Hot Air reports on the FBI review of how Obama’s drive to undermine law enforcement for eight years did exactly that.
An FBI study written last month touches on the ongoing argument over the Ferguson Effect. The FBI looked at 50 incidents in which police officers were killed in 2016. In addition to the demographic makeup of the killers, the FBI also examined their motives. While the vast majority were simply attempting to evade arrest or avoid going back to jail, 28% of the incidents involved people who said they wanted to kill police officers. From the report:
The assailants inspired by social and/or political reasons believed that attacking police officers was their way to “get justice” for those who had been, in their view, unjustly killed by law enforcement. These assailants expressed that they were distrustful of the police due to previous personal interactions with law enforcement and what they heard and read in the media about other incidents involving law enforcement shootings. Specifically in the Dallas, TX, and Baton Rouge, LA, attacks, the assailants said they were influenced by the Black Lives Matter movement, and their belief that law enforcement was targeting black males.
The report goes on to say that the publicity associated with high-profile police shootings, particularly the death of Mike Brown in Ferguson, MO, has led to a sense national leaders are against them. “Nearly every police official interviewed agreed that for the first time, law enforcement not only felt that their national political leaders publically stood against them, but also that the politicians’ words and actions signified that disrespect to law enforcement was acceptable,” the report states. That, in turn, leads the officers to be less proactive in their policing, which the report calls “de-policing.”
All of this is true. But there is another reason why the police are pulling back- they are committing suicide by mistrust.
Recently, I had a chance to visit with a friend who is still on the job. He was talking about the new, new idea of body cameras and how it affects their work. He told me that it was now practice that if anyone complained about the officer, valid or not, they reviewed the footage of the body camera. If there is an issue, it’s either handled at the sergeant level or pushed up to IA. That isn’t too bad. However, he also told me per policy they are now required to pull random video from random officers and review their behavior in general. Like they were Big Brother or something.
When I heard that I thought to myself, “You have to be kidding me!” First, I’ve been retired for a decade now, and thank God for it. After he outlined the new process I was stunned at the fact the police officers were standing for it. There is no way good cops can interact with bad guys or witnesses in a street environment and get anything done. Especially when the officer knows not only is that camera recording what they are doing, but what the other people are doing too. Maybe the guy is wanting to talk to the cop and give him information. He’s not going to do ANYTHING in front of a camera that can be subpoenaed by any attorney or FOIA by a reporter. The world, their world, has changed.
Pretend to be an officer for a minute. Imagine if you make a traffic stop. The guy doesn’t want to get in trouble so he trades up. It happens all the time. “Hey, that dope you found isn’t mine, but I’m more than willing to give you the guy who has a few pounds of it in exchange for you believing my story.” Now in the old days, you maybe put the dope into evidence as “found” and let the guy slide, then make a few calls, get some backup, put up surveillance on the location and if the tip pans out you get a real bad guy instead of some not so bad guy, and society wins. Same with robbery, murder, burglary, theft, and other crimes.
Now, if I’m a bad guy willing to deal, why would I talk to anyone? How do I know what I am saying in confidence isn’t going to show up somewhere later? What if it is a neighborhood resident who wants to drop a dime on a bad guy tormenting the neighborhood. You are standing there on a routine stop and the driver motions you over, “Hey, I got something you might want…” Now what? Turn off the camera and face the inquiry from your bosses? What if the guy does something stupid instead and the FIRST question from your bosses is why did you turn off your camera?
That is just the surface of the problem. What happens when the people in charge decide that random surveillance of a police officer when in contact with the public isn’t good enough and maybe they should just mount a camera in the car all the time? Or maybe live feed?
However, just this level of surveillance “adjusts” street behavior. You can’t interact the way you often need to when dealing with thugs and bad guys. Our team used to make traffic stops or street contact with a group of wannabe gang bangers. They were wearing the hats tilted, blue rags in their pockets, the whole thing. One time, we pulled them out of the car and lined them up. I walked the line, staring at them, studying their heads with a curious look on my face. Then I would step up, say “Is your head crooked?” straighten their hats, pull out the rags and lecture them about how they had to wear their stuff when around us. I paid particular attention to one kid, the leader, just shaming him in front of his friends. It was a loose conversation, with cussing and laughing and taunting. It was an intentional interaction to make them off guard and uncomfortable with the whole idea of being in a gang. It also reminded them that bringing the attention of the police department on them was a bad idea. This “freedom to work” allowed us to do things that impressed the thugs and modified their behavior. Eventually, the gang got tired of the harassment and attention and quit. Many are now grown up, law abiding citizens. A couple even sought me out to thank me and the team for keeping up the pressure. None of that would have happened if we were under a microscope.
The real world is a tough, dark, dangerous, uncertain place. The police command cannot run what amounts to a documentary of the actions of their officers, spying on them like they were politicians and the command was the NSA. It won’t work. It will make the officers mentally defensive, worrying about what they are saying and what they are doing MORE than what the bad guy is saying or doing. The police officers are taught, through training and experience, that observing the bad guy keeps them alive. They are also taught one of the ways to check if a person is drunk is to divide their attention. The brain cannot work two inputs well at the same time. That goes for sober people too. So if an officer says something or does something he realizes might be questioned later he will think about that instead of watching the other guy. That is going to get someone hurt.
And for what? Because the command can? Because they allowed the lure of technology to interfere with the work of their officers? Because of political correctness? Here’s the best way to see if the command is committed to spying as a way to enhance safety and performance- install voice activated cameras in all the offices of command. When they get on the phone or if a person comes into the office, the camera starts up and records their activities. Knowing this will make sure they don’t call their buddies about the golf game that afternoon, or sit around telling off color jokes with other commanders while discussing the fate of lower level police officers. Heck, make sure the tapes are randomly reviewed by IA or by city council or by the mayor for fun. Make sure the tapes are available for subpoena or FOIA.
Then see how quickly things change.
Because abusing power is far more fun than being abused BY power! This would be like making Congress use the healthcare options they create in any legislation- instead of their exempting themselves- thus insuring the outcome of the law would be great!