Thursday, December 18, 2014
"Editor's Blog: To The Protesters & Haters" and Police
Recently while searching for something else I stumbled across an article by Lt. Frank Borelli (ret) who seems to do a very good job expressing his views although I don't agree with them all; and I think he is missing some very important points. I initially thought I'd cite a few excerpts but even though I don't agree with most of what he says I thought he did a very good job making his points I decided to repost it.
I hope he doesn't mind but he did express concern about "moms of criminals will likely never read this blog entry" and although I probably can't help him much with that perhaps this will increase attention at least a little.
Obviously I don't think of myself as one of the "Haters" he refers to but there are inevitably going to be some people who disagree on just who those are, as I'll get to, to some degree. There might also be some doubt as to who is finding "a way to blame," or partially blame "someone else." Also, I can't say for certain, but my best guess is that there are also plenty of police or ex-police that might also disagree with some of the comments from Mr. Borelli.
The people that live in many low income areas know that they have never received the same protection by police as those in high income areas; and they also know that they are much less likely to be treated as innocent until proven guilty.
Here is his article and one anonymous comment which might be considered notable.
First of all I must have missed the article where parents said they wanted the "removal of every legal barrier that might slow their children down from committing a crime." I'm not ruling out the possibility that this might be Mr. Borelli's personal interpretation; and my best guess is that few if any of the protesters intended this.
More importantly, one of the biggest problems with the discussion about crime and police brutality is that they focus primarily on how to resolve problems at the last minute or relatively shortly before major incidents break out. At least in the short run some of this is necessary; however in the long term it may be as important, if not more important, to recognize and address long term causes of crime.
If this can be done then perhaps many of these confrontations will never happen in the first place. In many cases this might not even involve police at all, although there might be some partial exceptions. This might also mean that the people most able to do more to reduce crime aren't police but politicians, social workers, teachers, parents, and others that deal with the social and economic system that impacts crime.
Excuse me if I seem a little sarcastic but I really do have a point; who is it that the police are protecting us from?
Of course there are the obvious purse snatchers and violent felons; although in most cases, if it comes down to that they are often gone before the police even arrive on the scene.
But what about white collar crime? Do the police protect us from those criminals? Do the police protect us from Flo?
This might seem peculiar but the reason I ask is that Flo and many other people should be considered scam artists and the beneficiaries of Savage Inequalities as described by Jonathan Kozol. Kozol doesn't focus primarily on the scams being conducted by people like Flo; instead he focuses on the lack of opportunities, especially educational opportunities, in abandoned inner cities like East St Louis which is just across the state line from Ferguson, and it is the first district he writes about in this book.
Recognizing Flo's scams and the same scams by most if not all insurance ads is relatively simple. Insurance is pooled risk and expenses have to be deducted from the money insurance companies collect through premiums. The more they advertise the more they have to deduct for expenses. Their ads do little or noting to provide accurate information about the deals they get; instead they ad to non-productive expenses; and this simple concept is never explained to the public.
How does this have any connection to police violence against black people, or other low-income people of other races?
The vast majority of the public, especially minorities doesn't have much if any opportunity to get this type of job and it provides no benefit for the consumers who indirectly pay Flo's salary. Flo is actually trivial except as an example. There are many jobs that are only available to a minority of the public that pay reasonably well but they aren't directly accountable to consumers that ultimately pay for them and the the people that do work that does actually benefit consumers that indirectly pay for their labor often have their wages suppressed by competition.
Advertisers, union busters, lobbyists, market researchers and many other corporate bureaucratic jobs aren't designed to provide benefits for the majority of the public; instead they're doing jobs that are designed to increase profits for corporations even though consumers don't benefit from them. Right now there doesn't seem to be any "legal barrier that might slow" down their efforts to commit large amounts of fraud that indirectly contribute to traditional blue collar crimes in other ways.
Kozol's book demonstrates that the educational and economic opportunities in minority areas would be considered unacceptable to most people if they knew about them; but most people almost certainly don't know much about them, especially if they rely on traditional news reports. He also demonstrates how an enormous amount of environmental damage is done in minority areas, although Robert Bullard goes into much greater detail on that subject in "Dumping in Dixie."
The people in these towns know damn well that they don't have the opportunities that many other people might and they also know damn well that all this propaganda about how everyone has an opportunity to rise to the top is nothing but propaganda and that people from abandoned inner cities have little or no opportunity to get out of them; and their opportunities at a high paying job like Flo's where they get paid to deceive the public will only be available to a small minority and then only if they help scam people for the benefit of corporate advertisers.
At times they try to protest when corporations pollute their land leading to high death rates as a result or oppressive working conditions and instead of giving them an opportunity to express their view and reduce inequalities the police disperse the protests even when politicians make it clear they aren't going to address their grievances.
Police don't investigate and arrest polluters that commit negligent mass murder or corporations that cause dangerous working environment or make unearned profits through deceptive advertising; they arrest the protesters without political power.
The end result is whether they intend to or not they serve the interests of the campaign contributors. They might say this is being non-political but when the orders they received give political benefits to campaign contributors then they're serving the political interests of the campaign contributors indirectly.
I've never lived in the abandoned inner cities that Jonathan Kozol writes about so I don't know first hand what it's like to have to deal with their problems. We were taught that we are all innocent until proven guilty; and in most places that I have lived that is for the most point true in this country; however I have passed through a few towns where at least people that pass through might not be treated in that manner. Many others have also had this experience; but they know that unless it is a major problem it isn't worth making a big deal out of it and it would mean going back to places where they might have been harassed by police for little or no reason. For a brief while I have been in what could be considered an abandoned rural area where the lowest class people clearly aren't treated as if they're innocent until proven guilty and they don't have much if any more opportunity than those in abandoned inner cities to rise up the economic ladder in this country.
There were only a handful of places where people could work in this area and most of the people never had a chance to leave going back generations, contrary to the myth of upward mobility in this country. The block at the center of town was where many of the poorest people lived and they often had some of the biggest problems with crimes, although the vast majority of them were petty. Police routinely treated anyone that lived int his block as if they were already guilty and there wasn't anything any of them could do about it.
If a business called in with a complaint they would address it to the best of their ability, which wasn't necessarily that great, considering their lack of education or training. However if someone from the poorer block had a pr4oblem they rarely got any response, and for the most part they knew they wouldn't so they practically never even considered it unless it was really serious.
Despite all the noise and drinking that went on, when people had the money to buy alcohol, which often stopped for days or even weeks at a time, there was surprisingly few major crimes, although the large number of arguments or disorderly conduct would make it seem otherwise. I often suspected that the reason why these people that spent an enormous amount of time bragging about how great a fighter they were practically never got into many if any fight was because they knew that if they did then everyone would find out just how accurate their amazing fighting skills really were.
There was one exception where one of the loudest people on the block did know how to fight much better than most and he got into a surprising number of fights and he also got into much more legal trouble than most of the other people on the block. Yet he managed to stay out of jail most of the time. Even he never thought seriously about fighting the police.
Few people in that town asked why this guy wasn't put in jail long ago and kept there. It didn't take long for some people to figure out that the reason was because it turned out he was cooperating with the police. At least two people wound up in jail briefly because of information he gave to the police. In one case the information he gave them was accurate but it was widely known and they could have found out otherwise. In another case it wasn't and the alleged suspect was released without further investigation since there was no evidence aside from a false snitch.
These police were keeping the closest thing this small town had to a major criminal out of jail be3casue he was snitching on others that didn't cause as much trouble as he did. They intimidated and harassed everyone when it suited their purposes, although it usually only happened when some kind of noise escalated.
None of the poorer people thought that the police were there to protect them, because in this case they weren't. It is virtually guaranteed that there are thousands of towns like this across the country and abandoned inner cities are even worse.
In all fairness, I would wonder if I would want the job of policing people in a town like this and I wouldn't. Neither would many other people including most good police officers. This is why some of the towns that need good police the most rarely ever get them.
If the best police officers don't want to serve in the towns that need them the most they'll inevitably apply for jobs elsewhere and get them. That means that the towns with the most trouble might have to chose from police that have a hard time getting jobs in towns with fewer problems. Then, on top of that, they might be trained in an authoritative manner that is designed to intimidate people into compliance.
Mr. Borelli claims that, "we’re not out committing crimes. We’re out there patrolling to prevent crime. .. " which sounds good and of course it is what they're supposed to be doing. However even though I'm sure the vast majority of police officers are doing just that there are more exceptions than he might like to acknowledge. Actually he doesn't acknowledge any exceptions in this article; but there are plenty of people watching police that have demonstrated otherwise. The reason they might be doing so is that they have known for a while that they don't always live up to their propaganda and tracking some of the stories reported in the news including the Police misconduct reports for 2013 compiled by Massachusetts Cop Block. This is just one of many police watching organizations that have piled up a much larger list of exception; although most of these different sites don't all cover the same material, so it would take a while to review more than a fraction of their misconduct.
Mr. Borelli seems to imply that all police should be treated as innocent until proven guilty, which seems quite reasonable but he doesn't seem quite so concerned about whether or not all citizens are treated as innocent until proven guilty. Nor does he seem to acknowledge any of the evidence to indicate that there are at least some cases where police have gone too far and that tehy should be addressed properly.
Mr. Borelli seems to have demonstrated support for the us verses them situation with his squarely on the side of the police without trying to figure out which cases might have justifiable complaints. Not all police officers or ex-police officers have done this and some of the more open-minded have done a good job indicating why many police are so reluctant to take responsibility for their own actions while they expect the public to do so and why they rely on escalating violence. One of those is David Couper who has done a good job describing their training practices and why they might lead to misconduct later on the job in the following excerpt about hazing:
These training practices clearly involve using intimidation practices to keep people in line and convince them to go along with the program and it is virtually guaranteed that it is part of the reason why intimidating officers who don't look the other way when they witness police misconduct is so common and a major factor for the so-called "blue wall of silence."
As I attempted to explain in numerous posts early abuse leads to escalating violence later in life; this doesn't begin in the police academy when they rely on hazing and bullying to train their recruits but it does escalate there. There is plenty of evidence to indicate that a major part of the reason for escalating violence starts with the way people are educated at a young age and escalates later in life with bullying, hazing, boot camp and domestic violence. I have indicated some of the evidence for this in several past posts including Child abuse and bullying link in study long over due.
Despite an enormous amount of propaganda about how glorious our police and military are they don't always live up to that propaganda and the indoctrination to go along with the program and support the beliefs of their fellow soldiers or police officers is a major reason for that. Although the vast majority of veterans and police officers are law abiding citizens there have been a surprising number of them that have gone on shooing sprees and become murders themselves instead of protecting this country. And many of those that were taught to believe what they're told do little or nothing to recognize when their government is lying to them and ordering them to fight for false claims like weapons of mass destruction that don't exist or defend an economic system that is rigged heavily in favor of the well connected that give the orders.
In Teach a soldier to kill and he just might I tried to indicate how in some cases a significant number of military soldiers have been involved in a large number of murders and that their training is almost certainly a contributing factor as to why this is the case, although it is almost certainly not the only factor and in most cases early education is also a factor.
Fortunately not all police are supporting the us verses them mentality; in Richmond California the police chief agreed to attend one of the rallies to show his support for reasonable reform and minimize or avoid confrontation with the community he's protecting. Unfortunately Mr.Borelli and many other police officers have objected to this as indicated in Officer Editor's Blog: A Protesting Police Chief? 12/15/2014
Richmond police Chief Chris Magnus indicated 'that he and several members of his command staff decided to attend the protest, which was organized by a local youth center, to "build bridges" and ensure the protest was peaceful. He said he was asked by one of the youths to hold the sign, and "agreed because I wanted to demonstrate that our police department really is serious about building stronger relationships with communities of color." ' .... In response to the objection from the police union 'Mayor-elect Tom Butt, who also attended the protest, called the union "hypocritical" and noted that union officers routinely work in Richmond politics while dressed as police officers. "They have a lot of gall to criticize the chief," Butt said.' Fallout Grows Over Protesting Police Chief 12/17/2014
If there is any doubt about how effective Chief Chris Magnus' policy's have been a look at his recent record reducing crime dramatically over the past several years seems to indicate that some one in Richmond must be doing something right. Not to long ago they were the ninth most dangerous city in the country; however recent reforms in the police as well as other efforts from the community have dramatically reduced their problems with crime. They have cut their murder rates by well over fifty percent. The police aren't the only reason for this; they have also had a lot of grass roots support as I have indicated in Politicians increase crime; Grass roots efforts reduce crime; Politicians steal the credit. Addressing the root causes of crime is far more important than just waiting until the last minute and preventing problems when a possible violent confrontation is almost unavoidable. the reforms in the economic \system are almost certainly more important.
A closer look into Frank Borelli's background quickly raises some possible conflicts of interests. He is the founder of Borelli Consulting which has done some work for Blackwater and seems to support the privatization of police and military matters. Officer.com provides a significant number of ads for weapons manufacturers, which include those supported by the NRA.
When even the possibility of financial incentives might be influencing security issues it should raise some serious doubts especially when considering that many developed countries have far lower crime rates and incarceration rates and we spend little or not time considering what they might be doing better. Instead there is an enormous amount of propaganda about how "great" our system is even though many of the facts may not support this assumption. If we really want to be so great we should take a closer look at the facts to develop policies.
NYT: Bias Seen in ‘Police-on-Police’ Shootings 05/27/2010
Cato Institute: The National Police Misconduct Reporting Project
Cato Institute: Botched Paramilitary Police Raids