Recognize, Resist, Report

America's long history of teaching kids to identify with the police


In April 1990, a guidance counselor at a Searsport, Maine, elementary school summoned a fifth-grader to her office. The counselor asked the 11-year-old, Crystal Grendell, whether her parents used drugs. After the counselor reassured her that "nothing would happen," Crystal eventually admitted that her parents occasionally smoked pot. At school a few days later, Crystal was greeted by three D.A.R.E. police officers, who interrogated her about her parents' drug use. The officers threatened Crystal, saying her parents would be arrested if she didn't tell them everything she knew about her mother and father's recreational drug habits. The officers then warned her against telling her parents about their encounter, claiming that "often parents beat their children after the children talk to police."

Scared, the girl agreed to carry out a spy mission on her family. The D.A.R.E. officers instructed Crystal to count her parents' marijuana plants and to provide details about their schedules and the layout of their home. When Crystal reported back to the cops, they informed her that her house would be raided and that she would not be able to stay there that night.

After the police raided the house and found several marijuana plants, Crystal's parents were arrested and her mother was fired from her jobs as a teacher's assistant and a bus driver. The D.A.R.E. officers had failed to make arrangements for where Crystal and her younger sister would stay while their parents were in police custody, and when the police couldn't find any nearby family members, they had to take the girls to the house of a distant relative.

Feeling that the police and school officials had manipulated her, Crystal—who was once outgoing and gregarious—became socially withdrawn and suffered from psychological distress. Reflecting on how the incident had turned her life upside down, Crystal later told The Wall Street Journal: "I would never tell again.…Never. Never." When a federal judge awarded Crystal a civil judgment against the D.A.R.E. officers, he issued a strong condemnation of how they had turned the fifth-grader into an informant against her own family: "This type of coercive extraction of indicting information from an 11-year-old girl about her parents is reprehensible behavior unworthy of constitutional protection."

This reprehensible behavior, unfortunately, is all too characteristic of a program that has long been criticized for using children to gather information about their families and communities. The only unique thing about this story is that the D.A.R.E. officers coerced the girl in an especially callous way. Most D.A.R.E. programs involve coloring books and special certificates, not threats.

But whether they use coercion or persuasion, D.A.R.E. and similar programs have much to teach us about American snitch culture. By conditioning children and teens to scrutinize and regulate their parents' and peers' conduct, these programs encourage kids to act like cops. And that makes them part of a long tradition.

Boy Police and Girl Coppettes At the turn of the 20th century, "Boy Police" patrols sprouted throughout the United States. As crime rose in many of the nation's cities, burgeoning urban police departments calculated that by recruiting a large number of young boys, they could maximize their forces' presence while also enticing youth to choose the side of law and order.

Consider the Des Moines Boy Police, formed in 1909 when the state of Iowa passed laws against shooting fireworks at Fourth of July celebrations. Because the Des Moines police were unable to enforce this new law over the entire city, they formed a company of Boy Police. Emphasizing "the sacred necessity of keeping the laws of the State," the chief organizer told her new recruits that if they ensured the other kids would keep the peace—and if they agreed to avoid early partying and shooting fireworks—they would be appointed "special policemen." A supporter of the project claimed that this "idea of authority captivated the boys at once.…With acumen which would have put to shame many a regular detective these little fellows went to work to track down every specimen of explosive which was being secreted for the big celebration. They told all their young friends that they would be obliged to obey the law, or else be arrested."

The patrols were also encouraged to "track down" other youthful offenses, even ones as petty as swearing, "defacing" sidewalks with chalk, placing obstructions on fire-escapes, or mixing ash and garbage. By policing their peers' conduct, one observer declared, the Boy Police would force youth to "absorb the lessons of integrity, uprightness, and obedience" that policing teaches, thus "promoting those qualities of manliness, self-reliance, and order."

The fervor for boy police was not confined to the Midwest. Captain John Sweeney divided New York City's 15th Police Precinct into 12 zones, each under the command of a single boy lieutenant aged 11–15. The boys on a street block constituted a "vigilance committee" responsible for enforcing the law on that block.

They were required to keep an eye not just on their peers but on their parents. Indeed, the boys' biannual progress reports gave special marks for "personal influence," which, in the words of the Christian Endeavor World, measured a boy's success "in persuading grown-ups to obey the law."

By 1917, when the ranks of his Northeast District Boy Police program had swelled to 200 members, Sweeney declared that "the boyish love of adventure and mystery, which usually expresses itself in the exploits of criminal heroes of dime novels and the yellow press," was now "directed to the imitation of the deeds of the real heroes of American cities—the brave, honest, and unassuming members of the police force."

This empowerment, of course, had its limits. Sweeney's boys had to enforce the law without violence or physical engagement; their responsibilities were confined to various modes of seeing and saying. Their ultimate duties, he emphasized, were to file daily reports of criminal deeds. "'Squealing,'" Sweeney exulted, "has become the virtue of 'loyalty to the force.'"

In 1915, to complement its Boy Police program, New York City recruited 500 teenagers to try out for a new girls' patrol. After six months, 50 of these girls were selected for the program, and each Coppette was given a beat to monitor. The New York Times chronicled the activities of one of these girls, "Captain" Celia Goldberg, as she demonstrated the daily work of a "girl cop." Outfitted with a blue cap and a brass-buttoned blue coat, young Captain Goldberg roamed her beat, looking for illegal and unsafe activities. Responding to a question about whether her fellow citizens took her seriously when she tried to enforce the law, Goldberg remarked: "They see this uniform and they know it means the law."

While the girls would sometimes join the boys to stamp out petty crime, the Coppettes were primarily tasked with regulating the health and morality of their parents, their siblings, and the children in their neighborhoods. These duties included preventing children from watching motion pictures without their parents, "getting after" merchants who sold tobacco to minors, ensuring that grocers sold clean and healthful food, and reporting underage girls who would attempt to enter dance halls. Goldberg reported: "Most of our work has to do with children and the home.…We have to see that our own mothers buy only pure, wholesome food, that our homes are clean, and that our own little brothers are well cared for. Then we are ready to take care of our other duties." The Coppettes thus helped expand the police's sensory reach into the family and other social institutions.

The Cowan Plan Such programs tend to gain momentum during times of social upheaval. During World War II, for example, as millions of men left their families to fight overseas, juvenile delinquency became an object of special social concern. As women rushed to fill the jobs vacated by men drafted to fight the war, the specter of the idle child rankled many social welfare and law enforcement agencies.

From Berkeley to Boston, local law enforcement set their sights on these children. In 1942, for example, an African-American officer in Washington, D.C., developed a "Junior Police Corps" aimed at steering the city's black youth away from crime. With the support of D.C. public schools, Oliver Cowan organized hierarchical patrols modeled on the civic police force.

In less than a year, he had enlisted more than 700 boy cadets and 100 girl "auxiliaries." By 1944, that number had increased to nearly 1,200 boys and more than 300 girls. Cowan attributed his success to an interesting recruitment strategy. A great deal of youth crime in Washington was carried out by local gangs such as the Oil Burners, the Bulldozers, and the Bone Crushers. Rather than arresting the gangs and sending their members to juvenile homes or prison, Cowan would approach gang leaders and say, "I know you know all about breaking the law. I guess you fellows know best how to get others to respect and obey it." He then offered them various social resources in exchange for abandoning crime and collaborating with the authorities. Surprisingly, he had a great deal of success. Their organizational manual, which the former gang members produced on their own and distributed to new members, declared: "Congress made the laws, we enforce them.…We as junior citizens are determined to abolish juvenile delinquency in our neighborhood."

The boy police and Coppettes were required to keep an eye not just on their peers but on their families.

The Junior Police Corps and similar programs across the U.S. had unintended effects on local youth politics. On one hand, integrating entire gangs into boy police programs prevented retaliation against newly recruited officers. But in many locales, animosity emerged between the newly minted boy officers and the gangs that refused to join the police programs. In 1951, for example, several youths fired rifles at boy patrol officers while they were serving as crossing guards at an elementary school in Watseka, Illinois.

The rising crime of the 1960s and 1970s gave rise to new kid patrols. Some of these—the Police Athletic League; the "White Hats" in Tampa—used badges, uniforms, and official titles to entice students to monitor their peers. But other nonprofit groups and police agencies began experimenting with a new model. In lieu of the uniformed police collaborators of the Junior Police clubs, student snoops now circulate more or less transparently among their peers.

Enter D.A.R.E. Schools are outfitted with countless mechanisms for surveillance and correction, from classroom design to detention to student tracking to exams. To supplement these tools, police officials and allied institutions have introduced more flexible programs of surveillance.

The most influential and far-reaching of these efforts has been D.A.R.E., which turns kids into weapons in the war on drugs. Founded in 1981 by Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl Gates, D.A.R.E. emerged in the wake of Project SMART (Self Management and Resistance Training), an early intervention program developed at the University of Southern California.

Project SMART was a collaborative effort between the university and administrators at L.A.'s public schools; police simply did not fit into the plan. Gates, hoping to build a closer relationship with the city's school system, approached Project SMART and offered to help by bringing officers into the schools. Alarmed by the idea of armed, uniformed agents of the law acting as mentors for students, Project SMART declined. Undeterred, Gates developed his own elementary school program that supplemented the SMART curriculum with police participation.

Displeased, officials from Project SMART accused D.A.R.E. of "ripp[ing] off our materials," declaring that "they took a version of the program that we had radically revamped because it wasn't working." Yet D.A.R.E. quickly dwarfed Project SMART, gaining a national presence during the 1980s. Benefiting from massive drug-war grants, D.A.R.E. spread to middle schools in 1986 and high schools in 1988.

Now active in 75 percent of American school districts and in more than 43 countries worldwide, and with annual expenditures exceeding $1 billion, D.A.R.E. is today one of the most significant youth governance initiatives in the United States. While its central mission is still to "provide children with the information and skills they need to live drug and violence free lives," in recent years it has added new areas of focus: internet security, bullying, school safety, and "community safety" now rank among D.A.R.E.'s core concerns.

To promote D.A.R.E.-approved conduct, uniformed police officers carry out a 17-session program that targets students from kindergarten to high school. The program takes pains to help students identify with the officers in their schools. In many communities, like that facing Chief Gates in the early 1980s, police saw D.A.R.E. as a chance to improve community relations with poor people of color. For one D.A.R.E. figure, Drug Enforcement Administration agent Robert Strange, this goal outweighs the initiative's educational value: "Forget about the drug education.…We saw a relationship that could be built between the students and the police officers. There's no other vehicle for that that we're aware of."

These bonds of identification make students more comfortable opening up about the forbidden habits of their friends and family members. This logic is perhaps best expressed in the "three r's"—recognize, resist, report—promoted by many D.A.R.E. programs. While this part of the curriculum helps students recognize drugs and drug paraphernalia, it also teaches them to recognize "suspicious" behaviors among their family and peers.

Keep Safe, Keep Away, Keep Telling This message begins in kindergarten. For instance, in the Child Safety Coloring and Activity Book, distributed by the Department of Justice in partnership with D.A.R.E., cartoon characters instruct students how and when to snitch on their peers and parents. The little book's most frequently touted theme is "KEEP SAFE, KEEP AWAY, KEEP TELLLING." Kids are encouraged to "tell" if someone "bothers" them online, if they see someone being picked on at school, and, above all, if they see evidence of drugs, weapons, or gang activity.

D.A.R.E. officers, like social workers and many school administrators, are required to pursue tips of a criminal nature, even if those tips are shared in confidence. One early D.A.R.E. manual released by the Department of Justice even gives special instructions to officers who receive reports that parents are using "dope"—that information, readers are informed, "cannot remain confidential." When these mandatory reporting guidelines are combined with activities and outreach materials that promote recognizing and reporting, local police departments often find themselves pursuing the tips of a vigilant student. In the late 1980s, after D.A.R.E. was introduced to Boston schools, police there received 12 calls a day from kids turning in their parents for misdemeanor drug possession.

In 1991, a 10-year-old D.A.R.E. student in Colorado found a small stash of marijuana hidden in his parents' bookshelf. Instead of confronting his parents, the boy called 911, informing the dispatcher that he was a "D.A.R.E. kid" and that he had found drugs in his home; the boy's local D.A.R.E. officer praised his actions. The next year, there were two separate cases in which Boston children ratted on their parents and then showed their D.A.R.E. certificates to officers as they arrived. As with Crystal Grendell's experience, such stories often end with parents arrested and fired from their jobs.

While police often claim they don't actively recruit informants from the student body, there is a fine line between "proactive recruitment" and the spy-and-snitch behavior encouraged by programs like D.A.R.E. Naive children often "recognize" and "report" without understanding the potentially devastating consequences of their actions. In Georgia, for example, a 9-year-old D.A.R.E. kid called the cops in 1991 when he found a small stash of speed hidden in his parents' bedroom. The cops showed up and arrested both of them, keeping his father in jail for three months. The distraught child told a reporter, "At school, they told us that if we ever see drugs, call 911 because people who use drugs need help.…I thought the police would come get the drugs and tell them that drugs are wrong. They never said they would arrest them.…But in court, I heard them tell the judge that I wanted my mom and dad arrested. That is a lie. I did not tell them that."

Joanna Andreasson

In Matthews, North Carolina, in 2010, a fifth-grade boy heard a D.A.R.E. lesson on the horrors of marijuana use. The boy was so affected that he approached a D.A.R.E. officer, informing him that his parents sometimes smoked pot. To prove his point, the boy brought one of his parents' joints to school. When the local police arrested the boy's parents, social services removed the couple's two children from the home. Remarking on the case, a Matthews police officer seemed undisturbed by the fact that the children had been taken from their home over misdemeanor marijuana possession. With a hint of pride, the cop remarked: "That's what they're told to do, to make us aware."

Beyond D.A.R.E., Campus Crime Stoppers—the youth division of the national Crime Stoppers organization—offers cash rewards for students to snitch on their peers for drug offenses. Different rewards are meted out based upon the severity of the crime: While a student who reports marijuana possession might receive $200, cocaine could net you $500. In some jurisdictions, students can be paid as much as $2,500. Some recent rewards divvied out by the Atlanta-area Campus Crime Stoppers include a $200 reward for turning in a classmate who possessed hydrocodone pills, a $75 reward for snitching on a student who made a bong out of a Gatorade bottle, and even several small rewards for ratting out students for skipping class. If a student is bashful about snitching over the phone, tips can be emailed, texted, or submitted on Crime Stoppers' mobile app, TipSubmit.

Stop Snitching or Keep Talking? While some kids are happy to scrutinize and snitch on their parents and peers, such efforts have also ignited resistance. The Stop Snitching movement, in particular, has become popular thanks to the high cultural profile of some of its advocates. (NWA, Busta Rhymes, Lil' Kim, Project Pat, Cam'ron, and other rappers have all embraced it.) After professional basketball player Carmelo Anthony appeared in an amateur documentary called Stop Snitchin'! in 2004, "snitching" was tagged on metal stop signs and "Stop Snitching" shirts and bumper stickers became cult favorites. (To compete with the Stop Snitchin'! documentary and related products, Baltimore police drove around in vans labeled "Keep Talking" and handed out their own DVDs and T-shirts.)

Much of the Stop Snitching ethos centered on the violence. Many of these shirts and stickers were emblazoned with guns and knives, featuring slogans such as "Snitches Are a Dying Breed" and "Danger: Snitch at Your Own Risk." In recent years, "snitches get stitches" has become a rallying cry among many young people, and kids who rat out their peers often find themselves faced with violent retaliation. Some scholars have argued that the Stop Snitching campaign has brought down murder conviction rates in some high-crime cities.

In 2007, the National Center for Victims of Crime (NCVC) released a report on these anti-snitching pressures. Among students who had witnessed gang-related crime, the report found, half never reported it to authorities. The primary reason was that they feared being attacked. In many communities, this threat of violence is very real. In October 2009, a 15-year-old Florida boy, Michael Brewer, called the cops after a fellow student stole his father's bicycle. When the suspect was released from police custody, he and four of his friends confronted Brewer outside his parents' apartment complex. Yelling, "He's a snitch! He's a snitch!," the boys doused the 15-year-old with rubbing alcohol and set him on fire. Brewer suffered second- and third-degree burns on 80 percent of his body.

Alarmed by the cultural climate that fuels this kind of violence, the NCVC argued that more resources should be spent convincing youth to communicate with police. The group urged authorities to enlist cultural figures that could compete with Lil' Kim and Busta Rhymes: "Communities should enlist spokespeople who are credible to youth—hip-hop artists and DJs, trusted youth workers and faith leaders, and youth themselves—to deliver the message through various media." This emphasis on media caught on with other seeing/saying programs, such as the "You Bet I Told" campaign in Washington, D.C.

This naive approach has failed to gain traction in most urban communities. A Washington Post report revealed the depth of police resistance that exists in these neighborhoods. According to one 16-year-old girl, "No matter how bad I wanted to tell…I feel if I snitched, I would be putting my life in danger because people with guns feel they have more power than people who don't. You just don't feel safe, no matter what." In such an environment, authorities are playing with fire when they promote a spy/snitch culture.

For some of the students interviewed by the NCVC, meanwhile, siding with the cops meant siding against their friends, families, and neighbors. As one student remarked: "We won't go on their side, 'cause they're not on our side. People don't trust the police." In many urban communities, drug dealers and gangs work hard to keep local youth on their side—they do palpable good for their communities, for example, by financing after-school programs. Explaining why he appeared in the Stop Snitchin'! video, Anthony described why many urban teens learn to respect the drug dealers in their communities: "Drug dealers funded our programs.…Drug dealers bought our uniforms.…They just wanted to see you do good." For the kids who benefit from the generosity of local dealers, that benevolence paints a stark contrast to the hostility they encounter from most cops.

While some students might see a friendly D.A.R.E. officer at their schools, many urban kids, like Anthony, grow up watching cops bully, harass, and even assault their friends. When youth/police programs attempt to finesse a competing structure of loyalty among these children, their efforts often fall on deaf ears. D.A.R.E. programs will continue to convince some students to snitch on their peers, friends, and families, but the police will never be able to couple their monopoly on socially legitimized violence with a monopoly on youth culture.

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  1. Another result of a monopoly coercive government.

    Imagine instead that only victims (or their guardians or heirs) could prosecute, and there had to be real harm to specific victims.

    And imagine if there were no government cops worming their way into schools; imagine cops existed, but for hire — you hire detectives to investigate a burglary, for instance. Or you do it yourself, if you’ve got the training. Serve your own warrants, or hire police to do so.

    Imagine police having to actually compete for business, where customer service was vital. Abusive cops would get little cooperation from witnesses, people wouldn’t hire them to investigate due to their lousy record, and they’d end up only being bounty hunters and probably be arrested quite often themselves.

    And cops in schools? Which cops? Unpopular cops like DARE would not be invited back, heck, wouldn’t even stay in business. Good cops would be nice people and respect rights, and they would be invited to schools, where they would mainly discuss how they investigate crime scenes and track down people. Some, maybe most, would even tell a few cautionary tales of bad warrants they had been tricked into serving, and the consequences.

    1. Imagine instead that only victims (or their guardians or heirs) could prosecute

      Criminals would love this. It would be a simple matter of (a) choosing poor or isolated victims, and (b) intimidating or buying off victims who did have the ability to mount a prosecution. (the Roman Polanski gambit)

      The flip side of course is that rich people could harass the fuck out of anybody they want by randomly prosecuting them.

      1. Loser pays would make short work of criminals picking on poor people. Besides, if criminals go where the money is, why would they pick on poor people?

        And if a criminal wants to buy off a victim, then I wonder who the victim really is. “I just robbed you of $100. How’s about I give you $200 to not prosecute me?”

        I doubt many victims would complain if their criminal pays them more to avoid prosecution than a trial would award. If Roman Polanski runs into a victim who see a fat juicy criminal to fleece, it’s hard to see how the criminal’s fame makes it easier for the criminal to get away with his crime.

        Further, if a rich criminal picks on poor people, then loser pays makes it all the more likely that a poor victim with solid evidence will find some person or agency willing to take on the case, since loser pays only makes sense if it includes all recovery costs, such as investigators, police, court, lawyer, bounty hunter, etc.

        Falsely prosecuting someone is an obvious crime, and once again, would attract lawyers and agencies smelling the money to be made.

        But I guess since you can’t see those obvious answers, you probably don’t see the even more obvious corruption of today’s legal system.

        1. Loser pays would be a disaster for poor people who get wronged. It would increase the risk for them, as they have to pay the defense’s costs if they lose. And the rich can pile up costs like mad with very little risk. Contingency doesn’t pay for the other side’s costs, of course.

          And that’s with preponderance of the evidence as the standard… change that to “beyond a reasonable doubt” and a poor victim is taking an even bigger risk by prosecuting.

          False prosecution is not a crime now, and I’m not sure how you could make it a crime. Who decides whether a prosecution is false? A judge? Reason readers shoould remember how un-angelic judges are. If the standard is that a losing prosecution is automatically false prosecution and thus a crime, you’re really raising the stakes against poor people who are victims of crime.

          1. False prosecution is not a crime now only because prosecutors and judges have absolute immunity.

            If poor people lose a case because the evidence is weak, then they should not have brought it. It’s no different from a rich person losing a case for weak evidence. If they lose it due to perjury by their rich criminal, then that provides all the more incentive for lawyers to come to their case.

            If perjury causes a false conviction, or avoids a true conviction, how can that not be a crime? Is there not harm involved?

            As for how one decides if perjury has been convicted, it’s just another crime to be investigated. If juries decide cases, then — pay attention here — juries decide cases for perjury too. Is that unreasonable?

            The current system is corrupt precisely because the rich and powerful hold all the cards. Loser pays and victim prosecution make a much more neutral system.

          2. Loser pays would be a disaster for poor people who get wronged. It would increase the risk for them, as they have to pay the defense’s costs if they lose.

            Actually, poor people have no assets, so they have no risk.

            1. An excellent point. It’s one of the few points against loser pays, in that it biases the system against the rich. But it’s pretty easy to recognize vexatious litigators, and considering how any current system is biased for the rich and powerful, it’s a pretty minor problem.

              Some people have tried to use this as reason to not have loser pays, but they start with the assumption that the poor are crooks at heart, eager to bring false charges at the drop of a hat to soak the rich, or at least tie them up in court. I think it says more about their ignorance than the poor.

              1. Also, in a loser pays system, a poor person that loses regularly won’t be paying the investigators, attorneys, etc. – so it’s in their interest not to get involved if the case is weak.

        2. “I just robbed you of $100. How’s about I give you $200 to not prosecute me?”

          Funny that you think this is absurd — it happens all the time in civil lawsuits. If you rip off 100 people for $100, and only 49 of them have evidence to use against you, you can pay each of them $200 to not file a lawsuit and still come out ahead. Enacting loser pays makes it that offer even more attractive to the victims as there is no risk of having to pay the defendant’s court costs. And the vast majority of crimes’ perpetrators are never caught.

          Also, if your family members don’t like you, they probably would take a nominal payout in a heartbeat rather than finance a prosecution of your murderer.

          1. Anyone can cook up specific details on how any system can be corrupted or fail.

            Your example is patently absurd. If a criminal stands to pay investigation, police, and court costs for $100, his victims are hardly likely to settle for some paltry sum; much more likely to approach the criminal’s avoided costs, ie, thousands of dollars.

            How is the system any different today? If some con man steals $100 from 100 people, how likely are nay of his victims to report it to police, and how likely are police to investigate? There are quite a few jurisdictions where the only response to a burglary complaint is to fill out a web form. The rich and powerful of course get a different response. If you think loser pays and victim prosecution would be worse, you have a very unrealistic view of the current system.

            And if my family and friends are not interested in prosecuting my murder, then I’ve led a pretty sorry life. And again, if a normal prosecution would result in millions of debt for the crime, then my family and friends are pretty damned stupid if they would settle for a nominal payout.

            You need some economics education toot sweet. You need to think things through from all angles, not unrealistic comic book plots.

    2. “Imagine police having to actually compete for business, where customer service was vital.”
      I think the article illustrates that this is indeed happening. In a lot of neighborhoods, gangs offer an alternative government and a significant percentage of people are loyal to them as they were to the Italian mafia a century ago.
      Cops are seen as an occupying force while the gangs provide useful services. And the legitimate government can’t figure out why they won’t snitch.

      1. Cops are seen as an occupying force while the gangs provide useful services.

        Agreed on the first part, but bullshit on the second. What services do street gangs provide to the community?

        People don’t talk because (a) they hate the cops for some reason, and (b) they are afraid of the gangs. Unlike the gangs, the cops have rules that they have to follow.

        And I know someone is going to say “the cops don’t have rules, they never get prosecuted hur durr”. While police accountability is a problem, reality is that the cops could increase their abuses by 10x and still not match the shit that gangs do every day.

        1. More and more unrealistic one-side comic book thinking. Gangs quite obviously provide some benefits or they wouldn’t exist. Your thought processes should start with reality and try to understand what leads to that condition, rather than start from your preconceived fantasy notions and arguing against reality.

          Gangs, for instance actually do provide some protection that the police won’t. They bring money to neighborhoods, dirty and it may be; not all their customers are locals, because according to your scenarios, gangs only exist where people are too poor to purchase their goods.

          Gangs may not appeal to you, and they may not appeal to a lot of people in their neighborhoods, even a large majority. But to call them 100% evil is sorry reasoning.

        2. So, it’s actually pretty common, you know? Al Capone was well liked as a benefactor in the community, for instance. The PLO, which I know is not a street gang, was very popular with the populace, as is Hamas now, because they do spend a lot of money and other resources helping the community.
          What about the Bloods and the Crips, or whoever it is now? Well, nobody is 100% good, and nobody is 100% evil. Listen to a thug talk about their family: “yo, that’s my moms” or their sisters, or the neighbors they grew up with. Everybody loves their family and their neighborhood, and a young man flush with money, ill-gotten or not, will spend some percentage on charity. He’ll want to impress a girl, or his mother, or just do a good thing.

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  2. Never mind the Boy Police. It’s the Dream Police who are coming for you.

    1. Yeah they get inside of my head.They come to me in my bed.

  3. There’s got to be a middle ground somewhere. Someone who will tell kids that they should report acts of violence, but shouldn’t report simple drug possession. But it doesn’t seem to be in the interest of anyone with power or authority to send that message. I guess it’s up to the parents.

    1. Did the parents do this? Baby boomers, Gen Xers. Were they bad parents that these kids are snitches?

    2. You don’t need to tell kids they should report acts of violence – they know that already.

      You *do* need to tell them to report simple drug possession.

      Because everyone knows that beating the shit out of your neighbor is wrong. Not every believes that holding enough pot for two joints is. So you have take advantage of snitches wherever you can get them – and if that means using children for your fucked up power-trip, then so be it.

  4. The DARE officer’s callous use of a false “Nothing bad will happen” promise is an example of why I do not trust any statistics on teen drug use, smoking, and so forth. Such Statistics necessarily depend on ‘anonymous’ polls. By the time they reach their teens, kids have seen or heard of enough cases where adults in authority lied to get information out of children that I suspect that such polls are worthless.

  5. “Even the Hitler Jugend never ratted on their buddies.” Spicer

    1. Hey Creech, my thought exactly. In addition to the Hitler Youth I am sure that the Sov’s had an equivalent. Indeed the pre-reconciliation East German authorities ‘perfected’ this approach so that virtually the whole population were ‘snitching’ on each other.

      Another example of where we lead the world.

      1. The All-Union Pioneer Organization.

    2. Hey Creech, I’m with you. I am sure that in addition to the Hitler Youth the Sov’s had their equivalent.

      The pre-reconcilation East Germany perfected with the majority of their population ‘snitching’ on one another

      Don’t get me started on ‘Neighborhood Watch Schemes’, ‘Development Committees’, let alone ‘Community Organizers’.

      Another are where we lead the world.

      1. We must face the fact the humans are inherently nosey and cannot resist the desire to ‘spy’ on each other.

        Possibly the Libertarian desire to be ‘left alone’ is a futile one.

        1. No, no, no. It’s “the nefarious plot by Libertarians to take over the world and leave everyone alone”.

  6. “See something, say something”

  7. I’m very surprised that cops like the ones described in this articles don’t wind up shot in the head. You fuck with a man’s family, take a child away, take a job and ruin their lives over bullshit then you fucking declared war man. God damn you better be ready to fucking die if you do shit like that for a living.

  8. There’s a lot of grey in the snitch debate. By which I mean, one of the main reasons police in higher crime communities can’t do their jobs is because they rarely receive cooperation. Now, I understand the fear that comes along with that, but you can’t really complain about police not doing anything if no one is willing to step up. We also glorify the concept of not being a “rat” like it’s somehow admirable.

    A lot of what was written in the article crosses another line, but like everything else it’s finding that balance between turning kids into Hitler youth and being an engaged citizenry. Lastly, the myth that you should trust the police, or any organization, needs to die. Organizations are just people, and no one is more or less trustworthy because they hold a certain job. It’s not useful to teach people to treat others as groups.

    1. If the only criminal laws were against violence and theft, then I would have no problem recruiting kids (and everyone else) to report crimes to police.

      But that’s not what we have in this society, we have five felonies a day.

      1. Maybe five on a slow day.

    2. “Snitches get stitches” means “your neighborhood turns into a war zone”.

  9. Mike Tang: Boy Police

    1. terrible band:album name.

      Mike Tang and The Trigger Fish: Hooked By The Boy Police

      1. Better one!

  10. 6 foot 1 tall, Cleveland “man with dark hair” streams live video on his FB page where he walks up to and shoots a random pedestrian. (Video contains graphic depiction of the shooting, so beware) He also claims to have shot 13 other people before this video was filmed.

    Dollars to donuts, we get more calls for gun control after this rampage — and Trump pulls another about face and comes out in support of more gun control (beyond the no fly-no buy gun control he already supports).

    Shelter in place, Warty, we wouldn’t want to lose you.

    1. Another “tall man” had a dispute. Media blame “workplace violence, a national plague”.

  11. This is, after all, a Nation Of Laws?!

    Which means: we need snitches. Especially those who can rat out their undocumented immigrant parents to Jeff Sessions and his Geheime Staatspolizei, proving that they’re good little Americans.

    Look, recognize and report!

  12. Wait, so the Changlorious Basterds were a thing?

  13. RE: Recognize, Resist, Report
    America’s long history of teaching kids to identify with the police

    Isn’t this what Hitler and Stalin told kids in their re-education camps to do to their parents?
    Some things in life never change.

  14. Sounds very O’rwellian however even when I was a child in the 60’s we were told to never tell teachers or anyone who may ask about guns or alcohol or money or even family matters, my parents didn’t drink and had very few guns.

  15. This is not new. In Germany they had the Hitler Youth who were taught to report on their parents as well as their neighbors. Teaching children to be spies instills fear in adults when they can be taken away by authorities at any time for questioning based on an allegation. Intelligent, vindictive children learned this to their advantage and exploited adults. They made good Nazi leaders.

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