Lunch Links

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010
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52 Responses to “Lunch Links”

  1. #1 |  Cynical in CA | 

    •Stupid Obama criticism of the week.

    And I am stupider for having read that. Seriously, who do I call to get that 38 seconds of my life back?

  2. #2 |  Marty | 

    DHS needs to recruit a few intelligent trolls…

  3. #3 |  Dave Krueger | 

    From the cop training article:

    They’ll always be on guard — carrying a gun on duty and off, checking out fellow shoppers at the grocery store, thinking about those worst-case scenarios while having dinner with the family.

    But, most of all, they’re watching for dogs.

  4. #4 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    Well, at least the Las Vegas populace has faith in these
    cops, as can be observed in the article’s comments:
    “I WILL NEVER CALL LV METRO POLICE because I am afraid they will shoot & kill me. I am a 55 yr old, SWM, that has never been arrested or detained for any reason at all.”

    LV police–They’re winning hearts and minds.

  5. #5 |  Bob | 

    Gee, when do cops train on actually helping people?

    Oh.

  6. #6 |  Clark | 

    Radley,

    Except for the last quote of the lvrj article, that’s all pretty standard mindset instruction any firearms trainer would give in a decent course.

  7. #7 |  Randon Guy on the Internet | 

    This might be the scariest part of all:

    “THE RECRUITS:

    Nathan Herlean
    Age: 29
    Occupation: Real estate agent
    Hometown: Las Vegas
    Married with three sons, [b]he wants to turn an obsession with police shows into a career[/b] after the real estate business goes south.”

    How does a guy like this get past the screening process? Don’t they look at the motivation of their candidates? I don’t see how “an obsession with cop shows” can be seen as a legitimate motive for a law enforcement career.

  8. #8 |  Pablo | 

    It sounds like they get lots of training in how to kill and subdue people, which, unfortunately, a cop may be justified in doing on very rare occasions (it’s not even in the top 10 list of most dangerous professions).

    I’d be interested to know how much training they get on citizen’s constiutional rights, and how to enforce the law while still respecting those rights.

  9. #9 |  Whim | 

    Right on Radley:
    From the Las Vegas newspaper article concerning police training, I too thought the concluding paragraphs of the article were telling of a positively deranged police mentality. 
    To quote:
    “When the body is under stress, the primitive brain kicks in, and officers revert to the training that has been etched there.
    ” …. encourage them to spend lots of time thinking about how they’ll react in whatever WORST-CASE scenarios they can imagine.”
    “… always be on guard….thinking about those WORST-CASE scenarios while having dinner with the family.”
    “… on the FRONT LINES in the fight against crime, it’s a matter of survival.”I believe every single recruit here, when they put that badge on, they are WARRIORS,” the former Marine says. “WE’RE FIGHTING A WAR.”
    The philosophy instilled in these new police recruits is just plain WRONG.It is NOT a War, and the police are NOT warriors.  They are Peace Officers. 
    Basically, from initial training to perfect their jack-booted tactics, to on-going policies and procedures, the police “Community” nationwide has shifted the danger from police encounters ENTIRELY onto the public.
    We now have ALL THE RISK when we have any kind of encounter with the police.  

    Just look at the DOJ Crime Statistics and see how many thousands of citizens die at the hands of the police and jailers, vs. the 50 or so police killed due to citizen violence every year.  More police are killed annually in car wrecks than are killed at the hands of the public each year.

    The police are very heavily armed, aggressive, and totally confrontational.  They may also be on steroids. Be afraid.  Be VERY afraid. 

    Is that REALLY their intent, in everyday encounters on our public streets?  On a peaceful sidewalk in Seattle?  In a restaurant?  Or, in a grocery store………?     Is that REALLY their intent??

  10. #10 |  JS | 

    Merry Christmas everybody! Here’s a somewhat happy link for you: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/dec/23/police-sack-sergeant-throwing-woman-cell

  11. #11 |  overgoverned | 

    That’s one credulous reporter:

    “He rattles off examples such as the penny-pinching police department that had recruits say “bang” when firing their guns instead of using blanks, only to have officers in the field pull their guns and yell “bang” instead of pulling the trigger.”

    Names and dates, please.

  12. #12 |  JS | 

    One of the greatest story titles ever:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/22/cia-wikileaks-taskforce-wtf

  13. #13 |  Dave Krueger | 

    From the cop training article:

    “I believe every single recruit here, when they put that badge on, they are warriors,” the former Marine says. “We’re fighting a war.”

    Yeah, but it would be far better if they were actually doing their job of serving and protecting instead of harassing and intimidating.

    If they want to be warriors in a war, they should join the military and, you know, go to war. Fortunately for them, they live in a country that, at any given time, seems to have a selection of different wars to choose from. And there are always openings for fresh cannon fodder. I won’t even mention the job satisfaction that comes with knowing that you are laying your life on the line at the whimsical behest of a politician whose cranial cavity has been drained of brain and filled with ego trying to make his mark on history by using warm healthy American bodies in the prime of life to deliver tons of freedom and Democracy neatly packaged in discrete units referred to as warheads. I should point out that, as American soldiers, they would also taste the thrill and exhilaration of occasionally being on the receiving end of a message from the opposing warriors neatly wrapped up in a suicide vest or perhaps an IED (the message being “get the fuck out of our country”).

    I only suggest this of course, because I know our police forces crave a real challenge and are almost certainly bitter at being forced to restrict themselves to harassing hookers, shooting family pets, and terrorizing folks who have the naked audacity to defy authority by getting high on something other than the officially sanctioned national patriotic drug known as alcohol.

  14. #14 |  JS | 

    Dave Krueger “I won’t even mention the job satisfaction that comes with knowing that you are laying your life on the line at the whimsical behest of a politician whose cranial cavity has been drained of brain and filled with ego trying to make his mark on history by using warm healthy American bodies in the prime of life to deliver tons of freedom and Democracy neatly packaged in discrete units referred to as warheads.”

    You are the freakin’ man Dave, as always!

  15. #15 |  ktc2 | 

    Why would they?

    Our military actually faces danger, and is (at least at the lower ranks) held accountable for their actions.

    Now they get near zero danger and no accountability. They get to play soldier with real bullets amongst a largely unarmed populace.

  16. #16 |  ktc2 | 

    Not to mention most of them would crap their pants and cry on a real battle field.

  17. #17 |  Pablo | 

    Interesting article about cops who go to Iraq or Afghanistan, kill and harass people and destroy stuff there, and are let down when they come back to their jobs in America because they can’t do the same stuff here with the same regularity. There’s no indication whether the author was appalled by this mentality. The funniest part is where one cop describes feeling useless after coming back to the States. Sounds like his perception was quite accurate.

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/6906435.html

    Dont read the comments section unless you have an empty stomach.

  18. #18 |  HaciendaMike | 

    Fur years Sheriff Gillespe has been saying in public that he wants to turn Metro into a paramilitary outfit, and he is succeeding by all measures. With a budget this year of $512 million, he has lots of money for fancy toys. I personally witnessed the swat team roll out from a breakfast stop with not one, but two full military style APCs and two pickups laden with electronics.

    Given the deficiencies of the coroners inquest system in Vegas, not a single officer has been found culpable in over 25 years of inquests. The officers are trained to be quick on the trigger, resulting in over two dozen officer involved shootings in the past year.

  19. #19 |  Lefty | 

    when i was younger i worked for a retired state trooper. his take was that anyone that came into contact with the cops was a by definition a dirtbag and deserved anything they got.

  20. #20 |  Mattocracy | 

    “Are DHS employees trolling the We Won’t Fly blog?”

    And they wonder why we don’t have faith in their abilities.

  21. #21 |  PW | 

    #7 – “it’s not even in the top 10 list of most dangerous professions”

    Not only that, but more cops die every year in common (and usually self-inflicted) TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS than die in gun shootouts.

    Stats for 2009 (total state + local law enforcement deaths)

    Death by transportation incident: 53
    Death by homicide, shooting: 43
    Death by homicide, other: 4

    Source: http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/cfoi/cftb0242.pdf

    Of course we memorialize every freaking one of them as if they “died in the line of duty” in a violent shootout against a heavily armed band of coked up Al Qaeda members in the process of robbing a bank with grenade launchers. But most cops who die on the job are actually taking themselves out of the gene pool.

  22. #22 |  PW | 

    Same applies for the feds in the “national security” category, which includes federal law enforcement agents abroad.

    2009 on-job deaths:

    Transportation incidents: 36
    Homicide: 27
    Exposure to harmful substances: 7

    Source: http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/cfoi/cftb0241.pdf

  23. #23 |  Andrew Roth | 

    The comment thread on the LVRJ article is impressive. It’s certainly more balanced and informative than the article itself, which basically took at face value everything uttered by interview subjects at the police academy.

    It was only in the comment thread that the aggressive military rhetoric from the academy instructors was challenged. If newspapers can’t find reporters or editors with any grasp of how the police must differ from the military in a free society, the damage done by their ignorance may at least be mitigated by their giving informed laypeople a public platform to challenge what they publish.

    There is also some telling propoganda in the comment thread–e.g., firefighters and deep-sea fishermen don’t show real courage and don’t really have dangerous jobs. The LVRJ could do a real public service by contacting some of these people, interviewing them, and calling them on their bullshit.

    The public are lucky that the officers and cadets interviewed for the original article understood the risks of driving and recognized that some of the driving practices common among Las Vegas Metro officers were foolhardy and deadly. The problem with relying on the police to be introspective and judicious in such matter is, of course, that they are often neither. Then, when the police become arrogant and reckless, they get people killed: look at the Metro officers whose deaths were described in the article, or at the death and serious injury toll from high-speed chases in the LAPD under Daryl Gates. Self-reporting and self-correction by the police are inadequate. The media need to insistently ask police commanders why the hell their officers are driving at 100 mph in 45 mph zones and why the hell they are driving without seatbelts, let alone both at once. When this sort of recklessness is discussed wistfully after cops (or innocent bystanders) have been killed, it doesn’t do much good.

  24. #24 |  albatross | 

    I strongly suspect the high rate of police deaths in car crashes is a reflection of the fact that policemen spend a lot of time driving around, at all hours, as part of their job. Add to that the fact that for traffic cops, a normal part of the job is getting out of the car on the shoulder of a busy road or highway and doing moderately complicated, distracting stuff in the process (getting the license, running it on the computer, keeping an eye on the driver to make sure he’s not going to drive away or attack), and the occasional high speed drive with sirens blaring, and it’s not at all hard to see why you’d get a high rate of deaths on the road.

  25. #25 |  Gregory Peckery | 

    Everything is compared to WAR. Its such a simple minded view. Its like these guys are training for the MMA. Well, you get what you pay for!

  26. #26 |  buckethead | 

    When I read that article about the DHS trolls, I was shocked, shocked to discover the address listed in the whois report. I worked in that building as a contractor a couple years back, and I am so totally not surpised. I was with Customs and Border Protection at the time. The incompentence and infighting in that agency are staggering, really the worst I’ve seen in a decade of contracting.

  27. #27 |  PW | 

    And for a little more perspective from 2009 stats.

    Homicide deaths on the job by profession

    State+local cops: 50

    Grocery & convenience store clerks: 51
    Construction workers: 40
    Gas station attendants: 28
    Taxi & transit drivers: 25
    Real Estate & leasing agents: 30
    Food, restaurant, & bar workers: 79

    Source: http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/cfoi/cftb0241.pdf

    I hereby demand that we build a giant statue of a Slurpee on the National Mall to commemorate all the 7-Eleven clerks who lost their lives in the line of duty!

  28. #28 |  PW | 

    Also re. “We won’t fly,” anybody notice how similar the troll’s comments are to the cop trainers in the LVJR article? They both share an “us vs. them” mentality where everybody is a suspect.

    This dangerous and deadly mindset is pervasive in all levels of law enforcement.

  29. #29 |  Pablo | 

    #20 PW–interesting–whenever I read of such an incident it is usually a reckless, high speed chase over a petty traffic offense and usually the officer isnt wearing a seat belt.

  30. #30 |  PW | 

    #23 – I’d also add into the mix that most cops also drive like maniacs and tend to vastly overestimate their own driving skills by virtue of being cops.

    This makes them do riskier things than most other drivers – even those in other professions that require a lot of time on the road. Taxi cab drivers, who are by no means known for their safe driving habits, experienced only 13 traffic fatalities in 2009 as opposed to 22 shootings.

  31. #31 |  Mario | 

    Pablo @ #16

    There was another article I read, too long ago to remember where, that had the full time soldiers complaining about how the cops who come to Iraq, via the National Guard, don’t respect the proper procedures when it comes to entering a home, and otherwise dealing with civilians. Their complaint was that it’s wrong to call what is going on with the police “militarization,” because it gives a bad name to the military.

  32. #32 |  Charlie O | 

    They’re warriors and, unfortunately, the American populace is the enemy.

  33. #33 |  sigh | 

    “It sounds like they get lots of training in how to kill and subdue people, which, unfortunately, a cop may be justified in doing on very rare occasions (it’s not even in the top 10 list of most dangerous professions).”

    That’s a rather misleading statement, even if that’s what the numbers are indicating. It’s like hiring snow plow crews for all of the continental US and then saying that most of the drivers never plow. Thousands of departments hardly run into any trouble at all, while elsewhere it is a daily problem.

    It simply isn’t responsible to walk around openly carrying a firearm without being aware of your surroundings, and it is just plain stupid to do something even as simple as stopping a vehicle without at least considering what’s going to happen if things turn pear-shaped. Doing things properly doesn’t entail doing anything that the uninformed would perceive as being paranoid or aggressive, but I can guarantee you that cops are running down a very specific checklist that has been created from years of routine things gone horribly wrong. I’m not a cop, but I’ve stopped/approached my fair share of vehicles at 2 am during previous (armed) lines of work.

    The problem we’re having with cops isn’t the alert mindset, it’s that they’re focusing on their own safety without enough consideration for the safety of innocent people that are simply going about their daily lives.

    They get away with this because there really isn’t much accountability after they shoot/taser/OC/baton someone – it’s just “well, so and so did X, and I perceived their intent as Y, so it sucks to be them”, as long as there isn’t some non-PC aspect to the incident. Articulating their actions is central to their work, and they have years of it and (on the part of the courts) the presumption of good faith. Little or no concern for positively IDing the target, and far too many incidents where they use force on law abiding, completely unsuspecting individuals.

    Mistakes are blamed on the “stupid” citizen. If there isn’t any punishment or stigma for cops doing something foolish, invasive, or grossly negligent, they’ll just keep doing it.

  34. #34 |  Whim | 

    Incrementally, and possibly through the application of Operations Research, the police have graduallly shifted virtually ALL the risks from an encounter between police and citizen over to the CITIZEN.

    The U.S. DOJ crime statistics bear out this conclusion.

  35. #35 |  Pablo | 

    #33 Sigh–I agree with every point you make–there is nothing wrong with training police how to protect themselves when it is necessary. The point I was trying to make with my statement is that police officers receive a great deal of training for lethal confrontations–something that will never happen to the large majority of them for their entire careers–but often get little or no training on, for example, Fourth Amendment rights of citizens, which is something they should deal with every day on the job.

  36. #36 |  PW | 

    #33 – While we all recognize that – yes – things can go horribly wrong for cops on duty and it’s indisputably a bad thing when it happens, I think what most here are getting at is that cops tend to SEVERELY overstate the risks of their own profession to the point that they are far more likely to endanger somebody else through recklessness than face an actual danger themselves.

    The statistics simply don’t support the claim that cops are constantly “putting their lives on the line.” Cop shootings are exceedingly rare – so rare in fact that cops are more likely to die in a common traffic accident.

    They also happen FAR less frequently than to people in common retail sector professions. In any given year, cop deaths by gunshot seldom exceed three or four dozen. Compare that to all the grocery workers, store clerks, and fast food attendants who get shot on the job – a number that hovers around 200 a year.

  37. #37 |  Andrew Roth | 

    Pablo on #17: You’re right about some of the comments. It’s scary to imagine what it takes to get banned from a Houston Chronicle comment thread. The moderators don’t seem to have a problem with commentators abetting sworn police officers in the commission of felony violence.

    This seems to make any standards of decency, and perhaps legality, moot. Obviously, there are some sick puppies trolling that thread, but I wonder whether the banned parties wrote anything that was fundamentally more pernicious or depraved, or were just less subtle.

    Here’s how I propose responding to thugs in uniform and their civilian apologists:

    Anyone who gets up in strangers’ faces and starts fights, or who throws the first punch at someone who isn’t belligerent at the moment, or who fires the first shot at someone who isn’t actively threatening anyone’s safety–anyone who does anything of the sort as part of an armed organization is a gangbanger. It doesn’t matter whether he is a Blood or a Crip, a Norteno or a Sureno, a member of MS-13, a Hell’s Angel or a cop–if he behaves like that, he is a gangbanger. And he ought to be dealt with as a gangbanger.

  38. #38 |  PW | 

    Also keep in mind that there are over a MILLION cops in the United States. Only 50 of them were murdered on the job in 2009, for a homicide rate of less than 0.005%.

    Compare that to taxicabs. Out of about 200,000 taxi drivers in the US, 22 were murdered on the job in 2009, for a homicide rate of over 0.01%.

    So you tell me: who has the more dangerous job? Who really puts his life on the line every day?

  39. #39 |  Phelps | 

    Re: TSA trolling, of course they are trolling wewontfly. The only question is whether or not they are doing it under orders from above on our tax dollars.

    You want to know Erik Scott was gunned down in a Las Vegas Costco? Because LVPD trains like this:

    From the darkness, a knife-wielding attacker lunges at them. A few draw their guns and fire. They live.

    Most freeze, pull their Tasers or do any number of things besides pull their guns. For the purposes of the exercise, they die.

  40. #40 |  Gideon Darrow | 

    @ #19 Lefty:

    As the son of a retired state trooper, I can tell you that attitude’s not at all uncommon.

  41. #41 |  Bambam | 

    Woman arrested for refusing sexual assault at airport:
    http://www.kvue.com/news/local/Woman-arrested-at-ABIA-after-refusing-enhanced-pat-down-112354199.html

  42. #42 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    “what a bunch of rubes you all are.. BTW TSA officers make on avg $14.50 per hour to start. Much more than your bottle collecting jobs you have.”

    Classy. Good to know what our public servants think of us. Rubes!!! Do they think it is a good thing for society that federal employees are much better paid than many other workers. Seems like a warped state of mind to me. Give responsibility for security screening back to the airports and airlines. Enough of these goons.

  43. #43 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    “When you put that badge on, there are people who want to kill you,” he says, mentioning the ambush that killed a Seattle police officer a few days earlier. “This is the world they come into.”

    Yes, but put things in perspective. Not many people have any desire to physically engage a police officer. It is not a war. If you hit the streets with that mentality, you are asking for citizen resistance, and yes, possibly violence. If you overreact or get loud and aggressive in a fairly benign situation, you are introducing the possibility of violence into the encounter. Repeat: It is not a war.

  44. #44 |  Astrid | 

    @41 From the article:

    Other travelers KVUE talked to say they empathize with Hirschkind, but the law is the law.
    “I understand her side of it, and their side as well, but it is for our protection so I have no problems with it,” said Gwen Washington, who lives in Killeen.
    “It’s unfortunate that that happened and she didn’t get to fly home, but it makes me feel a little safer,” said Emily Protine.

    Yeah, I feel tons safer that we’re arresting a woman who’s been a victim of rape in the past for not wanting to get felt up by the TSA because she’s got a medical device in her chest and can’t go through the scanner.

    I forget, who are the terrorists again?

  45. #45 |  delta | 

    Fascinating bunch of links today.

  46. #46 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    In response to the LVMPD Academy story:

    “Despite what police say, officer safety is not the number one priority. If it were, you’d never leave the police station. Danger is part of the job.”

    Peter Moskos

    Professor of Criminal Justice, John Jay University
    Former Baltimore City Police Officer

  47. #47 |  JS | 

    Helmut O’ Hooligan “Not many people have any desire to physically engage a police officer. It is not a war. If you hit the streets with that mentality, you are asking for citizen resistance, and yes, possibly violence. If you overreact or get loud and aggressive in a fairly benign situation, you are introducing the possibility of violence into the encounter. Repeat: It is not a war.”

    But because of this attitude on the part of the police many people in America live under de facto military occupation. So yea, we are technically not at war, but we kind of are.

  48. #48 |  croaker | 

    @47 I would say more like the Japanese peasants under the Samauri or the serfs of the Middle Ages. A police badge has become a patent of nobility, de factor and de jure given the deference the “justice” system gives to them.

    When was the last time a cop was punished for puppycide?

  49. #49 |  JS | 

    Good point croaker, I think the nobility/peasant thing is a good analogy and one I recently read here:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2010/aug/16/police-usa-civil-liberties?INTCMP=SRCH

  50. #50 |  delta | 

    You know, the funny thing is that on Thursday nights I take a pretty serious martial-arts class with several cops and security guards in it, and we do talk about worst-case-scenario type stuff quite a lot. However, I feel that it’s well balanced with general awareness and a desire not to be an asshole in the world. I feel like the couple guys I work out with are above-the-bar — Taking an independent class on their own time, not on the clock, in order to take better responsibility for themselves on the job and elsewhere.

    The last paragraph with the quote on war is bad, but I could almost chalk that up as a terrible accidental choice of words. I was actually FAR more chilled by the scene at the beginning, where the correct “answer” in an exercise was to walk through the door of a bar, unseen, with gun blazing (as opposed to hand-to-hand, baton, or even Taser response). I’m no expert, but that seems incredibly horrible, and it’s a practical thing that will get someone killed when instinct jumps in.

  51. #51 |  Toastrider | 

    Too many police departments nowadays are too happy to ‘escalate’ to lethal force immediately, instead of using the bare minimum to defuse the situation.

    Reminds me of a story I heard, a while back. Guy joined the police department. During his time as a patrolman, he got into an encounter with a fellow with a knife.

    Unfortunately, cop was a member in good standing in the Society for Creative Anachronisms — and had learned quite a bit about hand to hand melee. He drew his baton and nailed the knife-wielder across the forehead with a snap-draw hit. Bonk, down he goes.

    But when the reports were filed, the cop was actually /reprimanded/ — because policy was to /shoot/ someone like that.

    There’s the problem in a nutshell right there. When you’re given carte blanche to use a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

  52. #52 |  delta | 

    #51: Noted. Good for him, a pox on the department.

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