Harsh Your Mellow Monday: No Good Answers Edition

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Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website Yonderandhome.com

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74 Responses

  1. Avatar Kazzy
    Ignored
    says:

    Is it me or does it seem like whenever a police chief or other person in power voluntarily steps down after things go wrong on their watch, it’s more often than not a woman and/or person of color? Maybe this is selective memory or confirmation bias, but it does seem to be the case. Wonder what that’s about… if there is indeed a there there.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck
      Ignored
      says:

      Because when you run on feelsgood instead of actual thought, your mouth tends to write checks that your ass can’t cash.Report

  2. Avatar DensityDuck
    Ignored
    says:

    Maybe there was a fight, maybe he shot a taser, maybe he did this or that, but if the cops hadn’t had guns he wouldn’t have been shot by guns.

    Cops, in general, should not have guns. And yeah yeah yeah, you can point to “this guy wasn’t killed by guns”, you can point to “that guy was killing people and he wouldn’t have been stopped without guns”, but maybe the former would be less common if cops didn’t have “I’m authorized to deploy lethal force on my own recognizance” in their mindset, maybe the latter is a situation we could fix but have decided not to fix because guns are an easy answer and developing a nonlethal restraint that can be deployed at range is harder.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon
      Ignored
      says:

      I’d modify that – Officers can not have sidearms. I’m fine with a shotgun in the cruiser, but no sidearms, and AR-15s need to be locked up in the trunk with special permission to deploy them. They get mace and tasers.

      If a suspect runs, unless they are an obvious danger to the public or a complete unknown, let them run, they can’t outrun a radio signal.

      Perhaps if police could not rely on sidearms, they’d pump some more incentive into the development of non-lethal tools that can be deployed at range.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        Oscar,

        Do you think it’d make more sense to have specially trained folks who are exclusively allowed to use the heavier weapons*? I believe this was the point to SWAT but that was sort of undone when we armed every cop to the teeth.

        * Apologies if this is incorrect language; I’m simply trying to differentiate AR-15s from the other weapons you describe.Report

        • Avatar InMD
          Ignored
          says:

          I won’t speak for Oscar but I don’t personally think there’s that big of a difference between a semi automatic handgun and an AR-15 with respect to how police are (mis)using their weapons. They both have the same rate of fire and can use high capacity magazines. From a certain perspective I actually think an AR 15 might be safer because rifles are more accurate but I could be convinced otherwise. There are all kinds of stories of police emptying their glocks and hitting everything but the target.

          I don’t think the police are particularly well trained with any of the weapons they carry, which is itself a problem. My perception is that wherever they can lawfully use force of any kind they go straight to deadly while the less than lethal options are used to punish non-compliance.Report

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon
            Ignored
            says:

            Rifles are more accurate, but also more likely to over penetrate. That is why I’d rather the rifle stay locked up. Shotguns not only have the range, but they are much less likely to over penetrate, and they can be loaded with a variety of less than and non-lethal ammo.

            Agree on your final paragraph.Report

            • Avatar InMD
              Ignored
              says:

              So shotguns with bean bags or rock salt or something like that? Maybe.

              I guess I wonder if it isn’t a non-starter in a world where even with very reformed police they will encounter people with firearms using real ammunition at times. I’d like to think they could be trained to much better discipline on use of force and at least stop instigating violent confrontations. But maybe one inherently leads to the other.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                1) Police encounters with armed men that result in gun battles are very damn rare, and even more rare is the gun battle that results in police getting hit, much less killed. This is less because police are well trained, but rather because police are marginally better trained that the idiots who decide to get into a gun battle with police.

                2) Usually when police are killed by a contact that pulls a gun, it happens so fast that the officer rarely has time to pull their gun before they are shot themselves (i.e., they are ambushed).

                3) Typically, when police are faced with a gun, either a) it’s because they’ve allowed a situation to escalate to that point, or b) they knew going in it was dangerous. If a), they can practice keeping things cool until backup arrives, and if b), they have a shotgun.

                PS a shotgun can always have the first round be a non-lethal, or they can have a KelTec KSG (or the like), or they just have two shotguns (shotguns loaded with non-lethals tend to be brightly colored green or orange).Report

              • Avatar InMD
                Ignored
                says:

                I hear you on the rationality of it I’m just trying to account for the politics in light of how we got here. Part of the story is the perception especially from the crack epidemic that police are outgunned. Obviously it’s very rare that’s the case but every once in awhile it will be and the media will be all over it when it goes south for some patrolman.

                What I’m saying is when (really if) we reset the table we want to make sure we don’t follow the same trajectory as before. And yes, crime is much lower now but it may not be forever and in all cases public perception seems divorced from reality.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                I’m not interested in disarming cops, as such. There are times when they very much need to be able to bring lethal force to bear.

                But it’s not nearly as often as they like to imagine and there are usually pretty clear signs things are about to go pear shaped long before they do. More than enough time to call in backup or get the shotgun from the cruiser.

                That said, SCOTUS just cleared all the possible cases dealing with QI from the docket, so we aren’t getting motion on that front.Report

              • Avatar InMD
                Ignored
                says:

                Edit to add it kind of reminds me of the discussion on helmets in the NFL. You’ll get people periodically who say it would actually be safer without them like in rugby because it would cause people to play differently. And hell maybe it would be. But it also seems like something that would be DOA for a host of reasons.

                Though reading your responses to Kazzy and Michael I see what you’re saying and would certainly be down with it. Maybe by requiring a more conscious decision to escalate it would happen less.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon
          Ignored
          says:

          Think of it more as removing the impulse to reach for the gun. A rifle locked in the trunk, or a shotgun clamped in the cruiser cabin mount, is not sitting on the hip within easy reach.

          If you don’t have a gun at hand*, you are more likely to exercise de-escalation, or, perhaps even more importantly, not practice escalation tactics (something police often do in order to generate probable cause for a search or an arrest).

          *Or know that using said gun is going to make your life very unpleasant for a while, even if you are justified in doing so – something police are not normally concerned with, but citizens are.Report

          • Avatar Michael Cain
            Ignored
            says:

            My own preference would be to have the rifle be bolt action as well. Just so there’s multiple points — work the bolt, aim, then shoot — where there’s a chance for the message “You are deliberately killing a person here” has a chance to get through.Report

            • Avatar Oscar Gordon
              Ignored
              says:

              And/or, civilian magazine limits apply to police as well. If 5 rounds is good enough for me…Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain
                Ignored
                says:

                No argument from me. I learned to shoot from Dad and Grandpa, both of whom abhorred semi-automatic rifles. Grandpa in particular believed they encouraged lots of bad habits.

                It is routine to read about police shootouts where the number of rounds that hit the suspect compared to the number of rounds fired suggests that most of the officers are shooting without seeing a valid target at all.Report

              • Avatar CJColucci
                Ignored
                says:

                41 shots.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain
                Ignored
                says:

                I simply note an observation from my uncle the Green Beret colonel, post three tours in Vietnam: “94% of all rounds fired in combat are completely unaimed, with the simple hope that they will keep the other guy from aiming.” These numbers are disturbingly close.

                He is also the one who once said, “You have a loaded weapon with a chambered round bouncing around up here with the people? Stop the car. Let me out. The kid (me) and I will walk back to town. Hell, we don’t let trained infantryman do that.”Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                Yep. That kind of shooting is fine on the battlefield.

                It’s absolute crap in other settings. It get’s innocent people killed.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain
                Ignored
                says:

                Anecdotes are not data but I admit that my attitude was largely set by an episode long ago, when I was an undergraduate.

                The city police felt they were outgunned and wanted a much more potent handgun as their standard weapon. One of the university professors had collected the records that showed in the last nine times a city LEO had discharged a weapon, a suspect was hit once, no one was hit twice, and a (supposedly) non-targeted bystander was hit six times. The head of the city council said something like, “Chief, you’re not getting weapons with more punch. With that record, you’re lucky we’re not busting you back to nightsticks.”Report

    • Avatar Jesse
      Ignored
      says:

      Congratulations, you’re now part of the “defund the police” movement. :Report

    • Avatar Chip Daniels
      Ignored
      says:

      Related:
      London Breed pushes San Francisco reforms: Police no longer will respond to noncriminal calls

      San Francisco police officers will be replaced with trained, unarmed professionals to respond to calls for help on noncriminal matters involving mental health, the homeless, school discipline and neighbor disputes, as part of a new wave of police reforms.

      https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-06-12/san-francisco-police-reforms-stop-response-noncriminal-calls

      I’ve noted before how here in LA we have unarmed safety teams from the neighborhood BID which ride around and do things like roust sleeping transients and respond to petty offenses like vandalism and deranged mentally ill people.

      Which is actually the vast majority of policing, just the small petty offenses which Broken Windows tells us is actually most critical to the safety and security of a neighborhood.

      Had an Atlanta safety team responded to that drunk man, he would be alive today and no one would have gotten harmed.Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck
        Ignored
        says:

        “Had an Atlanta safety team responded to that drunk man…”

        Except that drunk driving is a criminal act, assault and battery are criminal acts, grabbing a cop’s taser and shooting it at him is a criminal act!

        You’re not gonna solve the problem of cops shooting people if the cops still have guns! Stop letting them have guns!Report

        • Avatar Chip Daniels
          Ignored
          says:

          I’m not opposed to disarming the police.

          I’m suggesting that we start viewing policing as a multi-tiered system of enforcement of order starting with citizens, then unarmed officials, and only after everything else fails, employing violence.

          Its useful to look at the videos of how readily the police are to use nonlethal violence, from fists to clubs to tasers, instead of conflict de-escalation and mediation, even for trivial petty offenses.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon
          Ignored
          says:

          Sleeping off the drunk in a car is technically a criminal act, but let’s be honest, no one is being harmed by the drunk sleeping it off in the car. All the police need to do is roust the guy, take his keys, and leave him a receipt that says where he can recover his keys when he sobers up.

          But no, they got to wake him and spend 30 minutes messing around with the guy before he snaps and does something stupid (which, IMHO, is exactly what the cop wanted, an excuse to arrest the guy for something more than ‘sleeping in a car while drunk’).Report

          • Avatar Ozzzy!
            Ignored
            says:

            In the car Is drunk, my friend. Look further on this one. Georgia is a zero tolerance state.Report

            • Avatar Oscar Gordon
              Ignored
              says:

              Legally, sure.

              Pragmatically? Ideally, take his keys. If you must hook him up, roust him, cuff him, take him to the precinct.

              Don’t spend 30 minutes trying to hold a conversation with him.Report

  3. Avatar Philip H
    Ignored
    says:

    HM 1: Part of the ATL problem is three days before a drunk white guy actually shot a real gun at cops coming to his residence on a disturbance call. He hit their cruiser, and its not clear from the reporting if they fired back. He was eventually persuaded to turn himself in. You can’t look at those two outcomes in the span of three days, shrug your shoulders, and say the Wendy’s incident is complicated.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy
      Ignored
      says:

      I can’t remember where it was, but someone was talking/writing about the disparate treatment of armed white guys who’ve shown a willingness to kill (e.g., Dylan Roof, the Aurora shooter) and unarmed black guy who’ve shown no such proclivity, and how the former tends to be met with patience and the others with violence.

      It got me wondering… maybe the cops aren’t treating the former group that way IN SPITE of the danger they obviously pose… maybe it is BECAUSE of the danger they pose. Maybe when cops are actually afraid for their lives, they exercise great caution. And when they aren’t, it’s guns blazing. This would really undermine the “I was afraid!” argument. And it’d show some real issues with training, that cops don’t actually feel capable of diffusing actual violent situations. I dunno… just a theory… but it got me thinking…Report

      • Avatar George Turner
        Ignored
        says:

        Only 5% of the people who shoot at cops are white. White folks are armed to the teeth and deep into gun culture, but outside of some pretty bad neighborhoods, it’s a very different gun culture from street crime culture where firearms are viewed as a must-have criminal tool.

        Another factor is cultural differences. If your folk narratives are about how the hero always has a big shoot out with “The Federales”, who are working for the oppressive Spanish colonial governor to oppress the peasants, or perhaps employed by the local narco trafficker/governor, shooting at cops probably comes pretty naturally. If you’ve listened to 2,000 hours of gangsta rap, it probably comes pretty naturally. By and large, whites haven’t had a mainstream narrative like that since we quit watching Westerns and Godfather movies.

        On the law enforcement side, one rather frequent factor in many incidents is young officers (twenty-somethings) who are both easily frightened, have high testosterone levels, who lack the life experience to read a situation or personal encounter correctly, and often know less about the law, legal rights, and accepted norms than the people they’re trying to police. A police force with a minimum age of thirty would likely have fewer incidents.

        Also, what many of the protesters willfully ignore is that they’re being used as cover for the riots and looting. What they don’t know is that the riots and looting are being instigated by the OCP corporation to lower property values so OCP can buy up cheap urban real estate. Then, the quell the violence, the OCP will offer the public the future of law enforcement, robots that can handle everything from routine patrolling to urban pacification, hoping that roll lands them big military contracts. It wouldn’t take very many ED-209’s to get these riots under control pretty quickly.Report

      • Avatar Dark Matter
        Ignored
        says:

        the disparate treatment of armed white guys who’ve shown a willingness to kill (e.g., Dylan Roof, the Aurora shooter) and unarmed black guy who’ve shown no such proclivity, and how the former tends to be met with patience and the others with violence.

        You’re comparing vastly different sets.

        One is selected AFTER something went horribly wrong when they were dealing with the police. The other is horrible people BEFORE they interacted with the police.

        For the 2nd group you’re also further selecting for being black and for the first for being white but that doesn’t change the “after” and “before” problem nor the distortions it creates.

        The second group is selected for violence with the police, ergo there was violence. The first group is NOT selected for violence with the police, and since violence with the police in general almost never happens they fare better.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg
        Ignored
        says:

        I can’t remember where it was, but someone was talking/writing about the disparate treatment of armed white guys who’ve shown a willingness to kill (e.g., Dylan Roof, the Aurora shooter) and unarmed black guy who’ve shown no such proclivity, and how the former tends to be met with patience and the others with violence.

        Sam wrote an article in which he cherry-picked a couple such cases and asserted that they constituted a pattern. Here’s the thing, though. In 2018, police officers made about 2.1 million arrests of black people and about 4 million arrests of non-Hispanic white people. For violent crimes only, it was about 4800 black people and 2200 non-Hispanic white people. That latter number could be a bit low—due to the way Latinos are classified in the UCR, figuring out stats for non-Hispanic whites involves extrapolation from incomplete statistics. The broader category of arrests for violent crime falls somewhere in between; it skews more black than the set of all arrests, but less black than arrests for murder.

        Anyway, in the same year, police officers fatally shot 229 black people and 454 non-Hispanic whites. Note that this is very similar to the ratio for all arrests. So, as I’ve pointed out before, the rate of fatal shootings per arrest is more or less the same for blacks and non-Hispanic whites (actually for all races, though not for sexes—men are killed 4-5 times as often as women per 100k arrests).

        This would seem to suggest that cops may actually have a slightly higher threshold for shooting black suspects. If the rates of fatal shootings per arrest are the same for black and white suspects, but the rate of fatal shootings per violent crime is higher for white than for black suspects, then police are safely apprehending violent black criminals at higher rates than violent white criminals.

        Police fatally shoot about 200-300 black people each year, and about twice as many non-Hispanic white people. You can cherry pick a handful of each to tell pretty much any story you want. If you want to tell a story where police regularly shoot unarmed black people and safely apprehend armed white criminals, you can tell that story. If you want to tell exactly the opposite story, you can find data points to support that story, too, but you’re much less likely to win a Pulitzer if you go off-scriptlike that.

        Maybe when cops are actually afraid for their lives, they exercise great caution. And when they aren’t, it’s guns blazing. This would really undermine the “I was afraid!” argument.

        The assumption here, I think, is that the perceived level of danger is constant throughout an encounter. And I don’t think that’s how it works. I think police are most likely to shoot a suspect when the perceived level of danger suddenly increases. If you’re approaching a situation where you know it’s extremely dangerous, you’re going to stop and think about the best approach. If you think you have a situation under control, and then suddenly “OH SHIT HE’S PULLING A GUN!” then you don’t really have a lot of time to plan; you either shoot or bet your life that he won’t. It’s System I thinking vs. System II thinking.

        Probably better training would help here, but I think the fear is legitimate in most/all such cases. What’s the alternative explanation? They’re shooting suspects just for fun?Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon
          Ignored
          says:

          Not for fun, but because they are allowed to act on their fears in ways citizens are not.

          I can not get into an altercation with a person and see them reach into their coat, decide that means they are pulling out a gun, and use that as a pretense to draw first and kill them.

          As I’ve said before, the race angle is, to me, a problem (I think police get much more keyed up when dealing with black people, and are more likely to use force, even non-lethal force, more quickly), but ultimately, it’s about the lack of accountability. If you shoot someone who was not a clear threat, you need to be indicted.Report

        • Avatar George Turner
          Ignored
          says:

          There’s also the stat that whites are only responsible for 5% of shots fired at police. Combined with that statistics you provided, that heavily implies that white suspects are much less likely to to escalate a police encounter into the realm of deadly force.

          Second, the goal isn’t to make these situations fights with 50/50 odds of either side winning, all in the name of “fairness”. A serious criminal will only have dozens of interactions, and even drug deals will probably only be in a dangerous arrest situation a few times. But a policeman has to safely get through hundreds or thousands of such encounters and still go home to their family – because they’re not special forces soldiers or fighter pilots who knowingly signed on to a job where the training instructor says something like “in a major conflict, half of you will die in combat.”

          If violence does ensue, the police need the odds stacked heavily in their favor because they need to show up for their shift the next day. They’re not there to prove their manhood on their great gettin’ up day, they’re doing the job that we pay them to do, day in and day out.Report

    • Avatar Dark Matter
      Ignored
      says:

      You can’t look at those two outcomes in the span of three days…

      How many encounters with the police did that entire area have during those three days? A million? Ten million? More? Why is it valid to narrow the field to those two points and those three days?

      One guy won the lottery, the other didn’t.Report

  4. Avatar Saul Degraw
    Ignored
    says:

    HM1: I agree with what Philip said. I did not know about the drunk white guy before but you can’t square the disparate outcomes between whites who commit very violent crimes and seemingly get treated well upon arrest/coaxed into surrendering vs. what happens to black people.

    A big problem is that the United States never adopted Peelite principals and our officers are trained to use deadly force. I know someone who attempted to be a cop in SF. He did not make it past orientation day in police academy because he said it was too militaristic. Other nations have police training that lasts for a year or more, often requires or ends up with the equivalent of a degree. Our police training is very short, done locally, and ends up being all about cop safety first. We need to complete over haul the system but alas Americans are cheap about such things and have short-attention spans.

    The police now seem to be an insular force without regard for how the public views it. A lot of the decisions police forces have made around the country in the past few weeks are gobsmacking because the actions make it clear that the police see themselves as above the law or as the law. Also they are out of control.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon
      Ignored
      says:

      AFAIK, most police academies are treated like tech schools. Only the biggest departments have their own, publicly funded academies, so it’s not really about the cost, but (IMHO) more about the mismatch between those who can successfully complete extensive training that involves difficult things, like de-escalation training, and those who do well in police culture.

      Obviously, exceptions exist…

      No, the problem is that a large enough percentage of people still want to be able to see the state violently cracking down on whatever demographic they deem undesirable. If the police are seen to be handling said demographic with humanity and empathy, that population that wants beatings will get very vocal.Report

      • Avatar Jesse
        Ignored
        says:

        “No, the problem is that a large enough percentage of people still want to be able to see the state violently cracking down on whatever demographic they deem undesirable.”

        This is one reason why I don’t think “End Police Unions” is That One Weird Trick To Solve Things that some libertarians and right-leaning people have jumped on. As I’ve said before, I think the most likely result of police unions being banned in Mary, who largely does some paper pushing in the back office has a worse health care plan and less sick days, while Jimmy still gets off when he kills an unarmed black kid.Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw
          Ignored
          says:

          I can see reforming the scope of what police unions can do and removing the ability to assert into disciplinary and review matters. Sill, the police unions have provided a remarkable and discouraging armed wall of resistance against reform and oversight. So much so that reformist Police Chiefs don’t seem like they are in control but heads of police unions are.Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck
          Ignored
          says:

          say what you will, but it wasn’t some random dude telling cops in San Jose to quit as a protest against pension reform, it was the head of the police union there.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon
          Ignored
          says:

          I agree that ending police unions won’t fix things all by itself. Although Police unions are the poster child for the problem with any public sector union (that the union is negotiating with management that is interested in the votes the union can provide), fair is fair and if we are willing to tolerate public sector unions, police get to have one. I do think a lot can be done to limit said unions to only dealing with workplace concerns.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird
          Ignored
          says:

          Nobody is arguing that “End Police Unions” will solve the problem by itself.

          They argue such things as “there is a suite of things we need to do. A. B. C. D. And E.”

          And people argue against this statement by saying “B? I know you think that B will work miracles but it won’t solve the problem!”

          The argument isn’t that B will solve the problem, Jesse.

          Anymore than Minnesota finally deciding to vote for Democrats will solve the problem.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird
            Ignored
            says:

            I mean, here’s Yud:

            *23* point plan!

            I’ll go through and give you the list:

            1. Completely disentangle punition from revenue, including outlawing forfeiture, by requiring all punitive revenues to be refunded to tax-filers yearly.
            2. Delegalize police unions.
            3. Require body cams with teeth.
            4. Nationwide zero-tolerance for death of unarmed persons in the course of law enforcement.
            5. Demilitarize the police at a level short of automatic weapons.
            6. Abolish qualified immunity.
            7. Separate oversight from policing.
            8. Separate investigation from policing.
            9. Establish state procedures for disbanding and rebuilding local police forces.
            10. Comprehensively de-privatize police, courts, and prisons.
            11. Outlaw all quotas for fines, citations, or arrests.
            12. Don’t elect prosecutors; elect a Superintendent of Trials.
            13. Value the time of people dealing with courts.
            14. Decriminalize victimless offenses.
            15. Outlaw all mandatory minimum sentences.
            16. Outlaw plea bargaining.
            17. Restore speedy trials.
            18. Outlaw bail.
            19. Restore disparate enforcement as reason to strike down laws.
            20. Establish a federal exchange for liability insurance.
            21. Outlaw chokeholds immediately.
            22. Reform carceral systems to be less hellish.
            23. Suspend driver’s licenses only for offenses about driving safety.

            And people read this list and say “This is one reason why I don’t think “End Police Unions” is That One Weird Trick To Solve Things that some libertarians and right-leaning people have jumped on.”Report

            • Avatar Oscar Gordon
              Ignored
              says:

              2 – Ain’t happening unless all public sector unions are disbanded as well. But Police unions should be limited in what they can ask for or accept in a contract (i.e. no more negotiating special rights).

              12 – What is that?

              16 – So what happens when someone wants to plead guilty?

              20 – Huh? Officer liability?Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw
                Ignored
                says:

                Governments already have liability insurance and do settle abusive officer suits (and other liability suits) all the time.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                If we want to argue over whether any of these are likely… man, we’re going to get depressed. That said, there are a handful of things that would fix the problem and, unfortunately, none of them are silver bullets.

                His essay goes into each of the bullet points in depth. Here’s how he defines a Superintendent of Trials:

                an official who is reported-to by prosecutors, but does not themselves perform any prosecutions. It seems like, in practice and in actual observation, a major fault of the current system is that prosecutors think their function is to successfully prosecute, and that they should appeal to voters by showing a quota of successful prosecutions. Since voters don’t have infinite attention, they may also, in the moment, fall into the fallacy of thinking that a prosecutor is like a gear of the machine whose function is to successfully prosecute as many big criminals as possible. So do not elect any official whose job title or job function is “prosecutor”; elect a Superintendent of Trials instead.
                It may seem like a minor change, but poor incentives for prosecutors, including elected prosecutors, seem like a very large part of the in-practice problem; we have a police-prosecution-prison complex.

                What happens when someone wants to plead guilty? I imagine that they still can.

                (I got a ticket about a decade ago for something or other… “careless driving” (as opposed to “reckless driving”) and I showed up at the court to make my case for myself along with a dozen other people and she just handed us all paper packets and said “we’ll accept a guilty plea for driving with a broken taillight and we’ll lower your points by two and increase your fine by $100.” And I paid the fine and walked home on the sunny side of the street. Drove home. Tail light intact. This was convenient. I’m not sure it was Just. I’m not sure it was Justice adjacent.)

                As for Officer Liability, the idea is that you get the police department to have a downside for screwing up. Make the police liable instead of shuffling the costs for screwing up off somewhere else.Report

              • Avatar George Turner
                Ignored
                says:

                I can’t wait to see their suggests for brain surgery reform. “Let’s have a panel of citizens decide when to clamp an artery.”

                Instead of relying on the legal wisdom and precedent that’s accumulated over centuries of handling legal disputes day in and day out, let’s just have some guy who sells surf-board wax in a mall kiosk come up with a new system that will be a gazillion times better!Report

              • Avatar Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                While I appreciate that support for the status quo is tempting, the status quo got us here.

                Our choice seems to be between “setting shit on fire and hoping for Locke (but getting Hobbes)” and “maybe reforming shit for serious this time”.

                I’m not sure that the status quo won’t result in more, and worse, riots.Report

              • Avatar George Turner
                Ignored
                says:

                It doesn’t matter what reforms you do, you’re still going to get riots because criminals will still get shot doing stupid things, and those criminals have a huge fan base.

                Now, in theory there would really harsh states like Kentucky or Texas where judges have told juries not to convict anyone who shoots an evil-doer, and instead vote them public funds so they can buy more guns and kill more evil-doers. Yeah, a Kentucky judge really issued those instructions.

                And then there should be lily-white states and cities that bend over backwards to avoid policing the streets, basically handing the keys of the city to shop-lifters, drug dealers, and homeless heroin addicts.

                The violent protests are in those tolerant, open-minded, liberal, criminal-friendly cities. You know, the ones that have been run by Democrats forever. For example, Atlanta’s last Republican mayor was born during the War of 1812.

                Are the riots really the result of massive police abuses (which seems to be a feature of Democrats), or the result of a massive amount of disrespect for the rule of law, which might be a logical consequence for undermining the rule of law and respect for law in every way imaginable?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Perhaps we will get riots with reform.

                But we sure as hell will get them without them. Additionally, the cops are burning goodwill not only with Team Good but Team Evil as well. Reform might be their only chance to avoid some serious top-down stuff.

                Or some even more serious bottom-up stuff.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy
                Ignored
                says:

                “…criminals will still get shot doing stupid things, and those criminals have a huge fan base…”

                Neither breaking the law nor being stupid — or doing both simultaneously — negates one’s right to life. So, yes, the folks being unjustly shot by the police DO have fans: people who respect human life.Report

              • Avatar George Turner
                Ignored
                says:

                Unless of course they’re whites or Asians getting shot. Those folks never develop a fan base because their cultures don’t elevate career criminals to sainthood.

                Bonnie and Clyde, perhaps the closest whites to achieve that status in some quarters, were killed in a police ambush where their car was riddled with machine gun fire. The car became a tourist attraction because everybody wanted to see where the two criminal psychopaths got blown to pieces.

                We see the inevitable result of lauding criminal behavior in Mexico, which has 13 cities in the top 20 for worldwide homicide rates. Tijuana’s homicide rate is over 130 per 100,000. Boise Idaho’s homicide rate is 0.89 per 100,000.

                As long as you laud criminal behavior, you’ll have lots of criminal behavior, and then your choice is either between stricter policing or skyrocketing homicide rates – among the people you claim you’re supporting.

                For example, the current US homicide rate is 5 per 100,000. In 1980, not long after Biden decided to team up with Jesse Helms to keep his kids from growing up in a “racial jungle“, the US homicide rate was 10.2 per 100,000.

                Currently the 5 per 100,000 represents 16,214 homicides a year, and we have about 260 blacks being killed by police every year, of which about a dozen are unarmed blacks (the rarity is why we generally know all their names).

                If you do a ham-handed, feel-good effort to eliminate those 9 shootings, or the 260, will you end up letting the homicide rate return to 10.2 per 100,000, which would be 33,371 homicides a year, or 17,157 more than we currently have?

                Most of those will be homicides of poor blacks in the inner cities who are trying to get to work or go to school. So you’d be looking at maybe 9,000 extra victims of color, to save 260 people, most of whom had been shooting those “victims of color”. For total homcides of black people, you could be looking at a decrease of 5 a week from police shootings, from an aggregate of 350 black homicide victims a week at a 10.2 per 100,000 homicide rate.

                It seems to me that such a policy would just amount to killing an extra 8,740 people of color a year (the increase from 5 to 10.2 per 100,000, adjusted ), as if the goal is to eliminate black people. Of course as the homicide rates start swinging way up, the narrative changes and the people getting victimized start screaming for increased law enforcement and zero-tolerance policies.

                And indeed, that’s why all those liberal Democratic cities, even ones that are majority black with a black mayor and black police chief, with black city councils, had their existing police policies.

                And that math creates a problem for the moral argument that everyone has a right to life. You’re trying to save the 18,000 lives (at 10.2 per) by having encounters that, at present take about 260 lives, which might be saving half of the 18,000 (to give us our present 5 per 100,000). Are you willing to sacrifice 260 to save 9,000 or are you willing to sacrifice the 9,000 to save the 260?

                Sure, we’d like to rig this Kobayashi Maru test so we can just cheat and avoid making the hard choice, and maybe morally preen and pose and make all the right noises, but we’re not the ones who’ll have to pay the price of a wrong answer.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                Once again, it’s not about the justified killings. You wave a gun around, it’s play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

                It’s about the cops who kill people who are not a threat, and the cops are almost never held to account in a manner anywhere close to what a private citizen would face.

                It’s not about the race, or the numbers, it’s about accountability; and even one case of an agent of the government being able to violate the rights of a citizen (any citizen, regardless of guilt, or character, or whatever justification/rationalization you can dream up), even unto death, and that agent does not feel the full weight of the law* pressing down against him, that is tyranny.

                Just as a reminder, the definition of tyranny is:

                Cruel, unreasonable, or arbitrary use of power or control.

                I’m not upset over the deaths nearly as much as I am upset about the cops killing with impunity and (to hear their union bosses talk) a very clear conscious.

                As I’ve said before, if the police want to exercise the ability to have that kind of violence at their disposal, I’m fine with it. They can be judged under the UCMJ, with Army or Navy JAG Corp running the cases (and see how much the JAG gives a shit about those union contracts).

                * Given that police are afforded all manner of special privileges (I don’t care if they call them rights, they are fecking privileges!) through law and labor contract, so that they are shielded from feeling that full weight, except in the most egregious of cases.Report

            • Avatar Saul Degraw
              Ignored
              says:

              23. The problem with 23 is that this means people can’t get to work which means they lose their jobs which leads to, more problems.

              17. Define speedy.

              14. Who and how do you define what is and what is not a victimless offense. I know lots of libertarians like to mention drugs here but drugs often play a part into stories of childhood abuse and neglect which lead to defense attorneys presenting mitigating factor evidence to make sure their clients avoid the death penalty later on. For a recent example: https://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/andrus-v-texas/

              This guy is an autodidact when it comes to artificial intelligence. He hasn’t gone to high school or university which I am sure strikes a lot of libertarians with warm yays. He is not an expert on law, criminal justice, constitutional rights, sociology, racism, or the myriad of other factors that make this a problem.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                The problem with 23 is that we’re not only doing it for driving safety, we’re doing it for a lot of other things.

                If your criticism of 23 was that we shouldn’t be doing it at all, I mean… okay? But his suggestion is that we do it less than we’re doing now.

                As for defining “speedy”, I’m pretty sure that he’s echoing the Sixth Amendment which opens with “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial”.

                You know the thing where a guy who can’t make bail is stuck in lockup for months? That. He’s being denied his right to a speedy trial. Have you ever heard the phrase “justice delayed is justice denied”? Well, they’re not talking about guys on death row keeping kicking the can down the road with another appeal on some obscure technicality. They’re talking about a guy held and can’t get a trial scheduled. Which is his right, according to the Sixth. (Which also fails to define “speedy”.)

                Well, I think that we can define a lot of victimless offenses by defining whether there is a victim. A guy smoking pot? Victimless. A guy smoking pot and then abusing his child? Suddenly: A victim. It’s the abused child.

                He is not an expert on law, criminal justice, constitutional rights, sociology, racism, or the myriad of other factors that make this a problem.

                I wasn’t using him as an expert on law, criminal justice, constitutional rights, sociology, racism, or myriad other things.

                I was using him as a particularly strong example of someone giving a list of solutions rather than saying “We just need to end police unions and then we’ll live in Utopia!”Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw
        Ignored
        says:

        People are weird and complex and you are quite possibly right but there also seems to be a real tide change and polling indicates that the public sympathies with police reform and the protestors even if the “defunding” is not popular.

        I think you are correct in your observation that there is a difference between those that can do things like de-escalation training and those who do well in police culture. The person I know would have succeeded really well in de-escalation based on his current career path.

        Your second paragraph is also correct probably and sadlyReport

    • Avatar LeeEsq
      Ignored
      says:

      In many countries, officer ranked police are required to have a university degree.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain
        Ignored
        says:

        My inner-ring suburban city (pop ~120,000) requires all sworn officers to have a four-year degree.Report

        • Avatar Chip Daniels
          Ignored
          says:

          “To avoid hiring just any thug or goon to be an officer of the law, we require all candidates to have a college degree. Oh, I see you have a degree from University of Tennessee College of Law. Who was your thesis advisor?”

          “Professor Glenn Reynolds. The thesis was “Vehicle Code Regulations re: Political Protests: The Case For RUN THEM ALL DOWN!!”Report

  5. Avatar Saul Degraw
    Ignored
    says:

    I don’t understand that TikTok video. As someone born in 1980, I do get frustrated that it feels like the Boomers take up all the oxygen in the room when it comes to politics and people my age are still stuck at the political equivalent of the kids’ table despite having jobs, mortgages, children of our own. I’ve seen people argue that Boomers did not really become the political majority until 1992. This might be true but the Boomers are such a large cohort that the youngest of them are still going to be around in 10-20 years. They will be old but still around. The youngest boomers are currently in their mid-50s. The oldest are in their early to mid 70s.Report

  6. Avatar Saul Degraw
    Ignored
    says:

    No Good Answers, pandemics and universities. A lot of colleges and universities sure do appear to be working with a lot of fantasy and wishful thinking regarding school this fall. There are two kinds of fantasy:

    1. Students will willingly play tens of thousands of dollars for Zoom classes. This is the decision of Harvard Law and it appears to be backfiring. The elite schools are just as much, if not more, about networking and zoom learning makes this hard.

    2. They can reopen and students, especially undergrads, will be as good about social distancing and not have fun.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/15/opinion/coronavirus-college-safe.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

    “My pessimistic prediction is that the college and university reopening strategies under consideration will work for a few weeks before their effectiveness fizzles out. By then, many students will have become cavalier about wearing masks and sanitizing their hands. They will ignore social distancing guidelines when they want to hug old friends they run into on the way to class. They will venture out of their “families” and begin partying in their hallways with classmates from other clusters, and soon after, with those who live on other floors, in other dorms, or off campus. They will get drunk and hang out and hook up with people they don’t know well. And infections on campus — not only among students, but among the adults who come into contact with them — will begin to increase.”Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq
      Ignored
      says:

      Harvard Law not only wanted people to pay full price for zoom classes, they made the outrageous suggestion that students should rent out office space for maximum studying. That would make Online Harvard Law much more expensive than Campus Harvard Law and without the social benefits.

      For number 2, adults aren’t proving good at social distancing and not having fun. From what I can tell, New Yorkers are using the nice summer weather to take what is happened in bars and restaurants and two the streets. A poster on another blog said that Tompkins Square Park was a crowded outdoor cocktail party over the weekend. If adults can’t do it, I’m not sure why we expect young people to maintain proper social distancing.Report

  7. Avatar BeauSays
    Ignored
    says:

    Let’s talk about what it means to be a Republican. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5bUwzgIt4ywReport

  8. Avatar Chip Daniels
    Ignored
    says:

    Gun-toting Trump supporters attack George Floyd protesters in rural Ohio town
    “Around 3:30, the… counterprotesters?, started walking down on the other side of the street from up town, yelling obscenities and threatening us,” wrote demonstrator Abbi Remers, whose brother was punched and knocked to the ground.”A few started coming over and ripping signs out of our hands, ripping the hats and masks off of our faces, ripping things out of our pockets. Then they started surrounding us.”

    The counter protesters assaulted some of the demonstrators and screamed at the group to go back to Cincinnati, which is about 30 miles west of the rural Clermont County village.

    Police stood by as the protesters interfered with the demonstration, which ended up drawing up to 800 people, and demonstrators felt threatened by the armed group.

    Police stood by.

    This is one thing we don’t talk enough about, is how it is the police themselves who decide when a crime has occurred or not.
    The decision whether or not to confront a citizen, whether or not to arrest them, is an arbitrary decision that the officer gets to make.

    In this case, the officers decided to allow crimes to be committed, but not act. So therefore the police blotter for this day will forever record that no crimes occurred.

    The very basic raw data of policing- “How many crimes occur?” is itself polluted by racial bias.Report

  1. June 16, 2020

    […] and streams of police in the streets cracking heads of protesters and criminals alike, and more controversial officer-involved shootings sure to continue, normal folks’ heightened awareness of policing issues and the social issues […]Report

  2. July 1, 2020

    … [Trackback]

    […] Read More: ordinary-times.com/2020/06/15/harsh-your-mellow-monday-no-good-answers-edition/ […]Report

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