Friday, February 14, 2014

A Bit of Morning Outrage for Your Brunch.

I was sitting down to drink a bit of tea after putting my son down for his nap when I ran across this article, Good Samaritan Backfire. That I am outraged is an understatement. That this sort of behavior is clearly tolerated within the San Francisco Police is bullshit. No one should ever have to suffer this sort of abuse when doing the right thing. 

I have had friends and relatives in the police and after talking about this article with them they responded with a single sentence, "Fuck those guys."


  1. Thank you for posting this link. Not an easy read, but it is important that we, as people, do not flinch from looking at darkness in our own society. I reposted to FB, and I hope others do the same. Cockroaches hide in the darkness. The more light we shine, the fewer roaches we need to worry about.

    Which is why police states work so hard to control information. As do political parties, corporations, and moneyed interests.

    1. Wait, are you saying that we live in a police state or did I read that wrong?

    2. That is the direction North America is moving in. Civil rights are disappearing at an alarming rate in the name of "security". Laws are being passed to eliminate "voter fraud" that actually do nothing but prevent the poorest from voting. Public information is being made secret, and when criminal wrongdoing is uncovered, it is the whistle-blower, not the criminal, who is in trouble. Our media is subverted to political and moneyed agendas, with some few exceptions.

      Really, if Watergate had happened today, would Nixon have finished the term? The massive civil rights violations going on in Canada and the US - in Canada, the govt spied on civilian protesters and shared the information with oil companies - are far worse than Watergate.

      In the US, the levels of economic disparity are comparable only with Third World countries. The political process has been largely subverted to serve the moneyed interests of a very few.

      Do you doubt that your government is spying on you? Do you doubt that both the intent and the letter of the law is meaningless in such cases? Do you honestly believe that your Constitutional rights are as valid today as they were on the day you were born? I certainly do not.

      The price of freedom is eternal vigilance, and we have been turning a blind eye for decades. So, no, we are not living in a police state yet. But we are very close to the critical point where we wake up to discover that we are in one. Every step we take in that direction makes it harder and harder to turn around, and when you reach a certain point, those steps move a hell of a lot faster than they did before.

      No country ever got together and said, "Hey, let's become a police state!"

    3. I guess I should clarify a couple of things.

      First off, the only truly bad experience I ever had with an officer of the law was in Louisiana, and although I registered a complaint at the time, I became more understanding when I learned that there had just been a homicide that was affecting his behaviour. Understandable.

      But I did live in Los Angeles, and I did work as a Legal Specialist in the US Army, where I had regular interactions with both on-post MPs and off-post police officers.

      It does seem to me that there is a sea change in law enforcement then and now. Then, law enforcement was primarily "to protect and serve". Now, while there are many, many officers who still wish to protect and serve, there are greater political and corporate interests being protected at the cost of the ordinary citizen.

      The idea that a state would pass a law that officers cannot be recorded for evidence while on the job in a public space would have been unthinkable even 15 years ago.

      When I was growing up, media had a legal obligation to be fair and unbiased, and could be taken to court if it failed to live up to that obligation. During the Reagan era, that obligation was removed, and the results have been....well, they have been predictable.

      Consider what is happening with the drone strikes...the government can target US citizens abroad (and possibly on American soil; it explicitly hasn't been ruled out) on the basis of "suspicions" that are never made public. In effect, the government has moved to the death sentence without a trial, and without oversight, and without worrying all that much about who else might be caught in the crossfire. I don't know if you have heard drone operators speak about what they do or the concerns they have; one did come forward to be interviewed by the CBC.

      I don't know what else to tell you. Every year I get a little more concerned with the state of the world, and the state of North America. The US is not the greatest country in the world. It has one of the worst levels of income equity in the developed world, and there is no sign that things are going in any direction but downhill.

    4. Hm. You've given me a lot to think about.


  2. In a metro area communicatie with he police as concisely and briefly as possible without doing anything to entice prolonged contact or pursuit.
    there are a number of points in the linked story where I was wondering why the author was trying to make things worse. Not that we should worry about the police but let's be serious they are folks willing to do one of the most stressful jobs out there and they are not all the cream of the crop. Let them rise to the occasion don't offer the opportunity to excite them in the wrong way.

    I had a friend who was stupidly AWOL and this was discovered during a traffic stop. The number of police that show up for an AWOL soldier at a traffic stop with 3 drunk friends (even when she is 5'3") is rather amazing.
    We cooperated but just enough for the police to do their jobs, we were drunk (except for the AWOL driver) ,I told my friends: say nothing unless directly asked and only provide what is needed (the less information a tired civil servant with a gun has to deal with the better), do not walk towards a police officer in such a situation (they are targets of assault more than you or I are) unless in need of help.
    Our AWOL friend was taken into custody (and the army basically laughed at her and slapped her hand ) and we got to drive away escorted by a police car, shocking because we were drunk but being surrounded by a dozen plus armed men in the middle of the night has a sobering effect.

    1. Two best sentences I've read today come from this comment: (1) "the less information a tired civil servant with a gun has to deal with the better;" (2) "being surrounded by a dozen plus armed men in the middle of the night has a sobering effect."

      You know, reading your comments makes me wish that we were getting drunk together and having fun. We would have gotten along swimmingly!

    2. I'm settled down, and a little dull these days. No more sneaking to play pool in an apartment complex rec room after-hours with exotic dancers and discovering a late-night D&D game being played by maintenance staff and the landlord's younger brother for me.

    3. Awe!

      Every time I snuck to play pool in an apartment complex rec room after-hours I only ever found drunken hookers and gang bangers. You have all the luck.

  3. More like a para-military police state as our police are looking more and more like military everyday. I understand we live in a more violent America but do we really need heavily armored and armed police or do we need a police force that uses the best weapon, that being their own mind, sharpened with training.

    I support the police, have a number of friends that are police, but I think they have segregated themselves too much from the community and we the community have been passive, or worse, apathetic about this process. Thanks for sharing the article, it both helped open my eyes wider and hopefully helped wake me up from my own passivity.

    1. It is important to note that being pro-civilian oversight is not at all the same as being anti-police, and you should think twice about the motives of anyone who claims that it is. If you accept, as I do, that most officers want to be empowered to do good, then civilian oversight actually helps them to do so.

      Other industries are exactly the same. Without proper oversight, people tend to feel entitled in even the most menial of jobs. There have been, for example, studies that show how well-intentioned doctors do foolish things because they are not supervised, and nothing bad happens most of the time they do these things. An example was using a dropped instrument in surgery without it being re-sterilized.

      Just as oversight in this case means fewer medical complications, and helps the doctor perform his task better (thus meeting his goals more fully), proper civilian oversight of policing and the political process is critical for a democracy to exist.

  4. Against my better judgement, I'm going to throw my 2 cents in.

    As most know, I'm in law enforcement. My current assignment is "The Dark Side" (IA for those that don't get the inside joke).

    There is enough to this story that appears to speak truth, but there is a lot the author is doing to paint a better picture of himself than is warranted. Having done enough interviews of witnesses and subjects regarding the amount of drinks everyone has had - I call bullshit on that bit. The group was intox, and smart asses, and yet deserved NONE of the treatment they got.

    I've dealt with drunks, and the best way to treat them is to ignore them. These cops didn't.

    West coast PDs, located in what are considered very liberal cities, seem to be the most heavy handed departments I've seen. Maybe it's their use of force guidelines, but I've seen more Cali PDs under federal consent decrees for corruption and abuse of force than I have seen anywhere else (I'm on a mailing list that gathers police involved stories from around the country on a daily basis).

    No one get's read their rights unless they need to be asked more then basic pedigree info and the like - it looks good on TV and the movies, but I read it once in 140 collars back in my street days.

    "When Officer Kaur walked away, I spoke with the remaining officers. I told Officers Andreotti and Gerrans that I appreciated their prompt arrival and respected their jobs. I mentioned that I’ve had only positive interactions with the SFPD until that point. I said that, strange as it may seem, I accept my current lot and await the course of justice to set the record straight."

    Can I sell you the Brooklyn Bridge while we are at it? This was not said, and if it was, we are missing the screaming and cursing. Which is a shame, because I'd really like to know what truly went on, not the sugar coating with heavy syrup our complainant is passing off as unvarnished truth.

    Cops don't like to be filmed or have their picture taken. In general, there are no laws I can think of that prevent one from taking pictures of cops. There are laws that in some states that make it illegal to "record" police in their duties. Some departments interpret the laws in certain states that don't allow conversations to be taped without knowledge and permission of all involved as applying to recording officers on the street.

    Being recorded is part of the job of being a cop. The NYPD will be moving towards body cams for it's patrol officers, so we'll be recording all of the interactions with the public at some point. Hell, I remember in the late 90s, folks would call their answering machine from their cell phone and record me while I was stopping their car for a moving violation.

    Technology has changed, but the idea is the same.

    Policing was not better in the past. Graft and systemic corruption was par for the course.

    The problem with policing these days is that officers aren't rated so much on the crime they prevent, but the summonses they write (revenue) and the arrests they make.

    Hmm, actually, maybe the graft and systemic corruption was more honest...

    1. Thanks, Erik, your input is always appreciated.

      When I lived in Los Angeles, I noticed a very large discrepancy between the LA police (I was there for Rodney King and the start of OJ Simpson) and the Highway Patrol. The Highway Patrol was, by far, the better of the services.

      I wonder what your take is on the push to allow American officers to act with authority in Canada? It should be noted that the push includes that the officers do not have to act under Canadian law while in Canada, and are not subject to prosecution for violations of the same?

      I would also be interested in your opinion on "G20 Land", when Toronto hosted the G20?

      I am well aware that witnesses lie, and that graft and corruption have always existed. But in retrospect, "police state" is the wrong term. I am concerned about a state becoming defined by the power of the government predominantly protecting interests other than that of its citizenry. From drone strike, to laws that allow the government to bypass due process in cases of suspected terrorists, to torture of individuals done off US soil to make it "legal", to crack downs on protests and demonstrations, to pursuing the whistle-blower rather than the criminal activity he uncovers.....these are not the actions of a free and democratic society.

      Police brutality increases under a regime wherein police are not held accountable for their actions. I am glad to hear that NYC is going to body cams; that's a good idea.

      Lots of reading, I know. But I can sum it up:

      * Police violence against US citizens is on the rise, with more US citizens been killed by police in the last decade than have been killed in the Iraq war.

      * Anti-terrorism laws have now been used against protesters of fracking.

      * The US is considered an endemic surveillance society. In terms of statutory protections and privacy enforcement, the US is the worst ranking country in the democratic world.

      * The US has wealth inequality that is more in keeping with a Third World country than a developed country, and this is a relatively recent development, and one that has grown exponentially. Right now, 1% of the US population owns 34.6% of the US's assets, and the bottom 40% own 0.02%.

      * The "10%" you keep hearing about own 73.1% of America's wealth.

      In a system where "1 person = 1 vote" those statistics should not be alarming. In a system where it is increasingly true that "$1 = 1 vote" they should be worrying at least.

      That violent crime increases, as it currently is increasing, when people have less, have less hope of more, have less to lose, and have more resentment against the system, is hardly surprising, and it is hardly a new observation.

  5. You know the thing that has stuck with me since reading this article and talking about it more in depth with a couple of my relatives, who are active policemen, is that the reaction to the situation by the police was way over the line. There's no excuse for such things to occur - thus the fuck those guys comment - but the conversation since has thrown me for a loop.

    When I posted the link to this article I did not believe that we were in some sort of slippery slide towards a police state, and I still do not. I found this entire situation to be an example of one police force going over the line and in need of correction. These things have happened throughout the history of our nation and when they're brought to light they get put right.

    I have no interest in the argument that we're living in a police state or that we are under a totalitarian regime as I believe both to be false.

    All that said, the more I've read the article the more I'm reminded of the drunken frat boy screaming "Don't taze me Bro!" to the police officer as he's resisting arrest. Maybe I'm alone on that one.

    Anyway, just thought I would wade in and then go back to seeing where you all go.

  6. I think Erik is likely right that there is more to the story, but honestly I also see a pattern of police and security being trained to have an us-vs-them, militarized outlook which makes extreme reactions business as usual. But I can't say whether there are more incidents of police brutality now or if we just hear about them more; I live in a smaller "suburban" city.


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