One step in solving the police problem

People, usually people of color, more often than not Native Americans and African Americans (according the the available statistics) suffer regular repression by the police. Day to day, the most common form of repression is about the small stuff. Jay walking, being out after curfew, walking around in a shopping mall, driving while black, and similar imagined (or at worst, very minor) offenses bring the police into contact with individuals, making day to day existence harder and for many building up a list of arrests, charges, and convictions that form an ever-growing albatross around those individuals' necks.

The recent work slowdown in New York is being heralded by astute observers as an inadvertent, almost ironic, positive step. As long as the police refuse to "do their jobs" in this manner, they are incidentally refusing to engage in this day to day repression.

It is generally thought that the small stuff -- citations for minor offenses that often don't even rise to the level of violations of law -- make up a part of the public safety or, more broadly, municipal budgets of the governmental institutions supporting the police (city, county, state).

But what if that income was never accessible to those institutions? What if all of the money collected in fines could not be put against the city, county, or state budget? That might remove the impetus, in part, to engage in this kind of policing. I'm not entirely sure where the money should go. If it went into some public program (food shelters, etc.) it might replace other budget items at the same level of government. That would not serve the intended purpose of sequestering these funds. But with a little imagination, it probably would not be too hard to find a way to use that flow of cash for purposes that would not benefit the government responsible for the police force, or any other class of people, corporation, or pubic authority that might have the power to direct increased enforcement.

A law, or in some cases, a constitutional amendment (at the state level) could suffice for this purpose. Don't fund the police, or any unit of government, on the backs of those being repressed. This is only a partial solution to a larger problem but it could be a useful and meaningful single step. The "Back Turning" law.


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"People of color." Do you mean "white people?" If so, why not write "white people?" And it's people of no color (blacks) who are unfairly subjected to police abuse and brutality.

The solution is obvious: police departments should not hire submissive, low-hierarchy males.

By Desertphile (not verified) on 01 Jan 2015 #permalink

Very funny. Of course, "POC" is a term of art in the discussion of racism and related issues.

I agree that hiring and also training practices are part of the problem. That's why I specified "one step" and noted that it is only part of the problem.

"The solution is obvious: police departments should not hire submissive, low-hierarchy males"

You're not far wrong. I probably gained a reputation as a troublemaker in my Police career because I dared to question the wisdom of senior officer's decisions. A classic example was at a training day where 30-odd staff were moaning about operational decisions after a lecture. They did this, I suspect, because the guy running the lecture had been newly promoted and didn't have a great deal of respect amongst his peers. Anyway, he wrote down a number of these complaints and said he'd put these to the District Commander when he turned up for the following day's lectures.

The next day the big chief is there and the guy running the lecture singles me out, knowing I call a spade a spade. So I go through a few issues, and can see the senior officer is getting a bit red in the face after I swiftly deal with a few of his counter arguments. I sit down and, when the others are asked to comment, not one other officer has the guts to stand up and repeat what they said the previous day.

Hierarchal submissiveness in action there buddy.

By Rob Painting (not verified) on 01 Jan 2015 #permalink

I sit down and, when the others are asked to comment, not one other officer has the guts to stand up and repeat what they said the previous day.

I saw the same behavior in the Air Force. Violence and brutality was and without still is tolerated among the ranks because the officers running the show are violent and brutal. The same is true among police departments.

Humans, like the other apes, abuse down the social order and never upward. That is why alpha males, including humans, overwhelmingly don't abuse children and women and other men: it is the lower-hierarchy, more submissive males that do. A few studies and surveys of the problem are mentioned in the book DEMONIC MALES (by Richard Wrangham and Dale Peterson). To find the most abusive and violent thugs among humanity, look where males have been granted authority (on force of law) over others: the pathetic losers, whom no woman wants and whom no male respects or admires, are the most abusive--- they desperately need power over other people because they feel powerless over themselves and their lives. (Desertphile psychoanalyzing again.)

The sad part is, few who want to be a police officer should be.

By Desertphile (not verified) on 01 Jan 2015 #permalink

In reply to by Rob Painting (not verified)

Slightly OT but an example of what so many POC go through daily at the hands of armed "low-hierarchy males" who take their hierarchical impotence out on the public .… When i watched this vid my first thought was - lucky the three teenagers were white - if they were POC they would likely be dead or at least in jail for resisting arrest/assaulting an officer etc.

By Doug Alder (not verified) on 01 Jan 2015 #permalink

Yes, I have thoughts. If a person doesn't live in the city that they police that person cannot be considered a member of the local community and should hold in that place no granted authority.

By Kristoffer Amerson (not verified) on 01 Jan 2015 #permalink

the "Back Turning Law"

it's an idea whose time is ripe

living in Thailand after living and working in upper echelon bureaucracy in Sydney you've helped toward me trying to put my thumb on something that's been banging around in my head for some time

in Sydney what i saw was a complex form of corruption that permeated the whole system yet there was no individual i could point to - it is the whole system that is corrupt - feeding off ever more public funding to create the need for ever more public funding

in Thailand, a country which is supposedly more corrupt than Australia, the link between the "corrupt" and those impacted by corruption is much simpler and more visible

example - if i am pulled over in Thailand for a traffic infringement i might be able to "pay off" the officer there and then and nothing goes any further

but in Sydney a whole infrastructure is being constantly developed and grown that takes money from "offenders" with the ultimate purpose of funding yet more infrastructure for taking more money from more offenders - the ultimate conclusion being that even your thoughts will be monitored and instant fines instantly deducted from your income/savings and channeled into paying for more bureaucrats to build even more thought and action monitoring systems

i've found the Thai "corruption" to be refreshingly honest and simple - though i have no doubt that the system so well entrenched in Sydney and other "western" cities will find its way here eventually

i try to explain these thoughts to others but denial is always the reaction

i've often found that if you try to expose the heart of the beast to people they will reject it quite simply because it cuts straight to the truth we none of us wants to admit:

we are the evil heart of it all


By The Peak Oil Poet (not verified) on 01 Jan 2015 #permalink

Small steps are important while awaiting the big changes.

BTW congrats to commenters, almost 100pc worth reading!! Is this how it will be in '15?

By John Salmond (not verified) on 01 Jan 2015 #permalink

I totally get what you are saying, having lived in Zaire for a while.

Rather than singling out a particular beneficiary (eg poor, homeless, vets, etc) - which will inevitably make some factions support this idea more and others less - just take the sum of all fines collected and issue a check to each citizen at the end of the month (or year). It'll help the poor more anyway, comparatively. You could even include a form allowing one to immediately donate the money to the charity of one's choice.

I was thinking that would be a good idea.


the only trouble with donations to charity is that charities have all become big business and all you would be doing is "donating" money to the lowest form of life on earth: the executives of charities - also this: by supporting charities (whether or not the money ultimately ends up aiding those who need it) you are allowing money that should come from taxes to then go to growing some other insidious part of government bureaucracy

better would be to have all of the money go into a lottery system where all of the money goes to winners and little if any goes to infrastructural support of the lottery system

i vote for the money going straight to the citing cop

then the scumbags can fight it out directly between themselves and the law of the market would dictate how much they can screw you for


By The Peak Oil Poet (not verified) on 01 Jan 2015 #permalink

Let's be specific, the evidence indicates Michael Brown was shot after assaulting a cop and then rushing at him in a second assault attempt. In the case of Eric Garner, a law meant to protect government tax revenue and the livelihood of shopkeepers was being enforced. That qualifies as repression?

Eric Garner's death will be dealt with as a civil matter, it was not a crime. Absent any protest, the police department would have reviewed what happened and made changes. Police departments and local governments take that sort of thing very seriously just the same as employers take safety regulations very seriously; such deaths are painfully expensive for the local government and business as well as being tragic for families.

Put yourself in the shoes of a shopkeeper who sells cigarettes and pays taxes to support law enforcement in their community; do you think it is reasonable for them to accept the fact that someone is standing outside their store selling loosies? If the guy selling loosies does not cooperate and move along, he should not be arrested or compelled to move along? I agree that the arrest methods, while lawful, were suspect, but I don't agree that such a case represents repression.

If you want to minimize arrests for what you consider minor violations, then change the penalties as they have in California with Prop 47. Cops generally do not put themselves in harm's way for misdemeanor arrests unless they have received specific directives or complaints.

My perception is that in the vast majority of cases, cops profile those who look or act like criminals, not because of race.

... the evidence indicates Michael Brown was shot after assaulting a cop and then rushing at him in a second assault attempt.

Yes, it does. The evidence also shows that didn't happen. The evidence also shows the killer assaulted Brown first with his car's door. The evidence also shows he didn't. The evidence also shows Brown was fleeing for his life. The evidence also shows Brown was not fleeing for his life. The evidence shows "witness #20," whom the prosecutor based the police officer's *DEFENSE* upon, did not witness the event. The evidence also shows "witness #20" was there and did see the event. (The chief prosecutor later said the DA's office knew "witness #20" lied; he also said she did not.) The evidence shows the victim was assaulted and battered by the killer to "teach him a lesson" about walking in the street. The evidence also shows that is not true.

Thus we see the state of law enforcement in the USA: the prosecutor doing his damnedest to defend the accused.

Meanwhile, unarmed young men are being killed by police. If I recall correctly, more than 1,100 people in year 2014 in the USA were killed by police officers. There were what--- 138 police officers killed, if one adds car accidents and accidental shootings and suicide.

Police officers are supposed to be professionals. There is no excuse for shooting someone who is running away. Police officers have *LESS* excuse to use force than non-police officers because they are trained to deal with confrontations--- most non-police are not.

By the way, if Brown had struck the killer (some witnesses said he did; some witnesses said he did not), that is not a defense to killing a human being. Do you think if you punched someone in the jaw, it's okay for your victim to shoot you to death?

By Desertphile (not verified) on 02 Jan 2015 #permalink

In reply to by BBBlue (not verified)

Fines for minor violations as a revenue source. In the mid 1980's the federal law which backed the national speed limit of 55 mph was repealed but each state had to act to change its posted speed limits. I was traveling westward from PA (55) through WV (65) and shortly after I crossed the border into OH, I passed a police car which had another car pulled over. The next thing I knew the police car was on my tail and I was cited for driving 65 in a 55. Though I doubt that I was (older car tended to shimmy above 55). I refused the officer's offer to take a credit card and pay on the spot but there was no way I could contest the citation without going to court 2 weeks later so when I got home I mailed in the $$ with my nolo contendre plea. But as I travelled through OH into IN, I took note of all the cars which were pulled over by the OH state police -- every one I saw had an out of state license plate. That was when I figured out that fines for minor offenses can be a source of revenue.

Just a little to the west of Lewisburg, PA is the borough of Hartleton. As an borough, it is empowered to set its own speed laws and enforce them with its own police force. The Hartleton speed trap has been in place since at least 1983 and the police chief told the council of a neighboring borough that Hartleton had not had to increase its taxes since they set up their own police force. It pays for itself and covers a lot of other expenses and the best part is that almost all of the money comes from outside the borough line.

By Don A in Penns… (not verified) on 02 Jan 2015 #permalink

One suggestion would be to take the funds and apply them to the crime victims help fund and if to much for that then drug treatment.


The eye witness testimony that is most consistent with the physical evidence is also consistent with Officer Wilson's account. Add that to the video of a bullying Michael Brown robbing a convenience store, and the idea that this particular incident represents repression is just absurd.

Adopting a lie like "Hands up, don't shoot" is not the way to make a point and casts doubt on the central premise of the protest movement.

Police and civilians who are licensed to carry are taught that a threat one can reasonably surmise will result in death or great bodily harm can be met with deadly force. A grand jury who heard and saw all the evidence decided that deadly force was justified. Do you know more than they do, or do you just assume that if they disagree with what you think you know, they are the ones who are wrong?

If you are going to make the point about systematic repression by police, don't cite lies or statistics, give real examples of repression and also give credit for how police departments and local governments already deal with cops who don't uphold community standards.

"But what if that income was never accessible to those institutions? "
Will not work!! If I work in X and the money gained goes to Y then the heads of state will say that X needs a bigger budget cuz look how they get Y so much money. So the money going to Y still goes to X cuz Y now has a lower budget and X has a bigger budget. I saw this in action in the military and corporations.

". Add that to the video of a bullying Michael Brown robbing a convenience store, and the idea that this particular incident represents repression is just absurd."

Do you realize that this is at the center of the problem. He was a bad person anyway so it is OK that he is killed.


even worse

oh well, gee it's obvious isn't it, he was a bad man so we need not bother ourselves with spending anymore time on that subject

let's get to something really important shall we?, hmm, i think bibles should be compulsory texts in all children's courses

what's De Caprio staring in these days?

hey look, the price of oil is down again

hey look at them evil Russians and those evil Palestinians - that bunch of 2000 or so killed recently

it's obvious isn't it - they were all bad people or harbored bad people or knew bad people or let bad people hang out with them right?



right wing people are often so shallow when trying to apply what they think is logic

never mind, technology will save us all


BBBlue "Adopting a lie like “Hands up, don’t shoot” is not the way to make a point and casts doubt on the central premise of the protest movement. "

That little bumper sticker quote is not the central premise of the protest group it's the systemic, historical police repression and I think you know that.

I have one simple question for you. Why do you think that so many African-Americans feel that police departments are biased against them?

By Mal Duroque (not verified) on 03 Jan 2015 #permalink