Policing at a Crossroads

           . . . same crossroads all things eventually reach when they start down the road toward humanism, or just plain exist, moving like the rest of us into the future. At some point in the train robbery, you have to commit to letting go of your horse and holding on to the train. The period where you still have both options is dangerous, so safety dictates it be short. I know, sorry.

 

          I’ll go straight to it, but it’ll take a minute still – still sorry.

 

          I caught a headline somewhere, most likely Twitter, some person got released from a wrongful conviction, and got paid some great amount for damages, which got me thinking. Of course, the first NPLP (something I’m trying to start – Namby Pamby Liberal Pussy. Folks like me.) thought is ‘Yes! Science has saved another wrongly convicted man from police machinations!’ and yes, there could be a racial aspect to the story, I mean of course, there always could be, but the picture was of a black fellow.

 

          Then of course, I sort of globalized the concept, like I enjoy way too much, started to wonder, if there are say, a thousand such cases in a given place during a given period, then how many of the thousand were non-criminal innocents and how many might have deserved their sentences or worse for crimes they weren’t prosecuted for and/or convicted of? I mean, surely, if the police can be known to have railroaded an innocent black man into prison, then it is probably not beneath their morals to have set some heinous, dangerous criminals up for solid wrongful convictions either.

 

          So, the first RWN (Right Wing Nutjob, something that’s a normal epithet on a site I play on, Thoughts.com) thought following that probably is, I hope somebody is reviewing which sorts of folks they’re setting free, like trying to make sure the newly free drug-related convicts really are only that or something. And, yeah, we always hope for some local knowledge, some attention to detail. Numbers games are always error-riddled.

 

          But for me, again, trying to globalize, trying to see the social implications of all things punishment-related, this is it here.

 

          That second practice must have felt pretty justifiable, if the cop knew, for sure, that his target’s incarceration would make the public a good deal safer, that if in short, the end really was justification for some evil means. However, technology, humanism and morality have moved on in this case, specifically, the old setup tactics are failing now because some humanists, someone who cares, have applied DNA testing etc. and caught the police cheating.

 

          In the long term, each generation gets treated better than the last, and they each learn to expect to be. We expect moral circles to expand, and we are viewing moral issues in a more egalitarian, more logical way with each decade as well, and one result of that process is this. We want to hold our police to the law more than we perhaps have in the past. Police forces evolved because the wealthy found their prosperity to be more stable when the King tried and punished crimes, rather than living with the endless feuding produced by the previous vendetta sort of system where families looked after offenders to their interests privately. So police came into being long before modern democracies. Now, we are taxpayers and the police don’t work for the King anymore, they work for us. So the time honoured tactic of setting a man up to please the policeman’s employers, now, looks as criminal as it always did, except worse.

 

          Worse, because the victim is supposed to be the boss. Worse, because it’s now our moral issue, because we’re the boss. Can’t blame it on the King anymore, it’s us. Now that it is, I think we think the police are supposed to do their jobs and somehow succeed while never straying across the line of the law themselves for the very good reason that when they stray, it’s sometimes against us. I don’t imagine anyone has escaped the image of an experienced cop’s disdain for the idea, and fair enough, I get it, I do. It’s violence for violence, the experience is real, the danger is real . . . but still. As true and undeniable as that is, it’s still, I’m sorry, not that meaningful, uh . . . scientifically, yes, even for social science. Anecdotal, to be sure, but not only that. The thing is, all that is life as viewed from the past, from horseback. Our societies, and our police forces are at the choice-point now, still feeling the ongoing trauma of our authoritarian ways of the past and still trying to keep a grip on it, but we also have one hand on the train of the future, where mass media and big data are starting to show us who we really are.

 

          So when the King’s dragoons abuse their position, it’s a moral crime, sure, but he’s the King, he’s responsible and we’re not. When our tax-funded, public police do, it’s our moral crime, we’re responsible, and in democratic societies like ours we need to do something about it. That is our job, to vote intelligently and not support evil, law and order politicians.

 

          For the police, that is the crossroads we’re at. Yes, we have in the past turned a blind eye to some over-stepping on the part of the police, but now here we are, taxed and paying for it. Any herd of herbivores tolerates the presence of the predators, perhaps, the wildebeests live with the lions as a fact of life – but I don’t think they would if they had to pay for it too. I think this crossroads perhaps adds up to a slight change in job description for the police, an acknowledgement of the democratic nature of our society and who’s working for who.

 

          Specifically?

 

          What if we did let’s say, refresh our commitment to the police staying on the right side of the law themselves? We the people might try to remember that the goal, eventually, must certainly be a lawful world where at least the police aren’t criminals too. Sorry, also not very specific. Let’s just brainstorm a bit, point form.

 

<!--[if !supportLists]-->-        <!--[endif]-->It might not be going too far to suggest that police need to lose a few more fights to regain public sympathy. Personally, I reserve my concern for the people who lose the vast majority of the fights. Today, the police don’t look vulnerable enough to justify their shoot first policies. I think non-lethal weaponry in the hands of the police would go a long way towards building some public trust for the police, and for that to happen, there has to be some sense that police casualties are indeed a negotiable thing, as long as there are so many more citizen casualties. As long as the life of a single cop is supposed to be worth more than any number of citizens, we’re going to be in conflict and in that sense, police are creating social problems rather than solving them.

 

<!--[if !supportLists]-->-        <!--[endif]--> 

 

<!--[if !supportLists]-->-        <!--[endif]-->I actually like the idea of this possibly fictional ‘Ferguson Effect.’ If the police are really engaged in a sort of work slow-down action to protest the growing public scrutiny of them or to avoid getting themselves into trouble, that might be a good thing. If they are not going through a door when their only possible security is to kill those folks on the other side, maybe that’s a good thing. Personally, I can imagine that there are ways in which even gang activity and drug dealing are less offensive than state-sponsored murder of criminals. I mean, if this is the conversation?

 

“Hey, Police! Stop shooting unarmed alleged criminals!”

 

“Hey, it’s dangerous out here! Do you want policing or don’t you?”

 

“Yes, but murder is a crime, so it is for you too!”

 

“Hey, it’s my security! Do you want this crime stopped or not?”

 

“Yes – THIS crime, but your crime too!”

 

“Hey, if you haven’t got my back, I ain’t working! If it’s my life at risk, I ain’t going through any more doors. See how you like it when we’re not out there killing criminals for you.”

 

          This adds up to an immediate threat, a pressure play, but what if maybe we call the police’s bluff, what if we stop and think about it for a minute? I say we give it a try, see how it plays out. Whatever happens, we learn something. So here’s my response:

 

“Good idea. Let’s see how it works out. If everything goes to Hell, we’ll make changes again, but for now, yeah. Let’s see how it pans out.”

 

<!--[if !supportLists]-->-        <!--[endif]-->We need to stop arresting people for minor crimes, period. An arrest is an action that is an escalation compared to many of the “crimes” we arrest and detain for, and as such, worse. We need to mail out invoices for fines, and we need to help the miscreants pay the fines – not arrest them and start potentially deadly fights to do it. If we are trying to lessen crime, then we need to stop justifying larger crimes – confinement, violence – by using them to stop smaller ones.

 

 

          So, this is getting long, I’ll stop.

 

          Long and short? As a society, as many societies, we seem to have missed the change, we seem to not have noticed that democratic governments change everything, all the ancient social institutions, and that police forces today work, literally and officially, for the people, all the people. What was police brutality in the past and used to be a private act, the King’s goons working out on His citizens, is now insubordination. Eric Garner was a member of the consortium that employs the NYPD, a citizen, and he was murdered by his own public servants. Ironically, that should offend authoritarians everywhere as well as everyone else.

 

          It stopped being us VS them when we established our democracies, Folks, it’s all us now. Let’s deal with crime generally, not just some people’s crimes. Ours too.

 

 

Jeff

 

 

Nov. 23, 2015

 

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Comments (33)

  1. Bettymom

    Okay, I think – I read the whole thing and probably understand and agree with it. Now I need a nap.

    November 23, 2015
    1. Neighsayer

      I’m sorry . . . not my best. But I’m ambitious!

      November 23, 2015
    2. wirelessguru1

      You really read that whole “damn thing” (rubbish & nonsense)!!!

      November 23, 2015
      1. mrmacq

        shut up you stupid bitch neo

        November 23, 2015
        1. scarletts_letters

          ^ Snort laughed at this, which utterly ruined my whole better than other people smug look after I finished reading this blog.

          November 24, 2015
        2. wirelessguru1

          Buffoon, you shut up!

          November 24, 2015
      2. mrmacq

        we all realize thinking is not your forte
        but why you insist on destroying every thread…just cause ya can…screams volumes towards your low intellect

        November 23, 2015
        1. wirelessguru1

          So buffoon, you speak for all now?
          ..or is it for all the buffoons!? LOL!!!

          November 24, 2015
          1. Neighsayer

            speaks for me! Show of hands?

            November 24, 2015
            1. mrmacq

              November 24, 2015
            2. wirelessguru1

              Of course he/she/it speaks for you, since you are also a buffoon!

              November 24, 2015
            3. mrmacq

              well at least neo is an original
              and thank christ theres not that many selfish little girls about

              November 24, 2015
            4. wirelessguru1

              Well, at least I AM not a buffoon like you two Canadian buffoons!

              November 24, 2015
            5. mrmacq

              your girlish comebacks are getting quite lame neo

              November 24, 2015
            6. wirelessguru1

              Buffoon, only in your wet dreams and fertile imagination, of course.

              November 24, 2015
            7. mrmacq

              “girlish” neo

              November 27, 2015
  2. mrmacq

    it is as you stated
    at a cross roads
    the first worlders are driving the fact home
    excepting of course “them”
    dude
    they still have state sponsored murder
    so that the innocents have lost their voice
    and since they are gone
    no call to have to rethink crap
    a perfect world for the non thinking sort
    the lazy assed bastards get to pretend they were right all along

    November 23, 2015
    1. Neighsayer

      yeah, that’s a truth and something of a secret: abuse is a self-fulfilling sort of thing. If you abuse someone enough, they will turn out to be the sort that proves they must have deserved it . . . so it goes, world without end . . .

      November 24, 2015
      1. mrmacq

        thee perpetual motion machine

        November 24, 2015
      2. wirelessguru1

        Yup, that’s what happens to buffoons…

        November 24, 2015
  3. scarletts_letters

    You be optimistic for me, I can’t do it any more, the older I get the less I think there is free choice, democracy or even lil old free though. I do agree with your thesis, abused people think they deserved it, and may be thats why we don’t complain too much about our overlords.

    November 24, 2015
    1. Neighsayer

      I fear I may only be creating infotainment, but hey, if anyone’s having fun . . .

      November 24, 2015
    2. Neighsayer

      oh there, you see? Cordless is enjoying it . . . I should do m’self in . . .

      November 24, 2015
      1. wirelessguru1

        Yup, I do indeed enjoy seeing how twisted you buffoons really are!
        It is like a test to see who is worse, you or mac-dildo!

        November 24, 2015
        1. mrmacq

          the first time you ever add anything to the convo at hand
          we’re all going to have a celebration

          November 24, 2015
          1. wirelessguru1

            Buffoon, and yet again, what “convo”!?

            November 24, 2015
      2. scarletts_letters

        I was chatting to Zaphod and he went googling Dickless once, ages ago and the guy has been trolling since I was in nappies, imaging how sad it would be to be on your way to your third decade of pretending to be a fictional character for a life? I don’t condone suicide generally but you’d think that he’d feel responsible for wasting oxygen and food that could sustain a real human being right?

        November 27, 2015
        1. mrmacq

          right
          hell
          the oxygen SHE consumes would fulfill the needs of many a generation of lab rats

          November 27, 2015
          1. scarletts_letters

            Sorry yes, SHE!
            Can we put her away for genocide on that?

            November 27, 2015
            1. mrmacq

              all those poor lab rats circumvented the opportunity for life
              squashed by neo’s constant demanding
              .
              i’m good with your suggestion
              sign me up

              November 27, 2015
            2. scarletts_letters

              I’d dearly love to see what is behind that avi, I have a sneaking suspicion I wouldn’t be surprised

              November 27, 2015
            3. mrmacq

              i’m quite sure i’d be disgusted

              November 27, 2015
            4. scarletts_letters

              I am going to go with that, the psychos are usually quite mundane looking the deluded ones are mostly mingers.

              November 28, 2015