Excessive Force

Recruitment of Bad Cops Shows How Misconduct Is Deeper Than a Few Bad Apples

Sometimes a "few bad apples" is systemic rot.


The Brevard, Florida, chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police extended an invitation of employment over the weekend to various officers who have been charged with using excessive force amid the national protests sparked by the police killing of George Floyd. The chapter's president, Bert Gamin, is a veteran of the Melbourne Police Department and the Brevard County Sheriff's Office.

"We are hiring in Florida," the invitation said. "Plus…we got your back!"

The invitation was extended to the six Atlanta police officers who were charged with aggravated assault, battery, and criminal damage after brutalizing Messiah Young and Taniyah Pilgrim, two college students who were stuck in traffic during a recent protest in that city. Video (content warning) from the incident captured the moment that the officers attempted to grab the students from the car and arrest them.

Not only did the Atlanta officers cause extensive damage to Pilgrim's vehicle, but they also tased Young and threw both Young and Pilgrim to the ground. At a press conference, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said that the officers initially claimed that Young put the car in reverse and tried to run them over. One officer also claimed that Young and Pilgrim pulled a gun.

Video from the incident, however, told a very different story. In fact, District Attorney Howard used the officers' own body cameras to conclude that Young and Pilgrim had done nothing wrong. "They were so innocent almost to the point of being naive," Howard told the press.

The invitation to join the Brevard Fraternal Order of Police was also extended to the 57 officers who quit the Buffalo Police Department's Emergency Response Team—though not the department itself—after two fellow officers were suspended for pushing a 75-year-old protester to the ground, causing him to sustain a severe head injury. The two officers were later charged with assault.

What all of these incidents reveal is that the problem of police misconduct extends well beyond "a few bad apples."

In fact, outfits like the Brevard Fraternal Order of Police regularly pave the way for bad officers to return to work. In San Antonio, Texas, for example, the police union's contract with the city has resulted in the reinstatement of two-thirds of the officers fired for bad behavior over a 10-year period. A similar story is playing out in Opa Locka, Florida, where the police department has tried at least six times to fire a problematic officer protected by the union.

The fact that video existed of the Atlanta incident made it possible for the district attorney to charge the officers. Had the video not existed, prosecutors would have been forced to rely on the testimony of the officers on the scene who, as previously noted, falsely stated that the college students tried to run them over and had a weapon.

Video of the Buffalo incident, meanwhile, contradicted the police department's initial claim that the 75-year-old protester tripped and fell. As the footage makes clear, the police shoved the elderly man to the ground.

Thankfully, at least one police officer has stepped up to be an example of accountability in recent days.

During the recent George Floyd protests in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Officer Krystal Smith immediately jumped in to reprimand her colleague, Officer Steven Pohorence, after he shoved a kneeling protester. Pohorence was later suspended, pending an investigation into the incident.

NEXT: Will Big Labor Give the Boot to Police Unions? Be Skeptical.

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  1. Police abuse is viewed by police and police supporters as a good and useful tool for the oppression of and plunder of citizens. Of course they actively recruit abusive police.

    1. If people were serious about putting an end to police brutality, they would be offering serious policy or legislative changes. They would not be dividing people along racial lines and antagonizing white people who are also frequently victims of the police. BLM is an anarchist movement with no respect for private property or the civil liberties of white people.

      1. Ending police brutality is hard work; fomenting false racial narratives is a piece of cake, and leads to political victories.

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      2. Many of you, of all shades, are desperate to obscure a general problem of statism as a problem of racism, in order to preserve and keep or gain statist power.

        BLM, like all identity organizations, is not anarchist; it is collectivist and statist, as are police and police supporters. Two big(ger) government goon squads fighting over which gets to steal the most from citizens.

        1. Institutionalization of racism is a direct consequence of statism. I’ll let Foucault explain:

          “If it is true that the power of sovereignty is increasingly on the retreat and that disciplinary or regulatory disciplinary power is on the advance, how will the power to kill and the function of murder operate in this technology of power, which takes life as both its object and its objective? How can a power such as this kill , if it is true that its basic function is to improve life, to prolong its duration, to improve its chances, to avoid accidents, and to compensate for failings? How, under these conditions, is it possible for a political power to kill, to call for deaths, to demand deaths, to give the order to kill, and to expose not only its enemies but its own citizens to the risk of death? Given that this power’s objective is essentially to make live, how can it let die? How can the power of death, the function of death, be exercised in a political system centered upon biopower?
          It is, I think, at this point that racism intervenes. I am certainly not saying that racism was invented at this time. It had already been in existence for a very long time. But I think it functioned elsewhere. It is indeed the emergence of this biopower that inscribes it in the mechanisms of the State. It is at this moment that racism is inscribed as the basic mechanism of power, as it is exercised in modern States. As a result , the modern State can scarcely function without becoming involved with racism at some point, within certain limits and subject to certain conditions.
          What in fact is racism? It is primarily a way of introducing a break into the domain of life that is under power’s control : the break between what must live and what must die. The appearance within the biological continuum of the human race of races, the distinction among races, the hierarchy of races, the fact that certain races are described as good and that others, in contrast , are described as inferior: all this is a way of fragmenting the field of the biological that power controls. It is a way of separating out the groups that exist within a population. It is, in short , a way of establishing a biological -type caesura within a population that appears to be a biological domain. This will allow power to treat that population as a mixture of races, or to be more accurate, to treat the species, to subdivide the species it controls, into the subspecies known, precisely, as races. That is the first function of racism: to fragment, to create caesuras within the biological continuum addressed by biopower .
          Racism also has a second function. Its role is, if you like, to allow the establishment of a positive relation of this type: “The more you kill, the more deaths you will cause ” or “The very fact that you let more die will allow you to live more.” I would say that this relation (“If you want to live, you must take lives, you must be able to kill” ) was not invented by either racism or the modern State. It is the relationship of war : “In order to live, you must destroy your enemies.” But racism does make the relationship of war—”If you want to live, the other must die”—function in a way that is completely new and that is quite compatible with the exercise of biopower . On the one hand, racism makes it possible to establish a relationship between my life and the death of the other that is not a military or warlike relationship of confrontation, but a biological-type relationship: “The more inferior species die out, the more abnormal individuals are eliminated, the fewer degenerates there will be in the species as a whole, and the more I—as species rather than individual—can live, the stronger I will be, the more vigorous I will be. I will be able to proliferate.” The fact that the other dies does not mean simply that I live in the sense that his death guarantees my safety; the death of the other, the death of the bad race, of the inferior race (or the degenerate, or the abnormal ) is something that will make life in general healthier: healthier and purer .”

          In short, the more the state prescribes the nature of The Good Life, the more prevalent racism becomes to delineate modes of living the state has decided are bad.

          (Quote from Foucault, Michel. 1997. Society Must Be Defended: Lectures at the College de France 1975-76. Trans. David Macey. Eds. Francois Ewald, Mauro Bertani, Alessandro Fontana, Arnold I. Davidson. St. Martin’s Press, New York. p254-6.)

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          2. All beings instinctively favor others that are similar to themselves; this is part of evolution and allows species to ‘improve’ as the fittest survive. Racism is thus instinctive as well. As we believe that all men are created equal before the law, we value the overcoming of this instinct. Thus racism can never be exterminated, only suppressed by the will of the individual by Changing hearts and minds.

            A call for the end of racism is like asking dogs to quit sniffing each other’s butts.

            What we can do is make it more difficult for racist behavior to negatively impact people. Reduce the frequency of contacts/conflicts with authorities, for example by ending the drug war. We can also hold those in authority accountable for their actions. A major flaw in our system is the lack of accountability and this is advanced by police unions and the handling of abuse cases by ‘local’ authorities who must work in concert with the bad actors on a daily basis. Those cases should be handled by ‘strangers’ from a distant place.

            We can reduce the effects of racism but can never eliminate it.

      3. “White people frequently victims of the police”

        Really? I have been white for over 64 years now and I never recall being brutalized by police. I have frequently been let off with warnings for traffic violations. I have had police ask me to move off the side walk to the grass while I sipped a beer. Nothing that seemed really brutal. Guess I am lucky.

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      4. “civil liberties of white people”
        I was going to reply and say that there are serious policy or legislative changes being proposed. Then realized this guy does not care and is just a racist.

    2. As a former police officer, and as a rational being, I took offense at your childish characterization, stereotypes. Then it occured to you weren’t serious, you were playing the fool. Good job.

      1. Were you many times fired for abuse and corruption and rehired by other agencies? Good way to see the country on the taxpayers dime, I guess.

      2. Were you also offended by the Brevard, Florida Fraternal Order of Police offering jobs to the worst of the worst cops?

        You know, because you were a good cop and good cops hate bad cops?

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    3. I’m sure that the cops had an extra (stolen) gun to plant, just in case. They all do.

    4. My question is why cops who are proven perjures are not prosecuted for perjury? They had plenty of time, provided by their unions, to get their story straight, and still didn’t.

      1. If you prosecute a cop for perjury it would mean the end of their career since they would have not more credibility on the stand. And also other cases they testified on could be overturned. It is easier to just ignore the issue.

  2. Is Antifa Misconduct Deeper Than a Few Bad Apples?

    1. Well, there are only a few, but they are all bad.

    2. True… same thing can be said about any group of human beings. Imagine the screeching if the same thing were to be said about any racial minority or religious community [here are some bad apples as an example of why all XX people just like them are bad].

      Should bad cops be rehired? Likely the answer is rarely. But given that there are roughly 800K law enforcement officers in the US, there are going to be a fair number of mistakes and even serious errors in hiring. It’s simple statistics and things that are unknown about how people will react in certain situations. I don’t care what profession you pick, out of nearly a million teachers, preachers, tour guides, sanitation workers, programmers, roofers, or arborists, you will find a percentage that are fuckups. I don’t care how careful you are with hiring.

      1. EXACTLY! I make this exact same point about pilots. There are hundreds of thousands of them – its only natural that we would see a few serious errors every now and then. For this reason, pilots should be completely immune from civil prosecutions. If we don’t hold them to an absurdly low standard, they won’t fly our planes! DO YOU WANT A WORLD WITH NO AIRPLANES!?!?!?

      2. There is one little flaw in your “simple statistics” argument, and that’s that careers are not randomly assigned but self-selected. Should it surprise you to learn that a disproportionate number of child molesters work in occupations that give them easy access to children or that a disproportionate number of embezzlers work in occupations that give them easy access to financial instruments? Should it surprise you to learn that people who love cooking disproportionately gravitate toward jobs in the food industry or people who love music disproportionately gravitate toward jobs in the music industry? Should it surprise you to learn that there are a lot of firebugs in the fire department or a lot of bullies in the police department? Sure, not all amoral lying cheating swindling power-hungry psychopaths are politicians nor are all politicians amoral lying cheating swindling power-hungry psychopaths, but there’s a lot of overlap between the interests and the jobs.

        1. But isn’t that both a bad and good thing?
          Do we not want people who have a passion about at least some aspect of their job to be in jobs which can leverage that passion?
          Certainly there are some ‘passions’ which are criminal & perverse (pedophilia as an obvious example) and which we obviously would not want to allow (let alone encourage) when we hire child-care workers. But being comfortable with a certain amount of violence and interpersonal confrontation? Yes, I think that would be a quality which would be at least somewhat common & even desirable if we were to survey the armed forces or the police.

          Contrariwise…we would be surprised to discover a whole bunch of pacifists joining the Marines or non-confrontational-appeasers in the police. If someone is busy beating the hell out of me, I don’t want a social worker to arrive and try to counsel him out of it.

          In the end, yes, self-selection will tend to put certain personality types in certain fields. It’s only natural. But given that fundamental truth, then the law of large numbers again asserts itself. In a population of 850K we can be sure that some are or will become sociopaths (Can one become a sociopath?). Given such a pathology, it is inevitable that occasionally we witness it’s results….just as we would not be surprised, to your point, to discover that of all the bankers out there, we have some sociopathic embezzlers busily defrauding Grandma & Grandpa out of their life savings.

        2. Jerryskids is dead on. There is no question that people do not randomly assort into any profession, including police work. And one of the major problems with police work is that it is extremely attractive to at least two clusters of people who may be defined by their motivation for interest in police work. One type are people who want to make a positive difference in their communities, keep the peace, and realize they serve the community (and not in the animal husbandry sense) and like that idea. These are the types of people police unions try to cast all cops as, and for good reason. We wouldn’t be having this discussion if all cops were of this ilk.

          But they aren’t and the other major type are, bluntly, sociopathic bullies. People attracted to police work because it allows them to exercise arbitrary authority over others, engage in petty (and not so petty) cruelties and violence largely free from consequences. They view the public as serving them and their needs, not the other way around. The public protects and serves them. And being humans they are good at lying to themselves, and convincing themselves and their bullying colleagues that they are what cops need to be to be effective. The pubic should be grateful and if they aren’t they deserve what the police do to them! Thus the sense of entitlement to the job of being a police officer and to bullying behavior on the job. These cops are usually domineering to those they see as weaker than they are, and toadying to those seen as stronger. Obviously any such dichotomy or absolute statements are simplifications as humans can have complex motivations. But certain behaviors run together strongly and there is little question that for a bully, being a cop can be a dream come true. So there are lots if police officers who are attracted to the job for the worst reasons. In too many cases, they may be the majority.

          Now consider that, as most of us have experienced, work places have their own cultures created by interactions between the people working, the leadership, and the reinforcement and punishments of various behaviors. This is true for police forces as well and is important because it is well established that most people will conform with others opinions and actions when they are outnumbered, even when they know what they are conforming to is wrong, factually or wrong to them ethically. This is exacerbated Like police forces (or in medicine where I have experience). Finally, people will, when possible, try to assort with work cultures that fit their own. So a toxic bullying police force, attracts bullies, drives away the best cops, and promotes conformity with bullying police behavior and silence in reporting it even in those who don’t agree. All this would be a problem in an office shuffling paperwork for a company that makes widgets. It is deadly when workers are allowed to kill any typical member of the public if they can claim to gave been scared by them. Even if the claim has trouble passing the smell test. Now steep in a society where certain ethnicities are viewed as inherently criminal and even father beneath concern than most people. And you get cop calmly asphyxiating a black man to death over 8+ min in front of a horrified crowd shouting for the cop to stop, videotaping him doing it, and the cop by all accounts not thinking anything remarkable or concerning about what he did. Before widespread cameras in phones, there is no question he would barely have been questioned about it and wouldn’t even face a real inquiry let alone any sanction.
          This model does suggest ways to limit the power of bully cops and with it racism in law enforcement, The key is to reduce opportunities for behavior bullies enjoy by increasing accountability and the likelihood of facing sanctions that hurt. Ones that make it difficult, unenjoyable, and painful for cops with the worst motivations to stay cops. There are good ideas coming from across the political spectrum. Severe curtailment of qualified immunity, and an end to police militarization are great. But so is the idea of a national registry of officer misconduct as suggested by democrats. I would also add to this some added inconvenience and public exposure requirements and risk for sometimes needed but widely abused police methods. For example no knock warrants. Not only should, in addition to a judge signing off, they should be limited for certain circumstances by law and critically each and every one of them should require documenting and reporting the reason they thought it was needed as well as the outcome of the warrant (what found, wrong house raids, people shot, kids injured by cops, etc.) and this must be provided to national data base subject to public disclosure. Same for police shooting of dogs or other pets, use of fully automatic weapons and other military hardware or SWAT teams. All of these should be accompanied by mandatory body cam recordings of events. We know from laws that require it for things such as shooting of dogs, that doing so (without prohibiting or even limiting shooting dogs) produces large decreases in the behavior. Why?

          Having worked a great deal in the ER, I am very familiar with the typical police officers desire to avoid documentation and reporting. Also the frequent refrain when dealing with missing reports and or police holds post-treatment, that our state requires more training hours to cut hair or manicure nails than be a cop. Which brings me to more extensive training and wore careful mentoring to establish better standards of normative conduct.

          There are thing that might make a difference that are not on most anyone’s wish list. We hear a lot from protestors about “defunding” the police. That may be counterproductive. We need more oversight and accountability to civil authority outside the department an to the public generally. And that many mean more money for the additional oversight, training, and paperwork costs. But also money to end the trade off that many cities and counties, and states have made. Low pay for little oversight. There is no free lunch, and you tend to get what you pay for. To attract better candidates and have more to choose from, we will in most cases need to pay for the quality we want to have. That may mean more funding not defunding. There are a lot of people who aren[t going to like that, either because we are talking tax money, or because it doesn’t mean a slush fund created from former police funding.

        3. The crack whore is there because ever since they were a child, they dreamed of a life of adventure.

          My own career as a porn star was tragically cut short when I found there was a lapse of people willing to pay to go down on me.

          Sadly, I had to make do with the options available to me, like I imagine most people do.

      3. Exactly right. Every population of size contains the same random scattering of dysfunctional…even sociopathic….personalities. From Priests to Soldiers to Policemen to Social Workers to Teachers to Parents to You Name It: there are ‘bad apples’ in each.

        But the presence of the inevitable ‘bad apple’ does not indict the whole barrel; nor should it.

        Equally true the “should they be rehired” argument. The answer is, of course, it depends. It depends upon the proof that the individual is ‘bad’…upon how ‘bad’ they are….upon how consistently they were ‘bad’….upon whether or not this sin they committed is one they can learn from and never repeat? or is it more a brand which sears them forever?

        A surgeon who makes a stupid mistake which kills someone should be reprimanded and probably suspended from practice….for awhile. But a surgeon who’s made that same mistake on multiple occasions and who exhibits a callous disregard for the fate of his patients….that guy should lose his license and be prosecuted for murder.

        Cops no different.
        Were there mitigating circumstances which make your ‘badness’ a one-time-only thing? In which case, yes, you deserve a second chance. Most of us do.

        1. The cops we’re talking about aren’t making “mistakes”. It’s not a “whoopsie!” to kneel on someone’s neck until they perish, or beat someone for no reason and then lie through your teeth about it. We’re not talking about the split-second decisions that might turn out later to be unjustified.

          1. Trudat!

        2. re: “the presence of the inevitable ‘bad apple’ does not indict the whole barrel”

          I don’t think you’ve ever kept fruit. From the comments here, this is a common mistake. The phrase about “one bad apple” is a statement about causation. Before refrigeration and modern storage, apples were literally stored in barrels. If a barrel contains only good apples, the contents will remain edible for a remarkably long time. The apples will slowly shrivel but they remain nutritious. If, on the other hand, you put one apple with a single rotten spot into the barrel, the rot quickly spreads, first destroying that apple then all the rest in the barrel.

          The only way to stop the spread of the rot is to either a) carefully screen every apple before it goes into the barrel (which is hard – and even harder when we’re talking about people) or b) to monitor and remove the bad apple at the first sign of rot (which is hard when we’re talking about things in opaque barrels but actually easier when we’re talking about people and performance).

          The analogy to police says that yes, we will inevitably start with a few bad cops scattered around. When their peers fail to immediately and permanently make them non-cops, the rot spreads. The root of the problem, then, is not so much the bad cops as it is the police unions and the ‘blue wall of silence’ that keep the bad cops in place. And the ‘good’ cops are very much responsible for creating, supporting and perpetuating those policies.

      4. Yes but there is a big difference. When you have an ahole working in your group, you would like to get rid of him. The police however, not only keep the ahole on the job the other cops will go as far as lying to protect the ahole. However, they are not just aholes, but very sick and sadistick bullies who end up beating up or killing people. While about a little more than 50 cops get killed on the job (not counting accidents or hearth attacks), about 1200 people a year get killed by cops. In England last year, only three people were killed by cops and one of them was a terrorist. Farming is a more dangerous job than being a cop. More farmers die every year providing you food than cops providing you safety.

        The real problem are the politicians, they love tough cops or more precisely tugs to enforce their criminalization of the poor and will go to any length to protect them including complicit DAs and judges. You make more money harassing and issuing phony traffic tickets to the poor than to the rich. The poor can’t pay so they are put on a payment plan. If you think credit card companies are vultures with interest rates, see how much municipalities collect on unpaid traffic fines. The police force is used as a revenue enhancement force and to keep poor people in their place.

        1. We have no idea how many cops are true bad apples. But we have a pretty good idea how many cops will call out the bad apples when they misbehave or lie. Think of how many times cops have been proven to have lied about how something went down. And those are only the cases we know about. Then think about how many times a cop has come forward to dispute how other cops said something went down. The vast majority of cops protect the bad apples.

          1. Exactly. There are very few “good” cops, only actively bad and passively bad cops. I don’t care if you never personally abuse your authority. If you know that some of your “brothers in blue” are abusing their authority and you say nothing, you’re guilty of negligence. If you cover up their abuses, you’re actively complicit.

            As for actual good cops, they tend to either get co-opted or driven off the force quickly. The article mentioned Officer Krystal Smith of Fort Lauderdale, for instance. I commend her integrity, but would anybody like to bet that she’ll still be a cop a year from now?

            1. Trudat!

        2. Trudat!

    3. Antifa is little more than the right wingnuts’ latest boogeyman. I’m hardly defending them; they’re pseudo-intellectual punks who’ve cobbled together a political belief system whose main purpose is to allow them to feel virtuous for indulging their desire to hurt people and break things. But their limited numbers and lack of organization makes them a minor threat, at worst.
      But at least I know why right-wingers are so cranky: it can’t be easy to get a good night’s sleep with Antifa hiding under your bed. (I’m assuming they have some sort of time share arrangement with George Soros.)

  3. Pohorence was later suspended, pending an investigation into the incident.

    Wow, she wasn’t suspended? How the tables have turned.

  4. That’s all fine, but what does the union think?

  5. Reason hasn’t live-covered George Floyd’s funeral.

    They must be racist

    1. I heard they’re doing a tour this summer, I was going to catch one of the shows when it comes around to Atlanta or Birmingham.

  6. Violent police thugs are in demand because they serve as the Praetorian guard for our corrupt political class.

    The ones who don’t mind “getting dirty” are the ideal public servant for our thieving elected officials and state bureaucracies. The most elite politicians spend their time flying off to glitzy retreats & private islands to have sex with under-ager’s and god knows what else.

  7. I love that this article literally says nothing about race or racism but commentators HAVE to mention race. It’s so hilariously fucking ironic.

    Get over yourself you assholes.

  8. Trump supports the police while Democrats are offering some actual reforms (along with some ridiculous bullshit).

    Does this mean Trump supporters must oppose all reform because of who proposed it and because their leader is against it?

    1. I have NEVER heard Trump say anything about being “against police and punishment reforms.”

      He passed an enormous re-construction of the prison system that allow people with minor drug offenses to be released.

      Sarcasmic, You have been either LIED to or you yourself are a liar.

      Please don’t republish lies. It’s unbecoming. Donald Trump is NOT against police, incarceration or punishment reform.

      Sanjosemike (no longer in CA)

      1. Physician, heal thyself.

        Sarcasmic didn’t say a thing about “police and punishment reforms” and the criminal justice reform bill Trump signed was not a police reform bill. The idea that Trump is not a badge-licking law-and-order kind of guy is just silly, Trump loves cops, even ones like Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

      2. Trump’s DoJ has fought hard against releasing people under the new law. Also the law was not an “re-construction of the prison system”, it was just a minor reform. The main problems with US prisons remain untouched.

      3. You will find out in a day or so the Trump’s proposals for police reform will be minor. He will oppose the Democratic plan and other ideas that could actually do good.

      1. He’s involved, all right, and he definitely wants ‘reform.’ Here’s a great example: just a few years ago, Trump also repealed Obama’s EO 13688, thereby fully reinstating the 1033 Program that further militarizes our police with surplus military weaponry:


        “One of the fundamental rights of every American is to live in a safe community,” the statement began.

        That, of course, is Amendment LVII – the ‘Safety Amendment.’ It is considered perhaps the most important by most Constitutional scholars. Moving on:

        “A Trump Administration will empower our law enforcement officers to do their jobs and keep our streets free of crime and violence. The Trump Administration will be a law and order administration. President Trump will honor our men and women in uniform and will support their mission of protecting the public. The dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America is wrong. The Trump Administration will end it.”

        ‘Reform,’ indeed!

  9. >>systemic

    the. saurus.

  10. Unions do not hire. They can play their political games, but they stop there. This whole column is just a false flag. The only thing it does show is that unions need to be roped in, and limited in their abilities.

  11. Police Brutality!
    What a handy phrase that is.

    It conveys in a mere two words both the implied ‘fact’ that it truly is a thing (big enough and consistent enough to earn itself a media name and national rep) … and …that it is somehow authorized by and a natural function of Policing (presumably taught in the academies and required by the Administration as they send officers daily into the streets).

    But what is it really?

    When a cop — let’s call him Dave — applies, let’s call it, ‘excessive’ force to suspect Bob, then we call that act, “police brutality”. But would it not be more accurate to say Dave Brutality?

    When Defensive Free Safety John makes a horribly brutal blindside block on Bob, we don’t talk about Free Safety Brutality. Nor do we seek to defund all Free Safeties or require all DBacks to go to Sensitivity Training, or call them all Pigs and Monsters. No. We simply punish John, And if John commits multiple brutalities, he can find himself banned from the league. What we don’t do is use John’s brutality as an opportunity to indict his team, or all defensive backs, or all football players. We exercise, we might say, more reason than that.

    When soldier Steve brutalizes an Afghan civilian (suspected of enemy collaboration), we don’t defund the Army. We don’t defund even Steve’s unit or rank or battalion. We don’t even speak of Soldier Brutality or Veteran Brutality or Army Brutality. We simply criticize and punish Steve. Not only was what he did wrong; it also violated the code of conduct required of soldiers.

    So too, I would think, with Officer Dave.

    The Academy does not teach Dave to brutalize suspects.
    As a matter of fact the Academy teaches the exact opposite. The Administration doesn’t pull all police officers aside to tell them, “Hey, I want to make sure you’re brutalizing people today! (It’s good for the department and the city!)” The Administration also does the exact opposite.

    But somehow Dave did brutalize….as did John….as did Steve. They all responded to a situation, in the moment, with far more force than would rationally be required. They were wrong.

    But the truth is…. it is the nature of the profession (in all 3 cases) to put individuals into high-stress, high-threat situations. And it is nature of Man to err, to miscalculate, to over-react, to push too hard (particular when they feel threatened), to pre-empt too quickly, to act too harshly — especially when in high-stress, high-threat situations. That doesn’t make their brutality right, by any means, but it explains its periodic eruption.

    We would be surprised, of course, if Suzie — the woman who greets us at the Ice Cream shop and gives us two LARGE scoops of Dark Chocolate Chip — were to ‘lose it’ one day, hurdle over the counter and throw us violently to the ground for changing our mind and ordering a waffle cone and NOT a cup. But we should not be surprised to discover that someone we professionally and regularly put in harm’s way, does in fact — on occasion — go too far, too fast, at the wrong time, in the wrong way, with the wrong person.

    In the end, though, we are the ones who sent him there…and we are the ones who have the ability to exercise some level of rationally discrete discrimination and say this was not the fault of the Police, or the Army, or the NFL (all their policies and procedures work against this kind of brutality). Rather it was the fault of Dave, John, and Steve.

    And just as we expect Dave, John, and Steve to channel their anger appropriately and focus their force effectively and non-brutally….so too should we focus our own. Yes, it is frustrating to find a cop brutalizing a suspect. Yes, it makes us angry as citizens to see such unacceptable behavior. But we should not use this wrong event to ‘brutalize’ the entirety of the Police…to defund the Police….to de-legitimize the Police.

    Rather we must look at it in context: 850M law officers….1.7B policing hours….protecting 320M people…. in 60M police-civilian contacts….including 1M violent crimes. And then we should say that what is truly remarkable here is that there are so microcopically few instances in which a police officer takes an encounter too far, too fast and makes it too violent. That rarity is a testament to the Academies and Management and Control systems which govern all 850M.

    And then. of course, we must punish the guilty accordingly, and with a certain humility (there, but for the grace of God go I)…and say God Bless You to the rest. They, indeed, are the Thin Blue Line which make this a lawful nation.

    1. BDavi52
      You are being far too rational for this site.

    2. We call it “Police Brutality” because the police routinely defend and protect those who engage in brutality. Their unions stand in the way of any and all reform efforts. If other police would report and arrest fellow cops who engage in illegal acts, then it would be a whole different story.

  12. There’s a reason the trouble with cops is in areas with lots of violent crime. The police there get sucked into a siege mentality of us-and-them, where they support everybody in blue and assume everybody they deal with is a criminal. You want to reduce police brutality, you either have to reduce violent crime on the streets, or give up on policing.

    Of course, one of the best-supported results in social science is that more cops = less crime, fewer cops = more crime.

    So, if you actually think black lives matter, you wouldn’t even consider giving up on policing. Instead, you’d demand action to reduce crime, which means . . . more cops.

    So, you want to save lives? #DefundSocialWorkers. Every social worker laid off to pay for hiring a police officer helps save black lives.

    1. If you don’t arrest everyone with a bag of pot in their pocket you won’t need nearly as many police.

    2. Here’s a well supported social science truism for you: More laws = more criminals.

  13. I was a DC Cop, for a year and it was ‘fun’ at that age, but I suffered a severe injuryin precluding my return, that’s an entirely different story. But my father told me at the time, ‘You got out the right time. The romance, the novelty is still there, but you’re not going to like shaking down people after a while.’ Arresting or laying hands on somebody to subdue them is an alien sensation, having to ‘manhandle’ someone is off the grid! You must have a screw loose to ever seek out confrontations in my openion.

    Nobody I knew was like this, but some mentalities feed on domination and they act appropriate to the environment. If he had been in a prison, I’m sure he would be fine, for awhile. Power corrupts all people, but some people have a distinct starting advantage.

    1. Did you take an arrow to the knee?

  14. If you hate people, enjoy violating them, and want to get paid for doing it, who do you work for?
    “The whole good cop/bad cop question can be disposed of much more decisively. We need not enumerate what proportion of cops appears to be good or listen to someone’s anecdote about his Uncle Charlie, an allegedly good cop. We need only consider the following: (1) a cop’s job is to enforce the laws, all of them; (2) many of the laws are manifestly unjust, and some are even cruel and wicked; (3) therefore every cop has agreed to act as an enforcer for laws that are manifestly unjust or even cruel and wicked. There are no good cops.” ~Robert Higgs

  15. It seems to me that a cop who’s had 18 to 20 complaints lodged against him or her needs to be held accountable, but should be fired, because he/she is a real danger to the community, as well as other cops, to boot.

  16. I want to add that we need to end policing for profits. Too many municipalities support themselves through fines. No one should go to jail because they can’t pay a fine either.

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  18. Anyone who raises the “it’s just a few bad apples” excuse needs to be pounded with the fact that the original saying is “a few bad apples spoil the whole barrel”.

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  20. I can’t help wonder if the rule should be that you don’t hire anyone that actually want the job? I do think the best we can do is at the hiring process and then to make sure we are not getting people who are overly intend on control. I am also reluctant to hire veterans. I worry that the training they learned dealing in foreign countries may make them over react on our streets.

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