The First Amendment and Insulting Cops

Monday, July 27th, 2009

Andrew Sullivan finds an eloquent opinion from federal appeals court judge Alex Kozinski. The plaintiff was suing under federal civil rights statutes after a police officer stopped and arrested him, apparently in retaliation for a series of obscenities the plaintiff had earlier directed at the cop. Kozinski writes:

Defendant relies heavily on the fact that Duran was making obscene gestures toward him and yelling profanities in Spanish while traveling along a rural Arizona highway. We cannot, of course, condone Duran’s conduct; it was boorish, crass and, initially at least, unjustified. Our hard-working law enforcement officers surely deserve better treatment from members of the public. But disgraceful as Duran’s behavior may have been, it was not illegal; criticism of the police is not a crime.

[T]he First Amendment protects a significant amount of verbal criticism and challenge directed at police officers…

The freedom of individuals to oppose or challenge police action verbally without thereby risking arrest is one important characteristic by which we distinguish ourselves from a police state…

Thus, while police, no less than anyone else, may resent having obscene words and gestures directed at them, they may not exercise the awesome power at their disposal to punish individuals for conduct that is not merely lawful, but protected by the First Amendment.

Inarticulate and crude as Duran’s conduct may have been, it represented an expression of disapproval toward a police officer with whom he had just had a run-in. As such, it fell squarely within the protective umbrella of the First Amendment and any action to punish or deter such speech–such as stopping or hassling the speaker–is categorically prohibited by the Constitution…

No matter how peculiar, abrasive, unruly or distasteful a person’s conduct may be, it cannot justify a police stop unless it suggests that some specific crime has been, or is about to be, committed, or that there is an imminent danger to persons or property.

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122 Responses to “The First Amendment and Insulting Cops”

  1. #1 |  JS | 

    It doesn’t matter what the law says. It doesn’t matter that the constitution says. Did you ever see the constitution jump out of its glass case in the museum and throw itself between and angry police officer and his victim? Cops can do whatever they want because there is no one to enforce the law when they break it. Who’s going to enforce the laws against a cop?

  2. #2 |  BamBam | 

    To blog entry: DUH ……

    To reality per JS: YUP.

    As Cynical suggests, see Jim Bell.

    As I suggest, see Marvin Heemeyer.

  3. #3 |  Mister DNA | 

    Geez, JS. You obviously don’t know much about the US Constitution. Of course it doesn’t jump out of glass case in a museum to come and protect our rights.

    If you had paid attention during your high school civics class, you’d know that when the Constitution is being violated, the president stands in front of a mirror and reads the Preamble to the Constitution three times. This causes the image of Lincoln on the penny nearest to the constitutional violator to come to life and grow 10 feet tall (while retaining its copper luster, of course). The giant re-animated Lincoln then wrestles the violator to the ground and forces him to say “uncle”.

    The Post Office is in on it, too. That’s why stamps are never priced at amounts divisible by 5, so there will still be pennies.

  4. #4 |  JS | 

    Mister DNA

    lol! Good stuff! I shoulda paid more attention to the teacher and less to Cynical in CA or Dave Krueger

  5. #5 |  Lorraine Sumrall | 

    An eloquent opinion indeed. Somehow cops have the idea that disrespect of law enforcement is a crime and a crime that justifies the immediate use of all available force. As if this kind of behavior on the part of law enforcement will somehow fabricate the respect they crave. Don’t see it happening.

  6. #6 |  Dave Krueger | 

    “The freedom of individuals to oppose or challenge police action verbally without thereby risking arrest is one important characteristic by which we distinguish ourselves from a police state…”

    Heaven forbid that the U.S should ever become a police state.

    Government Printing Office Police
    Federal Bureau of Investigation Police
    Bureau of Engraving and Printing Police
    Secret Services Uniformed Division Police
    United States Capitol Police
    United States Park Police
    United States Mint Police
    Supreme Court of The United States Police
    Pentagon Police
    National Security Agency Police
    Central Intelligence Agency Police
    National Institute of Standards and Technology Police
    Internal Revenue Service Police
    National Institute of Health Police
    Veterans Affairs Police
    Federal Emergency Management Agency Mount Weather Police
    National Geospatial Police
    Defense Logistics Agency Police
    Federal Reserve Police
    Federal Protective Service Police
    United States Postal Police
    Amtrak Police
    National Zoological Park Police
    Tennessee Valley Authority Police
    Bureau of Indian Affairs Police….
    US Dept of Agriculture, Forest Service Ranger
    US Fish and Wildlife Park Ranger
    US National Park Service Ranger
    US Army Cops of Engineer Ranger
    Boneville Power Administration Police
    Pentagon Force Protection Agency Police
    Environmental Protection Police
    Food and Drug Police
    Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms Police
    D.C. Protective Services Division Police
    Defense Investigative Service Police
    Bureau of Prisons Police
    Drug Enforcement Administration Police
    U.S. Army Military Police
    U.S. Air Force Military Police
    U.S. Navy Shore Patrol
    Federal Aviation Administration Police
    Federal Communications Commission Police
    Department of Transportation Police

    …just to name a few.

  7. #7 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Good news! I think there are some duplications in the above list, so it’s not nearly as bad as I make it out to be. Except I think I also left a bunch out.

  8. #8 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Perhaps we should print a few thousand copies of that part of the opinion and send them to all the police departments and academies and court houses in the country.

  9. #9 |  CharlesWT | 

    Appendix C. Federal Organizations with Some Law Enforcement Functions

  10. #10 |  PW | 

    There’s also the SCOTUS case of Houston v. Hill:

    “The freedom of individuals verbally to oppose or challenge police action without thereby risking arrest is one of the principal characteristics by which we distinguish a free nation from a police state.”

  11. #11 |  Constant | 

    You know what. Waiters who serve me really should not spit in my food if I’m rude to them. It doesn’t matter how miserable I make their lives, their job is to serve me food that they didn’t spit in. It’s just wrong to spit in people’s food. It’s not their job to do that to rude customers.

    But despite all that, I’m polite to waiters. And I’m polite, partly because I just am nice. But partly because I don’t want them to spit in my food. (Think of “spit in my food” here as representative of any lapse in service – I am not specifically paranoid about that, I just want good service.)

    Same is true of anything. All sorts of people you encounter are ideally supposed to let rudeness slide. But realistically it’s too much to ask of the world to supply us with humans who are angels. And, realistically, it’s not too much to ask of ourselves to be polite to the people around us. Including the cops. I’m not talking ideology. I’m not excusing the waiter who spits in my food and I’m not excusing the cop who arrests me for rudeness. I’m being realistic. I don’t think that we will ever achieve a world where people let rudeness slide. People are not built that way. It’s not just cops, it’s waiters, it’s bus drivers, it’s retail clerks, it’s everybody. If you disrespect someone there is a good possibility they will try to screw you over. So be nice.

  12. #12 |  ZappaCrappa | 

    Come on guys….we all know how fragile cops self-image and self-esteem are….

    “I’m good enough…I’m smart enough….and gosh darn it…people LIKE me!” – Cops’ mantra

    LOL….I smell pork….

  13. #13 |  CEH | 

    Cops should not be thin skinned. The nature of their work often times makes otherwise law abiding citizens despise them (no one, I dont’ care who you are, likes to get a ticket or arrested, even if you know you were wrong) and verbally respond. It shouldn’t be against the law to verbally abuse a cop. But, if it’s okay to cuss a cop up and down, can a group of adults have a loud and profane conversation if front of your kids? Can a verbal argument full of expletives take place in a public place without the cops being called? Where do we, as a society, draw the line? What is acceptable behavior in public and why do the police have to endure more verbal abuse then the citizens they are supposed to protect? Just for conversation sake…I’m going for negative 10.

  14. #14 |  CharlesWT | 

    List of law enforcement agencies

  15. #15 |  kt | 

    I believe Emeril might have been channeling some divinity in charge of ironic similes and metaphors when he said, “Pork fat rules”.

  16. #16 |  ZappaCrappa | 

    I won’t “negative you” Charles….but…as you said…cops HAVE to be thick skinned. It wasn’t that hard to learn. Hell…the USMC taught me in about 20 minutes how to be thick skinned and I was called every derogatory thing in the book….asw was my mother for giving birth to me and never once abused my DI for it…not once. I would guess a cop specifically trained to deal with belligerent folks would be better at it than I am. I would hope anyway. But then again…I am convinced that 70-80% are high school bullies who have found a way to continue their career and get paid for it (BONUS!!!!) so they probably cry at night cuddled up with fluffy the bunny while sucking their thumb after a good tongue lashing…..

  17. #17 |  airforce | 

    I suppose the question is, at what point is the individual going beyond exercising his First Amendment right and interfering with the officer attempting to do his job? At what point is a disorderly person interfering with someone else’s ability go about his business peacefully?

    You have the right to speak your mind. You DON’T have the right to stand in the street in front of my house and shout insults at me, if by doing so I am unable to enjoy a quiet night at home.

    Crimes like disorderly conduct and public intoxication are necessarily vague. At what point is a drunk posing a danger to himself or others? At what point is an unruly person interfering with the rights of others?

    These laws are vague by necessity. It requires a trained and hopefully dispassionate officer to make that judgment call.

    For the record, these crimes are seldom prosecuted. here in Tulsa, I can’t remember the last time the DA actually pursued it. The person is put in jail for a few hours until he settles down and sobers up.

    Many of the folks arrested for these crimes are repeat offenders. They have serious mental and substance abuse problems. There is help available for them, if they want it. Very, very few ever take advantage of it.

    Onward and upward,
    airforce

  18. #18 |  Ben | 

    @ Constant

    There’s a big difference between the damage a waiter can inflict upon you, and what the police can accomplish when they overstep their professional boundaries. Police HAVE to be held to higher standard, because of the truly awesome power they have to severely fuck up your life and person with basically no repercussions.

    If you were rude to a waiter, and he either physically assaulted you or had you arrested for some fraudulant charge, then your metaphor would have a little more weight.

  19. #19 |  Constant | 

    cops HAVE to be thick skinned

    Anything that has to be, is. So cops are thick skinned. So Gates was doing more than just being rude.

    Or, alternatively, Gates was merely being rude. So cops are not all thick skinned (and notice that it wasn’t just one cop present at the arrest, so any thin-skinnedness was evidently okay by them). Since cops are not thick-skinned, then they don’t HAVE to be thick-skinned.

    The solution isn’t exhorting cops to overcome their humanity and become robocop. The solution is to change the incentives. That way you take advantage of their humanity to get the behavior you want. The way to change incentives is to change the structure of policing so that the police are more directly answerable to the individuals in the community they protect. Gated communities patrolled by private guards is one approach.

  20. #20 |  CharlesWT | 

    “”

    “”

    “I won’t “negative you” Charles….”

    I think you mean CEH.

    “…ever once abused my DI for it…not once.”

    LOL. I think you have the power relationship backwards.

    When the DIs were calling us nothing worse than “dingleberry,” it probably was going to be a good relative to most of the other days.

  21. #21 |  CEH | 

    16, Zappa, thanks for not “negativing (is that a word?) me” and I agree, in many instances, most instances maybe, a cop should not automatically be able to play the disorderly conduct card because of “contempt of cop”. But, where do you draw the line? A cop is on the scene of a disorderly person – called there by you, a member of the public, trying to restore order. Others are watching. He, or she, gets cussed up and down, called names, mother insulted, yelled at. The person, suspect, subject – whatever you want to call him or her, is asked, more than once, to calm down, stop yelling and listen, this encounter is over, we’re done here, etc. etc. etc. Doesn’t work, yelling and verbal abuse continues. So, the cop just gets in his/her car and drives away? Maybe. But when the cop’s authority truly needs to be abided by, how much more difficult is it going to be if he or she can’t even get a person to quit yelling and cussing at them? It’s not about respect, some cops will never get or earn it. It’s about having to go to scenes where folks get loud, boisterous, profane, and trying to calm them down. If the police can’t do even that, what’s the point of having them?

    And, by the way, Charles? That’s a nice move, why would you do that?

  22. #22 |  Constant | 

    Police HAVE to be held to higher standard, because of the truly awesome power they have to severely fuck up your life and person with basically no repercussions.

    If there are no repercussions then they will continue to fuck up your life. Arresting Gates for a few hours by the way is not seriously fucking up his life, it’s not much more inconvenient than going to the DMV to have your license renewed, at least where I live.

    If there are no repercussions then there is no mechanism to enforce compliance with higher standards. Essentially you’re saying, “since there is no mechanism to produce Behavior X, therefore Behavior X HAS to be produced”. It’s almost a logical self-contradiction.

  23. #23 |  JS | 

    Dave Krueger “Good news! I think there are some duplications in the above list, so it’s not nearly as bad as I make it out to be. Except I think I also left a bunch out.”

    You left out all the state and local police agencies, city, county, state wildlife, and many others who all make life miserable for so many people.

  24. #24 |  Mister DNA | 

    Right on, Ben (#18)

    Waiters don’t find themselves in situations where spitting in someone’s food is justifiable, and if they’re caught doing it, the best-case scenario for them is that they get fired. If I owned a restaurant and caught an employee spitting in someone’s food, I’d leave it up to the customer to decide on prosecution.

    Just because cops find themselves in situations where they have to arrest people or use force, does not mean that arrest and the use of force should be the standard reaction to any negative situation. Goddamn right cops should be held to a higher standard; when you have the authority to take someone’s life in the line of duty, a modicum of professionalism should be expected. Instead, the responsibility has become the burden of us “civilians”; we need to act right if we don’t want the boot in our face.

  25. #25 |  Chance | 

    Well, most everyone is probably already familiar with this video, but it is still a good example of how a cop probably should handle an verbally abusive situation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fyHMbHHtArE

    Just be cool.

  26. #26 |  CEH | 

    #24, You are correct: arrest and use of force should not be the go to option in every “negative situation” the cops go to. Let me ask you, are there any situations that they go to that aren’t “negative”? Here we go: “Unit 212, respond to 112 Elm for a report of a family having a decent converstation at dinner and spending quality time with one another” or how about, “210 – report of no fatal accidents on the interstate, everything is running smoothly”. Cops aren’t called when things are going right or positive. They are only called when humans are at their worst or in the worst possible circumstances (accidents). Emotions are high, tempers flare, but someone is charged with restoring order and safety. Who’s that?

  27. #27 |  CEH | 

    #25,That doesn’t count. The trooper thought he was writing a ticket to Woody Allen and was doing his best not to laugh.

  28. #28 |  Ben | 

    “If there are no repercussions then they will continue to fuck up your life. Arresting Gates for a few hours by the way is not seriously fucking up his life, it’s not much more inconvenient than going to the DMV to have your license renewed, at least where I live.”

    BS. Many job applications I have filled out specifically asks if you have every been arrested for a crime. It could seriously affect your ability to get a job. It could be held against you at a child custody hearing, or if you wanted to adopt a child, or countless other things they do background checks for. Arrest records tend to stick around for awhile. It doesn’t end when they release you

    “If there are no repercussions then there is no mechanism to enforce compliance with higher standards. Essentially you’re saying, “since there is no mechanism to produce Behavior X, therefore Behavior X HAS to be produced”. It’s almost a logical self-contradiction.”

    What I am saying is that since the police will OBVIOUSLY never seriously police themselves, we as a society need to rise up in outrage at EVERY abuse of power (no matter how slight) and demand changes to the disciplinary process. Unfortunately, most of America is too lazy (motivationally and intellectually) and comfortable to care, and that angers me.

  29. #29 |  Pinandpuller | 

    Cops should be forced to watch the scene in “Roadhouse” where Patrick Swayze takes over the Double Deuce. “Be nice, until it’s time to not be nice.”

  30. #30 |  CEH | 

    #28 “Obviously never seriously police themselves”. What data do you have to back that up? Do you know any cops that have lost their jobs due to misconduct? I do. And in many cases it was misconduct discovered by the department, not a citizen complaint. Very restrictive privacy laws in most states keep the public from knowing when cops are fired or suspended for misconduct (absent criminal charges, which are almost always made public). Get that changed and you’ll see many departments police themselves quite well. Are there exceptions, unfortunately yes, but the whole profession shouldn’t be painted the same way because of them.

  31. #31 |  Ben | 

    #30 Have you ever been on this site before? 90% of the incidents Radley reports on end with “Police have concluded their internal investigation with a finding that Officer So-and-so’s actions were appropriate.” It is RARE that a cop is fired. And as for complaints that originate internally, those cops are ostracized and looked at as traitors in the BEST cases, if not disciplined themselves. Radley has reported on several cases of cops suing after having been fired or demoted for whistle-blowing

  32. #32 |  Mister DNA | 

    et me ask you, are there any situations that they go to that aren’t “negative”?

    For the police, most situations should be neutral. You never know… someone might call to report a break-in, only to have it turn out to be a college professor trying to get into his own home. Crazy, I know… but it could happen, couldn’t it?

    They are only called when humans are at their worst or in the worst possible circumstances (accidents). Emotions are high, tempers flare, but someone is charged with restoring order and safety. Who’s that?

    I like to take walks for exercise. I live across the street from a residential parkway used by many people in my neighborhood for walks and jogging. Because it’s 98 degrees outside and humid, I prefer to take my walks late at night. For me, it’s a positive situation. When the cops see someone walking along the parkway at 3am, they’re the ones who turn it into a negative situation by assuming I’m up to no good. When I walk, I carry my wallet with me for one purpose, and it’s not because I might want to buy something while I’m walking, it’s because I want to have ID handy because I don’t want a maglite across my jaw.

    And no, I’m not being paranoid. I learned my lesson over 20 years ago. My name is so generic, it might as well be John Doe or John Q. Public. If I tell an officer my name and don’t have ID to prove it, I’m fucked. Why is that? It’s because there’s too many cops out there who don’t take the time to think that not everyone is lying to them.

  33. #33 |  CEH | 

    #31, “90% of the cases Radley reports on”! Are you kidding me? You think that’s all that goes on with citizen interactions and misconduct investigations in this COUNTRY? All Radley reports is negative things designed to show a pattern and support his point of view. There is much, much more to it than this site reports. Cops get fired, sued, prosecuted, etc. ALL of the time and it’s not reported on this site. I agree with a lot of Radley’s sentiments, but he only shows the bad aspects of policing from his point of view, designed to grab readers’ attention. Unfortunately, it is not rare that a cop gets fired. You just don’t know about it.

  34. #34 |  Ben | 

    Hey, you gave anecdotal evidence, so did I. I didn’t say that it was an exhaustived study. Would you say that in general cops that engage in misconduct are likely to actually be disciplined? In my experience and that of people I know and speak to, discipline is rare compared to the amount of misconduct that occurs. As for the cases Radley reports on, I would say that 90% of the cases, the cop DESERVES to be fired, and he almost never is.

  35. #35 |  CEH | 

    #32, Sir, saying most situations should be neutral is neither realistic nor fair to the officers responding. A domestic violence call, report of shots fired, robbery in progress, burglary in progress, etc. cannot be treated as neutral. Officers have to respond as if the call is true until their investigation shows it isn’t. That’s how they remain safe (the job is dangerous and never absolutely safe, but steps can be taken – I hope some folks understand that). Having someone inside a home that was just reported as being possibly burglarized produce ID IS part of the investigation to show there was no actual burglary. Imagine the outcry if the cop shows up and a true burglar yells through the door “I live here” and the cop leaves…damned if they do, damned if they don’t.

    As far as your other scenario, I’d hope you wouldn’t be contacted just for walking, no matter what the hour. However, if some nosey neighbor sees you from the bedroom window and calls the police, aren’t they supposed to respond and at least talk to you?

  36. #36 |  CEH | 

    #34, Who are you speaking to? Officers? Look, in case it isn’t obvious, I’m in law enforcement and I’m of a rank that is privy to more information in my department than many. I know officers are disciplined for misconduct in my mid-sized agency. I know they are fired for things discovered by supervisors and investigators absent any involvement with a citizen. In many cases, officers are given discipline and ordered not to talk about. If they are suspended, their peers think they took the week off. When they get fired, well everyone knows, but it can’t be released to the public because of privacy protections afforded by state law (I wish I lived in a “sunshine state”). Criminal charges, like many that Radley discusses, almost always go public. Some result in convictions, some do not. Some result in termination, some do not. When you talk about 90% of the misconduct Radley reports, you talk about his objection to military style conduct, dogs being killed, etc. Right now, the culture of law enforcement sees tactically conducted search warrants as a good thing – it is not misconduct to them, so why would they hold their officers accountable for it? The shooting of dogs…well all of the media stories, which are only one side of the story mind you, are disturbing to me. Training is in order for the profession. Please realize police departments are restricted in the information they can release, where there is no information there is often misinformation by the media to fill the void. Radley does bring to light some very disturbing incidents of misconduct and corruption, but that’s not all that goes on every day in this country.

  37. #37 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    “it is not misconduct to them, so why would they hold their officers accountable for it?”

    That’s the point.

  38. #38 |  Les | 

    CEH, no here thinks that cops doing bad things is “all that goes on every day in this country.” There are obviously plenty of good cops. But the fact is cops do bad things every day without being treated the way non-cops would be treated for the same behavior (when they’re caught, that is). Every day “good” cops turn their heads and ignore unprofessional behavior by bad cops. And media misinformation is not what puts innocent people in jail. It doesn’t taze children and old people. It doesn’t kick people while they’re in handcuffs.

    Until the majority of LEO’s can admit there is a huge problem (instead of defensively blaming the media and the public’s lack of understanding) and have zero tolerance for the kind of thuggish behavior we see every day from police officers, the problem will not go away.

  39. #39 |  Randy Richardson | 

    Here in Mississippi, the newspapers sometimes list arrests.

    It’s amazing how many times the arrest was for “ridiculing a police officer.”

    Right there in black and white, in the newspaper.

  40. #40 |  craig | 

    “Cops can do whatever they want because there is no one to enforce the law when they break it. Who’s going to enforce the laws against a cop?”

    People seriously piss me off with this sort of victim talk. Look, here’s the deal: there is no calvary. Nobody is coming to save you. YOU have to save your self. If a cop takes advantage of you, sue them. The laws are there for a reason. Use the laws and beat them down.

    @CEH,
    Look, the simple fact of the matter is that cops get away with gross violations of the law and abusive procedures and are rarely punished for it. I remember reading about the city of Houston which has had something like nearly 100 police go before grand juries, 2 actually be indicted and a whopping 1 officer be convicted of some softball violation (criminal negligent homicide) where he got probation. Cops are simply not held to the same standard as everyone else.

  41. #41 |  Matt I. | 

    CEH,

    While I agree that there are many internally originated suspensions and disciplinary actions against officers, I believe that the vast majority of them involve INTERNAL misconduct, things like improper handling of evidence, false timesheet reporting, even theft.

    Has there ever been a case where a supervisor read an arresting officer’s report and said, ‘My God! this was a blatantly unconstitutional arrest, action needs to be taken’? Or has there been a case where, without any prodding from the outside, the supervisor became suspicious of the officers justification for use of force against a criminal and began an investigation? If there have been, I would love to know.

  42. #42 |  BamBam | 

    If there are no repercussions then they will continue to fuck up your life. Arresting Gates for a few hours by the way is not seriously fucking up his life, it’s not much more inconvenient than going to the DMV to have your license renewed, at least where I live.

    Wrong. Even an arrest, release (x < 8) hours later, and no conviction can wreak serious havoc in a person’s life. A lot of employers will fire you simply for being arrested, even if it was a wrongful arrest or there were no charges brought or you weren’t convicted. Then there’s this silly thing called being a [supposed] free person that doesn’t cower when the State Thugs come around, yet if you don’t they will “encourage” you to pay proper homage. Principles dictate that any wrongful arrest is a severe inconvenience on a person’s liberty.

  43. #43 |  BamBam | 

    Should be x < eight, it interpreted it as a sunglasses smiley.

    Is there a list of tags that this blog supports in comments?

  44. #44 |  Matt D | 

    People seriously piss me off with this sort of victim talk. Look, here’s the deal: there is no calvary. Nobody is coming to save you. YOU have to save your self. If a cop takes advantage of you, sue them. The laws are there for a reason. Use the laws and beat them down.

    Seriously? Cus most cases I’ve heard of, it’s been the city that gets sued, with the taxpayer footing the bill, and the cop keeping his job cus whatever joke of an internal review was conducted about the matter cleared him on wrongdoing and the relevant pols don’t want to rock the boat by taking on the police unions. I mean, where I live, I’m pretty sure there’s cops still on the job who have lost multiple civil suits and cost the city millions of dollars.

  45. #45 |  ChrisD | 

    Ben,

    Anyone who was caught underage drinking by cops knows about how the cops really operate. There’s a cop still working for the Philly PD right now who jammed a gun into a woman neck b/c she was rear-ended in a collision by his son. He’s not only not being prosecuted, but was working until last week when in was featured in the papers. I have met good cops and want there to be more of them, but there’s no reason to excuse bad ones to say the least.

    You know what else is great about Kosinski? He had naked pictures on a humor web site he maintained so he can never ever be an SCOTUS.

  46. #46 |  ChrisD | 

    Meant to write “Anyone who was EVEN caught ONLY underage….etc. “

  47. #47 |  scott | 

    Right now, the culture of law enforcement sees tactically conducted search warrants as a good thing – it is not misconduct to them, so why would they hold their officers accountable for it?

    Echoing Boyd’s response… that’s the FUCKING point, man!

    Jeezus, why is it so hard for LEOs to step back for a moment and consider that maybe the citizenry they’re charged with “serving and protecting” aren’t universally inclined to accept that a tactical response to most (or even many) search warrants is a good thing? Or are LEOs just universally ill-equipped to think in nonlinear or abstract terms? Must be tough when you view yourself as a hammer and all of us civilian slobs as nails.

    I don’t give a flying toss what the “culture of law enforcement sees as a good thing”. As I see it the “culture of law enforcement” is one of ass-covering, revenue driven, badged up frat boy antics. Christ on a pancake, it’s like a majority of American cops saw “Smokey and the Bandit” as kids and came away from the experience thinking that Jackie Gleason’s character was a role model.

  48. #48 |  Frank N | 

    The only question is, did he curse him out before or after he produced ID…

    Some cops are bad, some general public are bad. Most from both sides are inherently good and can do really stupid shit.

    The drug war is the downfall of cops, legalize drugs and what would Radley have to write about sans drug raids gone bad?

  49. #49 |  billy-jay | 

    @CEH:

    You know who really doesn’t like to get tickets: cops.

  50. #50 |  parse | 

    “90% of the cases Radley reports on”! Are you kidding me? You think that’s all that goes on with citizen interactions and misconduct investigations in this COUNTRY? All Radley reports is negative things designed to show a pattern and support his point of view.

    I’ve seen several cases where Balko reported on an incident before the investigation was completed, and weeks or months later the “internal investigation” cleared cops of any misbehavior. So, unless he’s clairvoyant, he wasn’t cherry picking those interactions to show a pattern and support his point of view.

  51. #51 |  Matt C. | 

    Radley-
    Just thought I would point out something entertaining. As I pulled up my RSS feed and read the posting the advertisment at the bottom was to earn a degree to become a police or law enforcement individual.

  52. #52 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #36 CEH

    #34, Who are you speaking to? Officers? Look, in case it isn’t obvious, I’m in law enforcement and I’m of a rank that is privy to more information in my department than many. I know officers are disciplined for misconduct in my mid-sized agency…..

    To paraphrase:

    “I’m a cop. Trust me. Discipline happens all the time, but we’re forced to by law to keep it a secret even though we’d much rather out our fellow officers so they could be held accountable by the public.

    “All of what you hear in the press is slanted because cops have a blue wall… I mean tradition… I mean rules, that prevent them from talking about the behavior of other cops. If both sides of the story were reported, everyone would see that those dogs had it coming.

    “Sure, SWAT raids suck for those get raided, but we just happen to like SWAT raids, so quit yer bitchin’ and live with it.

    “Sure, bad stuff happens, but it’s rare just like bad cops are the rare exception.

    “Cops need training, but until that happens, it can’t be their fault, right?”

    ——————–

    I absolutely agree that cops need to have the authority necessary to investigate an incident and maintain some semblance of order. But, cops should not be using their authority to violate people’s rights because of their own ignorance of the law. The cases discussed here are usually pretty straight forward in the sense that the cops were acting far beyond what’s required or permitted to do their job and people suffered for it.

    When people get angry at cops, the cops’ egos get bruised. Big deal. When cops get angry at citizens, people get tased, slammed to the ground, humiliated, arrested, and subsequently become the target of a concerted effort by the entire justice system to justify the cops’ behavior.

    Cops say that people should obey them on the scene and then complain about their rights being violated later when the danger has passed. The problem with that is that complaining later doesn’t work. Cops lie in reports, they lie in court, they lie when they’re interrogating suspects, they tamper with and destroy evidence, and they have the entire department, prosecutor’s office, and court system backing them up. Complaining later usually only works in one case and that’s when there is video and that video is in the hands of someone other than the “good” guys (and even then they will often fight it tooth and nail, at least until they see the futility of doing so).

    I think the self-defense instinct permeates police departments so thoroughly that they probably don’t even recognize any ethical conflict. It’s like that website “Cops Writing Cops” (or whatever it was called). The idea of a cop holding another cop accountable is, to cops, outrageous. To them, the “rogue cop” is the one who tattles on another cop, not the one who breaks the law. Exemption from accountability is a birthright to them. When it does happen, they feel like they’re the unlucky victims because they know most other cops get away with similar stuff.

    Sorry for the harsh tone. You probably don’t deserve that. But, whether you agree with it or not, I think the above is probably the perception held by some, if not most of the readers here and I don’t think it’s likely to change, at least until these problem are officially acknowledged by law enforcement agencies. And no, we’re not holding our breath expecting that to happen anytime soon.

  53. #53 |  MacK | 

    From the Courts decision:
    “If there is one irreducible minimum in our Fourth Amendment jurisprudence, it is that a police officer may not detain an individual simply on the basis of suspicion in the air. No matter how peculiar, abrasive, unruly or distasteful a person’s conduct may be, it cannot justify a police stop unless it suggests that some specific crime has been, or is about to be, committed, or that there is an imminent danger to persons or property. Were the law any different–were police free to detain and question people based only on their hunch that something may be amiss–we would hardly have a need for the hundreds of founded suspicion cases the federal courts decide every year, for we would be living in a police state where law enforcement officers, not the courts, would determine who gets stopped and when.”

    Yet they still allow sobriety check points.

  54. #54 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #52 MacK

    Yet they still allow sobriety check points.

    Yeah, I’d like to know how checkpoints differ from a cop just randomly selecting someone to pull over? I suspect they would answer than a checkpoint doesn’t allow for any chance of discrimination because they stop everyone, but that’s not true. Checkpoints do nothing more than shift the point at which discrimination can occur until after the vehicle is stopped.

  55. #55 |  Tokin42 | 

    Having the right to be an ass isn’t the same thing as being entitled to be an ass. That’s the problem I’ve had with the gates fiasco from the beginning. Being a dick, without proper cause, just makes it more difficult for everyone.

    What did gates accomplish? If you believe, like I do, that cops get away with being pricks unnecessarily, then gates just hurt your cause. If you think cops routinely disregard the rights of black males in our society, like I do, then again, gates hurt your cause. Just because he has a constitutional right to be a prick doesn’t change the fact that he also has an obligation as a citizen, a professor, and a black man to behave in a way that reflects his status. We have every right as fellow citizens to condemn his behavior just as harshly as we condemn cops that step out of line.

  56. #56 |  Marty | 

    most suburban cops are roving tax collectors. our town got a new motorcycle for the boys. the stipulation by the dept- whoever rides the bike has to fill a ticket book a day. unbelievable. some of these assholes have contests amongst themselves seeing who can write the most tickets…

    I know there are a few great cops out there, but many are just roving tax collectors sucking up for a promotion. they don’t deserve our respect- they deserve to be tarred and feathered.

  57. #57 |  Sam | 

    To repeat something I’ve been saying in several threads, I appreciate CEH’s appearance here. It adds an absolutely necessary opposing voice to the forum conversation…same with Constant. Please continue posting fellows, don’t stop simply because the argument has become heated. You have some useful points buried in there, but your inexperience arguing with someone who disagrees is showing.

  58. #58 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #54 Tokin42

    What did gates accomplish? If you believe, like I do, that cops get away with being pricks unnecessarily, then gates just hurt your cause. If you think cops routinely disregard the rights of black males in our society, like I do, then again, gates hurt your cause.

    Yep. While I agree that the cop shouldn’t have arrested him, it’s hard to be very sympathetic toward Gates.

    Just because he has a constitutional right to be a prick doesn’t change the fact that he also has an obligation as a citizen, a professor, and a black man to behave in a way that reflects his status. We have every right as fellow citizens to condemn his behavior just as harshly as we condemn cops that step out of line.

    True, but Gates didn’t violate anyone’s rights. Even if you declare that both Gates and the cop were perfectly equal pricks, the cop used his official power to punish Gates which he absolutely should not have done.

  59. #59 |  JS | 

    Tokin “Having the right to be an ass isn’t the same thing as being entitled to be an ass.”

    Yes it is.

  60. #60 |  Chance | 

    I’m not a big fan of Christopher Hitchens, but I like this anecdote he tells in a recent article on Slate:

    “More recently, I was walking at night in the wooded California suburb where I spend the summer, trying to think about an essay I was writing. Suddenly, a police cruiser was growling quietly next to me and shining a light. “What are you doing?” I don’t know quite what it was—I’d been bored and delayed that week at airport security—but I abruptly decided that I was in no mood, so I responded, “Who wants to know?” and continued walking. “Where do you live?” said the voice. “None of your business,” said I. “What’s under your jacket?” “What’s your probable cause for asking?” I was now almost intoxicated by my mere possession of constitutional rights. There was a pause, and then the cop asked almost pleadingly how he was to know if I was an intruder or burglar, or not. “You can’t know that,” I said. “It’s for me to know and for you to find out. I hope you can come up with probable cause.” The car gurgled alongside me for a bit and then pulled away. No doubt the driver then ran some sort of check, but he didn’t come back.”

  61. #61 |  JS | 

    Dave Krueger “To paraphrase:

    “I’m a cop. Trust me. Discipline happens all the time, but we’re forced to by law to keep it a secret even though we’d much rather out our fellow officers so they could be held accountable by the public.”

    Nice paraphrase. That’s pretty much how he sounded to me too. I thought I was reading a Soviet era justification for the secret police.

  62. #62 |  Tokin42 | 

    Dave,

    I disagree with the premise that because Gates doesn’t carry a badge his actions don’t affect anyone else. He has just as much of an obligation to behave in a civil manner as the cop. Just because the cop failed doesn’t change the fact that Gates failed too. The only person the arrest hurt was gates, gates behavior on the other hand will end up hurting more people than just himself.

  63. #63 |  JS | 

    Chance-lol Hitchens got away with that because he has a British accent and the cop felt intellectually intimidated. Me and you woulda got the crap kicked out of us.

  64. #64 |  Sam | 

    And now my 2 cents…

    I believe that CEH is associated with a small city in a semi-rural area or an outlying suburb (do feel free to correct me, I’m trying to frame your viewpoint). The key problem with your outlook, to me, is that it is based on a group of officers that is small enough to be effectively overseen and lucky enough to have good overseers and fewer bullies. The other possibility (more likely to my mind simply because of my experiences) is that you’re simply unaware of the general misconduct of your officers every day on the street. If there are no felony activities on their part then you may have convinced yourself that the other abuses of power are excusable (perhaps only because they are legal or borderline). I, and many others here, disagree.

    I also think there are valid points to the “we all have to get along” and “you have to work with human nature” statements. Let’s not get so hot-headed that we lose sight of what we’re doing here. Saying we don’t want police to abuse power is fine, but we really do need to form solutions based on human nature and getting along or we’ll be of little more use than Freepers. Telling a cop he just has to be better than us sounds great but they’re still just people, like us. Saying we’ll just cap their ass when they do it to us feels good, but it changes nothing for Ryan Frederick. Much as I’ve fought with the law over the years (and yes, my record has f***ed my career so don’t tell me an arrest means nothing) I’m really not sure what sort of process for change would be best, but here’s what I’d like to see for a start:

    1) Open records. It’s perfectly reasonable to suggest that our taxes cover free reproduction of requested data for individuals up to 1000 pages a year or something of that nature. Have a workstation set up at every police station where records can be accessed by *anyone* walking in. No need to sign in, no need to fight over it, just type in requests. Yes, this means that privacy laws need to be adjusted but considering how we’ve handled offender registration I’d be surprised if it was an issue. Denial of records subject to termination from the force.

    2) Recording of all planned events. Said records should also be immediately available to the public. This includes crowd control, swat deployments, cameras in cruisers, etc. Disabling of one of these devices during an event subject to automatic termination. In the possible case of there being a good reason to disable a device they can prove it in court, but the onus should be on them.

    I could go on but these two are most important and always should have been in effect. They offer disincentive to abuse (human nature) and records that back up both victims and accused as necessary. To be clear, these need to be as close to 100% as possible, not the stale attempts we have seen over the years. Apologies for the length, I need to learn to condense.

  65. #65 |  Marty | 

    from ‘who’s your nanny’ this morning-

    ‘I also noticed that Ms. Whalen has hired Wendy Murphy as her attorney. One may wonder why someone who simply called 911 to report a possible burglary would need an attorney, but this is a very wise move. You should never talk to the police without a lawyer especially if you are innocent.’

    Whalen was the woman who started this shitstorm by calling 911…

  66. #66 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    Gates did not need to “accomplish” anything.
    He was on the receiving end of a criminal investigation
    of a crime that never occurred in a country where
    self-incrimination is not compulsory.
    This type of thinking is disturbing. “Uncooperative”..bah!
    he showed his ID and that he was a lawful resident.
    The cop should have left. It’s not that difficult.

  67. #67 |  omar | 

    disagree with the premise that because Gates doesn’t carry a badge his actions don’t affect anyone else. He has just as much of an obligation to behave in a civil manner as the cop.

    I’ll agree with this when a simple citizen maintains the power to arrest the police. Until then, the burden of civility rests on the police officer’s choice to assume awesome powers as a professional enforcer.

    Us little people didn’t take an oath to serve and protect. We aren’t professional civilians. We can’t be compelled to treat abusers with respect.

  68. #68 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #61 Tokin42

    Dave,

    I disagree with the premise that because Gates doesn’t carry a badge his actions don’t affect anyone else. He has just as much of an obligation to behave in a civil manner as the cop. Just because the cop failed doesn’t change the fact that Gates failed too. The only person the arrest hurt was gates, gates behavior on the other hand will end up hurting more people than just himself.

    There is no such thing as a right to not have your feelings hurt. Manners are a cultural requirement, not a legal one. Sure, the whole world would be happier if everyone was a nice guy, but I question how much injury was really done to anyone, besides the cop, by Gates loud mouth.

    Gates’s behavior may not have been civil, but what really makes his behavior objectionable is that his accusation was very probably wrong (or at least he had insufficient evidence to know he was right).

    I don’t think the point of most arguments on here is to justify unwarranted verbal abuse by people toward cops. The argument is far more about what cops are permitted to do about it. In any case, I believe most people, either by temperament or because of cultural influences, are reasonably well mannered and aren’t verbally abusive to cops and will continue to be.

    Also, don’t believe Gates’s position in the world mandates his behavior, but rather that his position is a result of his past behavior. The university where he is employed gets to make the decision whether his behavior is appropriate for his position and take appropriate action if not.

  69. #69 |  Tokin42 | 

    Omar,

    The problem is the cop wasn’t doing anything wrong! If gates had come to the door, given him an ID with a picture instead of screaming “don’t you know who I am?”,”your mama”, and “RACIST!” then the cop could have done his job and moved on.

    If we expect the cops to police their behavior, then we have the same obligation to do the same for civilians. Gates was in the wrong, shouldn’t have been arrested, but still wrong and he should be called out on it.

  70. #70 |  Marty | 

    tokin-

    asshole behavior is encouraged in many people- the loud, boorish woman in a store gets waited on by 3 eager employees while the meek, polite woman is ignored. the squeaky wheel gets the grease. for many people, I think this is a way of life. it’s being an asshole. it’s not illegal. cops are not the same as customers. they’re public servants. while I don’t think they should needlessly take abuse- if a law isn’t broken, they should remove themselves from the situation. he could have easily left. ego is a big thing and I feel that’s the reason many incidents are needlessly escalated…

  71. #71 |  Mike T | 

    Cops can do whatever they want because there is no one to enforce the law when they break it. Who’s going to enforce the laws against a cop?

    Back in the day, that would be the Posse Comitatus. See, back in the 19th century, the America public didn’t think you needed to be a rocket scientist to be able to have a reasonable idea of when someone broke the law and turn them over to a court.

    Back then, if a cop started beating the hell out of someone, it was perfectly legal for onlookers to jump the cop or sheriff, and haul his ass into court for prosecution.

  72. #72 |  omar | 

    If we expect the cops to police their behavior, then we have the same obligation to do the same for civilians. Gates was in the wrong, shouldn’t have been arrested, but still wrong and he should be called out on it.

    Please, by all means, call Gates out. Shout into a megaphone “bad Gates, bad evil elitist shallow man.”

    The problem is the cop wasn’t doing anything wrong!

    Oh, but he did. He took a man who committed no crime, violated nobody’s rights, sitting on his own property to jail. That’s wrong.

  73. #73 |  Sam | 

    Tokin, I’d agree we have *an* obligation to police our behavior as civilians, but not the same as an officer of the law. I suggest that Gates pushed the limit of civility but neither legality nor that unwritten obligation we are discussing.

  74. #74 |  Sam | 

    “Oh, but he did. He took a man who committed no crime, violated nobody’s rights, sitting on his own property to jail. That’s wrong.”

    ^This. You might be able to say that he committed a crime we haven’t heard the details of, but with the cop and media culture of today I won’t be believing it without damned good evidence.

  75. #75 |  Mike T | 

    asshole behavior is encouraged in many people- the loud, boorish woman in a store gets waited on by 3 eager employees while the meek, polite woman is ignored. the squeaky wheel gets the grease. for many people, I think this is a way of life. it’s being an asshole. it’s not illegal.

    That depends on how you behave like an asshole. If there is a statute on disturbing the peace (which Massachusetts apparently lacks) and you stand out in public screaming like an enraged baboon, you’re going to be asking for trouble.

    Assholes being assholes, they don’t want anyone to limit their prerogative to scream at others and shout obscenities in mixed company, but it’s no infringement on anyone’s freedom to arrest them for behaving like a raving, whackjob asshole in public if that is disturbing their neighbors. That kinda falls under the whole idea of “your freedom ends where mine begins.”

  76. #76 |  Sam | 

    #74 Mike: which is why I’d like video…each side can play he-said, she-said till they’re blue in the face but the only real question is “did his antics cross the line legally to disturbing the peace?”…and this is moot if it was instigated by the officer attending which would put the disturbance at his feet.

  77. #77 |  Tokin42 | 

    question how much injury was really done to anyone, besides the cop, by Gates loud mouth.

    My point was the next townie black kid who gets picked up because he “fits the description”, i.e. black, is going to find it much harder for people to believe him when he claims to be a victim of profiling. Gates did more damage to the cause of pointing out police abuses than he did to himself by being arrested.

    Gates sets himself up as a role model for affirmative action. If he believes himself to be a role model then he has an obligation (to his race and profession) to behave in a certain manner. He didn’t and now he’s damaged that credibility. He failed and he shouldn’t get a pass just because he was able to push enough of the cops buttons to get arrested.

    His behavior damaged his position, his race, his university, and his neighborhood. I don’t see why people have a hard time calling him out for that.

  78. #78 |  Tokin42 | 

    #69

    People behave that way because they get away with it, just like people here want to excuse gates. Maybe if more people took the time to let people know “being an asshole gets you treated like an asshole” people would wise up.

  79. #79 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    “His behavior damaged his position, his race, his university, and his neighborhood.”

    You don’t even know his behavior.
    Your basing it on the Police Report.
    Where are these audios of Gates screaming wildly?
    I suppose they got conveniently lost. “Inadvertently” destroyed, as the Police like to say LOL

  80. #80 |  Zargon | 

    #74
    but it’s no infringement on anyone’s freedom to arrest them for behaving like a raving, whackjob asshole in public if that is disturbing their neighbors.

    This sounds nice in theory, but how do you translate it into practice? What if I’m the neighbor and I don’t particularly mind random psychotic ravings every few days? Maybe I think it’s funny as hell and look forward to it.

    What if I’m the neighbor and I just can’t stand the next door neighbors conversing normally on their lawn because I like reading books in absolute quiet with open windows for a pleasant summer breeze?

    What’s that? The neighbors don’t even decide if they’re being disturbed? It’s some third party that walks in and decides if the the neighbors are being disturbed or not (no need to consult them, of course) and then uses force to resolve a problem that exists because they say it does?

  81. #81 |  Tokin42 | 

    Synopsis of all my arguments re gatesgate:

    Regardless of if they have on a uniform and a badge, I don’t like assholes and they should be punished.

  82. #82 |  Tokin42 | 

    Yizmo,

    Point me in the direction of any news report where gates disputes the story put out by the cops.

  83. #83 |  omar | 

    Maybe if more people took the time to let people know “being an asshole gets you treated like an asshole” people would wise up.

    Yall get that, black people? Wise up, pay respect to the po-lice, and they won’t hurt you.

  84. #84 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Sam,

    Human nature plays a part, for sure. If a cop encounters someone who insists on ruining his day, a cop might take it personally and fly off the handle. Human nature, right? But, when they abuse their monopoly on the use of force to get even, that exceeds the boundaries of what’s permissible.

    I think that part of a cop’s job is (or should be) to deescalate a confrontation. He’s not acting in the capacity of a citizen, but as a paid official trained to resist knee-jerk impulses. Other professions face similar challenges. Psychiatrists aren’t allowed to lose control when a patient gets verbally abusive, either.

    As naive as it sounds, a cop’s first reaction should be to defuse the situation by trying to be a friend rather than becoming an adversary just looking for a way to fuck them up for their rude insulting attitude.

    Humorous example:

    “Well, yeah, I went up on the roof to talk that jumper down (during my lunch break, no less), but that prick insulted my mom so, as any normal human being would do, I pushed his sorry ass over the edge.”

  85. #85 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    Tokin- I don’t know where Gates disputes the account (I haven’t seen a single interview yet) but I know bullshit when I smell it. Acoustics…yeah right

    As J Sullum writes:
    He claims “my reason for wanting to leave the residence was that Gates was yelling very loud and the acoustics of the kitchen and foyer were making it difficult for me to transmit pertinent information to ECC or other responding units.” But instead of simply leaving, Crowley lured Gates outside, the better to create a public spectacle and “alarm” passers-by. The subtext of Crowley’s report is that he was angered and embarrassed by Gates’ “outburst” and therefore sought to create a pretext for arresting him.

  86. #86 |  Zargon | 

    #80
    Regardless of if they have on a uniform and a badge, I don’t like assholes and they should be punished.

    I don’t like people who play music in their car loud with the windows down.
    I don’t like people who chew with their mouth open.
    I don’t like people who say “like” 3 times per sentence.
    I don’t like people who have found the one, true, religion and can’t shut up about it.
    I don’t like people who are assholes.

    Should some of these groups of people be subject to a dude with a gun stopping by and arresting them and not others? If so, explain why.

  87. #87 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #85 Zargon

    I don’t like people who have found the one, true, religion and can’t shut up about it.

    Should some of these groups of people be subject to a dude with a gun stopping by and arresting them and not others? If so, explain why.

    Let me think about it.

  88. #88 |  ktc2 | 

    Tangentially related:

    “New Taser takes down three people at a time”

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,535061,00.html

  89. #89 |  thorn | 

    I’m not aware the the Prof was tased … how is a story on Tasers remotely related? Because cops carry them?

  90. #90 |  TDR | 

    I find it interesting that all the cop defenders here have either a) made arguments using questions (“Where is the line?”) and b) false analogies about waiters and stupid stuff.

    First of all, here’s the line — a person should be able to talk to a cop in the same way that the cop talks to them. Unfortunately, cops talk shit to people, and the person is expected to just take it because if you talk back it’s “disorderly conduct.”

    Second, no amount of talk can impeded someone’s work. To give those people vague power to decide who is “disorderly” is wrong and unAmerican. It allows for too many emotional decisions that are then backed up by corrupt laws and review policies.

    Third, there is absolutely no similarity between waiters and cops. YET — both are bound to do the right thing, by law and morality, even if people are rude. The behavior of the customer/citizen has NO bearing on that responsibility.

  91. #91 |  MacK | 

    #58 | JS |

    “Tokin “Having the right to be an ass isn’t the same thing as being entitled to be an ass.”

    Yes it is.”

    Dude you have completely grasped the concepts our founders had intended from the beginning. I wish I could have up-voted you twice on the simple reply you gave. It is amazing that to some rights are not entitlements, but mere inconveniences to government intrusions on our lives.

  92. #92 |  Tokin42 | 

    #85

    I didn’t say anything about police/government involvement. We as a society have just as much of a right, if not more, to decide what is appropriate behavior as an individual does. People have decided that it’s just easier to defer to someone being an ass in public instead of stepping up and letting people know what’s appropriate.

    If someone is sitting in their car blasting music loud enough to shake your windows are you going to go out and say something or just take it? When someone knocks on your door to give you the “god is great” speech for the third time after you’ve politely told them you’re not interested, is it better to grin and bear it or tell them more forcibly you’re not interested. Just because you point out to someone “hey, you’re being an inconsiderate ass” doesn’t make you a bad person.

    I’d like to point out for the umpteenth time that gates shouldn’t have been arrested but he shouldn’t get a pass either.

  93. #93 |  Spleen | 

    And no, I’m not being paranoid. I learned my lesson over 20 years ago. My name is so generic, it might as well be John Doe or John Q. Public. If I tell an officer my name and don’t have ID to prove it, I’m fucked. Why is that? It’s because there’s too many cops out there who don’t take the time to think that not everyone is lying to them.

    Joe Blow, is that you?

  94. #94 |  MacK | 

    Just noticed I called JS “dude”. I apologize if you are of a dudette persuasion. No offense intended.

  95. #95 |  Hannah | 

    #36
    “In many cases, officers are given discipline and ordered not to talk about. If they are suspended, their peers think they took the week off. When they get fired, well everyone knows, but it can’t be released to the public because of privacy protections afforded by state law”

    Like others here I’m getting the impression that you’ve either deluded yourself into thinking that your department runs completely legally, the people you work with have learned not to do anything illegal around you or your lucky enough to actually have a well run department with bosses that wont let their officers act like bullies.

    One of the biggest problems that I can see of officers given discipline and not being allowed to talk about it, or having the issue swept under the rug is you are not sending a clear signal to their counterparts that such behavior is not tolerated. If you’re a criminal and get caught your punished and its released to the public. Wither it’s a crime resulting in a fine or jail/prison as a general rule you don’t get to black out that section of your record so no one else knows about it. Why are police allowed different protections the average citizen doesn’t get? And if your going to bring in “expunging” your record, it only works on certain things and a citizen still has to jump through multiple holes to get it done.

  96. #96 |  TDR | 

    Tonkin — On his own, private property, which he had already established he was the owner of, he gets a pass for a hell of a lot more than raising his voice to a cop.

    And are you really so stupid as to believe that your example about confronting someone socially, on the same power footing, is the same as a situation involving cops?

  97. #97 |  Tokin42 | 

    I’d like to point out one more thing, if it has come down to me to be the arbiter of good taste, judgment, and class then some of you have some serious issues.

  98. #98 |  Mike T | 

    #74 Mike: which is why I’d like video…each side can play he-said, she-said till they’re blue in the face but the only real question is “did his antics cross the line legally to disturbing the peace?”…and this is moot if it was instigated by the officer attending which would put the disturbance at his feet.

    In principle, video would be great to have, but based on the accounts of both sides, Gates not justified in flying off the handle at the officer. Especially not if the truth is closer to the cop’s side of the story.

    I don’t even support the existence of municipal police (I prefer the traditional Sheriff + deputies + private citizens approach), but if the officer’s side is more or less the truth, I have no sympathy for Gates. In fact, if I were in the officer’s position, my only reaction would have been “sir, an eye witness saw you bash in this door. You have to the count of 5 to start showing me some ID or you’ll be placed under arrest.”

  99. #99 |  Mike T | 

    What if I’m the neighbor and I just can’t stand the next door neighbors conversing normally on their lawn because I like reading books in absolute quiet with open windows for a pleasant summer breeze?

    If you ignore the “reasonable person” standard, then your question makes a lot of sense. Generally speaking, people who aren’t socially autistic or who aren’t pathologically prone to being assholes would not make an issue of it, which is why our laws on such things usually have a “reasonable person” standard.

  100. #100 |  B | 

    OT, but…is this Evony thing I keep getting ads for an online fantasy game or is it a porn site? Cause I gotta say, those ads aren’t making me think about elves…

  101. #101 |  Marty | 

    Dave-

    You nailed it-

    ‘As naive as it sounds, a cop’s first reaction should be to defuse the situation by trying to be a friend rather than becoming an adversary just looking for a way to fuck them up for their rude insulting attitude.’

    cops have tons of subtle ways to deal with assholes. escalating situations is how people get hurt. This guy could’ve walked away and Gates would’ve been left stirring his own shit. smart cops get even with assholes without exposing themselves. they call the health dept to report ‘rats behind a house’ to create headaches. they have a buddy bust you for speeding. they issue ‘ghost tickets’ and the asshole ends up with a warrant because he didn’t pay his fine. date a cop’s ex at your own risk!

    these tactics aren’t fantastic, but they make more sense to me than escalating a volatile situation. anyone who responds to a lot of 911 calls has been in tight spots. medics talk about ‘being armed at least as well as our patients’, firemen are on the lookout for meth labs built under waterbed pedestals, and cops are supposed to hold it all together- direct traffic, keep medics from being attacked, and watch for arsonists trying to harm firefighters. A great cop is an unbelievable asset. Great cops focus on de-escalating situations- not shooting dogs, getting in useless pissing matches with high-strung people, or trying to set a dept record for tickets in a two hour period.

  102. #102 |  omar | 

    they call the health dept to report ‘rats behind a house’ to create headaches.

    Any public official exacting personal revenge by abusing his power should be thrown in jail, hanged. It’s the lowest of the low form of corruption. I’d rather see a cop take a bribe.

    I thought these people were supposed to be heros. WTF kind of hero goes around getting revenge on people (creating false warrants!) who don’t give him his due?

  103. #103 |  fwb | 

    The FIRST Amendment DOES NOT APPLY to government (police) at the State level. The First Amendment ONLY applies to Congress regardless of what everyone wants to believe.

    Now, the Courts have created out of thin air a similar provision under the 14th Amendment extending the First Amendment to the States. But that extension is not verbatim from the First and leaves numerous holes for those in power to regulate speech, the press, etc.

    If this case was filed on First Amendment grounds and If the judge in this case know any SH-T, he/she should have thrown the case out because the First Amendment DOES NOT APPLY. The Framers NEVER wanted to use the First Amendment to stop the States from controlling speech, the press, religion, etc. The published statements that occurred during the discussion of the First Amendment prove that the states were left to their own constitutions regarding speech, press, religion, etc. So the fact that the case was brought under the First, and decided under the First are further evidence of the stupidity of the people of this Union.

    Feckin ejits!

  104. #104 |  JS | 

    MacK lol no problem brother I’m not a dudette!

  105. #105 |  JS | 

    “I’d like to point out one more thing, if it has come down to me to be the arbiter of good taste, judgment, and class then some of you have some serious issues.”

    lol post of the day Tokin!

  106. #106 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    “The FIRST Amendment DOES NOT APPLY to government (police) at the State level. The First Amendment ONLY applies to Congress regardless of what everyone wants to believe. ”

    What are you saying, that if you post a pamphlet
    criticizing a cop or public official, or city policy, local cops can legally imprison you?
    Or that speech uttered by police is not protected?
    I’m not getting it.

  107. #107 |  LibCop | 

    As much as some of y’all might not like it, I think Tonkin has a point. As a Cop, I know it doesn’t matter what people do so long as it’s not criminally detrimental to others, so let them say to and about me what they will, it’s their right.

    But as a black man, a citizen and a professional, I know I have a personal responsibility regarding my own behavior, I know what i do has an impact on how others percieve not only me, but everyone with the same color skin (and prefessionally , everyone with the same color uniform).

    Gates did not fullfil his (wholly personal) obligation as a black man to other black people. He cried wolf, and becuse of that we’ll have a harder time dealing with REAL discrimination and racial profiling which does occur in this society.

  108. #108 |  LibCop | 

    Oh and excus the spelling, my keyboard fails, time for a new one.

  109. #109 |  Marty | 

    #99 | omar –

    ‘I thought these people were supposed to be heros. WTF kind of hero goes around getting revenge on people (creating false warrants!) who don’t give him his due?’

    the self-delusional bastards who think they’re heroes or should be afforded special behavior are the ones who created the problem. heroes are normal people put in extraordinary situations and they figure out a way to deal with it. sometimes it does happen to be a cop, but being a hero isn’t in their job description.

    you walk around being an asshole to people, you will face repercussions. everyone has access to different ways of dealing. walk into an emergency room and be an asshole to the triage nurse- you better pack a lunch before you’re seen. be an asshole to a paramedic and you could find yourself strapped to a backboard with a couple of large bore IVs for ‘precautions’. be an asshole to a fire marshall and your business may have issues. be an asshole to a waitress and your dining experience will not be ideal.

    everyone has a special way of dealing with special assholes. I’m not advocating getting even with anyone, but I know it happens. anyone can call the health dept and say they saw a rat behind someone’s house. anyone can accuse someone of being a drug dealer and slander them. I think the possibility of being screwed over by anyone is a great incentive for many people to not be assholes. it’s a subtle art to figure out where the line is…

  110. #110 |  Marty | 

    ‘The FIRST Amendment DOES NOT APPLY to government (police) at the State level. The First Amendment ONLY applies to Congress regardless of what everyone wants to believe.’

    this flies in the face of everything I’ve read. where are you coming up with this?

  111. #111 |  Les | 

    fwb,

    You might have had something like a (very grumpy, arrogant) point 50 years ago. But now there is plenty of legal precedent for claiming protection from state law by the Bill of Rights.

    Whether or not it’s what the Founders intended is irrelevant. I’m a big fan of the Founders, but they never intended of lot of stuff that they probably should have.

  112. #112 |  Les | 

    Regarding the 14th Amendment:

    http://www.usconstitution.net/consttop_bor.html

  113. #113 |  Tokin42 | 

    One more rant…

    People want to put the blame on legislatures and cops for the incredible amount of laws out there when the reason behind those laws are people thinking they’re entitled to be assholes. Meaning, if people weren’t doing it, there wouldn’t be a law against it. (old joke: of course middle aged men want to diddle your teen daughter. if not there wouldn’t be a law against it.)

    voters put people in office then harangue them to do something when our neighbors behave badly. our society decided long ago that it was easier to turn to the law to settle disputes than to have individuals make on-the-spot corrections. If we’re going to heap scorn on cops/legislatures we better put the same amount of energy slapping down the assholes who start the mess to begin with.

  114. #114 |  Chet | 

    Gates did not fullfil his (wholly personal) obligation as a black man to other black people. He cried wolf

    No, he really didn’t. A cop was told “two men with suitcases, maybe it’s their own home.” What he says he heard was “two black men with backpacks, maybe breaking in.”

    If that’s not racist, and racial profiling to boot, then I’m black. Gates didn’t “cry wolf”, he accurately apprehended racism and called the cop on it – and the cop responded with an arrest on fabricated charges.

    I’m sure that some of the cop’s best friends are black, or whatever. So what?

  115. #115 |  Nick | 

    @ #53,

    The reason that police can do DUI checkpoints is that the Supreme Court decided that DUI was such a giant problem that it necessitated an exception to normal 4th amendment rules. Normal criminal conduct ( ie murder, theft, assault ) is not important enough to over ride your 4th amendment rights, but thanks to bogus numbers provided by MAD, DUI is considered different.

  116. #116 |  PW | 

    “I’m sure that some of the cop’s best friends are black, or whatever. So what?”

    And don’t forget! Officer Crowley once performed CPR on a black basketball player 16 years ago. That’s simply gotta prove he’s not racist, because we all know that a racist would NEVER perform CPR on a dying black man under any circumstances.

  117. #117 |  Chris in AL | 

    I got to give props to my state of residency on this one. Other cops may be shooting dogs and tasering children, but Alabama calls that amateur hour.

    You’re not a real badass cop until you are pepper spraying and tasering the deaf and mentally disabled. Why you ask? For not obeying verbal commands.

    You must respect our AUTHORITAH!

    http://www.suntimes.com/news/nation/1688422,w-police-taser-disabled-deaf-man-072809.article

  118. #118 |  Chris in AL | 

    Got the link from Fark, BTW.

    This is worse than tasering the old lady on the side of the road. Tasers should be taken away from these assholes. They no longer even try to handle a situation with their brain.

  119. #119 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #113 Tokin42

    voters put people in office then harangue them to do something when our neighbors behave badly. our society decided long ago that it was easier to turn to the law to settle disputes than to have individuals make on-the-spot corrections

    That’s a bunch of hooey. Legislatures don’t pay any attention to voters.

    Legislatures enact laws and people think, “Well, that’s nice. That must have been a serious problem if a law had to be passed to solve it. People must have been really raising a lot of shit about that. Nice to know the legislature listens to people.”

    All that really happened was that a bunch of legislators just repaid a campaign contribution with a favor and labeled it “The Kindness to Children and Cute Puppies Act”.

  120. #120 |  FREE HUGS for Cops | 

    I never needed a cop! EVER!! The role of the police has never been to fight crime and preserve justice, it is to maintain social control and to ensure the protection of property. A little dissent is healthy for everyone, especially for those who carry around guns, but the best way to fuck with those assholes is to be so nice and kind that they think you are crazy and harmless. The cops can’t beat you unless you first hate them, then, and only then you really defeat yourself. What can they charge you with,,, being too kind, too friendly? it is great to see how uncomfortable they get when they just can’t figure you out… ACAB!!!!

  121. #121 |  Matt I. | 

    Just a little aside as to the whole ‘First Amendment not applying to states’.

    Believe it or not, this used to be true and as the guy said, originally none of the bill of rights applied to the states, only to the federal government, until the Supreme Court interpreted some elements as applicapble via the 14th amendment. More specifically it was Gitlow v. New York (in 1925) that mandated the First Amendment to the states as well. Of course – today more than ever – having the bill of rights not apply to state or local governments is the same as not having them at all.

  122. #122 |  KhhinCA | 

    #113

    Tokin42

    I dont need legislation to tell me that pedophilia is wrong.
    just like I dont need the Ten Commandmant to tell me not to kill somebody.

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