Posted 4 minutes ago
I have been contacted by several posters for my thoughts. I struggled with coming back even on a limited basis to share them, yet I do not want to be antisocial to the good folks here. Given that I decided to relent for one post.
The death - Everyone wants to concentrate on the one officer with his knee on George Floyd's neck, because it is visual and shocking. I agree. it was beyond any lawful force. it was beyond any color of law. it was punitive and officers are not authorized to be punitive. He should have been fired, and was, and should be prosecuted, and is. Some, those who do not understand the law, want 1st degree charged. It seems more forceful to them and so more satisfying. It is also likely not apt. I believe he was correctly charged, more or less.
Now, as to the officers who where not front and center on the video. Those officers where compressing his chest and his diaphragm, respectively. They did not do something less heinous than Officer Chauvin. They are equally culpable and should be charged the same. Anyone who has ever been at the bottom of a dog pile knows how hard it is to breath with folks on top of you. Anyone who has every had their breath knocked out of them knows how hard it is to breath if you can't get your diaphragm working. The outrage missed them a bit because of their lack of camera time, but they are equally culpable. It may end up being that they are more culpable for the actual death. It may turn out that Officer Chauvin was pinning him down so that they could or did crush the life from him like pressing with stone back in the days of the witch trials, who knows"
The officer standing bye, preventing aid to the dying man. He had a duty too to intervene, on behalf of Mr. Floyd. He should be charged with that and probably as aiding and abetting the death.
The time delay in charging - Folks want to argue this shows disparity. They say that it is not like other probable cause charges. I agree. In other murder instances the evidence is usually not on film, the perpetrator is not known, and the perpetrator may be able to obscure evidence or flee. They need to be captured and arrested immediately. Not so here. There is no evidence to obscure and no escape possible. Also, this is a matter of exceeding color of authority, a slightly different evaluation on intent, force, recklessness. Still, I get it. Here is and was my concern, if charges are brought due to public pressure to stop riots rather than based upon an evaluation of evidence it is extremely likely that defense attorneys will argue that the prosecution was not based upon evidence but public pressure. That will not get the officers off, but it may well be sufficient for a change of venue so that these officers do not answer to their community. I remember the Rodney King prosecution happening in Simi valley, a key to his acquittal. That change of venue likely changed the outcome. That was a mistake not to be repeated.
Protests - I support them. I like mine orderly, and informative, essentially teaching moments with a call to specific, productive action. Protest that have their only message being four word slogans repeated ad nauseum do not appeal to me, but then maybe they are not meant to, and that too is fine.
Riots/Looting - Not protesting. it disgusts me. It is unlawful, dangerous, damaging of individual businesses, hardworking persons, and communities. I wonder, after a solid night of looting when the neighbors come over the next day to watch a movie do they comment on the new big screen T.V.? BTW, looters and rioters, and even disruptive protestors, if you interfere with me or mine unlawfully do not be surprised at my response if it is also unruly. When one precipitates a crisis it is the height of foolishness to then complain how I react to an unanticipated crisis. You had time to contemplate your response, me, not so much.
Police Reform - Attitude begins when they don their modern armor, their uniforms. Jack boots, mirror glasses to hide their eyes and humanity, combat fatigues essentially, multiple weapons, tough guy black leather gloves, often more, all in dark and intimidating colors. How about no jack boots but just shoes. No mirrored sunglasses and sunglasses must be off when interacting verbally with citizens. No black leather gloves. Uniforms designed in less intimidating colors, Sherwood forest green perhaps or maybe seafoam. Maybe they won't feel like warriors, but like civil servants.
Their guns should go back to revolvers so that they do not have shoot em up fantasies. Six shots for defense. If the situation looks like it will call for more, or does, an arrest team with greater firepower should be available. Whenever guns are drawn or even unsnapped that ought to send an immediate call to a supervisor and to an arrest control team. Lets work on this technology. The supervisor ought to be able to view their always on bodycam in real time upon that notification, so too the responding arrest control team. The officer will then be encouraged to think tactically rather than respond aggressively.
There should be less Terry stops, less frisking of citizens generally and specifically in traffic stops, fishing for other offenses. Citizens with a bit of weed on them should not have to consider running or resisting frisks and other charges when they jay-walked or ran a red light. Take the ticket and move on. In the same vein policies on arrest should be clarified. Currently many forces have an arrest option on misdemeanors. Options are open to discretion and discretion can be abused. Misdemeanants ought to be ticketed and released on scene. Felons ought to be taken into custody. This would lead to less conflict.
Police vehicles should be a nonthreatening and high visibility color except for undercover vehicles. Again, attitude carries throughout the day.
Police dogs should not be shepherds, rotties, pits, or any other large, intimidating animal absent control by a swat or arrest team. Drug dogs, search and rescue dogs, bomb sniffers, tracking animals should be friendly, non-visually intimidating breeds, labs, retrievers, spaniels, poodles. Again this about not presenting intimidating power unless and until it is needed.
Shifts. Officers should have one shift each week where they will not be confronting the population. They can work reports, interact positively, teach, whatever, but there should be some decompression time. They also should work arrest positions for three months with a one month rotation away from that before returning.
Training - Ought to start with extensive exposure to films of what happens when it goes bad. Films from this incident would be effective, so too from Rodney King, and from Ferguson and others. They need to know how quickly things can conflate when they #### up. Training needs to emphasize conflict resolution, not imposition of order by force.
Unions and Union contracts. Cops should negotiate for whatever they can get. Cities need to hold their last two yearly paychecks based upon whether they had to pay any settlements that year. Settlement amounts should come from all officers, equally. That way they will have an interest in having their membership not protect bad officers, but to eliminate them. No settlements, great, they get paid in full. Settlements, well it may be a lean Christmas. Incentivize self policing of the police instead of closing the ranks around bad officers.
Recruiting - Tuition incentives or waivers for diversity hires so that they can get through POST training and academies. If you want more of something, incentivize it.
Discipline - Should be with the Chief and the Chief's employment should be at will and subject to review by Council. Chiefs should not have golden parachutes in their contracts. Chiefs should not fear the Unions when they discipline. If their discipline is not adequate then they are directly answerable to their Councils and those politicians are, of course, answerable to the voters. Bad officers will get removed. Oh, discipline should be subject to open records requests.
Be nice to one another. Cooperate with Joe a bit better, he is a pretty amiable host.