Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Law enforcement: the impossible conundrum

It's become more and more clear over the past couple of years that law enforcement agencies and officers across the USA are increasingly caught in a no-win situation.

Undoubtedly, some of this is their own fault.  The number of 'bad cops' does seem to have increased, and the number of agencies and officers with an attitude towards the general public is worryingly high - dangerously so, IMHO.  I've discussed several aspects of the problem in previous blog posts.

Nevertheless, the profession of peace officer (a term I prefer to 'law enforcement officer':  it's more philosophical, explicitly referencing 'keeping the peace' as opposed to enforcing laws that may, or may not, be legitimate or justifiable) is under attack as never before from the left-wing, progressive side of society.  Facts are being ignored in favor of feelings.  Reality is being submerged in a tide of perceptions.

Consider, for example, that the NYPD's own statistics demonstrate conclusively that people of color commit far more crimes per capita than do whites:  89% of all crime in New York City in 2015, to be precise, including over 90% of all shootings, robberies, murders, rapes and juvenile crimes.  Therefore, to focus on people of color during ordinary policing activities would appear to be no more than a logical, rational reaction to this factual, incontrovertible reality - but that's not what protestors want to hear.  They decry such a fact-based approach as 'racism'.  They can't (or won't) see beyond skin color to the reality of crime.

New York City isn't alone in that.  Chicago has a problem at least as bad.

We turn our attention once again to the city of Chicago, where, as of this writing, 2,858 people have been shot and 487 have been killed so far this year (both numbers will surely be higher by the time you read this).

. . .

Despite these grim numbers, there persists among many the notion that it is the city’s police officers who bear the greatest share of blame for all that ails Chicago. Propagating this myth most recently is [the] Chicago Tribune, which on Friday published a story about the 435 police shootings that occurred in Chicago between 2010 and 2015.

The story begins by noting that over the six years examined, a Chicago police officer fired at someone every five days, killing 92 people and wounding 170. “While a few of those incidents captured widespread attention,” says the Tribune, “they occurred with such brutal regularity — and with scant information provided by police — that most have escaped public scrutiny.”

Given the statistics cited in the opening paragraph above, it would seem it is not the police who are shooting people with “such brutal regularity.” Indeed, many of the Tribune’s readers, aware that they live in a city where someone is shot every hour and a half and murdered every eight, might not be all that disturbed – and might even welcome it – when the police manage to shoot at some evil-doer every five days.

But of course it is not merely the number of police shootings that so discomfits the enlightened ones at the Chicago Tribune, it is the skin color of those who are shot. In the second of a series of bullet points near the top of the story, we are informed that “about four out of every five people shot [by police] were African-American males.”

. . .

... if the Chicago Tribune feels the demographics of those shot by the police are somehow out of kilter, perhaps they should consider this: according to the U.S. census, the population of Chicago is 32.9 percent black, yet blacks make up 78.6 percent of the city’s murder victims. In Chicago and elsewhere, almost all murders are intra-racial, so we may safely conclude that blacks are similarly over-represented among Chicago’s killers. The fact that four out of five people shot by Chicago police officers seems far less startling now, doesn’t it?

So do Chicago police officers really shoot too many people? One could make the case that they shoot too few...

There's more at the link.

Such perceptions and misreporting have led to a massive disconnect between both sides in the law enforcement debate.  The Washington Post recently highlighted what this has meant in Baltimore.

They’d come to the same church on the same night to confront the same quandary facing this city’s beleaguered police department. But what they wanted from the police couldn’t have been more different.

Eight days had passed since the Justice Department issued a scathing review of the Baltimore Police Department, detailing years of racial discrimination in its law enforcement practices.

Yet the 40 or so longtime residents who gathered in a West Baltimore church basement on this August night — many of whom were older black women afraid to walk to the store or leave their homes at night — had come to urge police to clear their corners of miscreants and restore order to their crime-plagued community.

“Please, help me,” pleaded gas station owner Chaudhry Masood, whose parking lot has been overrun by loiterers and where a 17-year-old was recently shot and killed.

At the same time, in an adjacent church hall, Justice Department civil rights attorneys were discussing how to overhaul the police department with another group of residents intent on curbing the abusive behavior of corner-clearing cops. Those attending included black youths long targeted by police.

The organizers of each gathering didn’t know the other was taking place. As people showed up Aug. 18, a priest from St. Peter Claver Catholic Church hurriedly attached paper signs to metal railings to direct the flow. The meeting with the police community relations council to the right, the meeting with Justice Department lawyers to the left.

The disconnect between those focused on crime and those focused on police reform looms large...

Again, more at the link.

That 'disconnect' is precisely the problem.  It's grown so large, so deep, so unbridgeable, that I honestly don't see a way forward unless something really big happens to sweep all the pieces off the table and start a whole new game.  I'm thinking something like another 9/11.  If we get a major terrorist attack inside the USA, or a series of them, I think enforcement will come to dominate public thinking, and political correctness will (at least temporarily) take a back seat . . . but I can't think of anything else that might deal with the current logjam of perceptions versus reality.  Certainly, no-one with any sense at all wants to see that sort of development!

This is one of the factors that led Miss D. and I to relocate, earlier this year.  We've seen for ourselves how political correctness is hampering honest law enforcement in many cities, at the same time that over-zealous and overbearing law enforcement is hampering honest citizens in those cities.  The area where we now live is much more self-reliant, with ordinary citizens not only expecting to have to be their own first line of defense against crime, but comfortable with that reality.  Local agencies and officers are supportive of that, and have no problem with it.  Sanity generally prevails here . . . unlike in cities like Baltimore, or New York, or Chicago.

The next major problem that I think is going to come to the forefront of law enforcement issues is race relations between Hispanic and black communities.  This is a lot worse than many people are prepared to concede.  I've seen it for years as a pastor and prison chaplain, and there's been no improvement - rather the opposite, IMHO.  So far, political correctness has blocked any meaningful attempt to address it, but that can't hold the line much longer.  David Cole noted recently:

In what’s described as “one of the largest civil rights indictments in L.A. history,” an old-school Mexican gang—one of the original Mexi gangs that date back to the pre–World War II era—ran a ruthless campaign to keep “niggers” out of its neighborhood. The Big Hazard gang (also known as Hazard Grande) runs the streets in Boyle Heights, a neighborhood in East L.A. As of 2010, Boyle Heights was about 94% Latino, owing in no small part to the fact that Big Hazard had an unwritten rule about not tolerating black residents. In recent years, however, blacks had slowly been making inroads into the community, so Big Hazard decided to put a little fire and brimstone behind its unwritten rule.

Well, fire mainly. The gang embarked on a campaign of hurling Molotov cocktails at the homes of black residents who didn’t get the message that they weren’t welcome.

Hence the federal indictment.

Now, when I say the story has been “underreported,” I don’t mean there’s been a blackout (pardon the term). The story has received obligatory coverage in all the usual fish rags, from the Times of L.A. to the one in New York. But what’s missing is the outrage. Big Hazard’s activities were tolerated (to say the least) by the local Latino population. Was there perhaps some fear of speaking up against the gang? Sure, but still, it’s a local gang, made up of local boys. Where are the calls for the neighborhood to undergo “racial sensitivity training”? Where are the black leaders locking arms and marching through the streets in defiance? Where are the garment-rending op-eds and monologues from leftist journalists, hosts, and pundits?

. . .

Outright racism by Latinos against blacks gets little coverage in the liberal press and no outrage from SJWs, and black “civil rights leaders” are scared shitless to confront it with the same merciless, take-no-prisoners attitude they reserve for every perceived “microaggression” from whites.

We all know this.

What I’d prefer to concentrate on is the fact that the Big Hazard story, and the (non)reaction to it from the usual suspects, slightly, just slightly, lays bare one of L.A.’s dirtiest little secrets: Most nonblack Angelenos are probably rooting for what the gang is doing (the goal if not the methods).

More at the link.

Until recently, black and Hispanic gangs, whilst generally antagonistic towards each other, would often suppress their inter-gang conflicts in the interests of confronting what they saw as a greater enemy - the authorities.  It was a case of "standing together against the Man".  That's changing.  What's more, I have little doubt that some law enforcement officers and agencies are encouraging the change, subtly or otherwise.  After all, put yourselves in their position.  When Black Lives Matter is threatening cops' safety, when police are being ambushed and killed by BLM sympathizers, it's all too easy for the law to whisper in receptive Hispanic gangbangers' ears, "Listen, these idiots are going to make life difficult for everyone on the streets, not just their own.  When we come down on you, hard, remember, it's not because we don't like you - it's because they're making us do it.  If you want peace and quiet to do your own thing, don't you think it might be a good idea to get them to stop making life difficult for you as well as us?"

I guarantee you - guarantee you - that, or something like it, is happening right now.  I may no longer be working in active, daily association with law enforcement, but I still have many of my old contacts and friends.  I know the reality on the street . . . and I suspect BLM is going to find itself with enemies on more than one front in the not very distant future.  I wouldn't be in the least surprised to find cops turning a blind eye to Hispanic gang activities, provided that those gangs help them against black criminal activities.  In fact, I'll be very surprised if that's not already happening.

Trouble is, that'll bring out the forces of political correctness in full cry once more.  They'll scream about "divide-and-rule tactics", and accuse cops of manipulating one segment of society against another.  They'll be right - but that won't stop it happening.  Sooner or later, the cop on the beat is going to ignore his wishy-washy, waffling, unreliable superiors and start talking directly to potential allies on the street.  His own life will depend on it - and he's not stupid.

I fear what may develop when that happens.  If BLM had any sense, they'd fear it much more than I do . . . but sense is one attribute that seems conspicuous by its absence in their considerations.



Glen Filthie said...

I was born in a white bread community up here in Canada. During the 60's we had the hippy-dippy teachers pushing the multi-culti dream and in the 70's and 80's we started getting first a trickle - and then a torrent of blacks and browns.

I became a racist. I am old and mature enough to take people as they are, one at a time and make exceptions as necessary. But as a group, I don't like blacks and I don't want them in my community either. The browns as a group aren't worth a hill of beens either - but they're better than the blacks.

I know you'll probably disagree with me on this but the way I see it, poverty doesn't cause crime. Stupidity causes both poverty and crime and that is a problems blacks (and liberals) have to deal with. If black racists are going to kill cops trying to do their jobs, I have no problems with browns killing blacks and driving them from the neighbourhood. I believe in justice and if the law can't deliver and the vigilante can - sorry about your luck, Preacher. Some devils are better than others to deal with.

SiGraybeard said...

In the documents leaked in the last month, several related to George Soros. One of memos detailed how Soros wants to create a Federal Police force, and how they're going to instigate problems to try and impose their will. A federal takeover of the police to remove any last vestiges of community policing.

Breitbart has the story.

Soros contributes a ton of money to many, many left wing groups. He's funding a lot of what's going on in the streets.

Anonymous said...

The media. The media, the media, the media, the media.

Who promotes the bogus stories about "killer cops" while ignoring actual murder rates? Media.
Who gives a platform for accusations of racism while ignoring black crime? Media.
Who blatantly favors politicians who benefit from the situation? Media.
Who encourages victimhood and resentment? Media.
Who lies? Who distorts? Manipulates? Fakes? Media.

Want to save civilization? Destroy the mainstream media. I mean literally. Make them understand that their actions have consequences. Direct, unpleasant personal consequences.

Scott H said...

You say that you prefer the term "Peace Officer" over the term "Law Enforcement Officer". I disagree. In my view those are titles for two different professions both of whom are called police officers. This is why I have no respect for the uniform, which is that of a law enforcement officer, but great respect for most of the people who wear it who are trying to be peace officers.

In regard to profiling, the problem that I have with it is not that it is racist, it is that it is a form of group justice rather than individual justice and as such tends to make the problem worse when the good people that are hassled, start to think that if they are going to do the time, then they should do the crime too.

Anonymous said...

If you think that Hispanics don't like black people, you need to talk to some Middle East immigrants. As an example,in our area most used car dealers are Arabs of one strain or another. I was taking a test drive in an older used car last month and the seller referred to every black he saw as a "monkey"and was quite aggressive abut it.

Quartermaster said...

The really bad part in all this is the civil war it's setting the stage for. This country has never had a civil war (1861-1865 was not a civil war).

Anonymous said...

A number of good points in the article, but a number missed, as well.
First off, they're not "undocumented". Many have more ID documents than I have, they're just all fake or stolen.
All right, the illegals may do work Americans won't do. So make welfare a safety net, not a hammock, & get the shiftless out there shifting. When you're hungry, work looks like an opportunity--and dinner.
We won't, can't, & needn't deport the illegals. Cut off the magnet that drew them here, all the freebies (see above), & a large number will go home. No reason to stay when the free-stuff spigot is turned off. Some folks say "illegal people can't draw welfare, food stamps, etc."; no, and they can't get SSNs either, but a lot of them have found numbers somewhere. Funny, that.
For the most part, I don't disagree with his take. I live in rural Tennessee. We don't much like outsiders, but if you show yourself to be a good person, we'll accept anyone, and we (at least the poorer among us, as I grew up) have gotten along with black folks for most of our lives. Hell, we all grew up equally poor & despised. We never had many Spanish-speaking people around, but that has been & is changing.
My neighbor across the road is a Hispanic gentleman (now an American citizen) who runs a lawn-care business. He & his family are good folks--he works hard, they're nice people, dress up for Mass every Sunday morning, cheerful & seemingly grateful for the opportunity they've found here. He's told me he never could have had the success he's found here back home, no matter how hard he works. I'm pretty damned certain he makes more than I do, & good on him. He puts in longer days than I do, & took the risk to start his own business.
Now, who's going to get along better out here in the hills--my neighbor, or any hypothetical young black person who's been taught to have a chip-on-the-shoulder mentality, to despise white people, to expect the government to support them?
We have black people around here, too. They don't call themselves African-American, by & large: they're proud that their families have been American citizens for 150 years or better. A few still farm, but most don't, choosing like the rest of us to do something that pays better. Those I've talked to about current affairs seem wary of other black folks, at least the ones in the cities. They're not like "us"--not white, black, brown, or any other color of "us", just us folks that live here, intend to stay, have a stake in the area, & want to make a go of an honest life.
Sorry for the length of the post; I found I had more to say than I knew.
--Tennessee Budd

Will said...

@Scott H:

If an officer (whatever term you want to use) isn't profiling, he isn't doing a proper, and safer, job. EVERY human profiles when dealing with other humans. Hell, make that mammals! You meet a new to you dog, you are profiling it by type/breed.

If most of the bad guys you and your fellow officers deal with are black, you damn well are going to be looking at blacks more closely than other group members. THAT is profiling. Yeah, it isn't PC. So f'ing what. It's reality. Ignoring facts to focus on unicorns and leprechauns is stupid and dangerous in real life.

Blacks have been an identifiable problem or danger for my whole life, and I was born in the Korean War era. It has gotten noticeably worse over the years, and I don't hang out in heavily black areas. I find it depressing that this is the case here in the US. I am aware that some of the causes have been deliberately done by our .gov since the War of Secession, mostly by Democrat regimes. However, that knowledge doesn't change how I deal with them in real life, because they make no attempts to fix their own problems. I suspect that they will be a major part of our first actual civil war, and within my lifetime. As a group, I suspect they will not be happy with the results.

Scott H said...

Don't disagree with much that you said. My point on profiling though was not that is is not a valuable tool for solving crimes, but that it in the longer term alienates those members of the profiled group that are not criminals. It also, depending on what actions are based on profiling, violates our principle of individual justice in favor of group justice.

Will said...


if the other members of the group would exert a bit of influence to control the more wayward members, it would help. In this case, with apparently near parity in numbers of the two sides (good and bad), it's well past the internal group control point. Both sides will pay a price for letting it get this bad. Big cities make it hard for any group to do the job properly, without crossing the legal line...

Dan said...

There are no good cops. Only bad cops. The bad ones who lie, cheat, steal, assault and murder and the bad ones that watch this criminality and DO NOTHING. The rare good cop is swiftly driven out of the job by the bully's and sociopaths that infest law enforcement.

Peter said...

@Dan: You're completely wrong. I was a cop - at least, I wore a badge, and had statutory powers of arrest. I have cop friends I'd trust with my life, or my wife's life, in a skinny minute. Are you accusing me - us - of being "bullies and sociopaths that infest law enforcement"?

People like you are part of the problem, not the solution. You're blind to reality. Sure, there are bad cops. There are bad apples in every barrel. Unfortunately, if you close your eyes to the good ones, you throw them out along with the bad - and then you have nothing left when you need it.

There are many good cops out there. I'm proud to know some of them, and call them my friends.