Friday, January 9, 2015

Police Corruption, And The Murder of Police

The sudden rash of assaults on police is new and disturbing. It represents an attack on the society as a whole on the society as a whole. Unfortunately, these are not simply the result of recent propaganda. There has been an erosion of trust in the police.

Police misconduct cannot justify murder. Even if it did justify killing the involved officers, which it doesn't, killing random police officers is nothing more than human sacrifice.

But people are not that simple. Abuse breeds contempt, and a general feeling of of contempt, fear and disrespect will lead a small number of people, who are already violent by nature, to attack the community held in contempt. The attackers may believe they will receive community support or may buy into hyperbolic political rhetoric. But neither the toxic environment nor the attacks came to be in a vacuum.

There has been widespread documentation of police abuse, ranging from minor harrassment to unprovoked attacks and even deliberate destruction of evidence of misconduct. Cases like this, of clear officer abuse, foment distrust and resentment. What's worse is that, absent video, officers often arrest their victims and charge them with assault, as in this Baltimore case. Note that once the other attacking officer began his assault, the other officers restrained his victim and, unaware of the video, arrested the victim for assault on an officer.

These actions often result in officers escaping most, if not all, accountability. Take the Dontre Hamilton case as an example. The officer in this case, responding to a call that had already been cleared peacefully (due to a paperwork error) resulted in the death of Hamilton.

The other officers who responded first spoke to Hamilton, a homeless man sleeping in a park across from a Starbucks. They spoke with him, observed that he was mentally ill and and established that he was harmless. They then left.

The shooting officer approached Hamilton, and immediately attempted to frisk Hamilton. Hamilton, suffering from schizophrenia, resisted the illegal search attempt. The officer than escalated the force, and attempted to subdue Hamilton without weapons. Hamilton continued resisting, and the officer escalated again to the use of a baton. Hamilton managed to seize the baton. The officer then finally escalated to lethal force, shooting Hamilton multiple times.

At any point, the officer could have de-escalated the situation and established peaceful interaction with Hamilton. Instead, the officer repeatedly escalated the use of force until he reached lethal force and killed Hamilton. And not only did the officer not have to search Hamilton, but the officer's search was actually illegal. The other officers who approached the situation peaceably did not get a violent reaction from Hamilton.

The end result of the altercation was that the officer was fired. He was not fired for the shooting, which was ruled justified. He was fired for the illegal search. As a result of that illegal search, the officer had repeatedly escalated the use of force until he killed Hamilton. He was not charged with a crime, nor even formally reprimanded by the police department for it, but was instead exonerated.

Here was a clear case of excessive force, as two other officers had already peacefully responded to the call without difficulty or altercation. This was an actual, real-world alternate scenario that actually happened, but the officer was held responsible only for the illegal search, not the repeated escalations of force.

But bad policy, not just bad cops, can create fear and mistrust within a community. The NYPD "Stop & Frisk" policy is, quite literally, random, generalized searches. Under the "Terry stop" doctrine, an officer can frisk someone during the course of an investigation if the officer suspects that a individual may be armed. The court case that established the rule involved an officer who observed three men clearly casing a shop, and as a result of streetside questioning believed that one of the men may be armed. A search uncovered a pistol.

This is not what the NYPD is doing. The NYPD is searching people effectively at random, using "reasonable suspicion" like "was in a high-crime area", which is akin to saying "lives in the wrong neighborhood" or "We saw him".

Obviously, such an approach definitely breeds animosity to the police, feeding into the destructive, anti-police gangster culture, building a siege mentality, and turning the communities that need them most against the police.

The more people fear, resent or distrust the police, or have an "Us vs. Them" mentality, the easier it is for more extreme elements to accept the idea of "taking revenge" against the police, in response to an event of national significance.

Obviously, again, this doesn't justify murder. Even if justified it against specific officers, which it doesn't, it doesn't justify random murders of police. But there has been police misconduct in the past that hasn't resulted in random attacks on the police.

Ten years ago, Christopher Dorner would not have been turned into a hero, and these recent killings would not be "explained" or "understood".

Partly, this is the result of racemongers and other leftists seeking to propagandize the populace into voting and contributing to them. But crooked cops and unlawful policies give the hatemongers something to hold up as evidence in support of their position, especially when officers who are clearly in the wrong manage to escape serious punishment.

And most cops are honest, respectable, decent people. If they weren't, riots would be dispersed with weapon fire, not tear gas, and the conviction rate would be much higher. Cops that violate the public trust damage the reputation of all police and need to held publicly accountable, so that the public can see that the police take the betrayal of their profession seriously. Policies need to be designed to be legal and to support the communities they protect, not leave communities afraid of the police.

Every cop that feels free to fabricate charges, enforce traffic laws at gunpoint, or generally act like thugs gives conmen and hucksters credence and the culture of violence and police hatred support. We need to make police members of the community again, and not just nameless enforcers of the state.

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