Friday, September 23, 2016

Another Murder by Police, Another Sidestep

America was founded by a bunch of radical liberal rabble-rousers.  They had the audacious idea that man should pick his leaders, not God (the king supposedly was ordained by God by being born into the right family).
They also refused to give respect to someone just because that person "took the King's shilling." In other words, just by putting on the uniform didn't mean they'd respect you. You had to earn respect in this country.
After the Revolutionary War, the Tories (conservatives) fled the country, but since that time have slowly filtered back into US society and even have had a measure of power since the 1990s.  Nowhere can you see this better then in the respect conservatives give to police just because they wear the uniform. They are heroes Faux News proclaims. Doesn't matter that the only heroic thing they may have done is hold the door for someone with an armful of groceries.
Likewise, when a policeman (or woman) kills a civilian, conservatives immediately will claim the victim deserved it.  "Oh, he was running away," "He didn't do as commanded," "He had a checkered past," are a few of the justifications they use for killing an unarmed, non-guilty civilian.  Of course, loyal Thurber Brigaders have read my take on how this latter would be if the shoe were on the other foot.
Luckily, although conservative ideology has held sway for a few decades, we're beginning to see cracks in the surety that police can do no wrong because, well, they are the police.
So you may have guessed that this Thurber Brigade Sidestep is caused by yet another murder of a civilian by the police. The Tulsa murder looks pretty open and shut, but remember there was video of Rodney King being pounded by police for speeding, police killing an unarmed naked man, et al, and in each case the police walk free. So pardon me if I have doubts about justice here in the US.
The number of people killed by police in the US so far in 2016 is well over 700.  By contrast in Europe, not counting terrorists, they have killed less than 10 (I made this number up, but it's low. Check the link to see why it's probably accurate). If you read my "tips for tourists" blog from last year you know that there are a wide range of reasons why US police kill civilians: from running away, standing still, doing as told, flashing your headlights, etc. So I won't rehash that.
I had started work on a book on police brutality back in the 90s and in my research discovered thousands of cases of police malfeasance.  So believe me when I say it's not just a few bad apples as most conservatives will try to explain. It's extensive.  I didn't find a publisher for the book, so ended up with just an article instead.
What all of the above is trying to explain is that we desperately need police reform.  I've written a few articles on that too, but if you don't want to read them (Part I and Part II), let me bullet-point a few ideas.
  Traffic enforcement should be handled by a completely separate—unarmed—city unit. Police were handed this chore because cities were too cheap to come up with a separate force. Having police do it is equivalent to having them inspect restaurants or investigate building code violations.
•  Disarm half the police force.  Do cops need weapons at a car crash? To block off streets for a parade?
  There should be specialized units within the police for different duties. For example, a rapid deployment force that is armed to handle bank robberies, assaults, etc.  A special unit for terrorist attacks/hostage situations (like the current SWAT).  A detective unit to investigate crimes (pretty much as it currently stands).  A civil action unit to handle non-violent emergencies such as car crashes, tornadoes, etc.  A special unit to handle domestic disputes/mental issues. This latter group would have an unarmed social worker/psychiatrist to make contact and an armed officer as backup.
•  Extensive testing to see if the police applicant should be allowed to carry a weapon and testing to see of an applicant has the temperament to be on a police force.  In other words, stop hiring people who desperately need anger management treatment, or high school jocks who blow up when they don't get the same respect they had while on the team.
•  A
minimum two-year length training academy to become an officer.  This would include extensive work on how to de-escalate situations and NOT use a weapon.
These are just some simple starting points on how to bring our police up to the same level as those in other industrialized nations such as the UK or Germany—who have little violence by police on citizens.  If we don't have reform, if we don't hold police accountable for their actions, we'll continue to see more and more murder by police and riots by those who object.

Yes, The Thurber Brigade has strayed again from it's coverage of The War Between Men and WomenThe Brigade would normally apologize for yet another sidestep—except that we don't believe citizens should remain quiet when injustice surfaces. Paraphrasing Barbara Jordan, when you remain silent to these injustices it means that future generations will believe you were okay with them. So The Brigade will try to get back to the straight and narrow soon, but no promises.