Thursday, July 7, 2016

Police Shootings


Sean said...

"Here we go again."

Sadly, yes. This is a good time to review Justice Sotomayor's dissent in Utah v. Strieff, particularly the last three paragraphs.

John said...


"This case involves a suspicionless stop, one in which the officer initiated this chain of events without justification. As the Justice Department notes, supra, at 8, many innocent people are subjected to the humiliations of these unconstitutional searches. The white defendant in this case shows that anyone’s dignity can be violated in this manner. See M. Gottschalk, Caught 119–138 (2015). But it is no secret that people of color are disproportionate victims of this type of scrutiny. See M. Alexander, The New Jim Crow 95–136 (2010). For generations, black and brown parents have given their children “the talk”—instructing them never to run down the street; always keep your hands where they can be seen; do not even think of talking back to a stranger—all out of fear of how an officer with a gun will react to them. See, e.g., W. E. B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk (1903); J. Baldwin, The Fire Next Time (1963); T. Coates, Between the World and Me (2015).

By legitimizing the conduct that produces this double consciousness, this case tells everyone, white and black, guilty and innocent, that an officer can verify your legal status at any time. It says that your body is subject to invasion while courts excuse the violation of your rights. It implies that you are not a citizen of a democracy but the subject of a carceral state, just waiting to be cataloged.
We must not pretend that the countless people who are routinely targeted by police are “isolated.” They are the canaries in the coal mine whose deaths, civil and literal, warn us that no one can breathe in this atmosphere.

See L. Guinier & G. Torres, The Miner’s Canary 274–283(2002). They are the ones who recognize that unlawful police stops corrode all our civil liberties and threaten all our lives. Until their voices matter too, our justice system will continue to be anything but."

John said...

I personally will wait until the investigations are complete before jumping to conclusions and thinking the worst of our officers.

John said...

It is interesting that both these men were carrying concealed guns on their person. Selling CDs and working in school cafeteria must be high risk jobs.

Sean said...

"I personally will wait until the investigations are complete before jumping to conclusions and thinking the worst of our officers."

Who's jumping to conclusions? It's empirical fact at this point that police are killing black people at a higher rate than white people. There are many reasons that this is the case, but one of them is bias -- implicit and explicit.

"It is interesting that both these men were carrying concealed guns on their person. Selling CDs and working in school cafeteria must be high risk jobs."

The Minnesota guy was well within his rights to be carrying a gun. This is how you're going to blame the victim in this case?

Sean said...

Radley Balko had a good column in the WaPo yesterday about the Baton Rouge incident.

Alton Sterling's death appears to be another police shooting that was both legal and preventable

Key excerpt:

"Perhaps in the coming days we’ll learn that in this particular situation, the officers had no choice but to take Sterling down, though the video at least suggests otherwise. Yet we’ve see way too officer-involved shootings in recent years in which the officers’ perception (or misperception) of the threat was reasonable at the moment of the shooting, but in which the officer or other officers’ escalation helped create the threat in the first place.

If we really want to reduce fatal police shootings instead of merely adjudicating them, we need to train officers in tactics that subdue threats, reward those who resolve threats without violence, and discourage actions that create unnecessary confrontation, violence, and escalation. And when these shootings are investigated — be it by the DOJ, internal affairs departments, local prosecutors or an outside agencies — it’s time to start looking beyond whether or not the shooting was justified under the black letter of the law. It’s time to start asking whether the shooting was preventable — and if it was, whether the failure to prevent it was due to poor training, bad policies, or police officers acting in contravention of policies or training.

Was it legal? is the question we ask when deciding whether or not to prosecute. Was it preventable? is the question we need to ask to save lives."

John said...

I thought the concealed guns were interesting, nothing more, nothing less.

I am certain the BLM supporters will paint these individuals as pure as the fresh fallen snow. Just like they did the individual who robbed a store and attacked a police officer, and the other who injured a woman and interfered with the ambulance crew.

And I am certain the Police Union will swear up and down that the officers did what was necessary.

And folks like me will bring up interesting facts from all sides. I am guessing you are already on your way to blaming those racist police officers... :-)

John said...

MP Asking For Fed Investigation

John said...

Here is an interesting and somewhat related piece. MP Challenge in Getting Diverse Police Forces

"Surprised and disappointed that this article didn't mention the Rule of Three, an archaic session law that applies to Minneapolis and restricts the ability to hire (or even interview) diverse candidates." B Dalager

"Interesting. Rule of 3

Of course the bigger challenge is how do we start holding Parents and Schools accountable for ALL Children successfully completing High School. If 50% of students from poor families can not even pass that low hurdle... They will never qualify to become police officers." G2A

MN Police Reqts It seems a 4 year degree of some kind is required... Not sure why?

John said...

An excellent piece and some comments.

""Fact based?" Chief Ohl screwed up the statistics, big time. The number of arrests has nothing to do with the number that cops killed in a year, i.e., these dead folks were never arrested nor is it apparent that they needed to die "by the numbers." He also omits those who were shot and survived their police encounters or whether they were ever found guilty of a crime or not.

Even if you did take his numbers at face value, there is no accounting for racial profiling anywhere in the figures cited.

I certainly won't blame him for Philando Castile's gruesome death, but it is a part of Chief Ohl's legacy even a few months after his departure." Bill

"On the news tonight there were stories about 2 protests. One is the BLM protest about how hard police are on young Black men. The other is a memorial for a toddler who was killed recently in a drive by shooting. The unfortunate statistical reality is that she was likely shot by a young Black man...

Now the reality is that defects will occur when ~1 Million Officer interact Daily with ~340 million US residents.
Sigma and Defects

The idea of eliminating defects in these very uncontrolled interactions impossible. Unfortunately errors will occur. Now the question is what does our society want? More bad guys getting away to mug, kill, rob, deal drugs, rape, etc? Or more somewhat innocent folks not being injured or killed?

I have to wonder if the BLM supporters are just as outraged when a poor single woman gets pregnant by several different baby daddies? She is poorly prepared for the challenge of being the single parent of multiple children, so those children fail in school and the cycle of generational poverty, crime and bad choices is continued.

Personally I don't care about race, I think that often poor people are poor for a reason. To escape poverty and a high risk life one must do good in school, communicate well, work hard, be self disciplined, etc. Now are the Parents and the society in the high risk inner city areas willing to do this?

Or will I continue to hear about Toddlers being shot in drive by shootings?" G2A

John said...

"Chief Ohi is to be commended for his service, and especially for the service of speaking out honestly about what he has observed. I think frank and open communication is essential for dealing with complex problems like police/community relations. And I recognize the social danger from disparaging police work.

Since Chief Ohi has obviously been reflective about what he has observed, I hope he will be reflective about two additional issues:

First, the impact of media. It is true that decades ago some competing newspapers resorted to sensationalism to sell their product. And, unfortunately, some news outlets (and politicians) continue to do so today. While, without money, there would be no newspapers or cable news, today's bias toward exceptional cases is not driven by media greed, but by the public appetite. I doubt that Chief Ohi would think that the general public believes that flying in an airline is dangerous because plane crashes receive extended and prominent coverage, while each plane that lands safely does not. The Constitutional concept of a free press is not based on the need for folks to be told that their neighbors are good people, but to be told that a particular neighbor shot a judge who was hearing his case. The media has an important role in exposing and exploring social problems. But the media also make a point of finding out "good" stories and telling them. I hope Chief Oi will search his memory for the many pieces extolling good police work or heroic cops that have been relayed by the Twin Cities media. If he or most folks skipped past them or forgot them, it isn't the fault of the media.

Second, I hope Chief Ohi will think deeper about the nature of the current conflict. It is not that some individual cops do bad things. His statistics seem to focus on the issue of how rarely that happens. The issue is to what extent the actions of a single "bad cop" draw attention to a much broader problem, a possible attitude among many cops. This is a complicated issue, hard to measure, but the discussion should move beyond a single case and focus on the broader patterns in statistics about criminal justice, that show disparities in stops, searches, arrests, convictions, and shootings by police based on who the categories the suspects fall in, not what they have done. Media coverage of that issue will benefit both the public and the police." Rudgers

"Yes unfortunately our society is focused on the negative and conflicts, therefore news outlets give us more of what we demand. And reporting on airline accidents does not increase the danger of it occurring, however it does feed those who fear it happening to them or theirs. Just as the the non-stop coverage of police shootings feeds the fear of those who are concerned about the topic. I mean we have gotten to the point where the BLM supporters have convicted the officer(s) before they even know what happened.

Broader problem: You are correct that the BLM matters people should be spending their time ensuring the inner city kids are raised responsibly in 2 Parent families and do well in school. If you own older vehicles, live in crime filled communities, etc you are more likely to be pulled over. No Racism required.

In your opinion, should the officer have pulled over the gentleman for a bad tail light or let him drive on by because he has Black? " G2A

John said...

"It's an understandable (though unfortunate) aspect of human nature that we use categories to "make sense" of things. John Ohl categorizes media in the same simplistic way he is rightly concerned that police are categorized. Media, such as MinnPost, is not simply about big business exploiting sensationalistic stories and ignoring the good.

The shooter in Dallas categorized police and white people. Trump supporters categorize immigrants. Isis categorizes. Racism is about categorizing. Business is categorized. Government.

We'll have a safer society not so much when media only tells good stories and all police have body cams that don't fall off -- but when our future generations have learned not to lump people/institutions into categories so instinctively.

I agree with John Ohl -- who has done his job in a difficult profession -- that there is much about certain aspects of media that needs adjusting, certain "news professionals" that do a disservice to their colleagues. As a member of the media, and a writer working on a book about our perceptions as society, I think we all do better when we can see and admit that there are individuals -- not categories -- that need to be called out. Law enforcement is an important, dangerous profession and shouldn't be categorized solely by the individuals in its ranks who make life-ending mistakes of judgment, sometimes caused by biased fear and anger and adrenaline. But for that to happen, those individuals need to be held accountable when they do -- as does anyone who makes horrible mistakes in judgment, with our money, our public health, our trust." Mikki

""our future generations have learned not to lump people/institutions into categories "

Just curious, how do you see this happening. BLM and their supporters absolutely want to make this about Race. Now I live in the nice peaceful suburb of Plymouth and I have yet to read about any of our Black citizens being injured or shot by the police.

The reality is that this is about poverty, poor educations, broken families, life style choices, bad luck, good luck, etc. Now will the BLM folks accept the criticisms of Black men like Don Lemon and work to improve their society? Or will they keep pointing at others for the challenges that are faced by people like themselves while calling Don a sell out?

Are you willing to write that some Black people who got married, had kids, stayed married, etc are doing GREAT? And that some Black people who made different choices are having problems?

Or do you choose to write about our society's systemic racism?" G2A

John said...

"John Ohl speaks with passion in defense of his profession, a calling which he feels is being unfairly handled, if not indeed targeted, in the media. His view of the rationale for this is that bad news sells. It would be hard to argue against such a view, however, as noted above, this is a somewhat simplistic take on a complicated issue.

I wish the author and Chief Ohl had discussed what some in society perceive to be an accountability gap concerning law enforcement. Reasonable people will generally conclude that the vast majority of men and women in law enforcement are honest, hard working individuals serving the community in an incredibly difficult profession. As in any profession, however, there are always a very bad apples, and there is a growing perception, especially in the African American community, that these individuals are not held to the same level of accountability as the rest of society. This perception, true or not, fosters distrust and disrespect for law enforcement within the community they are sworn to serve.

Accountability is critical when one examines the reputation law enforcement enjoys - or enables - with society. Not being a policeman myself, i would value what insights John Ohl has on the subject." Tim

"Police like Teachers are often protected by very strong Unions that many commenters here support as critical to protecting the Public Employees from being treated unfairly. Unless one is willing to wrestle with the concept of Public Union Power it is unlikely an "accountability" discussion will go very far.

Now I am willing to bet that the officer who shot Philando is one of those "honest, hard working individuals serving the community in an incredibly difficult profession". Unfortunately that does not help anyone when he sees the suspect in the car make an unexpected motion and responds by shooting them. Did you ever see the movie "Crash"? Excellent show by the way...

Even the best most sincere dedicated employee makes mistakes occasionally. The problem with police mistakes is that either the officer or the suspect may end up dead." G2A

jerrye92002 said...

"It's empirical fact at this point that police are killing black people at a higher rate than white people. "

It turns out that the latest studies prove this is NOT the case. Police use force more often with black suspects, which I chalk up to behavioral differences (have you ever seen how some black suspects react to police?), but the rate at which blacks are killed is actually LESS. And let us not forget that very few of those killed, of either race, were "innocent" bystanders; most were engaged in behavior that ought to get you shot.

Sean said...

The data is not clear on this point, and it should also be pointed out that the study you refer to is based on police reports, not any independent agency, and many districts to this day don't provide any information about use of force by their officers. The data collected by the Washington Post covering 2015 and 2016 (thus far) shows that blacks are being killed at a higher rate than whites by police.

John said...

Does the WP analysis correct for the fact that the violent crime, gang membership, etc are higher for young Black and Latino males?

One can not make valid comparisons without normalizing the data.

jerrye92002 said...

And even if the rate-- i.e. percent of the population-- were the same, it would not account for the difference in behavior of the suspects based on their race. A suspect that shoots at police is more likely to get shot in return than one that surrenders quietly or offers only token resistance.

Anonymous said...

"A suspect that shoots at police is more likely to get shot in return..."

Not if they're white.


John said...

I'll show you my data and facts if you show me yours.

jerrye92002 said...

Joel, your comment doesn't make sense at all. Are you telling me that police care one whit about the race of someone who is shooting at them, black or white? Isn't it almost inevitable that police will shoot back at a suspect? Now if you want to argue that police are more likely to shoot an UNARMED and cooperating black suspect than a white one, feel free, but you will still be wrong.