Police Abuse

A.G. William Barr Says Police Might Stop "Protecting" Us If We Aren't Nicer to Them. If Only It Were That Easy To Get Rid of Bad Cops.

Cities and communities have an uphill battle trying to get abusive and incompetent cops out of uniform.


Attorney General William Barr departed from his prepared statement honoring a group of police officers for their service with what he no doubt thought was a dire and reasonable warning: Communities should be nicer to their cops or risk losing police protection.

"They have to start showing more than they do—the respect and support that law enforcement deserves," Barr said Tuesday during while presenting his annual Attorney General's Award for Distinguished Service in Policing. "And if communities don't give that support and respect, they might find themselves without the police protection that they need."

The assumption that Barr wanted to leave us with is that the same police the Justice Department honored yesterday (officers who had done things like help break up gangs and rescue a kidnapped baby) were exactly the same police officers who invite outrage and abuse by aggressively intruding on the private lives of citizens, violating their rights, and beating them up at the slightest provocation.

He's trying to flip the "one bad apple spoils the bunch" metaphor by claiming that our right to be served good apples requires us to eat the rotten ones as well. If we attempt to pick and choose, Barr says we'll get none.

Unfortunately for the communities most critical of police, it is extremely hard to get the police to go away, particularly when they've engaged in misconduct worthy of criticizing. Police unions are quick to excuse their worst officers and help them get their jobs back in the rare instances when that misconduct leads to their firing. "Be nice to all cops or you'll get no cops" sounds like a threat, but it can also be read as a pipe dream. More likely, bad cops will stick around and continue to do bad things, while fewer good people will choose to become police officers.

Communities that are critical of police are reacting to NYPD Officer Leo Pantaleo putting Eric Garner in the chokehold that ultimately killed him, all because he was selling untaxed loose cigarettes. Their anger grew when a grand jury and the Department of Justice declined to prosecute Pantaleo; they will be angrier still if he gets his job back after being fired, a pursuit that has the public backing of the police unions in the city. From their perspective, Garner was killed for selling loose cigarettes, while the police officer who killed him was only fired and now stands to be rehired (and possibly receive back pay). Can Barr not see why that dissonance would make people angry? Does he really expect "communities" to "respect" and "support" Pantaleo? What about the members of the police union members that are supporting his attempt to get his job back?

Now that California has passed a law opening up some police misconduct records, a collaborative investigation by newspapers across the state has found that dozens of police officers are still on the job even after being convicted of crimes, including a deputy who was convicted of manslaughter after running over two people while responding recklessly to a call. Does Barr want "communities" to "respect" and "support" officers who can kill them without consequence?

The threat of "de-policing," which is when rank and file officers respond to criticism or departmental sanction by not doing their jobs, is real. But it doesn't always lead to mayhem. The NYPD has, in fact, responded to community outrage by making fewer arrests. Crime continued to drop.

Barr has the whole thing backwards. It's the police who need to respect and support their communities. They can start by ridding their own ranks of bad cops.

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  1. Given that the fewer cops I see, the safer I feel, I don’t see how this could possibly be considered a bad thing.

    1. Sure would be nice if it were true.

      Would also be nice if we could turn it around: if we could stop paying them if they aren’t nicer to us.

    2. Amen to that

    3. If you are ever the victim of a crime, your opinion will change on that. You’ll want the police to show up pronto.

      I don’t think you want to live in a society where there is no police force to restrain the criminal element. Or maybe you would, you might think it would be cool to shoot it out with criminals and you would enjoy that. Who knows, libertarians are strange.

      1. If I’m ever the victim of a crime I might want a police detective to show up. But “beat cops”? Nah. By the time they got to my house whatever was happening will be over, but they’ll be full of adrenaline looking to make something new happen.

      2. What if your a victim of a crime but it’s perpetrated under the guise of being the “law” and enforced by the very hired goons that should be investigating crime? Those types of crimes are just as likely to affect people.

      3. If you’re ever the victim of a heart attack, you’ll be mighty glad the ambulance shows up, the EMTs shock your heart into going again, the big burly guy gives you the kiss of life, and the hospital stuffs you full of tubes and needles.

        But otherwise? Naw, I’d just as soon they stayed away and minded their own business.

        Wouldn’t it be nice if cops did the same?

        1. I agree, cops should stay away, unless called, just like firemen do. No need for cops driving around looking for fires.

      4. Sure, someone has to come get the bodies.

      5. Don’t be a communist. Pay for you own defense (cop).

      6. You speak like someone who’s never had to deal with police taking a report.

      7. The problem is that the same entity that police belong to has aided, abetted, encouraged, and funded with money confiscated from us, the breeding and importation of an ever-expanding population of low IQ, low-agency, low-skilled, criminal class in order to expand government, government agencies, government programs, etc.
        The reason we need government is because of government.

  2. So, basically he’s saying that cops are thin skinned assholes who need to be coddled if they are going to actually do their jobs.

    Either that or it’s a thinly veiled threat to respect the pigs’ Authoritah.

    1. You say “pigs,” I say “tasty applewood-smoked bacon.”

    2. >>thin skinned assholes who need to be coddled

      seems like the standard profile

    3. Either that or it’s a thinly veiled threat

      Ah, that’s what he means by protection.

      1. We wouldn’t want anything unfortunate to happen.

    4. Wow, impressive cop bashing/Barr bashing here. I think what he was saying is that if you know a certain area hates your freaking guts, maybe a normal person wouldn’t be as ready to risk life and limb rushing to come to their aid. Is that really so hard to understand?

      1. Then they should get a different job.

        Wow, impressive cop bashing/Barr bashing here.


        1. “Then they should get a different job.”

          Thumbs up to that. It sounds like Miss Fortune is proposing cops should just stroll to emergencies in high-crime areas. Good cops are good people and value the lives in their communities. A victim in danger from crime or accident deserves a quick response even if suspects in that area have pissed off a cop in the past.

          1. The stats on criminals show that 5-10% are responsible for 50% + of the crimes. This proportion holds in many fields; cops are no different. The problem, I think, is a fortress mentality that casts a view of cops vs civilians; each cop learns to fear being brought up on charges and so they support protecting all cops for the possibility they could be next and this drives their protective association policies. They have little incentive to clean up their ranks.

            It also starts at recruitment. Many department use facebook videos of cops in action to attract applicants. Many use rare high-drama intense situations, attract ‘warrior’ mentality types looking for an adrenaline rush. Others use images of cops talking to people, giving a hand – a ‘social worker’ model that represents the larger proportion of their interactions. These departments have better records of cop – civilian relations.

            1. This was an interesting observation = Others use images of cops talking to people, giving a hand – a ‘social worker’ model that represents the larger proportion of their interactions. These departments have better records of cop – civilian relations.

            2. Very astute observation. You are on to something. Militarization of the police is the thing that scares me the most.

      2. Maybe they should try to give people less reason to hate their freaking guts.

        You know?

    5. Could also be that they are sick of being accused of bad behavior just for doing their job. It’s not an either or proposition. I’m all for holding the police accountable, but they have to feel they aren’t in a lose lose situation or they will just back off save their careers and not do their jobs.

      There are a lot more poor and minorities that are victims of crime than the police, they deserve to have an effective police force to improve their quality of life.

    6. I’m gonna say its a threat. It sounds remarkably similar to Samatha Power’s “statement” to Trump about not to cross the CIA’s former head Brennan.

  3. Crime is way down, so that’s a bluff that can be called.

    Officers: Just treat people like you want other cops to treat your family. Is that so hard?

  4. Cities and communities have an uphill battle trying to get abusive and incompetent cops out of uniform.

    I wonder why that is.

  5. “They have to start showing more than they do—the respect and support that law enforcement deserves,”

    Yeah. You don’t want me doing that.

    1. larger “Hide Your Dogs!” signs?

  6. Communities that are critical of police are reacting to NYPD Officer Leo Pantaleo putting Eric Garner in the chokehold that ultimately killed him, all because he was selling untaxed loose cigarettes.

    He wasn’t selling anything at the time. They targeted him because he’d been caught selling in the past.

    1. Exactly. Every cop there should be fired for lying about that.

    2. What I was going to say. He actually had just broken up a fight.

    3. That wasn’t just a problem with over policing, it’s also a problem with over criminalization. Making it illegal to sell a legal substance to make a few bucks because the major hates smoking is nanny stateism at it’s worse. Putting such high taxes on a product is just inviting a black market when we don’t have customs checks between the states too.

      1. Don’t give them any ideas. “Something-something commerce clause”

  7. Does Barr want “communities” to “respect” and “support” officers who can kill them without consequence?

    That’s why I never leave home without consequences.

    1. Is “consequences” monogrammed on your revolver or something?

      1. That would work if you had another revolver with “truth” on it.

        1. I guess, but you can probably just find a keychain if you want to be reminded of that small retirement community three hours south of Albuquerque.

  8. Shackford’s statement that cops need to be equated with bad cops is as worse as saying they need equating with good cops

    1. as worse as


    2. There are no good cops. Good cops would turn in bad cops, regardless of consequences from the bad cops getting revenge. That bad cops only face consequences late and rarely shows that there are no good cops turning them in. That cop feeling up a corpse was only caught because of random bodycam reviews; does anyone really believe his fellow cops didn’t know what a pervert he was?

      1. Exactly. Cops do not stop other cops. It’s against the rules. And it makes sense. It’s professional courtesy. You don’t stop your brother from beating a homeless person to death and they won’t stop you from raping a prostitute. Everyone is happy. Everyone who matters anyway.

        1. Well, I mean, there was one guy who tried to stop the bad cops. It didn’t end so well though:


          1. Dorner was a bad cop too. The guy murdered an innocent woman and her fiance because he had beef with her father. Fuck him.

    3. They can start by ridding their own ranks of bad cops.

      If Shackford’s made a statement that all cops are bad, how can “they” rid “their” own ranks of bad cops? I’m pretty sure Shackford’s making much the same statement we’re all making – there’s bad cops and there’s good cops, but what are the proportions? Think of this: when you see a cop, do you feel safer on the assumption that it’s probably a good cop or nervous for fear it’s a bad cop? I know I’ve never once looked in the rear-view mirror and seen a cop following me and consequently felt more relaxed knowing I’ve got a good guy escorting me.

      1. There are bad cops, passive cops and a small handful of good cops.

        1. All cops enforce immoral laws therefore they are all bad.

          1. I must be feeling generous. Usually that’s what I’d go with.
            There is that. And I agree. But some of them really do mean well. For whatever that’s worth.

            1. Morality deals only with actions not feelings.

              1. Eh…

                That’s getting into a definitional argument, but broadly speaking morality does include feelings and intent. Many religions, including Christianity, put moral weight on thoughts/feelings alone, regardless of whether they were ever acted on.

                If you cut those out and look strictly at behavior/actions, you’re normally talking about ethics. That’s why professional associations often have a “Code of Ethics”, which don’t care how a professional feels/thinks so long as they behave the right way.

                1. Yeah well religion is shit.

        2. The few truly good cops that actually make it on to the force, are either turned or driven out, usually within a couple of years.

      2. Think of this: when you see a cop, do you feel safer on the assumption that it’s probably a good cop or nervous for fear it’s a bad cop?

        Depends on how much I can remember of the night before.

        1. It’s certainly not something anyone likes to see when they are driving. But I’m sure a lot of people take comfort in seeing cops on foot in the street. In some places, I’m sure it’s warranted.

  9. Simple solution, prohibit government from initiating force.

    1. Sorry to corpse fuck the thread, but if they’re prohibited from initiating force, they’re not a government.

      1. The function of government is to defend liberty. It’s how we place the retaliatory use of force under objective law. Government doesn’t HAVE to be tyrannical.

  10. This is Trump’s AG saying this during Trump’s impeachment inquiry era. Screw him. He should be impeached too. Now I know, Trump supporters will say that this alone is not impeachable, but this is a perfect example of death by a thousand cuts. No one cut is going to kill us but add it up…

    The same goes for Trump. We put up with this stuff every day and when we try to impeach him his supporters go into deep-defense mode and bring up process complaints. They totally ignore the forest for the tree in front of them. Barr is kissing the behinds of the police because it is a sad and pathetic attempt to cozy up to the where the real power is in the US to the detriment of our constitutional rights. Making America great again my a@#

  11. There *are* communities where they like to hassle the cops, good ones and bad ones.

    So a charitable interpretation of Barr’s remarks would be that generic police-bashing is bad.

    Of course, Barr still committed a sin of omission by failing to discuss the issue of the bad apples and how to get them out of the barrel (and if necessary into prison).

    Covering up for the bad apples, and wrapping them in the cloak of innocence by association, is what gives fuel to the modern-day Sharptons who would have you believe that changing the skin tone of the cops and their bosses will put a stop to the abuses.

    1. Historically, if the cause of an illness is either unknown or unacknowledged, that opens the door for quacks with “remedies” which are useless or make the problem worse.

      So it is in the political realm. And so it is with some of the BS “solutions” to police abuses which we hear about nowadays. You can fuck white supremacy all you want but you won’t address the trans-racial problem of the culture of impunity.

      1. Also, turning a blind eye on actual crimes (eg, stealing so long as it’s not “too much”) is another quack remedy. As if cops can’t respect the law while performing their core function of vindicating crimes against person and property.

        1. As if cops can’t respect the law while performing their core function of vindicating crimes against person and property.

          As individuals? Maybe.

          As a group? There is zero evidence that they can.

          1. Still, shopkeepers are entitled to expect that cops will try to arrest petty pilferers. To be sure, while respecting suspects’ rights – but cops know how to do that, it’s a question of having consequences if they don’t.

            The average cop/petty-thief interaction isn’t one of abuse. Even if the suspect is abused, then the cop, not the shopkeeper, should suffer for the abuse.

            But now it’s a thing in some places not to prosecute these petty-thieves, because criminal-justice reform. eg,

            “Rollins, the Suffolk County prosecutor, announced she will decline to prosecute shoplifting or theft of goods worth less than $250.”


            1. Still, shopkeepers are entitled to expect that cops will try to arrest petty pilferers.

              They literally are not. See DeShaney vs. Winnebago County (1989).

          2. Escher….You have got to be kidding me. Be serious.

            Every day in the United States, there are literally millions of interactions between citizens and police officers. They are unremarkable. But because of isolated incidents (less than .001%), cops get painted with a broad brush that they are an instrument of oppression? C’mon. I know you are smarter than that.

            I am good with throwing the book at cops who cross the line. But I am not good with smearing (and that is what you’re doing) all cops because of the actions of a very, very few.

            1. Take a look at my comments on this article. I’m obviously not kidding.

              Police resist, often successfully, any attempt to make them liable and accountable for their own actions. They regularly escalate violence and make situations worse. They are free to violate the law, or enforce laws that don’t exist, and have the courts uphold their actions.

              Bottom line is that the only sort of emergency situation where I would call the cops is a mass shooting†. Anything else, and I’ll call when it’s over and we need an investigation, not intervention action. Because, and I cannot stress this enough, police have repeatedly argued and proved that you cannot rationally expect them to not make a bad situation worse. They can shoot your dog, shoot the person you called them to help, shoot you, and they will not be held responsible.
              †And let’s be honest here, even in a mass shooting police aren’t likely to take care of the shooter, they’re just there to sweep an area before the paramedics come through.

              1. I did look at your comments. That is why I responded. 🙂

                1. Not supported by facts in evidence, namely your claim that I must be kidding.

                  I have no idea why you would think I’m a cop-apologist.

                  1. Escher….my point to you. There are literally millions of interactions every single day between citizens and police officers. They are unremarkable. The statement you made, As a group? There is zero evidence that they can. where you imply that police officers (as a group) don’t respect the law while performing their duties is simply false.

                    I know you are smarter than that.

                    1. You haven’t actually addressed any of the points me, or anyone else, has raised. You just keep pulling out your same red herring statistics.

                      So call me an idiot if you want, but police have earned their reputation. They are not here to defend us, they are not here to defend our property, they are not here to make anything safer. There is a role in society that calls for something like a police force. Police in America are not fitting that role.

        2. FBI data released last week show the city had the highest per-capita rate of property crimes among the 20 most populous U.S. cities in 2017, tallying 6,168 crimes per 100,000 people. That’s about 148 burglaries, larcenies, car thefts and arsons per day.

          San Francisco’s property crimes spiked from the previous year, shooting up from about 47,000 in 2016 to 54,000 in 2017.

          Funny you should mention that. Also funny that Reason hasn’t mentioned the skyrocketing property crimes in the paradise of the People’s Republic of California.

      2. Nice analogy, snake oil solutions from quack politicians. I think I’ll steal that.

        Damn it’s a good comparison. It really fits.

  12. What a cop-sucking asshole.

  13. Average response times 5 to 10 MINUTES!
    Average duration of a violent crime 1 to 2 minutes.

    Don’t depend on the police, defend yourself or others by any means possible! All law enforcement are going to do it clean up the mess and MAYBE solve the crime AFTER YOU ARE DEAD. Remember the “Death Wish” movies? “I hereby invoke my rights under the 5th Amendment and refuse to answer any questions!”

    1. Don’t be pessimistic.

      They’ll also kill your dog.

    2. This. They aren’t heroes, they are overgrown janitors. Their job isn’t to protect you, it’s to take out the trash after the party is over.

  14. “But I think today, American people have to focus on something else, which is the sacrifice and the service that is given by our law enforcement officers and they have to start showing, more than they do, the respect and support that law enforcement deserves ― and if communities don’t give that support and respect, they might find themselves without the police protection they need.”

    Sounds like what a bunch of whiny poopypants might say, not the brave, selfless public servants they fancy themselves. But then, that’s just me, YMMV.

    Oh, and by the way… “law enforcement officers” pretty much seals the deal as to where their loyalty lies. Hint- if you’re not a cop or a politician, it’s not with you.

  15. Getting rid of bad laws is the ticket. The less rights-violation the less crime, hence the fewer cops needed and the higher the quality that can be hired. Bad laws attract and make cruel cops crueler. For this, voting Lp is just the thing. The Ku-klux GOP dedicated its girl-bullying prohibitionist platform to the thugs such policies attract. The Dems are as bad.

    1. It’s funny you think that!

      SCOTUS has given approval to cops for arresting people for non-crimes so long as the officer can say “well, I thought it was a crime.”

      Fewer laws aren’t protection, because you can not rationally expect cops to enforce actual laws.

  16. Every time the police are attacked it is not just the bad cops being attacked. But the attacks will cause the ‘good’ cops to quit thus leaving only the bad cops will. That would make all of us worse off.

  17. If you ingrates don’t stop being so mean about those heroes in Houston, for example, they might not be so eager to bust open random doors and shoot everyone inside over a falsified warrant! Bet that’ll show you meanies!

    A.G. Barr

  18. A statistically large percentage of police deserve accolades versus contempt. That excludes traffic cops with a ticket quota and drug enforcement agents.
    An article I ran across called Violence in Blue – Police Homicides in the United States by Patrick Ball stated roughly eight to ten percent of homicides are by police. Three quarters of homicide victims know their killer. So, in homicides where folks don’t know their killer the odds are between 32 and 40 percent it is an officer. All accolades for the honorable police doing their job aside the rules need to be rewritten to fix the system that allows police to qualify for immunity.

  19. But you know, “rational libertarians” should put up with asshats like Barr, amirite?


    Geraje Guzba
    December.4.2019 at 2:50 pm
    Rational libertarianism is called being a Republican.

  20. Comply, citizen!

  21. Quit allowing them to be trained in Israel where they learn it’s alright to commit genocide.

  22. Can we pick and choose what cops we keep? I’m fine just getting rid of DEA and ICE.

    1. Amen to that.

    2. BATFE

  23. Having lived a long life, in many different cities, I’ve seen it all. Our local county sheriffs at present are wonderful folks, always looking out for us. But I grew up in LA, and LAPD was like the Gestapo. As with so many things in life, generalities don’t count for much. It depends on the people.

  24. Hello,
    Usually, I never comment on blogs but your blog is so convincing that I never stop myself to say something about it. You’re doing a great job Man, Keep it up.

  25. A.G. Barr apparently forgets that the police have no responsibility to protect us anyway, as per Warren vs. District of Columbia.

  26. Seems like he falls somewhere between “respect my authoritah” and “nice family, it’d be a shame if something happened to them”.

    Pretty much what you’d expect from a bureaucratic authoritarian.

  27. “Captain, I wish you’d stop being so good to me.”

  28. Ya know, back when I was a naive retard libertarian, I used to be super anti cop… Then I grew up and learned how to read statistics properly.

    The truth is there are very few discrepancies/problems with cops on a statistical level. All the BS about racial differences in policing are BS when you dig in. The truth is certain ethnic groups just commit more crimes, hence the fuzz comes down on them more often.

    I got arrested a couple times for underage drinking etc when I was a kid in a small town… And I was a shithead about it to the cops. They were assholes back a couple of the times too. Funny thing is since I have been an adult, every interaction I’ve had with the cops has been pretty alright. I acted like a civilized human being, and the reciprocated. It’s funny how that works.

    At this point I’m about 90/10 pro cop, mainly just because the level of stupid the anti-cop people want to do is too nuts. I’m all for punishing the shit out of the few real bad apples… But legalizing all kinds of shitty behavior, or DAs telling cops to not arrest people for actual crimes, etc is too much. I live in a city that has done this the last 10 years, and it has been a fucking disaster. We need to go through this town and make several thousand arrests and lock up a ton of mother fuckers. De-policing is a retarded utopian idea that doesn’t work in the real world.

    So until the reformers start talking about SANE reforms, I guess I’ll just continue to lean towards taking the pigs side.

  29. Most people seem to like the fire department better than cops, maybe cops should be more like a fireman. Hang out at the station until called, instead of driving around all day looking for fires to put out. It is rare that a cop stops a crime from happening, just like it is rare that a fireman stops a fire from starting. However I am glad to have a cop or fireman show up when called.

  30. The problem is old enough that an early version is in Latin :”Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?”

    It is the rare human who doesn’t eventually forget his limits, but when you’re a cop, the outcome can be particularly deadly.

  31. The problem with bad apples is that when packed closely, a single bad one can eventually cause the whole batch to rot. The way to solve the issue is to spread them out with a bit of air space between each one, check on them daily, and cull whenever you see a bad one.

    I expect that the same thing applies to cops.

  32. We can train dogs to sniff out drugs and explosives and dead bodies and even cancer cells now from what I read. Isn’t it about time to train dogs to sniff out corrupt politicians and cops? That would be much more of a benefit to society than Fido sniffing out a dime bag of weed! My main concern would be the dogs not knowing which direction to point as we have so many corrupted people in government.

    1. Except that the SCOTUS has ruled that it’s not fair to question whether a trained dog is actually trained or accurate. We must simply accept the police’s assertion that it is.

  33. The problem is not the cops but the law. 49.2% if all arrests are for alcohol related offenses. Another 49.2% are for drug related offenses. That leaves roughly 200,000 arrests out of 12 million for theft, assault, rape, and murder. If the police could only get involved for crimes that 95% of the population believes require police intervention we’d have a much better relationship. I just had a friend arrested in Dalhart, TX for 4 grams of THC wax. His bail was set at $75,000 and he’s looking at potentially 20 years in prison. In Dallas a man beat a random stranger into a 4 day coma with a fire extinguisher and his bail was $25,000. While stop and frisk certainly reduced violent crime in NYC it’s biggest impact was 100’s of thousands of additional drug charges essentially wiping out the good. There’s no proportionality. I want the police to find the murderers and leave my personal consensual choices alone. Until we get to that point we will always have this conflict.

    1. There’s a lot of truth in all that… But where did you get your stats from?

      I don’t believe I have ever heard that almost half of arrests are for alcohol, presumably DUIs?

      Whatever the exact number, ending the drug war and a LOT of other stupid laws would be the best thing to do. That would leave more police resources for actually cracking down on real criminals.

  34. I’m starting to think we should just ditch professional policing altogether and go back to the militia system. Pick some rotating pool to go out on patrol like jury duty. Then administer some good old fashioned military discipline if they do anything out of line.

  35. Annnndddd…. this is why I can’t take “Reason” seriously. Instead of actually trying to understand the point being conveyed, they are just like these college kids who are outraged over anything and everything, no matter the context. Recruiting for cops is down sharply across the country. Portland can’t get anyone to be a cop (gee I wonder why). This was not a “threat”, it’s a reality that people do not want to become cops because of the animus and thanklessness of the work. It had nothing to do with whether there are good apples or bad apples. You may have no apples. I know some would prefer that and if that is your view then fine. But many “whining” here about bad apples will be the first to complain when crimes go unsolved due to the lack of qualified people to investigate said crimes. If no one wants to serve their community because the job is dangerous and hated, who do you think will apply? If you want good people serving the community, maybe constantly dunking on, complaining about, insulting, assualting and such other deterrents, are nit the best way to get good people to apply. But I know… that would be a Reasonable argument and as I said, there seems to be little reason here. Smh

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