Worth a Try

The best thing I heard yesterday was in an interview with one of the people at the protests here in Chicago. The man said, “You know, if we stopped shooting each other and started respecting each other more, the police might stop shooting us and disrespecting us, too.” While I think it’s reasonable to hold police officers to a higher standard than that implies, I think he has\d a point.

27 comments… add one
  • steve Link


    From James Wilson, WSJ

    “Nevertheless, we do know the racial characteristics of those who have been arrested for crimes, and they show that the number of blacks arrested has been falling. Barry Latzer of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice has demonstrated that between 1980 and 2005, arrests of blacks for homicide and other violent crimes fell by about half nationwide.

    It’s also suggestive that in the five New York City precincts where the population is at least 80% black, the murder rate fell by 78% between 1990 and 2000. In the black neighborhoods of Chicago, burglary fell by 52%, robbery by 62%, and homicide by 33% between 1991 and 2003. A skeptic might retort that all these seeming gains were merely the result of police officers’ giving up and no longer recording crimes in black neighborhoods. But opinion surveys in Chicago show that, among blacks, fear of crime was cut in half during the same period.”

    It is pretty obvious that if blacks stop committing crimes they will have fewer (not none since many of the shootings involved people not committing crimes) bad interactions with the police. However, it looks as though both parties really don’t trust each other very much so not sure how that happens. Would be good if the Philadelphia experience sustains.

  • So, steve, what you’re saying is that the black folks on the South Side of Chicago should quit complaining about the homicides there because the rate is so much less than it was twenty years ago?

  • Guarneri Link


    Dave beat me to it, but all the statistics cited don’t really describe the still existent tragedy. Except for 6 years in NY metro I’ve lived in downtown Chicago or the suburbs for all my adult life. For 7 years I traveled from NW Indiana up to Chicago through neighborhoods not generally considered, shall we say, the green, leafy suburbs. I simply wouldn’t do it today. Nor would I head back to the western suburbs from the United Center after a bulls or Blackhawks game on Lake street. They sometimes count the murders, and certainly the shootings, by the handy dozen in those neighborhoods. Don’t kid yourself, steve. It’s a mess and a human tragedy, and as I noted elsewhere, it dwarfs the cop transgressions. Not that we can’t do both, but if you want the biggest bang for your buck or effort, focus on what is going on in the neighborhoods rather than deflect the pathologies of those neighborhoods onto the police.

  • Guarneri Link


    And deflect Obama and Holder are. We all understand cretins like Al Sharpton, but the president should, and does, know better. Shameful.

  • steve Link

    Dave-Nope. I am providing evidence that we have had a significant decrease in violence among blacks. I am suggesting that such a decrease alone will not be enough. I don’t think the black community trusts police, speaking in broad terms, and the police don’t trust them.

    Since you guys keep wanting to change the topic from the police killing civilians, and I think this is a much broader issue than just shooting minorities, then I guess we can talk about blacks killing blacks. They should stop it. I think everyone actually agrees, especially black people. However, if you want that to stop it will take a lot of things to happen. One of those, I think, is an ability to trust and work with the police. If you want to get some bang for your buck, fix the police problem. There are a lot fewer of them. Let the community regain trust in them.

    Query- Under other circumstances you guys criticize government workers quite frequently. Here we have govt workers, police, being paid by taxpayers and they are performing poorly. At a time when violence is actually way down in this country. Why is this just about the only group of govt workers you defend?

    (Drew- I worked in West Philly when i was younger. I have been stabbed and shot at. We did home visits in the projects so I have seen the insides of a lot of those places.)


  • Forget about trusting the black community, that isn’t going to happen. A divided black community is simply not powerful. Powerful communities are feared by abusive authorities because they produce figures that can and do get an abusive authority fired.

    When you’re looking to improve things, love and fear are both powerful tools. Don’t underestimate fear.

  • ... Link

    Here we have govt workers, police, being paid by taxpayers and they are performing poorly.

    Which HERE is that? With Brown, or Garner, or Rice? All three? I’ve got problems with all three situations. The problems with the Brown situation are that the officer fired without regard to what he would hit beyond Brown. The idea that Brown was some gentle giant who surrendered peaceably only to be assassinated by some nigger hating cop was a bunch of bullshit.

    With Garner, I’m thinking the problem is that the police were being asked to enforce somewhat stupid (in my opinion) ordinances. But hey, those are the ordinances the Democratic city government wanted, and the enforcement was asked for by the businesses in the area. Garner shouldn’t have resisted arrest, but the cops used excessive force in my opinion. On the grand jury, I would have voted to indict ALL the officers concerned, and the supervising officer on the scene. (I’ve heard that was a black female sergeant.)

    In the Rice situation? That’s not as simple as it looks, but I don’t see why the cops would drive right up beside someone they thought might have a gun and then get out of their car. Asking for trouble. I expect we’ll find out more as this case progresses, and given the problems with the Cleveland PD I expect the police to look worse. We’ll see what happens.

    Each one is an independent case. There MAY be something that ties them together, and maybe not. Unmentioned is that blacks are something like seven times more likely to commit murder than anyone else, and if you look at young black males, that multiple reaches ridiculous proportions. Cops are scared of young black men with reason.

    Further, cops are scared of young black men in bad neighborhoods with even greater reason, as the likelihood of dealing with someone with evil, or just plain reckless, intent goes up. Steve likes to mention that Drew isn’t going to get the same scrutiny from police because he’s white, male and rich. Well, no shit. What’s the likelihood that Drew is going to get publicly violent, with the cops or with anyone else? It does happen, but the likelihood is much lower, and the cops would respond to that situation with all that in mind. And that’s not even considering Drew’s age.

    None of this is happening in a vacuum. Are the police going overboard? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Is there a pattern of abuse? Perhaps, but the pattern being called out also matches the pattern of dangerous criminal behavior, demographically.

  • TastyBits Link


    The black-on-black crime is relevant when somebody claims “black lives matter”. They should not just matter when it is a white cop doing the killing.

    The police killings are a big topic, but these two cases are not the best. There are numerous cases of police shooting people because they mistook ordinary everyday items (cellphone, wallet, comb, etc.) for a knife or gun, and it seems that the mistakes happen more often when the victim is black.

    In many areas, the police are worse than the criminals, and in some of these areas the gangs provide more protection than the police. These are the poor areas, and they are probably darker. This is something that middle and upper income people find unbelievable, and because they tend to be mostly white, racial factors become interwoven into a poverty issue.

    In many cases, the police are abusive, and in poor neighborhoods, they are abusive because they can be. Richer people are more likely to successfully sue you or know someone who can fire you. The poorer people are safer to abuse.

    The problem is getting people to understand the problems, and that is not easy. It is like a person who says they would never eat a rat. Once you have seen people starving to death, there are no rats, but you cannot get it through somebody’s thick skull that the whole world is not like their comfortable sofa in their safe living room.

  • ... Link

    We’re going to get put thru the wringer next. Cops investigating a car theft end up confronting two suspects. The suspects are in a car. According to the cops, the one in the driver’s seat (the car was parked at the time) kept moving his hands out of sight, so the officer shot him. He’s in critical condition last I heard. The passenger surrendered without getting shot.

    However, witnesses claim that the man that got shot had his hands up, and had surrendered. Of course, it’s a white officer shooting an unarmed black suspect.

    Our sheriff (black, BTW) is vowing an open investigation. We’ll see. I’ve got my doubts about the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on such cases.

    And frankly, both stories sound hinky to me. The cops have been shooting an awful lot of car thieves down here in recent years. On the other hand, the hands up thing is just too perfect, especially for witnesses that claim they stuck their head out their doors and windows to watch a gunfight. It’s a bad area of town, but come on, that’s just dumb.

    The two suspects, BTW, both have lengthy criminal records, including for car theft. Both have been arrested multiple times for resisting arrest, which seems to make the cop’s case seem better, on a pattern of behavior front. However, in all the cases I could track down, it was always resisting arrest WITHOUT VIOLENCE, which hurts the cop’s case. We’ll see.

    As best I could see, the wounded man’s worst offense was car-jacking, but the resolution of the case wasn’t clear, so I don’t know if he had been convicted of that. As it is, my former dirtbag neighbor had a much lengthier list of violent behavior, from what I can see.

    And on the other side of the ledger, two more drive-bys here in Pine Hills recently, including a four year-old getting shot in the leg last night. I don’t like the cops, but they’re hardly the most dangerous folks around.

  • Guarneri Link

    Who’s changing the subject, steve. You, not me. It’s not a matter of not criticizing the police, or realizing they can do better. I’ve seen no one arguing that. It’s the disproportionate focus on police rather than the black communities. We all know why. And your argument to focus on police because they are a smaller universe is just pure crap. When a patient of yours is bleeding to death in the ER do you focus one their broken hand because it’s easier to deal with?

    So this morning the NY police shot and killed a black man who had stabbed a Jewish kid in a synagogue. The video is comprehensive and clear. Classic police work. Think rev Al and Obama will be making a big deal about it? Suppose we will hear how it demonstrates how the black community is afraid of police? Not me. Doesn’t fit the narrative.

  • ... Link

    Is the new fashionable phrase going to be “YARMULKE ON! DON’T STAB!”

    Or maybe, “Already circumcised, keep you knife to yourself!”

  • With Garner, I’m thinking the problem is that the police were being asked to enforce somewhat stupid (in my opinion) ordinances.

    I suspect that isn’t what it was about. I haven’t gone into the details on this story but I suspect that Garner was known to the police as a career criminal and the city ordinance made a good pretext for hassling him.

    It’s the “they got Al Capone for tax evasion” thing. Except that Mr. Garner resisted arrest, the arresting officer went too far, and the other officers on the scene didn’t intervene when they should have.

    For my money both the Brown and the Garner case represent killings that are wrong but not crimes. They probably aren’t prosecutable (maybe not even actionable) and that might well include civil suits or federal civil rights cases.

    The question that I keep repeating is: what’s the policy solution? I’m not sure there is one.

  • CStanley Link

    The question that I keep repeating is: what’s the policy solution? I’m not sure there is one.

    In each of the two cases I can think of one suggestion that might have prevented the deaths.

    In the case of Michael Brown, a policy of two officers in the squad car might have helped greatly- reducing the odds that Brown would react the way he did, and reducing the panicked response by Wilson.

    In the Garner case, better training in handling suspects with weight and potential health problems (as Steve has noted, keeping him in a prone position was likely a precipitating factor in his death.) We already know, of course that one officer violated policy with the choke hold, so there are no guarantees that this policy would be effectively followed either, but it still seems necessary if not sufficient for preventing similar deaths in the future.

  • CStanley Link

    Here we have govt workers, police, being paid by taxpayers and they are performing poorly. At a time when violence is actually way down in this country.

    I certainly don’t doubt there are individual police officers performing poorly, but on the whole, how do we know that there isn’t causation between aggressive policing and decreasing crime rate? In other words, perhaps the police generally are performing very well and the problem cops are either outliers or perhaps an undesirable effect of the aggressive law enforcement policies.

  • ... Link

    CStanley, two officers per vehicle would be ideal, but that means either reducing the number of patrols or increased by the manpower on the street , most likely by hiring more officers.

    And how much medical training should police officers have, and who will pay for it? Should every encounter start with a wellness exam for all participants?

    It wouldn’t hurt for some changes of attitude with the public. Garner & Brown would both be alive & anonymous had they complied with lawful requests by the police. It’s not like these were cases of the secret police rounding up people to be sent off to the slave labor camps in the gulag.

  • Guarneri Link

    It seems to me that this thread has gotten out of control, much like media reporting, because:

    “For my money both the Brown and the Garner case represent killings that are wrong but not crimes. They probably aren’t prosecutable (maybe not even actionable) and that might well include civil suits or federal civil rights cases.

    The question that I keep repeating is: what’s the policy solution? ”

    Is correct. We’ve got all sorts of people who weren’t there or are not privy to the facts, and who want solutions based upon arm chair quarterbacking weeks later.

    How many people here know how they would react in the heat of the moment if a ginormous guy was reaching into your car trying to get your gun, or coming your way even after a scuffle in which your gun discharged??? I’m reminded of a near fatal auto accident I was in years ago where a guy crossed the highway median having lost control in rain, who you could clearly see frantically turning the wheel as he approached head on, and missed a front end with the car I was in by all of two feet, clipping the year quarter panel and sending us spinning. Not only do you not have time to break out the defensive driving manual but adrenalin is flowing and you’ve got all of a couple seconds to react instinctively, no matter your previous training.

    How do you write policy for that? (By the way, this is how the real world works. Not a scratch on any occupant in my car. The other car, carrying 3, hit head on with another car behind us carrying 3. 5 dead. Should we break out the agitators…..send drivers to re-education camps?)

    The Garner case seems less defensible for the police from what has been reported, but who really knows? Some say it wasn’t a choke hold. And do the cops have to take physical histories for heart disease before engaging people? As I noted in a previous thread, I’ve seen NYC cops be pretty rude, but never harm anyone who followed commands. That’s why I posted the Chris Rock skit over at OTB, poking fun at the humorless crew over there. They were not amused. Too invested in the cause.

  • CStanley Link

    I agree with your last paragraph ice but it’s not a policy prescription.

    As for cost, the status quo is looking pretty costly too.

  • Guarneri Link

    Now THIS might need moderation:


  • ... Link

    Dave, not too familiar with the details on the Garner case, but I’ve heard that local merchants had been complaining that people like Garner, if not Garner specifically, were both leeching their business and making for an unpleasant shopping environment by their actions. And consequently had requested that police get rid of the offenders. Don’t know if that’s true, as I don’t have that thru the usual sourcing, but it sounds plausible at least.

    Your point reminds me of laws against marijuana in particular. I know lots of people that have smoked a lot of dope and never been busted for anything. But I’ve seen a fair number of criminal records which include lots of minor pot busts of people with records prior to that. The laws serve as a way to round up people the polpolibelieve to be guilty of other offenses that they can’t make stick.

  • steve Link

    CStanley- You guys see much right heart failure in your animals? Just curious. You probably don’t have a lot of smokers, but you must have some lung disease.

    Drew-The topic was police homicides. That is what they were protesting. I am sure you must realize that having people you pay to protect the community killing people instead pisses people off. And if we must use medical analogies, we really shouldn’t, remember that trauma care is all protocolized now. Airwya always comes first, even when someone is bleeding. If people don’t breathe, not much else you do really matters (setting aside CPR, for the knowledgeable). Think of the police as the airway. Absent functional police, you won’t achieve much in terms of personal safety for any community.


  • CStanley Link

    Steve- Most right heart failure in dogs is from heart worm disease, but we don’t see nearly as much of that as we used to. We see a lot more left sided CHF, from mitral regurgitation and breed related cardiomyopathies.

  • steve Link

    ” In other words, perhaps the police generally are performing very well and the problem cops are either outliers or perhaps an undesirable effect of the aggressive law enforcement policies.”

    Just read a Brookings (?) report claiming that about 1/4 of the drop in violent crime is due to incarcerations. Also, to be clear, I am not saying all cops perform badly, just the ones in these cases and some others.

    Drew- Ahhh, the old heat of the moment argument. Well, we have the Garner case recorded. There was no heat of the moment. They could have just given him a ticket or summons. He had, IIRC, no looses on him. They hadn’t seen him selling any that day. What was the rush? The guy really didn’t fight back. If you have fought with 300 pounders you would know what I mean. So why didn’t they let him sit up when said he couldn’t breathe? He was cuffed. Surrounded by 6 cops. Surely even an out of shape cop could run down a 350 pound asthmatic. In Ferguson, why let the body lie in the street 4 hours? Why show up with armored units and train sniper rifles on people as part of your immediate reaction? There was no heat of the moment when they made those decisions. Finally, do you really want to absolve the police for everything they do in the heat of the moment? At the very least, shouldn’t people who are prone to panic have their guns taken away and not allowed to work as police again? ( And as you should know, the point is to not create situations where you have to make those kinds of decisions.)


  • Also, to be clear, I am not saying all cops perform badly, just the ones in these cases and some others.

    That is exactly what I mean when I say that what we’re looking at may be a six sigma problem. If there’s a way to prevent that other than after a tragedy has already taken place, I’m not seeing it.

  • jan Link

    The black-on-black crime is relevant when somebody claims “black lives matter”. They should not just matter when it is a white cop doing the killing.

    Yeah, a death is a death. But, it becomes far more sensational and newsworthy if the guy with the gun is white, fitting in nicely with the cultism of those seeing every event through the lens of racism.

    I’ve heard the same details regarding the Garner incident that ice talked about. Even though Garner was known to the cops for his long police record, it was at the behest of local business owners, complaining about people taking away their business, that police went to that corner and attempted to arrest Garner. Without these calls, absent the need to enforce frivolous laws, or absent any police resistance, Garner would be alive today. I also think the bigger a person is, the more vigorous police tend to be if they don’t cooperate and follow their instructions. Size is a factor — much more so, IMO, than color.

    One of the biggest mistakes in the Garner case, however was not heeding Warner’s respiratory difficulties, and being him to a sitting position. This is something I’m in total agreement with Steve. I just don’t understand that one at all!

  • CStanley Link

    The biggest issue is trust, and that is difficult to address through policy. Some ideas that have been floated about include recruitment of more black police, greater political participation to elect local blacks to leadership positions, and involving the police as community helpers. All of those seem potentially helpful even though they are not panaceas.

    Mostly for politicians and other political leaders, the mantra should be to do no harm. Black leaders would do well to seek out white leaders who are willing to stand with them, and work on solutions in a color blind and nonpartisan way. Part of the problem with the rhetoric from black activists and even the President is that it is problem centric instead of solution oriented and it implies that white people are the problem. Recognizing that there is a percentage of white Americans who are truly racist does not necessitate treating these people as the problem, especially since it offends those whites who are not racist. I recognize and renounce the treatment of blacks in our history but I have yet to understand what black activists would have me (as an individual) do about it, other than vote for Democrats.

  • steve Link

    ” But, it becomes far more sensational and newsworthy if the guy with the gun is white”

    No. The issue is that police are killing unarmed people. This isn’t that hard to comprehend. The people we pay to protect us are killing us. You know, like when the priests or teachers decide to screw our kids.


  • TastyBits Link


    Police shooting unarmed people only seems to be an issue when the cop is white and the unarmed person is black, and even then, there are a lot of cases that would be better than these two.

    There are other issues which to generate a lot of concern for people of one political persuasion, and then suddenly, the issue goes away.

    The Terri Schiavo case had the right up in arms, but somehow the Texas law that allowed hospitals to cut off life support when the money ran out was not a problem. It could have something to do with the fact that President Bush signed the law when he was governor of Texas.

    I would like to see police tried for shooting unarmed people they think are armed because of ordinary items – cellphones, wallets, combs, etc. You do not need to bring race into it. There is no defense for killing somebody because you thought their cellphone was a gun. In Louisiana, you can be convicted of negligent homicide, and you can spend a few years behind bars learning the difference.

    If a cop and a civilian with a concealed carry permit are standing next to each other and both see the same guy with a cellphone, only one of them can claim they feared their life was in danger, and it ain’t the civilian. The civilian with no training and no experience is required to know when he can and cannot shot somebody, and if he makes the wrong choice he goes to jail.

    Somebody please explain to me how this makes any sense.

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