to see unjust outcomes visited against people who have done nothing wrong.”

              Or do those not exist, because we instead get drowned in a sea of, “Well, here’s a bunch of other fantastical reasons that might explain why exactly police keep shooting and killing darker skinned individuals while going easy on lighter skinned individuals who pose far more significant threats.” Because we definitely have a lot more of that one.

                Quote  Link

              Report

                    • You need only read the replies whenever I post about police killing innocent people to find those desperate to insist that they were not motivated by racist hostility, and that they JUST SO HAPPENED to kill an innocent black person, despite being definitely race-blind. So yes, there is a constant refrain from conservative commenters denying the obvious. I’m not going to waste my time doing that work for you, as you have no intention of engaging in good faith on the matter, as evidenced by your claim that conservatives commenters here don’t do that.

                        Quote  Link

                      Report

                        • any time someone asks a question like this, my thoughts always go straight to george orwell:

                          “We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men. If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear. In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act.”

                          I realize full well that you probably think you’re telling people what they do not want to hear every bit as much as Sam does [and indeed, outside of the very clear context in which orwell made that statement, that is the problem with the quote generally, despite its power], so this particular comment is not meant to cast blame on either of you.

                          Merely noting that when someone asks a question like that, this is where my thoughts always go.

                            Quote  Link

                          Report

                      • “I’m not going to waste my time doing that work for you, as you have no intention of engaging in good faith on the matter, as evidenced by your claim that conservatives commenters here don’t do that.”

                        are you for real bro

                          Quote  Link

                        Report

                        • I’m under no obligation to do work you assign. Nobody else in this thread is either. If you’d like to prove that conservative commenters here have routinely acknowledged racist police and policing, please show us that. It shouldn’t be difficult given how common an occurrence you insist that it is.

                          As for the rest of it, I don’t mind interacting with people doing so in good faith. That has always been my position.

                            Quote  Link

                          Report

    • Actually, I think Oscar made a very good solid suggestion above: make police answerable to something like UCMJ and teach and *enforce* rules of engagement.

      If shoot first, ask questions later was likely to result in at a minimum being out of a job, I think we would see less of it.

        Quote  Link

      Report

      • I have seen elsewhere the idea that any police officer who shoots someone, under any circumstance, should automatically be taken off the force.

        Not punitively – as long as the use of force is determined to be reasonable, they get paid out as any retiring officer would, supported in their transition to another career. But also, we need to recognize that no matter how justified, they took a human life and they know it. That’s likely to be a highly traumatic thing for them, and we don’t need traumatized officers going around on patrols.

        So, not only “shoot first ask questions later” would result in being out of a job – any shooting would do so.

        It’s not like it would make much of a dent in police force numbers – even drawing a service weapon outside the range should be incredibly rare, much less firing it in the line of duty. And if it does seriously impact staffing levels, that’s a good sign of a police force with real problems.

          Quote  Link

        Report

        • I wouldn’t go that far. For one thing, in most police departments firing a weapon results in desk duty while the incident is reviewed, which can take a couple weeks to a month. So it’s rare for police to be right back on the streets afterward. Also even if it involved pay out and retirement/transition benefits, it would feel punitive to people who really want to be police officers. I would not, for instance, want to penalize any of the officers who responded to the shooting at Tree of Life synagogue, even though most of them drew weapons and many exchanged fire with the shooter so I’m also not sure we even know which one actually hit him. I recognize the argument about trauma, but realistically, dealing with the scene afterward was probably much more traumatic than shooting the gunman, and all of the first responders had to deal with that. So what do you do then? Dismiss 90% of the area’s police, SWAT and EMTs?

            Quote  Link

          Report

          • Yeah, I don’t know that I think the idea a good one, but I also think there’s enough there not to dismiss it out of hand as a bad one.

            If something practical gets implemented out of that idea, it’s probably not going to be the idea exactly as I expressed it above (which may be a bit of a misremembering of the original).

              Quote  Link

            Report

          • I wouldn’t necessarily retire a cop unless the shooting was highly questionable. Basically if it’s something a citizen would be indicted for, the cop gets retired. The story in the OP would probably be a retirement case, unless there is body/dash cam footage showing the citizen actually threatening the officer.

            Otherwise, I’d like to see a cop who was involved in a contact that led to a shooting*, or other lethal force, getting benched for a year or two, and being required to spend a good chunk of that time getting de-escalation and conflict resolution training.

            *I wouldn’t bother with training if it was a clear (i.e. video evidence being clear and convincing) that the officer had no time or choice but to use lethal force.

              Quote  Link

            Report

            • That I can agree to completely. In fact, if we did require training in de-escalation and resolution after any* officer involved shooting, I think we would wind up with a much more effective and respected police force. (If you decide to stay AZ and run for office on passing that, let me know so I can tell all the relatives there to vote for you).

              *obviously with exception for things where lethal force is clearly and convincingly the sane and reasonable option

                Quote  Link

              Report

              • I don’t have any idea what the statistics are, but I can’t help but wonder how many police shootings involve a single cop verses multiple. I’d also like to know if the presence of other cops make them more or less likely to use force? Terrible analogy, but I will say that when I don’t have my buddies present I am much more cautious in my shot selection when hunting. I would assume that the dynamic is reversed with police i.e. when they have fellow officers present they are less likely to shoot, but I have never seen that kind of analysis.

                  Quote  Link

                Report

                • I’m not sure about whether or not more cops reduces the likelihood of using force*, but I do know there has been research into the fact that when you have more than one officer, once one of them begins to use force, the others almost always employ force as well, aggressively. Often, it’s reflexive. One cop starts shooting, the others immediately assume the shooter has correctly identified a threat and engage in support. But is also applies to beat downs (e.g. Kelly Thomas).

                  The reflex to shoot in support without identifying the threat is understandable, but it’s also something that needs to be trained against (and is trained against in military units).

                  *My gut says that it depends a lot on department culture. If the department treats use of force lightly, more cops on the scene can mean more witnesses to back up the shooters story, making it easier to rubber stamp the incident. If they take every use of force seriously and investigate thoroughly, more cops can mean more chances some one goes against the narrative of a ‘good shoot’.

                    Quote  Link

                  Report

                  • Once upon a time myself and several friends caught a guy breaking into one of our cars. We gave chase and my brother eventually caught up and dragged the guy to the ground. He was trying to wriggle himself free so several us dogpiled on the guy. No one was actually trying to hurt him, we just wanted to hold him for the police. The slowest guy arrived at the dogpile last and kicked the would-be thief in the ribs. We all shouted at him to stop and he responded, “I thought we were going to kick his ass?”

                    The whole situation could have gone very badly if cooler heads had not prevailed. That taught me a lot about how mob violence works.

                      Quote  Link

                    Report

                  • If they take every use of force seriously and investigate thoroughly, more cops can mean more chances some one goes against the narrative of a ‘good shoot’.

                    How many police end up in jail because of a bad shoot? Off hand I can only think of one, and a significant number of the worst cases end up on this website.

                      Quote  Link

                    Report

                      • In my job I deal a lot with operators making bad calls all the time and my team is there to help them learn from the experience and do better next time. Even if we set the stage by telling them there is no judgement, no blame it’s EXTREMELY hard to convince them to be honest and not cover their asses. And even whem their coworkers know they screwed up, they will circle the wagons and treat us like the enemy. Imagine that times 1000 and you can see why even good guys maintain that line, especially when admitting fault might land them in jail.

                          Quote  Link

                        Report

                        • Oh, I understand it. I can even empathize with them about it.

                          It still needs to be pierced, especially when the wall endangers others outside of the people behind the wall. I’ve seen that attitude at Big Aerospace, and it needed a nice carrot (no penalties), and a really big damn stick (as in, if your CYA causes the aircraft to be delayed because the FAA caught something you were hiding, or if heavens forbid it causes a hull loss or fatalities, there will be hell to pay).

                            Quote  Link

                          Report

                          • I’m dealing with a big aerospace problem myself at the moment and we’re trying the same things. When it comes to carrots, that might be worth exploring some of the ideas upthread, like guaranteed amnesty. Get them off the force, learn from it, etc.

                              Quote  Link

                            Report

                          • I’ve seen that attitude at Big Aerospace, and it needed a nice carrot (no penalties), and a really big damn stick…

                            After wars we have occasionally tried “truth and reconciliation” panels. They tell the truth and convince the panel that’s the entire truth and they get a pass. Don’t and they don’t.

                            And a good thing about this approach is it’d be harder for team blue to stonewall. Fail to tell the truth and your guy may be out on a hook.

                              Quote  Link

                            Report

        • I have seen elsewhere the idea that any police officer who shoots someone, under any circumstance, should automatically be taken off the force.

          I think you mean “kills someone”. Thinking about unexpected consequences… do we have SWAT teams somewhere which kill people on a regular basis? Chicago has 6k police but for my one sample year had only 8 fatal police shootings. So the math of it seems to work.

          (Warning: Awkward line of thought).

          We could also take criminal conviction off the table. We’re not going to convict them anyway so we might as well treat bad shoots as a learning experience. He leaves the force, he gets a pass on murder, in return we get full disclosure on every aspect of the event. Meaning yes, if the cop admits he was a racist drunk, then nothing happens to him personally, we just try to learn from it and prevent people like him from ending up on the force in the future.

          At the moment the police are strongly motivated to lie and claim they were in danger. And I mean “the police” as a whole and not the one guy who pulled the trigger since they function as a team. This means we get bad data in terms of how to fix problems and in terms of how big the problem is.

          And yes, the disadvantage of doing this is a lack of justice… but arguably we already have that.

            Quote  Link

          Report

          • I think if we’re being honest we would all agree that the only way this problem gets solved, really solved, is one of two ways:

            – Go door-to-door and remove every one of the 300+ million guns in American hands. Then you can arm police officers with tasers and nothing more and you will probably get close to a zero shooting rate.

            – Arm police officers with tasers and nothing more now and give every current member of law enforcement the chance to walk away now with full retirement. New recruits going forward would be trained on de-escalation strategies, given the best ballistic vests in the world and we hope for the best.

            I don’t see Sam prescribing those things (or anything really), so I assume he is okay with more than zero police shootings. I just don’t know where the line is for him. I feel confident that he wants zero police shootings of blacks, I just don’t know if it extends beyond that group.

              Quote  Link

            Report

            • Oh, I think Sam would be fine if the numbers dropped to match percentage of population.

              My solution is to end the war on drugs. I think that would lower the general level of violence in society and the police would be less trigger happy.

                Quote  Link

              Report

              • I would get onboard with that solution. I’d love to hear what Sam is actually looking for or how he proposes we get there. He’s smart enough and thinks about this issue enough that I would expect a call to action in his posts, but it never seems to come.

                  Quote  Link

                Report

          • we just try to learn from it and prevent people like him from ending up on the force in the future

            This assumes leadership is actually interested in learning about the problem and how to fix it. There is an honest logic to your suggestion, but it requires that the PD leadership have an acute incentive to compile sound stats data and learn from officer shootings. Maybe something along the lines of, “You have 5 years to get this under control and start showing numbers trending in the direction desired, or everyone with a finger in the PD policy pie gets shit-canned (including Union officials, unless they would like to start leaving policy considerations out of Union contract negotiations).”

              Quote  Link

            Report

            • This assumes leadership is actually interested in learning about the problem and how to fix it.

              I’m assuming that having one of their guys say “I was drunk” is enough of a problem that there will be political force on this.

              This approach treats it as a structural problem… which is great because this probably is a structural problem. Do we have the wrong training? Racist officers? Stupid officers? Communication problems? Something else?

              100 deaths a year (10% of a thousand) out of many Billion encounters is so much of an outlier that shooting people is the symptom of a different problem (or more likely, “problems”). A department can run a 1% chance a year of killing someone for a long time before they actually have it happen, but 1000 departments can’t.

              So… what is it that we’re doing which is creating that 1% chance? Structural racism is a handwave and not a description.

              Our information on this is terrible because the moment it happens the involved officer’s priority (and also Team Blue’s priority) is to stay out of prison. The only way he/they can do that is by turning this into a good shoot, or at least not a criminal shoot… or in short, by lying.

                Quote  Link

              Report

                • What the linked story suggests to me isn’t a problem of training, but a culture that refuses to acknowledge that officers have any agency. Everything an officer does while in contact with a citizen is clearly in response to something the citizen did, and if the officer acts improperly, it is because the citizen did something to cause the officer to act that way.

                  It’s a form of victim blaming, and the problem with it is that the guy with the gun and the badge is the person with the greatest degree of agency in any interaction.

                    Quote  Link

                  Report

  5. In general, even putting aside the racism, it’s entirely too easy to be come a cop in the States as opposed to the rest of the First World. But, I highly doubt you’re ever going to get a decent amount of conservatives outside of a few think tanks and discussion boards to be OK with the terrible federal government telling real America that their police department should have more nampy pamby European socialist training.

    https://www.csmonitor.com/World/2015/0628/Why-police-don-t-pull-guns-in-many-countries

    “Yet even where guns are routinely carried, use of them is far rarer in Europe and some other English-speaking countries than in the US. Many experts link that partly to education and pay, which have turned policing into a well-respected career with prestige and perks. In the US, police training lasts on average 19 weeks. In much of Europe that would be unthinkable, says Mr. Kersten. German police, for example, train for at least 130 weeks.”

      Quote  Link

    Report

    • That’s a pretty stark contrast, and I would be very OK with more training before police get a gun.

      Hell, my military training was 10 weeks basic, 26 weeks of ‘A’ school, and another 8 weeks of ‘C’ school before I was allowed to into an engine room.

        Quote  Link

      Report

        • Seems like the problem here is that there’s no barrier to entry, no? I mean, for all the often legitimate complaints about barriers for hair dressers and taxi drivers, this seems like a career path which legitimately *should* have a hard barrier. You covered the politics of that issue in your initial comment, and I think you’re right, but fuuuuuuu**.

            Quote  Link

          Report

          • ‘Member this?

            A man whose bid to become a police officer was rejected after he scored too high on an intelligence test has lost an appeal in his federal lawsuit against the city.

            The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York upheld a lower court’s decision that the city did not discriminate against Robert Jordan because the same standards were applied to everyone who took the test.

            “This kind of puts an official face on discrimination in America against people of a certain class,” Jordan said today from his Waterford home. “I maintain you have no more control over your basic intelligence than your eye color or your gender or anything else.”

            He said he does not plan to take any further legal action.

            Jordan, a 49-year-old college graduate, took the exam in 1996 and scored 33 points, the equivalent of an IQ of 125. But New London police interviewed only candidates who scored 20 to 27, on the theory that those who scored too high could get bored with police work and leave soon after undergoing costly training.

              Quote  Link

            Report

        • So, I highly doubt that in rural or exurban counties out in the middle of nowhere that pay barely more than minimum wage…

          The Nebraska state police are having a lot of trouble recruiting. Because more senior officers get to pick first about where they will work, new officers are uniformly assigned to the far outstate areas. Same pay scale as the officers in Lincoln or Omaha, which goes much farther out there, but finding someone who will do their first 18 months working from Chadron is difficult.

            Quote  Link

          Report

Leave a Reply

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