It’s Different When It Happens to Him

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

Good catch by Dave Henderson:

Yesterday, I wrote the following letter to the Monterey Herald about a local incident that has created a lot of publicity:

“If reporter Julia Reynolds quoted Sheriff Miller correctly (“Rights Violated, Sergeant Claims,” Herald, July 3), then Miller has made a stunning admission. Sheriff Miller, when warned that narcotics detectives were about to serve a search warrant on his son, contacted his wife to warn her. Why? Ms. Reynolds quotes Miller as saying it was ‘so that if she heard them breaking in the door, she wouldn’t have a heart attack.’

I sympathize. Although it has never happened to me, and I hope it doesn’t, having the police break down a door must be very scary indeed . . .

But why should Sheriff Miller’s wife get special treatment? I won’t say that Miller should practice what he preaches. I’d rather he do the opposite: preach what he practices. He should give the rest of us the same warning that he gave his wife. Either that, or adopt the now-quaint style that was practiced by police around the country when the word “swat” was something they did to flies and not humans: knock.”

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33 Responses to “It’s Different When It Happens to Him”

  1. #1 |  Mannie | 

    Sounds like obstruction of justice to me. He gave his druggie son a chance to destroy the evidence or escape. Why isn’t the Sheriff indicted as a co-conspirator with his wife and alleged druggie son?

  2. #2 |  John P. | 

    Apartheid Criminal Justice System at work…

  3. #3 |  Steve Verdon | 

    Sounds like obstruction of justice to me. He gave his druggie son a chance to destroy the evidence or escape. Why isn’t the Sheriff indicted as a co-conspirator with his wife and alleged druggie son?

    Exactly right. If the “sheriff” were a “civilian” and had advance warning like that he’d be arrested and charged.

    This is why there is absolutely no such thing as a good cop. Ever. Anywhere. They are all tainted by corruption.

  4. #4 |  Mannie | 

    If the “sheriff” were a “civilian”

    The sheriff IS a civilian. I realize you put it in quotes, but he is a civilian just like you or I. Cops don’t rise to the level of the lowest private in the military.

  5. #5 |  Steve Verdon | 

    Mannie,

    In their eyes they do. They are LEOs (Law Enforcement Officers) non-LEOs are civilians, including members of the military (whom LEOs have shot in highly questionable incidents in the past, I might add). That is why I put things in quotes. That is part of the current…narrative if you will.

  6. #6 |  xysmith | 

    That is part of the current…narrative if you will.

    Even if that is the narrative they want to use, you should correct them at every occasion. Law enforcement is a civilian activity. It’s a pretty important fact that we don’t have our military deployed in our cities keeping an eye on our citizens.

  7. #7 |  xysmith | 

    Why isn’t the Sheriff indicted as a co-conspirator with his wife and alleged druggie son?

    Sounds like obstruction to the Sgt involved as well.

  8. #8 |  The Johnny Appleseed Of Crack | 

    Reminds me of a story in Kentucky, where Jefferson County Prosecutor, Matt Conway, was tipped off by the police that they were going to execute a search warrant for drugs at his home. If the name Matt Conway sounds familiar, his brother Jack is the attorney General of Kentucky, and recently ran for Senate against Rand Paul, where he repeatedly criticized Paul for his relatively tolerant stance on drugs. Lots of rumors that Jack Conway had something to do with his brother being tipped off as well.

    http://www.kypost.com/dpp/news/state/Prosecutor-Resigns_52363832

  9. #9 |  Stephen | 

    If LEOs ever had to go up against a SEAL team, they would quickly realise that LEOs are civilians too. :) Nothing like the real thing to open your eyes a bit.

  10. #10 |  Steve Verdon | 

    Even if that is the narrative they want to use, you should correct them at every occasion. Law enforcement is a civilian activity. It’s a pretty important fact that we don’t have our military deployed in our cities keeping an eye on our citizens.

    You’re new here aren’t you?

    Good luck correcting them, my guess is you’ll get a nice tasering. YMMV of course.

  11. #11 |  Steve Verdon | 

    BTW to both xysmith and mannie,

    I wasn’t trying to be snotty above, but if you are new here you’ll learn two things:

    1. That we have effectively deployed paramilitary units in the US, even in cities where serious/violent crime rates are virtually zero.
    2. That police officers see themselves as separate from the rest of us, and in that fight the police often turn to force as their first option.

  12. #12 |  Steve Verdon | 

    Oh, and…

    3. They always shoot the dog(s).

  13. #13 |  steve | 

    “I’d rather he do the opposite: preach what he practices.”

    Unfortunately, criticizing the behavior of his fellow police officers is probably one of the few things he can do that would actually cost him his job. Its better for him just to take out his frustrations by tazering the odd citizen.

  14. #14 |  Mannie | 

    #11 | Steve Verdon | July 5th, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    BTW to both xysmith and mannie,

    I wasn’t trying to be snotty above, but if you are new here you’ll learn two things:

    No snottiness detected. But I do believe it is important to point out that they are civilians, too, and to do so whenever it is safe to do so. FTMP they don’t have the discipline of an ash and trash detail led by Beetle Bailey at Fort Swampy. (with apologies to Mort Walker.)

    Paramilitary, I agree with – just like Saddam’s cops.

  15. #15 |  JS | 

    Now he knows how it feels. Except that it probably won’t make him any more likely to empathize with other non-cops who get the SWAT treatment. I’m starting to think that American police have passed the point of even being able reform, which they are desperately in need of.

  16. #16 |  MountainTiger | 

    15: I’m not sure if the problem is an empathy gap. In this case, the sheriff clearly understood the fear caused by these raids before it was carried out. It seems to me that there are two problems: first, the fact that a generation of cops regards SWAT raids for an eighth of weed as standard operating procedure. Second, the belief that the people they raid are bad people who deserve whatever fear, injury, and property damage they suffer. The problem isn’t that they don’t know what it would be like to be the target of one of these raids, it’s that they do.

  17. #17 |  JOR | 

    “Cops don’t rise to the level of the lowest private in the military.”

    “Rise” to the level? Give me a break. The foreign-deployment branches of Imperial Policy Enforcement are certainly far more competent than the domestic branches*, and I realize that Just World Bias can very easily tempt people to infer virtue from competence, but the military from the bottom to the top deserves nothing but utter contempt.

    *It’s difficult to believe this really has much to do with inherent differences between the individuals composing them, since there’s significant overlap in personnel. More likely that cops are just lazy, because they know it’s mostly safe to be lazy, because enough Americans are either spineless or sympathetic to them that actual effective violent resistance is exceedingly unlikely.

  18. #18 |  EH | 

    Well gee, what’s the Sheriff’s son doing dealing drugs?

  19. #19 |  BamBam | 

    Hey Radley, you haven’t linked this yet: Portland police mistakenly fire live rounds from a less-lethal shotgun, wounding a suspect

    http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2011/06/portland_police_mistakenly_fir.html

  20. #20 |  OBTC | 

    Did anyone read the original article???

    “…He said his wife told him she could hear the shouts of officers as they climbed the stairs to Jacob Miller’s apartment, some disguised as PG&E employees.”

    So many things about both articles pissed me off so I sent an FYI to PG&E that the Monterey County Sheriffs Dept had impersonated their employees while serving a search warrant for drugs and asked if PG&E and their employees were okay with it.

    Unfortunately, that’s all I can do.

  21. #21 |  Kristen | 

    if PG&E and their employees were okay with it.

    Probably.

  22. #22 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    There’s a similarly weird story in NC.
    Cop pulls over lady for headlight out, tells her she’s DUI,
    she ends up .00, her lawyer husband follows cop and wife to magistrate,
    gets pulled over by backup cop. FIrst cop denies arranging this.
    Now the guv’nor is involved.
    http://www.gastongazette.com/news/dwi-58764-raleigh-woman.html

  23. #23 |  Deoxy | 

    the military from the bottom to the top deserves nothing but utter contempt.

    Here I must thoroughly depart from at least a vocal minority around here. Having known both police officers and military members personally, I can say that the members of both groups are simply people, both good and bad… but the incentives for the police are all screwed up, so many of the better people who join the police force leave it sooner rather than later.

    The military has its share of “bad eggs”, just like every other group of human beings on the planet, but they have at least their share of good ones, too. You may disagree, even vigorously, with the objectives set for the military sometimes (I think we ALL do at some point – the joys of the military being controlled by our psychotic politicians), but the very large number of the troops perform far better, morally speaking, than most of us could ever hope to, and certainly far, FAR better than any army in the history of mankind. Example: When invading Iraq, Saddam’s forces in one city (don’t remember the name off hand) kept us out (for a little while) by threatening to kill their OWN civilians. Think about that for a minute in historical context.

    To say that they deserve utter contempt, when they are far and away the best example in human history, is to set up a ridiculous and utterly impossible standard that will never be met. That’s stupid.

  24. #24 |  Chris Mallory | 

    Locally we had a case a couple years ago where a social worker was charged with “Aiding and abetting, Hindering a police investigation, some other BS charge”. After the cops came to her office looking for a suspect’s address, the social worker called the suspect on her cell phone saying something to the effect of “The cops are looking for you. You need to go to the police station and get this straightened out.” Needless to say, the cops were upset that they didn’t get to knock down doors and terrorize the projects a little. The social worker ended up taking a reduced plea.

  25. #25 |  Pablo | 

    I don’t think it’s fair to say that everyone in the military deserves contempt. I do get tired of the absolute worship of the military, to the point where they can do no wrong and if you criticize anything they do you are commiting the cardinal sin of “not supporting our troops.” And it is dismaying how obscenely the defense industry profits from our various misadventures overseas, at the cost of thousands of lives and a staggering debt to which future generations will be enslaved.

    I agree that many good people leave police work because they can’t stomach the corruption and abuses. It is too bad the incentives work the way they do. I try to be fair minded about police officers but the point has been made here that even the ones who do not actively engage in abuse or corruption still cover, or at least look the other way, for the ones who do.

  26. #26 |  Ben | 

    @23 – Deoxy –

    Watch the “Collateral Murder” video and tell me again how our military is so moral again.

  27. #27 |  Anthony | 

    Deoxy, Pablo,
    As a veteran I can safely say that the military deserves contempt. They might be good eggs but when you put good eggs into an immoral cake batter the good eggs become the immoral cake.

  28. #28 |  Goober | 

    So the sherriff admits, by his actions, that he knows beyond a doubt that there are dangerous and terrifying consequences to no knock raids that effect innocent bystanders in every single raid, and yet he has no qualms against using them against his constituency as often as possible.

    What about the other mothers of drug-involved kids that don’t get the warning? Do they just get to have their heart attack?

    Goddamn this pisses me off. The worst of it is that this proves that THEY KNOW the dangers and unintended consequences of these raids and just don’t give a damn so long as it isn’t happening to them or their family.

  29. #29 |  Steve Verdon | 

    Kristen,

    “if PG&E and their employees were okay with it.”

    Probably.

    Don’t confuse employees with the senior corporate management. The meter readers and others who meet customers might not like this at all. Could, probably only slightly, increase the risks they face in their everyday job.

    Try contacting the union as well. They might have more interest for the above reason.

  30. #30 |  JOR | 

    “I can say that the members of both groups are simply people, both good and bad… but the incentives for the police are all screwed up, so many of the better people who join the police force leave it sooner rather than later.”

    Oh, well, thank you for enlightening me. See, I was under the impression that people are morally responsible for their actions. I was under the impression that robbery, kidnapping, assault, battery, torture, maiming, and murder were all morally bad things that people shouldn’t do, even if they thought they could get away with it and profit from it. Now I see that I was wrong. People aren’t responsible for their actions – incentives are to blame! Why, if you think you can benefit from invading people’s homes, trashing their stuff, and ruining their lives, then it surely is not your fault if you do so.

    Thanks to you, I shall never again blame anyone for any action undertaken due to incentives that they faced. Which is to say I shall never blame anyone for any action taken, ever again. After all, the people who craft policies and laws are just following their incentives, too. And the people that appoint or vote for them, why, they’re just following their incentives.

    “You may disagree, even vigorously, with the objectives set for the military sometimes (I think we ALL do at some point – the joys of the military being controlled by our psychotic politicians),”

    Full stop. They are not fucking controlled by psychotic politicians. They are not controlled by anyone but themselves. Nobody made them sign up, and nobody made them stay on, and nobody makes them go anywhere. And any argument that they are controlled by others just is an argument that they’re not moral agents, and should be treated no differently from any other tools. In that case, they are tools that serve the most inane and venal purposes of some of the most vile psychopaths in the world, and ought to be seen and treated as just that.

    “but the very large number of the troops perform far better, morally speaking, than most of us could ever hope to, and certainly far, FAR better than any army in the history of mankind.”

    Granting your empirical claims purely for the sake of argument: so what? Likely, your typical self-selected thief or con man performs better, morally, than any of us could ever hope to if we were to suddenly decide to become thieves. Fair enough. So what? And they’re less evil than the forces of, say, Chingis Khan. Great. So are most serial killers. So what?

  31. #31 |  albatross | 

    JOR:

    And yet, incentives and institutions matter. To use an extreme example, even very good people trying to run a society on pure communism will quickly find themselves becoming monsters.

    Our military does brutal stuff because that’s the kind of job we’ve given them–occupying a hostile local population with a guerrilla war going on is the kind of job that requires awful brutality. Similarly, the job of enforcing drug laws by SWAT raids and paid/coerced informants, and the job of funding your local police department by property seizures and traffic tickets, are inherently corrupting. They’re the kind of jobs that turn good people toward doing ugly, unethical things.

    So, yeah, hold the police and soldiers responsible for the brutal acts they do. But also remember that we, in terms of our elected officials and our laws and policies, put them in the position to do those things. If we want the brutality to stop, we need to change the incentives and the institutions. Until we do, while you and I can feel morally superior to those guys who machine-gunned the guys trying to help the wounded in the Collateral Murder video, or the cops terrorizing unarmed people in a midnight SWAT raid, that awful stuff will just continue.

  32. #32 |  John | 

    I agree — why in the world do people seem to want the model cop to be more like Rambo than like Andy Griffith (Mayberry’s sheriff in the TV show). Why do our policing institutions promote and support the Rambo’s?

  33. #33 |  Cath | 

    He is still better than the last 2. Gordon Sonne drove his official carat least one time in an impaired state 9heaing home from a sheriff axillary dinner). He also handed out badges to financial supporters who then tried to shake down the wrong kind.
    Mike Kanalakis caused many problems by declaring a unneeded (according to all the fire fighting organizations involved) mandatory evacuation order. He also caused at least one two murders. Melvin & Elizabeth Grimes were Shot by John Franklin “Jack” Kenney while Kenney followed Directions that Sherif gave to Kenney and his attny

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