Saturday, November 09, 2013

"All [TAG HERE] Are Inherently Evil And Violent."

     Sometimes, the title I've used is true -- when it's a tautology.

     So, what if we fill in the blank with the word "Police?"

     There are plenty of people who'll nod sagely, or even give you a raised fist and a "Right on," though the latter are a dying breed.  Ask kids in tough neighborhoods, kids in the process of finalizing the choice of the .gov-issue orange jumpsuit or not, and they'll agree: the cops are The Enemy, a monolithic, blank-eyed wall of No.

     On the other hand, if you define a group by their enemies, maybe that means the police are a-OK, shining bastions of Order and Decency.  After all, aren't their real enemies criminals?

     One father thought so, and he set 'em on his son after Sonny-boy grabbed the truck to get a pack of smokes; in fact, Papa reported the vehicle as stolen. This, not unexpectedly, caused police hearts in Ames, Iowa to quicken and when the young driver commenced to speed off rather than pull over, things got bad.  Things went from bad to worse after he repeatedly attempted to ram pursuing police cars (go watch the video) and he ended up being herded to a stop well off-road where he'd led them and shot.  Dead.

     Does a kid who takes the car (a marked work truck, in this case) unasked deserve to die?  Aw, c'mon: No.  ("Kid:" He was 19, in those awkward three years between being allowed to vote and allowed to drink to forget what kind of jerk you voted for.)

     Okay, trick question: Does a kid who borrows the car to run to the store deserve to be hunted down as a car thief?  No?  Okay, who set the police on this young man?

     Police aren't mind readers.  They aren't even especially special; they're just people, people whose jobs put them in proximity to the wicked, naughty and intellectually lazy of mankind a lot more than they meet gems of breeding and refinement like you and -- ahem -- me.  They're manifestly not babysitters.  When you give them limited, inaccurate information (to "teach...a lesson") and things take a violent turn, y'know who's to blame?   Hint: probably not the men you lied to.

     Oh, they were holding the guns -- holding them on what they were told was A Car Thief, and indeed, acted like a particularly desperate car thief; but the man who put them there is now saying the truck wasn't really stolen.  Too late.

     When you have a hammer -- and you spend all day hammering nails -- what do you suppose you're going to do the next time someone hands you a nail?  How much difference is it going to make in the outcome when, after you've sunk the thing, they tell you, "Wait, wait, that was really a deck screw!"*  And they'll call you a brute for whacking it with the same tools you use every day.

     The incident has led to a number of oh-the-horrid-police articles.  It's certainly a bad outcome and there's no question who did the shooting.  But anyone who fails to understand the very basic principle, "If you make the police come after you, they're bringing a beating," doesn't grasp human nature.  Hey, surprise, we get some tough guys (and gals) in the police; we get people who act decisively on limited information and sometimes we get suboptimal outcomes.  They're not trained dogs.  They're not therapists.  They're not your best bud and -- as long as they don't think you're up to no good -- they're not your enemy. On average, they are no more "thugs" than the culture in which they are embedded -- and feeding them false information just about ensures you're not going to get the results you were after.

     In a couple of places, people are pointing out that policemen reportedly score pretty high (as a group) on tests for psychopathology -- along with politicians, journalists, generals and other groups that rely on emotional "distance" to do their jobs.  Okay, say it's true (it may even be necessary).  In that case, why would you want to feed 'em lies or go poking at them?

     Peel wrote it over a hundred years ago and it's still true: "The police are the public and the public are the police;" they reflect the society of which they are a part. If you're having issues with police attitudes and behavior, you're having issues with the behavior and attitudes of your culture as a whole, and you need to put your shoulder against that wheel before you've got a ghost of a chance of moving the one incribed with a thin blue line.  (And, perverse though it may seem to both you and them, you need to be ensuring police remain a part of the greater society, and see themselves that way.  When it became more efficient to stick cops in cars instead of walking a beat, it got a lot easier to fall into "us vs. them" thinking on both sides of the windshield.  The societal price is probably a lot higher than anyone realizes.)

     --And don't go tryin' to use the police's time and your neighbor's taxes to "teach your kid a lesson."  That's not their function.  People get killed that way.
* Sounds obvious, right?  Framing nail, deck screw--  It ain't.  They're about the same size.  They're about the same color.  Spend a few hours wielding a framing hammer -- wearing gloves, right, 'cos you want to protect your hands -- and you may find yourself whacking a deck screw in, too.  Pine 2x4s don't like that, by the way, though sometimes you can get away with it.


Anonymous said...

1) Cars always involved in more deaths than guns. Use a car as a weapon, expect deadly force to be applied.

2) I had a co-worker wanting to know if I could have her son arrested for the same offense. I told her that it would be for a felony, and her son would spend some time, however short in a large city jail. I also told her the police would treat it as a felony, not as some dumb ass kid in need of a ass whooping.

She decided against it, and junior ended up spending the next two years at a Valley Forge Military Academy. He's a great person now, he was not then.

3) Policemen, teachers and other governmental employees are not your kids parents. You are. so act like it.


Ken said...

And don't go tryin' to use the police's time and your neighbor's taxes to "teach your kid a lesson."

Yeah, that x eleventy. Gerry's Point 3 is spot on too.

Dave H said...

Agree with pretty much all that's been said, but I'll also note that when given good information and a task appropriate to the profession, the police can back up the parents in doing their jobs.

Some years ago my younger daughter went clubbing and didn't come home. I was annoyed because she had my car and I was supposed to go to work the next morning, but I was also worried because the club she was going to was in the city where bad things happen. We tried calling her cell phone, her friends, and I even drove into the city with my wife's car to look around the club area. Finally about noon we called the police. They sent two officers over to take a report, we gave them a photo, and they said they'd check with State Police and other jurisdictions to be on the lookout.

Our daughter came wandering in about 3 that afternoon, surprised that we were so upset. After we got done with her, we had her call the police herself to report that she'd come home. They sent a different officer out to finish up the report. The officer lectured my daughter about how she shouldn't treat the people who care about her so thoughtlessly, because there are a lot of kids who don't have that at home. My daughter's been good as gold ever since. (Except for taking the cat when she moved out. I was so distraught I had to adopt two more.)

Comrade Misfit said...

Every kid should have to watch Chris Rock's video on how not to get your ass kicke by the po-po.

Comrade Misfit said...


Sport Pilot said...

You hit this one out of the ball park Bobbie. Well done indeed.

Mike V. said...

Bobbie, as a cop of 38 years (and counting) Thank You!

Anonymous said...

Living here just 30 miles away from this incident, it has been plastered all over every outlet. Although in some of the supposed statements by witnesses and initial police statements There are a few things that kind pick at my mental radar as far as maybe they should have done x instead of y I am willing to let DCI carry out their investigation and get ALL the facts sorted. What is not disputed -- stolen truck- high speed near pedestrian area (tore a trailer right off the hitch)- multiple attempts to injure cops-- when stopped refused to turn off vehicle or get out.

Joseph said...

It seems, from where I sit, the 19 yo was as much a victim of really poor judgement/actions as anything else. Did he deserve to die? No. Did his actions make the reactions of the police reasonable? Yeah, I think so. I don't understand the kid's mindset...what did he think was going to happen?

Roberta X said...

Did he think -- or just react? Nobody's said how heated the argument that led to the truck-taking was. At 19, it's still pretty easy for anger to hyper-dominate, washing away caution, concern for the safety of others, etc. Add in a big old adrenaline dump when the lights and siren came on and you have a formula for disaster.

Anonymous said...

Well, just watch the thing yourself.

Considering how the guy had pretty much disabled the truck by the time the pistols came out, well. In the wake of learning of two incidents of Deming, New Mexico officers arranging anal probes for traffic offenses, and this morning reading of a Joliet officer who shot a dog in the face just cuz (maybe, like the Johnny Cash song, just to see him die, though he didn't), maybe I'm not feeling the warm fuzzies for the fuzz today. Try me again tomorrow.

Roberta X said...

So, Mr. Nameless, did you not see the link to the video in the body of my blog post? I made a point of watching it all the way through, and listening to the (telescoped) recording of related radio comms before forming my opinion.

"Pretty much disabled the truck," yes, by very aggressive responses to the police, endangering other motorists, etc. What reason did the officers have to doubt they were facing a desperate guy who wasn't going to be deterred by having his truck partially boxed in? You don't seem to realize that an automobile is a deadly weapon, at least as dangerous as a gun, especially to a person on foot.

As for "warm and fuzzies," please go back and show me where I was all hugs & kisses. I implied police were *human.* I pointed out they are, in fact, dangerous to screw around with.

A father wound 'em up and pointed 'em at his son, as thoughtlessly as another kind of idiot might point a loaded gun. When he bumps the trigger, the idiot says, "I didn't mean to. I only wanted to frighten." That's not what guns are for. That not what "the fuzz" are for, either.

Anonymous said...

I'm no longer much of a fan of the police in general; too many home invasion raids, too many pets shot, too many evasions of accountability as "procedure", too many attempted frames of victims of mistakes in order to evade blame. (With so many attempted frames known, how many must there be that were successful?) The powers given in the War on Drugs especially have corrupted many officers into arrogant bullies as predicted by Lord Acton's dictum, and it's only going to get worse as older ones retire.

That said, in the LiveLeak dashcam video, the truck smashes into a police car again immediately before the police fire, obviously in response. How can that possibly be considered other than a deadly threat? The truck certainly not disabled in the sense of "couldn't be used to kill the officers present." That was clear and present danger to their lives, and shooting the driver is the most reasonable and obvious response.

Anonymous said...

unnamed in Iowa again, the live leak video presents more than the clips that have been shown here locally. I have now change my opinion to no question that the police responded correctly by firing. If you watch closely a few thing become obvious truck was not disabled when he fired , first shot was fired within < 2 seconds of last impact of the truck trying to kill a cop and just as last shot is fired you see truck jump as if it was put into gear. there is right at 4 seconds between last impact and all shots fired.

based on location and actions of driver shown in video I would not have expected the cops to cut off the chase either.