crime · law · Life

Cognitive Dissonance in Law Enforcement

There are two stories in the headlines over the past few weeks that are the textbook definition of cognitive dissonance – the ability to hold two conflicting opinions within the same mind. The stories both involve police and the CD-afflicted are police participating in online forums discussing the stories. You never see the two discussed simultaneously, which is why the people involved are able to so easily suspend logic.

Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance

The first story is the shooting of unarmed black teen Michael Brown by Ferguson, MO police officer Darren Wilson. The second story comes from Pennsylvania where Eric Frein allegedly shot two PA State Troopers, killing one. The stories follow similar events and have comparable levels of details available to the public. Those details aren’t important to this essay. What is important are the reactions and comments police officer make about the two cases.

The dichotomy of comments from police can generally be summed up with, “Cops are always right.” When the Ferguson shooting is discussed, the comments are almost always peppered with racism and/or classism, as in, “Why don’t those animals get jobs instead of protesting on my tax money?” (This is an ironic statement in itself since police are paid with taxes.) When the Pennsylvania case is discussed, it’s always with summary judgement, as in, “No trial needed. Put a bullet in his head.”

Both cases involve identical acts of violence against another human being, but because in Ferguson, the shooter wore blue, he is automatically given a pass, even given money, by cops and cop supporters. In Pennsylvania, the victim wore blue, so there is a three-county manhunt ongoing for almost a month and the shooter is prejudged by those wearing the blue. Both discussions are laced with prejudicial comments distorted through the blue glasses of law enforcers. Therein lies the cognitive dissonance. Take away the uniforms in both cases and neither would be worth discussing at all in the eyes of the police community because to them civilians are all basically cattle.

Typical comment on the Ferguson situation
Typical comment on the Ferguson situation
Odd, but typical comment on Frein shooting
Odd, but typical comment on Frein shooting

Not all police are fitted with the glowing halo of hero-dom they so enjoy bestowing on themselves. Not all opposition voices have criminal records or hate all police either. Some of us just have no use for cops.

crime · Life · police · rant

Stepping Over the Thin, Blue Line

It’s rare online that a cop leaves the comfort of their internet echo chamber. Mostly, they hang out on sites where other cops can slap each other on the ass and tell themselves what a great job they’re doing. It’s the internet equivalent of a cop bar. It’s rare, because when they do come down among the common people, they tend to show just a little bit too much of their true colors. Case in point? A recent Facebook discussion started by KVUE concerning a U.S. Magistrate’s reaffirmation that filming the police is a protected, 1st Amendment right. The ruling is one step along the legal way being taken by Antonio Buehler against the Austin, Texas police department (APD). After his illegal arrest and falsified charges at the hands of the APD, Buehler founded the Peaceful Streets Project in Austin. Their mission is to film police performing their public duties, to encourage transparency, and accountability. Needless to say, some cops still don’t want to be filmed.

In the aforementioned Facebook discussion, a detective with the Travis County (Texas) Sheriff’s Office, one Marc Taub, decided he would let us citizens know exactly where our place is. He forgot that he was woefully out numbered and surrounded by many of the unhappy citizens he and his fellows failed over the years. In the first screen-capture, Jim Rank recounts how APD failed him in his time of need. Detective Taub’s reply (highlighted) mocked Mr. Rank, saying since he was a cop hater, it’s good that the police didn’t help him. Taub added, “Law Enforcement is a lucrative business based on your taxes. So like the service or not, payment is still accepted.”

Screen capture 1
Screen capture 1

Two thoughts occur to me. One, Mr. Rank probably had no issues with police until he need them. Something echoed ad nauseam by cops and their doe-eyed supporters when arguing with anti-cop people is, “You talk big, but who will be the first ones you call when you’re robbed?” Mr. Rank’s experience tells us that may be futile. It may be better just to call the insurance company and by-pass the cops. His mention of Warren v. District of Columbia is in reference to the findings in that case that police are under no specific legal duty to provide protection to the public. So Det. Taub is correct. If you don’t like the way he does his job, he doesn’t care. He still gets paid with your taxes.

Two, Det. Taub’s comment sounds oddly like a mafia protection racket. If you don’t support his police department, heap praises on him and his confederates, and blindly follow all his commands, you don’t deserve his attention, protection, or services. That, my friends, is a downright scary thing for a cop to say. His idea of policing is nothing more than extortion.

In the second screen-capture, Det. Taub is telling Mr. Rank to not bother the police in the future. He should call Mr. Buehler instead.

screen capture 2
Screen capture 2

Frankly, having Antonio’s camera crew show up would probably be a better solution than the APD showing up only to shoot a few dogs. Taub’s sarcasm is dripping with contempt for the lowly, un-serviced citizens. Citizen’s who frankly have valid complaints. Taub is unfazed and would rather label them miscreants and malcontents than admit the police failed in their duties. I included the second screen-capture because it contains some spur-of-the-moment brilliance, wherein I encapsulate a philosophy that is gaining ground among the un-serviced citizenry.

If I'm being robbed or assaulted, I have a gun.
If I'm burglarized, I have video of my belongs to prove to my insurance company what was stolen.
If my neighbors are loud, I go talk to them politely.
If there's a stray running the neighborhood, I catch it and care for it until I find the owner.

I have no reason to call a cop. Nope. No use for cops at all. If cops were paid on an "as used" basis, I'd save a ton on taxes.

The only time I’ve needed a cop is when I was told I had to have one. Insurance companies usually don’t pay auto accident claims without a police report. I would have preferred to just take the other drivers information, snap some pictures of the scene and damages, and filed the claim, but they had to have some official-looking form, filled out in ballpoint pen, complete with misspellings and grammatical errors, written by a high school graduate who got solid Cs in English.

Det. Taub’s attitude is not unique. He simply chose to leave his comfort zone and let the disenfranchised public get the best of him. I’m sure when he returned to the safety of his comrades’ echo chamber, he got plenty of support for soiling himself among the masses. I’ll remind Det. Taub, police in general, and anyone who cares to listen, of the lesson I learned long ago. If everywhere you go, you are treated with contempt and disrespect, it’s not everyone else who has the problem. It’s you. This is true for anyone in uniform or out. Respect isn’t given to the badge. It’s given to the person, badge or not, based on their actions. Simply repeating a lie doesn’t make it a truth. Repeating a lie to yourself is just mental illness.

Keep chasing the odd, little happy.

Lest you think I’m complaining for the sake of complaining, I do have a few ideas that would provide solutions to the growing problem of policing in America. I invite you to read those ideas here and leave feedback.


Fire The Police?


Does your city need to save millions in tax expenditure? Here is one simple, cost-saving solution: fire the police.

It sounds radical, because it is. I’m not advocating the complete removal of the police in your community. I am suggesting that huge amounts of money could be saved by removing what most people think of when they think of “the police,” the patrol cop. This is not an “I hate cops” rant. I’ve never been arrested and never gotten more than a minor traffic ticket in 35 years of driving. This is a logical, economic-driven solution. It’s about saving tax dollars without increasing crime.

Constables on Patrol (cops)
No other job except police includes the need to drive around looking for work. None of the other tax-provided services work this way. Firefighters and paramedics don’t scourer the city streets looking for emergencies. They wait until they are called. This can work just as well for police.

Why do police patrol? The most basic reason is, because it’s always been done this way and no one has taken much time to consider if it’s effective. Prior to the automobile, foot patrols were very necessary, otherwise, cops might as well be 100 miles away. With automobiles, having a cop in the station house is just as close as having one on foot 10 blocks away.

Patrolling is commonly dressed up as community involvement, a crime deterrent, or reduction in response time, but none of these are worth the money required to keep cops roaming the streets. They aren’t even valid reasons for patrolling. Studies, like the famous Kansas City Patrol Experiment, conclude that regular police patrols have no effect on crime or citizen satisfaction with their police. They also don’t decrease response times because most calls for service never involve only the closest officer. By policy, many situations require the officer to wait for back-up which negates the response-time argument.

The need for community involvement spawns more serious questions. Why does the community need better relations with the police? Police, like their fire and EMS counterparts, provide a service. Why are public relations a concern? When is the last time paramedics came to your house just to chat and see how you’re doing? Beyond the guy soliciting donations for the volunteer fire department, do firefighters ever drive around to simply show a presence or impress our youth? What is the mysterious relationship police departments are trying to foster? Community relations is really a euphemism for “damage control”. The damaged caused by the increasing, militaristic behavior of police and the natural backlash of the community’s declining respect for police can be better addressed in more economical ways.

What about traffic enforcement?
Won’t our streets turn into a bastardized, full-contact, demolition derby without cops on the streets? Nope. Most people obey traffic rules out of respect and safety. Few start their cars and think, “I’d better not speed because I could get a ticket” or “I wonder what I can get away with today.” The overwhelming majority of drivers are safe, courteous, and sensible. The few that aren’t are not weeded out by issuing the rest tickets.

In 2005, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, in response to rampant police corruption especially traffic stop shakedowns, fired the country’s 30,000 police officers. In the months it took to replace the old guard, there was no appreciable increase in crime, either violent or non-violent. There was no change in the number of traffic accidents. As President Saakashvili put it, crime actually decreased.

But I think that the overall picture of crime has decreased. The old police used to beat up people. They basically used what amounted to torture to extort the evidence. And the new police force was educated and is controlled in a way where nothing like this–there is zero tolerance towards torture. Zero tolerance. Everybody thought that there was no way to keep crimes checked unless you occasionally beat them up or managed them with beating them up or blackmail them into something. No, our examples show that you can reverse the crime trend even by being civilized.

Kill the self-feeding monster.
As with most things in life, little things grow to be big things, then giant things, then the unavoidable, mindless apparatus that most government is. Take traffic laws. We codify the reasonable things most people are doing anyway (e.g. slowing down or stopping at intersections, following color-coded traffic signals, stopping for pedestrians, etc.) Now that these are laws, we tell our police they must enforce the rules by ticketing or arresting those who break the rules. The city government now needs to hire more officers to enforce the laws. How to pay for the additional police needed? Collect fines from the rule-breakers, of course. Now we have hundreds of city employees and thousands of dollars and other resources dedicated solely to traffic law enforcement, fine collection, and an entire court set aside just for traffic violations. Throw in the natural need to defend one’s job and the status quo, and we have created the proverbial snake eating its tail. If we could do away with the cost of all that enforcement and collections, the cost of the additional police would evaporate, and the number of traffic accidents would remain unchanged. For even a moderately-sized city, that would free up thousands of dollars, money for things like road improvements that reduce accidents. Missing from the list of things that reduce traffic accidents is “increased police presence.”

The rules police enforce were designed to make people safer, but is anyone safer because of enforcement? The rules came from the fact that most people were doing those things in the first place, without anyone looking over their shoulder for red-and-blues. It’s unclear how police on every corner, collecting money from motorist, makes my daily commute safer. Most days, I don’t see a cop and I still don’t speed or run red lights. I, like most, follow the rules of the road in a very non-altruistic need to remain safe. I expect others to do the same. Before you know it, we have a community working together so everyone gets where they’re going safely without anyone making us wait precariously on the shoulder for some useless paperwork while other cars whiz past at 100 kph.

Safer for cops
Contrary to what most police tell you, being a cop is not the most dangerous job in the world. Cop doesn’t even make the top 10. But when cops are hurt, the main cause is traffic accidents. A little math tells us that minimizing their exposure to traffic would reduce police injury rates by almost 40%. We spend millions of dollars on bullet-proof vests and other equipment to protect officers, but we still send them out in the middle of their most dangerous predator, the automobile. Additionally, we tell them, they need to park their cars on the shoulder, precariously close to high-speed traffic, and distract themselves with document collection and form completion. The side of an interstate highway is hardly a conducive spot for office work.

Additionally, when city’s budgets require austerity, they typically eliminate police partnerships, sending most cops out on patrol alone. If police are held in reserve until dispatched, they can be dispatched in numbers required to deal with the call. No longer would cops be left alone in situations that have the most potential to cause harm. Single-officer traffic stops are the primary source of injury from both agitated motorist and traffic accidents. Taking the patrol officer off the road will eliminate their exposure to this potential harm.

What exactly do cops do?
It is the rare exception that police are in the position to prevent a crime from happening. When it does happen, it makes headlines exactly because it is the exception to the rule. The bulk of police work is post-crime. Investigations, interviews, evidence gathering, prosecution, and paperwork make up the majority of policing. Imagine how many crimes could be solved by reallocating the roving officers to these duties. But if money is to be saved, imagine how things would remain unchanged if the police department consisted of only the investigative wing.

We’ve come to believe police have special powers, but in most states, any citizen has almost all the same powers a cops has. Police simply have cute uniforms, shiny badges, government-issued guns, and special immunity. It’s that immunity that is the rub. Immunity fosters no accountability. Private security can and does offer all, if not more, of the protection the police provide. Plus, they are accountable for their behavior. If the police beat a suspect, they answer to only themselves via internal affairs. If a security guard beats someone, they answer to their employer and the courts. That puts a new spin on “justifiable force.” A private company or employee has a direct incentive in the form of a contract or paycheck to do their job. Police, on the other hand, are notoriously difficult to fire even in cases of extreme negligence. Try telling a cop, “I pay your salary,” and see what reaction you get. Now tell your private security guard that same thing and see if their job performance doesn’t improve. (See how Threat Management is effectively addressing the crumbling police infrastructure in Detroit.)

Technological innovations offer other cost-effective alternatives. I’m not talking about traffic cameras that mail out anonymous tickets, either. Those have serious 6th Amendment issues. Nor am I suggesting we employ a fleet of drones and CCTV cameras to monitor every nook and cranny of our towns. Those have serious privacy and other Constitutional hills to climb. I am suggesting we get our laws around our technologies and employ them in a safe, sane way to improve our lives. But in all honesty, being in public is just that. In today’s camera-laden world, you must expect that if you pick your nose at a red light today, it will be on Youtube tomorrow. The great thing about technology is a definite price tag comes attached. Hiring a city employee comes with all sorts of long-term, unadvertised costs. Buying a camera is a clear red-ink item on the city budget. You know exactly what you’re getting and how much it costs. Your town is also in less danger of running out of money in 20 years because some retirement investment went belly-up.

This is madness!
If cities really want to save money and spend their collected taxes wisely, rethinking how we police is long overdue. We are operating on 19th century policing principles well into the 21st century. It’s time to redefine why we have police and how they effectively manage crime. Reallocating or eliminating patrols has proven to have no effect on the crime rate. Why not take this to its logical conclusion? The first step is an honest evaluation of what police in our society really do and should do. It requires we drop any sentimental feelings we have for a uniform and honestly examine the mission of our police departments. If we want them to be self-feeding, collection agencies with little accountability, we can proceed with the status quo. If we want them to be effective crime* prosecution forces, it’s time to reorganize exactly what they do, how they do it, and how we pay for it.

*Crime here is defined as acts that cause harm to another person or another person’s property. This definition does not include the prosecution of actions that don’t involve harm to others. If cities need to raise revenue from people’s personal choices, they should tax those activities instead of criminalizing them.


Turning in Christopher Dorner

What would you do for one million dollars?

One million dollars…$1,000,000…that is being offered for information leading the arrest of Christopher Dorner. The real question is, not what would you do with the money, but what would you do for the money?

There are as many ways to answer this question as there are people. Obviously, many have answered with “I’d turn him in,” because the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) have already received thousands of calls. All were dead ends.

Maybe you don’t need the million. Maybe you’d “do the right thing” and turn Mr. Dorner in for free. Maybe doing the right thing is a matter of opinion and your opinion may be different than some, currently on the fringe, but quickly swirling towards the common center of society, people.

See, there are a growing number of people out there who are not enamored with the police. They basically come in three flavors.

The Blind Eye
Some may turn a blind eye to Mr. Dorner and let him go on his way unobstructed. This person would never kill a cop, but they don’t have any problem letting Mr. Dorner go free. These include every kid who hasn’t been hassled or arrested while Dorner is keeping the LAPD occupied. The longer the cops are looking for him, the smaller their chances of getting their face pushed in by an over-zealous cop.

The Helping Hand
Some may help Mr. Dorner just a bit. They would hand him a cup of coffee or a bowl of soup and wish him well on his way. This person would never kill a cop, but they sure would like to smack one around a little.

The Eager Beaver
Some may just join Mr. Dorner. This person has been maligned, beaten, and illegally arrested by rogue, corrupt cops. The population encompassing this brand of citizen is sadly growing. As our domestic police forces become increasing militarized, expect to see more of these disgruntled people. Gone are the days of the beat cop who knew the kids names in his patrol area. Here to stay are the days of a boot to the head if you question police authority.

One thing is sure. Whether someone collects the million or the cops find Dorner first, he’ll never see a jail or a court. The cops who find Dorner will kill him whether he resists or not.

UPDATE: Less than 48 hours after writing this piece, Christopher Dorner’s body was removed from the burned husk of a cabin near Big Bear, CA. After a man reported someone fitting Dorner’s description carjacked is truck, police gave chase and surrounded the cabin into which Dorner fled. In an escape attempt, Dorner killed one and wounded another San Bernardino county deputy. After an approximately 6-hour stand-off, a police tactical unit set fire to the cabin in a botched attempt to raid and apprehend. The fire was left to burn and once the flames died down, Dorner’s body, true to my prediction, was removed from the scene. He never saw a jail, a lawyer, or a courtroom.

Alabama · crime · criminals · dumb · funny · Huntsville · idiots · mugging · news · stupid · thief · weird

Huntsville, Alabama: Mugging Results in 3 Arrests

Category: Stupid Criminals.

Huntsville police arrived at a robbery scene early Friday to arrest a suspect but ended up arresting the victim and a witness, too. >> Read Full Story >>

Around 6:40AM on March 15, 2008, 43-year-old Walter McLin flagged down a patrol car and told the cops he had been robbed at gun point.  After speaking to a witness, the police arrested 31-year-old Stepheon White at a near-by motel and charged him with first-degree robbery.

Upon further questioning, McLin was charged second-degree theft for the $900 forged check in his possession.  Police then became suspicious of the witness’ identity and charged him with filing a false statement because he lied about his name.  It turned out the witness had good reason to lie because he had multiple, outstanding warrants.

All three men are currently enjoying the hospitality of the Madison County metro jail.

This story only supports the old adage, “There is no honor among thieves.”  It also highlights the fact that if you are going to be a criminal, try not to hang out with other criminals.  One thief may be stupid, but the power of stupidity rises exponentially with each additional criminal brain.

agoraphobia · Chicago · crazy · crime · insane · Lane Bryant · murder · robbery · violence

Another Good Reason to Never Leave the House

My wife suffers from agoraphobia.  To be completely honest, we both suffer from her agoraphobia. Now she has one more good reason to stay home.

She just popped in from the other room and said, “This is why I buy my clothes on-line or from one of the TV shopping channels.”  Then she recounted a news story she just saw where 5 people were killed in a botched robbery of a Chicago Lane Bryant store.  Great.  Now we have to worry about death by fashion.

It’s a sick, sad world when wackos are out shooting random fatties just trying to buy a smock.  Lane Bryant was our last hope at a trip to town.  Now that’s been taken away.  Maybe I can convince her the hobby & craft stores are still safe.  At least if something bad happens there, you can arm yourself with and X-acto knife.  Unlike the fabric store, where your best defense would be to hurl a bolt of fleece at an attacker.  I guess the sewing machine will remain idol, too.

I should take my life into my own hands and serpentine to the grocery store.  I need to stock the pantry with canned goods so we can barricade ourselves in for another month.  It’s a bomb-shelter existence, but it’s better than dying in Lane Bryant.  Anyone have a parcel of land in Montana for sale?  I need to build a compound.