Reverence For The Blue

Wednesday was Big Government night at the Republican National Convention, with speaker after speaker extolling the virtues of public employees. Scott Walker said that government lawyers should not just be respected — they should be revered. Newt Gingrich called for zero tolerance for people who call for the death of IRS employees. Vice-Presidential nominee Mike Pence asked delegates to let EPA regulators and VA administrators know that we will always stand with them.

Well, no. That would be ridiculous. Not even the Democrats indulge in such hagiography of all public employees.

Republicans said those things about one subset of government employees — police officers. So no worries. The party of limited government isn't demanding reverence of all government — just the armed parts.

Flag-waving about cops works on multiple levels. On one level it's symbolic and emotive — it's America, apple pie, baseball, and mom, all wrapped into an idealized view of cops.

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But the words work on another level too. They carry messages about the relationship between the citizen and the state, as embodied by its armed officers: armed officers of the state are, by definition, heroes. Armed officers of the state are, by definition, trustworthy and right. It's wrong to question them. They need and deserve special protection.

We already get that from television and movies and other parts of the culture. It's only natural that we get it from our politicians as well. Law and order rhetoric has two parts — you're in danger and I'll protect you. Lionizing cops is part of the I'll protect you phase. It signifies "I support cops, cops are part of my tribe, and together we will keep you safe." At least, it says that for some values of "you."

The Republicans — as they have historically — have deftly manipulated fear about lawlessness and disorder. On the home front, we fear lawlessness and disorder in the form of tragic and despicable ambush murders of police officers in multiple locations. Each represents a world ended, a family destroyed, a grotesque act of hatred. More importantly for politicians, each represents the particular kind of lawlessness we fear.

As a nation, we're rather selective about what kind of lawlessness terrifies us.

What is more terrifying: criminals engaging in a particular type of wanton violence more often than usual, or armed agents of the state breaking it with impunity? The answer to that question might depend on whether you're likely to be the victim of one or the other. In America, maniacs murder cops. And in America, cops shoot unarmed caretakers with their hands in the air as they try to protect autistic patients. They beat surrendered suspects. They perjure themselves. They execute citizens. They manipulate the system to protect cronies. They rape the vulnerable.

Not all cops, of course. We stand behind the law-abiding cops, some politicians claim. But the fact is the American justice system demonstrably stands behind cops even when they're proven liars and lawbreakers, and the system's standard of proof for cops — and the public's — is much different than the standard of proof the rest of us face. The rhetoric of cop-worship is the foundation of that special treatment.

Somehow, as a nation, we're not terrified of this trend of state lawbreaking as we are of other types. At least, most of us aren't. In fact, many of us are miffed when someone brings it up.

That's culture — a culture that already reveres cops, just like Scott Walker says we should. Our reverence is unreflective and mostly unquestioning. Our reverence is shorthand for bundles of other attitudes, some of them about race and class and other ugly things. Our reverence ought to trouble us, and should have no place at the convention of a party that's supposed to stand for conservatism. Reverence for the government is not conservative.

Last 5 posts by Ken White

Comments

  1. Gwyneth says

    Typically police lionizers defend the police as a whole by dismissing the bad actors as "just a few bad apples". It makes me cringe, since the entire point of the phrase "bad apples" is a warning that just a few can rot the whole barrel, and the analogy is extremely apt. A few bad cops, situated in a precinct that does not check them, can change the culture of that group and pull well meaning cops down to their level. so the question, when a cop is exposed doing something awful, are he just a bad apple, or are they a product of a system destroyed by bad apples? For that matter, how many people willing to excuse, overlook, and ignore bad behavior on the part of cops believe whole heartedly in broken window policing? It should be the same premise, but as in all things, that's fine when we apply it to your side but not my side.

  2. Quiet Lurcker says

    I'm reminded of a conversation I had with someone a long time ago. The Catholic priesthood at the time was being rocked by revelation after revelation that priests were sexually abusing people. I made the point at the time that it was the bad guys who were getting the press. For every priest/abuser reported on, how many – 2, 3, 5, a hundred? – others were out there every hour, every day, busting their butts to do their jobs the way they were supposed to, whom we never heard about.

    The Church kept silent, tried to sweep it under the rug. Until someone stood up and said, "No. Enough is enough. Sexual abuse by priests and our collective silence end here. They end now."

    Same with the cops. For every bad cop, every bad apple, how many – 2, 3, 5, a hundred? – others are out there busting their butts every hour, every day, doing their job right – with compassion, self-restraint, integrity, respect for the rule of law?

    But, who in the justice system – the courts, the prosecutors, the defense attorneys, the police officials – will stand up and say, "Enough is enough. This ends here. It ends now."? Who is doing that?

    Citizens distrust cops and act on that distrust because they know the cops can and will get away with it. Cops distrust citizens and act on that distrust because they know citizens can and will act on that distrust, and so on, ad infinitum.

    It's a never-ending, self-perpetuating cycle.

    How do we cause the good cops to stop the bad cops from acting out? How do we force the courts and prosecutors to take these things seriously. And, yes, we will have to force the leaders, the unions, the courts and prosecutors to do to rein in the bad cops, because they won't do it on their own. Not "can't,", "won't."

    Mark my words on this. Until the cops, the leaders, the unions, the courts, the prosecutors, yes, even the defense attorneys are held to account and change is forced upon them, the cycle will continue.

  3. Felix says

    @Gwyneth — Good cops are a myth, because any so-called good cop who protects and defends the bad cops is just as bad a cop. The same goes for prosecutors and judges who don't get upset over corrupt cops, prosecutors, and judges. (I use corrupt in the sense of rotten, not limiting it to bribery or embezzlement.)

  4. Angstela says

    Judge Judy also has a good fruit analogy. Essentially if you leave a bad blueberry in the quart of blueberries, all the well blueberries don't make that moldy one better – the moldy one infects the others instead. But then I also generally advise people contemplating a tough decision to ask themselves, "How would I explain this to Judge Judy later?" Kind of a WWJS – What would Judy say? ;-)

  5. krychek_2 says

    If the people peddling the few bad apples theory were serious about it, they would call for the bad apples to be removed before they infect the rest of the bushel basket. They would call for the bad apples to be aggressively prosecuted and jailed. They would demand tough sanctions against the bad apples to deter other apples from going bad. Instead, their silence is deafening.

  6. PonyAdvocate says

    @Felix and krychek_2

    What you said. A "good" cop is bad not only if he protects and defends bad cops: a "good" cop is bad if he observes and tolerates a bad cop, if he does nothing to stop the bad cop, if he does NOT rat the bad cop out. I tend to think that most cops are "good", in that they do not themselves misbehave. I also think that such cops are bad, in that if they see another cop misbehaving, they will do nothing about it. If "good" cops refused to tolerate bad cops (a la the West Point honor code), bad cops would be weeded out pretty quickly.

  7. KeithB says

    This.
    But remember too, that it is only a subset of cop-killers that are the bad ones – that "breakdown the fabric of society". I do not recall this hue and cry when the officers were gunned down in Vegas by the folks fresh from the Bundy's fracas

  8. Scorpionfish says

    What they said above: don't tell me about the "majority of good cops" when that majority stands by and lets the bad cops get away with murder. When the union representing that majority dependably comes out with weasel-word "justifications" for bad cops murdering someone. When that majority actively fights any attempt to bring bad cops to account, and threatens and intimidates any politician who does so (cf Mayor deBlasio). Those are not the actions of "good cops"; those are the actions of a majority of cops who are just as bad and rotten as the murderers, because they support and enable them.

    I hate having my white, middle-class childhood illusions that the cops were the good guys protecting us, shattered. "But for video…" thanks to the internet, I've learned the horrible truth. In Chicago, New York City, Boston, Los Angeles, and any other city where the other cops have looked the other way, actively fought reform, etc, there are no "good cops". They're all bad.

    My childhood was in the 1960s, and I bring back a good 1960s term for such cops: "pigs".

  9. Dan says

    I don't care about cops any more. No, I'll go further… I hate cops. If they're not dirty they're covering for dirt, which makes them dirty. Innocent black lives matter. At this point I don't give a shit about blue lives. Their deaths barely move my empathy needle, kinda like suicide bombers. Whenever I hear "[the victim] was a 25-year veteran of force" all I can think is how many people's rights he surely violated over those decades with violence and corruption. Cops as an institution and as individuals have exhausted my supply of trust, respect, patience, and good will.

    There needs to be some sort of purge. Bust the police unions and fire them all. Anyone who was a cop before some cutoff date (like, today) should be banned for life from any sort of law enforcement. Get a different job, you have all officially failed. We need 100% new cops. Otherwise, the shootings are just going to continue in both directions.

  10. Anthony Bennett says

    I think "good cops" and "bad cops" is a silly way of framing the issue. Sure, both exist, and we can argue about the proportion, but they're a minority even combined. Most cops are like most people; they want to do their jobs well, and so they listen to leaders, follow the example set by more experienced colleagues, and try their best to fit into company culture.

  11. says

    We seem to have come a long way from the party of 'The nine most terrifying words in the English language are "I'm from the government, and I'm here to help."'

  12. mike says

    Completely agree that the Red Team are the most vocal cheerleaders for cops. That being said in most large jurisdictions where problems occur the government bodies that have given cops a pass (mostly via union contracts that give them special protections) are deep Team Blue. These bodies enable bad behavior by paying off victims out of public coffers, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars in Chicago as an example.

    Until bad cops are held personally liable nothing will change. There is plenty of blame to go around for both teams.

  13. Nobody Important says

    "We seem to have come a long way from the party of 'The nine most terrifying words in the English language are "I'm from the government, and I'm here to help."'

    This. All day long.

  14. fnn says

    "The party of limited government"

    Of course that was always a big lie, and one that the new Trump Party has mostly dispensed with. Maybe to see what really is going on you should go back to Moldbug and his "Red Empire vs Blue Empire" formulation. Also, most lefties don't really care about police abuse when the victims are the Weaver family, the Branch Davidians or Lavoy Finicum or those outlaw bikers who were killed by the police not long ago at Waco.

  15. Ken Mitchell says

    I seem to recall something about a year ago, that the City of New York has a Civilian Review Board to examine claims of police misbehavior. 80% of the complaints were leveled against 4% – FOUR PERCENT – of NYC cops. The remaining 20% of complaints were leveled at 12% of the police force. 84% of NYC cops had NO COMPLAINTS lodged against them. I would suspect that these numbers aren't vastly out of line for any police force in the country.

    We need to fire or jail the 4%, discipline and retrain the 12%, and celebrate and reward the 84%.

    Yes, "a few bad apples" WILL ruin the whole barrel. We need better procedures to detect – EARLY – the rotten few psychopaths who manage to make it into the police force, and get rid of them.

  16. BradC says

    Quiet Lurcker said:

    The Church kept silent, tried to sweep it under the rug. Until someone stood up and said, "No. Enough is enough. Sexual abuse by priests and our collective silence end here. They end now."

    I think the institutional tolerance and active defense of sexual abusers in the Catholic church is actually a pretty good analogy for the institutional tolerance and active defense of police officers who abuse their power, unnecessarily escalate violence, or make fatal mistakes but aren't held accountable.

    However, it almost sounds like you're saying that the church itself has finally stepped up to say "enough is enough, this ends now".

    If that's what you're saying, I would strongly disagree with that characterization. I think they are still covering their collective robe-covered asses, see for example their ongoing opposition to extending statutes of limitation for sex crimes against children. But that's probably a derail for something you were simply using as an analogy.

    But, who in the justice system – the courts, the prosecutors, the defense attorneys, the police officials – will stand up and say, "Enough is enough. This ends here. It ends now."? Who is doing that?

    Just like the church, I don't have any confidence they this will ever happen internally. It will be up to legislators, and politicians, and voters, and protesters, and departments of Justice, and other bodies to force them, from the outside, to grudgingly change.

  17. BadRoad says

    @felix

    @Gwyneth — Good cops are a myth, because any so-called good cop who protects and defends the bad cops is just as bad a cop.

    Not true! Good cops are an endangered species, because whistleblowers get fired. The "good apples" are getting pulled out of the basket and tossed on the ground.

  18. Quiet Lurcker says

    @BradC —

    Yes, you are right, I was drawing an analogy, re the priesthood. Sadly, I think you are also right that the problem hasn't gone away. I think the system, while intending good things, has a few … flaws, let's say, that may not actively encourage abuse, but they do leave the door open (so to speak) for the abuse to happen, and people are still keeping quiet. I also don't think it's a problem solely within the Catholic church, human nature being what it is.

    Moving on, then.

    Just like the church, I don't have any confidence they this will ever happen internally. It will be up to legislators, and politicians, and voters, and protesters, and departments of Justice, and other bodies to force them, from the outside, to grudgingly change.

    I wish to high heaven (pun not intended in this context) that the legislators, politicians, voters, protesters, and departments of justice would get up off their collective duffs and force change on the cops, however grudgingly they accept that change. I just don't see it happening any time soon, if ever.

    Reread the original post: "What is more terrifying: criminals engaging in a particular type of wanton violence more often than usual, or armed agents of the state breaking it with impunity? … In America, maniacs murder cops. And in America, cops shoot unarmed caretakers with their hands in the air as they try to protect autistic patients. They beat surrendered suspects. They perjure themselves. They execute citizens. They manipulate the system to protect cronies. They rape the vulnerable.

    Not all cops, of course. … But the fact is the American justice system demonstrably stands behind cops even when they're proven liars and lawbreakers, and the system's standard of proof for cops — and the public's — is much different than the standard of proof the rest of us face. The rhetoric of cop-worship is the foundation of that special treatment."

    This goes to the heart of the problem. The cops won't rat their fellows out. The prosecutors won't hold their feet to the fire. The courts give the cops a pass time after time and time again, irrespective of what the cops did or didn't do. The legislators and politicians do nothing. The police bureaucracy does nothing. Don't believe me? Read this story. Then watch the video.

    Read up on the cop in Miami, who shot an unarmed man just today or the day before. One of the cop's colleagues admitted he didn't understand why the cop pulled the trigger in the first place. And these two … people … were wearing policemen's badges? REALLY?? And that's just two examples selected from many that I've seen.

    I wish we could change the system. I wish we could hold our elected officials, our courts, the prosecutors accountable through the channels that are in place to do so. That's what they're there for, in the first place. But, I don't think they're working any more. I think we need to do something… extra-legal. I do not – let me repeat that: I DO NOT – condone, encourage, or endorse violence as that 'something', but at the same time, I think we need to come up with some sort of effective 'end-run' to deal with the situation without resort to the courts, the legislators, the prosecutors, and so on. Sort of on the old adage, "if you won't do it, I'll do it for you, and you may not like the consequences," if you follow my meaning.

  19. BadRoad says

    @Quiet Lurcker
    If you rule out the courts, the legislators, the prosecutors, and police bureaucracy itself, I'm not sure what you're left with aside from violence.

  20. Troutwaxer says

    Cops are civil servants. Nothing more. Nothing less. And they need to get over themselves.

    "Wait!" says the cop. "But I save lives!"

    Building inspectors save lives too. And next time there's a big earthquake in California, building inspectors will save thousands of lives. Maybe tens or hundreds of thousands of lives if the earthquake is really big.

    Paramedics, doctors, nurses, and health inspectors save lives too. But if the health inspectors in my city had a horrid record of killing unarmed people, we'd fire them all and hire new ones. And we'd put the murderous health inspectors in jail.

    Or if we discovered that the building inspectors in my city were killing three black unarmed people for every white unarmed person they killed… there would be hearings, trials, TV news… you name it! The Feds would get involved and it would go down in the history books as the ____________ County Racist Building Inspector Massacre of Innocent Black People. The mayor would resign. And the deputy mayor would take over as mayor, fire some people the previous mayor forgot to fire, then resign and set himself on fire.

  21. Cactus says

    The thought occurs though, while a jury will almost always decide that a cop shouldn't face consequences for murder, they will almost always decide that they themselves should, awarding reasonable damages to the victims or their families which they then have to pay out for.

    You've essentially got a "Bad Cop" tax, the understanding of which would make the average American far more upset than state killings ever have in 200 years. This on top of the vast amounts of military surplus purchased again with tax dollars, because they feel threatened by the response to their own inadequacy.

    It stands to reason that you could politically wrangle a set of incentives, take the money being spent on buying off the deceased and getting grenade launchers and reward whistle blowers and those who actually fight corruption. Cops would get the training they'd need, along with the salary to attract either more numbers or better candidates. A meritorious solution, both to stop abuse and actually reward the "good cops", while saving both lives and tax money.

    Just think, with an actual political party, it could probably work out.

  22. Bjorning says

    I think BadRoad has the gist of it. There are truly good cops out there who report wrondoing when they see it, and are actually morally upright people. The problem is that the system as it stands today actively discriminates against such people, viciously punishing whistleblowers despite claiming to protect them. This seems to me to be a trend across many if not all sectors of government.

  23. Quiet Lurcker says

    @BadRoad —

    You've asked a good question. I don't have a good answer. But, here's a thought or two.

    My initial reaction was, let's ostracize the bad actors of every stripe. Turn them into social and business pariahs. There are both good and bad aspects to this idea; I'm not even completely sure it would work in this day and age, because ostracism requires coordination among a lot of parties to begin and presently, that strikes me as a tough row to hoe.

    I think a better option would be to make life difficult for the bureaucrats. See a cop doing something supremely stupid, call the local top cop and complain. This is especially effective if the call comes in at an ungodly early hour of the morning, through the 911 system. The thesis here is, enough calls at all hours of the night should do something to attract attention to the bad actors.

    These are initial thoughts. I'm sure there are other ideas out there that I haven't hit upon.

  24. Lagaya1 says

    Quiet Lurker- I'm not sure how that's supposed to work. Will the 911 dispatcher feel the need to immediately call the chief of police to tell them of your complaint? You could wait a week and he won't likely have heard your complaint, so what's the point of calling at an ungodly hour? You won't be waking up the 911 dispatcher, either, unless you live in a Mayberry-sized town. How's that supposed to work?

  25. SJE says

    I think we also have to give some understanding to the street level cops whose ability to fight bad behavior is limited in a system that has too much tolerance for bad cops, and who will punish cops that "betray" their blue buddies.

    The real focus should be on the senior levels in the police departments, the union leaders, the prosecutors and politicians. When a bad cop is uncovered and (if) successfully prosecuted, the questions usually stop with that one cop. We need to ask who facilitated that cop, hid bad behavior, etc etc.

  26. Matt W says

    I've been watching HBO's new anthology series The Night Of. Cops on that show are neither lionized nor villainized. They're just people doing often boring, repetitive jobs, who mostly just want to clock out and get home to their families. They want as little friction on the job as possible, and their place within the legal system is just the context within which they do work.

  27. Argentina Orange says

    The PBA has come out with statement completely justifying the North Miami shooting.

    You see, the cop wasn't intending to shoot the guy lying on the ground, he was trying to kill the autistic kid playing with the toy truck. And as the FBI director himself tells us, no intent, no problem.

  28. Manya says

    @Argentina Orange
    Yeah, I saw that, and I thought, "Wait, you think that makes it better?"

  29. Quiet Lurcker says

    Lagaya1 —

    I actually did that one morning. I caught a city K-9 cop tailgating and driving recklessly outside the county where the city was located. In fact, he was dumb enough to tailgate me. I identified the vehicle, proceeded to where I was going, called 911 and explained the situation, and that I was fearful not only for my life and safety but that of other motorists. Gave the 911 operator the choice of putting me through to the top cop right now or I could take the rest of the day off work and pay a visit to two local district attorneys to swear out warrants (a quirk of local law allows that kind of thing) and the mayor of the city. The operator chose the former over the latter. I explained to the top cop what his employee had done wrong and where, then offered a little insight, to the effect that next time, I'd pull the guy over, call the state police and the county humane society (the city where this all took place has a vicious dog ordinance, and police dogs….). Needless to say, the top cop was not happy at being pulled out of bed at that hour. But, I dare say I probably got the point across.

  30. RB says

    From: http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/07/22/magazine/the-grief-that-white-americans-cant-share.html?_r=0&referer=

    The mourning for these deaths, too, came wrapped in another fear, shared by those who did not want violence against black citizens or violence against the police: that, once again, the actions of a few would be a smudge against us all; that the crimes of two …

    Without referring to the original article, can you tell if that was written by someone pro police or pro black lives matter? To that means that both sides want the same thing and that means there can be understanding. This gives me hope for a better future.

    Now all we need is someone wise on both sides to take this or any other seed of understanding and forge something more out of it.

  31. Lagaya1 says

    Lurker
    I do not believe your story. At all.

    If it is true-and I don't think it is_ but if…then you were a bigger jerk than the episode called for by a long shot.

  32. Peter Sutton says

    I generally agree with everything you're saying here. I'll just nit-pick one little thing:

    "The rhetoric of cop-worship is the foundation of that special treatment."

    I don't think this is the foundation of that special treatment. I am as keen as anybody to criticize out-of-control police and prosecutors, and I am super-sympathetic to BLM, but I reluctantly acknowledge that there is some legitimate reason for them to have some special legal protections, given the nature of their jobs. As a society, we ask police to take guns into dangerous (and sometimes confusing) situations. We know that even an ordinary, well-meaning person can make horrible mistakes in a situation like that, so it is reasonable to raise the prosecutory bar, so to speak. Just as we give prosecutors immunity to being sued for doing their job, we give the police a bit more benefit of the doubt when it comes to criminal prosecution.

    Cop-worship is an issue and a problem. We need to be vigilant about putting bad cops in jail, because, as you say, bad cops are somehow a bigger social problem than bad non-cops. But I think the foundation for the special treatment we give them lies elsewhere.

  33. says

    The problem is systemic. Many of the patches suggested here would do a little good for a little while, mostly covering symptoms. There is no fix for "bad people" whether they are few or numerous;. You have to fix the system.

    A change to the system is going to seem radical, just as the first heart transplant did. But to focus on patches, band aids, like civilian review boards, is weak. A few symptoms are relieved; the system endures. I shall not channel Clarke, who'd say "burn it to the ground", but I do open the door to radical change. Local communities should be able to try out big changes, in a local way, so that the larger society can evaluate, emulate, and evolve ideas that work.

    Fortunately, we already have some historical evidence for at least one kind of systemic change: privatized police. Here is one. Many smaller communities have done nearly the same thing. No, it's not "perfect", but it fights sovereign immunity and "public servant" perceptions. Juries will view private cops differently, just as you, dear reader, have been while reading this paragraph. I submit that's the start of something good.

  34. Richard says

    Lurcker, unless it was a very small town you probably didn't get any point across. You more likely got a "just another nutcase call, go back to sleep" reaction.

  35. Docrailgun says

    "Good cops", "bad cops", it doesn'the matter overmuch. I'very had plenty of interaction with professional, friendly-seeming LEOs at different levels.. but I'must an older white male, which protects me.
    We can argue that the culture of "justice" needs to be fixed, since it seems to be stacked against people. All that is obvious.

    The #1 thing that needs to be changed is that law enforcement at all levels need to be disarmed. That will go a long, long way to ending the escalation of distrust on all sides. There is no reason to have armed executioners wandering our streets everyday.

  36. nodandsmile says

    Don't let your average beat or traffic cop carry a gun…

    Would encourage community engagement, decrease applications from those who want to carry a gun for a job and it's more difficult to beat an autistic person to death with a toy truck than shoot their caregiver with a gun.

    Might also encourage use of SWAT to be genuinely exceptional

  37. Quiet Lurcker says

    @Peter Sutton —

    I would disagree with you completely. Consider these reports:

    1. Cops broke into the home of a retiree. The retiree saw masked men breaking into her house and opened fire on them with her hand-gun in self defense. They returned fire, killing her. The estate sued the cops, as it turned out they were serving a no-knock warrant on the wrong house. The suit was dismissed, on grounds the cops had been the victims of a lethal attack.

    2. Cops decided that tear gas was needed to subdue the occupants of a house. They fired a tear gas grenade. The grenade landed in a crib or play-pen where a child lay sleeping. The child ended up with third-degree burns from the grenade. A suit was filed, and (at last report) the cops were exonerated, because it was a drug house. Had a private citizen fired that grenade, that person would have been arrested for endangering the welfare of a minor at a very, very minimum.

    3. A man was stopped for allegedly having drugs. He was taken to a medical center over a hundred miles away and "examined" for drugs against his will, without consent. No drugs were ever found. The cops who did that were exonerated by their superiors and the courts.

    4. A car was stopped because, according to the cop, it was weaving all over the road. Dash-cam video showed completely otherwise, the car did swerve for a moment or two, then returned to its lane and stayed in the lane traveling at the posted speed limit. The stop and subsequent search were upheld because the cop's judgment was more clear-eyed (pun definitely intended here) than the camera.

    5. A man was trying to move an autistic patient out of a busy street – and I promise you, from personal experience, that is not an easy thing to accomplish in the right circumstances. Cops shot him. In the leg. What do you bet, he won't face any significant consequences for his act?

    6. A man was stopped and ultimately shot by police. The shooting was prompted, according to the cop, because the motorist was going for a weapon. No weapon was found in the man's car when it was searched in the aftermath of the shooting. Six weeks later, the cops's pager was found during the course of a second search of the car. The cop in question swore by all that he held holy that he had not been near the car in the interim, despite the fact no one else had been near the vehicle in all that time. There was no finding of misconduct by the cop.

    In every instance, the cops were clearly, unquestionably, unambiguously, in the wrong. They screwed up, full stop. The courts worshipped the cops enough to fall for their (sob) stories. There are more incidents where the picture isn't all that cut and dried – Ferguson, MO, the recent shooting of a motorist in I think it was MN, for two examples.

    Because of things like this I have a very hard time with a higher prosecutorial bar for cops.

  38. Bob Brown says

    Do note that abuses are not limited to "local cops." A news story last week tells us, "Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will now have to pay “Jane Doe,” a New Mexico woman, $475,000 to settle a lawsuit filed in December 2013. In the suit, Jane Doe alleged that she was detained at the US-Mexico border and subjected to an illegal cavity search by nearby hospital personnel."

    I'd like to see the militarization of police stopped and reversed. I'd also like to see the end of the Constitution-free zone that extends miles from the borders of the United States.

  39. Troutwaxer says

    In every instance, the cops were clearly, unquestionably, unambiguously, in the wrong. They screwed up, full stop. The courts worshiped the cops enough to fall for their (sob) stories.

    This is why people are shooting cops now. In all the stories you told, people sought redress through the courts and the courts failed them. Now nobody feels like the court system will give a victim justice if that victim was abused by a cop, and people who are angry at cops are shooting them instead of suing them.

    Currently, the crazy people are the ones doing the shooting. I've no doubt that Micah Johnson and Gavin Long would have eventually hurt someone else if they'd been given the chance, but given a few more well publicized bad-shoots without appropriate redress, the sane people will start to feel that they can shoot cops. They may even begin feel that they must shoot cops.

    If the courts gave victims of cops real justice, people wouldn't be trying to bypass the courts. With guns.

    There is still time to stop this, but it will not be easy.

  40. Quiet Lurcker says

    @Troutwaxer —

    I wish that were true. I truly wish things would – will? – get better. I wish there was time to stop the crazy. I wish there was a way to stop the crazy.

    But.

    How many generations of children will learn to hate or fear at their parents knees. And how many of those children will act on their hate; their fear? And in doing so, how many cops will they teach to hate or fear and act on it? And how many generations of rookie cops will learn to hate or fear at the hands of their mentors and seniors? And how many of those cops will act on that hatred, that fear?

    For it is in hatred and fear that violence finds its most fertile ground. And violence begets nothing but violence.

    No. I firmly believe that this truly is the beginning of the end of this once great nation. I see little, if any hope, and am terrified that hope is misplaced.

  41. Daniel Weber says

    Most cops are like most people; they want to do their jobs well, and so they listen to leaders, follow the example set by more experienced colleagues, and try their best to fit into company culture.

    This captures the problem, and has the bonus of also capturing the problem in a lot of other areas.

    You will see a dramatic flip in respect if you replace "teachers" with "cops," for example, depending on which culture you are in. In both cases, you've got a small minority of bad people, a small minority of good people, with most people in the middle just responding to job incentives.

    People don't immediately find where the lines are, but they do eventually. If one day when they are tired or stressed, they try cutting a corner or two. They find out if that deviation is noticed. Does anyone in power care? Is it maybe encouraged because I am in a better mood by doing less work?

    But, lo, if you act as if people who take that job are influenced by incentives, like every other person on earth, you are attacking people who take that job.

    This is why people are shooting cops now. In all the stories you told, people sought redress through the courts and the courts failed them. Now nobody feels like the court system will give a victim justice if that victim was abused by a cop, and people who are angry at cops are shooting them instead of suing them.

    This is ironic because, from my view, we are in an era of unprecendeted review of cops' actions. It might not be where it needs to be, but Michael Brown's shooter went before a grand jury (he should not have at all, it turns out) and Freddie Gray's killers are facing trial. If we're talking about incentives, we want the country to continue along the path its been on for the past 12 months.

  42. Quiet Lurcker says

    @Daniel Weber —

    I agree, we do seem to be seeing an unprecedented lot of review of what police do on the street. Cameras are – well, they certainly seem to be anyway – ubiquitous: integrated into cell phones, as part of closed circuit security systems, in cop cars – all over the place.

    And they catch a lot, either too much or not enough, depending on your viewpoint. They either catch entire interactions or no interactions. It's the ones that catch only part of the interaction that are most ambiguous, least easy to interpret. All in all, that's not the real problem.

    @Troutwaxer said, and I agree with him (her? – as may be). The problem is that people, even absent recordings, are asking the cop bureaucracy, the prosecutors, the courts for redress. They're turning to the channels put into place to address these kinds of issues. And those demands, those cries for redress, for justice (I don't like that term, but can think of no other), for help in correcting the problem are falling on deaf ears at all levels.

    I think it was George Santayana who said, "those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it," or words to that effect. At the risk of sounding like some sort of super-patriot, I'd suggest you go and read – carefully – the Declaration of Independence. Agreed: the first paragraph is a towering masterpiece of eloquence, of clarity of thought, of gentlemanliness. But read the rest of the document. Compare the charges Jefferson laid at the feet not only of George III, but of the parliament of their day. Then look at what is happening now. I suspect you'll find a lot of similarities. Then read about it's predecessor, the Olive Branch Petition. And again, consider our times. Then look at what came of the Declaration. And ask yourself – are you truly surprised at the rising acrimony, invective, and violence directed at cops?

  43. Scorpionfish says

    Police must be held to a higher standard than the average citizen, because their mistakes kill people. They should be less able to get away with a bad shooting than Joe Average, because they're supposedly trained professionals. Criminal behavior by police must be slapped down at the first instance, and punished severely, because they're supposed to be stopping crime, not causing it.

    Civil Forfeiture and Prohibition 2.0 (aka The War On Some Drugs) are powers and concepts that should be taken out back and shot. They're bad, and they've gone rabid on us and are spreading the rot. Discontinue those two, bury them with a Constitutional Amendment if necessary, and you remove a lot of the bad incentives on police.

    Short of violence, while we work on the legislature to do something useful, what we can do is take away the automatic respect for the man-children in blue. Respect is earned, not demanded at the point of a gun, or granted automatically because you have a badge. Pigs should be treated with the contempt they've earned. Be like the Wendy's employee who refused to serve pigs. Don't give them special discounts, don't fawn all over them, don't excuse them for murdering citizens because "it's such a tough job". Hog-call and boo them at public events. Next time someone gives the old "if you don't like cops, call a criminal when you get robbed" slogan, say "Yes, 'cause the criminal goes to jail if he shoots me when I ask for help." Publicize every instance of police misbehavior–don't let the pigs hide their shit. Embarrass them with it. Embarrass their union spokes-weasels with public mockery and contempt when they spew the usual pap about how murdering someone was perfectly okay because reasons.

    Treat them with the contempt and mockery they've earned.

  44. BadRoad says

    One of the major problems I see with qualified immunity is that there don't seem to be many disincentives for conflict escalation. The fact that a cop can shoot an unarmed suspect (or even bystander) and 99+% of the time the worst consequence is paid administrative leave means that there is very little reason not to pull out a gun at the beginning of a conflict. I can understand allowing cops to resort to deadly force (on occasions when they deal with suspects employing deadly force), but they need a reason to exhaust their other options first. Maybe stuff like pay cuts, demotions, hour caps, unpaid leave, or dismissal for unwarranted escalation. Or maybe there should be something like "police malpractice insurance", and misconduct drives your rates up.

    It would also be nice if cops who got fired from one jurisdiction couldn't be hired by another one.

  45. Quiet Lurcker says

    @Roland —

    Not an expert here by any stretch, so I prescribe a (rather large) grain of salt to accompany my comments here.

    I think qualified immunity is the legal/social equivalent of giving the benefit of the doubt – at least that's how it seems to operate in practice. On paper, it seems to be a good idea: cops, lawyers, judges are (at least supposedly) trained, experienced professionals. In the real world, it's a bad idea, for the (hopefully) obvious reasons.

    As to why there haven't been one or more lawsuits on the topic, I think (and this is strictly a Wild-A********** guess here) that the problem is that the expression is the embodiment of an ideal, rather than something even as prosaic as an agreed-upon rule. Kinda hard to sue someone for not living up to a specific principle, wouldn't you say? Although, now I think about it, I do recall one member of the Nebraska legislature who tried to bring a somewhat similar suit. If memory serves, the case was dismissed: the Defendant was not properly served.

  46. Troutwaxer says

    I think the point of qualified immunity is to cut down on nuisance lawsuits. The idea is clearly being misapplied.

  47. Peter Sutton says

    Lurker,

    My point was simply that there is something other than cop-worship that serves as the foundation for some of the special treatment they get. I did not claim that in any particular instance they ought not to be prosecuted, or convicted.

    The six cases you cite are horrible, and if the facts are determined to be as you say, then the cops should probably get in (serious) trouble in at least some of those cases. But the existence of cases in which cop-privileges are abused does not entail that cop-privileges exist only because of cop-worship, which would be the only way those cases could undermine my point.

  48. Quiet Lurcker says

    @Peter Sutton —

    Eyewitness testimony is notoriously error-prone. But how do you explain a court accepting the word of a cop when his own dash cam footage gives the lie to his testimony other than cop-worship?

    How, other than by resort to cop-worship, do you explain the fact that, in one case even the news media called the cop and the department on his obvious lies, but he never saw the inside of a courtroom and after his mandatory ten-day "suspension" he was back on the streets.

    Read this story. Watch the video. Then come back here and tell me we don't have a problem with cop worship and qualified immunity.

    I'm sorry. When the courts and bureaucrats bend themselves into pretzels to protect cops who are clearly, plainly, in the wrong, we have a problem. There is a difference, after all, between making it difficult to seek redress and making impossible to so. And only cop worship can perform the latter action.

  49. joshua says

    i think the "bad apples" argument is similar to people who say they hate congress but like their congressperson.

    police recognize there are bad apples, but they all seem to think they serve on another police force, because all the cops they know are good. even the ones who make mistakes are thought to be good cops who simply made a mistake and deserve a second, third, fourth, etc. chance.

    so maybe the reason we can't solve this problem is because no one can seem to find what's right under their nose?

  50. bxbc says

    There was a time when Americans believed in freedom.

    The US is dying from a million cuts. Part of the reason the USA is a nanny police state now is that whenever there is a problem, the kneejerk reaction in the US is to call for a new law.

    Nanny state laws are not the best solution, however. Nanny state laws lead to more laws, higher fines, and tougher sentences. Thirty years ago, DWI laws were enacted that led to DWI checkpoints and lower DWI levels. Seatbelt laws led to backseat seatbelt laws, childseat laws, and pet seatbelt laws. Car liability insurance laws led to health insurance laws and gun liability laws. Smoking laws that banned smoking in buildings led to laws against smoking in parks and then bans against smoking in entire cities. Sex offender registration laws led to sex offender restriction laws and violent offender registration laws.

    Nanny state laws don't make us safer, either. Nanny state laws lead people to be careless since they don't need to have personal responsibility anymore. People don't need to be careful crossing the street now because drunk-driving has been outlawed and driving while using a cellphone is illegal. People don't investigate companies or carry out due diligence because businesses must have business licenses now.

    The main point of nanny state laws is not safety. The main purposes of more laws are control and revenue generation for the state.

    Another reason laws are enacted is because corporations give donations to lawmakers to stifle competition or increase sales.

    Many laws are contradictory, too. Some laws say watering lawns is required, while other laws say watering lawns is illegal.

    Many nanny state laws that aim to solve a problem can be fixed by using existing laws. If assault is already illegal, why do we need a new law that outlaws hitting umpires?

    Nanny state laws are not even necessary. If everything was legal would you steal, murder, and use crack cocaine? Aren't there other ways to solve problems besides calling the police? Couldn't people educate or talk to people who bother them? Couldn't people be sued for annoying behavior? Couldn't people just move away? Even if assault was legal, wouldn't attackers risk being killed or injured, too? Do people have consciences? Having no laws doesn't mean actions have no consequences.

    If there is no victim, there is no crime.

    We don't need thousands of laws when we only need 10.

    Freedom is not just a one way street. You can only have freedom for yourself if you allow others to have it.

    Should swimming pools be banned because they are dangerous? Hammers? Bottles? Rocks? Energy drinks? Pillows?

    Control freaks might get angry when a neighbor owns three indoor cats, but what did the neighbor take from them? Why should this be illegal? Is outlawing cats something a free country should do? Doesn't banning everything sound like the opposite of freedom?

    Instead of getting mad at people who like freedom, why don't people realize that freedom is a two way street?

    If you allow others to paint their house purple then you can, too.

    If you allow others to own a gun then you can, too.

    If you allow others to swear then you can, too.

    If you allow others to gamble then you can, too.

    Who wants to live in a prison?

    Think. Question everything.

  51. Peter Sutton says

    Lurker,

    I'm not sure how to say this any more clearly. I am not denying that cop-worship exists. I am not denying that it contributes to bad decisions by prosecutors, judges, and juries. I am not denying that it can cause gross miscarriages of justice. I know it does. Everybody knows that. I am am merely saying that that cop-worship is not the only reason we give cops some of these privileges.

    You can't undermine that claim with an anecdote, or with a hundred anecdotes, of bad cops or bad court decisions. You would need to address the question of whether society does (or should) give some privileges to people when we ask then to engage in dangerous and difficult work. I'm inclined to give a qualified 'yes', and I know that that will result in some (terrible) miscarriages of justice. But I worry that without such protections, even the good, honest cops will have a very hard time doing their jobs, and might be prosecuted for honest mistakes, which would also be a (terrible) miscarriage of justice. You just can't be a Pollyanna about your position: we're going to have problems whichever way we go on this.

    But whatever your view on the matter, please stop citing anecdotes to try to prove to me that cop-worship exists and is a problem. I know that, and I never denied it. In fact, let me quote from my own original comment:

    "Cop-worship is an issue and a problem. We need to be vigilant about putting bad cops in jail, because, as you say, bad cops are somehow a bigger social problem than bad non-cops."

  52. Quiet Lurcker says

    Peter –

    Cop-worship is designed into the system from the ground up. Qualified immunity works from the premise that a cop is more deserving of protection from the consequences of his actions than people in other fields.

    Now name one other reason for me.

  53. Peter Sutton says

    "Now name one other reason for me."

    I have done. Multiple times. My reason is that we are asking cops to perform a job that we know will lead them into difficulties normal citizens don't face, and force them to make on-the-spot life-or-death choices.

    Let me spell it out a bit more precisely: Suppose I have good evidence that my neighbor is a spousal abuser, and one day I go over there with a gun and try to drag him away from his family. Now suppose my neighbor tries to shoot me, and I wind up killing him. If that happened, I would be at fault because I was a vigilante and I made a rash move that instigated the whole thing. And I could (and probably should) go to prison for it. I should go to prison even if I was a good person acting in good faith.

    But when someone joins a police force, we are asking them to perform the exact same sort of action that I just described. We are asking them to go armed into abusers' houses, knowing that the abusers might try to kill them, and knowing that the cops will sometimes be forced to kill the abuser to save their own lives. To treat them exactly the same as we treat the vigilante, to throw the book at them every time an operation goes badly, is unreasonable, unfair, and would hinder their ability to perform their job.

    As a society, we have decided that we don't want vigilantes–we want an official police force working for the government. If we are right in that choice, then it is reasonable to give the police some sorts of privileges we don't give vigilantes. (Or rather, to take privileges away from non-police officers (like the privilege of arresting our neighbors at gunpoint)).

    I fail to see how any part of my argument involves worshipping cops in any way shape or form. The situation is somewhat analogous to how we treat prosecutors, and we don't worship them (they are lawyers, after all, and nobody likes lawyers).

    P.S. I hope it is obvious that I am not talking about cops who make dishonest mistakes, or those who abuse their positions. Those people should go to prison like any criminal (and then some!). Of course I am aware that there will be cases in which it is not obvious whether the cop's mistake is honest or not, and some bad actors will be exonerated. but that's true of crime in general. We give (or should give) the defendant the benefit of the doubt, knowing that sometimes scumbags (even pretty obvious ones) will go free. As it is with scumbags in general, so it is with scumbag cops.

  54. Andrew says

    It seems to me that people with authority need to be held to a higher standard, but that the burden of proof against them should also be higher. This means that it should be more difficult than average to convict them, since this is a role that we need people to take on, but that when convicted, they should get the book thrown at them. This would include those who are conspiring with them to pervert the course of justice.

    This is actually the principle laid out in the New Testament – in Paul's first letter to Timothy he states that two witnesses are required to convict an Elder (or priest) of wrongdoing, but that when found guilty of sin, this should be presented to the whole church.

    To take on a position of authority is a good thing, but it requires a higher standard. We should respect those who take them on, but we should not permit abuse, and this should be dealt with severely. Ex-politicians or ex-cops can find other work, just like everyone else who can be disbarred from a responsible profession (lawyers, doctors, building inspectors, professional engineers, etc).

  55. Quiet Lurcker says

    Peter —

    if the system worked as advertised, I might agree with you. Cops make honest mistakes. Their departments should learn from those honest mistakes and life should go on. That's fine. But when cops screw up by the numbers and don't face the consequences then I have a serious problem. When the screw-ups are not dealt with – immediately and severely – then the system needs to be fixed. part of that fix has to be dealing harshly with ALL offenders until the entire community learns and internalizes the lesson that screwing up, abusing the position, etc., are not and will not be tolerated. Part of that may include punishing the entire community – meaning lower standard of prosecution and denial of protection from consequences of even innocent mistakes.

    @Andrew —

    Actually, the KNJV says 'two or three'. And in vs. 20 (NKJV), he goes on to admonish the churches to rebuke the sinners in the presence of all, so that all may learn. Don't let's also forget that he was addressing the other leaders, who had the clearly laid out responsibility to taking action when valid complaints were raised. Carrying the analogy to the current discussion, the bureaucrats are falling down on the job, and rather badly at that. Paul's teaching on that point was rather unambiguous, too: "Troe da bums out!"

  56. ravenshrike says

    In order to reform the current thin blue line culture you would need to do three things. End the drug war, stop civil asset forfeiture, or at least make sure none of the proceeds went to the police and that there was no quid pro quo on the backend from wherever the money went, and bust the police unions.

  57. Andrew says

    @QL, I agree that Paul was writing to people with authority in the cases and with the responsibility to act. Thanks for the correction on the number of witnesses. And yes, "troe da bums out" was exactly what Paul called for a number of times (though not in those exact words in any version of the NKJV that I can find – perhaps in "da Message").

  58. markm says

    Expecting DA's to prosecute cops is all too often unreasonable. They work with the cops all the time, and rely on the cops to gather evidence. If the cop is a criminal, often the prosecutor is a co-conspirator. Every lost case smells bad whether or not they truly tried to prosecute the case to the fullest, and the failures to even indict smell worse.

    It can get worse. Look up Fajitagate, where three cops mugged two men for a bag of fajitas, and much of the San Francisco PD tried to cover it up. (Yeah, the theft was just silly, but the beatings weren't, the conspiracy to obstruct justice wasn't, and having cops and their supervisors thinking they can get away with robbery is damned serious.) The grand jury indicted several cops and the supervisors nearly all the way to the top, but the prosecutor threw out the indictments against the higher officials. The case against them may have been unwinnable, but it stank to have a prosecutor who worked with the PD every day making that decision.

    The Roman Republic got along without any DA's. Private citizens could take an accusation to a court or the equivalent of a grand jury, and if they could get an indictment, would try the case themselves.

    English common law developed a parallel system, where the King would hire a lawyer to prosecute offenses against His laws, and eventually the Crown's Counsel became professional prosecutors. I think that early in American history, crimes could be prosecuted either by private citizens or by a State's Attorney. There's little reason for a citizen to spend his time and money prosecuting ordinary crimes when there's a paid prosecutor with more experience in the job, and so private prosecution has faded away.

    But it needs to be restored in the case of crimes involving public officials. (Not only "by" public officials, but also involving them, e.g. bribery and election fraud by private parties should be included.) A citizen should have the right to seek an indictment, under the same rules as prosecutors do. If he wins a conviction, he should be paid for legal fees and costs.

    If that makes it too easy to annoy public officials by dragging them into court continually, maybe they'll fix that by reforming grand jury procedures until it is no longer possible to "indict a ham sandwich", or to use summons to testify for harassment, and by eliminating the shortcut of seeking an indictment for major crimes in front of a judge selected by the prosecutor.

    E.g., a skeptical grand jury might have ended the Zimmerman case without even needing Zimmerman's testimony, but Angela Corey found judges that didn't bother to check the veracity of her application for an indictment. It began with a lie (that the 911 operator "ordered" Zimmerman to stay in his car – the actual words were "we don't need you to do that", a minute after Z got out of the car), and it ignored and distorted much of the witness accounts. And so Z was subjected to a spectacle in which many of the prosecution witnesses confirmed his innocence, from the police investigator who could find no holes in Z's story to Trayvon Martin's girlfriend who testified that he made it home, and then doubled back to beat down Zimmerman. But the indictment process has been streamlined for prosecutors to the point that no one pointed out that they had no case. If that's good enough to drag _us_ into court, it's good enough to drag public officials into court – and it won't change until they are also victims of the system.

    I have heard one other objection to private prosecution – that one could have ones friends indict you and throw the case. But that's already a problem; the DA is an associate of the cops, and of bribe-taking officials. In a fraudulent election, he is either one of the winners or appointed by the winners, etc. The solution is to allow multiple would-be prosecutors to each present the case to the grand jury, and the grand jury picks which one can proceed.

  59. says

    I understand that at least U.S. law carries a strong presumption that government employees do their jobs well. (Eg, Overview of United States Law by Ellen S. Podgor and John F. Cooper, page 162.)

    (1) Is this true?

    (2) Should it be true?

    (3) Do the answers to (1) and (2) differ between enforcement people (police officers, FBI agents, IRS revenue officers, etc) and other government officials (mail carriers, office clerks, records custodians, etc)?

  60. Sami says

    My housemate and I used to have recurring arguments about the police. He doesn't trust them.

    I grew up with a close family friend who was a cop – working in Serious Crimes until the psychological toll this took nearly destroyed him and his family, at which point he switched to Arson.

    Setting aside the danger/fear factor of being a cop (worse for American cops because any citizen could be armed), I knew from a quite early age how much being a cop can hurt a person. There was a period where the family friend started semi-avoiding my family – he still got on great with my parents, but he couldn't deal with seeing me or my sister much, because we were then little girls, and he couldn't look at little girls, girls he'd known for years and cared about, and not see the terrible things that could happen to us. He looked at us and could only see victims.

    He was still doing somewhat better with his sons, but… I'm not kidding when I say after a while it nearly tore his family apart. I suspect to be a good Serious Crimes detective you need a very precise degree of empathy, and he had too much, which made him really good at it right up until it nearly destroyed him.

    Combine that with my personal interactions with cops being largely okay, and I am a pretty profoundly pro-cop individual. I believe that the archetypal cop is a good person who sincerely wants to help and protect the community. I believe that it can be a difficult and stressful job, that cops should be paid more and have better support services, and that people should always be polite to them.

    My housemate noted that it was probably a significant sign of how bad things were getting when the arguments kinda stopped, because it became too clear that there are real and serious problems with policing in America generally.

    I think America still has a lot of cops who are the kind of police officers I grew up knowing, the kind of police officers who are dedicated to trying to make the world a better and safer place for the people around them. Who do a job that hurts because someone needs to.

    But I'm not even sure if they're the majority any more, because it seems like in a lot of American police departments cops like that aren't going to be able to stick around. Their defenders like to call the bad cops who've been caught "bad apples", but the reason bad apples are a thing is that "one bad apple can rot the whole barrel", and the barrel is looking pretty bad by now.

    I don't know if there's even a way to fix at least some of those departments by now – it might just be that in some cities you'd be better off getting outside instructors to train a whole new department, then firing the old one entirely.

  61. Dwight says

    fnn says

    Also, most lefties don't really care about police abuse when the victims are the Weaver family, the Branch Davidians or Lavoy Finicum or those outlaw bikers who were killed by the police not long ago at Waco.

    Apparently enough care about it to get policy changes made and upheld under Democratic Executive administrations. The proof is in the pudding when you look at Bundy Standoff.

    Even Bundy Standoff 2: The Circus Goes to Oregon. Your assertion about Lavoy Finicum notwithstanding. They occupied the Federal facility, threatening violence, for over a month. Contained by there was no tight in siege muchless an attempted armed entry to endanger escalation and getting out of hand with a body count.

    Then when stopped LaVoy decides he's going to drive off (after taunting them to shoot him, which they don't), tries to run a subsequent roadblock, then runs from the vehicle and when confronted (because someone had been position so he couldn't run into the woods) repeatedly head fakes reaching for his pocket (and turning so it was harder to see his hands). A sad situation but that's suicide by cop (which is in line with prior comments he made about not going to jail). :/

    As for the "bikers who were killed by police", are you referring to the questionable crime scene handling that lead to poor first aid that may or may not have lead to the death of one (as far as I've ever heard suggested) of the bikers?

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