Myths and Truth About Police Violence, & Why Change is Coming

June 5th, 2015
in Op Ed

by Fabius Maximus,

Summary: The surge of stories about our out-of-control police deserves attention for what it reveals more us. Everybody has problems. Success results from our ability rapidly and effectively see and respond to them. America used to do both well (as Hitler and Tojo learned). Modern America does neither well. But change is coming, unexpectedly forced by minds cool and unsympathetic.

Follow up:


  1. The Police crushed; crime soars!
  2. Real news: more police shootings.
  3. Real news: police are almost always acquitted.
  4. The voices that will force change.
  5. For More Information.

(1) The Police crushed; crime soars!

From the formerly great paper become a Rupert Murdoch rag, The Wall Street Journal: "The New Nationwide Crime Wave" by Heather Mac Donald - Excerpt...

This incessant drumbeat against the police has resulted in what St. Louis police chief Sam Dotson last November called the "Ferguson effect." Cops are disengaging from discretionary enforcement activity and the "criminal element is feeling empowered," Mr. Dotson reported. Arrests in St. Louis city and county by that point had dropped a third since the shooting of Michael Brown in August. Not surprisingly, homicides in the city surged 47% by early November and robberies in the county were up 82%.

Similar "Ferguson effects" are happening across the country as officers scale back on proactive policing under the onslaught of anti-cop rhetoric. Arrests in Baltimore were down 56% in May compared with 2014.

"Any cop who uses his gun now has to worry about being indicted and losing his job and family," a New York City officer tells me. "Everything has the potential to be recorded. A lot of cops feel that the climate for the next couple of years is going to be nonstop protests."

Police officers now second-guess themselves about the use of force. "Officers are trying to invent techniques on the spot for taking down resistant suspects that don't look as bad as the techniques taught in the academy," says Jim Dudley, who recently retired as deputy police chief in San Francisco. Officers complain that civilians don't understand how hard it is to control someone resisting arrest.

Lethal Weapons
"Lethal Weapons"
, The Economist, 23 August 2014.

(2) Real news: more police shootings in 2015

Despite the WSJ's propaganda, it appears more likely that the police are suffering a collapse of legitimacy in the underclass. Videos of unnecessary police shootings. Videos of unnecessary police beatings and tasing. Videos of police macing peaceful protestors. Videos proving police perjury. There's not enough police to rule by fear, so they've elected to rule by force. Rising crime rates this year show the failure of this policy in an age of widespread cameras.

Anyone who cares to see why their legitimacy has collapsed. "Fatal police shootings in 2015 approaching 400 nationwide" by Kimberly Kindy at The Washington Post - Excerpt...

The three are among at least 385 people shot and killed by police nationwide during the first five months of this year, more than two a day, according to a Washington Post analysis. That is more than twice the rate of fatal police shootings tallied by the federal government over the past decade, a count that officials concede is incomplete. ... 16% were either carrying a toy or were unarmed.

... Ninety-two victims - nearly a quarter of those killed - were identified by police or family members as mentally ill. In Miami Gardens, Fla., Catherine Daniels called 911 when she couldn't persuade her son, Lavall Hall, a 25-year-old black man, to come in out of the cold early one morning in February. A diagnosed schizophrenic who stood 5-foot-4 and weighed barely 120 pounds, Hall was wearing boxer shorts and an undershirt and waving a broomstick when police arrived. They tried to stun him with a Taser gun and then shot him.

... About half of the time, police were responding to people seeking help with domestic disturbances and other complex social situations: A homeless person behaving erratically. A boyfriend threatening violence. A son trying to kill himself.

... Nicholas T. Thomas, a 23-year-old black man, was killed in March when police in Smyrna, Ga., tried to serve him with a warrant for failing to pay $170 in felony probation fees. Thomas fled the Goodyear tire shop where he worked as a mechanic, and police shot into his car.

... Police are authorized to use deadly force only when they fear for their lives or the lives of others. So far, just three of the 385 fatal shootings have resulted in an officer being charged with a crime - less than 1%.

The low rate mirrors the findings of a Post investigation in April that found that of thousands of fatal police shootings over the past decade, over the past decade, only 54 had produced criminal ­charges. Typically, those cases involved layers of damning evidence challenging the officer's account. Of the cases resolved, most officers were cleared or acquitted. In all three 2015 cases in which charges were filed, videos emerged showing the officers shooting a suspect during or after a foot chase ...

Washington Post: weapon held by people killed by police
Got to love classing "car" as a lethal weapon justifying immediate execution by police.

(3) Real news: police are almost always acquitted

Juries and judges seldom find police officers guilty on the rare occasions when District Attorneys prosecute them for shooting people, as in this "acquittal of a Cleveland police officer involved in a 2012 shootout" reported by The Plain Dealer (Cleveland). It was not a "shootout" in the usual sense. Thirteen officers fired 137 bullets at the stopped car containing Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams - who were unarmed. Michael Brelo fired 49 times, concluding by jumping onto the Malibu's hood and shot straight down at Russell and Williams. Brelo is white; Russell and Williams were black. Brelo's attorney congratulated Judge O'Donnell afterward for "the outstanding display of judicial decision-making that you've all witnessed in the case."

The judge said that while he had concluded Brelo fired lethal shots at Russell and Williams, other officers did, too. He found that it was impossible to know whose shots were responsible for the deaths. O'Donnell also accepted Brelo's defense - that he fired the shots because he feared for his life.

Even internal discipline is rare, with stories like these the usual result: "Arbitrator rescinds discipline for four supervisors in deadly police chase", following Brelo's acquittal.

An arbitrator rescinded discipline against four Cleveland police supervisors on Friday ... {the 3} Cleveland police sergeants ... all will receive back pay from their 2013 suspensions, according to Cleveland police supervisors' union president Capt. Brian Betley.

...Arbitrator Nels Nelson determined in June that the city improperly fired Sgt. Michael Donegan, and demoted Capt. Ulrich Zouhar and Lt. Paul Wilson. ... Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Joseph Russo in January upheld Nelson's ruling that Donegan should be rehired as a patrol officer, receive back pay and returned to the rank of sergeant. The arbitrator also ruled Zouhar be returned to the rank of captain, and Wilson to be returned to the rank of lieutenant.

(4) The voices that will force change

There is a grim conclusion to this, as with many of these stories: "The city reached a $3 million settlement split between Williams and Russell families and their attorneys." Nick Wing at the Huffington Post documents the hundreds of millions paid by our cities for these shootings: "We Pay A Shocking Amount For Police Misconduct, And Cops Want Us Just To Accept It".

I suspect that our city leaders did not realize what this police misconduct was costing them. While they obviously believe that Black lives don't matter, money does. The police are impervious to the opinions of the underclass, but we might see how quickly they respond to the decisions of our ruling elites.

(5) For More Information

"Why It's Impossible to Indict a Cop" by Chase Madar at The Nation, 24 November 2014 - "It's not just Ferguson-here's how the system protects police."

For deeper understanding of these things I recommend Radley Balko's Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces (2014) and John T. Whitehead's A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State (2013). Also see The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (2010) by legal scholar Michelle Alexander.

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about the police, especially these...

  1. Do not talk to the police (important advice in New America).
  2. Police grow more powerful; the Republic slides another step into darkness. Can cellphone cameras save us?
  3. Shootings by police show their evolution into "security services"; bad news for the Republic.
  4. News good & bad about the fantastic growth of America's security services.
  5. We can't fix police violence because we don't know the cause.
  6. No need for police reform, since only criminals have trouble with police!

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