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Now Ye're Talking to a US Police Officer III

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  • 26-08-2022 3:36pm
    #1
    Boards.ie Employee Posts: 12,597 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Boards.ie Community Manager


    Hi all! Our next AMA guest is someone we've had on with us twice before and he has been both informative and popular and has kindly offered to do another AMA with us.

    He has been a police officer for over 25 years so has a lot of experience under his belt. He also has contacts with detectives in Child Abuse, Sex Crimes and Homocide who might also be willing to answer some questions via the AMA. 

    If you missed the previous AMAs you can read back over them here from 2019 and here from 2021.



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Comments

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    Hi, what's your opinion on the rapid escalation in militarization of the police forces across America since 9/11 where we see large volumes of military surplus being used by civilian forces.



  • Registered Users Posts: 10,981 ✭✭✭✭Tom Mann Centuria


    ...

    Post edited by Tom Mann Centuria on

    Oh well, give me an easy life and a peaceful death.



  • Registered Users Posts: 946 ✭✭✭bricksNDmortar


    What is your views on the Aggressive approach to police that seems universal across the US , and mainly based on race and location?



  • Company Representative Posts: 189 Verified rep I'm a US police officer, AMA


    Hello all, good to be back, thought there might be interest in answering a few more questions/comments.

    Some ground rules: I'm in Texas, and that's all I'll say about my location, don't ask. These are my opinions of course, take it for what it is. I'm an expat Dub who's been over here for a while, work uniformed patrol, soon to retire. The other two AMA's have a lot of good questions & answer if you have the time, worth a look.

    it's been an interesting few years all right since I last posted. We're no policing in what I refer to as the "post George Floyd" world. We've survived the "defund the police" "reinvent the police" etc. etc. There has been a lot of good community dialogue about policing which is shining more light onto the profession. Naturally there have been some over corrections, be it budgets or legislative and we, as a community now bear the fruit of those efforts, good and bad. Here locally, we have a reformed "police oversight board" who looks into misconduct allegations, a new DA who has made it his mission to go after cops, a few new state laws (nothing startling, it's Texas after all, no one is going to call the Lone Star State a bastion of reform are they?), a bigger budget (yes, we got a bigger budget), finally got body cameras, thats about it.

    Day to day, life goes on really. Morale, however has tanked, especially with the new DA going after cops. he has even dug up old cases (alleged excessive force) from years ago which were unfounded, and has sought indictments on those. Some of his ideas are good, not prosecuting low level marijuana cases & traffic tickets, but he's hammered morale on the force. Don't get me wrong, we still come to work and do our job, more of a sense of "watch your back, DA is out to get you" sort of thing. Officers who used to be reasonably pro-active are no more. Now you just take the calls you are sent on, no point in looking for trouble. Thats a loss, IMHO, as it fosters an "I don't care attitude" sadly.

    What has really hurt, was the two year hiring freeze while the council hired a consultant to "reimagine the police". Now that we've been reimagined, we are woefully short of officers. Not hiring for that long is going to take years to overcome, and the uncomfortable truth is the public suffers. To keep minimum manning on patrol, the majority of our specialty units have been disbanded. No more Gang Unit, Animal Cruelty, Traffic Unit, Auto Theft, Parks & Lakes, Mounted & Bike patrol (on the park & trail system), they are all on the beat. In fact we are so effing short, our detectives are now tasked to suspend cases for two weeks while they rotate onto patrol.

    We can retire at 25 years on a basic pension, it was common to stay for 30, better pension and it was sustainable. Not so much, lot of talent is hitting the 25 year mark and bailing. Easier to go do something else for a few years and protect the pension. It's sad to see it really.

    There is even the uncomfortable consideration of shifting our roster to 12 hour shifts just to cover the holes. IE Work 3 12 hour shifts, and one six hour shift. That will crush whatever family life we had, as it becomes work/sleep for four days straight, less than ideal.

    Anyhow, fire way with the questions.



  • Company Representative Posts: 189 Verified rep I'm a US police officer, AMA


    Hi, what's your opinion on the rapid escalation in militarization of the police forces across America since 9/11 where we see large volumes of military surplus being used by civilian forces.

    I spoke to this on one of the previous AMA's. Like all things, there is nuance to this. Most larger agencies have some sort of armoured vehicle, typically for SWAT, and it's common for even patrol units to carry ballistic helmets and heavy vests (ones that will stop a rifle round). This stuff is not used for daily operations despite all the hype about "militarizing the police". Yes, it looks aggressive, but it's a "horses for courses sort of thing". When faced with an active shooter, you want the heavy kit and a rifle that can hit a target beyond the 25M range of a pistol. This is a sad reality in the US. SWAT will use the Bearcat if the risk assessment indicates the subject is armed, especially with a rifle. Yes, after 9/11 everyone went mad with grabbing the kit, but most of the time it sits in the back of the car.

    Agencies have used the vehicles in riot situations, again, is the safest option to evacuate the wounded, protect the medics. When it's raining stones, bottles & petrol bombs, a patrol car isn't going to work.

    What is your views on the Aggressive approach to police that seems universal across the US , and mainly based on race and location?

    This is a bit too broad for me to comment on, you'll need to be a bit more specific please.



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  • Registered Users Posts: 470 ✭✭rogerywalters


    Is the continued frequent cases of police brutality (with video evidence) not dampening morale more so then the new DA who is "after" cops? And separately what do yourself and your colleagues think of the Uvalde police department?



  • Registered Users Posts: 1,609 ✭✭✭Tonesjones


    In Texas which is the most common and most problematic gang?

    Blacks, white biker/supremacists or Latinos?



  • Registered Users Posts: 1,292 ✭✭✭em_cat


    Have you always served in Tx? From a policing POV what are your thoughts on why the average person feels the need to open carry their semi auto handgun on their person at all times?

    I was in The Woodlands in Houston a couple of years ago popped into the local HEB was taken aback at all the handguns on peoples belts like their mobile phone holders. My OH was with me and he was understandably very very uncomfortable…needless to say he opted to stay in the car.



  • Registered Users Posts: 6,731 ✭✭✭Wanderer2010


    How do so many clearly violent, psychopathic cops escape the screening process for the profession? There are almost weekly videos out there of 4 or 5 big burly cops absolutely beating the living daylights out of some guy who is skinny, handcuffed and is no threat, but you see these cops just punching and kicking non stop and there isnt an ounce of compassion in them. Its clearly a huge problem where these nutcases can still get a job as a cop. Do you agree that the psychological requirements (if any) to be a cop are too weak to be efficient?



  • Registered Users Posts: 5,100 ✭✭✭mikeecho


    Have you traveled internationally?, and what was your thoughts on how those police forces interacted with it's citizens.?



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  • Registered Users Posts: 994 ✭✭✭Vestiapx


    Has the Irish guy living in America ever travelled internationaly?



  • Registered Users Posts: 2,108 ✭✭✭CGI_Livia_Soprano
    Holding tyrants to the fire


    I was reading when the first AMA took place and anyone whose question wasn’t “you’re a powice man? gee whiz can I see your gun?” had their posts deleted and were ordered by the administration not to post negative remarks. Now that we’re in the post-George Floyd era I’m happy to see people are quicker to question these kind of image-washing propaganda exercises.

    For all of the slagging they get, as an Irish person I’m proud that our Police force are literally “the Guardians of Peace” and not the jumped-up, under-trained, trigger-happy thugs they seem to have in the US.

    My question for the OP is this: how can you look at yourself in the mirror when you button up the same uniform the murderers of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Daniel Shaver wore?



  • Registered Users Posts: 994 ✭✭✭Vestiapx


    Do you think Derek Chauvin did wrong and if so do you think he deserves what's happening to him.



  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    Good luck with the trolls.



  • Registered Users Posts: 470 ✭✭rogerywalters


    Ah i think 1 is too strong. The rest are very very fair questions. What type of questions do you think the op has envisaged?



  • Registered Users Posts: 994 ✭✭✭Vestiapx




  • Company Representative Posts: 189 Verified rep I'm a US police officer, AMA


    Is the continued frequent cases of police brutality (with video evidence) not dampening morale more so then the new DA who is "after" cops? And separately what do yourself and your colleagues think of the Uvalde police department?

    Yes, cops doing stupid **** make our life hard too. Every time this happens, it sets us back and damages our reputation. It all adds up, just like the new DA. But if you are not in LE, you don't see it. Because of his attitude, 85% of his prosecutors left over a 9 month period. We now have the laughable situation where were have graduate attorneys prosecuting complex felonies. Whatever about going after cops and our morale, this is not serving victims.

    In Texas which is the most common and most problematic gang? Blacks, white biker/supremacists or Latinos?

    It's a big state, so there is a local element to it. On my patch it's mostly the Hispanic gangs and the biker meth heads.

    Have you always served in Tx? From a policing POV what are your thoughts on why the average person feels the need to open carry their semi auto handgun on their person at all times? I was in The Woodlands in Houston a couple of years ago popped into the local HEB was taken aback at all the handguns on people's belts like their mobile phone holders. My OH was with me and he was understandably very, very uncomfortable…needless to say he opted to stay in the car.

    Yes, only worked in TX. Spoke to this previously, but I'm not a fan of armed citizens. Yes, we all have an inherent right to self defense, but most people can't shoot at all, rarely practice and especially don't practice shooting under stress. It's a huge responsibility, and I get tired of the gun lobby pushing the "good guy with a gun myth". Sure, it happens once in a great while, just like the guy who attacks a MMA fighter. Reality is you are more likely to have your gun stolen and used against you, it be used by a child, etc. There is a decent FBI/DOJ study which debunks this "good guy with a gun" deal, link on one of the previous forums. And the Woodlands, that's funny too. You are about as likely to be a crime victim there as in the Vatican. For those wondering, it's a fairly wealthy, mostly white suburb of Houston.

    How do so many clearly violent, psychopathic cops escape the screening process for the profession? There are almost weekly videos out there of 4 or 5 big burly cops absolutely beating the living daylights out of some guy who is skinny, handcuffed and is no threat, but you see these cops just punching and kicking nonstop and there isn't an ounce of compassion in them. It's clearly a huge problem where these nutcases can still get a job as a cop. Do you agree that the psychological requirements (if any) to be a cop are too weak to be efficient?

    I was wondering how long it would be before this came up. I spoke to this on one of the previous AMAs, but I'll respond again. I disagree with your assertion How do so many clearly violent, psychopathic cops escape the screening process for the profession? It's overly broad and provocative.

    There are something like 18,000 LE agencies in the US with approx. 900 000 officers. These range from behemoths like NYPD (36K officer/20K civilians) to some tiny rural agencies with literally one officer. Each one has its own hiring process and screening, and most halfway decent agencies have a psychological screening process. Are there some bad apples in there, sure, law of numbers says so. Are they psychotic, probably not. More likely they are just assholes who lost their temper and deserved to be fired if they are indeed stepping over a line. We are trained to use the minimum force required to gain control, no more. And cops who step over that line make all of our lives hard. And yes, I'm aware of the recent video from Arkansas, from what I saw, that seems to be excessive force. However there is usually more to the story, IE what happened before this was filmed. Youtube videos, while visceral, just be aware they can be easily edited and curated.

    Over the years (and by no means a representative sample) I've worked with 100's of cops. The vast majority of them are decent men & women doing a hard job, doing the right thing and are not nutcases by any means.



  • Registered Users Posts: 1,483 ✭✭✭RichieRich_89


    What do you think would happen if an unarmed police force, like the gardaí, say, attempted policing in an American setting?

    Suicide mission?



  • Registered Users Posts: 2,009 ✭✭✭Slideways


    Why are cops allowed to become so fat and unfit? Should there be more stringent on going fitness testing



  • Registered Users Posts: 82,286 ✭✭✭✭Overheal


    Is 21 weeks of training really adequate?



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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,108 ✭✭✭CGI_Livia_Soprano
    Holding tyrants to the fire


    Morale, however has tanked, especially with the new DA going after cops. he has even dug up old cases (alleged excessive force) from years ago which were unfounded, and has sought indictments on those.

    Are you actually saying that the DA is fabricating excessive force accusations against “cops” you work with? For what end, exactly? I think it’s more likely that that the police are actually going under scrutiny for abusing their power that they have been getting away with for years.

    Are there some bad apples in there, sure, law of numbers says so

    The saying is “one bad apple spoils the bunch.” Would you agree that if there is such a significant minority of crooked bullies in the police forces in the US then the whole force’s reputation suffers?

    More likely they are just assholes who lost their temper and deserved to be fired if they are indeed stepping over a line

    Do you not think policemen who “step over a line” should go to prison rather than simply fired?

    cops who step over that line make all of our lives hard. And yes, I'm aware of the recent video from Arkansas, from what I saw, that seems to be excessive force. However there is usually more to the story, IE what happened before this was filmed.

    What do you imagine happened before the filming started that would justify the use of excessive force? By which I mean when do you think “excessive” force is ever justified?



  • Company Representative Posts: 189 Verified rep I'm a US police officer, AMA


    Have you traveled internationally?, and what was your thoughts on how those police forces interacted with it's citizens.?

    Yes, we try and travel internationally as much as we can. I can't really speak to it as other than the occasional chance encounter, I haven't had the opportunity to interact much. I'd like to see more of other forces, but it's a time/language issue and a desire to not make it a busmans holiday. Did a informal rid-out with the Gardai, had a mate there, that was great to see how they work. Otherwise, I leave the job at home when on hols.

    And separately what do yourself and your colleagues think of the Uvalde police department?

    I'll always preface by saying I wasn't there, so there is that. However, based on everything released, it was a failure at every level. I'm an Active Shooter LE instructor. The fundamental tenet is "stop the killing". Use whatever means to make entry and confront the shooter. Yes, that means going in harms way. As I say to student, "this is your moment, this is what you signed on for, it's going to hurt".

    For all of the slagging they get, as an Irish person I’m proud that our Police force are literally “the Guardians of Peace” and not the jumped-up, under-trained, trigger-happy thugs they seem to have in the US.

    That is a provocative & declarative statement, and you are entitled to your opinions. If you have a question ask it, otherwise this doesn't contribute anything to a reasonable debate.

    My question for the OP is this: how can you look at yourself in the mirror when you button up the same uniform the murderers of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Daniel Shaver wore?

    I don't, I don't work for that agency. I'm proud of what I do, I serve and protect my community, I help people and make every effort to apply the law fairly & equally. As said above, there are 900 000 of us, vast majority doing a hard job. The officers in those case get what they deserve, its not defendable.

    What do you think would happen if an unarmed police force, like the Gardaí, say, attempted policing in an American setting?Suicide mission?

    It wouldn't work. For a long and complex series of historical, social & political reasons, guns are a fact of life in this country. In dealing with a population that is armed, and thus armed criminals, armed police are the only reasonable solution. An unarmed officer can't safely confront an armed subject.

    Are cops allowed to become so fat and unfit? Should there be more stringent on going fitness testing?

    I don't think they should be, but this is an expensive and complex labour law issue in this country. Without getting into the legalities of it, the short version is: if an employer has a job fitness standard, it must be employment related, and the employer must provide the means to prepare for a standard. IE the job would have to pay for time to work out, a gym and make sure the test can survive a legal challenge. In most agencies, fitness programs never make the budget. We're struggling to meet minimum staffing, very few chiefs have the appetite to pay for us to work out on the clock where we struggle to answer calls for service. I do not like fat cops, they are a danger to me, the public and themselves.

    Is 21 weeks of training really adequate?

    Well requirements vary by state/agency but it hovers around 21 weeks. My agency academy is 25 weeks as we do a lot of Mental Health Officer training. I know in Europe many agencies require a degree which I don't disagree with but then a reasonable balance may be in the middle. Gardai spend nearly two years in Templemore, and yet they can't drive a patrol car until they've been to the drivers course. We go from civilian to cop in 25 weeks, including firearms, driving, the lot. So it's probably in the middle somewhere.

    This would require a fundamental shift in what is still generally perceived as a blue collar job to a true profession. This opens other doors, should cops get paid more then if they have degrees? How do you address minority recruiting, that's already a struggle. We tried that for a while, required the degree. Our chief was fired over it as it was deemed it was a tool to exclude minorities. Should they be paid for a year in the academy? How will that effect budget, personnel shortages? It's a knotty problem.



  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Social & Fun Moderators, Regional West Moderators Posts: 60,032 Mod ✭✭✭✭Gremlinertia


    From what i can gather (i claim no vast knowledge here so forgive me if i get something arse over tit) there is massive variation in law, in training, in numbers per capita and even between cities with regard to a kind of average standard.. These differences, even from county to county must get confusing at times, do things get lost in translation or in department paperwork? For instance if a wanted person relocates to another state? Or somebody (say a doctor) has their license to practice struck out in one state, can they blag their way back into practice elsewhere?

    Sorry for the wandering query, thanks for another AMA



  • Company Representative Posts: 189 Verified rep I'm a US police officer, AMA


    Are you actually saying that the DA is fabricating excessive force accusations against “cops” you work with? For what end, exactly? I think it’s more likely that that the police are actually going under scrutiny for abusing their power that they have been getting away with for years.

    No the DA is not fabricating anything, this is life, not a movie. These are cases that happened some years back, were investigated, officers were cleared of wrong doing by Internal Affairs, the Police Board and the previous DA. These cases were re-opened, not because of new evidence, new accusations etc, but because the DA "was not satisficed with the previous investigation" This is a dangerous slippery slope, regardless of whether it's a cop or not as any new DA could use the same logic in any criminal case. Sure, fill your boots if it was a sloppy investigation, new evidence, new facts, but this is not the case. Now there are 10 officers back under the microscope, suspended from duty while this is dragged out again.

    The saying is “one bad apple spoils the bunch.” Would you agree that if there is such a significant minority of crooked bullies in the police forces in the US then the whole force’s reputation suffers?

    Of course, everytime one of these idiots does something, it harms us. It fosters mistrust and reinforces an "us vs. them mentality". None of us want our job to be any harder than it is.

    Do you not think policemen who “step over a line” should go to prison rather than simply fired?

    It's not as simple as "lock 'em up". Just like anyone else, they have rights if accused of a crime. Those rights should be protected just like anyone else's. Employment law, different, you violate dept. policy, yes, they can be fired (and should be in my mind, but only after a fair and open investigation. Just because we're cops, doesn't mean we have less rights than anyone else.

    What do you imagine happened before the filming started that would justify the use of excessive force? By which I mean when do you think “excessive” force is ever justified?

    I don't know and won't speculate. One open source mentioned the encounter had been fine for a few minutes, then it went downhill. There is no lawful justification for excessive force. The law allows for words to the effect of force which is objectively reasonable under the circumstances and the minimum amount of force necessary to effect an arrest or protect the officer or other person. This is very subjective, thus very circumstance driven. Was the guy high on meth? Did he have a weapon or history of violence? Was he reaching for an officers gun? etc etc etc. Punches, strikes, blows are a permitted use of force, even to the head in some circumstances. Now if the guy was cuffed (like George Floyd), then all best are off, how do you articulate a threat? More will come from this I'm sure.



  • Company Representative Posts: 189 Verified rep I'm a US police officer, AMA


    Do you think Derek Chauvin did wrong and if so do you think he deserves what's happening to him.

    Sorry, this got lost in the cut/paste world. yes, Chauvin was wrong, wrong, wrong, end of. He very much got what he deserved IMHO. Chauvin has a long history of this sort of thing and had beaten it for years, so yes, IMHO he got what he deserved.

    From what i can gather (i claim no vast knowledge here so forgive me if i get something arse over tit) there is massive variation in law, in training, in numbers per capita and even between cities with regard to a kind of average standard.. These differences, even from county to county must get confusing at times, do things get lost in translation or in department paperwork? For instance if a wanted person relocates to another state? Or somebody (say a doctor) has their license to practice struck out in one state, can they blag their way back into practice elsewhere?

    A fundamental part of the US is local control, goes back to the foundation of the nation. The downside of this is a lot of local variations in all sorts of things. Add in politics, history etc. and we are where we are. And it's a huge country from densely packed urban areas to parts of the country with a population density of less than one person/square mile. So lots of unique & different ways of life, settings, etc. The federal govt has no inherent right to set LE standards of any kind for other than the feds. So, LE is generally regulated by each state as far as standards & education. Beyond that, each agency defines its own requirements, policies and so on. In many ways it's a bit silly, in my county alone (pop 1.25 million) there are 35 different, non state or federal LE agencies each answerable to their own entity. We vary from a large PD of 3500 to one agency of 9 two of whom are part time. It causes no end of confusion, but it won't change as America was built that way constitutionally.

    As for wanted, etc. once they are entered in the national database, then any agency can find them in seconds. Wanted, criminal & driving records are all linked nationally. Where it gets messy is if I'm working a case on a suspect and so is the agency up the road, I have no way of knowing they are a suspect in that case (outside some unique data bases not everyone has access to).

    Could one blag there way in another state, most likely not. States are getting better about sharing data, and any employer in most professions would find that out very quickly by running a check with the previous agency regulation that profession, including cops.



  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Social & Fun Moderators, Regional West Moderators Posts: 60,032 Mod ✭✭✭✭Gremlinertia


    In many ways it's a bit silly, in my county alone (pop 1.25 million) there are 35 different, non state or federal LE agencies each answerable to their own entity.

    Holy crap, this was sort of next on my list to ask, how on earth can someone like yourself even know all these entities, that they are for real and legal? Cannot believe that is just one county.. I'm aware of bailiffs and bondsmen, bounty hunters then say transit police etc, but 35?? I'll have to broaden my knowledege on just your state before i ask more stupid questions



  • Company Representative Posts: 189 Verified rep I'm a US police officer, AMA


    In many ways it's a bit silly, in my county alone (pop 1.25 million) there are 35 different, non state or federal LE agencies each answerable to their own entity.

    It's a function of America. As a general rule, (bear in mind this varies state by state), a local authority with the power of taxation can have it's own LE agency. Counites, cities/towns, schools, transit authorities, etc. Remember, it's a huge country and a core principle is "local control with weak state & federal govt." And at one point that probably was practical over 100 years ago when states were less populous and state institutions weaker. In the 21st century it's irrelevant (IMHO) but we're here and it won't change. Where I live it shakes out like this, and we're pretty typical TBH:

    County sheriff

    Five county precincts with a Constable (think bailiff type role but they are commissioned officers)

    County parks PD

    County Fire Marshall

    City Fire Marshall

    14 City departments (there are 14 incorporated cities in the county)

    Four school district PD's

    Four university PDs

    Transit PD

    We used to have airport, hospital & city parks police too but they were rolled into the larger city PD some years back.

    Each of these agencies is beholden only to themselves and answers only to their chief. There is no mandate for anyone to talk to each other, no data sharing requirements, etc. It's very inefficient and duplicative and confusing for the public. It's not uncommon for one agency to "own" of a street, and another to "own" the opposite side. And trust me, not all agencies are created equal. Two of the smaller city PD's are glorified security guards for wealthy, white suburbs who only write tickets to people who don't live there and as an LE agency can be found otherwise under "U" for useless in the dictionary. Anything beyond a simple burglary is beyond those mopes. But they only answer to their city and no one else

    Washington DC, population 702,000 has something like an eye watering 72 different agencies milling around there!!! My personal favorite there being the Smithsonian Zoo Police :-) Maybe the pandas get rowdy after hours....

    So when comments like "American police are...." its about as accurate as saying "Everyone who plays GAA is a ..........."



  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Social & Fun Moderators, Regional West Moderators Posts: 60,032 Mod ✭✭✭✭Gremlinertia


    Yeah that was my vague idea that the whole thing was very fragmented, even as an observer I think it must be massively frustrating to say the least.

    So transit don't communicate with patrol as an example? That's why I wonder how anything gets done!.



  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    Do many New Yorkers share the same sentiment as Louis Rossmann?

    https://youtu.be/v5izPI2BMWg



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  • Company Representative Posts: 189 Verified rep I'm a US police officer, AMA


    With all the focus on LE, much of it well deserved, there is a rush to defund/reimagine/dissolve/whatever the police. A question which gets lost in the narrative is "What do you want YOUR police to be?". Policing is very complex, and we show up at the intersection of history/race/poverty/social & political policy/mental health/crime and have to make decisions there and then based on the laws that were enacted by the people. As it stands, the unstated expectation of a cop is that he/she can drive like a NASCAR racer, shoot like an Olympic shooter, fight like a MMA champ, be a paramedic, a social worker, a mental health counsellor, write at a graduate level and have the legal mind of Perry Mason. All for about $45K/year 24/7.

    I'm not saying being a cop is hard, its very complicated. Most people essentially haven't a clue about the law and base their understanding of what we do on movies/TV. And we're thrust into the middle of generational poverty, racist housing & education policies, historical prejudice, and so on. I would submit, as a profession, we're struggling to get our heads around it too. But we're a product of society too. We don't write the laws and make the policies. Sure, we have discretion, but that can only go so far. I think all of us have to have the uncomfortable conversation about this, not just the police.

    So look at this as a discussion point and watch the whole thing from start to finish. And ask yourself, what would/could a reasonable officer have done different? Not all that much I submit. Why? Encounter starts pleasantly enough, the officers were polite and doing their job. A neighbour had called (911 tape at end of broadcast) reporting a suspicious person. Cops show up, and ask they guy wazzup? Now, is he suspicious, well watering the plants is not inherently suspicious but as a cop, we still need to know who is this guy and what is he doing here. The officer made a reasonable demand for ID to figure out who they are dealing with. The Pastor refuses to talk, ignores them to the point of rudeness and forces the issue. Yeah, he gets cuffed and finally tells them who he is. But now it's a thing...and I'm sure the law firm of Dewy, Chetham and Howe are already filing motions.

    What is the root cause here? The 911 caller? The pastor or the cop? Historical race prejudice? (It is Alabama after all) If he'd said "Oh hey guys, I'm Pastor Bob Jones, this is my neighbor Timmy's house, I'm looking after the place while they are out. Oh, ID, sure, here ya go. And if ya want to call Timmy I can give you his number" It would likely have ended up with a "thank you sir, we appreciate your cooperation, have a good day" and we'd all be better off. As a cop, I can't just go, "Oh, ok, well you must be who you are because you're watering plants" and leave without figuring out who he is and whats going on, I would be derelict in my duties of protecting the public. And here we are, another issue. And while I normally like the BBC as reasonably objective, the headline is a bit sensational. They don't run the story in chronological order, probably because it's less exciting. This is all what we have to deal with as a society on a daily basis.



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