This morning I went off on an angry rant on the twitter machine when reading about the killing of Daunte Wright, and discovered that the cops pulled him over for fucking expired tags. Basically, it is my belief that cops who pull people over for shit like expired tags, not being able to see a second license plate, air freshener hanging from the mirror, or other bullshit like that, are in essence online trolls in real life. And the cities and communities that have their cops out doing this are doing so for several reasons:
1.) To raise money to fund the government so taxcut Jesus won’t get a sad.
2.) To harass and keep minority communities in “their place”
3.) To maintain a militaristic carceral state
Who, exactly, is safer in that Minnesota community because a couple of bored cops decided to fuck with a black kid with expired tags? Who is safer in Virginia because a bunch of bored cops decided to fuck with an Army LT because they couldn’t see his second license plate? No one.
It’s the same god damned thing that went on in Baltimore and NYC with the street level harassment of fucking with people sitting on their stoop listening to music and having a beer. It’s the same bullshit as roughing people up and breaking down doors because you smelled weed smoke. It’s the same fucking thing that was discussed in the detailed Ferguson report in 2015 when we last had a functioning DOJ.
And, it doesn’t just happen to minorities. It happens at a far greater rate of occurrence for minority communities and is far deadlier for them, but the same shit happens to poor white people here in West Virginia and elsewhere. There aren’t enough black people to fund the government here, so you gotta fuck with other “undesirables.”
And it makes life a living hell for everyone. People lose their ability to drive over bullshit because they can not pay the cascading fines or take off to make all the court dates, and shit spirals out of control and before they know it they owe thousands of dollars for a fucking nine dollar license plate tag, have lost their car, lost their job because they can’t get there, and are further mired in poverty and hopelessness. It’s the same fucking thing credit card companies do to trap people in indebtedness. Why do many poor people drink to excess and do drugs? Because we have made their lives fucking unbearable without them.
And this is not new. We all know this. It has been happening long enough that we all are aware this goes on. I’d also posit that it has been going on so long that people who like to abuse people are drawn to policing, because it gives them a license to bully and hurt people. So, at this point, if you are not actively working to try to fundamentally reform policing and government, you are part of the problem.
Exactly right, Mr. Cole. Exactly right.
It might be worse than you imagine — it looks to me like he was stopped as a “training exercise.” Like they used to send newby cops in NYC to minority areas to practice “stop and frisk.”
I went around with a guy on Facebook who insists that if people would just instantly obey any police order, everything would be peachy. Right. In that Virginia case, one policeman was screaming at the Army LT to keep his hands out the window while the other was screaming at him to get out of the car now. You can’t keep your hands out the window and open the car door at the same time, so apparently that would have justified a shooting? Please.
But what’s struck me about these videos is how the police always START at high alert, guns drawn and screaming like they think they’re taking down a terrorist. We have too many pure cowards in police departments. (And not surprising that cowards turn out to be sadistic bullies, too.) I think a big part of the problem isn’t having bad policies, it’s having the wrong people.
The pervasiveness of white supremacy is literally killing us.
In 1979. Maybe.
DMV fees have become steadily more eye-popping.
@JoyceH: The traning paradigm is (supposed to be):
Now things can go from one to three very fast, but one is supposed to do all the steps.
I would bet these policies originated with the unions.
@NotMax: The State allowed additional time for DMV things because of Covid. They were not supposed to be stopping people with tag issues. This is why, I believe, they actually stopped him, as he told his Momma on the phone when he was stopped — that the stop was for the air freshener on his mirror.
You should be getting paid for that on substack.
As you say, police funding is tied to taxcut jesus, so how will defunding work? Would more money lead to a more professional police force? City Councils were afraid of cops and their votes until the Defund movement took hold.
*not to imply that I don’t think the Defund brand is the most effectively distilled public policy strategy of the last decade.
@Immanentize: Who was the trainee in this “training exercise” because the cop who shot Wright had 26 years under her belt?
I’m so sick of this. I am gonna go now.
Some pretty enraging testimony in the Chauvin trial today.
I had a comment #36 at the protest post that is more appropriate here. Being a luddite I don’t know how to bring it over. Any one who can do so, or tell me how to do so, would have my gratitude.
copied from protest thread for sam (by WG)
Mike in NC
All of the Orange Clown’s AGs were terrible, but just imagine if he’d gotten that dirtbag Rudy confirmed.
There has to be some better way than this. I cannot imagine the anxiety of raising Black children in this country. It is a shameful thing for Americans.
When in doubt, link it.
@Immanentize: Didn’t mean for my question to sound like a personal attack.
@Mike in NC: To replace Barr? Or what part of government would Ghouliani be destroying?
And, of course, this just circles back around and hurts the community. People without jobs aren’t buying stuff from the local market, so everyone around them is poorer. They aren’t paying their taxes, so the local government has to turn the screws harder and try to collect ever more in the form of fines and fees to continue functioning.
If we want to fix policing, we need to go far beyond the police. The police have been corrupted because the laws they are enforcing are unjust. That’s not to say that legal reform will solve all the problems in our police departments- plenty of police ignore changes in the law they don’t approve of- but police reform will fail as long as the police are expected to enforce unjust laws.
There are other things that need fixing, too. As you say, a lot of the problems in poor communities are because the government is trying to use the police to generate revenue. We need to end the system of funding local governments exclusively from local revenues and ensure that all essential functions of local government receive adequate funding from the state. At the same time, we need to end the abuse of fines as a revenue source by sending all fine revenue back to the state government.
OK I know the problem is totally systemic and cultural and societal, but I can offer one tiny tiny thing that would help a little bit. We need to engineer our streets so that they are self enforcing. Requiring police enforcement of traffic is such a massive waste of money and of course is totally inappropriate because the police being people, and having cultural biases, will just pick on out groups.
But it is possible to build the streets so that they don’t need constant law enforcement monitoring.
The Dutch, for example, build self-enforcing streets. On Dutch streets it is almost impossible to either make a conscious bad choice, or to make a common driving mistake. This simply eliminates a lot of the human biased enforcement role.
(Not to mention, Dutch streets are incredibly safe for all users, including people on foot and on bike. In this country we could really use some safety on streets for people who don’t drive cars or can’t afford them. I’ll give you one guess as to the representation of people of color among low-car-owning populations, and who are also more likely to walk or use a cheap bike to get to work and for other essential mobility.
Also guess what, in this country people of color get killed and injured at massively higher rates when they are walking or using bikes, largely because the areas where they live and work are poorly served with walk bike infrastructure. More racism)
Not to mention that if you do really want a police force for criminal stuff, you shouldn’t be wasting the police force’s time on traffic infractions.
I could go into lots of history about how the American car and oil industry spent lots and lots of money on advertising and lobbying for the last hundred years to create a situation where the police are used on vehicular matters so much of the time.
A legacy of motor industry and oil industry domination of cultural politics since cars become a mass consumer product. A lot of our thinking about crash victims, driver behavior, and traffic policing is an outcome of these industries working to have subsidies and cultural ideas about their products to sell more of them and help them dominate our street systems.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
@mrmoshpotato: It wasn’t you at all. The shooter was the trainer. I’m tired of dead kids when cops shoot.
@sab: Here is your comment:
I wrote on here recently that I have a HS friend who became a CHP and stayed for his 30. He’s about as left as it gets, and told me a number of years after he had retired that the only reason he stayed in after 20 was the pension, that so many cops weren’t in it to enforce the law any longer but because they liked to fuck with people. Bullies with a gun. And of course there have always been cops whose main concept of living was to fuck with people, like being a cop because they get to carry a gun and a nightstick, and use them occasionally. But he said that the percentage of those doing the actual job and the ones making everyone’s life a living hell went from a few bad apples to the entire barrel being rotten. Which it always does.
@zhena gogolia: Thank you so much.
A Center for American Progress email this week had links to some good stories about efforts in various places to take traffic matters or of the hands of the police and have unarmed personnel giving out tickets. It’s so obvious once you think of it. I hope we get that in the next round of police reforms here in Virginia; since we elected a Democratic trifecta we’ve gotten, among other things, changes so stuff like an obstructed view (e.g. an air freshener), window tinting, and taillights can no longer be the primary reason to be stopped.
@NotMax: How did you do that?
Mike in NC
@mrmoshpotato: Barr eventually resigned to try to salvage his reputation, but Rudy stayed to the bitter end and helped egg on the mob. “Trial by Combat”? What a douchebag.
We are gonna have to federalize policing standards etc aren’t we…? Maybe just maybe requiring a Bachelors degree for a job that routinely involves life and death decisions wouldn’t be a bad way to start?
Patrick Skinner (@SkinnerPm) is a good “follow” on Twitter. Ex-counterterrorism expert who became a beat cop. Profiled in The New Yorker a few years ago. Plus he has pet and garden videos!
Elsewhere he expands on that paradox, that cops are excused for blowing “split-second” decisions in “high-stress” situations but ordinary citizens are expected to obey those cops’ orders immediately, efficiently and calmly (on possible pain of death). WTF?
Word. Who makes an
expired-tagair-freshener stop a life-and-death crisis? It ain’t the goddamn motorist.
That Cole dude is on a roll. He should have his own website.
As a long time reader and first time commenter, I have to say I agree with everything John said. It is beyond depressing to see this happen every week. Something must be done to stop this insanity. Who am I kidding, all these police will either get acquitted, get fired, or quit, and still be able to get their pensions in perpetuity, while the people they kill will be dead.
its 2021, just use cameras and AI, and send tickets in the mail.
Go to the comment you want to bring over, right-click on (or press and hold) its time stamp to copy the URL, then use that like an external link in a comment here, as NotMax did. Then people can click over and read the comment there. Viz.,
sab: “My little city had protests last summer . . .”
If you highlight the link in this comment you will see that it goes to your comment #36 in the other thread.
you defund the Police Department. All the Cops get laid off. No more Police Department, no more Police Union.
you move the money to a completely new Department, the Department of Public Safety.
the Department of Safety has 1 Nurse, 1 EMT, 2 Social Workers, 2 Community Service Workers, for every “Peace Officer”, “Traffic Warden” and “Detective”.
There’s a new meme about how to tell if someone is American. A TV reporter in Knoxville mistook live footage of a police helicopter with the canned footage from the school shooting. She said that she, “had forgotten about the other shooting.” She nearly giggled at her error.
This is revolting.
@Ksmiami: Then they have to stop having age 30 as the cut-off for hiring, because it’s pretty damn hard to go from high school to six years enlistment to four years of college and the police academy and then enlist by thirty. Leaves you maybe a year to think about it or screw up. So all we get is the kids of the current cops who will be born wanting to be just like dad.
Though many of the cop’s kids I know are excellent. Others had the rules bent to be hired when they were iffy to pass the psych tests. Rules were bent because their dad’s were respected cops.
The shorter the window of hiring is the worse the hires will be because they need guys in these jobs.
@sab: what I said doesn’t work, will try again. Or use Steep’s answer at #34 and ignore me altogether.
@Dan B: I was just debating with my husband how many local school shootings we have had. I had forgotten a few.
We had bomb drills in elementary school in the 1960s. We eventually realized those were political theater and a joke.
My grand-daughters have had active shooting drills since kindergarden, and the oldest is now in college. Nobody has ever thought these were a joke.
I am on the same page with John Cole’s rant, except for two things.
Yeah, that’s part of it. But people drink and do drugs because it feels good and people are stupid. But the middle class and rich often get to go to clinics to dry out and get second and third chances. Less fortunate people end up dying in the gutter.
The police are often able to restrain themselves and be nice and polite to the right people. And for a long time, people not only expected the cops to harass black and brown people. They heartily approved of it.
This is not just a matter of bullies and sadists becoming cops. They are doing what they think is expected of them. People have to decide what kind of police force they want. They have to decide to stop being complicit in racist practices.
@anon: Ohio cities tried that and the GOP legislature freaked out and cut state funding.
“Carceral state.” New vocabulary for me.
from The Carceral State website, a project of University of Michigan students and faculty.
Website published May 2020 by Documenting Criminalization and Confinement, a research initiative of the U-M Carceral State Project
in Finland you have to have a 4 year degree, in broad based specific programs, to even apply.
Then, 20 months in a Police Academy,
and you don’t get to carry a gun.
Get 5 years in, nose clean, a 12 month course, and you still don’t get to carry a gun, but you get to be an Armed Response Officer and have one locked in the trunk of your Police car.
Two years after that, nose clean, and another 12 month course, you can become a SWAT member.
and every 6 months, you have to requalify on everything and go through a performance review.
Vs. A GED and a 15 week course to become a Licensed LEO.
Not quite as detailed as it could have been. If you need further details, let me know.
If you hover over (or highlight) the time stamp for any comment you will see that it contains a permanent URL you can use to link back to that comment from elsewhere (including other sites, e-mail, etc.).
You’re making the same point my publisher has been making for a while, John. He’s assigned me the “Sheriff’s Blotter” weekly feature, based on the deputies’ reports, and I’ve been starting to keep a closer eye on these things. Next step is going to be digging into how much of the sheriff’s budget comes from this kind of stuff. I’ve already found out that he basically rents out our county jail to other counties to house inmates in. No wonder he’s bitching that the county needs a bigger jail!
@Mike in NC: Ah ya. Forgot the bastard resigned Just before Christmas.
@Jay: Finland probably is not swimming in guns and assault weapons, as is our “exceptional” country.
But I like their system, if it is as you have laid out.
Gentlemen avoid saying “penal’ when ladies are present.
Andy Borowitz makes a good point over on FB:
Finland has lots of guns, just not pistols and assault rifles.
Most of the guns are used by hunters, farmers, trappers.
Another key difference is the absence for the most part of ammosexuals.
a BIPOC person in traffic, doesn’t scare me. A Gunhumper with his NRA performative decals, truck balls on the back of his Coal Roller scares the shit out of me. KKKops never stop them.
Too gutless I guess.
@Jay: Also, if you require a four year degree, and everyone goes into the military (standard in the US) then a stop-loss order that keeps you in ( Bush did that) blows your chance of civilian employment in police or other jobs (e.g. air traffic control) if a college degree is required and civilian employment has an age 30 cut-off. Police go into the military first. Others go after college. But either way, the age 30 cut-off is a problem.
@sab: 40 years old today is still pretty young and fit…Rt now our police forces seem to be made up of raging ego misfits who should be kept far far away from jobs dealing with the public.
Truly righteous rant Cole and exactly on point. One of the most hopeful things I’ve seen in the last year or so is that there are increasingly people who see and understand this. Change can be infuriatingly slow but I think there’s a movement gathering enough steam in this policy area that we’ll see stuff actually happen in the not too distant future.
You coastal elitist.
In all seriousness, I’d like to pay police far more and then be far more selective about who gets to be an officer. And if you fuck up, you are outta there. I want people who are absolutely top of the line, not these weaksauce thugs and enablers.
We also need far fewer laws.
@Brachiator: the entire heritage of policing in this country is suppressing slave revolts, crack downs on labor unions and recapturing runaway slaves… the time has come to forge a new paradigm.
@Immanentize: They obviously have the wrong people training. Chauvin was training also.
in most of the ROW, military service is not a requirement for Police Employment, nor is being under 30.
In Canada, the usual path is a BS. in Criminology and Psych, ( majors/minors) then a minimum of a year in a Force run or affiliated training Institute, if RCMP, that means two Winterpeg winters, ( but also horses).
I call them “bullshit stops”. I think a lot of the time they think they’ll find drugs or an illegal gun, which is the real reason they stop someone for a broken taillight or window tinting. Around here there are a lot of cars with expired temporary tags (this was true pre-Covid). I figure there’s no money in it for them to stop a car with those on it. There must have been a change in the law, because you never used to see that.
@Suzanne: far fewer dumb laws that are selectively enforced against certain people and communities. Enough.
@Jay: Canadian cops are the best- and they are trained to de-escalate situations as opposed to the roid-cortisol compliance culture of American cops
@bbleh: my first thought exactly. and absolute power corrupts absolutely. and that lady copy murderer thinks she will not have to face the music if she resigns. 20_+ year vet and she does not know the difference between her gun and her taser? pitiful , pathetic. racism fear rage. that’s the reason she killed him
If the cops are gonna do bullshit stops could they at least stop the guys with illegal extra bright headlights or running with their fog lamps lit with no fog? Maybe even just for badly aimed headlights?
Jim, Foolish Literalist
@Suzanne: We also need far fewer laws.
Amen. I believe the warrant that turned the cops into Rambos on Daunte Wright was for a misdemeanor marijuana charge. Marvin Scott was taken to the police station for a misdemeanor possession charge
He died in police custody. I’m a Biden fan and a strong believer in the necessity of normie politics, but Joe needs to get over his reefer madness.
And of course, we need to start taking mental illness seriously in this country.
@Ksmiami: It’s because policing isn’t a normal job where you quit if you feel too old or unhealthy. Cops get an extremely generous pension after 25 years. My brother just retired at 52 and he really doesn’t need to work again for the rest of his life. So whatever your age cutoff is, you have to figure that everyone will stay on the job for 25 years. A 30yo cutoff means your oldest beat cops will be 55. Some detectives and people who make it into management will of course stay longer.
Police pensions warp policing by keeping people who don’t want to do the job anymore slogging through, hating every day.
A note on government pensions. Yes, they are a good thing. However, we’ve basically trashed private sector retirement. But a secure retirement for only government workers (and the wealthy) is not sustainable.
The other thing I can’t really stand is – out here in Hillsboro we had a number of traffic lights go out – not a single cop showing up to direct traffic. I mean wtf – this part of your writ.
I have yet to see any of these assholes go out and direct traffic.
@cain: There are rules for dead traffic lights. If ( big if) your motorists know them then you don’t want traffic cops. They will not make things better.
@Jay: We should try that. The FBI doesn’t want military because they want their guys trained to their rules and customs. I wish US police did that, but they think military training is a shortcut to training. Also too, the last four generations all served, so they think it’s unpatriotic not to have done so.
“Bullshit Stops” are a police/legal term for pulling someone over or making an arrest a 1/2 hour before your shift is over.
that way the KKKop makes time and a half to double time, while the arrest/evidence/paperwork is processed
That’s how a NYC Beat KKKop can pull in $450k to a clear half mil a year off a $110k salary and retire with million dollar benifits.
we have bad cops here too, along with broken policing.
@sab: Bomb drills were theater. I put my junior science mind on it and assuming Akron and Cleveland as prime targets because of their huge factories would get some large bombs. The blast radius would level much of little Wadsworth and the fire radius would take the rest. I didn’t put much effort into ducking or covering.
I wonder if there are studies on the psychological impact of school shooting and drills on kids.
@WaterGirl: Good police departments have strict guidelines about who can train. In my little city, nobody with Chauvin’s actual record would be allowed to train. I also doubt he could have passed the psychological tests our guys need to be trainers.
@Dan B: We were training in central Florida. We used to come home from school talking about the training and my parents just laughed. “We’re in Florida. Nobody cares about us enough to bomb us.” My husband had the same training in Akron. His parents took it seriously.
RCMP who don’t make Staff Sgt, by 20 years in, get bumped up one rank, and retired with that ranks pay and benefits, indexed.
to make Staff Sgt. or Officer, you need at least an applicable Masters. Then you can stay up to 40 years.
That said, the RCMP has a shitload of problems.
basically, it fucks them up,
@Feathers: the pensions for policing need to be performance based gradations – bad cops don’t get them and incentivize the forces for community engagement not bullshit stops.
@Jay: Thanks for the link. I bet it will put me an informed – and grouchy – mood.
@Miss Bianca: Talk to anyone (govt or accounting firm) involved in the Single Audit. If your sherriff gets Federal funds they will be dying to talk to you.
Single Audit is a thing required by any local government agency getting Federal funds. A single federal audit instead of an audit required by every federal government funding agency.
A lot of the people under a single audit hope their superiors will get caught doing known shenanigans. When that doesn’t happen, they want to talk elsewhere.
@NotMax: I mostly love your puns, but that was sad.
I was across the river from Washington, DC, but they stopped doing duck and cover before I was old enough to put two and two together. And even if I had been, I also wasn’t enough of a smartass to say anything about how pointless it was.
Cathie from Canada
I recall reading recently about a sociology professor who had made a career out of studying his local police department. He had concluded that most of a police officer’s work consisted of pulling over cars full of young men and finding something to charge them with.
When the professor’s words were quoted in the local paper, the police department was outraged — to the surprise of the professor, who thought his police friends had already known what they were doing.
@Cathie from Canada:
They knew what they were doing. They just didn’t want it widely known.