Teaching will age you. Current high school students and college underclassmen, for example, don't remember 9-11. One such moment that stood out in my teaching career was making a reference to Rodney King and then having to explain who Rodney King is to a group of legal adults. The saddest part was not how old I felt at that moment, but that my students simply could not understand why it was a big deal. The idea that a video of police beating up a black man – who didn't even die – was ever novel or unusual to Americans is, for today's young adult, baffling. They made the same face they make when I tell them that television only had three channels at one point.

We have a problem. We have always had a problem, in fact. The violence isn't new, but the cameras are everywhere to record it now. What happened in Dallas last week was a sadly predictable reaction in a nation that already knows well the amount of havoc one angry young male with a high powered firearm can cause.
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I suppose young black men can only watch so many videos of police killing people who look like them with no greater social response than excuse-making, justifications, and victim-blaming before one person in a nation drowning in guns is going to decide that killing cops is a valid response.

I keep holding out hope that we will learn something from this, that police can say to themselves "All those Dallas officers wanted was to do their job and go home alive at the end of the day" and have some moment of inspired transference wherein they realize that every black person they pull over in a traffic stop wants the same. I keep holding out hope that empathy is an emotion that any adult is capable of experiencing if it is encouraged.
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I'm not giving up yet. But it's not looking good.

For now, I'm going to do what I do best and try to subject the problem with the way we respond to these incidents to some cold logic.

As this radio personality angrily but succinctly pointed out last week, the basic problem here is the culture of mutual protection that pervades law enforcement. There is never an incident of police conduct that other police do not defend. If every single incident is met with excuses and rationalizations, if there is never an incident that other police look at and collectively say "Holy crap, that's totally unacceptable," then we have to conclude that according to police, no police officer has ever done anything wrong. If they're never willing to look at one another and say "That's wrong" or "You suck at your job," that implies that police are right 100% of the time. That's flatly illogical, and any American in any profession can reach that conclusion without difficulty because the idea of 100% of any group of people being competent is ridiculous on its face. Are 100% of teachers good teachers? Are 100% of your co-workers good at their jobs? Do 100% of cabbies drive well? Are 100% of salesmen honest? Are 100% of stylists giving good haircuts?

OK. So with just the briefest application of logic we can reject the idea that 100% of police are good at their jobs, and that 100% of the actions police take are appropriate. It's totally implausible. Any profession has malingerers, assholes, malcontents, sociopaths, and incompetents. This includes police.

If most cops are good cops as we are repeatedly told – and statistically that's true, as most departments have a few officers who account for the majority of complaints – then it is time for the Good Cops to stop participating silently in a broken system. It's time for Good Cops to do something about Bad Cops. Enough with the Wells, the Buts, and the Umms, the excuses and the justifications and the sanctimonious explanations of why black men never, ever perform the correct steps in the correct order to avoid getting shot while Dylann Roof can kill nine people in a church and the police take him to Burger King on the way to jail because he wanted a Whopper. Public protesting of the actions of police is less likely to motivate changes (and will do so a lot more slowly) than Good Cops refusing to condone further the behavior of their Bad colleagues. I defy anyone to come up with a more effective way to restore the trust and confidence that the public no longer has in law enforcement than following up a video like the death of Eric Garner, for example, with the chief of police saying "This is unacceptable and we will do whatever is necessary to make sure it never happens again" and following through on the promise. Instead we get boilerplate bromides about the police investigating themselves (inevitably determining that they did nothing wrong) and reserving judgment until all the facts are in, a time period that happens to coincide with the time required to put the character of the dead man on trial and explain why his death was his own fault. Until all the Good Cops can look at these videos and say "This is wrong, period" there can be no trust and no confidence. If police think the police are right every time, what does that say about their judgment?

Nobody's promising that it will be easy. We've all seen Serpico. This is, in the literal sense, a matter of life and death.
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If you're a Good Cop, now's an excellent time to prove it. Police are always telling the public that policing – maintaining order, preventing crime – starts with the community and the citizen. Imagine if they applied the same concept to themselves. If it's just a few bad apples…well, what's the second half of that saying?


  • Exactly. These bad cops are putting a bulls-eye on the back of every good cop. You'd think for that reason alone they'd want to do something about this problem.

  • Part of a larger discussion, but I think it's time for some sort of "ROTC program" for police officers. Granted a more educated cop doesn't ipso facto make him or her less racist or a bettah copbut I think it would create a better overall police force in general around the country.

  • I dunno, Jim. "More training" is turning into the collective punishment of the 21st century. You have 3 bad apples in an organization of 800 people, and the higher ups make all 800 undergo more training. It's a c y a for the higher ups, but it gets taken out of the hides of the grunts. The solution is to get rid of the damn 3 people screwing things up. And make the people at the top do the hard job of rooting the crappy ones out.

  • Absolutely right! Even the military, the primary driver of modern policing, didn't circle the wagons around the Abu Ghraib scandal that I recall. Nor did too many others try and explain it away. It was wrong, plain and simple.
    True, no one loves a snitch. But keeping up that code-of-silence is not telling the truth or dealing with reality.
    The police unions should be the first to rid their ranks of bad cops. Yes, go through all the procedures and get them a good defense attorney. Until then, a dead citizen means a cop not on patrol. I would respect that immensely. And learn some ways to deal with folks without shooting them. Go visit England for starters. If you've ever seen English soccer fans you know they're not just all peace loving and shit over there. See how do they do it.

  • Drug tests for LEOs is one way to very quickly identify a cohort of disturbed individuals that we've empowered.

  • When the Chief of Police in Milwaukee canned the guy who shot a mentally-ill person hanging out in a downtown public park the rank-and-file…. strongly voted no confidence in him. This is exactly the opposite of what a group whose primary interest was establishing trust with the public would do.

  • Great post. The modern media surely plays a part with sensationalizing stories as standard practice, always good to whip up the lunatic fringe. The "we report, you decide" model sounds good but the "we decide what to report because it determines what you decide" is more appropriate. The police unions play their part by going ballistic at any hint of criticism as being "anti-cop." and advising their members to "admit to nothing, make em prove it," like any good criminal lawyer would. Gutless politicians don't help as being seen as "weak on crime" is an excuse for inaction. We, the people play our part because, even if there is a trial, an innocent verdict is likely, evidene be damned. The training needs to be changed because the law enforcement cadets are taught from day one there is a "war on cops" which starts the militarization process. The situation in Dallas is a demonstration of the military mind-set, evidenced by the robot bomb used to "take the shooter out." They had the guy cornered and all the time in the world to wait him out but "officer safety" meant the death penalty.

  • Gerald McGrew says:

    Two things in addition to the blue code you cover in your post.

    1) An armed society makes for an edgy and nervous police force.

    2) Police today have an expectation of immediate and absolute compliance with every command they give. Anything less has been deemed justification for using force.

    There is no singular answer to all of this. It's going to take action on multiple fronts. We have to break the blue code, have fewer guns, and reform police protocols. And those are just the most obvious ones IMO.

  • Thank you. That's pretty much exactly what i told a cop that asked me to sign a witness statement for a minor crime. The idea that his profession had to earn my trust seemed shocking and kind of offensive to him.

  • It happened again in Minnesota. That lady was still referring to the cop as 'sir'. It happens everytime black people are shot and I can't believe it.

    I know …white privilege.

    I cannot imagine any white person not screaming bloody murder at that cop and calling him every name in the book at that point.

  • Now, can we talk about doctors? They protect their own. About 250,000 people in the US die each year from preventable medical errors. Of course, those deaths aren't dramatic enough to get recorded on video and put on the internet.

    As far as cops, you're right on. I started out as a police reporter in the days when we would hang out with cops and sometimes drink with the. They knew who the bad cops were. There cops even the other cops were afraid of. But they always managed to circle the wagons when the heat was on.

    I exposed a cop who was drunk on duty, took a cruiser he wasn't supposed to be using, and crashed it. Everyone from the chief on down tried to cover it up, but there were civilian witnesses. For my reward, I got sued. I won, but my relations with the cops were less than cheery. For a while, every time I drove into town, I'd be followed by a cop everywhere I went, just waiting for me to go 1 mph over the speed limit or commit some other petty infraction. I had to stop drinking.

  • c u n d gulag says:

    An armed society, leads to nervous and trigger-happy law enforcement officers.

    Now, add propaganda on the TV and radio about the "evil" minorities, and you have today's situation.

    The cops who brought that murderous white thug to a Burger King, should have been fired on the spot when they returned to the police station!

  • Emerson Dameron says:

    Whatever they think in private, police and politicians generally don't turn down opportunities to seize more power.

    To single out the Bad Apple next to you is to draw unwanted attention to your own patterns of behavior. Accepting responsibility and making incremental changes is hard and unsexy work. Cops, particularly bad ones, feel that the world is against them and no matter what they do, they'll be criticized – any serious self-reflection would just make things harder for them.

    However, if the real problem is all of these Inner City Youths corrupted by Drake and Fat Boys lyrics and enabled by Cultural Marxist academics, then we'd damn well better elect more Tough On Crime goons and funnel more money to the PD so they can buy more C4 and armored tanks to keep us safe.

  • Skepticalist says:

    Good posts.

    While reading this I was reminded of the NRA's standard reply of how to prevent these tragedies. "The way to stop a bad guy with a gun is by there being a good guy with a gun."

    Oh really? How about a whole police force ostensibly full of good guys with guns? Doesn't seem to work.

  • I'll add a couple of things that add to the tension.
    1) The traffic stop. This is a double edge sword. It allows the county to make money by taxing the poor. Once the stop is made, it depends which officer you are dealing with. Perhaps traffic stops should discouraged for trivial stuff such as broken tail lights.
    2) Guns. The Armalite has no reasonable use on the street of a civilized city. We are in big trouble when the regular Joe is more heavily armed than the police. The fools wandering around the Dallas protest with open carry AR-15's made matters worse.

  • @carrstone

    Strictly speaking, 0% of citizens are either law-abiding or unlikely to resist arrest. This is also irrelevant.

  • Bitter Scribe says:

    Chicago had a couple of cops who cooperated with a federal investigation into narcs who would shake down drug dealers and plant drugs on any who didn't pay up. It had to be a federal investigation because Chicago.

    After it was done, the commander of these two called them rats, to their faces, and tried to pressure them to quit (one of them did).

  • when i saw the title of this post i thought it was going to be about a new thing i've been hearing about from some of my conservative acquaintances–i live in texas so it's almost impossible not to have conservatives in a given circle of acquaintances. anyway, two different people have given me this same rant about the cable network tlc, the point being that all of the tlc programs are designed to undermine american morality by normalizing deviance– little people, ex-amish, transgender, gays, plural marriages, etc. it was actually a relief to read the real topic.

  • coloradoblue says:

    It doesn't matter if the side of the patrol car still says "to serve and protect" because that "job" is already dead and buried. Especially when a chief of police says "Our number one job is to make sure the officer goes home safe at the end of the night." which the chief in Denver said last year.

    I thought about a letter to the editor about protect and serve but didn't out of concern that I would set myself up for harassment. And I'm an old white guy, but I still thought it.

  • @coloradoblue But it IS to serve and protect, just not us. Police forces were set up first to be slave patrols and then, to serve and protect the one percent — from the likes of us. That's still their job.

  • You know Sr. Kong, I took it as a sign of incipient old age when I recently began to obey speed limits. Call it fear of penalties.

    As for 100%? Eso no existe. Not in any realm.

    Of course this is all beside the thrust.


    And @Skipper: there's them what makes policy and them that enforces.

    I fear we're screwed.

  • Dave Bearse says:

    I'm a black ex-cop, and this is the real truth about race and policing
    by Redditt Hudson on July 7, 2016:

    On any given day, in any police department in the nation, 15 percent of officers will do the right thing no matter what is happening. Fifteen percent of officers will abuse their authority at every opportunity. The remaining 70 percent could go either way depending on whom they are working with.


    He was *NOT* taken to Burger King by the police that arrested him on the way to the station. "Roof hadn't eaten in days, and the Shelby PD didn't have the facilities to house him and provide him with meals while waiting for federal and Charleston authorities to arrive," so they sent someone out to get him food while they were interrogating him. I have some doubts that an African American who had just shot nine white people in an explicitly racially motivated attack would have been treated properly, but Roof was handled the way a suspect is supposed to be treated. Not providing food, water and rest as appropriate can be grounds for a finding of coercion. Anyway, the upshot is not that Roof got special treatment (he didn't), but that everyone deserves at least the same treatment he received.

  • Not sure what it is about particularly depressing times and events, but goddamn it brings out the best in your writing, ed. Posts and fb updates alike have been top notch these last few weeks. Kudos.

    Why somebody who pays people to line up words in interesting and amusing ways hasn't employed you yet is completely beyond me. I know I'm not alone in admiring and envying your abilities. Keep it up, you're a big part of what keeps some of us getting up every morning to face whatever horror the world has for us today.

  • @Navarro; TLC is also home to the Patriarchal Christian Quiverfull breeding cults (Duggars, Bates) that conservatives just love and can't get enough of. So what if the boys are molesting their sisters and the babysitter? They're FORGIVEN by GAWD!

  • duquesne_pdx says:

    carrstone Says:
    Are 100% of citizens law abiding?
    Are 100% of citizens unlikely to resist arrest?

    Does a person with a broken tail light deserve the death penalty?
    Does a person selling loose cigarettes deserve the death penalty?
    Does a 12 year old with a toy gun deserve the death penalty?
    Does a guy selling music in front of his friend's store deserve the death penalty?
    I could go on.

    Oh, but he had a record! He was a career felon! He went to scratch his nose and the police thought he was going for a gun! He was running away and the police thought he was a threat!

    None of that matters. There is supposed to be a presumption of innocence per our system of law.

    The problem is that some police seem to think that they're Judge Dredd. That they have the ability to act as judge, jury and executioner. That they are somehow above the law. That they must be prepared at all times to defend themselves with lethal force as a first resort. That the populace that they are nominally supposed to protect is the enemy.

  • skwerlhugger says:

    You need a broader venue for these posts. You're not the only one saying it, I suppose, but there aren't enough out there.

  • @ duquesne
    Good democrat progressive argumentation example – from the general straight to the anecdotal. Google 'Gorilla in the room', no racism intended, it's called that, and you may learn something about keeping your mouth shut until all the facts are in.

    And that argument adroitly followed by the 'presumed innocent' meme. You know what? If the subject were to behave as would someone who's innocent, no weapons would be drawn.

    As for collateral damage among bystanders: if you go swimming, jump in and feel the water closing over your head, you shouldn't blame the water if you can't swim.

  • Emerson Dameron says:

    @Bitter Scribe @navarro –

    I had to leave Chicago to appreciate how truly special it is. And that's coming from Los Angeles of all places.

    @carrstone –

    I'm going to start referring to the Right To Bear Arms as a "meme," just to see how that strikes you.

  • Monte Davis says:

    @carrstone – bravo! some fancy tap-dancing there to miss duquesne's point while pretending to counter it!

    When you write "behave as would someone who's innocent," you'r tacitly saying that innocence or guilt is to be decided on the fly by the policeman on the spot. Keeping to words of one syllable:

    ANY OF IT.

  • @Monte Davis
    I'll admit, it was kinda difficult given that there was no point being made in response to mine – hence my comments.

    And bravo to you, too, it's heartening to see the immorality of your political stance creeping into your debate style. An Ayers tactic, it's beginning to be recognized as a harbinger of the end of Democrat progressivism to demonize the speaker when you don't have a response to what he just said.

    In future, if you want to be taken seriously, don't put words in people's mouths, most of them are well able to do that for themselves.

    By all means make an argument, that's your job. If you think it isn't and insults will do, you don't get it, any of it.

  • As for Abu G…the military may have not circled the wagons, but how many of the people at the top who set the stage for this were punished in any way?

    Absent Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and crew in the dock at the Hague, I'm not sure this is as good an analogy as we would like.

  • @Emerson Dameron

    What I think of your 'referring to the Right To Bear Arms as a "meme"' is that you clearly don't know what a meme is.

    I also realize that you are uneducated enough not to recognize 'Right To Bear Arms' as words used in the Second Amendment.

    D'you have anything else that needs clearing up?

    Other than the bit between your ears?

  • Emerson Dameron says:


    "And that argument adroitly followed by the 'presumed innocent' meme."

    Two hours later:
    "…you clearly don't know what a meme is."

    Dear god, man. Have some self-respect.

  • @carrstone, when you think about things like this, also consider canaries, coal mines and slippery slopes. Not to mention America's long tradition of class warfare.

  • A few years ago a cop in my city shot a drunk, unarmed, middle-age (white) man 5 times, in the back of the head and neck, while he sat behind the wheel of his running car. Said the driver was belligerent and posed a threat to his safety even though the drunk man there was a second officer on-scene and they'd blocked the suspect's car with a police cruiser. Although the officer who witnessed the shooting considered it unnecessary, he was reluctant to offer testimony when asked by a city prosecutor, because a similar case he'd been involved with a few years earlier (in a different city) ended in acquittal of the other officer. He didn't want to go through the hassle again, changing jobs and relocating again. He finally agreed, testified in court that the shooting was unjustified, and the jury presiding over the shooter's 2nd degree murder trail summarily dismissed his professional opinion, clearing the shooter of any wrong-doing.

    This was a JURY decision, not some 'citizens shooting review committee' finding. In other words, after justifiably daubing police officers with blame for refusing to violate some unspoken code of silence, there's plenty of slime left in the bucket for the general public.

  • Carrstone:
    How, precisely, is an "innocent" person supposed to behave? Exactly like Philando Castile, who was murdered by a cop in front of his 4-year old daughter, perhaps?

  • About that "empathy" thing? I believe it's integral to human nature, which nature is easily manipulated through social conditioning, say. So in a culture where the propaganda machine promotes selfishness and the division of people into winners and losers, empathy is buried for the most part.

    I am acquainted with some long time so called Buddhist practitioners (white and male) who treat their perceived social inferiors with condescension at best and contempt at worst. If those who are taught about compassion fail at walking in the shoes of others, I hold little hope for the larger social sphere.

    Yes, I do fear we're screwed.

    Heh. And Carrstone sucks the air out of the room again. Just. Go. Away.

  • LutherZBlissett says:

    The standard of behavior for police is not "anything that isn't prosecuted" or "anything that doesn't earn a conviction." Too many cop apologists now believe it to be so.

    From that 'second city cop' comments cesspit:

    "Someone want to tell me why in the these cops were NOT allowed to wear riot gear? No face shields, helmets, batons, body protection? Oh wait… I got it. The ball lickers in charge don't want the Police to look like… you know, THE POLICE!"

    Who knew that THE POLICE are meant to look like Robocop on occupation duty? Oh, yeah, the people who think THE POLICE are there to intimidate Those People.

  • @Tim H.
    America's 'long tradition of class warfare'? We don't have the history to claim a 'long' anything.

  • @mothra
    I'm v. sorry this happened, no, really, I am but I don't have enough information to answer your question; I'm delighted for you that you apparently do have enough to cast aspersions.

    Best advice I can give off the cuff, don't go where there's going to be shooting and not moving after you've been told not to move, not even to 'raise his arms'.

    Not HIS daughter, HER daughter, the press says.

  • @Tim H
    Maybe a bit of both but at least not part of a regressive circle jerk, the membership qualification for which is to be unable to construct a telling insult.

  • Just this Once says:


    If you're not willing to admit that the police who do screw up or even those who act maliciously are not disciplined often enough or severely enough, then you have no credibility when trying to defend those who ostensibly didn't.

  • With some folks, it's hard to tell if they're willfully obtuse, merely thick or maliciously mendacious.

    Carrstone pretty much hits the douchebag trifecta.

  • @democommie
    When you're incapable of creating meaningful retorts, try insults. Even in this, you can't be original but have to rely on the regressive handbook on 'how to win debates'.

    When you wrote this, did you get an erection imagining your fellow like-minded contributors applauding? Sez more about you than about me.

  • @Just this Once

    If you'd read my comments in this thread, you'd have noticed that my issue is the behavior of 'perp' and public. Police behavior is predictable whereas the public's reaction is a mixed bag, so guess which is more interesting to someone who doesn't have an agenda?

    Therefore, as I haven't been arguing the police viewpoint, I'll give your infantile comment the attention it deserves.


  • Asking good cops to break ranks with bad cops?

    That's like asking good Catholic priests to break ranks with bad Catholic priests.
    That never happened, and the raping continued.
    By the 1980s the Church knew it would pay through the fucking nose settling civil lawsuits.

  • Carrstone, buddy:

    As is often the case when trolls like you are spouting bullshit and misinformed Randian nonsense, you ignore oeople who think that you are capable of genuine, independent thought.

    You'really a waste of proptoplasm. You should apply for a job with the sTRUMPet campaign. There's always room for one more bootlicker.

  • "Don't move, and show me your identification. Failure to comply will constitute resisting arrest and justify lethal force."

    "Please stop pointing your gun at me."

    To whom, in your imagination, were these two instructions given?

    Carrstone, you don't get to play.

  • @Robert
    It's all a game to you, is it? Are you white, by any chance?

    Or did you just make up this dialogue in support of what you'd like to think happened.

    Either way, you're standing on the grave of a dead man to make your point and that's pretty immoral.

    Typical, though.

  • @democommie
    I'm genuinely concerned by the comments I read in this blog.

    The infantile attempts at insulting me is just water off a duck's back. Your ripostes [and those of the rest of Ed's claque] are proof of your inability to be original and your comments certainly are fine examples of regressive whining.

    No, what concerns me is the thought that you might ever be in a position to accelerate the death of the First Amendment. God knows, this is America, after all, and there are enough idiots out there who'll elect even liars and crooks.

  • @mothra

    I don't care that you think so badly of me; I care more about what that feeble brain of yours makes you do.

    Please take care you don't hurt yourself.

  • Carrstone:

    You'really a dickhead, and a badly diseased one at that. Perceptive, observant and we'll educated people seem to think 5hat a ruck nozzle like you will respond to reasonable arguments. They are wrong.

  • @democommie
    Ruck nozzle? Oooh, that hurts! Not.

    You're a poster boy for regressive thinking. You aren't even able to recognize that I AM responding to your arguments – well, not yours, actually, 'cause you haven't yet presented any that are worthy of the name.

    I always respond to 'reasonable' arguments and sometimes I also respond to nonsensical ones. Which is why I enjoy the comments section of Gin and Tacos so much.

Comments are closed.