One of the Results of Ferguson: Worse Policing

Victor Davis Hansen notes:

…Will some law enforcement officials now surmise that it is wiser to ignore some crimes in the inner city on the practicable logic that the denouement for the officer will likely be negative — either by stopping the assailant through force or not stopping the assault and thus being assaulted?…

Why should a police officer even try? After all, if you’re policing a heavily minority area then any action you take may be construed as racist, and career-ending. Act or don’t act, and it can work out equally badly for you…so maybe just work your patrol route so that you just don’t go into certain areas where you suspect there will be a number of minority men who are up to no good. In other words, surrender part of the streets to them, because fighting them for control of the streets will still leave them in control and might get you fired and possibly sent to jail for civil rights violations.

As readers here know, I am in favor of very deep reforms to policing – but what we’re getting here now is the creation of “no go” areas of our cities. That, I think, is what the criminal element (ie, those who actually looted) want, and it is what the political element doesn’t care about (and, remember, most of the race-baiters live in carefully policed areas…safe and sound in their swell homes, free from any fear of criminal activity, it is easy for them to rabble rouse, knowing that the ill-effects won’t come back to haunt them).

We’re getting in to a very bizarre world here: a world in which lies triumph (only for the moment, of course) and those who are rational are hated. It could be a very bad few years coming up here.

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Brown Family: Wilson “Wanted to Kill Someone”

Even given the fact that she’s grieving, this is astounding:

Michael Brown’s family reacted with anger and tears to the first televised interview with Darren Wilson, in which the officer said he “would not have done anything differently” about the sequence of events that led to the shooting death of Brown.

“He didn’t do what he had to do, he did what he wanted to do,” Brown’s mother Lesley McSpadden told CBS Morning News. “I don’t think he wanted to kill my son, but he wanted to kill someone.”

In the mind of Ms. McSpadden, it appears, is this picture: Officer Wilson, uniformed and in his police car, is cruising the streets of Ferguson looking for someone to kill.

Like all human beings, I suppose, there have been times in my life when I have been almost frantic with anger and sorrow. I’ve never experience the death of a child, of course, but I’ve lived long enough in this world and experienced enough things to peer into the depths upon depths of anger and sorrow that Ms. McSpadden must feel – but even with that, I simply cannot put the two together. I cannot comprehend someone actually believing that a police officer – in the normal course of his duties – would be out to kill someone…some random person on the streets. To be sure, there could be a situation in which there is a psychotic cop who does such a thing, but unless one has rock-solid evidence of this being the case, to make such an accusation is massively beyond the bounds of rational thought. But Ms. McSpadden thinks this.

And trolling the Twitter feed over the last couple of days on Ferguson, I realize she is not alone. Quite a lot of people believe the same sort of thing – and not just about officer Wilson, but about the police, in general.

As readers here know, I believe we need deep reforms of both the police and our larger criminal justice system – but to believe that the police, on the whole, are out to do evil in the world is, well, stupid. I really don’t like to use that word, but I can’t think of a word which better describes it. I mean, you’ve really got to be disconnected from reality to believe that – you have to have woven yourself (or have had woven for you) a series of myths which are entirely impervious to the facts. Police are, of course, human beings – they are prey to all our faults. They can be unreasonable; they can be unjust; they can make purely stupid mistakes – and in the case of Wilson and Brown, maybe the police officer didn’t handle the situation in the best possible manner…but it is abundantly clear that Brown also didn’t behave in the best possible manner. To hold up Brown as some sort of complete innocent in this case is to defy facts and logic – and to turn about and accuse Wilson of a malevolent desire is to go completely ’round the bend.

And it gets worse: the entire liberal narrative is built upon the concept that the police are deliberately malevolent, at least towards minorities. The belief that the system is built against black people and the police are created to enforce the system against black people is the core of this – and in the comments from the Brown family, we see it writ large. Understand it’s not an accusation that Wilson just didn’t do his job right – it is an accusation that Wilson is a murderer who went out to find someone – almost certainly black – to kill that night, because that is what police officers do…and they do it because a racist system sends them out to do it, to keep the black man down (we won’t even get into the particular lunacy of such a belief in a land where the President is black – and so is the attorney general; we don’t want to go too far down the rabbit hole lest we get swallowed up – stare into the abyss long enough and eventually the abyss stares into you, dig?).

I have things to say to my fellow conservatives on this. Don’t trust the word of the police – that is just the word of the government and if we don’t trust the IRS, no reason to trust the police, either. Understand that in the African-American community a lot of people are caught by the system and rather ground up in it – sure, maybe some so caught aren’t pure as wind-driven snow, but a lot of people are caught in the gears over trivialities and the overall community reasonably feels that they are being unjustly singled out: a lot of our laws are designed to be worked by people with plenty of education and resources but when applied to people with less education and resources, they can become an unjust burden. The police shouldn’t be so militarized. The police shouldn’t be effective strangers in the areas they patrol. We conservatives have our own blindness in the matter and we should be kind and understanding and try to see it from a different point of view.

That said, we’ve got a real problem in this nation – there are tens of millions of Americans who aren’t living in the real world. They are living in an intellectual fantasy world. I always wondered when I read accounts of the death of Stalin why so many Russians would be crushed under genuine sorrow for the man’s passing. If you look back into it, there was genuine grief when the man died – and not just from senior apparatchiks of the Stalinist regime, but from regular folks. A man who had done in at least 20 million of his own people – and millions of his people wept at his passing as if they had lost something good. Now I understand it a little better – just feed people enough lying propaganda long enough, and some will come to sincerely believe it. The American people have been fed a line of propaganda about race and the police – and for some, it has sunk right in, and they really believe such things as that racism is still a bar to achievement in America, and that the police are out to get minorities.

The cure for this will be a long time coming – because as we reform things, we’ll be also trying to undo 50 years of lies.

Ferguson, the End

Well, there ya go – a Grand Jury of American citizens good and true ruled there was no cause to indict officer Wilson. We all suspected as much – when the autopsy information was leaked a little while back, it looked pretty clear that for whatever reason, Mr. Brown decided to attack the police officer. You do that, you’re risking your life. As I said when this whole thing first came up, the police had better have a very good reason for shooting when the dead person is unarmed. Per the jury, they had very good reason.

As for the “riots” in Ferguson – I don’t get a “riot” feel out of them. I was in the Los Angeles area when the King riots erupted and that was quite different from what happened in Ferguson. In Ferguson, I just get the feeling that criminal gangs had scoped out where they wanted to loot and were just waiting for the verdict – which makes the decision to release the verdict after dark exceptionally stupid. Also stupid was the decision to not have the police more spread out. From what I can tell, they were concentrated – ready to move, as it were, but not able to just be there out in front of likely looting targets. I could be all wrong on this, but I figure a couple of cops on each corner in the shopping center might have worked better in keeping the looting from happening.

Plenty of people were on Twitter, of course, venting their feelings – what most struck me is the rank ignorance of how the justice system works, and the sheer idiocy in people demanding a certain verdict from a court. You can’t do that – if you want justice, you have to just be fanatically in favor of juries and deeply respectful of whatever judgement they provide. It isn’t that juries are perfect, of course: but they are the only real defense any of us have against tyranny. People these days don’t seem to understand fully just how hard fought the battle was to just ensure that any accused will have a jury of his peers to judge the facts in his case. This is crucial to human liberty – only thus are we freed from fear that the police will just clap is in jail on the whim of the ruler. Trust me, I’ve seen jury verdicts I thought screwed up – but I still want to live in a world where if I’m ever accused of a crime, it will be 12 random citizens who will sift the evidence and decide if I did it.

We can’t write of Ferguson without taking a moment to note the race-baiters. Led, sadly, by our President and Attorney General, they had a field day in this. The really sad thing is that they helped to fuel the hatred and anger for the most trivial of reasons: just to try and gin up political support (Sharpton and Jackson joining in so they can rake off a few bucks and a bit of TV time).

All in all, an entirely pathetic performance – really sad for my nation.

Ferguson Update

Why it’s always best to wait and see how things develope:

The police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., two months ago has told investigators that he was pinned in his vehicle and in fear for his life as he struggled over his gun with Mr. Brown, according to government officials briefed on the federal civil rights investigation into the matter.

The officer, Darren Wilson, has told the authorities that during the scuffle, Mr. Brown reached for the gun. It was fired twice in the car, according to forensics tests performed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The first bullet struck Mr. Brown in the arm; the second bullet missed.

The forensics tests showed Mr. Brown’s blood on the gun, as well as on the interior door panel and on Officer Wilson’s uniform. Officer Wilson told the authorities that Mr. Brown had punched and scratched him repeatedly, leaving swelling on his face and cuts on his neck… (emphasis added)

As I said when the case first emerged – as a general rule, un-armed people should not be shot by the police. As the police did shoot in this case, I’d want to see some absolutely clear reasons why the officer fired. It looks as though we are going to get them: while this is still preliminary, the fact that the Feds are not coming up with any civil rights violations to charge Officer Wilson and the fact that forensics is starting to strongly support the accusation that Mr. Brown attacked, indicates that the shooting may well have been justified.

This doesn’t at all alter my view that the police are still not policing properly, nor that they are over-militarized, nor that deep reforms are needed – but it does kick a massive hole in the liberal narrative about gangs of racist cops out to kill black people. And that, in turn, leads me to wonder just why this particular incident caught on so fast in the national media. Just as with the Martin killing, I suspect a deliberate, orchestrated attempt to get the incident in the public eye.

A Lesson from Ferguson: Our Criminal Justice is Broken

This is just astounding:

Ferguson is a city located in northern St. Louis County with 21,203 residents living in 8,192 households. The majority (67%) of residents are African-American…22% of residents live below the poverty level.

…Despite Ferguson’s relative poverty, fines and court fees comprise the second largest source of revenue for the city, a total of $2,635,400. In 2013, the Ferguson Municipal Court disposed of 24,532 warrants and 12,018 cases, or about 3 warrants and 1.5 cases per household.

Was Brown stopped just so the police could write a revenue-generating ticket?  That is something we need to determine as the investigation goes on – regardless of how the shooting is ruled or what happens to the police officer.

It has been growing on me for years now that we are massively over-law’d in the United States. There are too many laws, too many fines – and the police and prosecutors have too much discretion in deciding whom will enter the meat grinder of our criminal justice system.  Of course, as long as you have money, you’re going to be ok – OJ Simpson, after all, got away with double murder because he had the scratch to hire an all-star defense team. But for some poor body in the inner city who gets pulled over for a traffic violation or gets picked up for minor drug possession?  Forget it: he’s screwed…and once the criminal justice system gets hold of him, it won’t let him go.  Remember, if you don’t appear in court (and maybe you don’t because you have a job you can’t get out of – or have children you can’t find a sitter for and the judge won’t let you bring them into court), you get a warrant for your arrest…and if arrested, you’ll get more fines on top of the original fine.  And if you can’t pay, then you just get in more trouble.

Things like this really make me wonder – do murders go unsolved because there’s no revenue upside for the city?  Are high crime areas ill policed because the cops are out writing tickets? Last time I got a ticket (figured that STOP meant Short Tap On Pedal) the officer was about 20 minutes writing me up.  Twenty minutes he wasn’t out patrolling the streets. He writes 10 tickets per shift and how much time does that leave for the actual job of the police?  Additionally – when we hear someone has a criminal record, does that mean he’s a murderer, or just someone who got busted for pot?

We really need to rethink this – most importantly, the fact that the revenues from fines goes to the municipality which issued the ticket. There’s just too much incentive for cash-strapped cities and counties to see fines as a means to revenue rather than a tool for law enforcement. Maybe make fewer fines and more community service, instead?  I don’t know, but we need to think about this – and I think we might have a situation where the poor, especially the urban poor, are caught in a bind.