The Washington Post ran a piece of propaganda written by a Professor in the academically intensive field of “Homeland Security,” you know one of the majors you see on late night TV that’s taught through correspondence courses. He also served the LAPD for 17 years, and the people know how well regarded that particular institution is for its safeguarding of civil rights. Sunil Dutta takes pen to paper to explain to people that the only way they can avoid being gunned down by a cop is to be lead like a lamb to slaughter in any interaction with law enforcement. Image credit: Cris Yarzab (Author of WaPo Op-ed Sunil Dutta not pictured. Generic LAPD photo.)
Rather than let this wonderfully crafted pile of steaming doublespeak go by without comment, the entire opinion piece is included along with appropriate commentary.
“A teenager is fatally shot by a police officer; the police are accused of being bloodthirsty, trigger-happy murderers; riots erupt. This, we are led to believe, is the way of things in America.”
This isn’t what the people are led to believe; this is a pretty good summary of the events.
“It is also a terrible calumny; cops are not murderers. No officer goes out in the field wishing to shoot anyone, armed or unarmed. And while they’re unlikely to defend it quite as loudly during a time of national angst like this one, people who work in law enforcement know they are legally vested with the authority to detain suspects — an authority that must sometimes be enforced. Regardless of what happened with Mike Brown, in the overwhelming majority of cases it is not the cops, but the people they stop, who can prevent detentions from turning into tragedies.”
First, I feel I should compliment Mr. Dutta for his expansive vocabulary. “Calumny” basically means “slander,” for those that don’t want to Google the definition. But it isn’t slander. A teenager was fatally shot by a cop. That’s not in dispute. Here’s a list of other people killed by cops just this month. No doubt that some were justified, but some weren’t. Maybe the officer didn’t wake up that morning and say “Today, I’m going to kill someone.” Maybe he did, but we can’t prove it, so it’s not premeditated. Let’s call it Murder in the Second Degree. Sometimes they kill people just because they “don’t have time” to deal with it. It should also be pointed out, Professor, that cops have the legal authority to detain someone under certain circumstances, not just because they call them a “suspect.”
“Working the street, I can’t even count how many times I withstood curses, screaming tantrums, aggressive and menacing encroachments on my safety zone, and outright challenges to my authority. In the vast majority of such encounters, I was able to peacefully resolve the situation without using force.”
Great, so has every bartender in the country. Your job isn’t that dangerous, stop acting like it is. Your job is less dangerous than being a trash collector. The time of being able to point to the dangers of the job is over. It is also a career path you chose. Journalism can get pretty tense at times too, but when I’m photographing in an area and someone becomes abrasive with me, I don’t get to shoot them with anything but a camera.
“Cops deploy their training and their intuition creatively, and I wielded every trick in my arsenal, including verbal judo, humor, warnings and ostentatious displays of the lethal (and nonlethal) hardware resting in my duty belt. One time, for instance, my partner and I faced a belligerent man who had doused his car with gallons of gas and was about to create a firebomb at a busy mall filled with holiday shoppers. The potential for serious harm to the bystanders would have justified deadly force. Instead, I distracted him with a hook about his family and loved ones, and he disengaged without hurting anyone. Every day cops show similar restraint and resolve incidents that could easily end up in serious injuries or worse.”
Wonderful anecdote. Tell it to Misty Holt-Singh, but you’re going to have to talk really loud because she’s in a cemetery after officers showed so much restraint that their bullets sent her to the grave when she was taken hostage. I’m sure the dozens of other unarmed dead killed this year by cops would love to hear your story. I’m sure they’d love to hear anything at all.
“Sometimes, though, no amount of persuasion or warnings work on a belligerent person; that’s when cops have to use force, and the results can be tragic. We are still learning what transpired between Officer Darren Wilson and Brown, but in most cases it’s less ambiguous — and officers are rarely at fault. When they use force, they are defending their, or the public’s, safety.”
Another standard line the people are told to believe. Cops are just defending the public’s safety. Without the thin blue line, there would certainly be rioting in the streets. Funny, it seems like the thin blue line has caused rioting in the streets. What public safety risk was happening when officers killed Eric Garner? In your 17 years as a cop how many wife beaters, rapists, murderers, and other actual public safety risks did you take off the street? How many times did you initiate violence when there was none when you cuffed someone for illegal possession of a plant, prostitution, or for failing to pay some form of extortion to the state? You aren’t a hero. You’re the armed collection force of the largest extortion racket this country has ever seen.
“Even though it might sound harsh and impolitic, here is the bottom line: if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you. Don’t argue with me, don’t call me names, don’t tell me that I can’t stop you, don’t say I’m a racist pig, don’t threaten that you’ll sue me and take away my badge. Don’t scream at me that you pay my salary, and don’t even think of aggressively walking towards me.”
I am arguing with you. I think you’re a complete idiot. You can’t stop me. Well, I’m a heterosexual blonde-haired, blue-eyed white male; so I don’t have a race card, but I’ll still call you a pig. Make no mistake, if you violate my rights I will sue you and use your badge as a paperweight. We do pay your salary, and your subjective belief of how I am walking is not grounds for lethal force. It’s funny how I can do all of these things to you as a private citizen, but the second you put on a magic blue costume, it gives you grounds to assault and kidnap me.
This passage shows you for what you are: a hired thug. Thankfully, you don’t represent all cops, but it terrifies me to find out you teach future law enforcement officers. Your students now believe it’s OK to shoot someone for calling them names. That is what you just said. I hope you’re tenured because I have a feeling Colorado Tech University is going to get a whole lot of heat for keeping you on staff.
“Most field stops are complete in minutes. How difficult is it to cooperate for that long?”
That’s the wonderful thing about living in a free country, even though those freedoms are currently on life support. We don’t have to cooperate with you. If you don’t want to receive any resistance, don’t ask me where I’m going, don’t ask me where I’ve been, don’t ask me if you can search my car, don’t ask me what’s in my bag, don’t ask how I know my passenger, and don’t even think of pulling a weapon on me.
Most field stops are complete in minutes. How difficult is it to not violate someone’s rights for the length of time it takes to write a ticket?
“I know it is scary for people to be stopped by cops. I also understand the anger and frustration if people believe they have been stopped unjustly or without a reason. I am aware that corrupt and bully cops exist. When it comes to police misconduct, I side with the ACLU: Having worked as an internal affairs investigator, I know that some officers engage in unprofessional and arrogant behavior; sometimes they behave like criminals themselves.”
Of course, it’s scary. You, someone who is attempting to tell people how to avoid getting shot, has already stated that you might shoot someone because you believe the manner in which they are walking is not proper. Scared animals, including humans, have a fight or flight mechanism. Perhaps your cutesy little piece here attempting to scare people into submission wasn’t such a good idea. All you have done is reinforce the idea that it is better to roll the dice and hope the cop can be subdued with force rather than hoping not to offend your delicate sensibilities. Working LAPD’s Internal Affairs just means you were the Gestapo arm of the department. A cop offends a higher up, and you get turned loose. You weren’t out trying to protect the citizens from bad cops; your opinion piece clearly shows the country that even those responsible for investigating cops believe it’s OK to put a bullet in someone who calls them a name.
“I also believe every cop should use a body camera to record interactions with the community at all times. Every police car should have a video recorder. (This will prevent a situation like Mike Brown’s shooting, about which conflicting and self-serving statements allow people to believe what they want.) And you don’t have to submit to an illegal stop or search. You can refuse consent to search your car or home if there’s no warrant (though a pat-down is still allowed if there is cause for suspicion). Always ask the officer whether you are under detention or are free to leave.”
After your little tirade about what is likely to get people shot, you expect them to question their betters and try to exercise their constitutionally protected rights? Are you kidding? You just told the American people in no uncertain terms this is how people end up getting “shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground.”
“Unless the officer has a legal basis to stop and search you, he or she must let you go. Finally, cops are legally prohibited from using excessive force: The moment a suspect submits and stops resisting, the officers must cease use of force.”
By this point in the piece I became convinced that you lost a bet and had to write this as a joke. Kelly Thomas’sbrutal murder by cops from your neck of the woods shows this to be a complete fabrication. He submitted, and was still beat to death. The courts provided no justice. Now you act surprised that Americans, having lost faith in the police and courts, are holding trial in the streets. Just as prosecutors offer defendants life sentences to get the plea in order to avoid the death penalty, people have come to realize that it’s better to kill a cop and go to prison than be beat to death while begging for their father.
“But if you believe (or know) that the cop stopping you is violating your rights or is acting like a bully, I guarantee that the situation will not become easier if you show your anger and resentment. Worse, initiating a physical confrontation is a sure recipe for getting hurt. Police are legally permitted to use deadly force when they assess a serious threat to their or someone else’s life. Save your anger for later, and channel it appropriately.”
Legality has nothing to do with this anymore. Officers that fail to abide by the law should expect resistance. It may not be wise, but it’s better than bleeding out in a car while the cop delays medical treatment so there is only one story of the chain of events leading up to the shooting. Police departments across the country have made the choice to militarize and enforce unjust laws. Don’t be surprised that people have decided to meet force with force. You wanted to play army, well even in the childhood version; somebody ends up lying on the ground. Don’t cry about it now.
“Do what the officer tells you to and it will end safely for both of you. We have a justice system in which you are presumed innocent; if a cop can do his or her job unmolested, that system can run its course. Later, you can ask for a supervisor, lodge a complaint or contact civil rights organizations if you believe your rights were violated. Feel free to sue the police! Just don’t challenge a cop during a stop.”
Your advice is submit to sexual assault, harassment, deprivation of rights, assault, or whatever the officer decides to dish out, and then contact his supervisor who will probably laugh while he watches the dashcam video before it is erased and the statement goes out that the camera malfunctioned. No thanks. The American people have tried that for long enough. It doesn’t work. Your thin blue line has created a backlash.
“An average person cannot comprehend the risks and has no true understanding of a cop’s job. Hollywood and television stereotypes of the police are cartoons in which fearless super cops singlehandedly defeat dozens of thugs, shooting guns out of their hands. Real life is different. An average cop is always concerned with his or her safety and tries to control every encounter. That is how we are trained.”
Stop. We have all seen the stats. It is not that dangerous. A fisherman has a more dangerous job. Real life is different than the movies. The cops in movies know better than to shoot into a car with hostages, they know better than to shoot unarmed people, they don’t rape “suspects,” they don’t run pedophile prostitution rings, and they don’t flash their guns at sorority girls buying bottled water.
“While most citizens are courteous and law abiding, the subset of people we generally interact with everyday are not the genteel types. You don’t know what is in my mind when I stop you. Did I just get a radio call of a shooting moments ago? Am I looking for a murderer or an armed fugitive? For you, this might be a “simple” traffic stop, for me each traffic stop is a potentially dangerous encounter. Show some empathy for an officer’s safety concerns. Don’t make our job more difficult than it already is.”
If you can’t handle these things without violating people’s rights or shooting unarmed people, then you are in the wrong line of work. Maybe you should take up teaching or something. After all, those that can’t do, teach.
“Community members deserve courtesy, respect and professionalism from their officers. Every person stopped by a cop should feel safe instead of feeling that their wellbeing is in jeopardy. Shouldn’t the community members extend the same courtesy to their officers and project that the officer’s safety is not threatened by their actions?”
This is all true, but now that police use fear as a weapon and attempt to intimidate the populace with armored vehicles, black uniforms, no-knock raids, military tactics, and propaganda pieces in the Washington Post that basically say that they can do whatever the hell they want, the people don’t want you to feel safe. When you behave like an occupying army, expect resistance. The police chose this route, not the people. When people are subjugated by an oppressive control system, they will find a way to dismantle that system. They will exhaust all other options, but then they will use violence. Until police departments remember who pays their salary, I’d suggest you keep your schedule clear for more of your friends’ funerals, because communities across the country are tired of burying people because cops have declared war on the American people.