Maggie A's Meanderings




 Mar 22, 2015

Police in the U.S. --- Licensed to Kill

You feel what you feel, and you don't feel what you don't feel. In recent years, when I hear on the news that an (on-duty) law enforcement officer (l.e.o.) has been shot, what I feel isn't anger, outrage or even sorrow. It's "Eh," a shrug and an "At least the cop was armed." (Because I've never heard of a case of an unarmed on-duty cop getting shot.) That was my reaction when I heard that two cops had been shot and injured at a Ferguson, Missouri protest.

Cops kill so many civilians every year and many of them are unarmed civilians. And that's only the fatalities. It doesn't count the number of unarmed civilians seriously injured by law enforcement in a year. So when I hear that a cop has been shot (either wounded or killed), I experience as much upset and sorrow as I expect cops experience when they hear an unarmed civilian has been killed by some cop (an amount I put as none). That cops themselves don't get upset when some law enforcement officer kills an unarmed civilian is not something that law enforcement in general is going to get in a huff over. Yet, ironically, this piece, where I express that I no longer get upset when one of them is shot and will be a source of insult to any l.e.o. who reads this.

Now, let me be perfectly clear, I don't favor the shooting of police. Not for the sake of the individual law enforcement officers........I've made my feelings (or lack there of) clear on that. No, for our sakes. Because 100% of them are armed and most of us are not, and have you noticed how angry they get when one of them gets shot. Too many of them are already trigger-happy, control-freaks like "Officer Go Fuck Yourself." They're people who should never have passed a psychological assessment (which ought to be mandatory and repeated annually) to become law enforcement in the first place. It seems like too many people with the wrong personality type to be cops are the exact ones who are attracted to being cops. (It's like pedophiles to jobs with children.) If your buttons are easily pushed, you really like guns, control and shouldn't be a cop.

What makes it worse is that law enforcement is deliberately trained to have pack mentality. So when something does happen, not one of them is trained to STOP & ASSESS if what's happening is appropriate. (Stop & Frisk, they have down. Stop & Assess, no.)  Instead of deescalating, they'll just go along or jump right in causing the situation to escalate. It's as if their individual decision making is short-circuited by the pack mentality. This is how you get 7 cops pulling a gun on a 20 year old woman they believed bought beer (it was a case of water). Or a group of 5 cops who end up killing a man over loose cigarettes. Law enforcement is ready, willing and able to deploy a level of violence completely out of proportion for the alleged offense that's happened.

So when a cop gets shot, you take a group of people who are already prone to use violence and give them more of an excuse to use it. That doesn't work out well for us. So I definitely do not favor shooting cops. Because they're already injuring and killing too many of us.

The reality is that law enforcement in this country has a license to kill. And this is not the fictional world of James Bond where the license to kill is restricted to a handful of "00" agents. Because any cop in this country can kill while on the job with overwhelming odds they'll get away with it. Even when a group of cops takes a man down and one of them chokes the man to death and does so on camera, they'll still get away with and won't spend a day in prison for it. Not for killing and not for seriously injuring the innocent.

Here in Escambia county, Florida, two deputies fired 15 bullets at a man who went outside to get cigarettes out of his car. (The man lived.) The case was heard by a grand jury who sided with the cops that a man going to grab a pack of smokes from the car would "lunge" at two armed deputies (wink-wink-nod-nod), so refused to indict. It would be one thing if that were just the kind of place that Escambia county was, but it's nationwide that we, the American people, refuse to hold law enforcement responsible for the harm they do to those who do not deserve it. From flash grenading a baby then refusing to pay the baby's medical bills to shooting a homeowner 6 times then dragging him out to their patrol car, tossing him onto the hood of the car and driving with him on the hood like he was a deer they just bagged, the cops who do such actions are defended by their departments, and the local populace refuses to step up and hold them responsible. (Though it's the local populace that ends up footing the bill when the civil lawsuit happens. Because it's our taxes that pay the legal fees and settlement/judgment for the police malfeasance.)

After the L.A. cops beat Rodney King and a riot happened when the good citizens of L.A. refused to convict them of a vicious beating caught on camera, Congress mandated that the attorney general collect data on police excessive force and put out the stats annually. What Congress failed to mandate was any kind of penalty (the usual one is a loss of federal funding) to force the local jurisdictions to report the data. No, the reporting of police killing us is voluntary. So, guess what? Many jurisdictions do not. That includes the entire state of New York.

That voluntary aspect of the reporting results in a significant discrepancy. In May 2013 a civilian group began tracking people killed by the police and publishing it on their website, appropriately called Their data source didn't depend on voluntary self-reporting. They used news sources available to anyone including the FBI. (Strange how our government can track our phone calls, emails and internet usage, record every piece of mail we send through the USPS, but can't gather accurate data on law enforcement killing people in America.) From May 2013 to the end of the year, the civilian group had 764 dead. The FBI? Only 461 dead ----- and that's for the entire year, not just the 8 months out of the year tracked by Killed by Police. If Killed by Police had numbers for the entire year, it would probably be a 1000 or more dead civilians killed by law enforcement. The number of law enforcement officers killed in 2013? The FBI has that number. It's 27, "27 law enforcement officers died as a result of felonious acts." For 2014, the Killed by Police site lists 1101 dead. The FBI? Sorry. No data yet from them for the year 2014.

Of that approximately 1000 people killed by law enforcement every year in this country, according to a Police Policy Studies Council report 1 in 4 of them is unarmed. That would mean around 250 unarmed people killed every year by the police.

I claimed that the police have a license to kill because the odds are overwhelming that they'll get away with it.
From 2005 to 2011, the FBI's incomplete date showed 2718 "justifiable" homicides (my quotes, not the 

FBI's) by law enforcement officers. That's only 388 a year while we now have evidence to reasonably believe that the actual number killed is much higher. In that same 7 year time period where a minimum of 2718 civilians were killed, only 41 officers were arrested for murder or manslaughter.

Do I think all police shooting are "bad" shootings? No. As I used an incident from my home as a "bad" shooting, I'll use another incident from my home as a "good" shooting. Full disclosure: the cop in this shooting was a neighborhood friend. As a Florida state trooper he pulled a vehicle over for a legitimate traffic stop. He ended up shooting and killing the driver. The driver was armed with a handgun. The driver fired the handgun during the traffic stop. (Into the driver's own head as it turns out.) Upon seeing the gun in the hand of the driver, the cop did not immediately open fire. Instead he repeatedly told the driver to drop the gun. That's not based on the cop's statement ----- it's from an eyewitness statement of someone non-involved who just happened to be in the area. Then the cop opened fire. None of what I've said so far is in dispute. According to the cop, the driver moved his hand with the gun, at which point he opened fire. That's almost irrelevant to me. The man had a gun. He took it out and fired it. He still had the gun in his hand. He was given an opportunity to drop the gun. (If the driver was capable of understanding what was being said to him with a self-inflicted bullet in his brain, also irrelevant to me under the circumstances.) Even by my standards, someone has a gun in hand which he's already fired, and he's shot & killed......that's a good shooting. A sad situation, as the driver was a combat vet with PTSD, but a good shooting.
That's arrested, not convicted. How many of the 41 were convicted? I don't know. That study only looked at arrests. But this quote from a 2014 article from the "San Francisco Chronicle" should give you some idea of the odds of their conviction, "In the past 20 years, at least 17 police officers in the United States have been charged with murder for their actions in line-of-duty shootings. None of these officers, though, was convicted of murder — and most weren’t convicted of anything, according to a Chronicle review."

If that isn't getting away with murder, I don't know what is. I used to say that if you wanted to get away with murder that you should do it in a certain area of New Orleans as it had a high unsolved murder rate. Now I say if you want to get away with murder, join law enforcement. Just like James Bond, you'll have a license to kill.

NOTE: The examples mentioned include African-American, Caucasian, Hispanic and Asian-American civilians. (And I didn't even set out  to make this a diverse group. Those were just cases I knew about.) This is not a problem that's isolated to the African-American population. It's not just "Black Lives Matter;" it's "Our Lives Matter."

law enforcement -- license to kill

You might also want to read, "Dying from Terrorism Not Really a Danger, Losing Freedoms Is a Real Danger." And if you do get arrested, there's "15 Important Legal Points I've Learned from Watching "Law & Order""

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