Compliance Is Not Enough

Over at Police One ("the #1 resource for cops"), there's an editorial:

When does a waterfall start? If you wait to furiously paddle your kayak until the water goes from horizontal to vertical you will be swept away. Just like a waterfall starts upstream, a [ citizen's ] attack or escape [ from a police officer ] begins cascading long before the fists or feet fly…

If the threat is not overwhelming, the primitive brain gives the thinking brain a little time to mull things over … [ and ] develop an escape plan…

Our fear of tackling a nervous, but complaint, offender creates an intervention delay…

The compliant person is bracing for submission … [ and will ] maintain eye contact with you…

There you have it: a chief of police says that the problem that cops have is that they are too nervous about attacking seemingly compliant citizens, and they should be on more of a hair trigger; unless the citizen is "bracing for submission" and maintaining eye contact, the cop should consider "tackling" him.

It must be good advice – the author lets us know that he has an Education PhD and he's coined a term "cascade sequence" that sounds scientific.

Last 5 posts by Clark


  1. Noscitur a sociis says

    After clicking on the link and reading two pages on the author's website, it looks to me like this post is tendentious selective quoting of a person whose stated educational objectives include achieving "reduced use of force" and "a calmer, more professional demeanor."

  2. Ryan says

    You should have quoted additional sections of the article, Clark:

    Many police officers — as seen on videos — wait far too long interpreting attack signals before engaging an offender.

    Subtle and not-so-subtle manifestations of this mental process show up in the body seconds before gross body movements of fight or flight present. I call this process the cascade sequence. Just like we don’t want to start paddling until we’re over the brink, we don’t want to start dealing with non-compliance until the offender strikes.

    I'm going to venture a guess that you've never been in a physical fight; or at least, not a serious one.

    There are many, many cues that a persons' body language expresses before they sucker punch – etc – you. If you know how to watch for them, then it becomes a fairly simple matter to avoid being sucker punched. The same is true of most physical behaviours.

    Where the author makes a legitimate points is many, MANY police suck at noticing the cues that someone is about to fight them and/or run before it happens – and it does lead to far more serious injury (e.g. there are many law enforcement who think that because they outweigh someone by half, they don't need to handcuff said someone. There are many videos demonstrating just how badly that can end for everyone involved; cop in hospital, suspect later shot dead).

    Does it give an excuse for "tackling" a compliant person, in the words of the article? Well, clearly not – unless the author is using a different operating definition of tackle than everyone else who speaks English. However, the point about police in particular failing to recognize assault/flight cues is a very legitimate one – so much so that recognition of these cues is now taught in all standardized Use of Force training in my country in particular.

    Both of the points I've listing below – from the article – are well-recognized for their practical value:

    In general, compliant nervousness will manifest in the offender’s body position being square with the officer and concentrated on his own existing space rather than angled or gradual positioning for fight or flight. Nervous jitters will center in the hands and voice of a compliant subject.

    Compliant subjects may talk more — speech requires brain cells that are not available to the person contemplating for fight or flight. Physical preparation of the non-compliant is going to the shoulders, elbows, feet, hips, and knees for fight or flight. The compliant person is bracing for submission and will have nervous hands and fingers rather than the large muscle groups. The submissive will more likely maintain eye contact with you — the non-compliant will be scanning for targets, confederates, or escape routes.

    However, lest it be thought that I agree with the author: know what threat/flight cues are, watch for them religiously, but force should ONLY be used when inherently reasonable and in reasonable proportion. That, unfortunately, is another thing that many cops suck at.

  3. says

    After clicking the link and reading the entire article, I find Clark's excerpts to be perfectly fair to the tone and intent of the full thing. It's pretty foolish to try to quote someone out of context, or distort their meaning, when you provide a link to the full context so that any reader can trivially judge for themselves. (Anyone so intellectually lazy as to rely only on an excerpt when the full text is provided deserves mockery and contempt. Anyone who quotes selections but does NOT provide a link to the full text invites suspicion. And if I were a cop, that would, apparently, be justification to beat them bloody — which is the point of the article.)

    Articles like this are often used, on the rare occasions when police brutality is caught on film and a trial is actually held, to justify the cop's actions, the "You don't know what it's like being a cop" and "Don't trust your eyes, trust my client, Officer Friendly!" defenses: "Sure, it LOOKS like my client kneed the guy in the groin when he was surrendering and begging not to be hit, then tased him 41 times, but he had been trained to recognize super-secret signs that the perp was actually going to kill him with his magic ninja powers, and if he didn't act right away, he'd be dead and his children would be crying. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, do you want Officer Friendly's children crying?"

  4. En Passant says

    Ryan wrote Nov 16, 2013 @1:30 pm:

    There are many, many cues that a persons' body language expresses before they sucker punch – etc – you. If you know how to watch for them, then it becomes a fairly simple matter to avoid being sucker punched. The same is true of most physical behaviours.

    Most animals exhibit such cues. That's why cops shoot puppies that are wagging their tails and making submissive body signals. They know it's just a clever ploy that those crafty puppies use to fool them before ripping their throats out. That's why cops always "feel threatened".

    Ordinary citizens don't understand this sixth sense, probably because they haven't gone to cop school.

  5. AlphaCentauri says

    Every cop making an arrest is doing an assessment of whether it's going to go well or not, whether consciously or unconsciously. It only makes sense to discuss that process publicly, so people can argue about whether the factors they are using to make judgments are appropriate. For instance, lack of eye contact is often interpreted as being disrespectful or planning to flee, but in Hispanic culture, it might be a gesture of respect toward an authority figure. Cops need to recognize their own biases and discuss the problems before they're in a situation where anyone could get hurt.

  6. Rick H. says

    However, the point about police in particular failing to recognize assault/flight cues is a very legitimate one

    Yes, they see such cues when they don't exist, and use them as a basis to escalate the use of force against citizens who are no threat to them. The myth that most cops have a singularly dangerous gig is used to justify their attacks on the elderly, handicapped, minors, etc.

    I suspect most LEOs will draw a predictable lesson from the chief's contention that those suspects who choose not to speak or answer their questions are gearing up for an attack. For non-police, exercising our right to remain silent can mean tasering, state-sanctioned assault or worse.

  7. says

    Recognizing potential attack does not justify pre-emptive attack. Not for the police, and not for a citizen. The police officer who recognizes the potential for attack should be prepared to deflect the attack, but it is still assault to attack first.

  8. says

    Obviously my above is for an unarmed situation. If the criminal has a gun (really – not just a cell phone that looks like a gun) I'm cool with shooting him if he fails to respond to clear directives to drop it.

  9. says


    I'm going to venture a guess that you've never been in a physical fight; or at least, not a serious one.

    Not in the last…(counts fingers and two toes)…11 months.

  10. JimBob says

    Do officers need to know how to recognize that a situation is likely to lead to an physical confrontation?


    Back in my day, we called this "common fucking sense". The vast majority of physical altercations are not initiated when an aggressor just randomly hauls off and slugs a person without any warning or provocation. Most aggressors are agitated. Most aggressors feel aggrieved (whether their feeling has any grounding in reality is beside the point).

    I'm not saying no-warning attacks never happen, but they certainly don't represent a significant portion of physical altercations, and they sure as hell shouldn't be baseline expectation among officers interacting with the public. Nor should "all citizens are likely to attack police randomly!" be the assumption underlying the development of use-of-force guidelines.

    I would love to suggest that cops be provided regular training on how to detect signs of an imminent fight, but (1) if you need training in the topic, it's unlikely to actually help you, (2) a lot of body language research and training is little more than pseudoscientific bullshit, and (3) the most likely outcome is for cops to start using "body language" as a justification for escalating the use of force– for instance, when Miami cops tackled and choked a boy for "dehumanizing stares".

  11. Pandora says

    Hey Clark!

    I saw another article on I'd like your opinion on, because I feel its a little sad that cops killing during confrontations is so common there's actually a handbook to deal with the civil fall out. I'm guessing the civil fall out is more likely to be a worry than criminal charges.

    This article, 10 tips for when you are served with a use-of-force lawsuit notice gives some tips that seem odd to me. I'm not a lawyer, so this could be due to my ignorance.

    This one in particular caught my eye;

    Consider filing a countersuit against plaintiffs who sue you. The filing of a countersuit can significantly change the dynamics of the suit against you.

    Countersue? Based on effing what? The author does not suggest what grounds there could be for countersue, but can one just countersue a plaintiff based on, well, it seems, nothing? Don't there have to be actual charges to lay to countersue or can one just sue a plaintiff? Could I interpret the phrase "significantly change the dynamics of the suit against you" as "you can make this law suit filed by the loved ones of person you shot too costly to pursue"?

    It must be so nice to have a handbook to navigate these difficult waters, with the default worry being that of a civil suit rather than criminal charges after you shoot someone dead.

    Sorry for veering off-topic, I plead "noob"

  12. C. S. P. Schofield says

    We need to remove a lot of protections from Cops for the consequences of their mistakes, and then when they complain that we are putting them between a rock and a hard place we tell them "That's what your job IS, nitwits."

  13. Pandora says


    They didn't have many problems like this before they got rid of height requirements.

    Are you saying that it's the short cops who are the problem?

  14. says

    C. S. P. Schofield

    "That's what your job IS, nitwits."

    Hero: someone who puts himself in danger to help others.

    Cop: someone who thinks the most important thing is "coming home safe".

  15. jimmythefly says

    @ Clark
    Wait, you only have 9 fingers? Or are you not counting your thumbs?

    Wait -that doesn't make sense either, unless one of your hands has 6 fingers and your count did not include the thumbs.

    In which case, you killed my father, prepare to die.

  16. says

    A big problem here, as big as the inability to interpret signals, is the inability to deescalate a conflict. When faced with any kind of resistance, far too many cops confront that resistance by beating it into submission. See the above comments about "dehumanizing stares" and "resisting arrest" and so on. They treat every act of disrespect as a threat to their life and limb.

    "Don't draw a sword to kill a fly" is an old proverb, and the author of the editorial would do well to consider it. I don't have high hopes of him ever doing so.

  17. says


    @ Clark Wait, you only have 9 fingers?

    If I answered that question I'd be degrading some of the atmosphere of mystery that I've worked so hard to create.

    In which case, you killed my father, prepare to die.

    Come at me, bro!

  18. Marzipan says

    This article points out another reason dashcams and the like should be SOP: They'd provide lots of real-world data for research. The article's author has proposed a series of behavioral indicators that he views as predictive of attack. Because he views roleplayers as inauthentic when it comes to training scenarios, hi-res dashcams (and ideally, hi-res buttonhole cams) would provide the needed data to test his hypotheses.

    That way, the sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, and negative predictive value of each of his signs could be assessed. One would need coders who were trained to assess each sign reliably and who were blind to whether the detainee being coded actually attacked an officer or not (among other things I"m not likely thinking of at the moment). Would Chief Shults be willing to put his propositions to the empirical test?

    I think I also see where both sides are coming from here as to whether Clark misrepresented the Chief's article. Though he didn't explicitly quote the supposed differences between the compliant and non-compliant detainees, Clark did link to the article in question, and I think he accurately picked up on the lack of any de-escalation techniques mentioned. Perhaps some signs in that cascade are more amenable to de-escalation strategies than others, and tackling need not be the only response available when such signs are observed. Also, the subject of detention is described as an "offender", not as a detainee whose status as genuine offender needs to be assessed.

    It's that kind of certainty in cops' attitudes that can also be dangerous and elevate the level of threat posed by anyone who's detained. For example, a similar "attack cascade" might characterize the behavior of cops who use excessive force (as revealed by hi-res dashcams). Would Chief Shults also advocate for research dollars to study this cascade as well to preemptively identify officers at risk for overzealous reactions?

  19. Artor says

    When does a waterfall start? If you wait to furiously paddle your kayak until the water goes from horizontal to vertical you will be swept away. Just like a waterfall starts upstream, a [ citizen's ] attack or escape [ from a police officer ] begins cascading long before the fists or feet fly…

    When I first read this, it wasn't until the bracketed nouns that I realized it wasn't a call to action against the police. Like, don't wait until martial law is declared to revolt; the signs are here already. Be proactive! I was kinda disappointed that it was another bit of "It's totally okay if cops beat the hell out of helpless citizens on a whim because reasons!"

  20. barry says

    This is now acceptable via Rumsfeld-think relabelling: It's not aggression, it's preemptive defense.

  21. says

    Re: "cascade sequence"

    The term has been in use, in various situations, for at least forty years, probably longer. IIRC, I first encountered it in a discussion of electronic trigger circuits, circa 1973.

    See also the old kid's game "Mousetrap"

  22. says

    Um, aren't _all_ cascades a "sequence"? I mean, I don't mean to mock the guy, but…ok, that's a lie, I do. I wish he had simply broken his points out into a numbered numerical sequence to make it clearer.

  23. says

    I have a little experience with the whole "cascade"/body language theory.

    I was a bouncer at a Detroit night club for somewhere around 15 years (it's hard to remember; I took a few breaks here and there to work other jobs and more than a few blows to the head). I've been in many, many physical confrontations, and a few involving law enforcement.

    There's some truth to what the cop is saying; there are little physical signals someone gives off when they're about to assault someone. Some of them can be pretty subtle (for example, a lot of people, before they're going to hit you, will lick their lips. Why? Hell if I know), and some of them not so subtle (squaring their shoulders and widening their stance; usually seen with people who have had some sort of martial training).

    The problem is…a lot of people give off those exact same signals when they're nervous or scared. Licking their lips, for example (what's up with that? No, really, I would like to know). It's human nature, and a part of the flight or fight response. Even if they aren't going to assault you, they may be preparing to if they have no other choice. And if you don't assault them? They won't be "forced" to assault you, and, thus, they won't.

    In Michigan, we have a rule for bouncers called "equal force". At the base level, we are allowed to restrain someone to remove them from the premises; we're not allowed to hit, choke, pepper spray, etc. However, if someone hits you? You're allowed to hit back. And the return hits must be an appropriate response to the initial blow; if they slap you, you can't hit 'em with a MagLite. I suppose you could slap them back, but, in my experience, that would only escalate the situation and make things worse. Something like this might work for the police, though I'm not really sure how it would be codified, implemented, or enforced.

  24. says

    I was going to write something on this, now that I have gotten juvenile mockery out of my system for a few seconds, but @JimBob and @C. S. P. Schofield kind of nailed it for me.

    At the risk of putting my Guy Fawkes mask on and asking "and whose fault is this?" It's ours (society, that is) – we started venerating a profession that, at it's best can show us true heroism, and at it's worst, can remind us that the difference between a criminal and a Police Officer can be non-existent.

    Most importantly, we need to get back to remembering that it is a J.O.B., one that we (society again) are paying to have done.

  25. Noscitur a sociis says

    Recognizing potential attack does not justify pre-emptive attack. Not for the police, and not for a citizen. The police officer who recognizes the potential for attack should be prepared to deflect the attack, but it is still assault to attack first.

    Actually, every state I'm familiar with permits anyone to use force to prevent what a person reasonably believes is the imminent use of unlawful force; there is no requirement to let the aggressor use force on you first. Training police officers to more effectively recognize what is and isn't a sign that a person is about to initiate the use of force against them seems like a pretty benign plan to me.

  26. says


    There are many, many cues that a persons' body language expresses before they sucker punch – etc – you.

    I have been in fights. I have witnessed many fights. You have a too-narrow definition of sucker punch. A sucker punch is frequently impossible to see coming, unless the receiver is (1) Bruce Lee (2) Pai Mei (3) Dr Manhattan (4) A Master Ninja (5) Spiderman. Because a sucker punch is frequently launched at someone who literally cannot see it coming.

    Focusing on the narrower subset of punches that can be detected via cascade sequence predictive maths and a shit load of tai-chi training, I believe you and the author are overstating cue factor. the cues certainly exist but they won't always be there. I've seen some crazy things in my time, right down to watching a guy with a perfectly calm demeanor (and no, I didn't miss anything) get someone else's attention and then just pop them.

  27. SimpleMachine says

    They identify non-compliance by whether or not you supported raising their pension benefits, I believe.

  28. htom says

    The problem with such "cascade sequences" is that they're only available in hindsight. Seeing one, two, and three, imagining seventeen is projection. They were going to do 56b, not four, and then 7823, which isn't in your training at all.

    He stepped into my path, put his right hand on his sidearm, removed the thumb latch on the holster, held up his left hand in a threatening manner, said "Stop" … how was I to know he was an undercover cop?

  29. Fasolt says

    "I suppose you could slap them back, but, in my experience, that would only escalate the situation and make things worse."

    That was my experience as well. I did some bouncing here and there. I (or we) would just grab them and drag them outside. I was more interested in getting them out then hitting them back.

  30. says


    Dude, I clearly was not advocating shooting any guy with a gun anytime. Maybe I should have prefaced it with more nuance but I was assuming a true crime/threat situation vice cop BS harassment. I did not intend to imply any sort of carte blanche because of carrying a gun, but if they confront someone waving a gun around and threatening to shoot and/or already having shot, I am in favor of a very short pull the trigger fuse.

  31. says

    @Kirk Taylor

    The problem is you say "criminal has a gun" as though they come with a giant C stamped on their foreheads to make it a clear distinction between criminals and non-criminals. Cops don't encounter criminals with guns; the encounter people with guns and have to deduce how likely they are to be criminals.

  32. says


    When I said criminal with a gun, I meant to imply an actual or likely criminal under proper and logical standards as opposed to BS cop standards. Sorry if I was not clear.

  33. bobby b says

    Long ago, when men were men and teachers capitalized "Constitution", The Policeman Was Our Friend. That's how I was raised back in the sixties, and it generally worked, because they were.

    No more.

    A large part of our awe and admiration was the idea that these people put their own lives on the line every day enforcing our laws and keeping us good guys safe from the bad guys.

    Last time I looked, cops were picking up automatic weaponry, protective gear, APC's, tanks, drones, excruciatingly painful sound rays, and every other sort of lethal offensive tool they can think of.

    And even with weaponry fit to make the dictator of a small African army jealous, they were no longer allowing situations to exist in which a cop might not be in complete and total physical domination of their surroundings. Now, instead of a cop knocking on your door to ask you a few questions, a SWAT team bangs the doors down, points moose rifles at your wife and daughters, and shoots your hunting dog "because they can". For effect. To intimidate you.

    Last time I looked, cops wrongfully – like, "oops, wrong guy!" type of wrongfully – they wrongfully kill a lot more of us every year than bad guys kill cops.

    So I think they should either back down on the whole "kill them before they kill us" business, or they should just officially lose any and all heroic aura the profession might still retain. Somewhere.

  34. That Anonymous Coward says

    @W. Ian Blanton – Problem? :D

    I think the biggest problem is the schizophrenic behavior we expect from police.

    The public wants someone to kick ass when they have been wronged.
    The public wants someone to be like Andy Taylor in Mayberry.
    The public is perfectly ok if an officer roughs up one of the "Bad People" ™.
    The public wants the police to handle all of this on as little cash as possible.
    The public wants the police to be better armed than the evil criminals the media tells us about who have military style weapons.
    The public wants to see the armored vehicle and huge SWAT response when something bad happens.

    But the public doesn't want any of it to happen to them.

    When we turn a blind eye to the beating delivered to a crack dealer found to close to a school, we send a message. We want criminals punished by the police.
    We push them to be our paid bullies to scare the bad people, and then we are shocked when we are suddenly defined as a bad people. We ask them to do more and more, throwing more tools at them to replace the old time tested methods used for a long time with pretty good results. In the past the officer might have time to take 20 minutes to talk someone down before anything bad happens, now ain't no body got time for that. Do what we want when we demand it, or we'll just use those less than lethal options we have now instead of training on empathy.

    I think this guy is just feeding into the idea that you have to get them before they get you. Which works only when the only possible outcome of contact with an officer is escalation… which is pretty much what happens more and more often.

    Add in a gang mentality, a code of honor and silence, brotherhood above all else and the public isn't being served… they are terrified and hoping those lights in the rearview are for someone else.

  35. bobby b says

    I think you're overstating what we the people ask of our security employees.

    I think the advanced weaponry, the drones, the SWAT breakdowns, the thieving asset forfeitures, the arrests of citizens for recording cops' paid activities, and the overarching transformation of our domestic police force into threatening and dangerous military encampments were developments that were NOT pushed on the police by their employers.

    The police took this all upon themselves.

    Sure, we'd like them to be more successful in apprehending people who break our laws. We'd like them to get more securely in between us and danger.

    But . . . drones? Armored personnel carriers? Full military weaponry? There was no push from our end to get this into cops' hands. This was all pulled to the cops by the cops.

    And the cop attitude no longer serves anyone but cops. I'm a quiet, conservative fifty-something normal-looking guy with no criminal violations ever. I wear suits at times. I drive sanely. And yet, I've been pulled over on a regular basis over the past fifteen or twenty years, to be told my license plate is dirty, or it maybe looked like my seat belt was off, or sometimes just to "ask a few questions."

    And on each and every one of these stops, the cop or cops have done their utmost to try to goad me into fighting with them, or talking back, or . . . something. I have not spoken to a cop in years without having a very strong feeling that I'm being set up for something.

    I had to raise my kids to believe that we don't ever speak to cops unless we have to – that cops will lie and dissemble in order to be able to arrest us for things we didn't do. And that's the biggest shame.

  36. Anony Mouse says

    That's a lot of elipses and bracketed statements for so short an exerpt. Even giving Clark the benefit of the doubt on interpretation, it completely obliterates any sense of syntax.

    Of course, I suppose that encourages going to the source material. You sneaky devil.

  37. says


    They identify non-compliance by whether or not you supported raising their pension benefits, I believe.

    The comment thread has been won; time for the rest of us to go home.

  38. says


    Eye contact? If you happen to be autistic, prepare to be tackled by police.

    Or entrapped into a minor drug deal.

    Riverside Cop Tricks Autistic Teen into Buying Pot

    Their son, who wished to remain unnamed, is noticeably handicapped and has been diagnosed with autism as well as bipolar disorder, Tourettes, and several anxiety ..

    Their son rarely socialized, so his mom was thrilled when he announced that he had made a new friend in art class on the first day of school.

    Dan reportedly sent 60 text messages to their son begging for drugs. According to his parents, the pressure to buy drugs was too much for the autistic teen who began physically harming himself.

    The Snodgrass' son finally agreed to buy Dan the pot. Dan give him twenty dollars and it took him three weeks to buy a half joint of pot off a homeless man downtown. This happened twice. When Dan asked a third time, their son refused and Dan cut off all communication…

    On December 11, 2012 armed police officers walked into their son's classroom and arrested him in front of his peers…

  39. En Passant says

    Chris wrote Nov 16, 2013 @9:56 pm:

    You don't need to go to 'cop school' to learn about pre-assault cues, you just need to take a bit of time and effort to educate yourself.

    Next time I see a puppy exhibiting the cues you cite while wagging its tail and groveling, I'll feel threatened. Until then, not so much.

  40. The Man in the Mask says

    Speaking as an expert whitewater kayaker and certified instructor, I'd like to pummel the author for incorrect use of an analogy. One does not, in fact, paddle furiously when going over a waterfall, because flailing your paddle in mid-air (a) has no tangible effect on your progress and (b) looks dorky.

    Also (c) gravity is pretty much doing all the work at that point.

    What one DOES do is try to angle the boat for entry (too flat == SPLAT and compressed vertebrae; too steep == submarine and possible high-speed impact with streambed) and try to keep one's paddle away from one's face in order to avoid impromptu dental events.

    If the author's grasp of the dynamics of police-civilian interaction matches his comprehension of vertical river running, then he should probably refrain from giving out advice on either topic.

  41. That Old Guy in the Corner says

    Obviously, there must be exceptions to this example, but that said… Some years ago, two members of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary came to a neighbour's house to quiet a drunken party. The resident poured vitriol on the two constables, who just stood there at a distance and took it! For several minutes. Eventually, the neighbour settled down, and the neighbourhood got some much needed rest. The next day, I visited the RNC's headquarters and praised the constables and wondered how they could put up with the neighbour's screaming insults. Interestingly, the constable with whom I spoke said that (a) they don't take it personally, (b) they see their job as DEescalating such situations, (c) it's hard for such drunks to maintain such an angry tirade for very long, when the drunk's targets aren't responding in kind, and soon wear themselves out. I've witnessed multiple instances of our RNC treating street people the same way. One of the interpretive plaques at a small, green-space memorial to the RNC states that one of the points in their official mission statement/vision/whatever is that constables must strive to be "approachable". By the way, the RNC didn't carry side arms until about 1988. I'm glad that I immigrated to Newfoundland and Labrador.

  42. JohnC says

    When does a waterfall start? [] Just like a waterfall starts upstream…."

    That's not tricky at all (and no, it doesn't). It starts pretty much at the hedge, at least in the sense that's when flow velocity increases. Unless there's a sudden change in depth or width, you can pretty much paddle to the near edge and back just like you could 5 miles upstream.

  43. Neeksgeek says

    "Eye contact? If you happen to be autistic, prepare to be tackled by police."

    Or if you have an eye condition such as third nerve palsy and your eyes just don't work right. I've never been tackled but I've had to explain myself on several occasions. Fun times.

  44. Ryan says

    @That Old Guy

    Yeah, it's pretty amazing how quickly people run out of steam when you just let them vent and give them nothing back.

    The absolute number one problem with policing in North America is that police are not taught de-escalation techniques often enough, and are not praised for using them often enough. Too many police officers take it personally when someone beaks off at them rather than realizing that the real target of the ranting is the uniform they wear or the circumstances that led to their arrival. The best police officers I know recognize this and use it.

  45. AlphaCentauri says

    @Ryan, good point that cops need recognition for handling situations successfully without violence. You hear all the stories of cops shooting mentally ill people menacing them with folding chairs. But a friend of mine witnessed a situation with the Philadelphia police where a naked mentally ill guy was running down the middle of a major street with a shotgun. They managed to get him into the squad car safely, even though he was still so out-of-control that he proceeded to break out the bulletproof windows of the police car with his bare hands and feet. Their actions never made the news.

  46. Ryan says


    And that is precisely why we should be extremely cautious using anecdotal news reports to assert (paraphrasing Clark) that "cops are evil" etc etc pick your poisonous variant. Bad news sells newspapers (TV subscriptions, ad revenue, etc). Good news does not. There are two very problematic narratives concerning policing (in North America).
    1. All cops are heroes! There are just a few bad apples.
    2. All cops are evil / never prosecuted for wrongdoing / unnecessary /etc

    The truth, naturally, is that neither proposition is true, but that doesn't mean we can't find examples that fit both narratives and which will often be used to try to justify them. It's why I take every opportunity I can to challenge both narratives.