There have been three incidents in the past week that should cause any citizen to begin to question just where Trump, the “Law and Order” President and his racist Attorney General henchman are planning to take the American Criminal Justice System? The first was the pardon of the bigoted thug, Joe Arpaio. This former Arizona Sheriff had for years been probably the worst police official in the country as I wrote in Don’t Blame Loathsome Joe Arpaio, Blame the Voters Who Keep Electing Him.
The second sign of Trump Times was a statement by the Ultra Right Wing Sheriff of Polk County, Florida about Arresting People Fleeing Storm [Irma] If They Have Open Warrants. Finally, the third news item dealt with a Utah Police Officer Arresting a Nurse for Refusing to Draw Blood. As this third story has developed it turns out that the officer’s motive had more suspicious origins. The man in a coma was a truck driver hit head-on by a car fleeing a police chase, which was probably unnecessary. The police motive was probably to obtain evidence that the victim of the accident was somehow culpable. This is merely the latest tale in a long line of stories about police covering up for their own misdeeds. This is why in the Age of Trump there is even more reason that:
Not Trusting Police is Rational Behavior
The fact is that there is simply too much information on why a rational person shouldn’t trust police officers in general to be able to fit into one article, so this is an attempt at an overview of that opinion. On a personal note I must say that through the years I have not had many official encounters with police as a driver and as the subject of a criminal investigation. I did work closely with the NYPD professionally for eight years when I was in Child Welfare. I’ve also had personal friends who were Police Officers and through them I have some idea of a “cops way of thinking.” Besides that, one of my patients when I was a psychotherapist was a Police Lieutenant. So I do have some personal familiarity with members of law enforcement and their attitudes.
In more than 55 years of driving I’ve only gotten two speeding tickets, once late at night in North Dakota in 1977 and the other in Florida in 2010. In both instances I was guilty, admitted such to the officer who stopped me and took my ticket with no problem. Being truthful about it, I must admit that even if I hadn’t been guilty I would not have protested the ticket to the officer, but would have waited to explain myself in court. The reason for this is that as a fairly reasonable human being I understand that it makes no sense to argue with someone with a gun and a badge to back that up. We have seen too many instances where protesting to police, or disobeying police orders, has resulted in death for the protester. Two years ago, when the issue of the Ferguson Missouri Police Department and the entire justice set up in that town, was fresh and painful, this story hit the news. It was regarding a St. Louis County Police Officer who forcefully shoved a CNN anchor, during that networks coverage of the protests regarding the killing of Michael Brown:
“A St. Louis County police officer, who was seen pushing a CNN anchor during protests in Ferguson, Mo., this week, was suspended from duty after a controversial video surfaced, in which he fashions himself as a merciless killer. “I personally believe in Jesus Christ as my lord and savior, but I’m also a killer,” said officer Dan Page, a 35-year veteran, in the video. “I’ve killed a lot. And if I need to, I’ll kill a whole bunch more. If you don’t want to get killed, don’t show up in front of me. I have no problems with it. God did not raise me to be a coward.” Page added, “I’m into diversity — I kill everybody. I don’t care.”
St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said Page has been suspended, pending a review by the internal affairs unit, which will begin Monday. The video was brought to Belmar’s attention by CNN’s Don Lemon. “With the comments on killing, that was obviously something that deeply disturbed me immediately,” Belmar told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The comments, which were made before members of the Christian organization, the Oath Keepers, also included his story of going to Kenya in search of “undocumented president,” Barack Obama. “I flew to Africa, right there, and I went to our undocumented president’s home,” Page said, holding a picture of him in Kenya. “He was born in Kenya.” Here.
Page was able to retire with full pension after this story broke. Now riddle me this? How was Dan Page able to remain a police officer for 35 years with this attitude? What does an attitude like Mr. Page’s say about the state of American Policing?
This fall there will be at least 28 hour long fictional “cop” shows on your television screen. This of course does not includes the “non-fiction” police shows, like “48 Hours Mystery”, “Snapped” and “Dateline NBC” et al, which are so popular that the genre even has its own full-time network “Discovery I.D.”. Obviously, there are many Americans who find these shows interesting and who we can infer, might think of America as over-run with crime despite declining FBI crime statistics. In almost every instance on these shows law enforcement officers are portrayed as “noble” people, fighting against the “scourge” of American Crime. It is a version of “The Good Guys vs. The Bad Guys” simplification of very complex issues and yet based on polling we must admit that it has been effective pro police propaganda, even with some rather impressive evidence to the contrary.
We know this from polling:
“A Gallup poll from this past June found that white Americans are 60 percent confident in police, while non-whites checked in at 48 percent. But in recent years, public trust in police has slid. A 2009 poll found that 63 percent of respondents of all races said police had “very high honesty and ethical standards,” but that number dropped to 57 percent the following year.”
The poll and link refer to an article which I am using as a basis for this post: Here.
My own distrust of the police didn’t start at home since I was always taught to respect the police and quite frankly I was a fan of “cop” shows like “Dragnet”. However, once I got my drivers license at 17 and began to drive, my opinion of police deteriorated. This was directly related to the way I was treated by police. Now in 55 years of driving, besides the 2 speeding tickets I mentioned, I have only gotten 3 other traffic tickets. One for a red light, one for not making a right turn in a right turn lane and the third for an outdated inspection sticker. Besides that I have had three auto accidents two of which were minor fender benders in supermarket parking lots and stretching over the 55 year period. I write that lest the reader assumes I am the type of driver that would attract the attention of the police, I’m not.
What happened to me when I started driving was that I would be continually stopped by police, not for infractions, but just because of being a teen. While I was unfailingly polite they treated me arrogantly, were discourteous and often obscene in talking to me. Twice I was told to “fucking get back to my own town” after being stopped literally two miles from my house. also once the battery failed on my old convertible, with the top down and rain starting. I asked the passing NYC patrol car if I could get a “boost” since I had jumper cables and was told to “Get the fuck away from us, we’re not mechanics”.
The third accident I mention occurred in the middle of a blizzard at 2:00am, when I was 18. I skidded into a parked car in Queens, some damage to it and dented my own fender. I had nothing to write my name on, or leave for the cars owner to contact me. It was two months after my mother had died and my father was still deeply mourning her loss. I lied to him about the dent in my car the next morning saying someone had run into me while I was at my friends house and then went off to see my friends again, since it was the weekend. When I arrived home about 1:00 am my father was not only up, he was still dressed. His first question to me was “Tell me about that accident Mike” and when I tried to lie to him he said “Bullshit, 3 people reported you hitting that car to the police and two detectives are coming over now to talk to you about a “hit and run” charge!”
This scared the hell out of me. I was in my first year of college and now I saw myself going to jail. My father told me that when the Detectives arrived to admit what happened and not say a word afterward. The detectives came, I admitted my crime and for five minutes they reamed me out. Then the lead Detective asked my father if he could talk to him in private. They went into the bedroom for a brief time and they both came out smiling. The detective told me sternly that they were letting the charges go, but to never do it again. After they left, stunned and shaken, I asked my father what happened. He told me he got a call from them and that they asked to come over. He knew that if they was going to arrest me they would have called me down to the station rather than come out in the snow. This tipped him off that they wanted a payoff. He had given the Detective $50 to forget about the charges.
Now my father on the other hand, was quite a reckless driver and was constantly getting stopped for speeding tickets. He, however, knew a NYC highway patrol Sergeant who was known as a ticket “bag-man” and he would get his tickets thrown out, or when stopped would talk the officer out of a ticket, or bribe them. Thus in my teens, my positive attitude towards police shifted as I began to understand they all weren’t like Sgt. Joe Friday, on “Dragnet”. Then of course came the Civil Rights Movement and the “Peace” Movement and my view of policing became more jaded.
In any event let’s look at the “3 Reasons Intelligent, Rational Americans Don’t Trust Police”, from the article linked above:
1. Low IQ Academy Applicants Preferred
“A good number of white Americans reject affirmative action legislation because they say it unfairly gives less qualified “minorities” jobs they don’t deserve. Police departments, on the other hand, actually prefer and covet the least qualified applicants they can possibly get.
Mr. Robert Jordan of New London, Conn. wanted to become a cop. The first step in that jurisdiction is for applicants to take a Wonderlic test. Many Americans have heard of this exam because NFL prospects must take it as part of the draft process.
Jordan took the test on March 16, 1996 and scored a 33 (out of 50). He was not allowed to move on to the next stage of the application process because he scored too high on the test. The City of New London defended its policy, saying Jordan scored too far above the “normative median” of 21 and would “get bored” with the job and quit. The average NFL player also scores around 20 on the test, according to Bleacher Report.
Mr. Jordan filed a discrimination lawsuit in federal court alleging a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. The district court dismissed the case, ruling that New London’s policy is “rational.” The U.S. Second Circuit Court Of Appeals affirmed. In other words, it is legal for police departments to purposely hire the least intelligent individuals they can find. Plus the less education they’ve obtained, the easier they are to manipulate. This is why so many Americans are being savagely attacked.
A 2010 Michigan State University study found that cops with a two or four-year degree resorted to using force 56 percent of the time, while those with only a GED or high school diploma used force 68 percent of the time. The Bureau of Justice Statistics found in 2003 that 83 percent of U.S. police agencies require cops only to have a GED or high school diploma, and only one percent require a four-year college degree.”
So first of all it seems that some in authority in policing would prefer to have police officers that would appear to be less intelligent that the average person. Why is that do you think?
2. Incentives To Kill
“Operation-Nation has covered more than 600 instances of police killing, assaulting and/or raping an American since 2006. The offending cop was placed on “paid administrative leave” within a day or two of the incident more than 90 percent of the time.
Police across America know full well if they kill someone (on or off-duty), they will get an extended paid vacation, sometimes lasting years. They also know that it is extremely rare for cops to be held accountable in anyway for their actions.
Mr. Kelly Thomas was beaten to death ON TAPE by Fullerton, Calif. cops Manuel Ramos, Jay Cicinnelli, et al. as he begged for his life in July 2011. It was a small victory for Americans when the aforementioned two killers were actually charged with murder and other crimes. But reality set in at trial when the cops were acquitted.
A paid vacation, along with “atta boys” from fellow cops and Americans who love them, is only a dead human away. Even if they are fired from their current positions for killing or assaulting an American, another cop organization will hire them.
Former Bella Vista, Ark. cop Coleman Brackney, in a rare occurrence in U.S. jurisprudence, was actually convicted of negligent homicide when he murdered James Ahern in January 2010. After serving the insulting 30 day jail sentence, he was hired as police chief in Sulphur Springs, Ark. last March.
The incentives are too great to pass for cops, many of whom desire to kill already. Americans with common sense realize this.”
Now Coleman Brackney, was convicted of “negligent homicide”, served minimal time and was then hired as a police chief, how sadly ironic is that?
3: “Protect And Serve” Myth
“Roommates Carolyn Warren and Joan Taliaferro called police when they heard intruders break into neighbor Miriam Douglas’ apartment and rape her on March 16, 1975. Dispatchers with Washington, D.C. police assured them help was on the way.
The two women, believing police would be there soon, yelled down to the apartment to try and stop the assault. But the two attackers heard them, forced their way into the women’s apartment and proceeded to assault and rape them for the next fourteen hours. Police never showed up.
The women filed a lawsuit – the oft-cited Warren vs. District of Columbia case – but were met with a harsh reality. The Federal DC Court of Appeals dismissed the case in 1981, ruling that cops have “no general duty to provide…police protection.” The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on a similar case, Deshaney vs. Winnebago County, a few years later. That decision was nearly identical to the Warren case, with the majority ruling that there is no relationship between police and citizens that mandates protection. Thus it is well-established law that cops are not here to “protect and serve” despite that falsehood being displayed on many police badges, cars and station walls.
Americans who choose to ignore the facts are the ones who will be in the most danger. Sadly it has come to the point that we must stand our ground when we fear for our lives against these armed henchmen. Police protect and carry out the orders of government, corporations and individuals with large collections of Federal Reserve notes. Anybody who believes otherwise is naive, mentally disabled, and/or afraid to face reality.
There are far more of us than there are of them. But until we’re united on this front, expect more of the same for the foreseeable future.”
The “COPBLOCK.org” article might have been somewhat hyperbolic and it may seem terribly unfair to draw from the instances given to paint a case against all, or even the majority of Police. Yet as we have seen in the recent incidents that the police and prosecutorial authorities seem to bend over backwards to besmirch the victims of the police and protect the officers involved. It has become almost ubiquitous in the U.S. to talk of the “Blue Wall of Silence”.
As I alluded to beginning this piece, there have simply been so many instances in American history of police violence and police corruption that it becomes almost impossible to present the full picture in one post, one book, or even a compendium of books. Yet as we see, our media and our political establishment are wont to treat each incident of improper policing as isolated and out of the larger context. If we look at the post-bellum period in the South and its segregation via Jim Crow laws, we become overwhelmed by the daily incidents of police oppression and murder of Black people, far too numerous to completely piece together. Is the fact that the brutality against Black citizens in the South was done under color of law excuse those police who committed these outrages.
We know from history that it was not only Southern cops committing brutality against citizens and dealing in corruption of the law for personal gain. Can we dismiss the oppression of Mexican by an LAPD recruited from segregated States? Can we dismiss Chicago Police for an ongoing history of corruption and violence? It is there to see in our history books that all over this country many police officers and their bosses in the police hierarchy have behaved in criminal fashion, discriminating, terrorizing and dominating minorities and poor people in their districts.
Yet the legion of police apologists engages in magical thinking and refuses to view the entire context of policing in America. They justify police criminality by blaming the victim and they insist upon ennobling police when they are only civil servants. The thing is though, that in truth a good number of more rational Americans, without regard to race or social status, don’t really trust the police, they just believe that they personally have nothing to fear from them. To this group of citizens, primarily affluent and White, the police exist to keep THEM at bay. Them being people of color, the impoverished, or any other group with little power, but much loathing from affluent Americans.
Then too, most of the public, taught by “Cop Shows” showing heroic officers battling the baddest of bad guys, has little idea about why it is irrational to trust police. If you see the on the TV dastardly villains committing obscene crimes against innocent people, you disregard the tactics used by your police heroes to bring them to justice. Can you trust police though when a Scalia led Supreme Court has reinforced their ability to lie to suspects in the pursuit of a case. Can you trust police who are allowed to set up elaborate schemes to entrap people into criminal behavior? Can you trust police when they force people caught in minor crimes to serve as unpaid informants in order to search for more tantalizing objects for arrest. Crime and punishment in the USA has become more of a game than a matter of protecting the public.
Sadly, as I wrote in “The Law is a Whore” and in its followup The Law is a Whore……Redux the entire American Criminal Justice system is a corrupt failure that is fantasized to be fair and just. Some people imply that I hate cops and they are quite wrong. Most police officers come from a similar class background to my own. They are actually pawns in the game of American corruption and enter a rotten criminal justice system whose real mission is to ensure the comfort and safety of those with wealth and power. If they enter this criminal justice system into supporting the economyfree of bigotry they soon learn that bigotry is required to fit in with the esprit de corps of their local organization. It is required because as I’ve said their real mission is to protect the property and the interests of those with power.
Beyond the legalized murder of Michael Brown, tragic yet all too common in America, is what was exposed about Ferguson, Missouri afterward. The Department of Justice found that the people of color in Ferguson were being exploited by a system that trapped them into supporting the local economy, by a system of fines for petty civil offenses like Michael Brown’s jaywalking. The police were encouraged in this endeavor and th message was that this was keeping them employed. The Ferguson Police were thus corrupted by the Ferguson establishment and in that process why would we think that excesses of undue brutality would not follow? What was uncovered by the DOJ in Ferguson actually represents a system of civic corruption that exists throughout our nation that debases police officers and police work into a system of exploitation of the most vulnerable citizens. The evidence of this police corruption and undue violence is all around us and is overwhelming to the extent that those who deny the truth of it are merely deluded or lying.
I assume that most police officers are sincere in their desire to do their jobs and protect and serve the public when they enter into police work.. The problem is that that the overwhelming majority of “good” cops allow those cops who would abuse the public to get away with it, because their loyalty is misplaced to their fellow officers. Most soldiers who have been in harm’s way have said their motivation for facing such danger is not for their country, but for the “team” their fellow soldiers. The militarization of the police since 9/11 has accelerated the process of police officers seeing themselves as part of an occupying army, loyal only to their fellow officers. However, an “us vs. them” mentality has historically been a motivation for police throughout our nation’s history. The idea that police are somehow above their fellow citizens needs to stop. Until it does though, if ever, if you trust the police to always protect you your trust is mostly misplaced.