Thursday, January 19, 2017

'De-policing' meme dishonors those who sacrificed

The Austin police union president claimed the city is becoming victim of "de-policing" because, over the weekend, police did not immediately shoot and kill a man at the very first opportunity, although they did so later. "They could have used that force earlier, but they didn't," he told KVUE.
[Ken] Casaday said the officers waiting to use deadly force may be a result of something called "de-policing," a trend he sees happening across the country. 
"Officers are feeling so much pressure from the scrutiny the media have put on them. They just are not making the stops and taking the risks that they used to... Sometimes it's just easier to go out and answer your calls and not be proactive, because really when officers are proactive is when they get in trouble," Casaday said. 
In Austin, Casaday said de-policing started after former officer, Geoffrey Freeman, shot and killed a naked and unarmed David Joseph last year. A shooting that cost Freeman his job, even though he was criminally cleared.
This is the "Ferguson effect" argument recycled. Since this meme first arose, Grits has never understood why law enforcement spokesmen would suggest something so insulting to their own profession. Basically, the argument seems to be that officers will stop doing their jobs if people criticize them. For my part, I've never known a police officer with that mindset, so it's a bit jarring to see this I'm-too-big-a-pansy-to-do-my-job meme asserted as some sweeping mentality that's gripping the entire profession. I suppose it could be true, but Grits finds it unlikely and thinks there are other explanations for the data

Further, the argument tarnishes the nobility of sacrifice by people like Little Elm Det. Jerry Walker, who died in a standoff with a gunman this week in which the suspect was also killed. He didn't shirk his duty or fail to step up when it was time. And it doesn't honor the memory of officers who've lost their lives to portray the bulk of the profession as cowards who would fail to risk such a sacrifice if the public were in danger because criticism had wounded their pride. Not only is that libelous meme untrue, it undermines public trust needed for the policing relationship to work.

Before the Ferguson-effect meme, when Grits heard the word "de-policing" I usually thought of officers faking cases to satisfy numbers-driven policing demands, like drug-arrest quotas generating dozens of false convictions in Tulia, detectives and informants framing illegal immigrants in the Dallas fake drug scandal, or more recently, police officers in Arlington turning in fake tickets for traffic stops they never performed. These cases aren't so much about officers shirking their duty because of media scrutiny as they are aggressive but overworked officers in agencies with poor supervision feeling pressure to make big numbers. That's a bigger concern to me than the idea that police officers may cease performing their duties because some protester or columnist said something rude about them.

It's rather shocking to me that a police union boss would attribute such unprincipled motives to his members. IMO he's not doing them any favors.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

Grits, I prefer to take the middle ground. Police are taking less chances and acting more cautiously, in part over increased scrutiny. Why that becomes a case of police supposedly shirking their duties instead of simply showing a willingness to evaluate situations more thoroughly is interesting. Sure, the union hack played it up too much the wrong way but ultimately, most of us here expect police to be more judicious in shooting people and in the discharge of their duties, you promote as much all the time.

Anonymous said...

I don't think it's columnists and protesters that the officers are worried about. For crying out loud, look what happened to Darren Wilson and the officers in the Freddie Gray case. Given the opportunity to think about it, what officer in his/her right mind would want to be subjected to a racially charged criminal investigation and/or prosecution? As we speak, there are bills filed in the Texas Legislature seeking to remove the grand jury secrecy provisions on cases involving allegations of police misconduct and/or officer involved shootings. Even those officers who are cleared will be forever tainted with having been the target of a "grand jury investigation." I tend to agree with 1:35 above. At a minimum, I think there's now an added layer of deliberativeness on the part of many officers who find themselves with the opportunity to consider whether and to what degree to intervene in potentially confrontational situations. Without a doubt, there may likely be a reduction in the number of questionable uses of force. But that same added layer of deliberation or caution is also likely to result in more exposure to victims and a society that depends on the police to protect them.

The Comedian said...

This is the Trump effect: loud-mouthed blowhards who love to dish out criticism of others but are too thin-skinned to take any themselves.

Anonymous said...

Careful guys, Grits will start deleting comments if they are too pro-police or too far off his stated opinion...just watch.

Anonymous said...

Nothing more repulsive than a pedophile, and more than 62,000 police officers have been convcited of child sex crimes just in the past 4-years alone. Documented, and indisputable, all 62,000 cases: https://www.facebook.com/PoliceOfficersRapingKids/.

Anonymous said...

@7:48-

Start your own blog. Post all the "pro-police" comments you want. No need to post unsubstantiated comments here.

You may not always agree with GFB's posts, but typically he posts several outside links that corroborate his view points. If you don't agree with the links, there's always FoxNews or Breibart you can latch onto.

Anonymous said...

@8:43, Why would anyone believe the rants of someone who uses a self created Facebook page as evidence?

@11:07, Grits does routinely delete opinions he disagrees with, no matter how well researched or logical they might be. This is his blog and he can do that as he sees fit but I have seen it happen a great deal of late and not just from those without a credible source like @8:43, a regular here for some time that is left untouched, but rational people that usually agree with GFB. The purpose of any comments section is to encourage discourse so if GFB doesn't like being challenged on occasion, he should disable the feature.

CZ said...

A department may have a bad apple or few. What is getting more attention nowadays is the whole department back up the bad apple that is spoiling their barrel.
Police need to clean up their acts and quit with the victimless crimes get rid of the bullies and be answerable to the people rather than their unions.
The department should have come down heavy on that cop who arrested the woman and daughter when she called about the guy who choked her son for littering.
Stop shooting so many dogs.
Don't blow babies faces off with the grenades.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@7:48/11:50, that's actually BS, I don't delete comments I disagree with and in fact encourage them. I learn a lot from commenter disagreements.

I DO delete comments which are a) abusive or libelous toward others, and more rarely, which b) continue to spread false information after it's been corrected. But I don't do those things that often. If you've had a comment deleted, it's for one of those two reasons, guaranteed. And I'd certainly do it again. So play nice. Don't lie.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@1:35, agreed that greater caution in police shootings should be praised. That's why this meme is so perverse.

@2:31, most proponents of Ferguson-effect themes blame the media; if you do not, that's particularly level-headed of you, but an outlier. Because it's not in TX and my bandwidth is limited, I didn't follow the Freddie Gray case closely. But the guy who shot David Joseph SHOULD have been fired. The kid was naked. As Art Acevedo said, if the officer couldn't find another way to deal with the situation besides shooting him, he should find a different profession.

Anonymous said...

CZ, in any big police department, most officers are not going to know what happens on other shifts or in other geographic areas than their own. As such, their primary sources of information are the informal grapevine of people they work with and the media. Guess which of the two sources tends to offer the quickest and most reliable information. According to popular belief, all police must be omniscient about "bad" cops whether they knew of such, heard rumors, or should just rely on fourth hand media accounts. That's as crazy as expecting every secretary working for the Exxon corporation to know what every other secretary is working on and every detail about their private life....it's just not a practical expectation. Union representatives generally have a legal obligation to defend members to a degree, either with a lawyer or asking people to wait for the facts to come out, or both. To some here, having a lawyer means the officer is guilty in a way that would cause howls were it applied to any other person accused of a crime. As far as how a department handles a matter, that is up to the chief, commissioner, or mayor, nobody caring one bit what the rest of the department thinks any more than they put it up to a vote of residents.

Personally, I'm all for strong civil service protection against politics entering into decisions just as I'm all for raising standards of hiring and adding regular evaluations of employees in such high stress positions. I think Houston will fare better with Art than Austin ever did, Grits able to offer some insight since he's been tracking so much of what the chief has done over the years.

Anonymous said...

Grits, this is 7:48. I disagree with your comments at 6:18 based on the fact that my comments in a previous thread were in fact deleted based not on lies, libel, or abusive nature.

From the recent thread on municipal courts:
"Now that you've included details, we find out that your friend had a warrant and a speeding ticket, the fines totaling $460. She worked close to a full week to discharge the debt at the court's given rate. You took exception with the rate that the court uses because some non-profits value the work higher than anyone else. Not to piss in your punch but the non-profits, as a rule, do not actually PAY anything close to these rates you're quoting when they are coughing up the money themselves. I've worked for some of them and for unsupervised chore work assigned in many such cases, they paid closer to minimum wage, NOT $23.50.If your indigent friend was involved in handling some high level planning work or providing detailed legal advice in conjunction with credible expertise in an area, than your argument would hold more water."

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@12:38, I suppose your comments could have been off topic, that's the other thing that can get you.

Otherwise, on muni courts, my reference was to the amount they're crediting those volunteers' labor as compared to what the city credits it. I linked to the source for the higher number, it's not my creation. Both numbers are economic fictions, and somewhat arbitrary. I just think, all things considered, that the community service rate is set too low and the nonprofit in-kind rate is closer to what's reasonable.

Anonymous said...

Police unions take the kill first then ask questions approach of Ken Casaday better known as judge Roy Bean will change. He is simply dangerous to the public.

The Comedian said...

In truth, this is a problem in many professions. Cops cover for cops, doctors cover for doctors, lawyers cover for lawyers, educators cover for educators, office holders cover for office holders (that's why no war crimes charges re: Iraq or charges against fraudulent bankers and Wall Streeters re: 2008 recession), etc. Of course large donations to public officials help keep the sheriff from the door as well.

Whenever one hears the phrase, "We police ourselves", coming from any profession, it should be interpreted as a variation on Sgt. Schultz, "We see nothing, we hear nothing, we know nothing", in most cases.

Action is only taken when accusations or charges become widespread public knowledge and the public aggressively demands action be taken. Otherwise, it's business as usual.

Anonymous said...

Comedian, rather than look at it as professionals covering for other professionals in these areas of expertise, couldn't it be reasonably surmised that given their expertise and familiarity with whatever issues arise, they have better understanding of how to deal with problems that arise? I see the BAR discipline members all the time and medical boards across the country do likewise, the biggest point of contention is usually those outside a field always want much harsher punishment than those inside. Might that be because the context of a given decision is more meaningfully looked at by someone with enough knowledge to understand the details?

Painting with such a broad brush as you've done above makes me wonder where the happy compromise point would be. For cops, the laws are written to allow them to use deadly force when they feel threatened so they use language to describe shootings like "I was in fear for my life" and it is acceptable to grand juries. There are many places where I would never dare walk down the street at night by myself, armed or not, and I assure you my fear is credible given area crime statistics. While I am not a cop, it doesn't take too much imagination to understand placing one in such an area and then ramping up the threat level with reports of someone shooting at others, to understand why any system based on such a nebulous emotion as fear is going to generate more dead bodies than I would care for.

Regarding the phrase about policing themselves, every police department has external groups reviewing their decisions or internal investigations so that just isn't credible. The department investigates, the county investigates, potentially the state and feds do as well as grand juries. If you set up another independent, outside group, how long would it be before their daily interactions would just make them an extension of the body they were investigating? These are all very real questions with no single correct answer, and in effect, if de-policing means more cautious cops, I think many law abiding citizens are okay with that up to a point.

Anonymous said...

To 7:54..that is just self justification b.s.. why not let everyone govern themself then? We don't allow that..or rather we shouldn't..because we bypass the rules and laws that are in place for a very good reason . Shame on you

Michael said...

7:54A - your articulation is very reasonable and thought through, to which I agree.

9:45A - your articulation is lacking and you might had well had just "grunted".

The Comedian said...

@7:54, I have many years postdoctoral experience in my field of expertise (healthcare) and have been aware of many of these types of situations (misjudgments, errors, mistakes and sometimes deliberate wrongdoing kept quiet) during my career. Most of these situations did not result in harm to anyone except perhaps a few bruised egos. A few did result in serious consequences and even death (e.g. failing to administer medication ordered by an on-call MD because the nurse knew that the notoriously ill-tempered primary MD believed the patient was malingering and "medication seeking" - the nurse was fired and lost her license). I heard of most of these situations through the grapevine and did not have firsthand knowledge. In my experience whistle blowers tend to be punished more than the miscreants themselves. I do not mean to paint with a broad brush. Generalizations and stereotypes about groups of people are always incorrect.

This is really an age-old question that ultimately has no satisfactory answer: "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?", meaning "Who will guard the guards themselves?" and usually translated as, "Who watches the watchers?"

Perhaps it will take superior artificial intelligence to answer these questions. But then we may all fear the verdict.

Anonymous said...

Sour grapes Michael ? Lol

jack west said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jack west said...

we need to put MORE PRESSURE on the police, particularly in Austin, where they don't have a charter for a police department or force, thus they are just security guards MAKE THEM ALL ANSWER TO ALL THAT THEY DO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

BarkGrowlBite said...

The memes "Ferguson Effect" and "De-Policing" are for real and do not dishonor those cops who sacrificed their lives. Police officers are now reluctant to look for signs of criminality because they fear being victimized by the media, by a shitstorm of social media jerks, and by politically motivated prosecutors if they have to resort to deadly force. So, they are backing off pro-active policing.

Uber-liberals believe that cops get up in the morning, look in the mirror, and say "I wonder how many citizens can I shoot today?" The last thing any cop wants to do is to shoot someone.

07:54, you made a good point when you said, "There are many places where I would never dare walk down the street at night by myself, armed or not." And yet that's where cops are assigned to work and often in 'one-man' units.

Anonymous said...

pleaseeeeeeeee bark growl....all people are asking for is for cops to not shoot unarmed citizens..are you really that stupid?? Why..yes obviously you are!

BarkGrowlBite said...

11:53, what's obvious here is that you do not have the slightest clue as to what it's like to walk in the shoes of a police officer.

When folks from the media were put through a police 'shoot-don't-shoot' exercise, they ended up shooting targets that represented unarmed innocent people. Most of those unarmed people shot by cops were perceived to be armed and a threat to the life of the officer. Some of those unarmed people were shot while struggling with the cop and trying to grab his gun. And going back to Ferguson, an unarmed Michael Brown was in a position and had the capability of killing Officer Darren Wilson with his bare hands.

Furthermore, there are some 800,000 law enforcement officers in the United States. In that light, it is amazing that so few civilians are shot every year.

Before you call someone stupid, I suggest you take a close look in the mirror.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

"... amazing that so few civilians are shot every year"?

Nope, BGB, not really "amazed." "Horrified," I believe is the word you are looking for.

Many of your posts purport to describe how "liberals" think and in my experience nearly every comment you make on that front is 100% ridiculous, e.g., "liberals believe that cops get up in the morning, look in the mirror, and say "I wonder how many citizens can I shoot today?" If you would not have us call that comment "stupid," BGB, at a minimum it is a smarmy non-sequitur, arguing against positions no serious person has ever taken. That IS stupid; whether it's because you are dumb or whether you just think it's politically useful to make dumb, red herring arguments that fail to address the points you're supposedly countering, a reader cannot say. I tend to think it's the latter, but admittedly, I'm guessing.

Anonymous said...

RE 07:38:00.....Well said Grits..well said!

BarkGrowlBite said...

Grits, thank you for your thoughtful analysis. It is well known that you have a history of catering to the anti-police crowd. I would respond, but you cannot argue with a blockhead!

Anonymous said...

So BGB, to you, what is an acceptable number of unarmed citizen police shootings? For me, I think that number is zero. But hey, what is a human life worth anyway? To you, apparently not much..so long as its not your own??

You don't have to be "anti-police" to not want the citizens of this country to be gunned down. It's like Grits said, you make ridiculous, smarmy non-sequitur, red-herring arguments...and always have. I am sure if you or a member of your family were the victim of an unarmed police shooting you would raise absolute hell. You come across as the old guy yelling at the kids "STAY OFF MY LAWN!!" You are just another hater...but like they say "Haters gotta hate".

Anonymous said...

BGB - I agree with you.

Anonymous said...

BarkGrowlBite, I think the whole premise of unarmed people posing no serious threat to an officer is something that shows a complete lack of understanding on the part of those who bring it up. For one, they typically only mean unarmed with a gun, as though nothing else could harm a person and for another, I can tell you that if some Michael Brown sized man is choking you and you're "average" in size, you're going to die if he sees fit to complete his task. So yes, when someone without the intellect needed to understand the complexities of the many ways a person can pose a danger to another starts flapping their gums, I admit to dismissing most of what they have to say.

Still, removing the self-selecting losers that try to grab officer's guns or struggle with them, or even those who act like they have a weapon, there are some occasions when police should have backed off, should have found another way to address a problem, or just should have used more common sense. We pay them to take the risks we don't want to take and enforce the laws we enact so they are going to face plenty of scrutiny, like it or not. If their first reaction, as a group, is to limit their contact with the public as much as possible, I think they are not living up to expectations either. In Texas, they largely get a free pass when the dust clears, the law allowing such by making the standard for tying deadly force to a very vague level about fear, so while there are many that paint with a broad brush about "all cops" doing everything from covering things up, supporting those who do, or are hostile to all people, most citizens understand and react understandably when they are confronted with the facts of each shooting.

And if you include the military police, there are more than a million cops of one flavor or another in our country, the bulk of deaths by them shooting someone understandable, but not all. Conservatives understand that and are not going to change things to suit the hand wringing crowd but we expect the police to keep bad shootings to a minimum, and not to shy away from doing their job because some whiners want to canonize the latest thug before facts show what really happened.