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Thread: Officer Jeopardy

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    Default Officer Jeopardy

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slate...vagueness.html

    An important discussion of the standards by which LE are judged in use of force, and how things may be trending.

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    Incidents such as those in your Youtube playlist are in the public mind, police just doing their jobs. Appreciated, to be sure, but what they are paid to do. People expect strength and bravery and crisis handling. For some reason, a couple likely being better access to technology and broader understanding of individual rights, incidents such as the ones you highlight are being drowned out by the type seen across a myriad of homepages dedicated to preventing the opposite - police brutality (and recourse against it).

    http://www.copblock.org/
    http://www.policebrutality.info/
    http://filmingcops.com/
    http://mappingpoliceviolence.org/
    http://www.policeabuse.com/
    https://www.facebook.com/policethepoliceACP

    This is a very small sampling of what's available with a quick search engine query of the subject.
    Nullius in verba

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    Drowned out indeed!

    Unfotunately in so many instances there is so little understanding of so many factors that go in to these cases. But that doesn't matter - the police are sworn servants of the public and must acknowledge the public's right to demand answers.

    The issue to overcome is that for some, when often the answers don't fit the pre-determined bias, there is a refusal to accept that things aren't as they seem.

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    What do you feel is a proper standard of police accountability and how do you go about gaining public understanding?
    Nullius in verba

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    That's a difficult one, for myriad reasons.

    What we have now is prosecutorial review, in some places grand juries, and then it goes beyond that to prosecutors filing charges (whether because they actually have the probable cause to believe a crime occurred or for political reasons..), the court process, judge, and jury.....then the DOJ at some point may weigh in.

    Outside the criminal system police departments have their own internal affairs.

    When officers are not indicted, or when they are, and when courts determine that no crime occurred, or when the evidence for it is such that a jury can't decide, or amounts to what is at best a policy violation - after a tremendous amount of third party scrutiny of ALL the evidence (not at all what the media or anyone in the general public ever sees) - when a decision is made, some people will still not accept the decision and continue to cry out based on subjective emotion and a misunderstanding of the law and how it works. Some will never accept it regardless of the amount of reason that is brought into it.

    The fact that it is continually characterized as a race issue, when it is nothing of the sort, is the result of sloppy thinking and political hackery that remains unaddressed as well. Some of the officers in Baltimore were black. Some whites who feel their friend/sibling/child what-have-you was brutalized or murdered by the police scream that the whole Black Lives Matter movement has hijacked what is in their minds a systemic problem with police and force, not a problem with racist police. This undermines any legal debates around the issue as well.

    Not really sure what we can do about all that. Appeal to reason, asking people to understand the law isn't working.

    One option which sounded interesting, but seems to go against our current system would be a professional jury pool with a great deal more training in use of force issues and police dynamics. Not that it is going to make anyone happy - the end result would still be the same. The majority of these cases would likely still end up as they do now.

    Police training is an issue. Even well trained departments aren't all that well trained. The public may have to eventually accept the fact that we aren't coming to noise complaints, we aren't coming to your minor accident, we aren't coming to make your kids behave, or we aren't coming when your neighbor flipped you off, because we have to spend a lot more time training to raise our performance standards across the board.

    Citizen involvement is another; citizen academies, volunteering with police, attending police training, placing oneself in the (simulated) environment to make the decisions an officer does goes a long, long, way to understanding the dynamics involved in a real sense. We explored that in another thread: http://www.e-budo.com/forum/showthre...Force-Training

    Then, understand that everything you see in the media and outside official channels is fragmented, sensationalized, and speculative. It is never the full story. The full story only comes out after the entire investigation is done and the decisions are made. Unless you are the prosecutor, the defense, the judge, or the jury, or the cops that were actually involved (not even others on scene may have the full story), you don't know the facts, and can't have an informed opinion on that particular incident. Even video only shows what the camera is looking at and only from when the "on" button was pushed. In the (can't remember which) North or South Carolina case recently, that at least showed one of the rare instances of an utterly egregious use of force and an attempt to cover it up caught on camera. There is no hue and cry because the same system that "isn't working" in the other cases worked there. Why? Because in that case it was actual abuse, and an actual crime

    Last understand the law citizens and police work under. The difference between criminal and civil, and between law and policy. Where no criminal liability can or could exist policy violations might, and they may result in discipline. Understanding the difference is important. Understand that the laws that allow you to use force to defend yourself as a citizen, when that force is reasonable based on what you reasonably perceive is happening, applies equally to the police.

    Some seem to want to create all sorts of caveats for police officers up to and including that they should be fired upon first before engaging the threat. It may be part of my job to risk my life (we do not, in fact, get paid to risk our lives, that is a misconception), it is certainly not part of the job to allow a perpetrator the first shot at taking it before i respond. It is not reasonable to expect that officers place themselves any more behind the curve, and risk their lives in these occasional incidents, than they already do. Our lives matter, too.
    Last edited by Hissho; 2nd January 2016 at 22:10.

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    The media are far from perfect, but counterclaims that only the police and prosecutors have all the answers, or share them if they do, are demonstrably false. As are claims that the rules are the same for us and them.

    Via The Atlantic:

    The Laws and Rules That Protect Police Who Kill
    Despite the political pressure to prosecute cops in cases like Tamir Rice’s, the current system grants enormous leeway to officers who employ lethal force
    Nullius in verba

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    And there we have the crux of issue. Prosecutors and police don't have all the answers, no one said they did - but they, and judges, and the juries, and the DOJ in a case like Ferguson have all the facts. Personally I would prefer decisions in these cases to be made objectively, and with all the facts at hand. Others have different standards.

    A prosecutor who chooses to follow the law despite political pressure is a role model, in my book. Baltimore is a horrible example of one who did not have the courage to make the right decision and rather chose to pass that job on to others. Once again, others would prefer we have a different standard.

    The rules, in fact, are the same. Adolescents with guns have murdered before, and will murder again. Someone points what you reasonably believe to be a gun at you, you are well within your rights as a citizen of this country to use deadly force. Whether you are a police officer citizen or a private citizen. Its called self defense. However tragic and preventable that outcome may have been - Tamir could have never pointed the gun at the officers in the first place, and the officers might not have driven up so closely (which was a tactical error).

    Not trying to convince you Todd, you clearly won't be. If you would make a cogent argument and provide some alternatives yourself in terms of what we might do to handle this, rather than another biased cut and paste that mis-characterizes (sp) and misunderstands the issue, I can only assume you are in this for the sport and not meaningful discussion. And I won't play that game.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hissho View Post
    And there we have the crux of issue. Prosecutors and police don't have all the answers, no one said they did - but they, and judges, and the juries, and the DOJ in a case like Ferguson have all the facts. Personally I would prefer decisions in these cases to be made objectively, and with all the facts at hand. Others have different standards.

    A prosecutor who chooses to follow the law despite political pressure is a role model, in my book. Baltimore is a horrible example of one who did not have the courage to make the right decision and rather chose to pass that job on to others. Once again, others would prefer we have a different standard.
    It has been increasingly shown that cameras are turned off, recordings edited, evidence planted, and stories made to cover up misconduct. Very few people have all the facts, and those that do are loath to allow anyone, let alone the public, examine them. It has also been shown that regardless of prosecutor action, the vast majority of peace officers are never indicted for criminal actions.

    The rules, in fact, are the same. Adolescents with guns have murdered before, and will murder again. Someone points what you reasonably believe to be a gun at you, you are well within your rights as a citizen of this country to use deadly force. Whether you are a police officer citizen or a private citizen. Its called self defense. However tragic and preventable that outcome may have been - Tamir could have never pointed the gun at the officers in the first place, and the officers might not have driven up so closely (which was a tactical error).
    The rules may be the same in theory, but it has been shown over and over that in practice this is not so. The Tamir Rice incident has been dissected and commented upon a great deal, and is really one of those cases where c'est la vie is a terrible cop out.

    Not trying to convince you Todd, you clearly won't be. If you would make a cogent argument and provide some alternatives yourself in terms of what we might do to handle this, rather than another biased cut and paste that mis-characterizes (sp) and misunderstands the issue, I can only assume you are in this for the sport and not meaningful discussion. And I won't play that game.
    I assure you this is not for sport. It's rather to highlight the huge gap in perception and attitudes between peace officers and the general public. You appear to regard us with some disdain. An increasingly large portion of the public views you with distrust. It's something worth talking about.
    Nullius in verba

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    I can see where you are coming from and respect your right to air your views. Sadly we won't be able to resolve anything here.

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    This is a good thread and I would not like to see it die solely because of the entrenched positions from which people argue. This will be a long post, so please bear with me.

    For several years I served on two committees here in Hiroshima. I did a ten-year stint on both committees and this gave me a very good vantage point from which to view some social issues that are germane to this thread and also an earlier thread on Guardians vs. Warriors (which, to my mind, is a far more important issue).

    One committee was a local police committee (協議会, in Japanese), which was really a 'citizens’ support group', composed of the heads of community relations groups (町内会, in Japanese), and, unusually for this sort of group, a foreigner, myself, who also happened to be the resident ‘academic’. I was asked to be a member because the police were worried about potentially criminal elements among the 1,000-odd overseas students registered at Hiroshima University. The committee met four times annually and all the section chiefs of the local police station were present and gave reports on their own sections. This offered a very good view of the type of crimes committed by a conservative farming community situated in rural Japan.

    The other committee (懇談会, in Japanese) was quite different. It was composed entirely of foreign residents and the Japanese participants in the meetings were the heads of the Human Rights Division of the Hiroshima city government, who were there mainly to answer questions and report back to the Mayor. The purpose of the committee, which has since become a permanent council, was to provide authoritative feedback to the city government’s policies regarding foreign residents. The reason why I mention this committee is that we conducted a fairly detailed survey on foreign perceptions concerning living here – and policing did not figure at all as an issue requiring attention. The police are generally regarded as conservative, probably racist in some vague, undefined sense, but do not impinge on the lives of most foreign residents here. Where they do impinge, there is usually a good reason for this.

    My stint on the police committee showed that the police generally enjoy a high level of public support. Consequently, there is a high level of public trust in the methods used by the police in relation to the communities they serve. The basis for this level of trust is the shared values that the police and the community possess. It is ironic that although Japan is seen as an exemplar of a ‘warrior culture’, the local police do not see themselves as warriors, standing on the front line facing a potentially hostile population.

    In the last paragraph I mentioned values and these are crucial; their importance extends even to describing and interpreting such seemingly objective items as facts.

    When I was a graduate student living in the US, I never had any contact with the police. Here in Hiroshima, I was involved in two road accidents and these involved encounters with the police that were quite different from those on the police committee – and in the case of the second accident, the one influenced the other.

    One day, as I was out on my motorbike, I hit an elderly lady who stepped out in front of me on a pedestrian crossing. The crossing had flashing lights, and pedestrians had to press a button to make the lights change. The lady did not do this, but simply stepped out into the road – as she had probably done several times before. Later, at the local police station, I was asked to reconstruct what happened and, more importantly, asked how I thought the accident could have been prevented. The point of this was not to define the old lady’s actions and intentions in any way, but to define mine: what could I have done to prevent the accident that I did not do? Only certain answers were considered acceptable.

    Later we did what the police call a gemba kensa (現場検査: investigation at the scene). We went back to the scene of the accident, the police stopped the traffic, and drew chalk marks on the road indicating such events as where I first saw the old lady, when I realized I would hit her, the actual point of the impact, and where my bike and I finally ended up.

    As a result of this investigation, the police sent the case to the public prosecutors and my insurance company conducted another, separate, gemba kensa. Eventually, I was summoned to the public prosecutors and had an interview. To my surprise, the prosecutor strongly suggested that if events had happened in the way the police had alleged, I was attempting suicide. Since this was not the case, the police had wrongly interpreted the facts – and this is how it turned out. I received a postcard informing me that I had no case to answer. (In the case of the second accident, the police attending the scene were led by the chief of the road transport section himself. Since the accident was clearly the fault of the other party, who had ignored the red traffic lights at an intersection, the outcome was the same. However, I was asked similar questions, especially how I thought the accident could have been avoided by further action or inaction on my part.)

    To my mind, the questions asked by the police indicate a general frame within which the facts are isolated and then interpreted. The fact that both the public prosecutor and my insurance company interpreted the so-called facts differently suggests that this general frame (in Erving Goffman’s sense of frame) played quite an important role. Of course, one could suggest that the insurance company was inevitably biased, since they would stand to lose money. However, they lost money anyway – for my insurance company had to meet the costs of the old lady’s hospitalization and eventually had to pay out 20 million Japanese yen in ‘condolence’ money. On the other hand, the public prosecutors are supposed to act independently of the police and they reached different conclusions from considering precisely the same evidence that the police collected.

    I should add that Japanese police are armed and so all the officers who attended the scene of the accidents carried guns. But it would not have entered our collective heads – their heads or mine – to assume that they were likely to use them. Unlike the USA, Japan does not have a gun culture and Japanese do not have the general frame of reference which assumes that the individual right to bear arms has the sanctity of Holy Writ – and I have read many of the arguments concerning the interpretation of the 2nd Amendment.
    Peter Goldsbury,
    Forum Administrator,
    Hiroshima, Japan

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    Actually Peter, it sounds like your accident example worked pretty much along the same lines: a police investigation determines that there is "enough" to send a criminal case forward for a second look (or, due to the nature of the accident (a ped was struck), their policy, or what have you, they are required to do so in such cases, perhaps even required to come to some kind of conclusion administratively before forwarding).

    The prosecutor reviews the evidence and decides that there is no case - or that the case is so tenuous as to be not likely winnable in criminal court. This also happens in the U.S.

    Your insurance company makes a civil investigation (different from criminal, and - in the US at least - with a lower standard of proof) and determines that either due to their liability, or based on a business decision (going to court can be more expensive than settling even if you win), decides to pay out.

    Pretty much how it works...

    Not sure where you are going with the last statement. You can rest assured in the vast, vast, majority of police contacts every day in the United States, the police are armed, and it never enters anyone's heads that those guns may be used. Remember, even the vast majority of use of force is empty hand control. The use of force is rare compared to the total number of police contacts; use of deadly force rare compared to the total number of uses of force.

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    Wanted to add: I've made the point about having the facts available before drawing - or jumping to - a conclusion. That is better put all the evidence available that points to the most likely fact pattern.

    But far more goes into the decision making in criminal and civil cases than evidence or facts. The whole point of the defense in many criminal cases is to point to alternative conclusions to the evidence. Or to mistakes in the gathering of the evidence to disallow it or create reservations about it. In light of all that, there is still only so much one can do to go against a clear case with overwhelming evidence, or only so far one can go on an unclear case to make it "beyond a reasonable doubt." A mistake or series of mistakes - known only in hindsight- cannot be criminal unless negligence is shown. In the absence of provable negligence civil remedies may apply. That means a settlement, and probably changes in training and policy. I have seen this in action my entire career. It is not perfect but perfect decision making every time cannot be expected.

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    Default A thousand people shot and killed by police in 2015 - What does that really mean?

    From a study by the Washington Post (this is a cut/paste from the Journal of Force Science, not my work):

    From the vast quantity of findings posted on the website, the Post highlights what it considers six key "takeaways":
    • In three-fourths of the shootings, "police were under attack or defending someone who was. Of the suspects killed, 28% were "shooting at officers or someone else," 16% were "attacking with other weapons or physical force, and 31% were pointing a gun."
    • 9% of people shot and killed by police were unarmed. "Unarmed black men were seven times as likely as unarmed whites to die from police gunfire. Overall, more than half of those killed had guns" in their possession, "16% had knives, and 5% attempted to hit officers with their vehicles. Three percent had toy weapons, typically replicas...indistinguishable from the real thing."
    • Mental illness played a role in one-quarter of the shootings and about nine in 10 of the mentally ill killed were armed, "usually with guns but also with knives or other sharp objects." More than half of the fatalities involved police agencies that "had not provided officers with state-of-the-art training to de-escalate such encounters."
    • One-quarter of the shootings involved suspects fleeing on foot or in a vehicle, "making chases one of the most common scenarios in the data." About a third of vehicle pursuits that ended up with fatal shots fired began with a traffic stop for a minor infraction.
    • Indictments of police officers in shooting cases tripled in 2015, compared with previous years. Although more officers were indicted, "the outcome of such cases improved for officers. Five of the seven cases tried [during the year] ended with the officer acquitted or with a mistrial.... Over the previous decade, one-third of officers charged in shooting cases were convicted of crimes ranging from misdemeanor reckless discharge of a firearm to felony murder."
    • 6% of the fatalities were captured by body cameras, and in more than half the shooting cases in which LEOs were indicted criminally in 2015, "prosecutors cited video evidence against officers" from police or civilian cameras--twice as often as in the previous decade. "The widespread availability of video of police shootings...has been a primary factor in the rising number of indictments of officers," the Post notes.
    In sum, the Post states: "The great majority of people who died at the hands of the police fit at least one of three categories: they were wielding weapons, they were suicidal or mentally troubled, or they ran when officers told them to halt....
    For each of its highlighted "takeaways," the Post supplies detailed case histories, observations by professionals, and supplementary statistics that help to flesh out the finding--much more material to chew through than would occupy mere idle moments.
    For the most part, the information is factually and dispassionately presented, although at times, as the National Review points out, the Post's reputation as a left-leaning journal creeps through. One of the investigative team in a TV interview has said that she believes the findings show that police do disproportionately target black males beyond what seems demographically justified.

    WHAT THE FINDINGS MEAN, PER THE NATIONAL REVIEW
    The National Review, a politically conservative publication, headlines its commentary on what the Post's data add up to thusly: "The Numbers Are in: Black Lives Matter Is Wrong about Police."
    The article is authored by staff writer David French, a Bronze Star recipient from military service in Iraq and an attorney specializing in "constitutional law and the law of armed conflict."
    Since Ferguson, French writes, the nation has been "bombarded with assertions that...black Americans risk being gunned down by police simply because of the color of their skin." But now, data from the Post's year-long "unprecedented, case-by-case study of police shootings" confirm that: "The police use force mainly to protect human life, the use of force against unarmed suspects is rare, and the use of force against black Americans is largely proportional to their share of the violent crime rate."
    He points out, from the Post's findings, that "the kinds of shootings that launched the Black Lives Matter movement--white police officers killing unarmed black men--represent 'less than 4% of fatal police shootings.' The Post does its best to hype the racial injustice of this statistic, proclaiming that while 'black men make up only 6% of the US population, they account for 40% of the unarmed men shot to death by police.'
    "But that claim," French insists, "is misleading on a number of counts.... Crime doesn't break down on neat, proportionate demographic lines. Criminals are overwhelmingly male...and violent criminals are disproportionately black."
    Statistics show, he says, that blacks "commit homicide at close to eight times the rate of whites and Hispanics combined," with the "interracial homicide commission gap" even greater among teenage males. While black Americans constitute only about 13% of the population, they represent "a majority of the homicide and robbery arrests.
    "Given these disturbing disparities," French writes, "no rational person would expect police shootings to precisely track with demographics. Police follow crime, and they tend to operate in high-crime areas. It would be alarming if there were statistically significant racial variations in the use of force even after adjusting for crime rate, but the Post's report doesn't make this distinction."
    Based on the findings, "the chances of an innocent black man being gunned down by racist cops are vanishingly small," French concludes. "And that is good news indeed."
    He acknowledges that "the report does highlight areas where law-enforcement agencies could do better--improved training in handling fleeing or mentally ill suspects could save lives, for example--and while police are generally responsible in the use of force, that doesn't mean that all use of force is lawful. There are individual racist cops, and there are departments that will close ranks behind corrupt colleagues."
    But while conscientious efforts to improve are made, "the Post's valuable study, fairly read, should defuse national tensions," French writes.
    Unfortunately, in his opinion, it won't, however. "The [anti-police] narrative is too strong, and too many powerful people have too much to gain by ratcheting up racial tensions. So Black Lives Matter will likely roll on, and still more black Americans will be taught to hate and fear law enforcement, fed on a steady diet of lies...."

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