It Isn’t Just A Few ‘Bad Apples’

Will cellphone cameras do what years of eyewitness testimony couldn’t? 

As protests have swelled across the country, those who the late, great Molly Ivins memorably called “the chattering classes” have been debating similarities and differences between today’s demonstrations and those of the 60s. One of the clearest differences is the ubiquity of cellphone cameras–and the number of videos that have emerged capturing police–many in riot gear– brutalizing peaceful protestors.

As an article in The Guardian noted,

The nationwide anti-police brutality protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd in the US have been marked by widespread incidents of police violence, including punching, kicking, gassing, pepper-spraying and driving vehicles at often peaceful protesters in states across the country.

Many assaults were captured on video. Had the murder of George Floyd not been similarly captured, no doubt it would have been “explained” in a way that absolved the officers involved of blame–much as the Buffalo Police Department tried to evade responsibility for shoving and injuring an elderly man by issuing a press release that said he “tripped and fell.”

For more years than I can count, Americans have given police the benefit of the doubt when the facts were even slightly at issue. When facts haven’t been malleable, when the officer’s behavior was too clearly out of line to claim otherwise, the standard line has been “every profession has some bad apples.”  (We’re supposed to ignore the fact that police unions vigorously defend those “bad apples”and deploy their considerable resources to defeat mayors and prosecutors who try to hold police accountable.)

Are there lots of “good cops”? Sure. But in far too many police departments, the organizational culture works to silence them, and to incentivize a defensive “us versus them” mentality. A vivid example: when the evidence was too graphic to ignore, and the officers who shoved the elderly protestor were charged with battery, 57 members of the police force quit the unit to protest their suspension–and actually applauded them as they left the courthouse after being charged.

A few years ago, the Harvard Business Review had an article explaining organizational culture as “consistent, observable patterns of behavior” and quoted Aristotle for the observation, “We are what we repeatedly do.”

The culture of an organization is powerfully shaped by incentives — money, of course, but to an under-appreciated extent, intangible rewards such as status, recognition and approval, and sanctions.(It is not inconsequential that officers who connect with their community are far less likely to be recognized and applauded than those who make many arrests, especially ones involving force.) 

Ultimately, organizational culture is the “sum of values and rituals which serve as ‘glue’ to integrate the members of the organization.”

People who study policing concede that the culture of many American police departments is toxic. Last November, The Brookings Institution convened a panel discussion focusing on the challenge of changing the “values and rituals” that–according to one panelist, formerly a police captain– too often pit police against the people they are supposed to be protecting.

Another panelist noted that training often encouraged a “warrior mentality” that is attractive to a subset of individuals who “may not always be the best fit” for police work. Panelists also noted a lack of transparency and accountability–and the frequent use of internal cover-ups to protect officers who habitually use excessive force.

When bad behavior isn’t punished, it breeds impunity.

Five Thirty Eight recently posted an article about that impunity, and the reasons police officers are so rarely held criminally accountable. 

Many major cities continue to pay out millions of dollars each year to settle lawsuits against police officers, too often without firing officers who have been repeatedly sued. So even though police misconduct has drawn greater national attention, it’s still really difficult to hold police officers legally accountable for any kind of misconduct — including fatal violence.

According to the article, only 110 law enforcement officers nationwide have been charged with murder or manslaughter in an on-duty shooting — despite the fact that around 1,000 people are fatally shot by police annually. Of that 110, only 42 were convicted. (Fifty were not and 18 cases are still pending.) Many of the convictions ended up being for a lesser offense. Only five were convicted of murder and failed to have that conviction overturned.

Part of the problem is understandable. Judges and juries are inclined to believe law enforcement officers.

But.

When I worked in City Hall, I became convinced that, other than the police union, the most significant barrier to accountability was prosecutors’ reliance on, and close working relationship with, local police. At the time, I lobbied–unsuccessfully–for a law requiring appointment of special prosecutors in such cases, to eliminate the unavoidable conflict of interest. 

Policing is a difficult job. It often requires split-second decision-making. We can be cognizant of that fact without giving bad cops permission to act like animals. Cellphone cameras can help.

 

 

29 thoughts on “It Isn’t Just A Few ‘Bad Apples’

  1. This post reminds me of the 1968 Police Riot in Chicago during the Democratic Convention. The rioting was by the the POLICE. Extreme senseless brutality. It was on camera. It was awful. Nothing changed. And a few years ago, in Madison WI, a young drunk (white) musician (all 95 lbs of him) walked into the wrong house. He left. A local cop shot him 5 or 6 times killing this master criminal. A friend of mine worked at Madison PD at the time. When the Murdering cop was returned to normal work status, he received a STANDING OVATION from the other cops. This is a scary bad culture.

  2. We are dealing with an untreated VIRUS OF HATRED which unfortunately affects law enforcement as it does all the rest of the institutions in our society. Until we determine and expose the ground zero of the virus nothing is going to change and things will only become worse and worse.

    Molly Ivins, as a reporter for The Dallas-Times Herald, was aware of the virus and was, rightfully, attacked on CSPAN for minimizing its effect, back in 2004.

  3. Marv’s “VIRUS OF HATRED” is exacerbated by the fact that so many of the police are recruited from the ranks of the military. These soldiers and Marines are trained day in and day out to hold no quarter with the “enemy”. For them, it is a daily life v. death environment. When the emotions start to appear, the “enemy” in the streets becomes the victim of all that brainwashing, training and utter lack of empathy.

    Those cops who cannot control that “switch” flip into combat mode should be flying a desk somewhere, not carrying a baton into peaceful protests.

  4. While the Indianapolis City County Council has been noticeably missing from action in this uprising, the Mayor has been re-acting and not acting as in “leading from behind”. Is this what you get when the local Democrat Party kowtows to the big money interests in town?

  5. Sheila,

    You are absolutely correct!

    And, it’s gone from a few bad apples, or, a few with the willingness to overtly murder citizens under it’s purview, to a more mainstream type of authoritarian police state action. In authoritarian countries, the police are feared way more than the police in this country are! Because the police can make people disappear, not only will people be shot down in the streets, they will be taken to rendering facilities and tortured before being starved to death or beaten to death and dumped in a garbage pit.

    The old saying, “The Fish Rots From The Head” is such an appropriate saying because we can actually watch this in action right now. Unlike the previous administration, the current administrations rot is constantly on display!

    From the beginning, the candidate POTUS espoused “Beating Up” or worse, protesters at his rallies. He claimed it was open season on protesters and the press! He crowed about Second Amendment rights, and you can see all of the intimidating behavior of individuals brandishing military weapons in front of those who protest using their First Amendment rights or, just in general! Because we all know, the Second Amendment is the most important, LOL, not! Redress your grievances with the government at your own risk of being gunned down by those Second Amendment uber patriots who are actually just cowards!

    When was the last time anyone has seen so-called protesters armed like some otherworldly anime character storm a state house in session to intimidate legislators? And, nothing was done about it!

    Leadership provides restraint or laxity!

    So, when leadership conducts themselves like thugs, the underlings are going to be thuggish! They use the example of leadership to become what they believe leadership permits. (Thuggish behavior, criminal behavior, unethical behavior) And they relish the opportunity, because most of those have already had those leanings, but now, to have a permission slip, and as they believe, a “Get Out Of Jail Free Card” even though that might not be the case just yet! We will have to see how the current AG handle some of these cases that come under his particular purview.

    A broader example of how this has run rampant, is the constant comparison to Nazi Germany. And how “I Was Only Following Orders” became the cry of those who were being tried for war crimes. The indiscriminate murder of those who resisted the evilness of the Nazi regime, or those deemed undesirable, or those deemed a drag on capitalism or a drain on the wealth of the regimes treasury which elicited an unequivocal death sentence on any and all of them.

    We are going down the same path, and it’s not like nobody sees the bridge out signs, or that the bridge is out, Visibly Out. Really, about the only way people can try to make a difference is by tens of millions of citizens being in the streets protesting, millions of citizens being civilly disobedient! Because, this particular leader we have sitting in the White House right now, has been experimenting with martial law. Once he gets to that point, where he feels it’s okay or he can get away with it, stick a fork in it because it is done!

    I don’t have confidence that the military would prevent the use of active military on US soil to promote and enforce martial law. Obviously Posse Comitatus is not a restraint anymore! So, you are correct Sheila, it’s more than a few bad apples, it’s systemic, or as Marv calls it of viral infection that is antibiotic resistant. Because all that’s happening is man’s true nature, and, there is no antibiotic for that!

  6. Sheila touched on many of the issues negatively impacting police departments. I don’t refer to them as law enforcement because many cops believe they are both the law and also above the law. Toss in the brotherhood mentality, and you have a toxic mix.

    What she didn’t say is the police departments are privately operated units hired by corporate municipalities. They are cops for hire to protect “law-abiding citizens.”

    The memes floating around social media state that nothing terrible can happen to you if you’re not breaking the law. Hmm?

    I’ve watched two to three dozen videos of cops bashing the heads of citizens and journalists. Many more stories are floating around about the same without video confirmation. So, that rationalization doesn’t work for the authoritarian loving right-wingers.

    As Sheila suggests, you have to structure their organization to where there is more accountability to the people who hire them and also ensure there are negative consequences borne by them only. Instead of taxpayers funding their liability insurance, make police brutality claims come out of their budget, pensions, and salaries. This will force them to police themselves and keep the bad apples away since it impacts their wallets directly.

    Also, the departments should be depoliticized by making it illegal to support candidates in any form, and that should include ALL public sector unions.

    Supposedly, the Democratic Party reps are working on police department reforms, but they also reap the benefits of public-sector unions, so this will be interesting to observe.

  7. Last night I saw Sherrilyn Ifill use a word that has been rolling around inside my head since I first saw the Floyd video: Nonchalance. Officer Chauvin’s attitude as he killed Mr. Floyd clearly showed he didn’t care that he was killing a man and he didn’t care that he was being recorded doing it. It just might be that his nonchalance is what has finally gotten the attention of the white people in the audience. Now we just need to figure out how to get the attention of those so-called “good cops.” No organization can effectively police itself.

  8. Vernon,

    “Marv’s “VIRUS OF HATRED” is exacerbated by the fact that so many of the police are recruited from the ranks of the military.”

    Thanks for the credit. As a matter of fact, the idea, for the VIRUS OF HATRED, was, unfortunately, implanted in 1969 from a lecture that I gave on “Investing in Gold and Silver” to the McLendon Corporation, unbeknownst to me at the time, the Center of Gravity (COG) for the creation and later spread of the VIRUS OF HATRED out of Dallas, Texas, U.S.A.

    Thus, out of much guilt and remorse, I’ve been TRACKING & TREATING the virus where and whenever I could for the past 50 years.

  9. When an organization actively seeks to hire bad apples it is hard to believe they have only a few.

  10. I read The NY Times piece about the power of police unions and was shocked to see how much influence they can have, but Sheila’s last observation about the close working relationship with the prosecutors office was an interesting observation. These guys have to have the cooperation of the police department to prosecute almost any crime. If the police see the prosecutor’s office as an adversary, how does anything get done?

    The recommendations for a special prosecutor has some real merit, but if you allow the local police to police themselves, everything about the investigation could not be tainted right down to the evidence collection. How do you address that part of the problem?

  11. Sheila is spot on in describing the issue as “culture”. It is simplistic and wrong to assume that the whole answer is training, as is often said. The same error has been made regarding sexual harassment. Yes, training can help, but it is only one piece of the culture puzzle.

    Culture in organizations has been described as “the way we do things around here”. So you have to have with a clear understanding , communication and modeling from the top as to what that is. Then you hire, train, review, promote and reward against that.

    Saying that hiring from the military is the key for policing problems is also simplistic – again, one piece of complexity. Look at the recent strong statements from respected military leaders about the President’s rhetoric about violence toward protesters.

  12. The percent of people carrying cameras with them everywhere they go has settled a number of previously open questions including the absence of lake monsters, UFO’s, bigfoot. It has also settled the previously somewhat open question of how often do police commit violence during arrests, especially of African Americans or people who led them on a long and merry chase. Why do we hold retail workers to a higher standard of civility when dealing with the public than police officers?

  13. A few weeks ago I saw the new Union chief of the CPA on Chicago tonight news show. I was shocked — over 50% of Chicago Police voted for this jerk. I know several Chicago cops & they are good guys, this really saddens me & makes my faith in the force go South.

  14. Remember the Enhanced interrogation techniques, permitted under the regime of Bush the Younger.

    The following techniques were authorized by the U.S. military:
    Yelling.
    Loud music, and light control.
    Environmental manipulation.
    Sleep deprivation/adjustment.
    Stress positions.
    20-hour interrogations.
    Controlled fear (including use of dogs)
    =====================
    Let’s face it this was torture authorized by the US High Command. Anyone would “confess” to whatever the interrogator wanted.

    The police have a difficult job. They have to respond to and deal with the results of all the inequities of our Steroid Capitalistic System. We know here in America we have long had a class system of justice.

    Whenever The Proles demonstrate, the system is threatened. The Nail that Stands up, Must be Hammered Down.

  15. “I would amend “a few” bad apples to “several” bad apples and I have as a state prosecutor long ago suspected that justice was not served by post-Miranda confessions offered by detectives who took suspects to “the basement” for “interviews.” My suspicions were fortified via an attempt by a police officer who did DUIs to bribe me (@ $115 a case to forget to ask a certain and critical question (venue) in drunk driver cases in police court (before I was promoted to criminal court which dealt with felonies). When prosecuting in police court one day the judge called me into chambers and told me that I had a 92 percent DUI conviction rate, that that was “too high,” and that afterwards my conviction rate would be sixty six and two-thirds percent in his court. He was right. I started losing cases where the evidence was identical to that of cases I had previously won. I had to wonder for the rest of my life (and still wonder) whether the judge, a Republican, was in league with the police officer who (unsuccessfully) tried to bribe me.
    I thought and still think that the job of prosecutors is to see that the law is fairly applied based on facts, the job of detectives is to solve cases, and the job of judges is to fairly adjudge the facts and law, but (at the expense of justice) the three do not always intersect.

    There is a police culture spun from a sense of brotherhood, and while I am in favor of police and other public unions, such an otherwise good organization that bargains for hours and working conditions should not be used as a shield for criminal conduct. I think without knowing that the long term answer for reform has to do with recruiting and psychological profiling along with another look at what police should be called upon to do and how to do it by their overseers. (See directing funeral traffic vs. burglaries in progress.) Mylong ago experience as a state prosecutor was at the end of this food chain; how to repair the “chain” I leave to the expertise of others.

  16. In defense of IMPD.

    I worked for 19 years as Executive Director of a faith-based community center in the Martindale-Brightwood (95% African-American) neighborhood. (Retiring 10 years ago.) As such, I had a variety of interactions with what was then IPD. I got to know several officers personally, and I found them to be officers of sincerity and dedication. For several months, they had me evaluating their applications for “officer of the month”, and I was always impressed with the difficult and often dangerous situations that they got involved in but were able to resolve satisfactorily. The biggest problem I saw was a general “good guys-bad guys” attitude, that the general public was divided into the law-abiding, peaceful “good guys” and the lawbreaking “bad guys” who needed to be arrested. I saw the citizens that I dealt with, especially the teenagers, in greater shades of gray.

  17. We have hired a Federal Government that doesn’t represent social benefit but only a specific social structure. “We the people” own a government that’s supposed to benefit all of us that’s chosen instead to represent some of us, in this case those who donate the most to keeping them in office with massive campaign contributions. Limited governance like this is self perpetuating and after a while there simply is no option but to take to the barricades. A good way to put it is this:

    “When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

    “That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”

    “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”

    “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.”

    “Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these States. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.”

    We have reached the fork in the path where we have to choose between firing the government we have and replacing it (just like some communities are thinking about with their police forces) or living enslaved under it.

    Responsible citizens have to capture the energy now on the streets and bottle it for November so the process becomes not anarchy but the way the Constitution is designed to work.

    We the people hire and can choose to fire who governs based on how they govern. Who we got in 2016 with a little help from our enemies clearly chooses not to govern Constitutionally. As evidence we have much and it is best documented in the Impeachment Proceedings the government just went through in a failed attempt to fix itself. It couldn’t. We the people can.

    We must in order for all of us to live free.

  18. Gee whatever happened to cop on the corner? i remember the guy was a neighbor a few buildings down..my grandad always had a chat,on his walk home from the train station..good ol boys i suppose. i remember riding the bus when i was about 8/9 (63/64)and seeing the cops use night sticks on a blackman in the street,newark,n.j….ive lived in L.A. co,calif,70s did my navy time there too. seems the cops all jumped into cars and joy rided the neighborhood.some would stop and chat with the kids, or whoever passed..now its a militerized cop car,and training the citizens are not allowed to know about. college educated now,check, ptsd,check.some have their first year working the co jail, nothing like a attitude adjustment prior to the streets… now ya got a cop,with the idea hes seen it all.. jump in and a have the senior cop take charge,and im sure like my line of buisness,the stories are streached like a ballon. lets go have some energy drinks and answer some calls…ive had my pull overs,had my head slamed against the roof of my car i was holding up while,they, ran a check..seems the power trip was all they wanted. when i left, after they recognized my status as active duty..they didnt ask prior to my bruise..p.s. it was in the same area,aka, foothill blvd,la co sheriff, rodney kings place of fame..except it was 1973.
    ive seen enough footage to see theres a plight of wrong on the streets, reread enough stories,and the local cops have made thier own bed. i deal with highway patrol. damn,only had one incident where he got mad at me, over a 42 years career.. otherwise,maybe the local badge should take a course on tact from them…i do have experience,way above many being i drive 140,000 mile a year..so the odds are, not in my favor..i once was “laid”out in a street in oxnard calif, with three feds and a black and white all over me,the fed had,the muzzle of a shotgun,planted into the back of my neck..oppps wrong citizen,,i was one week out of the navy..nothing like a good ol scare to make your day.. and i pay taxes for this? i moved out of the big city in 1/13/1981 and didnt look back.. seems the only thing that has changed as far as law enforcement goes,its gotten worse. id like to see the AFL,CIO can the police union out of respect of its other members..Eric Holder should return to finish the job of reform,on a new platform. im didnt look at how Mr,Floyd was killled, i know he died and how. i still remember seeing Walter Scott shot in the back,while he ran from the cop,who, shot him.. along with Laquan McDonald, lest we forget,how the cops buddies, whole bunch of them stood and watched the show… makes ya wonder if anyone of them, had any compassion, or were just doing their damn job…ya know,if people who,worked just had a living wage and some respect,imagine the change..best wishes,,,gotta go fix a road…

  19. My sister’s husband is a police officer predominately small farm towns outside of East St. Louis and he is extremely honest and has gotten into more problems with his fellow officers for being honest and by the book.

    I am unfortunately aware of some questionable behavior and what I consider downright wrong actions and that is from his stories. One threatened the Chief and the small town mayor that if they think about firing him he will tell how he falsified arrests, etc… there was one sleeping with the psychologist who was to determine his fitness to be an officer.

    I recall taking calls from women whose police husbands were abusers and unable to get help because of the communities connection.

    My husband was an auditor for the State and he heard stories of a small town police dept in Southern Indiana that nobody would cross the police because they were know to plant drugs on your kids at school or would do other nefarious acts. My husband’s aunt got beaten up more than once horrifically by her husband and IMPD officer. He does not know if she went to get help or report it.

    I think many of us have heard these stories and it goes to the point of trials–any jury that has to listen to potential police corruption case really should be anonymous or receive significant protection with their names and addresses so that there is not retribution.

    I also think in-house investigations is stupid. It is like a HR dept—they have alot of power to screw with lives and viturally no oversight and no accountability.

    There are good officers–but it does seem they are threatened into silence or they become targets themselves.

    We all have seen reports where hate groups have been infiltrating the police force and it is clear they have been successful.

  20. Elaine,

    I’m sure you realize the situation with the police isn’t going to be cleared up because of marches. As others have mentioned, it’s not just the police that condone these grievous actions.

    As a young state prosecutor just starting out in Jacksonville, with my then-pregnant wife and only three cases under my belt, I was suspended and forced to resign for not covering-up a police brutality case.

    Forget the fact that I had to fend off the attack from the two police officers who were involved in the matter. I’m sorry to say, I doubt that there has been much improvement in this type of situation since my personal encounter almost 50 years ago.

  21. Upon further thought: Please do not interpret my previous comment as implying that I think there is no need for improvement. Universal body cameras, a stronger written statement on the appropriate use of force, and more civilians on the Review Board, among others, should be implemented and would be beneficial.

  22. For context. I spent over thirty years as a public defender/criminal defense attorney in Indiana.
    @Jack:

    First, the nice “neighborhood cop on the corner” was always a bit of fiction popularized in movies and TV (Andy Griffin anybody?). Especially if your neighborhood corner happened to be in a Black neighborhood. Not that there weren’t some of those “Mr. Friendly” cops — and likely still are.

    Although there have been some recent efforts to go back to community type policing in some localities, in this era, cops don’t come from or live in the neighborhoods they police. They mostly don’t walk a beat or stand on the corner where they would have routine interaction with and perhaps get to know the “subjects” they are policing. Perhaps most significantly, they are driving in their “commissions” (cop speak for their police cruiser), and only get out to make arrests or stop or frisk “suspects.”

    Second, at least in my lifetime, what happened to those nice, friendly cops was the War on Drugs and the War on Crime. Both of which were cynically aimed at Black Americans and particularly Black American Males (I.E., see Nixon’s and Lee Atwater’s Southern Strategy. Carried on by the patrician Bush, the Senior, and on and on) to capture White, particularly Southern voters.

    Those pseudo “Wars” have resulted in a tremendous amount of “over policing,” mostly aimed at Black, Brown and/or Latino neighborhoods. Also in the ever increasing militarization of police forces (after all if you’re going to use flash bangs, stun grenades and make unannounced (“no knock warrants”) bashing in of doors in the middle of the night, Lord knows you need more military and tactical gear!).

    Those political strategies — BTW: very successful political strategies — also, have resulted in the U.S. having the highest incarceration rate in the entire world. Particularly, an obscenely high percentage of Black males incarcerated — many for minor drug offenses, which statistically Whites commit in greater numbers than Blacks. Do you know any of your childhood friends or neighbors who are in prison or who have been in prison? Most Blacks do.

    And let’s not forget the punitive and disproportionate penalties Congress and State Legislatures imposed for a “Black” drug Crack than for the “White” drug Cocaine, which is the same damn drug. Oh, we could add in the Habitual Offender — “Two Strikes Your Out” — laws that imposed Life sentences for those who had two prior offenses and were convicted for a third time. So if you had two felony convictions for Theft and got convicted a third time, you could end up in prison for life along with a few murderers.

    Those two cynical, overtly racist political “War” strategies sent the word out to the police that Black males were fair game (Black Lives Don’t Matter). And it was and is not only the police. It is the entire criminal justice system from the highest Court in the land to the local misdemeanor court. Also aided and abetted by prosecutors and judges who know the cops routinely lie under oath in applications for Search Warrants and on the stand in court. Who you gonna believe the cop or the criminal?

    Another example of how the system got so rotten. In 1968, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in a case called Terry v. Ohio that cops didn’t need the Probable Cause required by the 4th Amendment before the police have the right to search someone to “stop” (detain at gun point and even handcuffed, if the cop felt you posed a risk) on the street in public and “frisk” (search your body), but rather they only needed “reasonable suspicion.” Although the Supreme Court tried to define “reasonable suspicion,” it is essentially in the eye of a beholder. Just about anything will do. And gosh, if during that “minimally invasive frisk” the cop was sure he felt something in your pocket that might just possibly or could be a weapon or drugs, the Supreme Court held that the cops were then free to basically strip search you and search anything you were carrying or your car, if you were in one. (Maybe a hard cigarette pack because druggies are known to keep their drugs in cigarette packs or a cigarette lighter?). Then “stop and frisk” policing was taken to the extreme in many cities such as NYC in the “broken window” policing strategy era, which led to situations such as Eric Garner’s death.

    Cops soon found out that just about anything a Black man might do or they think he might be doing or about to do out on the street will pass muster in court as being “reasonable suspicion” to stop and frisk. So one of the reasons cops routinely lie is because they get rewarded for doing so. And prior to the age of everyone having a smart phone capable of recording video, it was the word of a cop against the word of a “criminal.”

    The reasons for police brutality and routine lying are like an onion. You peel off one layer only to find another and another and another. Way too numerous to go into here. Many have been mentioned in posts above. It will take a lot to meaningfully peel back and expose all those layers.

    OK. Finally, although the above might sound harsh, I am really not anti-police. We need police. But we need police, who realize that they aren’t an occupying military force sent in to dominate and conquer. They also need to respect all citizens’ rights under the Constitution, rather than just paying lip service to them in passing. One first step, though difficult, would be to end the War on Drugs (It has always been a social and health problem; not a crime problem). That would take away some of the incentive for the police force to see themselves that way. But it is only a small piece of the puzzle.

  23. I don’t believe that it’s at all unusual for societies in crises to appear out of control but typically they are behaving that way because current events make them feel out of control and evidence confirms the fact that they have no control.

    We can begin the process of restoring social stability in November but lack of control over the election process reinforces the out of control emotions on the streets.

    What responsible citizens can contribute is to reinforce the street’s emotions while encouraging peaceful behavior on the streets and selling November as the solution to restoring control and progress.

  24. Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four predicted several things close enough that his terminology is still in use. However, the masses being under the eye (camera) of Big Brother (government) was a prediction that backfired. Government is under the eye of the masses, which is one reason some states, including Indiana, have tried to pass laws against citizens photographing police.

    If Trump is elected again, look for some sort of crackdown on cellphone cameras. Those dudes in the Trump administration could easily pass legislation that brands cellphones as devices that should not compete with camera manufacturers. It would not ban cellphones, but it would end the convenience of built-in cameras.

    At least as a campaign talking point, Trump supporters should feel the FEAR of losing their cellphones. Using that fear is one of only a few opportunities the Dems have to campaign with the same emotional effect that Republicans so gleefully use.

  25. Since 9/11 we have seen the war on terror,and the militarization of local police departments. War like defense/offense equipment sent to States enables police to muscle up, and over do! Policing is a thankless job,and one that can be life threatening. It can be a war zone out there! My old Dad served in a tank as engineer figuring trajectories in WWll & helped kill Nazi’s! He told his kids if you ever get stopped by police, cooperate, and if there’s a problem we’ll have our say in Court. The adrenaline level in a war zone doesn’t allow the human brain to do much but react to survive.I think the public needs to be educated as to the responsibilities of cops. Police were never meant to be judge, jury & executioner as we saw with George Floyd! I want to be able to call them if I’m threatened. I’m not a police abolitionist, but we do need to weed out the people who cannot handle the pressures of the job, in a civil way in sometimes a war zone. How about raising the salaries to attract more candidates? Riling the public to attack police departments at this time could end up giving trump a portal into calling in “his army” to restore the “his” peace!

  26. When I was a lad – a million years ago – the saying was “One bad apple spoils the barrel” (also bunch sometimes), with the implication being to get rid of it fast. Now, it seems to be “don’t change anything, it is a rare happening”.

    Back in 1969, I met an academic from Wayne State University in Detroit. He had just written a research paper on policing in big cities. Sadly, what he spoke of then sounds so similar to what we have now, over a half century later, poorly trained, often bigoted police. Maybe with the ubiquity of cell phone cameras, we have reached a point where changes might actually be forced to happen.

  27. Marv–Believe me I am not that naive to think marches will result in significant change as highlighted by your own experience 50 years ago. My stories highlight how a few bad apples seem to be everywhere in law enforcement and have silenced into submission those with a conscious. Similar to the GOP at this point.

    I am convinced though that one of the reasons convictions are so low when it comes to punishing those who do wrong is because the jury made up of peers are aware to some degree that if they vote to put an office in jail they will have a massive bullseye on their and their family backs.

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