Houston’s Police Department Has A Problem


Sam Wilkinson

According to a faithful reader, I'm Ordinary Times's "least thoughtful writer." So I've got that going for me, which is nice.

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155 Responses

  1. Avatar FR says:

    Nothing about this surprises me, unfortunately, having lived in Houston. Up to this point, there hasn’t been much community pushback on the police, but I feel like this is coming. Houston PD, like others, sees itself as the actual governing force of the city.

    I forwarded this column to my friend who is running for city council. At some point, police departments have to be held accountable.Report

  2. Avatar Jaybird says:

    When you stop seeing “the authorities” as the authorities and reframe, for a second, about seeing them as similar to a gang, there are a lot of narratives that didn’t used to make sense that, suddenly, all fall into place without a whole lot of cognitive dissonance.Report

  3. Avatar JoeSal says:

    “It’s not anti-gun agenda. It’s an anti-proliferation of firearms in the hands of people who have no business having guns,” AcevedoReport

  4. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

    A ‘war on cops’ is not just about shooting them (although not everyone agrees with Sam’s take on the numbers). It’s also just about being a member of a profession that has been politicized by the Far Left so they can score points with minorities. BLM may have been misguided both in their outrage and their interpretation of the facts, but at least they were well-intentioned. Today the movement have been bastardized by progressives and turned into just another front in the identity wars.

    70% of police officers say the political climate makes it harder to do their job. I would be interested to hear an explanation of why they are wrong and how so many police officers arrived at that erroneous conclusion. Police academy enrollments are down and maybe that is a good thing, although unfortunately the only people that will suffer for less cops on the street are they very people white progressives think they are helping.Report

    • For the sake of clarification, 144 officers died in the line of duty in 2018, more than 2017, less than 2016. These numbers are easily gettable, do not require even a little bit of research, and show conclusively that there is no war on cops. (52 were killed in shootings; 50 died in traffic accidents; 42 by other causes, including natural.)Report

  5. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

    I just explained that it isn’t just about cops being gunned down. ‘War on Cops’ is unfortunate hyperbole but the general belief is that the Far Left is making their job a lot harder. Feel free to explain how they are wrong about that.Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

      Also, if declining numbers means nothing to worry about, I assume we will see the keyboard activism dialed back in light of this.Report

    • Avatar JoeSal says:

      With more of the top tiers of police departments creeping far left (including, but especially HPD), couldn’t there exist a counter argument that the promotion of banning guns is making the cops job easier? The ability to make criminals of people who weren’t criminals before, easier?

      (really, how far are we from: ‘show me the man I will show you the crime.’ and most of that coming from leftist lawfare that creates enough laws to do it.)Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

        I don’t follow what you are saying. Do you mean that gun bans would make cops jobs easier? If I understood that correctly then yes, it would. I’m increasingly in favor of a nationwide ban on handguns for this reason. I was on jury duty last week and the case I was involved with was a shooting at an outdoor bar where two of the patrons snuck in guns and shot 7 people because one guy stepped on one of their shoes.Report

        • Avatar JoeSal says:

          It sounds like there are bigger problems there than the gun in the room.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

            I assume the shooting happened due to the effects of structural racism on the local community. But if there were no handguns, it’s unlikely the 7 collateral victims would have been injured.Report

          • Avatar JoeSal says:

            “if there were no handguns, it’s unlikely”
            I question that a handgun ban leads to this condition, but I suppose since you have more of a understanding of the incident that it holds in this case.

            I probably would question it in other incidents.

            (There was no REPLY button below your last comment so I replied on mine, sorry if it is out of place in the threading)Report

          • Just to clarify the details, again:

            1. Five officers were injured. Four were shot – it is not clear by whom – and a fifth injured his knee.

            2. Two individuals were killed by the police. They had been framed as heroin dealers, which was not true.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

            Joe Sal,

            In this particular case both shooters were convicted felons that were carrying illegally so a ‘ban’ like we see in places like Chicago or NYC probably wouldn’t have helped. What I am talking about is making it illegal to own or possess a handgun anywhere in the United States. The Right and Left are never going to agree on the causes of gun violence so why not just remove the tools altogether?Report

          • Clarification: In this particular case, neither “shooter” was a convicted felon, and the only charge either Tuttle or Nicholas had between them was a misdemeanor for having passed a bad check. (Nicholas had passed a bad check in 1998, paid restitution, and the charge was thrown out.) No handguns were recovered at the scene, despite initial reports of one being present.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


            Sam is very concerned about this specific details of the Houston case, I assume because it fits with the narrative he has been constructing for several years now. The shooting you and I were discussing did involve two felons and handguns. Also, it was only black people shooting each other so it’s also not really any concern of Sam’s.Report

          • Avatar JoeSal says:

            “so why not just remove the tools altogether?”

            I don’t recognize that ‘society’ or a social construct of ‘enforcement’ should have any authority to take away any of my tools, period. Even more so, a society that doesn’t have it’s social objectivity resolved.

            I do recognize that the construct of ‘gangs/cartels’ are killing a ton of people (black, white, brown or any other color) as compared to the construct of ‘enforcement’. (Another reason for me not to give up my tools)

            I think if we isolate the construct of ‘enforcement’ away from the construct of ‘gangs(?)’ then we have to start engaging Sam on that ground eventually. You and him probably have very different views on what the quality standards of the construct are.

            It appears Sam has a near zero tolerance for bad behavior from the construct especially when associated with racism and cops not held to a standard of X. I assume you have a reasonable metric of what the construct is supposed to be held to.

            I don’t think that Sam will re-calibrate off of zero ‘bad instances’, but if he did, and you were to bend more toward holding cops to some standard waypoint, that your issues of the construct could likely get resolved.

            Not that I think they should be resolved, or need to be resolved. I am completely fine with you guys the way you are.

            (if I were to see social constructs as viable, I would probably be close to what Oscar offers in changes to rules of engagement. I would call to disarm immediately any enforcement dept./branch that proposes to disarm regular people. I would also have competing constructs that weren’t monopolies who had to compete and win social objectivity to prosper)Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            I don’t recognize that ‘society’ or a social construct of ‘enforcement’ should have any authority to take away any of my tools, period. Even more so, a society that doesn’t have it’s social objectivity resolved.

            I do recognize that the construct of ‘gangs/cartels’ are killing a ton of people


          • Avatar JoeSal says:

            What’s the {{sigh}} about?Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


            I absolutely believe in accountability. Every police-involved shooting should be thoroughly reviewed. I like dash cams, body cams, etc. I like lots of training and whatever else can be done to improve performance. I work in Quality so I like the idea of continuous improvement for every profession, especially ones where people may have to use a gun someday.

            With that said, my problem has never been with Sam wanting police departments to do better. My problem is with him cherry-picking examples that fits the story he wants to tell and his implication that police shootings is the greatest threat to the black community. We both know that if we armed every cop with nerf guns tomorrow the death rate for blacks would likely go up, not down. So his entire crusade is based on nipping at the slimmest of margins instead of having the much harder conversation about the leading cause of violent black deaths.Report

          • Avatar JoeSal says:

            If turned to the nerf guns, and had zero shootings, then it would be beatings or something else. This is part of the problem with PERFECT (Social) JUSTICE, is that all incidents of injustice have to be resolved everywhere all the time for everyone. That’s why I used the zero ‘bad instances’, because in the social justice framework the social folks don’t lose their leverage until the instances reach zero, which of course is a impossibility when dealing with real people in a real world.(which I am sure you already know, having to deal with human driven systems….you get human problems)

            I don’t know if Sam is making that case and whether racism is the overarching consideration or a facet of many facets.

            Maybe if Sam said “I expect to have X amount of these problems per year, because people are people” there could be a different conversation. I don’t know.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

            “This is part of the problem with PERFECT (Social) JUSTICE, is that all incidents of injustice have to be resolved everywhere all the time for everyone. That’s why I used the zero ‘bad instances’, because in the social justice framework the social folks don’t lose their leverage until the instances reach zero, which of course is a impossibility when dealing with real people in a real world.”

            100% agree with this take. I would also like to hear if there is a low number for Sam’s goals. I don’t know if he has ever been that specific but maybe I missed it. I’ve heard quite a few academics recently that have said that’s the problem with the vague ‘racism’ complaint because there is a big gulf between white robe racism and the uncomfortable things your great-uncle says at Thanksgiving dinner. If the white robes are level 10 racism and your great-uncle is Level 1 it would be interesting to see if we can agree on a level we can live with.

            My problem is that Progressive Activists tend to believe that not only should we stamp out Level 10 but also Level 1 and so on. Additionally, I recently read that it is racist for a white person to compliment a black woman if she wears her hair natural because you are implying that she needs your approval. I guess that’s something like Level -5 racism, but apparently it’s a thing.Report

      • @JoeSal What is your basis for claiming that police departments are swinging to the left?Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          Not answering for Joe, but if that question were asked of me, I’d answer something like “more police departments are engaging in more performative wokeness”.Report

        • Avatar JoeSal says:

          What I said above was that the top tiers were creeping left. Some indications are the quantum of restrictions on guns that have come about in the last 100 years. If nothing else the quantum of laws that were promoted/passed with support of department heads.

          I have no problem seeing top tier HPD (and Austin PD) as far left and Huey P. Newton Gun Club becoming rightish within 10 years. This of course tracks with population centers becoming more leftist as time marches on.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            This of course tracks with population centers becoming more leftist as time marches on.

            Well, reality does have a liberal bias.Report

          • Avatar JoeSal says:

            Herd reality has a liberal bias.Report

          • Avatar JoeSal says:

            That reminds me:

            “Why are yall bitchin’ about your sheep dogs?”Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            No, *progress* is, by many folks definition, liberal (but which you called “leftist). Thing is, progress occurs naturally. People make things, improve things, solve problems, etc and so on, none of which *necessarily* derive from promoting a political-economic ideology. It just happens.Report

          • Avatar JoeSal says:

            I guess we would have to fully flesh out what ‘liberal’ is and isn’t. Does it resolve the social objectivity of what ‘progress’ is?

            Does it make claims on social objectivity that have resolved truth components?

            I could be wrong, and am willing to listen.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            I guess we would have to fully flesh out what ‘liberal’ is and isn’t.

            If you’re doing linguistics, then yes. Otherwise you just look at the evidence and work up (not down) from there. Just because different people use words to mean different things doesn’t mean *things* are different. Things are what they are.Report

          • Avatar JoeSal says:

            The only place where things are what they are is in a empirical objective framework where the truth component of objectivity is resolved.

            Many of the things being argued as ‘progress’ are in a social objective framework that do not have the truth component resolved.

            It is my understanding that linguistics is based more on a quasi resolved social objectivity. Words can and do change in meaning and usage as time moves on. Not from a empirical discovery, but from changes in trends, preferences, and cultural shifts.

            There is nothing to prevent the meaning of the ‘liberal’ of old to be corrupted into a bastardized form of ‘liberal’ of the new. From what I can see there appears to be no form of social construct that is beyond corruptions in social objectivity changes.

            What’s really strange is somewhat twisted into this attempt to anchor liberal to something of old, there is a quasi argument that it is reactionary.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            The only place where things are what they are is in a empirical objective framework were the truth component of objectivity is resolved.

            This is a confusion, seems to me. It reduces a fact to an epistemological concept (or a construct, in your language) instead of being the basis by which a belief’s truth is determined. As you know by know, this is the problem I have with your analysis (or analytical framework, or whatever). There is an object which we conventionally call an “ashtray”. That object is large enough to also be used as a door-stop. Is the ashtray now a doorstop? Which is it, man? Well, it’s also a big piece of glass which can be used to bludgeon intruders. Is it also a murder weapon? Why, yes. Yes it is. Reality is unknowable!Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            There is nothing to prevent the meaning of the ‘liberal’ of old to be corrupted into a bastardized form of ‘liberal’ of the new.

            So what? *You* know the difference, right? Otherwise you wouldn’t mention having observed it.Report

          • Avatar JoeSal says:

            I think your missing a huge piece of the problem.

            The truth component in empirical objectivity is resolved for the most part, it may not be absolute, but it is resolved in a very narrow basis.

            I think we can resolve the truth component that blue light is approx. freq. 610–670 THz wavelength 490–450 nm. I can ask multiple people, and this will be close to where we end up.

            I don’t know where we end up with the ashtray. The linguistics are probably pretty resolved that the object is recognized as a ashtray. The empirical objectivity side may result in showing it has enough mass acted on by gravity to be a doorstop. I think you could not reach anything close to a social truth that it was a doorstop and not an ashtray. I think you would also have issues in resolving enough of the social truth component to have people agree it was a weapon and not an ashtray.

            I think to limit confusion, the arguments must first be defined as to whether they take place in a empirical objectivity frame work or a social objectivity frame work.

            This is where I have a ton of skepticism on social science and political science, as there appears to be many claims on social objectivity that don’t appear to have the social truth component resolved.

            Also I am a little skeptical of the idea of jettising empirical objectivity, because the future may be rather sketchy without stuff like science and math.Report

    • Avatar pillsy says:

      Yeah how dare the Far Left make the lives of police officers harder by…

      :reads article:

      …noticing that a police officer evidently falsified a warrant that led to a deadly raid on two people who seem to have done nothing wrong but have some pot lying around.Report

      • If officers do not feel comfortable to frame and murder innocent people, then their ability to successfully police communities suffers immeasurable harm, and they should definitely be taken seriously when they complain about it.Report

      • Avatar InMD says:

        The whole point of the 4th and 5th Amendments I would say is specifically to make the lives of law enforcement more difficult. The very concept of the kind of negative rights enshrined in the US and virtually every state constitution is to burden the state and its agents, intentionally so.Report

        • Except that American history shows that this burden has only ever really been enjoyed by a subset of the total population, with incredible abuse allowable so long as the abuse is tolerable to achieve particular policy outcomes.Report

        • Avatar pillsy says:

          Basically, yeah. Which is why I find the “Far Left being mean to cops” framing so bizarre.Report

    • Avatar Lark says:

      {Redacted by editors}Report

  6. Avatar Rick Smith says:

    I agree, their jobs are much more difficult. In the past, it was a lot easier to get away with lying and covering up bad behavior. Now, with video and the internet, bad behavior is put on public display.Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


      What % of cops do bad things?Report

      • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

        The better question is what percentage of cops tolerate other cops doing bad things? With this toleration including actively covering it up?Report

        • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

          I’m happy to hear that number to. If the number is over 50% why aren’t liberals and libertarians advocating that the justice department take over policing duties? There are literally thousands of police departments from coast to coast. Maybe we just centralize things and put Amy Kamala Harris in charge?Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            If the number is over 50% why aren’t liberals and libertarians advocating that the justice department take over policing duties?

            This is a pretty silly question, Mike, and you know it. (You’re up to your old tricks again, I see). More to the point, tho, is that after the Ferguson PD’s systemic corruption was exposed there actually *was* advocacy for more federal level intervention into local PDs organizational structure and enforcement practices.Report

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

            Because I’ve seen nothing to suggest that the Justice Department would deal with the problem.

            There are, IMHO, two major issues with many PDs today:

            1) The extreme emphasis on officer safety over all other concerns, coupled with the lack of training necessary to make that a reality without negative consequences. If it’s so very important that every officer come home safe at the end of the shift, then cops need to be getting the kind of training that military fire teams do, and a whole lot more de-escalation training. The sight of some yahoo on the street pulling a gun should never cause an officer to pull the trigger out of fear, because they know they have the training to deal with things rationally.

            2) The Blue Wall. Officers have to stop covering for bad actors just because they have a badge. Every single bad actor has a massive negative effect on community trust. Whatever excuse the police use to justify allowing the bad actors (and they know exactly who those bad actors are, departments are close knit communities) to continue is just that, an excuse*.

            Honestly, if LEAs (and the Unions) were much more rigorous and open about eliminating bad apples, that would go a long way toward fixing trust, including the trust around police shootings. A big part of the reason people are jumping on every police shooting that looks even a wee bit hinky is because people don’t trust the PDs. They expect a cover up/whitewashing/or other obfuscation so as to protect the officer, right or wrong. And as this story shows, a lot of that CYA is driven by the Unions making it hard for PD leadership to do the right thing.

            *Excuses are like assholes…Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


            No tricks here. I’m 100% serious. After my experience on jury duty last week, I have reached the point where I would like to see the Far Left take this issue as far as they want. I’m 100% serious when I say that I would put Sam in charge of every police department in the United States tomorrow to see if he could actually decrease the likelihood of blacks dying due to violence in the United States. I’m open to giving him 5 years before we look at the results.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            I’m confused…. What did you learn in your jury duty?Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

            I learned that nothing that is currently being done to reduce violence in inner cities is working, at least in Louisville. If the Far Left thinks they have it figured out, I’m fine with them running things for a while.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

            I keep seeing references to some organization called the Far Left.
            I am intrigued- do they have a newsletter? Is there a membership application? Are there meetings, and do they have coffee and donuts?Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


            ‘Progressive Activists’ would also apply. You can see more on them here:
            https://hiddentribes.us/profiles. A pretty accurate description as far as I can tell.

            “Progressive Activists have strong ideological views, high levels of engagement with political issues, and the highest levels of education and socioeconomic status. Their own circumstances are secure. They feel safer than any group, which perhaps frees them to devote more attention to larger issues of social justice in their society. They have an outsized role in public debates, even though they comprise a small portion of the total population, about one in 12 Americans. They are highly sensitive to issues of fairness and equity in society, particularly regarding race, gender, and other minority group identities. Their emphasis on unjust power structures leads them to be very pessimistic about fairness in America. They are uncomfortable with nationalism and ambivalent about America’s role in the world.”Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            Just think “post ‘death-of-god’ puritan” and you’re 85% of the way there.Report

          • Avatar Chris says:

            Chip, one thing the Far Left has plenty of is newsletters!Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            But they’re all written in code. Which is why those decoder rings are so damn valuable.Report

          • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

            As a point of information, which you may very well not care about, when I see or hear someone talking about the “Far Left” in the context of American politics, I pretty much tune out. There is no such thing, or to the extent that there is, it is entirely irrelevant. When people talk about the “Far Left” it generally turns out they mean someone supporting policies that were utterly mainstream under Eisenhower, or even Reagan. At most, it means someone who wishes we had policies more like Denmark’s.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


            I don’t think you are wrong about that. The study also says that Progressive Activists are more than twice as likely to say that they never pray. While I don’t consider that a fault (Hail Odin!) there have been quite a few academics who have been discussing that in the absence of religion, identify politics has become the replacement. I posted this video clip a couple of weeks ago of John McWhorter discussing this very topic.


          • Avatar pillsy says:

            @Mike Dwyer: do you think that cops fabricating warrants as a pretext to launch no-knock raids to stop drug dealers who weren’t actually dealing drugs is the sort of thing that will help reduce violent crime?Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


            The entire Democratic party has absolutely been dragged leftward over the last 20 years. Many of the policies Clinton advocated for would be considered terribly racist now, however when I say Far Left I really mean the small minority of Progressive Activists that have a disproportionately loud voice within the party.

            I truly believe that most liberals are much more sensible and centrist i.e. the Eisenhower and Reagan Democrats you allude to. Unfortunately they are drowned out others with louder voices.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

            I know the taxonomy of political factions is difficult at best since the boundaries are so fuzzy and there are vast overlaps on various issues.

            Which…is why I am so snarky about a capitalized term like “Far Left”, which carries that implication that it is some organized group like the Elks Lodge or something.
            And of course the adjective “Far” carries the connotation of something fringe, like chemtrails or 9-11 Truthers. I mean, is Mike Dwyer part of the Far Right?

            Are police abuses something of concern only to a fringe 8% of the American population?Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

            I wonder if most Eisenhower and Reagan centrists believe that:
            “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone.”

            And using Ike and Reagan in the same sentence? I wonder if in half a century someone will speak wistfully of the “Obama/ Trump centrists of 2020”Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


            When I’m talking about Progressive Activists, yes, they are the extreme leftward side of the spectrum. I think a number of academics on both sides of the aisle agree with me there. As for feelings towards the police, this may shed a little light:

            “Fifty-one percent of Americans believe that the police are often more violent towards African Americans than other groups, yet 56 percent of Americans also believe that the Black Lives Matter movement has made racial tensions worse. Only 44 percent of Americans say that Black Lives Matter has brought attention to important issues. ”

            As for me, I’m solidly Centrist by modern standards. I was a mainstream and registered Democrat just 20 years ago.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

            Chip, I don’t think ALL guns have the potential to harm, but as I think I have made clear I am more than willing to consider taking handguns out of the equation. They account for the overwhelming majority of gun deaths. As I have previously mentioned, that’s why i lose my shit every time there is a mass shooting and a bunch of white people get killed because I know the Left will want to talk about assault weapons again. It’s like they have no interest in a gun conversation if it was only a brown person that was killed.Report

          • Avatar Chris says:

            There is definitely a Far Left here, but you’re right, it’s a small minority. There is actually a lot of Far Left rhetoric within the more mainstream, let’s call them Mid-Left DSA, but their priorities, like M4A, are essentially long-held liberal positions that were in fact talked about by liberals and progressives as the end goal of certain liberal policies (including ACA) barely a decade ago.

            I should add that, relevant to the post, one of the Far Left positions within DSA, adopted at their 2017 National Convention, is prison abolition. Police abolitionism is also common.Report

          • Avatar Mr.Joe says:

            Mike Dwyer: “The entire Democratic party has absolutely been dragged leftward over the last 20 years. Many of the policies Clinton advocated for would be considered terribly racist now, however when I say Far Left I really mean the small minority of Progressive Activists that have a disproportionately loud voice within the party.”

            Me: Setting WJC as the starting point is moving the Democratic Party about as far right as it has been, since at least before the new deal. Shifting leftward from that starting point was inevitable.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

            Does anybody else here think its weird that the self described conservative is exhorting us Far Leftists to endorse his proposal of a total ban on all handguns?

            For this reason, and the others included in this subthread, I think its ridiculous to speak in terms of fixed tribal identities, since the “centrist American” position regarding guns, police, and race is…complex and highly variable depending on context.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


            The Port Huron Statement in 1962 made it fairly clear what the plan was for Progressives. I believe the regressive and illiberal positions of Progressive Activists are the culmination of this plan. See below some of the relevant language from the Port Huron statement:

            “From where else can power and vision be summoned? We believe that the universities are an overlooked seat of influence…. Social relevance, the accessibility to knowledge, and internal openness–these together make the university a potential base and agency in a movement of social change.

            1. Any new left in America must be, in large measure, a left with real intellectual skills, committed to deliberativeness, honesty, reflection as working tools. The university permits the political life to be an adjunct to the academic one, and action to be informed by reason.
            2. A new left must be distributed in significant social roles throughout the country. The universities are distributed in such a manner.
            3. A new left must consist of younger people who matured in the postwar world, and partially be directed to the recruitment of younger people. The university is an obvious beginning point.
            4. A new left must include liberals and socialists, the former for their relevance, the latter for their sense of thoroughgoing reforms in the system. The university is a more sensible place than a political party for these two traditions to begin to discuss their differences and look for political synthesis.
            5. A new left must start controversy across the land, if national policies and national apathy are to be reversed. The ideal university is a community of controversy, within itself and in its effects on communities beyond.”


          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


            I am a conservative only in the sense that I participate in a highly partisan cultural site. It’s a shorthand, if you will. With that said, do you disagree with the description of Progressive Activists from the Hidden Tribes report? It seems fairly accurate to me, but I am not basing this on actual human interactions but rather the facsimile that passes for them on the internet.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

            I disagree mostly with the spurious assignment of percentages.
            As we have seen repeatedly, political viewpoints change drastically depending on context, or “whose ox gets gored” if you prefer.

            Everyone loves low taxes and high spending for example.
            Or “A conservative is a liberal who has been mugged” or “A liberal is a conservative who has been arrested”, or the way that people can often occupy several different and seemingly contradictory stances at once.

            This bit about some group called the Far Left is impossible to discuss since it includes anywhere from 8% to 80% of the American population, depending on how you view it.

            It becomes a sly debating tactic where you define the terms to put yourself in the mainstream and your opponents as the nutty fringe.Report

          • Avatar Mr.Joe says:

            @Mike Dwyer Thanks for the reference to the Port Huron Statement. At quick glance, much of it could pass as written today. It predates me by a decade so I would have to think over it some more to properly contextualize it.

            The clear desire to use the Universities as vehicles for their agenda is quite common both on the left and the right. I’m not claiming any sort of equality in results, just in a desire to use Universites to push their agendas on the next generation instead of having Universities teach and allow the next generation to find new agendas.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


            “It becomes a sly debating tactic where you define the terms to put yourself in the mainstream and your opponents as the nutty fringe.”

            That’s been one of my complaints about the frequency at which liberals call people racist over the last several years. It’s a conversation killer.

            As for Progressive Activists, the study I cited also talks about the extremes on the other side of the aisle. Most Americans hang out somewhere in the middle. Do I think everyone neatly fits into a bucket? Usually, no. I certainly don’t. As I said, this is a sort of shorthand. What I do think the study reveals is the most problematic aspects of each group and that’s what I was referencing.Report

        • If we focus on the specifics of what happened in Houston – a big ask, I realize, given how we have already been force-veered away from the specific incident being discussed – the answer would appear to be that a considerable number of officers are willing to either look the other way or actively encourage the sort of outright abuse that lead to this outcome. And somebody like Gamaldi is then willing to blame the activists who accurately diagnose the problem itself.Report

          • Avatar JoeSal says:

            So we have a monopoly of force social construct that doesn’t ‘self-correct’. What the hell did we think was going to happen. I mean this stuff has been going on since the first non-idiot asked: “Who will guard the guards themselves?”

            You fellas have been at this awhile, I have my own questions for you:

            How many ‘bad behaviour’ incidents are a lot?
            How many are acceptable?

            I ask those not to work towards a social objectivity in general, but to see how far apart your individual preferences are.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          what percentage of cops tolerate other cops doing bad things? With this toleration including actively covering it up?

          I have heard stories of shit tests being given to rookies. Some perp gets arrested and the old guy does the old “watch your head” trick and bumps the guy’s head against the top of the car as he shoves him into the back.

          Does the rookie say “hey! This citizen has rights!” or does he say nothing? Does his face tighten or does he snicker? Will the rookie “fit in”?

          If the rookie doesn’t fit in, the rookie gets reassigned.

          Also, something something police unions, something.Report

        • Avatar Slade the Leveller says:

          Here in Chicago, at least, that subset seems to the entire force, stunning bench verdict notwithstanding.Report

      • Avatar pillsy says:

        What percentage would justify concern and advocacy to curb those cops’ doing bad things?Report

  7. Avatar Mr.Joe says:

    Thanks for the article @Sam Wilkinson. I am finding juxtaposing this case vs. Smollett very interesting.Report

  8. Avatar Slade the Leveller says:

    It would be interesting to set up an OT debate between Sam and Mike to see if any good faith solutions to bad police behavior could be discovered. As it stands, this has become the Palestine of the site.Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


      I can roughly tell you the parameters right now…

      Sam believes that drawing attention to the failures of police departments will improve the lives of black people in some way. I am very suspicious of his motivations and whether his stated goals would actually move the needle for the people he claims he wants to help.

      As for me, I very much want to see the lives of those people improved but I would prefer to focus on the things that actually cause them the most harm, even though they are much harder (and uncomfortable) conversations. I assume Sam would say he doubts my motivations because of something to do with racism.Report

      • Avatar Slade the Leveller says:

        I would prefer to focus on the things that actually cause them the most harm, even though they are much harder (and uncomfortable) conversations.

        Let ’em fly! I think everyone one on this site it grown up enough to see a good faith argument when he/she sees one.

        As you may or may not know, I live in Chicago, which certainly has had its share of police in the news stories. Absent Van Dyke, we’ve had more than a few high profile cases here where police have skated where an ordinary citizen would not have. The financial toll on the city’s coffers is substantial, and it doesn’t seem to stop. A dispassionate observer would wonder why the city is throwing money at the problem. An interested taxpayer (me) wonders why nothing is being done about they guys who are costing him so much money.

        Is life on the West Side of Chicago pleasant? Not for a lot of people. But, being treated with respect by the police is something that ought to be taken for granted by every citizen. Even those suspected of breaking the law.Report

        • Avatar pillsy says:

          Also I bang this drum a lot, but a police force which has the trust and goodwill of the community it polices is going to have a much better chance of effectively combatting crime.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            When we, as a society, switched from seeing the police as having a mission of something adjacent to “protecting” or “serving” the “community” into something more like “middle class jobs for middle class people”, we created a situation where something like this was inevitable.

            (See also: Teaching. Prepare to see it for Health Care.)Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

            Who sees cops as just middle class job holders?Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


            I don’t know if the data supports that claim. Crime rates started increasing shortly after WWII. My grandfather was still walking a beat then and he told me that beat cops typically had very good relationships with the people on their beat in those days. So why the increase?

            Crime rates have also been declining since the 90s despite the fact that goodwill towards cops has declined along with it. So again, the two things don’t seem to be related. There’s this myth that Progressives like to tell that if only police officers had better relationships with their communities suddenly violent crime would go away. The numbers don’t seem to support that theory.


          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            Who sees cops as just middle class job holders?

            Jaybird didn’t say that. He said “into something more like”. Now, I’m not sure he’s right about that, of course. Seems to me it’s one of those things where if you squint hard enough it looks right, tho.Report

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

            Police do not exist to prevent crime. They never have, and they can not. Their presence can serve as a deterrent to openly committing a crime, but none of their efforts can prevent crime.

            What police do is investigate and arrest. That is the bulk of their duties, and the mission which defines their powers*. So you should not be looking at crime statistics, you should be looking at investigative clearing rates and times (with a jaded eye, given how often police get the wrong person, or railroad a person). The less trust the police have, the less community cooperation they get, the more difficult it is for them to solve crimes.

            *Speaking of powers, police, and their supporters, seem far too eager to forget those powers when it’s time to put on the whiny argument about how rough police have it. Talk about swimming in privilege.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            Chip, I’d more ask you to take a viewpoint from Mars and look down at the relationship between police and citizenry.

            If all you had to look at was the relationships based on what you saw them do rather than what everyone said the relationship was *OR* a historical knowledge of what the relationship was intended to be…

            What conclusions would you reach about the relationships between the cops and the citizenry?

            (Brief aside: Back when we lived in the Knob Hill region of Colorado Springs, we had multiple opportunities to call the cops. Call them we did. It took them hours to show up. We moved a couple of blocks away from the small liberal arts college. Cops showed up within minutes.)

            Personally, I see them as a less disciplined Yakuza with decentralized protection payments.

            But I’m crazy.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


            The shooters in the case I was on last week walked past three parked police cruisers (off-duty, moonlighting officers) and slid their guns under the fence surrounding the bar.Report

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:


            Ergo, the police did not prevent crime, they didn’t even deter it. They responded after the fact, investigated, and made arrests.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater says:

          From the linky:

          The city tracks how much of its legal costs are financed by bonds. From 2010 through 2016, the city financed $486 million of the $936 million in settlements, judgments and legal expenses over that time—a little over half—with bonds.

          There are a few topics where I roll onto “where’s the outrage??!!” mode and this is one of them. I mean, seriously. $936 million over seven years? Where’s the outrage??!!Report

          • Avatar JoeSal says:

            Meh, the outrage is used to fuel the money stream going into the pockets of the legal folks. The left gets there money, the enforcement get their control.

            The white guilt cult gets to pay the taxes. I think the system is working exactly like it is supposed to.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            I think the system is working exactly like it is supposed to.

            Now you’re just trolling.Report

          • Avatar JoeSal says:

            Once I see a system circulating over 100 million, I often don’t suspect that happened at random, do you?Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            Joe, just because you and I can explain *why* the payouts are made doesn’t mean the system is working like it’s supposed to. Embezzling occurs. Does that mean it’s “supposed” (your word) to happen?

            Criminy. Seems to me you’re so invested in contrarian hottakes you can’t even see what’s right in front of your nose anymore.Report

          • Avatar JoeSal says:

            I see a 936 million dollar issue that …..is being addressed?….working to be resolved?…..What?Report

    • Slade,

      There is no debate possible, nor am I interested in one, at least with Mike. His particular goal is excusing police violence, wherever it occurs, and for whatever reason. There is no violence that he will not excuse while insisting that we are obliged to focus on something (anything!) else instead. (He also does things like insisting that I not write about topics that he does not personally approve of, and he offers a laundry list of reasons for that, including, most recently, that because I do not live in Houston, I should not be writing about incidents that happen there, with no accompanying explanation of why he is allowed to defend police abuse that happens in locations other than his own.)

      The entire thing is intellectually dishonest and incredibly frustrating, which is what Mike’s trolling is designed to be. As an example, note that Mike was more than happy to use the Houston case as an example of how badly officers are mistreated when it was initially reported. Now that the case has turned against his preferred narrative of police-as-victim-of-an-insufficiently-respectful-society, he has no interest in it and has insisted that the real issue is black-on-black crime. (It remains unclear what black-on-black crime has to do with the Houston shooting that this post is about.) And of course, it is also worth noting that Mike – who has routinely criticized me for not waiting a sufficient amount of time for all of the facts to be in – was using Houston as a cudgel before all of the facts were in.

      In the end, there is nothing to be done about somebody who has wildly different rules for himself than he has for everybody else, but I am certainly not interested in a debate with somebody playing those games. I write about police abuse. That is one of my interests. That isn’t going to change no matter how much Mike wants it to, and no matter how many times Mike tells me it should. Police abuse is obviously not one of Mike’s interests, beyond his desire to excuse its occurrence and its consequences. It is unclear why he continues to (not) read posts about it, absent his own enthusiasm for excusing police abuse no matter how bad it is, nor is clear why he does not write his own posts about black-on-black crime given his apparent interest in it.

      I make a point of ignoring his trolling for the greater good of the site and for my own mental health, something I plan to continue doing.

      I remain happy to discuss these issues with other people who aren’t engaging in what is plainly bad faith.Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


        You don’t ignore my comments and never have. You do a weird passive-aggressive thing where you respond to people that respond to me and make direct references to what I said, then pretend that you ignore me. It’s kind of silly. Everyone here knows we dislike each other and the reasons why, so why play this weird little game?

        Also, just once I would be curious as to why police abuse is something that you are so interested in. I used to think it was based on some bad personal experience but increasingly it just seems you drank the Progressive kool-aid and that’s what is driving all of that. Either way, i don’t think you have ever really been honest about what caused the switch to flip and this to be your cause de jour. Don’t readers deserve an explanation at some point?

        On the other hand I have been 100% transparent about why I pushback on this. I come from a cop family, have several friends who are cops and I have a great respect for what they do. At the same time, I am a trained historian and anthropologist. I see the effects of culture on nearly every topic. I also have a particular interest in issues related to race and have since college. As an anthropology student I was very interested in the immigrant experience in the United States and also the African American experience because I was working as an archaeologist at former slave sites. I was lucky enough to work under several brilliant African American professors who were more than willing to discuss the role of culture in communities. These are all topics I have written about on this site. I honestly don’t know when liberals became so scared of the social sciences. The Left has completely ruined the field of sociology. It’s tragic really because so much good work was done on this very topic we are discussing as early as the 1930s and it is completely ignored because of the Progressive agenda.

        As for Houston, I stand by what I said. Officers being shot when they enter someone’s home is generally not a good thing.Report

        • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

          I see the effects of culture on nearly every topic.

          OK, let’s talk about cop culture. Does being defended by your peers, your bosses, and much of the public no matter what you do have a negative influence on your behavior?Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


            I have always supported civilian oversight of police. I think in general, there should be full transparency and accountability. There is already a lot of accountability for more police departments now. The question we can’t answer is whether or not their behavior would change if that went away because we can’t prove a negative. But if the Left’s acceptable number for police bad behavior is zero, then the conversation never ends. And I think that is really the conversation to be had on so many of these hot-button issues. What is the acceptable level of system fails?

            I am personally pro-life and I think abortion is murder. But I am also a pragmatist and I don’t think eliminating 1st trimester abortions is feasible right now. So I’m willing to support anything that reduces the likelihood of an abortion. Sex education, free contraception, whatever. At the same time I accept that there will probably always be some number of abortions until technology makes it a moot point. So I’m willing to accept a number higher than zero. Several of us are asking, what is the number for bad police behavior? That’s a conversation worth having.Report

          • Avatar Reformed Republican says:

            Mike D.,

            Maybe we will not reduce that number to zero, but perhaps the first response in situations like the one in Houston should not be to circle the wagons to declare the officers innocent and to attack people who question whether the shooting was justified. Maybe a more moderate response should be taken, promising to investigate, and then doing thorough investigations. When cops are shown to be bad actors with ample evidence, get rid of them. Do not keep them on and suppress knowledge of bad behavior.Report

          • But if the Left’s acceptable number for police bad behavior is zero

            It’s hard to read this as anything but a strawman. It’s as if I justified
            confiscating all wealth over $10 million with “Since the Right’s acceptable number for a marginal tax rate is zero.” Can we agree, as a start, that the behavior in this case should be a serious felony?Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


            I agree with you on taking the time to let an investigation play out. That hasn’t happened with this post (and to be fair, I know Sam had it in the can for several weeks before he posted). But it’s still an ongoing thing. Those that take the contrary opinion can either try to ignore it, which allows the anti-police crowd to control the narrative, or we can respond. Unfortunately that does lead to a certain perception of circling the wagons. Asking everyone to wait 6 months in our current world is probably unreasonable.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


            If you have a Quality goal, shouldn’t you state what that goal actually is? I don’t tell my operators, “I want to see an error reduction every week but I’m not going to tell you what the acceptable fail rate is.” Policing is data-driven and that is widely credited for the crime reduction since the 90s. If we have a number and they are well below it, then Sam is just poking at the margins. If they are actually above a reasonable goal, we can discuss why. As the debate currently stands I see no actual data supporting the progressive position on policing being out of control, especially with regards to the shooting of unarmed blacks, which is Sam’s primary discussion point.

            So yeah, let’s spend a lot of time discussing how one cop in Houston apparently lied to obtain a warrant and people got killed. Throw him in jail. Happy? What else do you need out of the discussion?Report

          • Correction: This post was not written several weeks ago.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

            Sorry, a post by the same author, with the same name, about the same police action was written weeks ago. Pardon my confusion.Report

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

            Police have been largely controlling the narrative for 3+ decades now, through compliant local media and strict control of information. The fact that competing narratives are getting more attention isn’t foul play, it’s fair play.

            As for civilian oversight, see Jaybirds link regarding CA (or any of the numerous such links Balko puts up regarding LEAs keeping secret information the public should have a right to know), and then let’s talk about how the Blue Wall almost always ardently refuses to accept civilian oversight with claims that “Civilians can’t possibly understand what it’s like to be a cop, and thus have no ability or right to stand in judgement of officer actions or departmental responses.”

            Police have their own Bill of rights, rights citizens don’t have. They have powers citizens don’t have. They have Union contracts that grant them even more rights when accused of wrong-doing that citizens don’t have.

            Man, I tell ya, I wish we could have seriously gotten away with that shit when I was in the military. Telling politicians that they can’t possibly understand what life aboard a warship (et. al.) was like, and thus have no right to do things like de-segregate the military, or allow women into combat roles, or let LGBTQ serve openly, or criticize us when we blow up a hospital or school (honestly, we feel really bad about that, we don’t need any additional punishment, our own guilt is sufficient to make sure we don’t ever do that again…).

            You know what special rights we had in the military? We had the right to shop at the Exchange and Commissary, tax free. If we crossed the UCMJ, we got a JAG Advocate, who would probably be helpful, but no promises. If we got in trouble with civilian authorities, we’d get marked UA if we failed to report for duty because we were sitting in jail*, and that was it.

            And that is before we even get into all the damage the police encourage to citizen rights, in order to make their jobs easier, because somehow they are supposed to have an easy job?

            *And local LEOs know this, and use it, a lot, if they want to mess with someone they know to be a service member. I knew lots of guys who were picked up for BS reasons on the weekends and kept until just after muster on Monday morning, then let go, sometimes before even seeing a judge.Report

          • Avatar Sam Wilkinson says:

            To Further Clarify: this post was not written several weeks ago.Report

          • Avatar Will Truman says:

            The post was submitted less than a week ago.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

            Will / Sam,

            There was a previous draft of a Houston post by Sam. I’m well-aware that he re-wrote the entire piece into its current form. If you want to litigate what THIS POST means, have at it. It’s a pretty silly meta conversation though. I honestly don’t care when it was written and what version it is and what was changed. Editorial decisions are no longer my area of concern.Report

          • Avatar Will Truman says:

            Setting aside the impropriety of using the editorial access you had in an attempt to score points in the comment section, there is actually a substantial difference between “He started writing a post on this subject a couple weeks ago” and “He had this post in the can several weeks ago.”Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


            I wasn’t trying to ‘score points’. I was trying to acknowledge that Sam showed some restraint by not publishing sooner. I’m not going to play word games here. The majority of your commenters also have editorial access. This isn’t secret squirrel stuff.Report

          • Avatar Will Truman says:

            I was trying to acknowledge that Sam showed some restraint by not publishing sooner.

            Well, I definitely prefer that to “He started writing this without waiting”

            The majority of your commenters also have editorial access.

            Fewer than ten people can read the content of others’ posts.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

            I no longer have the ability to review draft posts so no need to worry about a repeat of this.Report

          • Throw him in jail.

            It’s a start.

            As for goals? How about “Cops who commit crimes are charged. Cops who ‘lose’ their body camera footage when accused of crimes are suspended. Cops who cover up crimes are charged as accessories.”Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

            Putting him in jail and backstopping their protocols should be the corrective action here. Anything more than that is overreach.Report

        • Avatar Reformed Republican says:

          “Officers being shot when they enter someone’s home is generally not a good thing.”

          Then perhaps cops should not engage in dangerous no-knock raids, where innocent homeowners might think they are victims of a home invasion by criminals and defend themselves as they are allowed by law.

          Not fabricating crimes to create the pretext for a home invasion of innocent people would also reduce unnecessary risk.Report

  9. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

    Chip, I don’t think ALL guns have the potential to harm, but as I think I have made clear I am more than willing to consider taking handguns out of the equation. They account for the overwhelming majority of gun deaths. As I have previously mentioned, that’s why i lose my shit every time there is a mass shooting and a bunch of white people get killed because I know the Left will want to talk about assault weapons again. It’s like they have no interest in a gun conversation if it was only a brown person that was killed.Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog says:

      What gun doesn’t have the potential to harm? If you exclude Nerf and lasertag toys as “guns” then all guns are devices for accelerating projectiles to speeds consistent with killing a human.Report

  10. Avatar Mr.Joe says:

    FTFY: It’s like they have no interest in a gun conversation if it was only a brown person that was the shooter.Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

      I think that in general the Left runs from conversations about black on black crime as fast as they can. It’s an incredibly uncomfortable topic for them and doesn’t serve their agenda at all.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        Oh lord Mike. No, just no. I think you are a reasonable guy but i don’t know where you are getting this from. As i said in one of these convo’s rcently, liberals and POC in poor areas do lots of things to tamp down crime. You don’t here about because it doesn’t hit the news. GC supporters think GC will cut crime of all sorts. You can disagree. There are gun buy backs or days to get rid of illegal guns in some big cities. There are tons of conversations if liberal and POC communities about the causes of crime. Not just cop’s but what has led to the crime in POC communities. You may not agree with where those conversations go, but crime of all sorts is definitely discussed.

        What some libs feel, and i agree at times, is that talking about black on black crime is a way to shift the discussion away from cops or the drug war or all sorts of other things.Report

        • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


          I am aware of all of that. I am also keenly aware that at the local level, face-to-face, people are a lot less partisan and a lot more willing to work together. This post though was written about a police issue in Houston by a guy in West Virginia. So it becomes a national conversation and that’s a different dynamic. When we’re talking about national conversations, no, I don’t see a willingness to talk about black on black crime.

          And it IS an attempt to shift the conversation, but towards something that is actually going to move the needle. Otherwise, what is the point of the conversation?Report

          • Avatar Slade the Leveller says:

            Can’t it just be crime? Why does race have to come into play?

            I have the same quibble with hate crimes. Crime is crime.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

            I agree 100%. The reasons for high crime rates in certain areas are usually tied to culture, not race. The circles only overlap in so much as people believe the race and culture are the same thing. I have always, always, always believed that separating those two things is how you dispassionately tackle a problem.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

            What this leftist runs from, is a bunch of white dudes expounding on black-on-black anything, as though we have a friggin’ clue what life is like for black people.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


            That’s a convenient way to avoid the conversation. Progressives are perfectly comfortable playing the white saviors when it comes to police shootings, as though any of them understand what that job is like or what it is like working in those areas. Suddenly getting cold feet when the discussion moves to blacks killing blacks is a dodge.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

            So in an essay about out of control cops shooting a couple of unarmed guys who committed no crime, you insist on talking about crime in black neighborhoods.

            And you don’t understand why people don’t take this seriously?Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


            This post doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It’s one of probably a couple dozen by the same author about the same general theme. I don’t see contrast posts by Sam about how they saved someone’s life or anything positive, so the general theme seems to be cops = bad. Is the problem that I keep interrupting the progressive circle jerk on this topic or that you all were *this close* to coming up with a policy solution?Report

          • Avatar Mr.Joe says:

            If I am left enough for you, let’s shift. Black on Black crime. What aspect is something that you feel we can agree on?

            I suspect we can agree that it is primarily a city black on black issue and that rural black crime tracks closely to white crime, per capita.

            For me, much of the BLM platform, esp. police and criminal justice reform, should help in that area. How you ask? A substantial part of the violence seems due to attempts to obtain justice when there is belief that the standard US Justice system cannot deliver it. Just as Jaybird points out that police might be viewed through the lens of a gang; gangs may be viewed through the lens of an alternate system of law and order. Gangs and the associated violence will continue as long as the communities involved prefer the gangs justice system to the one rooted in the US Constitution.

            The next big one for me is safe reliable education, at least primary. Better access to secondary and trade education could help quite a bit. How you ask? If the only way inner-city folks have to get ahead is sports and crime; once you don’t make the basketball/football team, the answer is obvious.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


            I’m in agreement on much of that. What I saw last week when I was on a jury was a man who shot 7 people and at least three of them knew who he was but refused to identify him to the police. They eventually got him on tape confessing, but he took an Alfred plea and got 5 years on one count of assault. The second shooter has never been convicted. I completely understand why these people were scared or unwilling to testify for various reasons. I guess that’s partially on the justice system for not keeping him in jail longer but also a cultural thing.

            I will also say the bar where the shooting occurred was notorious for the high number of felons that hung out there. We were told by the owner, police and the judge (after the trial) that on a Saturday night there might be 300 people there and 80% of them were convicted felons. It was well-known that a lot of people carried guns. One of the people shot was 7 months pregnant. Why would anyone go there for any reason? These are cultural questions I would love to better understand.

            In addition to your ideas about education I would really consider housing solutions. I like the idea of adding government-assisted housing to new neighborhoods in an attempt to dilute the effects of ghettos. We have a new development going in near me. Assisted housing is something like $80K. Non-assisted housing will be over $200K. That’s going to create some interesting opportunities.

            When I talk about culture, one thing to consider, and Coleman Hughes and Van Tran have written about this, is that there are immigrant families from the West Indies living in very close proximity to African Americans in places like New York. Their children, born in the United States, look exactly like the descendants of American slavery nearby. If there is structural racism, it’s logical to assume both groups would suffer but the outcomes are not the same. The children of West Indian families do much better and have much greater representation in the Ivy Leagues. Again, that is culture.Report

          • Avatar Mr.Joe says:

            I guess there is not much of a discussion to be had then.

            I agree that culture plays a significant role in the path of one’s life. However, like geography, one generally has little choice in the situation they are raised in. But that makes the case for more investment, not less.

            I also agree that simple disparities over two variables does not mean causation. Just because there is a racial disparity does not mean racism explains 100% of the difference. Equally the inverse is not necessarily true, that racism explains 0% of the difference.

            I found and read a well linked article by Coleman, The Racist Treadmill. You seem to over state his case. From the article “Granted, neither of these natural experiments prove that culture, specifically, caused the divergent outcomes. It’s impossible to disentangle confounding variables like immigrant self-selection, demographic differences, and other unknown factors.”

            It is nice to know at least that we can agree on some policies that should improve the situation overall. Also, nice to see someone trying to include culture in the discussion honestly and not as an excuse to do nothing.Report

          • Avatar Mr.Joe says:

            RE: Housing policy. I would be interested to see a housing policy that would help. In my view, city and state attempts to improve housing for so called disadvantaged communities have a pretty poor track record. I would expect there might be something policy-wise that could help, but I have yet to see it.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

            Coleman and Tran both point these things out because it deserves exploring. Coleman has also been on a lot of podcasts where he states that there must be a cultural component. Is there self-selecting? Yes, but for me that is a more troubling conclusion. If those West Indians are able to overcome structural racism when they have only been here for a generation, then what skills have they been equipped with that their African American neighbors have not? Maybe that’s the analysis to be done.Report

          • Avatar Lark says:

            {Redacted by editors}Report

          • Avatar Mr.Joe says:

            Here is where I see it differently. I don’t think anyone is saying present day racism is the only thing resulting in the visible unequal outcomes. There are plenty of folks trying to say racism is not a factor or not a significant factor.

            It is not that the West Indian group is able to overcome racism any better or worse. They have different outcomes, sure. It is reasonably well documented and broadly believed that second-generation immigrants do better on most metrics than similarly situated natives. There are various theories for this that social scientists are trying tease out. But a leading theory is that immigrants parents invest more (time, energy, money) in their children than their native counterparts.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


            I am aware that in general, many immigrants do better, however when Progressives talk about structural racism, don’t they really mean racism towards black people? And that is a story that is backed up by minorities themselves. From the Hidden Tribes report I have mentioned several times:

            “Racial groups differ significantly on questions of racial sensitivity. Majorities
            of Asian Americans (73 percent), white Americans (64 percent), and
            Hispanics (57 percent) agree that “many people nowadays are too sensitive
            about things to do with race.” Attitudes are different among African Americans, the group most deeply affected by racial injustice in the United
            States. Only 33 percent of black Americans agree that people are overly
            sensitive about things to do with race. “

            Also, this is an older piece (20 years) but it roughly follows the same pattern:

            “African Americans are overwhelmingly likely (82 percent) to describe their own group as the one that “faces the most discrimination in America today.” Three in five Asian Americans agree that blacks face the most discrimination, as do half of whites. But Latinos split evenly (42 percent to 40 percent) over whether to award African Americans or themselves this dubious honor. The same pattern appears in more specific questions about discrimination. Blacks are consistently more likely to see bias against their own race than against others in treatment by police, portrayals in the media, the criminal justice system, promotion to management positions, and the ability to get mortgages and credit loans. Latinos are split between blacks and their own group on all these questions, whereas whites see roughly as much discrimination against all three of the nonwhite groups and Asians vary across the issues.”

            So…if we assume all of those perceptions are true then I think the focus on West Indian blacks and African Americans is a valid point of study.


        • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

          Re: Housing

          I can’t speak to the policies in other cities, but often times here in Louisville just means ‘build them nicer housing in the same place’. I think we have to be much more radical about it, but that also means telling the middle class families that don’t want those people in their neighborhoods to get over it. I will also admit I am a real idealist when it comes to the power of urban planning to transform lives, but it seems to me that history shows ghettos have never produced net positive outcomes.Report

      • Avatar Jesse says:

        Well, it’s more like white guys get uncomfortable when conservative white guys use “black on black crime” as a bit of whataboutism that is used to pivot to talk about how he’s against the supposed War on Cops that us on the supposed Far Left have all been drafted too. Maybe I missed that meeting.Report

        • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

          Homicide deaths by firearm for men in the United States (per 100,000)

          Whites – 2.10
          Blacks – 29.12Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          For what it’s worth, whenever I bring up “Police Unions”, I’m quickly disabused that the left is anywhere *NEAR* the supposed “War on Cops”.

          They’re closer to the “Thin Blue Line” folks.Report

      • Avatar Dark Matter says:

        (I wrote this as a reply to a different comment of yours but will post it here).

        To be fair, Sam did a really good job this time.

        1) Way less cherry picking.
        2) The couple was white.
        3) He’s not comparing it vs some random “things went right” event.
        4) He’s showcased that the head cop apparently was/is trying to do things right, and that the head union guy was/is trying to do things wrong. Neither of those two are cherry picked, they’re the people in charge of their respective spheres of influence and they’re both relevant players.
        5) This wasn’t a random screw up. The police department knew darn well this cop had a long history of conduct unbecoming. That’s EXTREMELY different than “this was his first mess up”.

        The “not a random screw up” aspect to this is the most heinous part to it. Most times police shootings aren’t predictable, even with perfect knowledge. We have someone who overreacts at that moment who either doesn’t understand the situation he’s in, can’t help the situation he’s in, or it’s a Rube Goldberg series of events.

        Here you get the impression this was SOP for this guy. No one made him falsify his informant’s testimony so the team could target some civilians. Worse, we still have the issue of “what did he think he was doing” and most of the potential answers are pretty nasty. How did he pick these people? Deliberately? Maybe as in settling a grudge? Randomly? Giving his team something to do? Was he engineering a situation where valuable things could disappear? He comes off as that bald guy from “The Shield”.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

          Reminds me a lot of the case from GA, where the cops threw a flash-bang into the baby’s crib.Report

          • Avatar Dark Matter says:

            Yes… and it’s possible we’re looking at sheer incompetence even after the warrant. After they grab the girl the team has to shoot her? 5 cops injured, 4 shot?

            They shoot the dog and alert the guy. He has access to a gun and he shoots 4 of them? That seems really unprofessional right there short of trying to arrest Arnold, so, as long as we’re opening the “unprofessional” door, did some of them shoot each other?

            They’re supposed to be going after heavily armed drug dealers, at least that’s supposed to be why they exist and that’s their stated reason for doing this. If the team panics and loses their shit because they’re up against one guy with a handgun, then maybe they’re used to going after unarmed civilians and not armed civilians?Report

        • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

          Dark Matter,

          You are spot-on in your analysis and I will admit that I should have been more charitable. This post IS better than most of Sam’s other work on this subject. I was also a bit shocked that he focused on a case involving white people and that the snark was dialed back considerably. Maybe things have improved with some of the new editors on-board.

          I think what ruffled my feathers was the implication that a ‘war on cops’ is such a silly idea when Sam has used words like ‘murder’, ‘execution’, etc to describe police departments today. He’s made it clear he believes there is a race war directed at young black men and conducted by police officers across the country. While I generally don’t agree with the hyperbole of ‘war’ in general (War on Drugs, War on Poverty) I do think Progressive Activists have made the job harder for police departments and the people suffering are not those officers but the communities they are sworn to protect. Some cynical a-hole is probably going to chime in here and say, ‘If they can’t do their job without shooting unarmed people then they don’t need to be on the force,” but that is nonsense. Plenty of good cops are choosing to also avoid certain situations for fear of ending up in the political cross-hairs through no fault of their own. It’s no different than the male company managers across the country that are reporting they are no longer mentoring women because of #MeToo. Again, it’s simply not worth the risk.

          So, I guess my but-statement above negates my concession that Sam’s post was much better than usual this time, but I still had problems with it.Report

  11. Avatar Jaybird says:

    This story isn’t about Red State Texas but is, instead, about Blue State California:

    Thousands of California law enforcement officers have been convicted of a crime in the past decade, according to records released by a public agency that sets standards for officers in the Golden State.

    The revelations are alarming, but the state’s top cop says Californians don’t have a right to see them. In fact, Attorney General Xavier Becerra warned two Berkeley-based reporters that simply possessing this never-before-publicly-released list of convicted cops is a violation of the law.

    The story gets crazier from there.Report

  12. Avatar pillsy says:


    What I saw last week when I was on a jury was a man who shot 7 people and at least three of them knew who he was but refused to identify him to the police.

    OK, so this is the kind of thing that I wonder about.

    Because, well, why wouldn’t those people tell the cops?

    I can think of many reasons, but it’s hard to see how the degree to which they trust the police doesn’t play into this. And I don’t think it’s incumbent on citizens to trust the police if the police don’t earn it.

    Lots of people don’t have any reason to view the police as adversarial, because they know they’ll get a fair or better than fair shake from cops. Sometimes this will get them into trouble, but rarely.

    Lots of people, however, don’t believe that. Indeed, the same Hidden Tribes survey that you’ve cited repeatedly showed 91% of African Americans believing that “[t]he police are often more violent towards African Americans than others”, as opposed to being “mostly fair to people of every race”.

    This is an even larger fraction than the 70% of cops who believe that the current political climate makes it harder for them to do their job. Why is it only their opinions that count?Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


      On this case it was fairly clear, at least for the three victims that were part of our case. I’ll try to explain below:

      1) At least two of the victims knew the shooters, although they denied it in court. This was proven by a jailhouse recording of the shooter that is currently in prison. They are both convicted felons themselves and the tape implied that he had someone pay them off to keep quiet.

      2) The third victim was clearly able to identify the shooters based on his initial statements, but stopped cooperating with the police pretty quickly. From what we learned, he’s a good guy who was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, however he comes from a family of ‘notorious villains’ (judges words, not mine) and more than likely there is some pressure to not snitch.

      3) The shooter that is in prison received a very light sentence. One count of assault and 5 years in prison. He will be out in less than 2 years and in the jailhouse recording he said he had no doubt he would be back in jail for another shooting within a year of being released. His words were, “If someone touches me, they are getting shot.”

      4) The most important detail is that the second shooter has never been convicted, though the police are fairly certain they know who it is and the other shooter named him in the recording (he used a nickname so it’s not 100%). Having him out there makes it pretty advisable to not cooperate with the police. There were several jurors that inquired about the secrecy of our participation in the case based on those same fears.

      So…I think it’s fair to say the issue on this case was not some broad fear of the police. I think there are a lot of…wait for it…cultural issues at play. Do people in that part of town avoid the police? Absolutely. For example, the bar owner told us that while he has a good relationship with the local cops but he avoids calling them for any disturbances because it would hurt his business due to the high number of felons that frequent the bar.Report