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The guy running is a dumbass thief, so let’s just get that out of the way. The discussion here is whether the police beatings and killings we’ve been seeing all over the Internet in recent years are the product of “bad apples” as opposed to flawed law enforcement culture. I had a client once who tried to evade police, was caught, and beaten by his captors. His comment to me was, “I tried to get away, they caught me, and so beat me fair and square.” He was habitually criminal at the time. He’s cleaned up his act though – I’m really happy for him. So a couple of years ago I met him at the Summer Arts Fest and brought up the prior conversation.

I asked, “Did you seriously think it was okay that they beat you up?”

He responded, “I don’t know about okay. It’s just what you expect.”

Cause and effect, as if law enforcement aren’t people who make decisions, but act as if they are forces of nature.

You can see in this video that they are literally climbing over each other and the vehicles to get in their shots in what appears to me to be acts of solidarity – to spread any potential blame around as they must hear the helicopter from where the filming took place.

The letter of the law states that police are only to use force which is necessary to restrain and transport the suspect to prison. They are not empowered by the letter of the law to exact punishment, even when they are the victims. And I would agree that even given the numbers, the police have to be scared in a scenario like this because nobody is certain of what is going to happen. But I don’t agree that this is generated by Adrenalin. It’s a conscious unwritten policy. Part of the police culture. They probably sincerely believe that this is necessary as deterrence for their survival, and maybe there’s some truth to that – I really don’t know. If suspects know they’ll be treated gently, maybe they will figure that they will take their chances every time. Sure, they’ll face longer sentences. But most in the criminal mindset probably don’t think that far ahead. But a beating which is moments away if they try but don’t get away? Maybe they’ll think twice.

On the other hand, we are ostensibly a society of laws not men, and I do mean “men” in most of these cases. Does such an “unwritten policy” lead to abuses which vary from the understanding? Does it disproportionately affect members of marginalized classes who are feared more than others? Would this happen in Iceland? South Korea? Costa Rica? Yes, it would happen in some other countries, and maybe even be worse for the suspect. But in a country which prides itself on it’s liberty and rule of law?

What this video does confirm – these many incidents filmed now that filming technology is available to many of us 24/7 are not about bad apples and degenerates. This is the normal. Maybe even mandatory to the understanding of being a cop.

If we don’t want it that way, what can we do to change it?




July 2017
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