How Culture Convinced America’s Police To Become So Deadly

How Culture Convinced America’s Police To Become So Deadly August 23, 2016

Police Stop

I’m a creature of habit, so my daily routine is the same most days: I get up and drink my coffee while surfing through the daily news stories. What is also true, in a far more tragic sense, is that among those daily news stories it has become rather routine to see more and more stories of police shooting unarmed people.

The violent policing of America is a cultural shift we cannot ignore. Like the hyperbolic frog in the kettle who didn’t pay attention to the fact the water was getting increasingly hot, far too much of American culture is either oblivious or accepting of the fact that our community police are growing more and more violent.

Whether it is shooting a medical professional sitting in the road with a patient who wandered out of the facility, shooting a young man who was deaf and trying to communicate to the p0lice using sign language, or people getting shot for unbuckling their seatbelt, it has come time for us to accept a difficult fact about our culture: police in America have a policy of shooting first, and asking questions later.

Instead of a profession where lethal violence is a last resort and used on only the most dangerous criminals, we have allowed those we entrust to protect and serve us to become modern executioners who are willing to execute citizens for the slightest perceived threat. When they decide to use this power to execute a citizen, some in culture raise objections, but many rush into defend and justify the behavior. Chief of which is the system itself, which from a practical standpoint, offers no accountability for these life and death decisions.

How did we get here? Where do we go?

First, I think culture has instilled a fear in our nation’s police officers that is beyond the level warranted. We often treat our police officers as if they have the most dangerous job in America, when it’s not actually true. In fact, when you list out the most dangerous jobs in nation, being a police officer isn’t anywhere near the top. A statistical analysis by TIME a few years ago shows that it’s actually ranked 15th, right behind being a supervisor at a landscaping company, and behind professions like garbage collectors and even taxi drivers:

Screenshot 2016-08-23 09.21.20

When we convince people they have the most dangerous job in the world, the natural instinct is a need to mitigate that fear. To do so, we have taught our police officers that they are justified in executing a citizen whenever they “feel” threatened or in danger. Since we have filled our police officers with fear instead of encouraging bravery, many of them bring this fear into encounters with citizens. Thus, when they see a citizen reaching down to unbuckle their seat belt or reaching into the glove box for their registration card, they interpret these reasonable movements as being somehow life-threatening, and they instinctively shoot.

This idea that (a) you should be very afraid and (b) when you’re afraid and think someone might harm you, a reasonable first step is killing them, is what leads to our growing problem of police homicides.

Instead of encouraging our nation’s police officers to be brave and to be creative thinkers, we have taught them to be afraid and that the first go-to solution is to kill.

In this regard, we have somewhat misdiagnosed the problem and the cure: our problem isn’t so much with violent police officers, as it is a problem of culture.

Our culture has given us an endless supply of guns. Our culture has told us to be very afraid. Our culture has told us that when we have a “reasonable fear” of someone, it’s ethically justifiable to kill them.

Naturally, within such a cultural framework, one would expect gun-toting police officers to be quick to kill– and, it certainly seems these days they are.

To reverse this self-destructive cultural trend we must treat the problem on all levels, both with our police officers and with culture at large. We must remind our police officers that yes, their job is necessary and respectable, but that the danger level is statistically on par with people who mow lawns for a living. Thus, they need not be living in a constant state of panic, ready to shoot the slightest perceived threat to their own safety.

We must also begin teaching our police officers (and ourselves) that regardless of what the law says, it is not good, right, or even in the best interest of society to adopt a cultural position that encourages a shoot first and investigate the threat later mentality. Instead, we must re-teach ourselves that there is a long line of creative options before one skips straight to lethal violence. We must also demand that our nation’s police begin learning from other cultures who are successful at maintaining law and order, and who do so while very rarely ever using lethal violence. We must equip them with non-lethal options, and we must build a culture that demands they use these options long before they take a human life.

We cannot expect the police to change before we change– because the police are ultimately an extension of us. They represent what we, as a culture, believe and hold true.

Right now? It certainly seems that what we hold true as a culture is that we should be afraid, and that when we are afraid, it is ethically justifiable skip straight to lethal violence.

unafraid 300Dr. Benjamin L. Corey is a public theologian and cultural anthropologist who is a two-time graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary with graduate degrees in the fields of Theology and International Culture, and holds a doctorate in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary. He is also the author of the new book, Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith, which is available wherever good books are sold.

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  • SamHamilton

    Great post, thanks Mr. Corey. Based on what I’ve read in the news, we need a change in police training. Too many shootings are justified with “he was doing what he was trained to do.” Well, if shooting without actually seeing a weapon in the hands of another person is the training, then the training needs to change. Police do hard work and make sacrifices most of us don’t make, but in exchange they’re given extra responsibility. With that responsibility comes an acceptance of risk of physical harm coming to them.

  • Out here in KC, we’ve started a program where police departments have an embedded mental health professional that goes along with first responders. I was just listening about it on NPR. It seems to be working well according to the dude talking about it.

  • In a conflict management class I took, we discussed how police officers are literally trained to escalate situations, instead of deescalate, because they’re told they can die at any time. This fear is so tragic. :(

  • Iain Lovejoy

    I don’t think police forces which are supposed to be trained professionals get to blame the “culture” when they don’t do their job properly, particularly when what they are supposed to be doing is as basic as not shooting people. An improvement in culture might help, but better training would be better and more quickly achievable:
    US – average 15 weeks training
    RCMP – 24 weeks + 6 month field training
    Germany – 2-3 years
    UK – 24-28 weeks basic + further field training + 18 months as probationer + several years experience and a separate 18 week or so course before a few specialised officers are let near a gun
    Japan – 15-19 months training depending on previous education
    Australia – 28-35 weeks basic training + 6-18 months on the job.
    It is also the case as I understand from articles on this that US firearms training cincetrates largely in shooting straight without the training in conflict resolution and avoiding lethal force common in other forces.
    Being a police officer may not be as dangerous as people (and perhaps crucially the police themselves) think it is, but it is an extremely difficult one, and I have to say I am less condemnatory (at least in some cases) police shootings when I consider that what you have are flawed human beings put in difficult situations with what appears to be hopelessly inadequate training after being falsely propagandised to believe they spend their working lives seconds away from instant death.

  • G. David Daley

    Dear Benjamin Corey:

    My understanding — extrajudicial killings by police up 7.9% last year over 2014.

    As for how we got here and where we go from here, that’s going to require facing stuff we are wont to avoid.

    Since people dig in their heels when offered answers they don’t care to hear, I offer but a few observations and allow others to draw their own conclusions.

    — In addition to fueling understandable anger and a desire for revenge, 9/11ism thoroughly disoriented and confused the public.
    — War as standing policy multiplies veterans who, employed as police, apply their military rules of contact training in a civilian environment.
    — Large sums are offered police departments in the form of military gear. If it is not accepted, that value is lost to the department.
    — Police are granted a level of immunity from prosecution that is normally reserved for senior officials and heads of state.
    — When police kill, community demands for improved training reliably take the form of reinforcing/upgrading the militarization of police.
    — Since 9/11, police have killed several times over the number killed by 9/11. Approximately three people are killed by police in the United States daily.
    — No official statistics are gathered killings by police. Independent
    sites such as ‘Killed by Police’ gather and publish news reports.
    — Some who organize peaceable protest against police abuses have themselves been targeted by police.

    Other things you REALLY don’t want to hear…

    — Police kill more Whites than Blacks each year. The number of Blacks and Hispanics together approximately equal the number of Whites killed.
    — When Black, Hispanic, Asian, Mediterranean, etc. peoples are counted together, police kill more minority peoples than Whites each year.
    — Police don’t murder in affluent minority communities as View Park-Windsor Hills, CA, predominately black, with an average annual income of $157,000.
    — What joins the deceased is not their race but their class. As socio-economic crises rise, state weapons/laws take aim at the poor and working class.
    — The ruling class is unsettled by a worldwide emergence of class consciousness not seen since the October Revolution.
    — The rise of Donald Trump reflects a growing belief in the ruling class that in the face of rising class consciousness, more repression will become necessary.
    — Regardless of who is ‘elected’ this November, state repression in the interest of the ruling class is going to increase.
    — If the church is to have a voice in public life, it must inform itself about the issues of poverty and class and address police abuse, war, and other forms of political malfeasance in that context.

  • otrotierra

    Officers who Escalate and Harm instead of Protect and Serve should be prosecuted and sent straight to unemployment.

  • gimpi1

    Ben, I’ve thanked you for writing things so often that it must bet tedious, but, THANK YOU FOR WRITING THIS!

    I’ve tried to explain this several times: We’ve exaggerated the threat to police officers to an extreme degree, and we’ve – through our entertainment and culture – told them that we expect them to react with violence to little provocation. We’ve also given them funds to militarize through anti-terrorism allocations that cash-strapped municipalities have jumped on to supposedly “modernize” with military-style equipment and training.

    The thing is, crime is declining, and has been declining for decades. It peaked in the mid-20th century, and has been going down as our population ages. We may not feel safer, but that’s due to our “it bleeds it leads” media and the many more sources of information that flood us with news about crimes that would have occurred in the past – but we never would have heard about them.

    With our declining crime-rate, this is an amazingly stupid time to spend money to militarize our police. Police officers themselves are being taught to fear the very people they serve. This fear makes officers overreact, and their actions make the people they interact with fear them, which taints those interactions. It’s a damn downward spiral of toxic fear.

    Because we can be made to fear, we accept this. I can’t decide if it’s deliberate or accidental, but fear is at the root. So, I have to ask, why are we so afraid?

  • gimpi1

    That sounds like a wonderful idea. It appears many victims of police-shootings are mentally unstable. Police often don’t understand that mentally ill people simply can’t respond to their orders and expecting them to is expecting them to turn off their illness during the encounter – physically impossible. Having a mental health professional along can save lives.

    I’ve also thought that police departments might want to recruit people who have some mental health training. They often do this former military or MP, and it seems to me that a psychiatric nurse would be much more valuable as a potential police officer.

  • gimpi1

    Interesting… I wonder why we don’t offer more training. I suppose it’s a budget-matter. We really need to understand that you do get what you pay for, and that we need to pay what it costs to have a job done right.

  • gimpi1

    I gather that was the “Community Policing” model. the idea behind it was that police involvement in the community would foster trust and make people more willing to work with the police to solve problems. It worked fairly well, but for some reason it was largely abandoned, in favor of another idea.

    Our current model in many areas is called “zero tolerance.” The idea behind it is that if you react harshly to small crimes like broken windows or jaywalking, you prevent big crimes later on. One selling point in this model, however, is the use of fines and fees as a large source of revenue for municipalities – similar to the old small-town speed traps. Police officers are sometimes given “productivity” quotas of the tickets and citations they must write in order to generate revenue, and promotions and raises depend on your “productivity.” It creates neighborhoods which distrust the police, and officers who view the communities they patrol as both the enemy and a source of money. It doesn’t appear to work well as a policing model – big surprise.

  • Gary Gill

    Nicely said, Benjamin. Thank you! I worry about the many people with PTSD, Aspergers, attachment disorder, autism, neurological/psychological issues, racial/cultural differences that the police have not been trained to deal with. It is not ok to shoot them dead and ask questions later. The killing of the deaf, mute guy makes me very sad and angry. It must stop !!!!!!

  • Tim Cooper

    It was abandoned for two (not very good) reasons. The first is budgetary; community policing is simultaneously expensive and doesn’t /look like/ policing. “Why am I, the taxpayer, paying for Officer Jenny to hang out with n… um, urban people?” The second is the crime peak in the late 1970s had convinced everyone that community policing didn’t work and so it was time for the “broken windows/zero tolerance” policy you described.

    As the crime rate dropped but the media fear factor intensified, we’ve gone back to dumping money into police departments so they can buy body armor and armored personnel carriers and whatnot. At the same time, we don’t back away from zero-tolerance because that makes us look “weak on crime.” We can’t look “weak on crime” because we characterize criminals as psychopathic animals rather than people who are, by and large, down on their luck or otherwise disenfranchised (though, truth be told, there really are a few /real/ pieces of work out there).

    Plus, since the lie of the Laffer Curve insists on repeated tax cuts but services demand greater budgets, the quota system of ticketing and fines alleviates municipal budget shortfalls.

    (Fun thing: the crime wave of the 1970s was worldwide, started in the postwar period, peaked in 1991, and has gone down since, as you noted. This tracks relatively well with the bioavailability of lead in the criminals’ childhood environments, which peaked due to the use of leaded gasoline and then subsided after it was banned. Correlation does not imply causation, but it’s interesting.)

  • Tim Cooper

    Back in my cadet days, there was a phrase: “explanation, not excuse.” Culture /explains/ why the police are so quick on the trigger these days. It does not /excuse/ them.

    We can hold individuals accountable while simultaneously modifying the culture that led those individuals to be who they are.

  • G. David Daley

    Dear gimpi1

    ‘Zero tolerance’ looks less like a theory than a rationalization.

  • Iain Lovejoy

    I would say though that while culture doesn’t provide an excuse, not being given the training and skills to do the job to a certain extent can do. It’s certainly a way of helping the problem in any event.

  • gimpi1

    I think you’re absolutely right. I really feel that we have to understand that we have to pay for the services we need to have a functional society. We’re killing ourselves with budget-death of a thousand cuts.

    I also think part of the drop in crime is the natural result of an aging society. All the demographics I’m aware of show that crime is a young man’s sport. There are some downsides of an ageing society, but a low crime-rate is one of the perks.

  • gimpi1

    I think it started out as a theory, and turned into a fundraising mechanism. It’s a long-understood principle that what you reward, you encourage. With the constant drumbeat for tax-cuts, cash-strapped municipalities discovered that the fines and fees raised through zero-tolerance policing became an important source of revenue. You can see this in the “productivity” quotas officers have, in the policy of “farming” fines.

    (This is a marginally legal practice in which a collection-agency pays the bulk of the . They then go after the original jaywalker for the debt, their fees – and are able to use the threat of jail as leverage. It’s truly nasty.)

    The (mostly) unspoken rule on these awful “policing” tactics is to target minority and poor people. Firstly they’re targeted because they won’t have the means to contest the unjust fines. Secondly, majority and more prosperous people won’t believe poor or minority people regarding the injustice of the system -since these things don’t happen to them. Sadly that works all too well.

  • gimpi1

    I’m not sure what article you read, but it doesn’t seem to be the one I read. I read Dr. Corey as decrying the culture that has made individual officers fearful. I see no condemnation of individual officers at all.

    I think it’s also fair to look at changes in policing. It’s fair to talk about procedures, training and funding structure. (See my comments about how some municipalities have attempted to turn police departments into a revenue source.) It’s fair to look at our abysmal care of the mentally ill, resulting in police having to deal with more mentally disturbed people, with no training on how to do that. (Expecting mentally ill people to follow police orders as though they weren’t mentally ill is ridiculous.) It’s fair to look at the real risks, and to compare them to the perceived risks.

    One of the shootings Dr. Corey mentions is that of a counselor trying to talk down a severely autistic man who was playing with a toy truck. The counselor followed all police instructions, but was shot by an officer, who, when asked why he’d shot, said, “I don’t know.” In this case, there was no gun. The autistic man had a toy, and the counselor had his empty hands in the air. Many people, including many experts in police tactics have questioned why the officers had even drawn their guns in this situation. That’s a valid question. There are many others.

  • gimpi1

    That’s correct, but one element was left out of the equation. At the time in the late 1970’s that those decisions came down, we were attempting to rework our mental-health system. The plan was to create small both in-and-outpatient community mental-health centers to provide more humane and effective treatment.

    Then, in 1980, we abandoned that plan for economic reasons. That’s when you saw the huge uptick in homeless, mentally-ill people. People were “mainstreamed” into “community centers” that didn’t exist. The court decisions contributed to the problem, but the decision to attempt to pay for some of the tax-cuts that we wanted by cutting services to the disabled – especially the mentally disabled was the larger factor, in my view.

    We’re still suffering the consequences of those decisions. In order to work to lessen a problem, we have to see the whole problem. Our emphasis on tax-cuts and reducing government services in the name of “small government” is one of the decisions that led to the problems we currently suffer, in both homelessness and mental illness.

  • Herm

    “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

    Dr. Corey, your analysis is right on as far as it went relative to the present state of our culture. I am a Vietnam Vet and understand first hand heightened vigilance when trapped in a combat zone. What I see today is the war on drugs, the war on terrorism, the war on choice and the war on the second amendment of the United States of America’s constitution are but a few of the life and death fights that we find ourselves all in at a state of heightened vigilance … most feeling trapped in a combat zone.

    “People of Color” fear for their lives when confronted by armed male police, no matter Black, Brown or White, founded on documented daily occurrences of fear based misunderstanding. Male police officers are scared to death when forced to confront “People of Color” in the pursuit of enforcing law and order. All people under the protection of the USA constitution, according to the most vocal NRA, have a right to keep, bear and use Arms in the defense of their perceived fears … “Police Officers” and “People of Color” equally alike.

    Justice for all requires a risk of tolerance to begin to empathetically connect through compassion for all. Never is there justice derived from a cultured mentality of shoot first and justify later. Justice is not a pursuit of a more perfect union of law and order. Striving for a more perfect peace and joy in all our lives cannot happen, at all, by legislation governing all enforced by fear of a firearm. Peace and joy for all can eventually be found only by the enforcement of the law of love. The only practical law is that which governs all children of Man through empathy and compassion for each and every one of us. This is not an order of our Lord but is a freedom of choice truth taught by my Teacher. I freely choose to share this tried and true lesson with all who will listen and seek a more perfect union, because I love them no more or less than each “Person of Color” and “Police Officer”. I choose to accept the risk of the cross for all children of Man, including our Lord as the reigning Son of Man, that though I might die on it we will live in joy and peace as little children of God today, now.

    A thought that comes to mind as I write to you I will pose to all who read this as a question: Do we know of any occurrence of a suspected bad shoot at the professional hands of a female police officer? If not, why not?

  • How do you know police violence wasn’t an issue before Michael Brown?

  • gimpi1

    Unfunded mandates are a problem, but they didn’t cause this. There was a plan, it was federal, it was in place, and with the election of President Regan in 1980, it was scrapped, along with a bunch of other things, in the name of balancing the budget… then, with tax-cuts, the budged deficit exploded.

    I don’t know your age, but I’m in my late 50’s. I clearly remember this. My father was the survivor of traumatic brain-damage, and another budget-cut aimed at the disabled hit him. He lost his social-security disability. it was eventually restored, and the Regan administration lost a class-action lawsuit on the way they managed the situation. There was a general belief that people with mental illness or brain-injuries were unable to defend themselves, and they were targeted. It was, frankly, awful. People don’t like to talk about this aspect of Mr. Regan’s presidency, but I can’t forget it.

    I believe that we, as taxpayers, need to face the fact that it’s smarter to treat mental illness than to leave sick people on the street. It’s much more effective than jailing them, and less expensive in the long run. Too many people regard mental illness as a lack of character or personal weakness. Until we get past that, we’ll never fix this.

  • G. David Daley

    Dear Reader:

    It is necessary to call things by their proper names.

    As police apologias, corruption [a few bad apples], mental illness, race and police strategy narratives fail to account for a seismic shift in social relations which the state apparatus is no longer able to conceal.

    State power increases in proportion to the acuteness of social antagonisms. When ‘normal’ police/military resources and their political screens [parliaments, congresses, legislatures, etc.] no longer keep society in equilibrium, fascism has arrived.

    As the report of the Department of Justice on police abuse in Ferguson made clear, large swathes of police effectively act as paramilitary counterinsurgency and occupation forces. Mass unemployment, deepening poverty and diminishing educational opportunities are matched by violence and terror — daily reigning against millions of American workers and youth who face threats, intimidation, beatings and extrajudicial murder by police whose badges effectively instate them as judge, jury and executioner.

    It is no accident that such practices emerge at a time when the state and its allies seek desperately to offset economic decline in ever-broadening wars. Danger of a confrontation with Russia, China or both is rising rapidly. Such a policy could not be undertaken without broad repression of the US population.

    The level of police violence is staggering and far exceeds that in any other major industrialized country. Canada averages a dozen killings by police annually. In 2013 and 2014 together, Germany had eight. By contrast, police killed more people in Pasco Washington [pop. 68,000] in 2014 than were killed by police in Great Britain [pop. 64,000,000] in 2012, 2013 and 2014 combined. In Texas [2005 to the present], nearly 7,000 died in police custody [ ].

    Virtually no one is held accountable for any of this. After Cleveland police fired 137 rounds into a car at two unarmed persons, the sheer number of lethal wounds made it impossible to determine who fired the killing shot. End of story. In every case of lethal police brought before the Supreme Court in recent years, the DoJ has sided with the police.

    Police can be described as an occupying army waging an undeclared war on America’s poor and working class. Police increasingly see citizens as enemy targets who are subject to beating, arrest, electrical jolts or summary execution if they display anything other than complete servility and docility.

    Police criminality plus the added malfeasance of the administration, Departments of Justice, Homeland Security and other ‘law enforcement’ agencies belie assertions that our unending wars and interventions have to do with ‘human rights.’ Police violence has nothing to do with protecting people and everything to do with strengthening the apparatus of state repression.

    The 1033 program makes available to police departments across the nation billions of dollars of military grade weapons and equipment including but not limited to armored combat vehicles, mine resistant vehicles, shields, automatic assault rifles, sniper rifles, belt-fed machine guns, grenade launchers, helicopters and military aircraft. This is not copied from some conspiracy website; it is published at the Forbes site [ ].

    When millions see police strangle to death an unarmed Eric Garner and no indictment follows, when FBI Director James Comey equates critiques of police with solicitation of criminal behavior, when Sandra Bland critiques police and dies in circumstances that are anything but clear, when police forces are equipped with advanced, military equipment, when de facto martial law is imposed after the Boston Marathon with warrantless, house-to-house searches supported by squads of huddled police with assault rifles – these things do not indicate a few ‘bad apples, racism, faulty enforcement strategies or other superficial matters.

    These are grave warnings of deep, political danger.

    These things indicate the state’s estimation that it has NO answer to the multiple social crises before us. It shows that the state can no longer maintain social equilibrium with ‘normal’ police/military resources. That this is the moment in which fascism arrives is not my idea.

    It was the contribution of Leon Trotsky.

    What I would add is that the US is not a democratic republic with a few administrative and social problems based on common misunderstanding. The US is a fascistic state; it retains a few, threadbare, democratic rags to aid the political vaudeville which makes governance marginally easier by placating those who can’t quite yet call fascism by its proper name.

  • G. David Daley

    Dear Benjamin Corey:

    Eight days ago, Daniel Kevin Harris joined the dead.

    Being deaf, he didn’t respond to the siren after his traffic violation. Harris continued until arriving at his home with his three year old son. As Harris exited his vehicle, North Caroline state trooper Jermaine Saunders heroically shot him.

    Harris was one of six people killed by police on August 18, 2016.

    Since then at least 14 more have been killed.

    This failed post of Mr. Corey’s ought to receive replies in the hundreds. Instead it registers less than 30. What brave people we are! But I forget…

    Police troll the internet seeking and tracking the IPs of those who turn the spotlight on them. And when someone DOES blow the siren?

    The silence here is as deaf as was Daniel Kevin Harris.

  • Chris Schene

    Written like an ignorant ivory tower academic who knows nothing about actual police work.

  • Chris Schene

    How the heck is the cop supposed to know that the man was deaf? Since being deaf is a rather unusual condition maybe it would have been smart to indicate on the license plate or sign on the car “Driver is deaf.”

    Your appeals to emotion don’t work. The deaf man had a obligation to make his condition obvious to cops and regular hearing citizens. I would be far more careful around a deaf driver becasue I know he cannot hear my horn.

    Deaf people should not even be allowed to drive, IMO: they are too much of a danger to themselves and everyone else.

  • G. David Daley

    Dear Chris Schene:


    Did you find it?

    ‘”As” Harris exited his vehicle.’

    Didn’t have much opportunity to explain anything.

    Did he?

    How could he know Harris was deaf?

    Ask, perhaps?

    Oh, where do I ‘appeal to emotion?’

    I missed that.

    Now why not have a crack at mine of below this one?


  • RonnyTX

    Chris, I’m completely deaf, in the higher frequencies and partially deaf, in the lower frequencies. And I know I have to be more watchful and careful, because of this. For instance, I know I can’t hear the siren that well ,of an emergency vehicle. So at stop signs and red lights, I know to look very carefully, before I take off from such. But to tell you the truth, I had much rather be out on the road driving, with all deaf drivers, than to be out there with a number of people in my county, who tend to go out and drink too much alcohol.

  • Bones

    Hey Chris is back.

    They let you back out buddy.

  • G. David Daley

    Dear gimpi1:

    Required therefore, is an anti-austerity agenda. However this is not possible under our present system of political economy.

  • ken

    Even if Harris couldn’t hear the sirens why didn’t he see the flashing lights? Normal procedure would have been for Saunders to pull up behind Harris with the lights flashing AND the siren. Did Saunders not do this? And if he did, why didn’t Harris pull over then?

  • Kevin Coolidge

    Thank you for taking the time to offer your valuable insight

  • gimpi1

    Deaf people manage to drive just fine. The issue is an officer shooting someone who was simply no threat to them.

    Police officers shouldn’t be shooting people for minor traffic violations. The fact that I had to type that sentence demonstrates the problem that our increasingly militarized policing policies have created.

  • Chris Schene

    Bones is a bitter old troll who spends that vast majority of his posts insulting and demeaning people. He is clearly very bitter and mentally ill.

    Bones: Why not use your real name? The authorities might want to lock you up in a mental hospital for the protection of society.

  • Chris Schene

    You need to be able to communicate and perceive clearly to drive and if you can’t you should not get a license.

    I just had a retinal tear which required emergency surgery and I can’t see well enough to drive even though my right eye is fine: I am currently blind in my left eye for about a month. I would have to re-test for my license with one eye if my left eye does not heal but for the present, I can’t drive. I am in a similar position to the deaf person but with vision

  • gimpi1

    I understand that many conditions limit driving. However, the man in question had a license, so if you have a problem with that, you would need to take it up with the state that licensed him.

    The thing is, not pulling over for a siren isn’t a reason to shoot someone. The issue here is police procedures, and have they become too quick to resort to deadly force. I feel by constantly focusing on the behavior of the people killed is focusing on the wrong thing. Relatively minor misbehavior shouldn’t lead to a shooting. It seems as policing has become more violent and aggressive, and they’re doing it at a time when violent crime is near a historic low, and going down.

    Why are police more aggressive? Do they have a false sense of threat? Is it related to homeland security, and increased money for paramilitary equipment and training? Is it because information overload and media policies of ‘it bleeds it leads’ have created a mistaken sense of crime being rampant? Has police training changed?

    By focusing of the relatively minor misbehavior of some people who have been killed, and trying to turn perfectly legal actions, such as a child playing in the park or a young man attempting to buy a BB gun, we divert ourselves from the important question; why is policing becoming more violent and deadly?

  • Chris Schene
  • Jeff Preuss

    “The issue here is police procedures, and have they become too quick to resort to deadly force.”
    I think that is a valid concern. However, since the person with whom you’re conversing has indicated he laments not being able to legally harm gay people (yet) as “just” punishment, I think your reasoned discussion will be wholly lost on him.

  • Bones

    Poor Chris.

    He only gets let out on weekends or when he esapes..

    Speaking of bitter tell us again how homosexuality is worse than slavery.

    Your insane ramblings are hilarious.

  • Chris Schene

    Your premises don’t agree with what I research. research. The whole article is an appeal to emotions and false premises that you do not support. For example:

    ” is that among those daily news stories it has become rather routine to see more and more stories of police shooting unarmed people.”

    False! Police shooting in the U.S. have dropped significantly since 1975.

    “Oh, where do I ‘appeal to emotion?’

    I missed that.”

    The whole article pretty much is based on an appeal to false premises and emotion: you paint a picture that is false of an increasingly violent society. Please support your premise with a reference.

    “How could he know Harris was deaf?

    Ask, perhaps?”

    The percent of US residents that are deaf is 0.38% a pretty insignificant percentage. Since the man who is deaf is a very unusual case, he should have some sort of indication on his car that he is deaf so people know ahead of time. It is simply not worth the money to train every police officer in sign language. While the statement may seem callous, it is not: finances and resources are limited and the departments are challenged to allocate limited money and time to the best overall effect.

    Now, exactly how many deaf people have been shot in police stops and if that percentage is meaningfully over 0.38% then the deaf driver training and requirement should include a sign on the car “DRIVER IS DEAF” or “DRIVER HAS A HEARING IMPAIRMENT” in reflective letters. Also, train deaf drivers to properly interact with police. It is cheaper to train the 0.38% than to train every cop in sign language.

    “We must also demand that our nation’s police begin learning from other cultures who are successful at maintaining law and order, and who do so while very rarely ever using lethal violence. ”

    This is good point and with 7 former or current close cop relatives I would bet some of them agree too. I have a good friend who is RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) and they are much better at talking down violent confrontations.

    I think the rest of your article is unsupported opinion as well

    “State power increases in proportion to the acuteness of social antagonisms. When ‘normal’ police/military resources and their political screens [parliaments, congresses, legislatures, etc.] no longer keep society in equilibrium, fascism has arrived.”

    Honestly, I told my legislators that if we see violence on our area like we saw in Baltimore and Ferguson to give looters one warning and then shoot to kill after that. The fact that we did not shoot them says to me state power is far less than it was during the 1960’s and 70’s race riots where we did actually shoot and kill looters and rioters.

    Lastly, American Black culture is a very violent and lawless culture.At roughly 11-12% of the US population, AA account for 36% of murders while Whites @ 64% account for 58%. The figure for Whites includes White Hispanics. That says AA commit murder at 3.5 times the rate of all other cultures in the US combined. AA are incarcerated at over 6 times the rate of Whites.

  • gimpi1

    Sigh… I didn’t know that, or I wouldn’t have wasted my time. thanks for the heads-up. I’ll ignore any follow-up forthwith.

  • Chris Schene

    The “Blacks persecuted by police is a Myth.” AA culture is violent and disrespectful of laws and “White man’s” society.

    Hey we White Europeans set up the society and you can join if follow the norms. Then you can become part of the system and change it from within. It already is changing: we have women Supreme court justices, minority supreme court justices, minority president, legislators, mayors, prosecutors. Problem is, once they get into the system the kind of like it and don’t move to change it much.

    Black cops are harder on Black criminals than White cops are because the Black cops are wise to your whiny victim bullshit and hate you for corrupting their cities.

  • G. David Daley

    Dear Chris Schene:

    That my premises exceed your research isn’t at issue. And while Mr. Corey alone can explain his words, I don’t take them to reference deaf people gunned down by police. Nor will the disgusting racialization of criminality divert attention from the unstated but very real issues behind the article. These include but are not limited to the militarization of society and the emergence of the police state.

    Your say Mr. Corey’s article is ‘an appeal to emotion and false premises.’ That informal fallacy is called ‘generalization.’ And his assertion re: routinely police assassinations [no, you don’t call it that] is clearly documented at

    You say that police executions [no, you don’t call them that] fell markedly since ’75. But as no official record of murders [no, you don’t call them that] by police exists, how exactly can that be known?

    As economic collapse and global social cataclysm nears, the ruling financial oligarchy is frantic to retain its privilege and profit by making working people fight its discretionary, ‘for-profit’ wars. But workers are reluctant to fight said wars; so the fiscal over-class coerces compliance with ‘POLICE:’ Political Operations Legally Implementing Class Extermination.

    The normalization of ‘POLICE’ practices is attested by an eminent authority on the subject – you. Your ‘one warning shot, one lethal shot’ calls for implementing in the US such conditions as existed in the Netherlands under Hitler’s occupation. You vindicated Trotsky on fascism nicely – unless you’re saying you offered us unsubstantiated opinion.

    ‘POLICE’ were created to protect the power/wealth of the ruling class against the working class. But working people don’t always ‘see’ that. However social upheaval changes working class perceptions so that increasingly, ‘POLICE’ indeed ARE recognized as practitioners of state terror in the socio-economic interests of the ruling financial oligarchy.

    Even two years ago, I doubt that an evangelical writer would have published under his own name an article that could be put to such use. And I think you’re going to see more and more of it. Blessings!

  • Chris Schene

    Why is it when you are trying to make a point you attempt to change the meaning of words?

    Let me see: You are, on your own , deciding that these shootings, the vast majority of which were investigated and declared justified in a court of law. are either executions or murder. Not self defense or justified shooting or even negligent shooting.

    The burden of proof is on you to show which of these are murder and why. Since no execution order was ever signed or sentence declared, none of these can be called executions.

    Why don’t you identify cases where the shooting was a murder or execution: prove it not through news reports but with factual evidence: It is very rare to find factually comprehensive and accurate news stories.

    A few are probably murder
    A few may be manslaughter or negligent homicide or murder 2.

    The legal definition of “homicide” is: “he killing of one human being by another human being.”
    lawful or unlawful
    Execution: the carrying out of a sentence of death on a condemned person.

    Full Definition of murder
    : the crime of unlawfully killing a person especially with malice aforethought
    a : something very difficult or dangerous
    b : something outrageous or blameworthy

  • PedasiPaul

    It won’t change so long as many white Americans automatically blame the unarmed victims.

  • PedasiPaul

    In short, blame the victim.

  • James53

    Beautifully stated.

  • G. David Daley

    Thanks, James53.

    Clear, incisive, well-written commentary on critical events/issues in the US and abroad is published 6 days a week here:

  • Pastor Grace Haggart
    The list you use is a few years old, may want to update.

  • billwald

    First, the list seems to be in no logical order, no citation is given. Death per number of employed persons?

    Second, most industrial fatalities are in rural areas or where access to the victims is difficult. Trained EMTs and their equipment is not handy.

    Third, law enforcement officers are better personally known to the public.

    I was a street cop in Seattle from 1965 to 1995. I usually worked the car or beat alone. I almost never felt threatened except when dealing with people who were irrational for mental or chemical reasons. In this year, joining a metro area police department is probably more dangerous than joining the US Navy, US Army, or US
    Air Force.

  • billwald

    “Culture convinced?” The New Diverse America convinced . . . Metro areas are not controllable under the US Constitution as amended and adjudicated. In 1962, Seattle was run by the police department, had a Red Light District, and it was safe downtown at midnight. Now The Seattle PD is squeaky clean and it isn’r safe downtown at noon.

    Further, the 1964 civil rights legislation caused the pragmatic end of gender and physical standards. In 1965, a police officer was expected to win a street fight with his hands and a billy club and the “criminal element” knew it. A five foot five, 110 pound female might be a kick boxing expert but every 5-10, 180 pound drunk must discover it for himself.

    Police departments do not want to hire police officers. They want sociology majors carrying zappers.

  • Bones

    Hi Harry…..

  • Bones

    I was talking to a cop over here who said he hasn’t pulled his gun in over 30 years.

  • rashidpatch

    I don’t believe at all that police are more violent now. I think that they were just as violent 50 years ago, or 100 years ago. Blacks and minorities know that cops were always likely, even eager, to kill them, and cops did so – and do so still – with impunity. Poor whites had just as much to fear from cops in the past, as they do now. Absolutely the only thing that has changed is, police violence is more often reported now.

  • tomas pasquale

    When you wrote that the danger of being a police officer “is statistically on par with people who mow lawns for a living,” who were you trying to fool? When someone is being attacked, raped, murdered, etc. would you call a lawn care person or a police officer? You are disrespecting people who you expect to and who are willing to put their own lives on the line to protect you and your family, and that is how you return the favor? Most police officers are rarely if ever involved in a violent situation and far fewer ever kill anyone. The ones who do usually work in urban areas where there are great deal of drug related crimes and killing and where they go to work everyday not knowing if they will see their children again that night. Try looking at the job statistics of that group and see how “safe” it is. Police are typically trained well, which is why not more of them are killed in the line of duty. Yes, there are some bad apples in the profession, and they should be removed from duty whenever found. However, don’t condemn all for the few. How about your line of work? How many bad theologians and ministers are there who abuse young children? Would it not be unfair to label all in the profession negatively for the deeds of a few? Again, next time you are in a dangerous situation, who are you going to call to help you out of it?

  • Wesley

    since when are game controllers and flashlights dangerous weapons? do you remember the boy who killed answering the door with a game controller in his hand? or how about the Chicago police commissioner admitting his officers were so on edge that they have fatally shoot people holding flashlights? he is arguing against this growing shot first, ask questions later culture. this is what we get when we militarize our police force. it used to be shoot to disarm now it is shoot to kill.

  • Wesley

    or call for the further militarization of the our police forces.

  • Wesley

    many new cars are more lite up than most patrol cars these days.

  • Ken Lucas

    Former cop here: This issue brothers and sisters is a highly complex issue that involves: Temperament, mindset, training, mental fitness, moral compass, and bigotry. Allow me to explain:

    1. Officers who don’t give a good damn about “Serve and Protect”, they joined the force for the benefit package

    2. Officers who are not mentally or morally fit to be police officers- I had colleagues who were back in the day bullied and harassed and now they feel “it’s payback time”.

    3. FEAR-BASED TRAINING. My fellow Americans let me give you the real scoop: Police academies are now emphasising: “Your first and foremost duty is to return safely home” Cadets have it drilled into them “Your life comes first you want to see your family at the end of the day”. That automatically challenges bravery in the line of duty.” If there’s any doubt- take them out”

    4. White Supremacy: Most of my white colleagues were very cool people HOWEVER, I later learned that white supremacy groups encourage and nearly demand that their members go into law enforcement so they can “legally beat and kill niggers and plant evidence and look for anything so a black suspect will have a criminal record and can’t get a job, housing, etc. This is a fact!

    5. “Us vs Them”: I had colleagues, instigated by leadership, who in essence taught us that non-cops were scum, dirtbags, losers, and whatever comes out of their mouth is a lie”.

    6. God Complex and Thin Skin: The greatest crime a person can commit is DISRESPECTING A POLICE OFFICER. There are officers, that if you politely speak up for your rights will feel challenged and will attack you right or wrong.

    I have much more to add but I don’t want to write a manuscript. I really don’t care who likes or dislikes what I’ve said, but it is based on: My experience based on observations as a former cop.

  • Ivlia Blackburn

    As a non-american looking in, it appears that the old ‘wild west’ mentality has never really gone away. Watch any western film and you will see the sheriff and his men operating a shoot first policy – no doubt a wise one in those lawless days. Unfortunately, to the outsider it appears that this policy is still in operation. I have friends who have visited the US as tourists and have pulled over when driving because they were lost. A police car pulled up behind them and they assumed – because that is what would happen in their own country of New Zealand – that they had stopped to help. Far from it, they were approached by officers either side who openly carried their weapons and were ordered out of the car at gun point, forced to put their hands on the roof and were searched. No explainations were listened too, they were assumed to be guilty from the start. Needless to say, they flew out of the country the next day regardless of the money they had already spent and would lose cutting their stay short. They have ensured that everyone knows of how they were treated on their holiday, and that included a letter and an email to the police dept. concerned, neither of which were ever dignified with any form of response. I now live in Ireland, and it came to me from several different sources just to show how far this story has spread. I certainly will no longer be visiting family in America, nor will I visit in Canada because the tour includes a couple of days in the US. Overkill on my part, may be but I much prefer living to becoming the next innocent victim of a police shooting because they ‘misinterpreted’ some action of mine and decided to shoot first and then worry after I was dead and couldn’t give my version of events.