Thursday, May 21, 2009

"There has to be a relationship between the police and the community that has to be one of faith in each"

I was emailed some interesting articles on forensic work from the Miller-McCune.com site. One that caught my eye was on why fewer murder cases get solved these days:

Ask homicide detectives what the No. 1 roadblock to their investigations is, and, by far, the leading response is "witness cooperation." That's one reason the average homicide clearance rate — cases solved by police departments compared with the number of known homicides — which approached 90 percent in 1960 is now a third less, 61 percent......

...Rather than a police tendency to devalue victims from minority communities, hence ignoring or failing to pursue homicide investigations in these areas, it is actually "police devaluation" that is at the root of the problem.

"A victim or a person who knows them might distrust the police," Jarvis says, "but you also have victims who might not want to go to the police. They don't believe the police are the tool or the mechanism for resolving that behavior."


Maybe the fact that the police have no duty to protect any individual person has something to do with people not trusting law enforcement to protect them, do ya think? Why should citizens have faith in police who have no such duty?

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53 Comments:

Blogger Cham said...

In my city the gangs have been killing witnesses and threatening juries (while in the courtroom no less). Being a witness around here can be hazardous to your health.

7:10 AM, May 21, 2009  
Blogger Roci said...

The solution is to fight back and kill them first. Saddly, that is against the law.

This is another common theme from Atlas Shrugged that is played out too often in reality. The predetors depend on the virtue and civility of the prey.

8:37 AM, May 21, 2009  
Blogger Tino said...

I'm white, middle class, well educated and fairly successful. I've had the occasion to call the police on three occasions in my life -- for my car being broken into, vandalism to my car, and to hand over the license-plate number of a car full of drunks careening down the street.

On two of those occasions -- the vandalism and the drunks -- I was explicitly threatened with *arrest* by the cops who responded. I wasn't doing anything wrong. I don't mean 'I wasn't doing anything wrong' in the sense that I wasn't doing anything that would officially merit arrest; I mean that to this day I remain utterly mystified about what their problem was.

On another occasion, I hadn't called the police, but I was forced -- under threat of arrest -- to pour out a beer I was drinking. I was of age and on private property, but I could be *seen* from the road. The law doesn't forbid drinking beer in that situation, but there's no arguing with a cop.

On yet another occasion, I was pulled over for speeding -- 45 in a 35, down a hill, at about 10 pm, on a deserted, well-lit, wide street -- physically assaulted, and explicitly threatened with death ('I should kill you right here', he said, while he had his gun jammed into my back) by a police sergeant in my white, upper-middle-class suburb. This all happened about two blocks from my apartment there; and I wasn't even issued a traffic citation after it was all done.

From this, the casual observer might conclude that I'm some kind of trouble maker, but you're going to have to take my word for it that I'm not.

I've also had good interactions with police over the years, they're outnumbered (and far outweighed, in any case) by these bad interactions.

I'm only a couple small notches less boring than Ned Flanders. If I am not actually The Man, I'm pretty close; and I have been taught not only that The Police Are Not My Friend, but that in fact interaction with them should be avoided altogether to the extent possible. It's probably a tiny minority of cops that are like this, but it only takes a tiny minority to color the whole group as dangerous people.

Most of my friends -- in fact, all of them I've talked to about this -- have learned the same lesson. They are all white people with situations similar to mine.

I'm skeptical of a lot of the claims made by and on behalf of poor black people. Yes, you might be the victim of racism, and your school might have been terrible: but at some point you made the decision to steal that car/smoke that crack in a hotel room with a hooker/buy that stolen gun/etc.

Since you can't change your skin color, blaming all your troubles on the color of your skin absolves you of any responsibility for solving any of your problems.

But my own experience with cops as -- I keep mentioning this for a reason -- a white, fairly wealthy Ned Flanders has caused me to have a hell of a lot of sympathy for poor black people in their interactions with the cops.

If they treat me this way, what the hell do they do with poor people who might actually be violating the law? As we've recently seen, they don't seem to have a problem with kicking them in the head even when there's a TV helicopter overhead. At this point I'll believe just about any allegation of police misconduct; through this stuff on TV and my own personal experiences, the police as a class have lost all credibility with me.

And so I'm not at all sure that, were I a poor black person, I'd be interested in cooperating with the police at all. It seems entirely possible that the perfectly rational decision would be to conclude that you're going to get a fairer shake, and better treatment, from a street gang than from the police.

9:01 AM, May 21, 2009  
Blogger Kevin M said...

I would assume that most people develop their views of the police by what they see on TV rather than in real life. And if you look at most law enforcement characters on American TV, what you see is an armed social worker.

...an armed social worker administered by a bloated PC bureaucracy.

...governed by a ludicrously liberal judicial system.

Would YOU trust them?

9:25 AM, May 21, 2009  
Blogger John Althouse Cohen said...

...governed by a ludicrously liberal judicial system.

If you check the last link in the blog post, you'll see it goes to a description of a 2005 Supreme Court case, Castle Rock v. Gonzales. In that case, the court held that the beneficiary of a restraining order couldn't sue the police/municipality on procedural due process grounds after the police failed to respond to her complaints, resulting in her husband killing her children. All the conservative justices were in the majority. The only dissenting justices were Stevens and Ginsburg.

9:41 AM, May 21, 2009  
Blogger HMT said...

It is human nature to avoid danger. Any individual with the power to quickly alter the status of your health, financial situation or social standing is dangerous. The sane human being does his utmost to avoid interaction with such a person. Even coming to the attention of this kind of danger is to be avoided.

This makes the job of the police easier when it comes to policing average Americans. Keep your head down and you're much less likely to encounter the police directly. A side effect of this is that the INVESTIGATION function of the police is crippled.

Can it be changed? I doubt it. I don't think I've seen anywhere with an organized, non-military police force that doesn't' have the same problem. Our police force is pretty good by 1st world standards. Nature of the beast.

9:45 AM, May 21, 2009  
Blogger Cham said...

I might be convinced to help out the local police with an investigation, but I wouldn't give anyone associated with the federal government the time of day.

9:49 AM, May 21, 2009  
Blogger rustbelt said...

I'd suggest that the "91%" rate was due more to railroading of the innocent than the conviction of the actually guilty. Eyewitness identification is notoriously unreliable, there are a lot more procedural protections available today, and real forensic science can establish innocence in a lot of cases that previously were a slam dunk on whomever was fingered.

10:04 AM, May 21, 2009  
Blogger Edwin said...

To commenter 3...
My sorrow at your treatment is huge. We have had similar problems where I live. If you have not complained to someone in authority at the state level I would suggest you do. It takes forever, and it is painful, but it seems to work where I am.
I am a supporter of the police. I go to meetings with them. I speak with captains and commanders. I do this because I live in a neighborhood that has a 50 percent or greater welfare/ssd population. I had a body dumped on my front lawn about 15 months ago. My oldest son's friends from the neighborhood, with one exception, are all in jail.
My observation is that reverse racism plays a huge part in the situation. Good grades, certain clothing, keeping your word, marriage and many other things are labeled as "white". Since the largest amount of the murders are in the "black" community and police are seen as "white", it takes huge efforts just to solve what does get solved. It recently took months of work to arrest a pair of people for the broad daylight murder of a black woman who was well known in the community for her works. There has been no action so far against the rest of the gang that attacked her.
The other thing that stands in the way is prosecutors and judges. No prosecutor will take anything but an open and shut case. Often the police tell me they are certain who did things. They just don't have the witness or piece of evidence that will convince a prosecutor. Maybe a statistic that says suspect identified but prosecutor unwilling to try yet would put a bit of perspective on this.
Finally, I doubt most of the population I deal with, know about the concept of not having a duty to protect any individual person. That is an intellect thing, thus "too white" or "not black" if they are wannabes.

10:13 AM, May 21, 2009  
Blogger Ern said...

That's one reason the average homicide clearance rate — cases solved by police departments compared with the number of known homicides — which approached 90 percent in 1960 is now a third less, 61 percent......Maybe the fact that the police have no duty to protect any individual person has something to do with people not trusting law enforcement to protect themPerhaps, but the history of courts ruling that the police have no such duty predates 1960. One of the cases on the page linked dates to 1958. I have a memory of such a case from when I was in law school in 1972; it may have been the case linked. It's possible that the 1958 case was the first one and that it took a while for it to have any effect on citizen cooperation, of course.

10:20 AM, May 21, 2009  
Blogger Edwin said...

John Althouse Cohen:
That people see the "conservative" justices as being "ludicrously liberal" is not the fault of people. "Compassionate Conservatives" gave us TARP and therefore cover for all the radical foolishness that is being perpetrated on the people today. Stupid is stupid. Wrong is wrong. A gay teacher of mine, who had to conceal it to keep his job, told all of us when a prank got out of hand and real consequences loomed: If you can't do the time, don't do the crime. The philosophy today is: I did the crime, you do my time and, while you are at it, give me welfare or Social Security, ignore my drug usage and let me abuse my kids. Whether a "conservative" or a "liberal", by label, says that it is still wrong and what Kevin M was really saying if I understand him correctly.

10:31 AM, May 21, 2009  
Blogger Kevin said...

Why should citizens have faith in police who have no such duty?That's not it at all. There's never been a duty to protect any particular individual, and Gonzales v. Castle Rock is merely the latest affirmation of that fact. The problem, IMO, is explicitly described by commenter "Tino" above.

Where there used to be cooperation between the police and the public, there is very definitely now an "us versus them" mentality. It isn't universal, but how many cops does it take to spoil the relationship? Add to that the ongoing militarization of police forces - body armor, armored vehicles, fully automatic weapons, SWAT teams doing midnight "no-knock" entries on the wrong addresses looking for someone with an ounce of marijuana, the recent beating of an unconscious man ejected from his vehicle when it rolled over, and so on, and trust is GONE.

Add to THAT a system that isn't interested in "justice" but in convictions, for example the recent Duke Lacrosse team rape prosecutions, and the more recent revelation that prosecutors have withheld evidence that would exonerate defendants, and you end up with a system in which the best advice you can take is Don't Talk to the police.

10:35 AM, May 21, 2009  
Blogger John Althouse Cohen said...

Edwin: In other words, when the facts refute one's preconception about conservative vs. liberal justices, one simply redefines the words "conservative" and "liberal" so the facts fit the preconception?

10:39 AM, May 21, 2009  
Blogger Troy said...

@Helen: The duty to protect individuals... Giving a constitutional right to police protection by individuals I think would open a Pandora's Box of unintended consequences. Potentially, any time one was victimized one could file a lawsuit or at least initiate an official investigation as to why their right to protection was not protected. That would then expose cities and states to huge liabilities, eat up equally huge amounts of man-hours in investigations, etc.

Policing is reactive. There are exceptions -- TROs is actually one area where there should be protection -- because there is a specific court order. But overall we made the choice long ago that liberty required a looser police presence.

The police distrust is more likely to biased media emphasis on bad police stories, idiotic memes like rampant racial profiling, etc.

10:53 AM, May 21, 2009  
Blogger Pete said...

Last time I was approached by the police to "help" them I was bullied, threatened, taken to the station and held against my will, and threatened by the prosecutor with jailing as a "material witness" to try to get me to say what they wanted me to say.

Fortunately I had the presence of mind to call my attorney when they put me in a holding cell to try to intimidate me.

It still wound up with me moving from that town and county after several months of harassment from the police for standing up to them.

No. I will never talk to the police again - for anything - without an attorney. I don't want to get involved, because I don't want to be treated like a criminal.

Yes, I think the police are my enemy. Because they think I am theirs.

10:58 AM, May 21, 2009  
Blogger MikeT said...

The police distrust is more likely to biased media emphasis on bad police stories, idiotic memes like rampant racial profiling, etc.Yeah, yeah, big bad old mainstream media beating up on the courageous heroes in uniform. It has nothing to do with the fact that when followups are done on the bad police stories you literally almost never see "their colleagues were horrified and immediately cooperated with investigators from internal affairs; the chief of police demanded the officer's gun and badge stating that the conduct was unacceptable; District attorney outraged and filing felony charges."

The reason is simple. The police tend to look out for their own, and the rest of the system goes along with that. Prosecutors don't need the formal cooperation of the police to file their own charges against the police, but you almost never see prosecutors charge corrupt cops until they act out so badly that the government would look corrupt as hell if it DID NOT do something.

It also doesn't help things too that a lot of middle class white people are starting to experience the same problems with police as poor blacks.

11:02 AM, May 21, 2009  
Blogger MikeT said...

The duty to protect individuals... Giving a constitutional right to police protection by individuals I think would open a Pandora's Box of unintended consequences.
Then the police have a simple choice: protect everyone who calls for help, or refuse to enforce laws that prevent the victim from protecting themselves. I don't give a rat's ass what the latest diktat from the local commisar council about self-defense or gun rights is. If the police don't show up, they have no right to even think about punishing the victim for taking matters into their own hands.

11:07 AM, May 21, 2009  
Blogger DADvocate said...

To echo Tino's thoughts, I don't trust the police as a whole due to my experiences as a juvenile probation officer many years ago.

I would sit in juvenile court 2-3 times a week in case my services were needed. I quickly became obvious that the police and other adults in authority positions routinely lied and exagerated in their statements.

I've never had experiences like Tino, not that I'm not more boring just luckier. :-) But, I know people who have.

Blacks seem (I'm being politically correct here.) to be much more hesitant to cooperate with police. I attribute it to trust issues. Most of the kids in juvenile court who got the shaft were black.

Blacks on a jury also seem to be less likely to convict. My niece is an assistant prosecutor in a large Southern city with about a 60% black population. She says its a great place to be a defense attorney. You win all the time.

Instapundit mentions today about parking ticket fraud in D.C. And how he once got a ticket for going through a flashing yellow light which isn't against the law. The other day he mentioned how police have been caught running red lights by red light cameras and, of courese, they don't get ticketed.

This kind of stuff, red light cameras, etc. give people the feeling that cops are dishonest, believe they're above the law, and out to get them, not protect and serve.

11:13 AM, May 21, 2009  
Blogger ajdshootist said...

Over here in the UK it has become nearly as bad, "as they say i would not cross the road to pee on a burning policeman" is how a lot of people including me feel these days.

11:20 AM, May 21, 2009  
Blogger Cham said...

The number one priority of any government employed safety officer is job retention. Serving and protecting the public is way down on their list. Don't expect these folks to go out of their way for you, especially if their paycheck or benefits could be put at even the smallest of risk.

11:42 AM, May 21, 2009  
Blogger Magson said...

The extent of my meeting police in their official capacity is: I have been pulled over 9 times in my life.

6 of those times, the officer was polite, 1 was even apologetic and got me back on my way quickly enough that I wasn't even late for work.

But the other 3........ men on power trips, wanting to yell, to scream, to make me respect their "authorit-AH!" That's been enough to turn me off wanting to have any interaction with a cop, official or otherwise, in spite of the 2-1 good to bad ratio I've had in dealing with them.

Unofficially, I almost got a cop as a brother-in-law. One of the best men I've ever met. But I still never wanted to go visit my ex-gf's sister with her, since "the cop" would be there.

And my ex-wife is now a sheriff's deputy as well. I'm sure you all can imagine I don't want anything to do with her. And since she's told me that she's badmouthed me all over the county she's in and that I can expect to be treated poorly by any person in that county sheriff's dept... let's just say I'm quite careful whenever I'm visiting or picking up my children. Nevermind that I have complete documentary proof that my ex cheated and is solely responsible for our divorce -- they'd back her up since she's "in."

Yeah... count me as a police avoider also.

12:44 PM, May 21, 2009  
Blogger dont said...

In honor of the many profound quotations throughout history, I believe Ice Cube said it best:

"Fuck tha police"

12:53 PM, May 21, 2009  
Blogger Jeff Y. said...

I've been assaulted by police. I've seen Houston police slowly dislocate a man's shoulder joints for no apparent reason. I've had police try to use verbal trickery, taunts, and other means to get me to break the law. I've seen countless color of law violations.

Hell, it's legal for police to lie to you to trick you into self-incrimination or even into breaking the law.

The police do a lot of good. The policing function is necessary. But any sane person avoids the police whenever possible. Police have too much power, the power to fuck you up and get away with it.

This statement has been very helpful when dealing with cops: "I choose to remain silent. I do not consent to a search. I want to speak to my lawyer." Live it. Love it.

NEVER TALK TO POLICE. EVER. They will fuck you up if they can.

Those uncooperative witnesses are just reacting rationally to protect themselves from bad cops.

Check this out:
youtube.com/watch?v=XMB6L487LHM

Go to 1:10 and listen to the TSA harass, threaten, swear at, and generally try to trick a man into breaking the law.

1:03 PM, May 21, 2009  
Blogger Troy said...

I'm glad to see that stereotyping is alive and well in the U.S. So some of us (myself included -- especially when I was helping investigate) have bad experiences with a handful of cops and smear all 800,000 commissioned law enforcement. Under that logic I should be afraid of Blacks because they predominate in street violence (by percentage) or Hispanics because they dominate gang culture in So Cal. where I live?

Protect all or protect none? That's a false dilemma. All of you should go on a few ride-alongs with your local police and see the crap they put up with on a daily basis and then come back and bitch about the cops. I would also hold up Cincinnati as Exhibit A. Cops accused of racism pull back. The neighborhood goes up in flames. Cops come back and relative order is restored. I believe that would happen. Too much police is oppression too so where the balance is depends on the locality's wishes I think.

As Orwell said, " We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm. "

I've worked with and against thousands of cops in my career. Some bad -- most good and trying to do the best they can with a selfish public, craven trial attorneys, political sheriffs, chiefs, unions, and DAs. Know what your talking about first about cops and then spout off. Stretching your relatively few bad experiences onto the whole is lazy thinking.

I'd also like to see the penal codes, etc. contracted. Less laws to enforce would lessen police involvement with otherwise law abiding citizens also.

I agree with the concept of too much policing being a bad thing. But unrealistic expectations about what police can and should do is just as dangerous.

I await the sneering response from some.

1:13 PM, May 21, 2009  
Blogger Troy said...

and the thoughtful responses from others of course...

1:14 PM, May 21, 2009  
Blogger Jeff Y. said...

Troy, you have a good point. Policing is important and necessary.

There's a moral hazard in dealing with cops. A civilian can't tell the good ones form the bad ones. D distinguishing between the two is supremely important. A bad cop can seriously fuck you up. Seriously.

In the abstract, what do people do? They can't distinguish good from bad, and that judgment is a life-and-death decision or close to it.

What do people do? They assume the worst case and act accordingly. The witnesses are acting prudently and rationally, even though most cops aren't bad.

I agree with Prof. James Duane.

youtube.com/watch?v=i8z7NC5sgik&feature=PlayList&p=4B62CC6AFE12BBE7&index=0&playnext=1

NEVER TALK TO COPS. EVER. EVER. EVER. EVER.

This is true most especially if you are innocent.

1:25 PM, May 21, 2009  
Blogger DADvocate said...

Troy - I get you point and Jeff Y's. I work in Cincinnati and am familar with the hatchet job done on some good cops there. My son, now 20, has had a few experiences with Cincinnati cops and they've all been good. 80 or 90% of murders in Cincinnati are blacks killing blacks. Some coulld surely be prevented but Cincinnati cops hold back because of accusations of racism.

Virtually all of my experiences were in Tennessee including juvenile court.

I wonder if the good cops realize how much the bad cops taint their image and if they'd tolerate the bad ones as much is they did.

1:37 PM, May 21, 2009  
Blogger Pete said...

Tell you what, Troy. When the "Good" cops don't form into the Blue Wall of Silence, start policing their own, start doing away with terms like "Rat Squad" and stop making excuses for bad cops with lame "Yeah, but..." rationalizations....

(Like an apology, any condemnation with the word "But" in it is *NOT* a condemnation.)

...then I'll take the "stereotyping" canard.

Until then? They enable it by silent complicity, the silence which gives assent to it. And they are passive conspirtors in police abuse.

And "the crap they have to put up with" is blarney. They have the power of life and death on the street, with comparitively little oversight. I demand a higher standard of them. They don't want that? Let them get jobs elsewhere.

1:43 PM, May 21, 2009  
Blogger Vicki said...

My brother's been a cop for 30 years and the most difficult part of his job was dealing with a corrupt (and now gone) police chief & his cronies. The physical abuse his gets from the general public pales compared to political grudges & power abuse of government.

He has, however, been able to establish the trust of many in the poor neighborhood he patrols and has patroled for 25 years. He's seen their kids grow up and has turned down promotions, wanting to be on this beat. They know him & either hate him or love him, depending on their level of illegal activities.

But I personally, stay as far away as I can. I'm a squeaky clean average white girl, but you never know when a cop's had a bad day.

2:07 PM, May 21, 2009  
Blogger Doom said...

I neither trust the police or the judiciary, while my distrust of those is at odds.

I distrust the police because they are over-active. Given that they are subjected to little support and respect from citizens, judges, and even prosecutors (the last two often put real criminals back on the street and literally endanger the cop, along with other citizens), I can't really blame them. They really are alone, and if it was not for their partners, they would be in serious trouble. They are told to cut crime, then put on trial when they do, they are told to go into the most dangerous areas to try and keep the peace but when they do they are called prejudiced, and even the people they help are not happy with it. Some people think they are super human and can just be gentle with social evils, or more, those who commit those evils.

I distrust judges and prosecutors because they are rather weak sources of justice. If they are not simply afraid of looking bad, they are often activists on the wrong side of lawful behavior, or worse, both. I am amazed that a prosecutor will go forward with a case against a single mother who shot a man for braking into her place, when only her and her children were there, at night, and then became aggressive toward her and then turn around and let a murder go because the prosecutor doesn't think the case 'should' go forward.

Reforms could help a great deal. If I see that the legal process is fair and just, I am much more likely to become a part of it. So long as I see partiality, "liberal" (libertine) stances which actually prefer to punish good citizens (for the crime of being good it seems), and bitter police who have learned to trust no one other than some of their own, I cannot reasonably participate.

Add that the federal government has just claimed that I and most who are in my spheres of political belief are terrorists, I do not think I can participate, even more generally, in this government or the culture that brought it about.

Going Galt does not always have to be financial.

2:13 PM, May 21, 2009  
Blogger Larry J said...

I wonder if the good cops realize how much the bad cops taint their image and if they'd tolerate the bad ones as much is they did.Pete said...
Tell you what, Troy. When the "Good" cops don't form into the Blue Wall of Silence, start policing their own, start doing away with terms like "Rat Squad" and stop making excuses for bad cops with lame "Yeah, but..." rationalizations....
I think both of these points go a long way to explaining why so many people hold the police in low regard. There are a lot of good cops out there doing good work. However, because the tolerate bad cops, they are tainted by association. Why they tolerate that is beyond my understanding. A police department gets judged by their worst members, not the best.

2:43 PM, May 21, 2009  
Blogger Sio said...

I don't really have an issue with the idea that the police are not legally obligated to defend any person. The only stipulation would possibly be TROs as someone mentioned above but that opens up a big can of worms since the courts hand out TROs like they're candy these days (see Dave Letterman's case in NM). The police aren't superman, they can't be everywhere etc..

The problem however is, you can't believe that and support it as the state/fed gov have while constantly putting up more rules and taking away self defense rights (gun rights) of the citizens. The fact that the police can't be everywhere is obvious and demanding that people just call 911, beg for help and escape/evade is often down right stupid. Its an obvious way to control people more directly, requiring them to absolutely rely on the state.

Chalk me up as another middle class 30 year old white guy who has no trust in cops/judicial system and I've had no real run ins with the cops, knock on wood. Serving on a grand jury was enough to wake me up several years ago.

I avoid them when at all possible, especially these days as I'm likely to lose my temper when dealing with bullies who are violating my constitutional rights.

3:14 PM, May 21, 2009  
Blogger Derek said...

I think Vicki hit on part of the problem - the absence of the "beat cop" brought on by suburbia.

Norther Virginia is a case in point, where the cost of living is too high for police officers to live in Fairfax county, so they live in Prince William County. They are no longer members of the the communities they patrol. (Fire fighters and teachers are the in the same boat in that area.)

I never knew the name of a police officer growing up. There were none in my suburban Ohio neighborhood. I went to school with kids of officers, but never interacted with one save Cub Scout trips to the station.

The only officers I saw growing up were those in cars exceeding the speed limit without lights or sirens and, frequently, forgoing the use of turn signals. In the 30 years since then, not much has changed as my kids, also, have no regular interaction with police officers, and police cars still seem to have non-functioning turn signals..

I cannot help but think that the absence of a regular presence, e.g. "Oh, look. There's Officer Smith at the other end of the grocery aisle", cannot help but contribute to a lack of trust. They're unknown actors who only show up when something goes wrong.

Plus, the double standards where breaking the law is OK if you've got a badge don't help.

4:11 PM, May 21, 2009  
Blogger gs said...

Fyi, submitted without commentary:

This Gallup poll indicates that public confidence in the police is high.

4:23 PM, May 21, 2009  
Blogger br549 said...

And friends always ask me why I always pick my nose, and have never let a woman on top............

7:19 PM, May 21, 2009  
Blogger John Markley said...

Larry,

"There are a lot of good cops out there doing good work. However, because the tolerate bad cops, they are tainted by association."

If a cop tolerates bad cops- in other words, tolerates criminals, allows them to commit crimes, and remains silent about it- in what sense is he a "good cop?" If you or I or any other civilian acted that way we wouldn't be "good citizens," we'd be accessories after the fact.

7:35 PM, May 21, 2009  
Blogger Hubcap said...

Why would I trust a virtually unaccountable group of men who more often than not are either corrupt or bullies? I have had enough experience with them to know that they are not to be trusted. I hold no ill will against the people who accidentally or innocently do me harm. However after having been arrested for a crime I did not commit and presenting an offer of proof of my innocence at the scene which was ignored, I shall NEVER trust the ba***rds again.

7:38 PM, May 21, 2009  
Blogger Jungle Jim said...

I agree with Tino. I am a law-abiding man who has had so many negative experiences with cops that I don't trust them at all.

I understand that their jobs are difficult. But they would have a much easier time if they would try to make law-abiding people their allies, rather than their enemies.

One of my worst experiences was with an enforcement officer of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. If you are ever out hunting dove or ducks and one of those clowns shows up, pack up and go home immediately. They will try their best to frame you for some violation of the game laws.

9:08 PM, May 21, 2009  
Blogger JG said...

I have to believe that most police officers are sincere about their work and doing it for the right reasons, but I have seen a few police officers who seemed to be in it so that they could be state-backed bullies, basically (all the fun of being a bully plus the blessing of the state). There should be more of an effort to weed out those types from police departments.

4:58 AM, May 22, 2009  
Blogger JG said...

You can also view it this way: Sewer workers and garbagemen aren't going to smell so pretty themselves after dealing with trash all day. But somebody has to do that work.

Similarly with police officers: In large cities, or "inner-city areas", there are lots of nasty people and gangs and violent people. Someone has to deal with that, although it's going to rub off.

5:01 AM, May 22, 2009  
Blogger br549 said...

I've received enough (deserved) speeding tickets (interstate) in my lifetime to sink a battleship. My job seemed to place me in positions of having three hours to get to a customer's emergency breakdown that takes five hours to get to at legal speed.

Some of the troopers enjoyed handing me a ticket; some seemed to be hoping I'd be difficult; some knew that people like me have jobs like I had.

The only time I personally felt treated unjustly and was concerned with the possible outcome was in my own home. The office came in to serve me. The ex, you see. He didn't quite believe it, considering I was playing a kids board game "Cooties" at the time with my own three kids and the neighbors' son. We were giggling and laughing when he entered my living room. Perhaps if he'd have remembered to wear his mind reading helmet or his personality disorder decoder ring and talked to the ex first, he'd have been nicer.

5:34 AM, May 22, 2009  
Blogger br549 said...

Oh, and if you want to lessen your chances of getting a speeding ticket, never, never, never own a car painted "arrest me red".

5:55 AM, May 22, 2009  
Blogger Cham said...

Regarding all those speeding tickets, stop sign violations and other driving-related citations, think long and hard about whether you want to go to court to fight them. Because if you are found guilty, my state now puts the record of all courtroom interactions on the Internet for all to see. If you are a witness or even just someone who sits at the table with the defendant, it all gets recorded for all to see....forever and ever. If your SO gets a restraining order on you, it's there. Don't pay your bills? Argument with a cop? Neighbor? Former employer? If you go to court, it's on the net. Think this is no big deal? Think again. I check everyone I deal with now the minute I learn their last name. Judiciary Case Search is my new favorite Internet site. You say you are an angel, I can see otherwise.

7:38 AM, May 22, 2009  
Blogger Larry J said...

Larry,

"There are a lot of good cops out there doing good work. However, because the tolerate bad cops, they are tainted by association."

If a cop tolerates bad cops- in other words, tolerates criminals, allows them to commit crimes, and remains silent about it- in what sense is he a "good cop?" If you or I or any other civilian acted that way we wouldn't be "good citizens," we'd be accessories after the fact.
"Bad cops" come in different flavors. There are the ones on the take - those are criminals. There are also those who see their badge as a license to bully others. Technically, they aren't criminals but they do a lot of damage to the reputation of cops who don't act that way. Unfortunately, cops are often in situations where their lives depend on one another. That gives the bad cops leverage - turn on them and no one may show up when you call for backup.

More and more often, I hear from middle and upper middle class people who've had bad experiences with cops. These were cops biggest supporters in the past but the bad actors are turning the public against the police.

8:25 AM, May 22, 2009  
Blogger Cham said...

Larry J:

It's not as simple as a few bad cop apples are spoiling the whole bunch. It also has to do with the new police procedures, especially since 911 and our collective war on terror. The cops want to be "safe", now they arrest people first and ask questions later. Everyone goes to the lock-up and they let the 24 hour court commissioner sort it out hours later. That seems fair and a good practice, but there is a cost to all of this "safety".

In my state if you have enough speeding tickets and don't bother to pay them, expect the sheriff at your door at 6AM. You become low hanging fruit for the Sheriff's Department because if you have a fixed address you become very easy to find, unlike our murderers, gang members and drug dealers. Sheriff's like to have successful easy work days.

Yes, this means you, Mr. Uppermiddlclass Whiteperson. For a few unpaid speeding tickets you get thrown in the same tiny windowless cell with addicts amidst their DTs, people with mental instability, and murderers while you wait your 23 hours without your watch, phone and next to the metal toilet while you pray your lawyer shows up to bail you out. Bail can be as low as $50 or you can be released on your own recognizance. You get the full police treatment too: Getting handcuffed facedown in front of your kids, shamed in front of the entire neighborhood in your pajamas, fingerprinted, cavity searched (if they feel it is necessary) and you don't get any toilet paper either.

Once you actually get to court there is a big chance that your case may be dropped due to a variety of reasons, but that won't erase the indignity of the pretrial lockup.

The Judiciary has become an equal opportunity humiliator. Gone are the days when you could actually talk to the police and work something out because you are nice reasonable person that wouldn't hurt a fly. The police are doing all of this in the name of "safety", and I have to agree with them, the police are becoming very safe. But we've become their enemy, we are the terrorists.

If you don't believe me, go ahead and not pay a few speeding tickets and see what happens.

8:51 AM, May 22, 2009  
Blogger David said...

This ended up being a "you can't trust the cops" discussion thread, but I think the real problem here is the "no snitching" cultural phenomenon going on in the hood. 60 Minutes did a piece on it two years ago.

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/04/19/60minutes/main2704565.shtml

10:45 AM, May 22, 2009  
Blogger Slamdunk said...

When you talked about unsolved homicides in a post on December 18, 2008, I listed what I thought were factors related to this--so I won't repost it again.

I don't think that the court case cited has had a significant effect on citizen-police relations.

In contrast, I agree with many of the folks leaving comments here implying that the current expectations of police and the relationship between officers and a large number of citizens have changed since the 1950s--contributing to declines in case closures.

12:00 PM, May 22, 2009  
Blogger br549 said...

One needs to remember the role of police. The police are cops, not lawmakers, not judge, not jury. They are enforcers. A thankless job, especially from a perp.

I don't know if it is a natural tendency of mine that is second nature, or if I'm just plain lucky. But I just don't have run ins with police, aside from asking directions should I be hopelessly lost in a strange town. But with the advent of an address and my trusty GPS receiver, even that has fallen by the wayside.
I have found that if I use cruise control and run maximum speed of 9 mph over the posted interstate speed limit, I can drive right by any Trooper hiding in the bushes with a radar gun. Troopers in VA pull at 11 over, it seems.

I look at my past speeding tickets, and the things I have learned from them, to be a public service. I report such things as necessary on blogs such as this. I have considered a pay pal icon at the bottom of my posts.

7:39 AM, May 23, 2009  
Blogger Mario said...

David, I'm familiar with the "no snitching" phenomenon. But, I've heard it said that the "blue wall of silence" is the most successful "no snitching" campaign in history.

Denizens of the ghettos acting this way, I understand. I don't like it; and, trust me, the fact that I "understand" is no compliment to them.

But cops and their whole "rat bastard" thing -- this is abominably shameful.

1:23 PM, May 23, 2009  
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