Kim Potter Found Guilty in Killing of Daunte Wright

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 Yonder and Home. Andrew is the host of Heard Tell podcast.

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197 Responses

  1. Dark Matter
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    says:

    Wow. How the world has changed.Report

  2. Jaybird
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    says:

    Actually going to a Grand Jury makes all the difference in the world.Report

  3. North
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    says:

    Good.Report

  4. Oscar Gordon
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    says:

    I’m glad to see some juries are starting to be more critical of these cases. Although I worry that if the trend continues, police and DAs will just strive to obscure and avoid bringing charges. Public outcry needs to keep it up.Report

  5. Brandon Berg
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    says:

    Maybe there are some critical facts that I’m losing, but when I read an account of what happened here, it seems to me like a mistake anyone could have made. All of the circumstantial evidence suggests that she really did intend to use her taser and got mixed up, possibly due to holding a piece of paper in her left hand.

    This is the kind of mistake that people make all the time—Potter just had the misfortune to have made it in a situation with especially high stakes. We might as well throw a surgeon in prison for a slip of the hand.

    How does this rise to the level of criminal negligence that merits a sentence of six to fifteen years?Report

    • InMD in reply to Brandon Berg
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      says:

      It’s a negligence standard.Report

      • Brandon Berg in reply to InMD
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        says:

        I understand that, and in fact used the term “negligence” in the last sentence of my earlier comment. I don’t see a tenable argument that it applies here. Negligence requires a certain element of awareness that you’re doing something inappropriately dangerous and a conscious decision to proceed with this course of action.

        To use driving as an example, speeding through a school zone at 50 mph while weaving in between lanes is reckless driving. Pedal misapplication (accidentally hitting the gas when you meant to hit the brakes), to the best of my knowledge, is generally not classified as such. It’s a muscle memory malfunction, not a conscious decision to engage in reckless behavior. Going back to the surgeon example, there’s a vast gulf in culpability between a conscious choice to disregard established safety procedures and a slip of the hand, even if either may lead to the death of a patient.

        This looks an awful lot more to me like a muscle memory error than negligence or recklessness. Was there an established safety procedure to prevent gun-taser mix-ups that Potter neglected to follow?Report

        • InMD in reply to Brandon Berg
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          says:

          Anything can be rationalized if that’s what we want to do. Or we can say carrying a weapon is a serious responsibility and expect people entrusted to do so to get it right.

          Also worth noting this is not a murder charge. Based on what’s been reported about MN sentencing she is likely to get 6-8 years, probably towards the lower end. I don’t see that as running up too hard against what’s just for killing a guy without justification.Report

          • Swami in reply to InMD
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            From my limited grasp of human nature the actual outcome here will (once again) be to discourage cops from interacting with blacks.

            If a cop knows that a serious error with a black suspect will destroy their life, one logical conclusion is to reduce any interactions with black suspects.

            If I was a surgeon and I knew that rare errors are possible (and they are), and that any error that harmed a black person, and only a black person, would lead to my imprisonment, then I would set up my practice as far from black neighborhoods as I could.

            When the BLM riots first broke out, I predicted less policing of black communities and substantially more murders within black communities. I predict this will just amplify the trend.

            I know some people are celebrating this verdict. I find this both odd and even a bit perverse.Report

            • Chip Daniels in reply to Swami
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              says:

              … the actual outcome here will (once again) be to discourage cops from interacting with blacks.

              Good.

              I notice that almost all of these outrageous cases were sparked by the most petty trivial infractions (selling loosies, broken taillights) for which most white people would never even have been engaged.

              If a cop notices a black motorist driving with expired tags and chooses not to pull him over, then just for that one moment, the black guy will experience what it is to be white.Report

              • InMD in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                White people aren’t stopped for traffic infractions? Really?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to InMD
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                says:

                I was stopped once. But I was let off with a warning.

                I had jury duty two months later, though.Report

              • Philip H in reply to InMD
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                says:

                Yes, really. Its illegal to drive with a cracked windshield, especially where the crack crosses the driver’s line of sight. My wife has been driving a car just like that around town for nearly a year (because she doesn’t want to spend the funds to get it fixed). Its statistically improbable she has never been seen in this state by a cop, and yet she has never been stopped or ticketed, much less warned.Report

              • InMD in reply to Philip H
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                says:

                So your wife’s good fortune proves white people are never pulled over for traffic infractions? Do you really believe that?Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to InMD
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                says:

                Infractions? No, but I do think police are more likely to look for an excuse to pull over a minority person. So it’s not that white/Asian people don’t get pulled over, it’s that black/Hispanic people get pulled over for whatever the cop can dream up so they have an excuse to run IDs, look for other pretense / probably cause to search, etc.Report

              • InMD in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                says:

                If the assertion is that there are times traffic infractions are used as a pretext for profiling, including of the racial variety, then sure, I agree. My issue is the need some people seem to have to make obviously untrue assertions in service of reform. Insisting on saying transparently stupid things does not move the ball. It just makes people who support reform sound stupid.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to InMD
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                says:

                Its very well documented that police stop nonwhite people at far greater rates for similar infractions.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                If the case were sparked by murder, or attempted murder (see previous link), then they wouldn’t be outrageous.

                They speak of what you select for in a very large data set. Since they’re extreme outliers, they don’t reflect anything like “normal”.

                This has implications. The biggest and worst is we can push down some of these outliers at the cost of making “normal” worse.

                Black victimhood will increase and be worse off because their victimizers are normally also black and the police view it as too risky to get involved.Report

              • Swami in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                You are assuming the police interaction is counterproductive for the community. This is the assumption of the defund the police movement.

                My assumption is that the vast majority of police interaction is productive, especially in extremely high crime areas. Therefore, people in high crime areas benefit immensely from police interaction. It makes their community safer, reduces organized crime and gang activity and reduces gun violence and murder rates by an appreciable amount.

                If you are right, then we probably should defund the police, and we can expect to see fewer arrests and less violent crime in black communities.Report

            • Mike Schilling in reply to Swami
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              says:

              Why do you think killing a white person wouldn’t also be taken seriously?Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Mike Schilling
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                says:

                I’m having trouble thinking of a reason that would pass muster in polite company, but maybe Swami will enlighten us.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to CJColucci
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                says:

                My expectation is the police NEVER want to go to prison and the system largely reflects that. I.e. they never investigate these seriously short of a riot.

                We had riots over this one, ergo it was taken seriously. There are no riots over killing whites, ergo they’re not taken seriously.Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Dark Matter
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                says:

                Maybe white people should riot about police killings of white people. It’s not as though they lack the skills, which are now wasted on such things as mask mandates and electoral counts.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to CJColucci
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                says:

                The amount of economic damage to your local community from a riot is very high.

                The police killing someone is extremely low. Killing some innocent much lower than that.Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Dark Matter
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                says:

                So white people just have a better, shall we say, perspective on police killings of white folk than black people have on police killings of black folk?Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to CJColucci
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                says:

                White people lack the “genocide” narrative and the history.

                “Better” is a subjective term.

                Maybe it’s worthwhile and justified to burn down many buildings and claim genocide when some rapist gets shot while resisting arrest.

                However even if it is justified, that has a cost in destroyed jobs and economic opportunity.

                Another way to view this narrative is “trauma porn”. While it’s great at getting mouse clicks and eyeballs, it’s also traumatizing people.Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Dark Matter
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                says:

                This is the point where Professor Younger would tell the examiner to sit down and shut up.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to CJColucci
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                says:

                I’m sure he’d say something like “sit down and shut up before you answer this one and alienate some of the jury. Being right on the facts won’t change that”.

                However that doesn’t change that we have two issues here, not one. The first is police reform. The second is trauma porn.

                The second one isn’t going away even if the first one happens.Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Dark Matter
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                says:

                No, Prof. Younger wouldn’t say anything like that because his advice is to the questioner, not the answerer. The answerer can alienate the jury all he wants. When that happens, the questioner should, at the appropriate point, just get out of the way.Report

              • Swami in reply to Mike Schilling
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                says:

                My understanding is that when a cop accidentally kills someone that the normal response would be disciplinary action of some type. Loss of job, suspension, etc.

                My take on this case is that her punishment has been elevated to manslaughter due to the fact that the victim of her negligence was black. My guess is this is what many cops will think too.

                If this Is what cops take from the case, then the net result will be less law enforcement in the mostly black communities with the highest crime rates. The net losers will be those living in these communities.Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Swami
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                says:

                Negligent homicide has been on the books for far longer than anyone here has been alive, and has been applied pretty regularly with victims of all colors.The evidence in this case showed a by-the-numbers negligent (possibly even reckless) homicide. If it is really your take that negligent homicide committed by cops gets prosecuted only when the victim is black, you’ll need to show your work. Unless you think it would be too embarrassing.Report

              • Swami in reply to CJColucci
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                says:

                Check the attitude, please. A dialogue can be productive.

                Yes, I think in THIS case that she would have never been convicted of manslaughter if the victim had been anyone other than a black. I believe she is being made an example of. Yes that is just an opinion, but it is irrelevant to my argument.

                My fear is that many cops and police chiefs will share my opinion and will react in ways which are counterproductive to the well being of our black communities.Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Swami
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                says:

                Is there some reason you won’t tell us why — like with actual reasons — you think Potter would have gotten a pass if she’d killed a white guy? That might spark a “dialogue.”Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Swami
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                Or the police could, you know, not kill people accidentally. We’ll see what, if anything, comes from this.

                A 14-year-old who was in a California department store dressing room with her mother was killed Thursday when police fired at a man suspected of attacking a woman in the store, authorities said.

                One of the shots penetrated a wall and struck the girl, Los Angeles Police Department Assistant Chief Dominic Choi told reporters during a news conference.

                https://www.cnn.com/2021/12/23/us/north-hollywood-burlington-police-shooting-teen-shopper-killed/index.htmlReport

              • Swami in reply to Mike Schilling
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                says:

                What are you thinking the term “accident” means?Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Swami
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                I think if a civilian was the shooter trying to stop an attack, and they killed a bystander, they would probably stand trial.

                They would stand a good chance of being acquitted, depending on the facts, because there is usually a forgiving clause in most self defense statutes regarding injury or death of a bystander (i.e. if you were legitimately defending yourself and caused the death of another, and negligence or recklessness was not a factor, you get a pass).

                But a jury would make that call.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Swami
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                says:

                Not trying, at that moment, to kill them. Firing negligently through an interior wall is a good example.Report

            • InMD in reply to Swami
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              says:

              That’s a whole lot of gymnastics and extrapolation on what is actually a pretty straightforward point. If you’re going to use a weapon make sure it’s the right one.Report

              • PD Shaw in reply to InMD
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                Cops avoiding certain neighborhoods is long established:

                “The ACLU of Illinois filed a lawsuit in October 2011 to challenge the long-time practice of failing to ensure that police are deployed equitably across the City of Chicago’s many diverse neighborhoods, resulting in delayed police responses to emergency calls in neighborhoods with higher minority populations. Neighborhoods with significant ethnic minority populations in Chicago are more likely to have slower response rates to emergency calls and higher rates of serious violent crimes, as compared to predominately white neighborhoods. Overall, in July 2013, residents in minority districts waited approximately twice as long for an officer to be dispatched to calls where life or property were in danger.”

                https://www.aclu-il.org/en/cases/cana-v-city-chicagoReport

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to PD Shaw
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                There is also the fun bit that when they do respond, everyone is treated as a criminal.
                https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/watchdog/story/2021-12-17/claim-san-diego-police-tackled-arrested-man-on-crutchesReport

              • InMD in reply to PD Shaw
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                I don’t see the connection. Are you saying we have to chose either decent standards of police service, which per your article it seems like aren’t being provided everywhere anyway, and imposing consequences on state agents who shoot people for no reason? I mean my expectations of the government are pretty low but if that’s where we are then maybe the abolish police thing makes more sense than I thought. Pretty sure that’s not the case though.Report

              • PD Shaw in reply to InMD
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                The natural proclivity for law enforcement is to avoid high crime areas, which are the areas that would most benefit from policing. I don’t agree with Swami’s particular analogies, but police presence deters crime, and its not natural for the police to be in high crime neighborhood, they had to be subjected to a court order here (which I think they are no longer following and ACLU is too scared to enforce under the current climate).

                Shooting for “no reason”? I thought this was a discussion of negligence?Report

              • InMD in reply to PD Shaw
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                This situation is about negligence.

                But I still don’t see where you’re going here. As I said back at the beginning if we want to rationalize the police being able to do (or not do) whatever they want, never be held to any sort of standards, and largely eliminate avenues of redress when they screw up or engage in misconduct we certainly can. I just don’t see a convincing argument that we should, or should continue to.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to InMD
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                says:

                Do we want to err on the side of cops being too exuberant or on the side of cops not being exuberant enough?

                Note: All this has happened before, and all this will happen again.Report

              • Swami in reply to InMD
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                So you don’t agree that cops will take this and other recent cases as feedback to avoid/minimize the policing of blacks (and black communities), as it is too risky? Did you also not believe that BLM would lead immediately to less policing?

                I would certainly see it as an unintended consequence, but in no way unanticipated.

                Oddly enough my grandfather was killed in error. The nurse mixed up his tubes in the hospital. I certainly believe the hospital and the nurse should have faced discipline. I do not believe the nurse should have gone to prison though.Report

              • InMD in reply to Swami
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                If they do it speaks to their inability to perform as public servants. They should be terminated and replaced with people better suited to the job.

                My mind isn’t closed to the possibility that there are better ways to handle this sort of thing. Maybe if enough police start going to prison the unions will be open to some, and lobby those that write the laws and contracts accordingly. Until then there really isn’t much choice. That article Oscar posted down below is a great illustration of why.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to InMD
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                We don’t have the ability to simply eliminate never events. Giving Billions of opportunities for something to go wrong with a process that involves human complexity, it will occasionally go wrong.

                Do we want the police to risk having never events or do we not want that?

                Now if you want to outlaw the unions, I’m great with that. If, after we do that, we fire anyone with a dozen (?) civilian complains we’ll probably cut the number of these things in half.

                But reducing the number of never events won’t prevent the media from grabbing the worst of the remaining events and proclaiming it’s the average.Report

              • InMD in reply to Dark Matter
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                I don’t think there will ever be a world totally free of police incidents. I do think we’d have fewer of them if when they happened they were dealt with in a way that put the interest of the public above that of the officer. The media will always sensationalize but I do not think it would be nearly as explosive as its become if there was consistent discipline and a reliable avenue for harmed people to recover for police incompetence and misconduct.

                Nothing that I believe about this issue is IMO particularly radical. It’s just a matter of good government.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to InMD
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                It’s just a matter of good government.

                In every local community in the entire USA.

                Although to be fair if the 40 largest cities did it then we’d probably be done or close to it.Report

              • Oscar gordon in reply to Dark Matter
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                See my link downthread about the shooting in Redmond, WA. Redmond is not a big city (pop: 65K), yet they are stonewalling the County Sheriff so hard the sheriff detectives admit they can not build a case because the officers involved and the local PD are utterly un-cooperative.

                IMHO, the 40 largest cities doing it might help, but it would be better if the states had the power (& honestly they do, because states are sovereign, not counties or cities) to just come in and kick over entire departments until it was satisfied it had done it’s due diligence, and any stonewalling was met with the same kind of leveraging that LE uses for bunkered defendants.

                But nope, everyone treats the Union contract as sacrosanct, and even do stupid crap like back it up with LE Bill Of Rights laws.

                So it will take more than the top 40 falling in line.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Oscar gordon
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                So it will take more than the top 40 falling in line.

                Measured by population (especially black population) and the number of dead bodies created, the top 40 (ish) is the bulk of the problem.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Dark Matter
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                My point is that structurally, the top 40 cities can’t do that without a higher level applying pressure. No cop is going to work for such a city when they could get sweet job security outside of the city. And no Cop Union is going to agree to it without that threat.Report

              • Swami in reply to InMD
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                Firing Potter or the nurse that killed my grandfather are reasonable alternatives, imo.

                Setting an example to influence unions by sending someone to prison is a dangerously indirect way to hope for change. As I have belabored, I believe the most likely outcome isn’t better policing, it is less policing for black neighborhoods. And I believe these are terrible outcomes for black neighborhoods.

                NOTE TO ALL: yes, I could be wrong, I understand this. The point I am trying to make is that some of us think this is bad justice and that the victims will once again be black people in black neighborhoods. I am aware that this type of thinking gets me kicked out of all future woke cliques. Hope my sharing an alternative view is appreciated nevertheless.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Swami
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                As I’ve said elsewhere in these threads, if firing Potter and pulling her credentials was something that could be done in a straightforward manner without a criminal conviction, we’d have fewer issues.

                But PDs and Unions have gamed the system such that while the occasional dismissal happens, pulling credentials almost never happens without a conviction, so the bad cop just goes to another LEA, or gets reinstated via mediation.Report

              • Swami in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                I basically agree with your critique of the system. If the work-around further wrecks black communities though, would you still approve?Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Swami
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                Yes

                Reform is needed, and if the police can sabotage reform just by choosing to not do their jobs in certain places, then reform will never happen.Report

              • InMD in reply to Swami
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                Just to echo Oscar’s point, if left to their own devices the police would kick her off the force, never allow her to be a cop anywhere else ever again, and refrain from shielding her from lawsuits then maybe criminal prosecution would be less important.* But that’s not the world we live in. The police themselves and their political allies have made sure of that.

                *We should not forget that a man is dead because of her incompetence. Whenever that happens prosecution should be considered even if it it isn’t always done.Report

    • Dark Matter in reply to Brandon Berg
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      There was a suggestion on Fox that the law for 1st Degree Man be changed to exclude this but even with that 2nd would be waiting in the wings.

      The part that surprises me is Wright was arguably playing a stupid game in resisting arrest (repeatedly) and thus won a stupid prize.Report

      • Slade the Leveller in reply to Dark Matter
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        Of course there was.

        Why is it we expect absolutely no care by the police?Report

        • Brandon Berg in reply to Slade the Leveller
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          What specific 100%-reliable precaution do you think she should have taken to avoid this outcome?Report

          • Oscar Gordon in reply to Brandon Berg
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            My guess (which is admittedly uninformed of what evidence was produced by the DA) is that people are getting tired of police deciding that standing near a car that starts moving is a justification for shooting or tazing a person (& let’s be honest, shocking the hell out of a person with their foot on the gas and the car in gear runs a good risk of them flooring it while being unable to steer, thus introducing more danger, which seems to be a favorite pastime of police).Report

            • Dark Matter in reply to Oscar Gordon
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              My impression is no one has questioned the idea of tazing him and the car wasn’t in gear at that time (although Wright was in the process of changing that).Report

            • Chip Daniels in reply to Oscar Gordon
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              We always hear people object and say “What if from now on the cops hesitate before shooting?”

              To which I am thinking, yeah, maybe they should.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels
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                “What if from now on the cops hesitate before shooting?”

                To which I am thinking, yeah, maybe they should.

                Then Tionna Bonner would be dead.

                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Killing_of_Ma%27Khia_BryantReport

              • Kazzy in reply to Dark Matter
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                Are we sure they didn’t hesitate and then shoot?

                Hesitate vs shoot is a false dichotomy.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Kazzy
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                “ As Officer Reardon arrived at the home, surveillance footage from multiple angles showed several people in the driveway, including Bryant, who had emerged from behind the house. Reardon can be heard saying, “Hey. What’s going on?” Bryant then pushed Craig-Watkins[19] in front of Reardon and fell over her. Bryant’s father tried to kick Craig-Watkins.[1] Reardon drew his service pistol and shouted “Hey!” four times.[20]

                Brandishing a knife, Bryant then lunged toward Bonner,[19] and pinned her to a car.[2][3][4] Reardon yelled at Bryant “Get down!” multiple times.[20] As Bryant reached back with the knife, Reardon fired four shots, striking Bryant,[21] who collapsed on the driveway.[22]”

                Hm… seems maybe the officer did show some restraint.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Kazzy
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                From the reactions of various people, you’d think there was a world filled with alternatives and other ways to handle it.

                This was the top link the first time I looked: https://www.vox.com/22406055/makhia-bryant-police-shooting-columbus-ohioReport

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Dark Matter
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                How often do the police take lethal action in order to directly save an innocent life (as opposed to a perceived threat to their own or a fellow officer)? You often talk about how these police violence cases are edge cases, and then you drag an even further edge case in as a rebuttal?Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                If cherry picking is fair play then I get to do it too.

                How often do the police take lethal action in order to directly save an innocent life (as opposed to a perceived threat to their own or a fellow officer)?

                I’ve no clue. Do all these mass shooters who kill themselves the moment the cops show up count?

                My strong impression is these sorts of cases don’t normally make the news because they don’t match the desired narrative; We wouldn’t know about this one if it didn’t originally present as “cop shoots unarmed female black child”.

                “Not match the narrative” isn’t the same thing as uncommon in police shootings, although sane innocents would normally flee the scene if given the chance.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Dark Matter
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                Thing is, when police save an innocent, it makes the news. The police love to publicize such stories, and the media is happy to run with them, since it gets them brownie points when it comes to access to the police, and the public eats those up.

                So those kinds of stories don’t get buried because of narrative. Now perhaps the Twitterati isn’t keen on blowing those up, but that’s not the same as the media.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                Thing is, when police save an innocent, it makes the news.

                Local news. Especially if there’s a police dog involved.

                Since most cops don’t have dogs, you can take the number of stories you read about that and multiple it by the ratio.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Dark Matter
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                Fair point (type “police save” into google and it’s all local stations).Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Dark Matter
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                Although, part of the reason it is local news is because it’s the expectation. People expect the police to do heroics, because that is what they are paid for. Kinda like how a doctor saving a life isn’t news.Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                Man bites dog is news. Dog bites man isn’t.
                And either way, it’s a local story, or non-story, unless you have some funny video.Report

            • Oscar Gordon in reply to Oscar Gordon
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              An alternative take – I think we can all agree that this was an accidental death. So why is it a criminal matter? Mainly because it can not be a civil matter. There is no path for the Wright family to seek a civil remedy in court. Because of that, the pressure shifts to the DA to pursue it as a criminal matter.Report

              • InMD in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                My somewhat contrarian take at least among team reform is that most of these episodes feel* more like negligence or gross negligence than murder. You start to see the same patterns. Lazy investigation, bad training, improper weapons handling, lack of procedure, questionable incentives, and cavalier attitudes about use of force. But then to your point there’s a web of law and bureaucracy weighing heavily against any kind of corrective.

                *Obviously feelings are not a legal analysis.Report

          • Slade the Leveller in reply to Brandon Berg
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            This response is a complete non sequitur.Report

            • Brandon Berg in reply to Slade the Leveller
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              Not at all. You complained, in the context of discussing this specific case, about people expecting “absolutely not care” from the police. This implies that there’s some precaution you believe that Potter should have taken that would have prevented this outcome. What precaution was that?Report

              • Slade the Leveller in reply to Brandon Berg
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                Like not drawing her gun when she meant to pull out her taser?Report

              • Brandon Berg in reply to Slade the Leveller
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                The whole point of my objection here is that this is not something that’s under conscious control. She made a conscious decision to pull out and fire her taser, but due to the imperfections of the human brain, this resulted in her pulling out and firing her pistol instead.

                This kind of mistake happens to all of us from time to time, but most of us are fortunate enough to make them in situations where the negative consequences are minimal. For example, why don’t you just type every word correctly every time?

                In an ideal world, cops would go through an 11-point safety checklist before firing a taser or gun, the way surgeons do before surgery. Unfortunately, in situations where firing a weapon is appropriate, there’s rarely enough time to do this.

                When I asked you for a precaution she could have taken to prevent this outcome, you replied only by restating the outcome you would like to prevent.

                Again, how would you prevent this from happening? The standard precaution is to holster the gun and taser on opposite sides, so that they’re drawn with different hands. She was doing that.

                The best solution I can think of is to redesign tasers so that they use a different grip and trigger mechanism from a gun, e.g. like a flashlight. I don’t know how well this would work, but it seems like it should help. This is entirely out of the hands of individual police officers, though, and it’s inappropriate to hold individual officers criminally responsible for a rare but predictable consequence of a design flaw.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Brandon Berg
                Ignored
                says:

                Again, how would you prevent this from happening?

                Left/Right training courses. Perhaps prevent those who cannot pass them from carrying weapons.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                I seriously doubt we have any way to detect who needs training.

                I am strongly Right handed. For years I always had to stop and think about which was which. However toss me a ball and I always use my right hand to catch it.

                So… do I need training or not?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                We’re in this weird place where we have tension between prosecutors like Chesa who are blind to fashionable crimes and only upset about unfashionable ones and police officers (and defenders) who take the attitude that “you can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs” when it comes to cops committing first- and second-degree manslaughter.

                The proper response to a cop shooting someone instead of tazing someone is not to play the “Pobody’s Nerfect” card.

                Maybe, possibly, if we lived in a universe where Kim Potter was immediately fired and blacklisted from police work, then *MAYBE* we could compare her making a mistake with which kinetic police enhancement to utilize when subduing a alleged perp to someone making typos when writing a comment.

                But we, instead, live in this one where the only way to get Kim Potter off of the force is to put her in prison.

                And so here we are.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                My expectation is if you have made that mistake once then you’re likely to do it again so blacklisting is a fine solution.

                Actually Man 2 (assuming Man 1 requires intent) is also a fine solution.

                Big picture a lot of these more outrageous cases seem to come from cops with a history of problematic behavior. Getting rid of the bottom 1% probably deals with a lot of the issues… but our media seems determined to find the worst case and showcase it as normal and that’s not going away.

                We already live in a world where this is mind-numbingly rare. The big problem is every time it happens it traumatizes a good hunk of our population, and reducing the number of cases won’t change that.

                Something will always be “worst”. We probably can’t eliminate it.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                And yet hospitals still have a list of things that they call “Never Events”.

                You’d think that we’d be able to agree that maybe cops oughtn’t mix up their tazers and their guns.

                But, apparently, we don’t to the point where the only way to get rid of a cop who does is to throw her in prison.Report

              • Michael Cain in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Yeah, but the vast majority of things on the official US list are things that can be eliminated by meticulous record keeping and double- and triple-checking specific items without time pressure. Eg, #1 on the list is never do artificial insemination with the wrong donor egg or donor sperm.

                None of the things on the hospital never list cover things like the trauma surgeon and a patient with three bullet wounds and collapsing blood pressure.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Michael Cain
                Ignored
                says:

                I don’t mind comparing “can’t tell a taser from a gun” to “artificial insemination with the wrong gamete”.

                I’m actually quite pleased to do that.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                And as I was feeding the cats I realized that there are probably defenses out there that would get me to waver.

                Had Kim said “I was in fear for my life and in fear for my partner, we told Mister Wright to stop resisting multiple times and instead of complying he grew more and more violent and I had a judgment call to make and I made it and I went home that night and my partner went home that night.”

                I’d have to say “man, that’s a tough one!”

                If the defense is “I couldn’t tell my right from my left and I can’t tell the difference between a feather-light taser and a heavy cold steel handgun! Whoopsy Doodle!”, then I’m in a place where I’m asking “only manslaughter? They charge accessories to a crime where a perp got shot BY THE COPS with more than that. What the heck?”Report

              • Michael Cain in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                I don’t mind comparing “can’t tell a taser from a gun” to “artificial insemination with the wrong gamete”.

                The equivalent to the hospital solutions to never events for the police would be — at least in this case — give them a taser, or give them a gun, but don’t let them out on the street with both. Eliminate in advance the possibility of making a bad choice under stress and time pressure.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Michael Cain
                Ignored
                says:

                Eliminate in advance the possibility of making a bad choice under stress and time pressure.

                Very well put. +1Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Michael Cain
                Ignored
                says:

                A quick google search shows that wrong donor mistakes are a thing.

                For that matter leaving objects in a patient in trauma surgery is still a never event.

                Never events happen. Some are so common that they don’t make the news.

                Now typically we don’t jail medical staff who do these sorts of things. It’s not even clear to me that we take their licenses.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                And yet hospitals still have a list of things that they call “Never Events”.

                We’re stepping into my job here.

                A “never event” is something that SHOULD never happen. It is NOT something that never happens.

                If memory serves, if we rely on human systems, objects (normally sponges) are left inside of a patent once out of ten thousand surgeries.

                That’s AFTER having someone whose job it is to count and after impressing on everyone just how bad this is, and having special counting systems.

                The world does something like 250 million surgeries a year. That means the number of “never” events (for just that type) is measured in the tens of thousands. Thousands in the US alone.

                There is a solution which is much better, i.e. computerized counters as a backup, but that’s only popped up in the last few years.

                These police “never” events are happening in levels that are probably LESS frequent than what we expect from doctors.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                My argument is not that “messing up one’s right and left and shooting someone instead of tasing them is something that never happens”. I agree that it happens.

                I just think that getting everybody to agree that it *SHOULDN’T* *EVER* happen is not that big of an ask.

                As for whether or not we should make exceptions for it, I’m okay with leaving that up to a jury.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                I just think that getting everybody to agree that it *SHOULDN’T* *EVER* happen is not that big of an ask.

                Everything involving humans fails, typically at predictable rates.

                That’s a truth we need to keep in mind.

                We can (and should) try to reduce those rates, but having realistic expectations is important.

                One potential outcome of Kim’s conviction is the police will taze less. Maybe they taze too much now and it won’t be an issue, maybe it will result in shooting more often.Report

              • InMD in reply to Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                If we’re going to do this comparison a key difference is how much easier it is to sue a hospital/provider for a ‘never event.’ They also can lose licenses to practice, be excluded from government reimbursement, be shut down or sanctioned by regulatory authorities, and even just suffer reputational harm that eventually puts them out of business. There are even scenarios where healthcare providers are themselves prosecuted and there isn’t nearly the conflict of interest created by the state prosecuting its own agents.

                Point being there are a lot of accountability and remediation mechanisms available in healthcare. It’s much narrower with law enforcement to the point that when these incidents occur there is often no remedy available at all. That’s a problem.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to InMD
                Ignored
                says:

                “Accountability” is an interesting word here. Far as I can tell, medical never events result in insurance settlements and the doctor isn’t personally held at fault unless he was drunk or high or did it deliberately.

                “Reputational harm” seems to apply equally well to a city, for that matter being forced to make deals with the Feds for reform loosely matches as well.

                If that’s the standard we use, then since Kim didn’t do anything deliberately, Daunte’s family sues the city and she gets to keep her job.

                Now that model has some advantages. Some of these are clearly process issues so examining the processes and changing them would be helpful.

                However a fair amount is “bad apples” and this does nothing about that.Report

              • InMD in reply to Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                You’ve never heard of a successful lawsuit or settlement for med mal or wrongful death where a patient dies? I also don’t see a comparison on the reputational issue. Cities and PDs don’t tend to go out of business, not in the way a bad healthcare provider can anyway. Same for the possibility of reactive US DOJ scrutiny. It’s not a parallel. If it was I think the temperature on these kinds of incidents with the police would be a lot lower.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to InMD
                Ignored
                says:

                Heard of it? Yes. However we have tens of thousands of never events per year.

                We do NOT fire doctors at that rate.

                Our “medical error death rate” may be as high as 250k people per year.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                And you can sue a doctor or hospital, and they have layers of insurance that will payout for a never event. Pretty reliably, too.

                Cities, counties, and states? They sometimes have insurance (often they don’t), and they have to agree to be sued (sovereign immunity), and the bar to go after the cop is unreasonably high (qualified immunity).

                And the feds are even worse.

                If the public wants justice, they’ll get it one way or another.

                Frankly, I’m surprised more bad cops don’t get dead by vengeful families.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                If it’s an over-reaction (& I agree that it may very well be so), then that is because you can’t get rid of even the bottom 1%, much less the bottom 5%, or 15%.

                So the pressure has to keep ramping up until something cracks and reform can happen.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                Yes, you need training. Regularly, constantly. Shooting is a perishable skill. You need to train that muscle memory often and well.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Brandon Berg
                Ignored
                says:

                redesign tasers so that they use a different grip and trigger mechanism from a gun, e.g. like a flashlight.

                I think you mean like Star Trek Next Gen weapons are designed.

                The show’s makers didn’t want guns to look like guns, but modern guns are build around the human hand.

                The level of accuracy NG guns should get should be extremely low. You need to contort your wrist and there’s no way to get a sighting.

                Now we can do that for a tazer and just accept lowered accuracy in exchange for never having it confused with a real gun, but we lose someone this way once a year or every other year.

                My expectation is “oops the tazer didn’t work I need to shoot him” situations would be the larger problem and get more people killed.Report

              • Slade the Leveller in reply to Brandon Berg
                Ignored
                says:

                To answer your question, and I have no idea if this was the case in Ofc. Potter’s case, one very easy to implement solution would be to have the gun holstered on the non-dominant hand side. If one is acting without thinking, the reflex will always be with the dominant side.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Slade the Leveller
                Ignored
                says:

                They have a picture of her tools belt on that link I have at the bottom.

                The taser was probably a Left Draw.

                Now with feet, we have the same foot use both the brake and the accelerator for a reason. We used to have left foot for gear shift and when that was change to a stick we tried one for each foot but that didn’t work well.

                So maybe instead of this left/right we do a cross draw?Report

              • Slade the Leveller in reply to Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                I think we’re saying the same thing. Gun holster on the left for a righty, on the right for a lefty. Make it at least a little hard to get to.Report

  6. Dark Matter
    Ignored
    says:

    Experts estimated to The Associated Press that instances in which officers mistake their handgun for a stun gun happen less than once per year. According to an article in Americans for Effective Law Enforcement, there have been nine documented instances since 2001.

    So, about one every other year.

    https://www.foxnews.com/us/kim-potter-trial-experts-sound-off-on-mistaking-handgun-for-taserReport

    • Swami in reply to Dark Matter
      Ignored
      says:

      Assume half of these accidents occur to a black person. We save one black person every four years by “making an example” of this mistake. I predict hundreds or thousands of unintended black victims due to increased murder rates. Sad. Hope I am wrong.Report

      • InMD in reply to Swami
        Ignored
        says:

        Considering the number of all homicides in the country is in the low 5 figures you’re very obviously wrong. And if a handful of officers getting in serious trouble for killing a person due to improper weapons handling causes others not to do their jobs it shows they were unfit to begin with. The lengths you’re going to defend deadly incompetence is incredible.Report

        • Dark Matter in reply to InMD
          Ignored
          says:

          Considering the number of all homicides in the country is in the low 5 figures you’re very obviously wrong.

          Murder rate has recently gone up by 30%. Police pull back is one of the big suspects for “why”.

          0.3 x 10k is 3k, so “thousands” is a very reasonable concern.Report

          • InMD in reply to Dark Matter
            Ignored
            says:

            Looking again I misread ‘hundreds or thousands’ as ‘hundreds OF thousands.’ So obviously a huge difference and an error on my part.

            Re: the increase in homicides it certainly merits concern. If blue flu or pull back or whatever is factoring into that (to be clear I think the jury is still very much out and we may never know for sure) then it says we have the wrong people acting as and running the police. We do not make these kinds of excuses for anyone else.Report

            • Oscar Gordon in reply to InMD
              Ignored
              says:

              Just imagine if doctors stopped treating rednecks because of a higher rate of malpractice lawsuits!Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                Isn’t it weird how the Ferguson effect never seems to happen to say, other government workers?

                “Oh, people have spent decades making jokes about lazy county road crews standing around watching one guy dig. So now that’s why they have stopped fixing potholes.”

                “Yeah, that’s why DMV workers are so slow. They’re protesting the lack of respect they get from the media.”

                “And don’t even get me started on why so many postal workers are becoming homicidal.”Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                There is a world of difference between “lack of respect” and “you will spend the rest of your life in prison if you have a bad roll of the dice dealing with the wrong skin color’ed person”.

                We are trying to force the police to have the same outcomes when dealing with sub-cultures with strong criminal elements as when they deal with sub-cultures that don’t.

                The obvious way, and maybe even the only way, for them to do that is to have less policing in high crime areas.

                If the police create high crime areas, then that will be fine. If the police aren’t at fault for various groups cultures, then not so much.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                Not same outcomes, same treatment.

                Did you read the link I posted about the black man in SD who called the police because he was assaulted, and the police immediately assaulted him because they assumed he was the criminal? I remember another case recently (out of FL, IIRC) where a black man called the police because his car was stolen, and they arrested him for car theft.

                The police make assumptions about certain things in black neighborhoods which impact how they interact with people in those neighborhoods. To quote Samuel L. Jackson as Mitch Henessey, “Everybody knows that when you make an assumption, you make an ass out of you and umption.”

                A whole lot of the issues we are having would evaporate if the police stopped acting on those assumptions (we’ll never stop them from making them, but we can insist they not overtly act on them).

                PS A whole lot of these issues would also evaporate if we ended, or severely rolled back, the War on Drugs.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                Not same outcomes, same treatment.

                The concept of and attention to Disparate impact suggests that’s not true.

                Agreed about the WoD. One of the more interesting points some police chief raised was the difference in arrest rates for low level drug dealers was blacks tended to sell in open air areas while whites tended to sell behind closed doors.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                Disparate impact != disparate treatment.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                same treatment = disparate impact.

                So with the WoD we end up with vastly different arrest rates for dealing because it’s easier to arrest open air dealing.

                And we also end up with the same police killing rates if they’re adjusted for number of interactions.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                I’ve provided multiple examples of police treating black people very differently with result of a significantly different (negative) outcome.

                You shouldn’t look at dealing, you should look at possession. Dealing might happen out in the open, but possession rarely is, yet black possession arrests are significantly hirer, because cops look for whatever excuse they can to search a black person. They assume a black person in a certain neighborhood is carrying, and act on that.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                You shouldn’t look at dealing, you should look at possession.

                The prison pipeline is largely filled with dealers, not users.

                “More than 99% of federal drug offenders are sentenced for trafficking,” according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

                https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/live-updates/general-election/fact-checking-the-first-democratic-debate/how-many-people-are-in-prison-on-marijuana-charges/

                Further, how often do we arrest on possession by itself anyway? If it’s normally part of a package, and we’re mostly arresting black dealers, then we’d expect that to be similarly lopsided.

                I’m all in favor of ending the war on drugs, but imho the effects on policing is small beer in that discussion. We’re giving Trillions of dollars to criminals and creating entire criminal business empires.

                The social disruptions should be expected to be absurdly huge, and they largely fall upon the poor.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                Let’s pretend the WoD is over, but we haven’t changed any of the other incentives police operate under, do you honestly think the police will stop finding minor things to harass and arrest poor people for?Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                I think the WoD is the BULK of the mis-incentives. What else is there?

                In Ferguson, we had the police as predatory fee collectors. IDK how common Ferguson is, one hopes it’s rare and doesn’t represent the top cities.

                After that we have the business community not wanting the homeless around nor petty criminals selling “loosies”.

                These seem like small matters unless I’m missing something big.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                The problem, as I see it, is we still have a police force that is largely over-militarized and strongly incentivized to make as many arrests as possible to justify their budgets (Tac Teams/SWAT are expensive!).

                So my guess is that absent the WoD, we will get more PDs like Ferguson, where they are full on predatory fee collection (& CAF) in order to pump up budgets.Report

              • Swami in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                See the comments below by DM and me. If construction crews believed they would serve prison time for fatal errors that happened to occur in black neighborhoods, there would be no workers in these neighborhoods.

                The narrative spin has been
                1. cops are racist killers
                2. Chauvin and Potter are proof cops are racist killers
                3. Prison sentences for these racist killers is justice

                If that narrative was being applied to any other profession, it would likely have the same result.

                Note — As usual, DM says it better than me.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Swami
                Ignored
                says:

                “3. Prison sentences for these racist killers is justice”

                As I and others have said, it’s justice ONLY because there is no other viable path towards justice. Imperfect justice is better than no justice at all.

                If the police don’t like option 3, they need to open up alternative paths. Right now, they’ve got them all closed off.Report

              • InMD in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                Stop stealing my points 3 minutes before I post them!Report

              • Swami in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                Got it. In your opinion, imperfect justice is better than none at all. In my opinion imperfect justice that destroys black communities is worse than none at all.

                It all revolves around what the longer term consequences are on policing and the relationship between police and communities.

                The better course, imo, is pursue proper justice.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Swami
                Ignored
                says:

                One has to ask, which is worse, over-policing, or under-policing? There comes a point where the police are doing more damage to the community than the community can do to itself.Report

              • Slade the Leveller in reply to Swami
                Ignored
                says:

                It was shot dead in the Republican majority Senate, if I recall correctly.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Slade the Leveller
                Ignored
                says:

                What is “it”?Report

              • Slade the Leveller in reply to Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                The QI reform bill.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Slade the Leveller
                Ignored
                says:

                You’d think that local governments would be able to do something, though.Report

              • Slade the Leveller in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                You would, wouldn’t you, except the courts seem to find novel exceptions to every lawsuit brought before them. I think your home state’s QI reform law is going to prove a very interesting test case, once it kicks in.Report

              • InMD in reply to Swami
                Ignored
                says:

                Who the heck cares about ‘the Narrative’? That’s woke silliness. If the police want to trade civil liability and permanent revocation of right to work as an LEO for some protections from criminal prosecution I think a lot of reasonable people would entertain that. Their actual position is that they should have no responsibility for anything, ever.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to InMD
                Ignored
                says:

                Who the heck cares about ‘the Narrative’?

                The rioters.

                That’s why I sometimes mention that the root of a batch of rioting was a rapist getting shot resisting arrest.

                The disconnect between the Narrative and the reality is sometimes vast and stark.Report

              • InMD in reply to Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                To me that’s a cop-out (no pun intended) that allows good policy to be perpetually held hostage by bad actors. It’s just a given that there are going to be bad and/or crazy people on any side of any issue.

                For the record I have no sympathy for the rioting whatsoever. It’s the wrong way to get reform, plain and simple, and I think it’s probably ruined the possibility of any progress.

                But there’s one place where the radicals do have kind of a little point. I used to hang out at Radley Balko’s old site in the early 2000s. He was documenting the problems with policing and militarization for years before there were riots or the media paid any attention to the issue. He had great writing, compelling policy recommendations and a totally reasonable outlook. And until Ferguson blew up no one paid attention or gave a damn about any of it.Report

              • Swami in reply to InMD
                Ignored
                says:

                “Who the heck cares about ‘the Narrative’?”

                The workers mentioned by Chip. If we propagate a narrative that errors count more when they happen to blacks, then everyone will avoid working with blacks. I am worried we are propagating such a narrative with cops. Time really will tell.

                Are you and Oscar saying that if this is the best justice we can get, then we will take it? That is what I am hearing, and I get it.

                What I am saying is that I would not sacrifice the welfare of the black community and sacrifice hundreds of black lives to punish someone for making a mistake that killed someone else. Seems penny wise and pound foolish. I guess I am being utilitarian in my choice, based upon uncertain outcomes.

                Good discussion though.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Swami
                Ignored
                says:

                Let me put this back on you – what can we possibly do to get justice for people who are wrongly killed by the police? Right now, not in some future when we’ve made X, Y, & Z changes.

                What is the path to justice for someone like Duante Wright?Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                If we’re going to use the medical model, then something like “compensation” funds and/or insurance for this sort of thing.

                Now if “justice” means “this person must go to prison”, then expect push back.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                Except those things don’t exist.

                Right now, today, if one of your daughters was killed by a cop (let’s say she was having a MH crisis and was killed for it), you might get a settlement from the city/county. You almost certainly would be unable to sue the officer or the department. And the chances of a criminal conviction for the cop would be very slim.

                So, today, Kim Potter getting convicted is less than ideal, but it’s the only justice legally available. I expect push back, and if that push back doesn’t involve offers to open up other avenues for justice, I’m going to ignore it, because it’s not serious.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                Except those things don’t exist.

                Right now, today, if one of your daughters was killed by a cop (let’s say she was having a MH crisis and was killed for it), you might get a settlement from the city/county.

                Your first statement disagrees with your second. A “settlement” is the same thing whether it’s from an insurance company or a city.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                A settlement from a city or county is not guaranteed, it’s not even a good bet. Cities don’t have to agree to be sued.Report

              • North in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                And, more importantly, the cops do not care even in the slightest if their community has to pay out through the nose for a settlement. If you could sue or discipline the cop? They’d pay attention to that. But the city? They couldn’t care less.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to North
                Ignored
                says:

                This is like saying doctor’s don’t care because their insurance covers things.

                It’s a different way to handle things. The medical model seems to handle the deaths of about a quarter of a million of people a year without causing civil meltdowns.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                Doctors do care, because they pay premiums for that insurance. The more often insurance has to pay out, the higher those premiums go.

                Now if cops had to carry liability insurance (rather than being indemnified by the government that hires them)…

                I will say that some smaller departments, that are part of smaller cities that can’t afford to pay multi-million dollar settlements, they carry insurance, and if the PD starts costing insurance, the city will suddenly find itself without insurance, and then it has to choose between insurance and a local PD.

                But counties and big cities can usually self-insure and have budgets that can absorb such hits.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                But counties and big cities can usually self-insure and have budgets that can absorb such hits.

                This is where politics and the union make things really stupid. Chicago pays stupid amounts of money for having their cops abuse people.

                Sane fiscal choices would suggest it’s way cheaper to just fire the bottom one to five percent.

                However the conversation at the moment is NOT “how to make cops care” and rather “how to make sure victims get compensated”.

                Keep in mind whatever system we end up at will still have people die in stupid ways. A billion encounters a year with people with guns and the duty to deal with uncertain situations ensures that.

                Worse, we’ve seen serious studies which suggest even brutal cops view killing someone as a life changing event that should be avoided at close to any cost.

                Cops already care about killing people, so any approach which assumes this will go away if they just care more is likely to fail.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                I always think of cops as having that bell distribution or ~15% are Big G-dDarn heroes, 70% are just doing the job as best they can, and 15% are your bullies/killers/sociopaths. Most of that 70% (and all of that top 15%) want to avoid killing anyone.

                That bottom 15+%, they are just looking for an excuse.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                That bottom 15+%, they are just looking for an excuse.

                Then they’re both stupid and not going a good job.

                We have about a million cops. They collectively kill about 1k people a year.

                So the average cop kills someone once every thousand years.

                If you subtract out of that 1k good shoots, the violent mentally ill, and suicide by cop, we get a smaller number.

                There’s no room in there for what you’re talking about.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                Probability doesn’t work like that and you know it. That bottom 15% isn’t just killers looking for an opportunity (& one can safely assume that very few interactions provide a viable opportunity), it’s also your bullies looking for a chance to put a beat down on someone, your rapists looking for an easy victim, and your sociopaths looking for every opportunity to advance themselves (& not caring what rights are violated in the process).Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                You’re moving the goal posts from “looking to kill” to “looking to abuse (their) power”.

                “Kill” we have pretty good data for and it looks like even the abusive cops view it as a problem for themselves.

                Abuse we have less good (but still solid) data but it’s seems to be a serious problem.

                Take Ferguson for the extreme. The police force was very abusive and predatory. The Mike Brown shooting was seriously investigated and all of the hard evidence says it was good.

                There is a good argument that the abuse drives the riots (and certainly a lack of trust), but the deaths which trigger the riots are a different problem.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                I’d say ‘kill’ is enabled by ‘abuse’. If we are unable to hold accountable the police abusing their power, even if those who abuse it are an significant minority, then it’s much, much harder to parse the handful of killings into tragedy and pathology.

                So yes, I agree. Mike Brown is seen as part of the pathology, because the abuse of power is seen by the public as behind everything. So even killings which would be unquestionably justified are questioned, because the assumption is that the abuse of police power was somehow driving the violence (either because the citizens don’t trust the police to treat them fairly, so they try to flee or fight; or because the police are always seen as escalating the situation, rather than trying to calm it down)

                Call it Critical Power Abuse Theory.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                I’d say ‘kill’ is enabled by ‘abuse’

                The numbers suggest otherwise. Abuse is a problem. Cops getting off after killing is a problem. Weirdly cops killing seems not to be.

                If the cops already view killing as a negative life changing event then we’re going to need to put a lot of work into the remaining.

                We could have cops spend a third of their time training, but that implies vastly more resources and (more importantly) would end up saving a bare handful of lives.

                I think the most cost effective thing would be to fire the bottom 1% or so. The politics is ugly but whatever.

                The good news is getting rid of the bottom 1% is a method that we see do good things in other industries. The bottom 1% of polluting cars may create more than half of pollution created by cars.

                Call it Critical Power Abuse Theory.

                More like, Critical Power Abuse Narrative.

                the abuse of power is seen by the public as behind everything

                Getting rid of abuse is a good thing and we should do it… but it’s also a scape goat.

                The lion’s share of inequality is created by other issues. For example as long as we have the War on Drugs, it’s always going to be easier to arrest open air drug dealers.

                The police are the messengers of social policy and a barometer of sub-culture differences.Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Swami
                Ignored
                says:

                If we propagate a narrative that errors count more when they happen to blacks, then everyone will avoid working with blacks. I am worried we are propagating such a narrative with cops.

                Who is this “we” of whom you speak? The only one suggesting that if Potter has killed a white man she would have skated is you. Why are you pushing a narrative that sacrifices the welfare of the black community and hundreds of black lives?Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to CJColucci
                Ignored
                says:

                We had riots because Potter killed a black. It seems likely that if Daunte had been white we wouldn’t have.

                So the question then becomes whether the riots and media attention are having any effects.Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                Damned uppity n*****s. But who really thinks Potter would have skated for killing a white man, with or without riots? And show your work.Report

              • Brandon Berg in reply to CJColucci
                Ignored
                says:

                I must have seen the word “uppity” used dozens if not hundreds of times in my life, but I can’t recall a single time when I’ve seen it used in any context other than an attempt to substitute a bad-faith accusation of racism for a substantive argument.

                It’s the Godwin’s Law of race discourse.Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Brandon Berg
                Ignored
                says:

                Then you haven’t seen much. Get out more.Report

              • Brandon Berg in reply to CJColucci
                Ignored
                says:

                Maybe the subtext wasn’t clear enough here. You tried to substitute a bad-faith accusation of racism for a substantive argument. Don’t do this. It’s trashy, and amounts to a concession that you have nothing indigent to say.

                Please try to be better than this in the future.Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Brandon Berg
                Ignored
                says:

                Subtext, hell, it was the text itself. You want substance, you can have substance. But be careful what you wish for.

                Potter was convicted of manslaughter, which, by definition, is non-intentional (negligent or reckless) homicide. The laws against negligent or reckless homicide are not some recent woke invention, or obscure statutes dusted off for a political purpose. They go back to the hanging judges of common-law England and are a staple of current criminal practice. Jack McCoy prosecuted one or two of them every season on Law and Order. The evidence made this case a by-the-numbers case of negligent or reckless homicide. Nobody seems to dispute that.

                Now for some reason some people seem to have a problem with the very concept of negligent or reckless homicide as a crime. There has been a lot of commentary about civil alternatives and the like. I have not engaged with these people. Chesterton’s gate and all that. They are entitled to their opinions, and I’m content to leave it at that.

                But then Swami asserted that Potter was prosecuted and convicted only because her victim was black. This seemed like an odd position to take because the criminal justice system is not otherwise known for being unusually solicitous of the plight of black victims. It struck me as unlikely in the extreme that had Potter shot a white man, rather than a black one, she would not have been prosecuted.

                I said as much and asked Swami, twice, what reasons he might have for thinking such a counter-intuitive thing. Crickets. So much for productive dialogue.

                Then Dark Matter chimed in, suggesting that this can be explained because black people riot when the cops kill black people, but white people don’t when cops kill white people. This, at least, is a causal theory that could be explored if, for example, cops who negligently or recklessly kill white folk routinely skate. But nobody has provided any evidence that this is so. Now this could be an artifact of small sample size, perhaps not enough shaky cop killings of white folk. That might explain why white people, who have no difficulty rioting over mask mandates or electoral counts, don’t bother to riot over such rarities. But no such evidence is on offer, only the thinly-veiled suggestion that white folk have a properly proportionate reaction to cop killings of white folk than black people do to cop killings of black folk for, well, reasons. When people suggest that white folk know how to act and black folk don’t, without explaining why, that is generally, though not infallibly, a sign. And I followed where the sign pointed.

                If Swami or Dark Matter want to explain themselves and lay out actual reasons, I’d be happy to engage them. That might be substantive.

                Is that “indigent” enough for you?Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to CJColucci
                Ignored
                says:

                this can be explained because black people riot when the cops kill black people,

                Not just “in general”. We had protests/riots over Kim Potter.

                The entire point of this thread is it’s unusual for police to be charged/convicted, in any situation.

                I can’t prove that Potter was charged because her victim was black, nor because there were riots, but I think it’s obvious the protests were because of that.

                To assert that the system would have worked exactly the same if Potter’s victim were white is to ignore both the riots and the ongoing problems with charging the police in general.

                You can raise the bar for what is acceptable evidence so high that I can’t find anything, but that puts you in this weird place where you’re claiming there are no issues charging the police.Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                I would consider “some” to be a good start toward getting to “acceptable.”Report

              • InMD in reply to Swami
                Ignored
                says:

                I can’t speak for Oscar but I see the racial aspects of this as a bit of a side show, and an increasingly counter-productive one at that. The primary problem is unaccountable, overly militarized government agents allowed to violate rights with impunity. Black people are harmed by it disproportionately to their share of the population but it can, and does, happen to all kinds.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to InMD
                Ignored
                says:

                I’ll 2nd all of that.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to InMD
                Ignored
                says:

                Concur!Report

              • InMD in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                Or quit doing construction or flying planes or any number of things that pose some danger to the public if not done properly.

                The funny thing about these conversations is I’m not even totally against the idea that police should get some special leeway in some circumstances. But you suggest that maybe they shouldn’t be able to just get away with egregious misconduct or major screw-ups where people get hurt or killed or have their property destroyed during routine work and people act like you’re out of your mind.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                Exactly!

                Only the police are special enough and well trained enough and professional enough to find the public opinion of their job performance so offensive that they refuse to perform their duties – and a large segment of the population is A-OK with that.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                Just imagine if doctors stopped treating rednecks because of a higher rate of malpractice lawsuits!

                10? years ago the real world issue for doctors was areas not having any obstetricians because the risk was too high.

                The police aren’t “special” for responding to incentives. Everyone does that. Blaming people for responding to incentives is a way to avoid looking at the whether the incentives are a good idea.

                “Risk” doesn’t have to mean “arrest”. Everyone wants a healthy baby, obstetricians can easily get blamed for when that doesn’t happen, if the insurance rates are too high then they flee or change jobs.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                The OB-GYN crisis is ongoing. That said, note the mechanism. OB-GYNs are not refusing to treat high-risk pregnancies, they are just exiting the field, and the med schools are not able to produce sufficient replacement. This suggests that OB-GYNs need a higher bar for bringing suit than other specialties (how much higher is obviously a point of debate).

                But the profession is not threatening (or even suggesting) to refuse to provide care to a given demographic. They are making the economic choice to exit.

                Police are not choosing to exit, they are choosing to shirk their duties to a specific demographic. Hell, if they were choosing exit, I’d be OK with that. That is a perfectly acceptable way to signal dissatisfaction with the employment environment.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                Police are not choosing to exit, they are choosing to shirk their duties to a specific demographic.

                Prelim data for murder rates suggest it’s up across the board. So the police may simply be avoiding “risky” behavior across the board which affects one demographic more than others because their crime rate is so much higher.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                The devil is in the details of how they are avoiding risky behavior. The problem we have is that the police are refusing to change how they behave towards a given demographic in order to reduce the risk to themselves, because they have convinced themselves (absent reliable data) that treating a given demographic more aggressively is necessary to protect themselves and do their jobs.

                Since they refuse to change their own behavior, instead they are simply shirking professional duties towards that demographic.

                The disconnect we have here is that too many see policing as simply a job, but it’s not. They are given guns, a monopoly on force, and the authority to use that force for arrest. They have duties and obligations that come with that power, and they can not simply choose to shirk those duties and obligations*.

                *This is why IMHO police should operate under something similar to the UCMJ.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                Since they refuse to change their own behavior, instead they are simply shirking professional duties towards that demographic.

                This assumes there is something they can do other than shirk. That there’s some behavior they can adopt which is going to work in all situations.

                That link to the 14 year old girl shot in a clothing store is a great example.

                The police were told they had an active shooter, they caught him walking away from one bloodied woman on the ground, their training currently is to shoot him now.

                And the kid changing her clothing out of view right behind him gets killed.

                To save her, the training should have been go more slowly, surround him, and so on. I.e. just like they used to before preventing active shooters became such a thing.

                Urgent action without perfect data is going to get people killed. Either because they’re holding back or because they’re not holding back.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                I think it’s entirely reasonable to demand that police verify that a person actually has a gun and is a threat with it before they actually open fire. I know the response is that the officers face greater risk by waiting to confirm, but, you know, that’s why they have the badge, and authority, and kevlar vest.

                And again, the police act upon an assumption. 911 reports shots fired, or that a person has a gun, it is reasonable for police to be aware of that and looking for it, but they also need to remember that what someone tells 911 is not necessarily accurate, and it’s part of their job to assess before acting. But they don’t want to, because their safety is more important than the safety of others.

                The thing is, I would rather the cop be at risk than the bystander.Report

              • Greg In Ak in reply to Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                Prelim data on violent crime shows we have no idea why the crime rates are doing what they are doing now. We don’t know and attempts to suggest a reason are fine but mostly based on wanting a preexisting narrative to be true.Report

              • Swami in reply to Greg In Ak
                Ignored
                says:

                Within days of the riots breaking out over what was clearly not racially motivated, I stated in this forum that I expected and worried that this would lead to more violence and higher murder rates in black communities. The next month this trend appears, to an extent which exceeded my worst fears.

                Like most things in social science, we can’t prove anything beyond all doubt. It certainly needs to be considered a legitimate possibility/risk though.Report

              • Greg In Ak in reply to Swami
                Ignored
                says:

                It’s an idea but the there is a lot of data that is weird and murder rates do not correlate well with the various political based theories. Consider it a theory but all that is lacking is much evidence to back it up.Report

              • Swami in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                Actually that was my example in my initial comment. i said if doctors believe that they will be made an example of and sent to prison for fatal errors made in treating black patients, and only black patients, the expected outcome would be for doctors and hospitals to set up their practice as far from black communities as possible. Those in black neighborhoods would be more likely to retire. Those unable to leave would stop doing risky procedures and so on. The intended consequences would be horrific, with the losers being blacks and their communities.

                I understand that predictions of complex outcomes is always uncertain. And I was not 100% certain that BLM outrage would lead to thousands of black deaths, though I argued that it was very likely. I am not 100% sure of the effects here either. But if I was betting on it, I would bet on an extremely negative outcome.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Swami
                Ignored
                says:

                See my comment to DM upthread.Report

            • Swami in reply to InMD
              Ignored
              says:

              But to be clear, DM, BB and I are in no way arguing for “making excuses”. My argument is that the appropriate punishment should be disciplinary action such as asking her to quit, suspension, etc.

              I certainly agree that unions are a problem. If you want to start a movement to eliminate all police unions or all government service unions, I am all in.Report

          • Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter
            Ignored
            says:

            Who is doing this “suspecting” and have they put forward a theory of how it happens?

            Like, some guy wants to kill his wife so he reads on Fox News an article claiming that cops are pulling back, and thinks, “Hot dang, now’s my chance!”

            Really?Report

            • Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels
              Ignored
              says:

              Unfortunately data lags so we can only speculate on who is increasing and where they live. Highly likely this issue has multiple causes.

              My expectation is your example would be fueled by Covid. He was spending a lot of time away from home and now he’s not.

              However most people killed by criminals are criminals themselves. Less policing, or less risky policing, presumably results in criminals settling their differences on their own.

              One of the really nasty parts of this math is police killings is a low number, roughly 1k. Total murders is 20x times that, 20k.

              So a small percentage increase in general murders is a big number while a large reduction in police killings is a small number.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                What is your theory of how this works in the field?

                Start with, has there actually been “less policing”?

                And what mechanism of “policing” prevents murders, as opposed to solving them after the fact?

                You need to do some work here, instead of “suspecting” or “expecting” or “presuming”.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                A valid critique, however the big assumption I’m making is the police have something to do with keeping crime down.

                If that’s not the case we can just get rid of them and see what happens.

                We’re waiting for better data.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                Its my contention that murders are very different than other crimes, in that they are rarely well-planned but instead are most often done on impulse or with little forethought as to the consequences.

                As evidence I would point to actual true crimes, where almost none are actually “mysteries” but almost always exactly the person you would most suspect- a jealous husband, gang rival, or robbery gone bad.

                Meaning, that the presence or absence of police has very little to do with murder rates.

                Truth is, no one really has a conclusive explanation for why crime rates have trended down in recent decades, and no explanation for the recent spike in murder (but murders only!)Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                I have seen explanations. The explanations are unfashionable, though.

                Easier to say “they don’t exist” than to acknowledge their existence. I mean, why would you admit to going to places where these unfashionable explanations are passed around?Report

              • Greg In Ak in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Less lead in the enviro is one strong explanation for crime rates dropping. Not a complete answer but there is never going to be one single answer.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Greg In Ak
                Ignored
                says:

                Wasn’t access to abortion another one?Report

              • Greg In Ak in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                Yeah i’ve seen that but it is a wee bit controversial. I’d love to see some stats from other countries that have changed abortion access and how their crime stats changed.

                I’m a bit doubtful about it actaully being a significant cause. Seems like to many moving parts from having a baby you didn’t want to crime 20 years later. I know the chain of logic but if we had millions of more babies over that last few decades a hell of lot of other things would have changed also. Seems like a lot of confounds to make a simple A vs B type comparison hold up.Report

              • Brandon Berg in reply to Greg In Ak
                Ignored
                says:

                The lead-crime connection may have been greatly exaggerated. A recent meta-analysis (apparently the only one) suggests that publication bias has inflated the size of the effect by an order of magnitude. I doubt this will be the last word, but it’s something to be aware of:

                https://www.gla.ac.uk/media/Media_774797_smxx.pdfReport

              • Greg In Ak in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                I know there is lefty point out there that cops don’t prevent crime they just try to solve it after. Which makes no sense. Many people don’t commit crime because they are afraid of getting caught. Fear of punishment is a way crime is prevented.

                Of course that leads to the point that cops who spent more time solving crimes instead of stupid petty crap or things they aren’t well trained for like, in some cases, MH emergencies would do a better job.Report

              • JS in reply to Greg In Ak
                Ignored
                says:

                Cops don’t even try to solve crime most of the time.

                My son got assaulted. The cop told him and the guy that punched him to “both go home”. That was a cop, called to the scene, where one person was bleeding heavily and there were actual security cameras. Not even “Hey maybe the guy bleeding profusely might be concussed. Nah, he’s GOOD TO DRIVE”

                “just go home, i don’t feel like doing my job. I’m not even taking statements, I’m not going to ask if anyone saw anything, I’m certainly not going to walk over to that store and ask if I can check their tapes for like A SECOND to see what happened.”

                He went off to eat donuts or whatever the heck they do besides their jobs.

                And everyone was pretty much “yeah, cops don’t give AF”.

                Heck, didn’t they win a court case stating they had no duty to protect anyone or risk themselves in any way?

                But they’re HEROES who PUT THEIR LIVES ON THE LAND EVERY DAY, and god help you if you question that.

                Despite not even cracking the top ten of risky professions in America.

                Their biggest risk is car accident. Well, and now COVID. But I don’t count that, since they’re all suing to prevent getting vaccinated, so that’s obviously unrelated to their job.Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to Dark Matter
      Ignored
      says:

      The most famous one is Oscar Grant, killed by a BART cop in 2009, though there it was a matter of controversy whether the cop got confused or deliberately shot Grant and claimed confusion afterward.Report

  7. Chip Daniels
    Ignored
    says:

    Here’s a good article on the killing of that 14 year old girl, and a discussion of how the police have developed a “Shoot First” policy.
    https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-12-28/analysis-police-tactics-experts-active-shooter-situations-burlington-store-lapdReport

  8. Mike Schilling
    Ignored
    says:

    Here’s a different example: a cop in his cruiser choosing to chase a 13-year-old on a dirt bike for driving recklessly, until the kid lost control, hit the median, and died. The chase was explicitly against department policy, which states:

    Vehicular pursuits will be initiated only if the officer reasonably believes the person fleeing has committed a forcible felony defined as: murder, manslaughter, sexual battery, carjacking, home invasion robbery, robbery, arson, kidnapping, serious aggravated assault/battery, discharging of a destructive device or bomb.

    We’ll see what punishment the cop gets, if any.Report

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