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91 Responses

  1. Lynn
    Lynn March 3, 2009 at 6:05 pm |

    Fuck you “fighting (and beating and raping) 9th”.

  2. Phenicks
    Phenicks March 3, 2009 at 6:06 pm |

    This has got to be the dumbest cop I’d ever heard of, if she was too drunk to get home by herself how was she somehow sober enough to consent to sex? He obviously didn’t think this through and he’s married. *ick*

  3. Renee
    Renee March 3, 2009 at 6:34 pm |

    If she was that drunk just two hours prior, she could not have consented to sex. This was rape pure and simple. The minute he said sex and they considered her blood alcohol level, he should have been arrested. I don’t even know why they are still using the word sex. To me, sex means a mutual decision between two people, not one forcing themselves on another.
    It needs to be clearly understood that the police are not a benign force. Even in the little small town in which I live I have seen them time and time again use more than necessary force to “control” the situation. Just look at the list of black women that have died and been assaulted by the police in recent years. Clearly they are about maintaining our patriarchal, white supremacist, classist society and anyone that thinks differently really needs to take a good look at the people that they are attacking.

  4. MomTFH
    MomTFH March 3, 2009 at 6:42 pm |

    This story and the story about the fifteen year old beaten in the jail cell make me want to whip out some NWA or Body Count to listen to.

  5. The Opoponax
    The Opoponax March 3, 2009 at 6:43 pm |

    even though they appeared to be trying to stay out of sight of the building’s main security camera

    Which kind of implies that they knew what they were doing was, at the very least, extremely shady. I mean, I hate the constant surveillance cameras everywhere (how am I going to get in my daily quota of acting stupid in elevators?), and feel like sometimes there can be a “fallacy of the guilty conscience” at play, but generally when you’ve got evidence that someone with that kind of authority knowingly tried to avoid being seen entering or exiting a building, this probably doesn’t bode well.

    Cops scare me. Period. Riding the subways alone late at night is mainly intimidating because I’m worried I’ll end up in alone in a car with a bored cop.

  6. AL
    AL March 3, 2009 at 6:58 pm |

    YES–this is in no way isolated. even though I live in a small college town, the abuse of power that the predominately white police force exercise is absolutely incredible. and by incredible, I mean fucking disgusting.

  7. Melody
    Melody March 3, 2009 at 7:02 pm |

    The only time I have ever hoped for someone to fail in their career aspirations was a girl and her boyfriend that I knew who both wanted to be cops. She even one time said she couldn’t wait to be a cop because then she “would be able to tell people what to do.” He was also very creepy and domineering.
    I suspect that all the bad eggs want to be cops in the first place not to do the right thing, but to control other people. There should be a way to sort potential cops for this from the start!

  8. amandaw
    amandaw March 3, 2009 at 7:04 pm |

    Drunk or not, the idea of an officer either a) on duty or b) within a couple hours of being on duty, having just met this woman while on said duty, squicks me the hell out. Something smells awful about it from the start.

  9. codyb
    codyb March 3, 2009 at 7:05 pm |

    hopefully it is just more incidents getting out of the depths of ‘internal affairs’ files and into the public’s eye, but it seems like the number of extremely violent crimes by police officers and the criminal *justice* (yea, ohk) system in general seems to be escalating. i dont think it said in this post, but have these pigs been charged, or at least been taken off duty until charges are brought?

    holly, feel free to delete this if it is too tangental, i’m just so fucking angry and need to rant a min.

    i agree that its not just ‘a few bad apples’ nor is it just ‘this specific justice system’ are corrupt and violent. all institutions where people can excersise power over others are evil, and especially when those in power are protected by eachother and the laws they create. i dont know when this story came out, but i am guessing that the reaction by the majority of people, which will either be apologizing/defending the cops, or even apathetic, will make me sick as well.

    though the institution of the police allows and nurtures this despicable brutality, the fact that this institution still stands makes us all guilty. we cant expect that the government, even with ‘liberal’ (which is virtualy the same as conservative in this country) politicians at the helm, will do any reformation, and if they do, it will be a visual bandaid to appease liberals. which will work, they will stop caring, and the police will continue to murder, execute, rape, be abusive and be the most direct tool of government opression.

  10. The Opoponax
    The Opoponax March 3, 2009 at 7:31 pm |

    I suspect that all the bad eggs want to be cops in the first place not to do the right thing, but to control other people.

    I know someone who really wants to be, well not a beat cop exactly, but in law enforcement, or maybe work for the FBI, or otherwise be part of The Man. I’ve never got the sense from her that she openly wants to do it to control other people, just that she’s severely naive and has gobbled right up all the cultural memes that work to convince white middle class folks that there are Good Guys and Bad Guys, and law enforcement is the former and “criminals” are the latter. She really thinks that the best way to do good in the world is to create a police state.

    I believe this same friend also is anti-abortion because of Teh Baybeeeeez.

    I get the sense here in New York that most people become cops because it’s a fairly easy way to score a comfortable middle class livelihood with minimal skills or education.

  11. Cara
    Cara March 3, 2009 at 8:14 pm |

    Drunk or not, the idea of an officer either a) on duty or b) within a couple hours of being on duty, having just met this woman while on said duty, squicks me the hell out. Something smells awful about it from the start.

    THIS. Exactly. I’m just thinking . . . they’re even bothering to claim that it was consensual? I mean . . . ugh, I just lost my ability to string words together. This is horrible.

  12. delicious « Better burn that dress, sister.

    […] Feministe » NYPD accused of raping intoxicated woman “This time, two male cops escorted a drunk woman to her home in the East Village, then returned to her apartment twice in the early hours of the morning. On their third visit, something happened. The cops are calling it sex; the investigators are dubious; the woman reported it later that day as a rape.” […]

  13. Renee
    Renee March 3, 2009 at 9:15 pm |

    You know I really think that we should think about the people that are driven to choose policing as a career. People don’t choo,se to become cops out of a desire to help people but out of a desire to express power corrosively over others.

    We don’t want to admit that we live in a highly class stratified society but policing is a path often taken by the poor to achieve a middle class income. To keep our society divided by artificial borders we must constantly discipline and punish. Often the people who have experienced or witnessed the ways in which various police departments aggressively target their lower class communities falsely identify with them and chose to done the mantle of power rather than working to change the system which labeled them with the status of “other” in the first place.

    We cannot hope to stop incidents like this until we stop demonizing those that are least amongst us. The protection of property rights or the maintenance of patriarchy is not worth devaluing a single human being. In the daily actions of police officers across the western world we can see race, class and gender routinely played out and yet we present the false image of officer friendly to our children and on night time television dramas (Law and Order, SVU) There is a reason why the poor and visible minorities live in fear. Even in our imaginations we can seldom present a cop helping a group of people that we have constructed as other. What does that say about how we truly view them?

  14. William
    William March 3, 2009 at 9:16 pm |

    This story and the story about the fifteen year old beaten in the jail cell make me want to whip out some NWA or Body Count to listen to.

    Seconded.

  15. queer yenta/arielariel
    queer yenta/arielariel March 3, 2009 at 10:01 pm |

    @codyb — for what it’s worth, the ny post article online has comments on it as well, and there is some of the “get that drunk and look what happens to you” comments but MUCH more are calling for these guys’ heads on a platter. some anti-nypd generally, some of the “bad apples” theory, but the post is not generally somewhere i would expect a rape victim to get a lot of support. for what it is worth.

  16. queer yenta/arielariel
    queer yenta/arielariel March 3, 2009 at 10:01 pm |
  17. nypdDAD
    nypdDAD March 3, 2009 at 11:09 pm |

    How sad that the presumption of innocence for police officers no longer exists in New York on the basis of things you’ve read in a newspaper I wouldn’t use to line the bottom of a birdcage. My son is a cop at the Ninth. He was a theater and history major in college and spent his vacation working on the Obama campaign. In the course of a nights work he and his partner have been cursed at, spat on, punched, kicked and had garbage cans thrown at them and worse. He’s seen more death and misery and pain than anyone ever should. There have been more murders of police officers in the Ninth Precinct than ANY other precinct in NYC. It’s too bad that some of you can’t call each other instead of 911 when your life is in danger.

  18. Lynn
    Lynn March 3, 2009 at 11:55 pm |

    Unfortunately the only things thats surprising about this story is that the victim lived in the East Village. Cops rape people all the time. But they are usually street-based sex workers or equally marginalized people so it gets less attention.

  19. debbie
    debbie March 4, 2009 at 12:06 am |

    Well, it was only a matter of time before a police apologist showed up. I guess since your son is a nice guy (and really, the only reasons we have to believe this is true is because the proud parent of an NYPD officer says so), all police officers are? I’m guessing that very few parents of police officers boast on the internet about how many people their kid beat up.

    And what about that the realities of police violence experienced by people posting on this thread that you are ignoring? Some of them are talking about the Ninth Precinct in NYC. Are we supposed to pretend that these are each discrete incidents, and that there is no pattern of violence and abuse? I don’t live in NYC – I don’t even live in the US, and I can think of at least 5 incidents of extreme violence on the part of the NYPD in the past two years. And those are the stories that make it across the border, and the stories that are so awful that you can’t forget about them.

    nypdDAD, I’m currently having a conversation in another forum with feminists about whether to call police in domestic violence situations. It’s really sad to listen to all the reasons people have for *not* calling the police, even in violent situations. My experiences with violent, abusive police officers make me hesitant to call the police unless I believe that someone is in serious danger. I know that many of us do call each other when we are in danger because we feel that we have no other choice. For the record, I’m saying that as someone who is unlikely to be targeted by the police because of factors like race and class.

  20. nypdDAD
    nypdDAD March 4, 2009 at 12:18 am |

    I’m not naive- I’ve seen cops do some bad stuff, and I agree that no one should get a pass because they wear a uniform. I know that you can provoke a bad reaction when you question the authority of SOME officers. All I’m saying is that it’s wrong that so many people are ready to convict people who haven’t even been CHARGED yet. And neither IA nor the DAs office has released ANY information- just unnamed “sources” quoted in newspapers.

  21. Lynn
    Lynn March 4, 2009 at 12:31 am |

    “It’s too bad that some of you can’t call each other instead of 911 when your life is in danger.”

    And who is this woman supposed to call? Who is my friend that your son’s precinct threw in jail for excercising her rights supposed to call?

    I actually heard about this a month or two ago from a friend who knows the owner of the bar with the survellance video. What does it say about them that I immediately thought it must be the 9th precinct? I’m a white person in the farthest corner of Manhattan from E Village. I don;t even know my police precinct. Why do I know about the 9th?

  22. Lynn
    Lynn March 4, 2009 at 12:37 am |

    And yeah the NYPOSt isn;t just toilet paper, its police apologist toilet paper. It sayys alot that they even run this story.

  23. Jane
    Jane March 4, 2009 at 2:58 am |

    It’s amazing how people can stereotype all cops…and yet are outraged when the same is done to them.

  24. Skullhunter
    Skullhunter March 4, 2009 at 3:01 am |

    “All I’m saying is that it’s wrong that so many people are ready to convict people who haven’t even been CHARGED yet.”

    Maybe that’s because usually they’re not convicted after they are charged. If they even get charged at all.

    The cops are losing more and more of our trust and respect every day and what’s more, they don’t seem to care as long as we either stay out of their way or act appropriately frightened and intimidated.

  25. Priscilla
    Priscilla March 4, 2009 at 7:35 am |

    I know this isn’t isn’t related to this specific thread; but it is about sexual violence. There is a petition which seeks to encourage the “It Happened To Alexa Foundation” (an excellent resource for rape victims) to withdraw its invitation to Bill O’Reilly to speak at their luncheon. O’Reilly made this statement about a rape victim:

    Now Moore, Jennifer Moore, 18, on her way to college. She was 5-foot-2, 105 pounds, wearing a miniskirt and a halter top with a bare midriff. Now, again, there you go. So every predator in the world is gonna pick that up at two in the morning. She’s walking by herself on the West Side Highway, and she gets picked up by a thug. All right. Now she’s out of her mind, drunk.

    http://mediamatters.org/items/200608040004

    And he claimed that Shawn Hornbeck, who was kidnapped and raped, enjoyed his captivity.

    http://mediamatters.org/items/200701170009

    That he is going to address an agency which supports rape victims shows the depth of his hypocrisy.

    Petition:

    Withdraw Invitation to Hypocrite O’ReillyTarget:The Board of Directors, It Happened to Alexa Foundation

    http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/stop-oreilly-speech-to-rape-victim-support-group

  26. GreyLadyBast
    GreyLadyBast March 4, 2009 at 9:04 am |

    nypdDAD, if you and your son want to reap the benefits of being (or being related to) a cop, they YOU and YOUR SON need to start calling these “unconvincted”* violent criminals out and holding them accountable for their crimes. When was the last time your son reported a 9th precinct fellow for abuse, AND cooperated with IA? I’m guessing never. Has he, personally, or you, personally, EVER held a criminal-disguised-as-a-cop accountable for behavior like this? Or do you just hide behind the Thin Blue Whine of “it’s a haaaaaaaaaaaaaaard job, so we should get away with whatever we want!” From your posts, I gather its the latter, in which case, my sympathy, it is lacking.

    If the good cops want to get back to the days when people trusted cops, and didn’t just see them as the paid criminal arm of the government, then the good cops need to stop hiding the bad ones, stop making silly excuses like you are doing now, stop whining about how haaaaaaaaaaaaard their job is so that pressure simply MUST give cops the right to act like the criminals they supposedly chase, and start holding them accountable for their thuggery. If the self-proclaimed “good cops” can’t or won’t do so, then they are 1) not actually good and 2) have nobody but themselves to blame for their troubles with the public.

    Fixing the problem of police criminality, restoring honor to the force, is entirely within the power of the good cops. Too bad you and your son and the rest of the force can’t be bothered to hold violent criminals responsible, if those violent criminals happened to wear a cop uniform.

    Bast

    *scare quotes because animals like that are NEVER convicted, due in large part to attitudes like yours

  27. Emily
    Emily March 4, 2009 at 9:05 am |

    I think the fact that they found heroin in his locker means this cop is definitely NOT still working pending investigation. Rape allegations inherently involve people’s different versions of what happened. Having an illegal drug in your locker doesn’t require believing anyone over anyone else. And I’m assuming that even in NYC possession of heroin is a felony.

  28. Emily
    Emily March 4, 2009 at 9:13 am |

    I also have a little sympathy for the younger cop/partner. There is a LOT of pressure not to challenge/rat out/turn in your partner. If someone’s really dirty, I’d expect to see a younger cop ask to switch partners rather than rat him out. It’s a sad state of affairs, and part of what makes me so mad about police departments. The cover for each other attitude. This younger cop should have felt safe reporting to a superior on his partner’s behavior. I’m pretty sure he didn’t.

    Also, in addition to who decides to BECOME cops, I think it would be interesting to also think about who quits and who decides to STAY a cop. Where I live there have been a number of police officers who quit, and I kind of always wonder why. Is it because the abuse they take from (some members of) the public is just not worth it? Or is it because they can’t stand the power trip that some of the people they work with lord over the community?

  29. The Opoponax
    The Opoponax March 4, 2009 at 9:21 am |

    All I’m saying is that it’s wrong that so many people are ready to convict people who haven’t even been CHARGED yet.

    I love how, by the mere mention of this story, how fucked up this is, how scared it makes us, how it reveals various aspects of the system that people need to be aware of, etc. we are somehow magically convicting someone of a crime. I didn’t think the justice system worked that way, that just thinking, “The Cops Are So Fracking Corrupt” hard enough could actually put someone in jail.

    Hm. Maybe the Christianists are right. Maybe we really are witches. We certainly seem to have powers of magickal thinking, if just commenting on a blog is the same as convicting someone of a crime.

  30. William
    William March 4, 2009 at 9:44 am |

    It’s too bad that some of you can’t call each other instead of 911 when your life is in danger.

    After a whole post of whinging about how hard police have it and how we should assume they’re innocent, the truth comes out. After all, us civilians ought to be thankful that the police are there to help us. If only we knew what life would be like without our glorious protectors, if only we had the proper respect for our glorified meter maids and enforcers of public morality. And there in the background, behind all the self pity and guilt trips, a veiled threat. “We might not always be there, you know, or we might not be there for you…maybe you should call each other if you dislike us so much…”

    I know that you can provoke a bad reaction when you question the authority of SOME officers.

    The “some bad apples” argument fails for one simple reason: whenever a cop does something wrong his fellow officers are expected to back his play, cover his ass, and do whatever is necessary for their brother. You’re taught to in the academy, you learn it from the culture, and if somehow you manage to retain some shred of human decency after your first few years in a rough precinct (because, hey, how better to get you thinking in terms of us-versus-them?) you know what happens to cops who become “rats.” Accessory after the fact is a way of life for police, which makes them all guilty.

    All I’m saying is that it’s wrong that so many people are ready to convict people who haven’t even been CHARGED yet.

    So often police are not charged, they’re protected until the story leaves the news cycle and then quietly “cleared after a thorough internal investigation.” The point of talking about this story is to try to force a charge to happen, because we’ve learned that otherwise it wont.

    And neither IA nor the DAs office has released ANY information- just unnamed “sources” quoted in newspapers.

    You and I both know that IA is to the justice system what the scientists hired by the tobacco industry who couldn’t find a link between smoking and cancer are to science. They’re there to look good, to give the appearance of doing something, to satisfy the rubes, but they’re not there to close cases.

    More importantly, theres a good reason information hasn’t been officially released (though we can guess where the “sources” are coming from). During the best of times DAs tend to keep information close to the vest unless releasing it serves some purpose. Why on earth would they put out info that other cops could follow to intimidate witnesses, destroy evidence, or generally get in the way?

  31. William
    William March 4, 2009 at 9:54 am |

    I think the fact that they found heroin in his locker means this cop is definitely NOT still working pending investigation. Rape allegations inherently involve people’s different versions of what happened. Having an illegal drug in your locker doesn’t require believing anyone over anyone else. And I’m assuming that even in NYC possession of heroin is a felony.

    Which shows how fucked up our standards are, don’t you think? When I read the story I thought the same thing “at lease the heroin means he’s riding a desk” and then I damn near puked. So what if he does heroin? I don’t even think it should be illegal, but thats whats clear in the case. Guy does drugs, he must be a bad guy; guy rapes a drunk woman he was supposed to protect, well…lets wait till we know some more. Its the fact that I just kind of accepted it as the way things are for a second, that it didn’t shock or appall me until I forced myself to think about it.

    BTW, I’m not attributing any of these beliefs to you, I’m just thinking out loud.

  32. Margaret
    Margaret March 4, 2009 at 9:56 am |

    I would be careful about making sweeping allegations about cops. It is the same type of behavior that we fight to abolish when people discriminate based on race or gender. This story skeeves me out gravely but I still need to limit my distaste to the gentlemen involved in the incident. It is one thing to make assumptions about these guys but to label other cops guilty just makes you a discriminator.

    The more we tear down cops, the less likely we are to attract quality people on the police force.

    I hope there is justice in this case. I feel deeply sorry for this woman and Holly you are correct, we have all ended up vulnerable after a night of drinking and if the allegations are true (presumably so from the evidence), we were lucky to have not fallen in to the same trap.

    Thank you for your excellent coverage

  33. The Opoponax
    The Opoponax March 4, 2009 at 10:52 am |

    It is the same type of behavior that we fight to abolish when people discriminate based on race or gender.

    Why? People choose to become cops. Sure, to an extent you have to consider certain factors of why it might seem like an attractive choice – I agree that it’s dangerous to assume that anyone who so much as considers a career in law enforcement is by definition an evil monster. But I think that’s dangerous because it’s important to understand the real reasons people really do things, and how systems really work, than to pick the easy black-and-white answer that helps us sleep better at night. But the bottom line is that it’s not like identity-based discrimination, because Police Officer is not an ascribed status but something one chooses to do with one’s life.

    Also, considering that corruption and excessive violence within law enforcement circles is endemic in the US (if not worldwide), it would be equally dangerous to assume that we should always assume the police are in the right, and never assume that they could be corrupt, criminal, or needlessly violent. That’s like assuming that the huge circular weather pattern hanging out over the Gulf Of Mexico in August or September is likely not a hurricane – if all our information tells us that we should keep an eye out for X, that X has a tendency to happen under Y conditions, why should we default to assuming that everything we’ve observed is wrong, and there is nothing happening at all?

  34. Thomas
    Thomas March 4, 2009 at 11:18 am |

    You know what? I’m a litigator. The presumption of innocence is a Jury Instruction. It’s a rule for how the fact finder should weigh the evidence. It is not a rule that bars private citizens with no particular power from talking about the public issues of the day.

    Is there someone out there crying that people should not call Bernie Madoff a crook until he’s proven guilty? Probably. But we need not take that whinging seriously.

  35. Margaret
    Margaret March 4, 2009 at 11:31 am |

    I think that it is easy to jump to the conclusion that COPS are bad because that is what you see in the news. Corruption is reported in the news, business as usual is not. I agree that there are corruption issues in the police force and in many countries much worse and other much less than the USA. I would not assume that it is the norm though, that is a dangerous conclusion and gives no credit to the law abiding law enforcers, of which I believe there are many.

    If you say it is okay to discriminate against people who choose a certain way of life, does that apply to people that are overweight, practice a particular religion, smoke, choose not to attain higher education, play varsity sports, eat organic? I don’t believe that is ethical or legal.

    I think that it is ridiculous to assume you can draw conclusions about any specific individual that is part of a diverse group that is linked by one or a few characteristics. The NYPD is an extremely diverse group. This is the reason I cannot accept the white supremacy claim above; that is asinine claim.

    “if all our information tells us that we should keep an eye out for X, that X has a tendency to happen under Y conditions, why should we default to assuming that everything we’ve observed is wrong” – this can easily be applied to people of a particular race.

    Many middle easterners were very upset when they were disciminated against in airports, etc. It also is a fact that fewer black people per 1000 graduate from high school, should we draw conclusions about how much black people value education? Or how interested black parents are in the welfare of their children, I think not. This would wipe away a century of progress.

  36. Former Detective Accused of Raping Women Who Sought Police Help : The Curvature

    […] in the U.S., at least, police violence is not uncommon, and that includes violence towards women.  It includes sexual violence towards women. It includes many stories that aren’t quite as […]

  37. Margaret
    Margaret March 4, 2009 at 11:40 am |

    We dont take what Bernie did and apply it to all investors, despite the fact that there have been other “Bernies” in the past. Just because evidence is not in money manager’s corner, there isnt a cry against them as a group, just bernie

  38. The Opoponax
    The Opoponax March 4, 2009 at 11:43 am |

    If you say it is okay to discriminate against people who choose a certain way of life, does that apply to people that are overweight, practice a particular religion, smoke, choose not to attain higher education, play varsity sports, eat organic? I don’t believe that is ethical or legal.

    While we can debate the ethics, I believe everything you listed is perfectly legal to “discriminate” on the basis of (except religion, which is complicated because in many instances religion is an ascribed rather than attained thing). Especially in the sense we’re discussing here, that of personal opinion. My mother hatehatehatehatehates the fact that I’m a vegetarian, and never passes up an opportunity to explain to me what a horrible thing vegetarianism is. I think that’s annoying, and that some of her perspectives are wrong, but whatever. My mom can think I’m a sanctimonious hippie if she wants to – it’s not hurting me at all. And I can start with the assumption that any cop I see is 2 seconds away from flipping his or her shit, if I want to; it’s not hurting the police at all and might very well save my skin. And most certainly would save the skin of someone who has more to lose in a police encounter than I do as a white gender-conforming woman.

  39. Jill
    Jill March 4, 2009 at 11:44 am | *

    Holly is right that this is a systematic problem. That isn’t the same thing as saying that ALL cops are bad people, so I think commenters can drop the defensiveness there. Of course ALL cops aren’t bad people. But there are serious structural issues with police forces across the country; there are psychological factors involved too when you give people essentially unchecked amounts of power.

    I live in the East Village, right around the corner from the 9th precinct. I’ve also seen the cops in that area behave very badly. Like Holly and like the woman in the article, I have come home extremely drunk on several occassions — the most recently being Friday night. I have puked on the street. Someone else puked on my doorstep last night, and while I think they’re a motherfucker, I do hope no one called the cops on them and that they were able to get home safely.

  40. The Opoponax
    The Opoponax March 4, 2009 at 11:47 am |

    Can I just say how weird it is to see people in this thread arguing in bad faith about how we ought to trust the police unless we have extremely good reason to think that any particular cop is a Bad Guy ™, whereas in the thread about the cops who beat up that 15 year old girl we have people arguing in bad faith about how nobody should EVER mouth off to a cop because everyone knows you can’t just go around existing willy-nilly in front of cops?

    Which is it? Are the cops Good Guys who should be trusted implicitly until they are physically in the act of busting a cap in your ass, or are cops the Bad Guys who you should kowtow to at all costs lest they flip out on you and beat you within an inch of your life? You can’t have it both ways.

  41. Ali
    Ali March 4, 2009 at 11:49 am |

    In the course of a nights work he and his partner have been cursed at, spat on, punched, kicked and had garbage cans thrown at them and worse.

    Funny, this (and sometimes worse) happens to me often when I’m just walking down the street. And I know I’m not the only one. When do we get to beat the shit out of people with no fear of punishment?

  42. Margaret
    Margaret March 4, 2009 at 11:51 am |

    It seems that my benign comments are being selectively published.

    Opoponax i think you make very interesting points, I appreciate the conversation but since I am being unnecessarily censored, I think i am done here.

  43. Cara
    Cara March 4, 2009 at 11:53 am |

    I’m just so incredibly sick of people being accused of “cop hating” or “police bashing” (oh the irony) whenever they point out that police violence is common and institutional. I’m so sick of “police have way too much power and due to cronyism are far too often not held accountable for their violence” being disingenuously turned into “OMG ALL COPS ARE EVIL, HORRIBLE PEOPLE.”

    So. Incredibly. Sick.

  44. The Opoponax
    The Opoponax March 4, 2009 at 11:54 am |

    Margaret, FWIW, several of my comments in this thread have gone through the mod queue – you’re not being censored, or at least no more than anyone else is.

  45. Cara
    Cara March 4, 2009 at 12:00 pm |

    And for what it’s worth, we reserve the right to not publish those moderated comments which are derailing to the thread because they serve only to criticize blog posts that are not this one.

  46. William
    William March 4, 2009 at 12:12 pm |

    I think that it is easy to jump to the conclusion that COPS are bad because that is what you see in the news.

    Actually, the news tends to show cops in an overly sympathetic manner. For every story like this one that makes it out there are dozens of “good cop save the neighborhood by shooting black kid” stories. Hell, look at television shows like COPS which tend to put police in a good light and popular dramas like Law & Order and The Closer where cops doing things which ought to land them in prison are painted as heroes working outside a broken system.

    Corruption is reported in the news, business as usual is not.

    My information doesn’t really come from the news. I’ve been a male under 30 in a shitty car after dark. I’ve been searched over a dozen times. I’ve had police threaten me with violence for asking for a badge number. I’ve been cuffed, thrown in the back of a car, and threatened with being put in a cell with a “big nigger who’ll rape your white ass” for not consenting to a search of my vehicle (which they searched anyway). I’ve been in cars with friends of the wrong color in the wrong neighborhood. I currently live in a gentrifying neighborhood in Chicago and a week doesn’t go by where I don’t see a white cop tossing a group of black kids. In 27 years I’ve been the victim of a serious crime four times and every single time I have been failed by the police. Hell, I’ve been outright asked for a bribe on two occasions. Once by cops who didn’t want to do the paperwork for breaking up a party and once by a cop who said that a little extra would get my case priority. I’ve seen business as usual and you’re right, the media doesn’t report it. You’re wrong in saying that its anything other than endemic corruption.

    I would not assume that it is the norm though, that is a dangerous conclusion and gives no credit to the law abiding law enforcers, of which I believe there are many.

    I’ve yet to meet one. Even the people who seem to resemble good cops cover for their blue brothers. I’d direct you to the Kathryn Johnston case in Atlanta for a pretty good look at how police behave when no one is looking.

    If you say it is okay to discriminate against people who choose a certain way of life, does that apply to people that are overweight, practice a particular religion, smoke, choose not to attain higher education, play varsity sports, eat organic? I don’t believe that is ethical or legal.

    How many of the groups you’ve mentioned are given guns, the authorization to use lethal force, the authority to detain (with force) anyone at any time for any reason for up to 72 hours, and are generally assumed to be in the right by the legal system? With that power comes a higher standard and a higher degree of suspicion.

    I think that it is ridiculous to assume you can draw conclusions about any specific individual that is part of a diverse group that is linked by one or a few characteristics. The NYPD is an extremely diverse group. This is the reason I cannot accept the white supremacy claim above; that is asinine claim.

    But there are two very important factors which tie all NYPD officers together. The first is that they are given a far greater degree of power than virtually any other citizen, and the second is that they are taught from the academy onwards to stand by their fellows and cover their asses at all costs. Perhaps more important than those two factors are the reality of the job. How many officers have never sent a non-violent offender to prison? Part of the job of any cop anywhere in the country is to take people caught with drugs, caught gambling, caught engaging in prostitution, and put them in a cage. Thats the job, thats the majority of their arrests, thats how they get promotions. At best cops get ahead by putting people who hurt no one but themselves in a position where they are likely to be beaten and raped. Even a “good cop” has to be OK with that.

    Many middle easterners were very upset when they were disciminated against in airports, etc. It also is a fact that fewer black people per 1000 graduate from high school, should we draw conclusions about how much black people value education? Or how interested black parents are in the welfare of their children, I think not. This would wipe away a century of progress.

    No, we shouldn’t draw those kinds of conclusions. But if someone is a member of Hammas or the Gangsta Disciples, we can make a pretty good guess about what their behavior will be. Not every black person is in a gang, but pretty much every gangbanger is a criminal. Not every person of Middle Eastern descent is a terrorist, but if they’re a member of a known terrorist organization you don’t need to catch them with a bomb to know where their sympathies lie.

  47. Margaret
    Margaret March 4, 2009 at 12:14 pm |

    derailing? a bit dramatic i think. nothing of the sort, only asking questions about a previous post’s dependence on allegations in an article/post. Pointing to the fact that because something is written in an article doesnt mean that we should assume it fact and the end of conversation.

  48. Another, again. « PostBourgie
    Another, again. « PostBourgie March 4, 2009 at 12:21 pm |

    […] Holly at Feministe doesn’t buy the “bad seed” theory that seems to get thrown around a lot when cops (like the one who brutalized that 15-year-old girl in Seattle) break the law: Police abuse of authority and irresponsible, illegitimate use of violence — and make no mistake, non-consensual sex is violence — is a pattern, not an exception. It is part of an authoritarian culture where whatever the police say, goes. No matter how many “good cops” you think there are, we cannot profess surprise or exceptionalism when some asshole abuses that power. […]

  49. Trixie23
    Trixie23 March 4, 2009 at 12:21 pm |

    nypdDad, my coworker’s daughter and son-in-law are cops…SIL is actually a NYS Trooper…they are fantastic people.
    HOWEVER,there ARE some SCARY cops out there!

    http://www.familylawcourts.com/badcop.html

    I personally was stalked by an officer of our small city PD and hit on by numerous married cops. Rumors run rampant here and it’s a disgrace if a fraction are valid.

    Another personal experience is with a law enforcement *eye roll* officer who helped someone (former law enforcement) invade my privacy in cyberspace both at home and work!
    I wonder if he is reading this :(

  50. Margaret
    Margaret March 4, 2009 at 12:54 pm |

    William,
    Those are very good points. I appreciate that you all are willing to have a conversation and I am swayed by many of your points.

    I know for a fact that there are some great cops out there. I am from a family with a few law enforcers, including my mother who was one of the first females NYC police officers and my brother and father. My brother ended up leaving, one reason he cites as not wanting to be a police officer other than being underpaid is the negative stereotypes and assumptions people made about him. Corruption by some law eforcers is a very sad issue and leads to a catch 22. It discourages people with strong ethics from joining the police force.

    I agree that something must be done to improve the caliber of police. some countries have done this by paying better and attracting better candidates and in doing so also making bribes less attractive because people might lose a well paid, well respected position and tend to be “better” people to begin with.

    What else could be done to attract better candidates? I understand the concerns that many have but I would prefer to live in a policed state than to not. Even Booker is increasing the number of COPs in Newark and feels that way. I am interested to know what some of the alternatives might be to COPs.

  51. Lynn
    Lynn March 4, 2009 at 2:04 pm |

    “I am interested to know what some of the alternatives might be to COPs.”

    Cops: yes or no? What? You think the only options are accepting corruption and shootings and rapes and beat downs or no cops. Who is really the one with a low opinion of cops here?

  52. nypdDAD
    nypdDAD March 4, 2009 at 2:23 pm |

    To: GreyLadyBast
    Have I EVER held a criminal-disguised-as-a-cop accountable for behavior like this? Or do you just hide behind the Thin Blue Whine of “it’s a haaaaaaaaaaaaaaard job, …blah, blah, blah.
    Yes !
    I’ve prosecuted bad cops, and represented good ones wrongly accused. I deplore conduct by any cop that makes my son’s job harder or more dangerous. I just won’t convict someone, civilian OR cop, based on what I read in the paper, period.
    If that’s too hard a concept for a lot of people here, we’re in trouble.

  53. Margaret
    Margaret March 4, 2009 at 2:43 pm |

    No, that is a weird way to interpret my comment. It seems that most comments on this page point to the fact that becoming a cop and inheriting (or seeking) the responsibilities it comes with make someone a bad candidate for law enforcement. Anyone that wants the job is inherently corrupt or will over time become corrupt is how I read many of the posts above. If that is the case, what can we do? I am not suggesting we stick with status quo, I am asking for alternatives. I clearly agree that there is an issue but I am more concerned about the seeming lack of ideas for improvement.

  54. Lynn
    Lynn March 4, 2009 at 2:59 pm |

    There needs to be accountability. DA’s have proven that they won’t effectively prosecute members of the police forces that build there cases. I guess that means independent prosecutors. I’m not sure how to get there tho.

  55. Radfem
    Radfem March 4, 2009 at 3:16 pm |

    I get the sense here in New York that most people become cops because it’s a fairly easy way to score a comfortable middle class livelihood with minimal skills or education.

    I don’t think it’s the pay in the NYPD that attracts them. That department’s pay starts at about $25,000 a year and was actually reduced through arbitration a few years by about 40%. It’s close to Nassau and Suffolk County LE agencies which are among the most competitive and highest paying. I think that one of the problems with the NYPD is its sheer size. At 40,000 officers, it’s the country’s largest LE agencies but I doubt this number of officers could effectively be policed and supervised even if all intentions were good.

    I also have a little sympathy for the younger cop/partner. There is a LOT of pressure not to challenge/rat out/turn in your partner. If someone’s really dirty, I’d expect to see a younger cop ask to switch partners rather than rat him out. It’s a sad state of affairs, and part of what makes me so mad about police departments. The cover for each other attitude. This younger cop should have felt safe reporting to a superior on his partner’s behavior. I’m pretty sure he didn’t.

    I’ve seen it more than once. I got harassed by an officer who stopped his car in front of me blocking my path while I tried to cross the street one night just to scream something at me b/c he didn’t like the articles I wrote about the department. The young guy with him just stared and had no reaction. I had passed them earlier without paying them any mind and then looked back and saw the younger officer run into this gas station to use the restroom and remember thinking it was odd that the other officer stayed in the car. But he had sent the guy in the station to use the restroom in a hurry because he had already planned his harassment and didn’t want to miss his opportunity.

    I got harassed by a sergeant at a public event who I had problems with previously. He did it right in front of the police chief but in this case, the police chief got really upset and must have taken care of it behind the scenes b/c that sergeant never looked my way again.

    But someone told me the younger officers go into I.A. for interviews and are threatened with termination if they don’t answer or are caught in a lie. Sometimes that scares them. Sometimes not. If they are probational which they are if they’re in training, they can be fired pretty easily.

    Also, in addition to who decides to BECOME cops, I think it would be interesting to also think about who quits and who decides to STAY a cop. Where I live there have been a number of police officers who quit, and I kind of always wonder why. Is it because the abuse they take from (some members of) the public is just not worth it? Or is it because they can’t stand the power trip that some of the people they work with lord over the community?

    The women often quit in large numbers b/c of harassment and retaliation. Some quit b/c they want to become an officer for good reasons but they’re not supported like the ones who aren’t in there for good reasons b/c of the culture. Sometimes the really embarrassingly bad ones get weeded out when they cost the city too much money in litigation payouts. But that takes a while. Some good ones stick it out. Some bad ones do too. I’m not a “bad apple” proponent though some officers clearly are worse than others b/c of how the system backs up and rewards bad officers over good ones.

  56. Radfem
    Radfem March 4, 2009 at 3:28 pm |

    There needs to be accountability. DA’s have proven that they won’t effectively prosecute members of the police forces that build there cases. I guess that means independent prosecutors. I’m not sure how to get there tho.

    NYC because it utilizes a grand jury system on police shootings has a higher rate of indictment of officers (and most of them are from its special investigative units like in the Bell and Diallo shootings) than in other cities or counties but the conviction rate is close to the extremely low rates shown in other cities.

    Cops who rape and molest are a serious problem. I read about six more cases besides this one from California to Georgia and Florida this week. We had a arrest in my city not long ago and when I blog about it, I get nasty comments in return so yes, these rapists are protected by people who lack the courage to post their names to what they write.

    I personally was stalked by an officer of our small city PD and hit on by numerous married cops. Rumors run rampant here and it’s a disgrace if a fraction are valid.

    Another personal experience is with a law enforcement *eye roll* officer who helped someone (former law enforcement) invade my privacy in cyberspace both at home and work!
    I wonder if he is reading this :(

    I do can relate to the cyberspace as being a place for bad behavior by officers unfortunately.

    What else could be done to attract better candidates? I understand the concerns that many have but I would prefer to live in a policed state than to not. Even Booker is increasing the number of COPs in Newark and feels that way. I am interested to know what some of the alternatives might be to COPs.

    Stop agencies from lowering their hiring standards like Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department which hired felons. There’s a convicted felon trying to get a job as an officer in the NYPD right now. Most agencies aren’t hiring now but with the stimulus package, that will change. So make sure if they hire, they don’t take shortcuts particularly with background checks and psych evaluations. Like not interviewing past spouses or significant others the candidates were in relationships with, one way to look for past DV or other problems.

    But the most serious problems are the hiring standards which are used including traits sought for on the psych evaluations are often those which cause serious problems. The tendency to dominate is seen as important in situations where police have to arrive and take control of a situation when they get there but it creates problems with police officers being abusive and the agencies do nothing because if the police officers arrest numbers are high, then they let it go on.

  57. Kai
    Kai March 4, 2009 at 3:39 pm |

    Margaret, actually the connection between police departments and the maintenance of US white supremacism is well documented in history and in modern-day practice. This is something which has been written about extensively by police officers themselves, and is discussed on weekly TV and radio shows in NYC by 100 Blacks In Law Enforcement. Even black police officers in a well-to-do area like Westchester County have to worry about getting shot by their peers in the police force while in plain clothes:

    New York has a history, dating back to the 1940’s, when Black officers in plain clothes or off-duty have been shot at, shot, or killed by their peers while doing the job they were sworn to do. It was in response incidents such as these that Robert Mangum organized the first New York City Guardians. The organization received their charter New York City in 1949. The Guardians as well as countless other organizations have led the call for enhanced training; revisions of policies; diversity throughout law enforcement structures (from the top down); and better community relations for decades.

    However, before one can address these prevalent issues, there must be an examination institutional culture of policing that historically reinforced bias and discrimination. It was the economic benefits and socially divisive practice of slavery that led to the creation of uniformed police in southern cities decades before Boston (1838) and New York (1845) established the forces which remain the accepted starting point for the history of the police in the United States.

    In her work Slave Patrols: Law and Violence in Virginia and the Carolinas (2001), Hadden notes that “there was some variation in the social structure of patrols, the point of establishing them was constant: to maintain white supremacy and privilege.” Dulaney in his book Black Police in America (1996) further noted that the patroller policed specific geographical areas in the southern communities called “beats” and that they were authorized to stop, search, whip, maim and even kill slaves caught off the premises of the plantation without a pass.

    Like “patrols” which became the basis for policing in the United States as we know it now, the under girding racial perceptions that were borne out of these policing policies still endure. Black communities are contained like concentration camps. Racial profiling gives police the new authorization to “stop” Blacks without cause. No wonder relations with communities of color are often non-existent and interactions between police and residents are often strained. […]

    Who is policing our police? The call for a state wide special prosecutor to ensure transparency in the justice system is essential for building trust in the community we serve and for the victims and the affected Law Enforcement Officers. Despite having a reputation as being one of the most “progressive” and wealthiest counties and countries, Westchester and the United States lack an effective oversight in law enforcement. We need to take a page from the United Kingdom, Australia, and Japan– all whom have governmental oversight in law enforcement and credible Independent Civilian Complaint Review Boards.

  58. piny
    piny March 4, 2009 at 3:39 pm |

    The difference between extrapolating to all members of class “NYPD” and all members of class “vegan”–or any of the other more loaded categories–is that the NYPD is an organization, a hierarchy with lots of rules and internal policing. The organization is seriously flawed, and those flaws implicate every member.

    To take another example: for generations, Catholic church leadership protected abusive priests and silenced victims. Does this mean that all priests were abusive? No. Does this mean that all priests were guilty of complicity in abuse? No. Does it mean that churchgoers could not trust their priests not to commit abuse or condone it? Did it contribute to a much higher incidence of abuse? I think the answer to those last questions is yes.

    Our law enforcement has similar organizational problems, including the massive public mistrust. The problem is not that cops are bad people or that only bad people want to become cops.

  59. Lynn
    Lynn March 4, 2009 at 3:56 pm |

    “”The difference between extrapolating to all members of class “NYPD” and all members of class “vegan”–or any of the other more loaded categories–is that the NYPD is an organization, a hierarchy with lots of rules and internal policing.”

    Also when you go vegan they don’t give you a gun.

  60. Margaret
    Margaret March 4, 2009 at 4:01 pm |

    Thanks Radfem, very interesting and thought provoking post

  61. Thomas
    Thomas March 4, 2009 at 4:04 pm |

    Things that never don’t happen: some people show up to defend police any time police misconduct is discussed. Those people turn out to be immediate family members of police.

  62. Margaret
    Margaret March 4, 2009 at 4:04 pm |

    The whole thing with the vegan (I actually used organic as my analogy) was that discriminating based on a chosen lifestyle, job or belief might not be appropriate. The fact that you are bringing up the fact that vegans don’t have guns really has no tie to what I was talking about and I think you are choosing to focus on a silly thing that doesnt relate to the discussion and takes my words out of context.

  63. Margaret
    Margaret March 4, 2009 at 4:07 pm |

    Thomas – Not sure if you are referring to me. I have no family members that are police officers, I do, however, like I said, have a disillusioned brother that left the police force. I think I have been very honest and by no means a cheerleaders for police officers.

  64. Cara
    Cara March 4, 2009 at 4:12 pm |

    Cops having guns is a silly thing? Tell it to Oscar Grant.

    The fact that vegans don’t have guns is 100% relevant. Because the “discrimination” takes on an incredibly different form when the “discriminated” against party has strong access to power, and a license to commit certain types of violence.

  65. Margaret
    Margaret March 4, 2009 at 4:17 pm |

    Cara – I can’t beleive you are continuing on this. If you can’t understand the meaning of my post than disregard it, but please stop trying to understand it by guess and check it is not an efficient use of time

  66. Margaret
    Margaret March 4, 2009 at 4:45 pm |

    I do hope for many of these measures. The problem will arise when people dont want more money going to law enforcement. Some of your best suggestions will add to budgets of recruitment and training, but I think that managed well, they are very well worth it.

    Thank you for your constructive thoughts.

    The “some way” bullet is absoluttely true and will not cost money but at the same time is very hard to figure out, which I think you are pointing out.

  67. The Opoponax
    The Opoponax March 4, 2009 at 5:14 pm |

    The problem will arise when people dont want more money going to law enforcement.

    Police forces are some of the best-funded social services in the country. I’m from a poor state where funding frivolous things like schools and roads is considered a luxury (where the governor of the state just publicly mocked funding things like disaster preparedness), and I still never heard a peep about anyone worried about how much money was going to law enforcement.

    Of course, you can bet your ass that the minute there was a serious proposal to curb police violence, suddenly the PD would be “too expensive”. Especially in communities where “criminal” is more often a synonym for “person of color”.

  68. William
    William March 4, 2009 at 5:32 pm |

    Margaret:

    If you want to reduce police corruption I think there are some very specific actions that could be done to do so. The absolute first thing would be to give up this silly war on drugs that we have. Crime dropped after alcohol prohibition ended because you no longer had an enormous business run by criminals who solved their disputes with shoot outs in the streets. That would leave police with more time to deal with actual criminals as well as to focus their drug-related efforts on people who actually become dangerous as a result of their intake (I’d rather cops spend their time arresting everyone who gets behind the wheel drunk instead of everyone they catch with a six pack). Resources are freed up and you can both pay for better officers and better training.

    That brings us to raising the bar for police officers. Being a cop shouldn’t be something someone dreams about because they want to be Kojack or because they can’t imagine what else they’re going to do with two parts brawn to one part brains. I know, thats not how ALL officers are, but the vast majority of people that I have personally known who went into the police force stumbled into the job. A four year diploma in the humanities (not in “criminal justice”) and a thorough psych evaluation ought to be the bare minimum. We expect a lot from police physically, we ought to expect at least as much intellectually, emotionally, and interpersonally.

    The third thing you do is get rid of IA and institute civilian review boards that have real authority, subpoena power, and are able to enforce real punishments on problem officers. Make the process transparent and public, and mandate that the names of officers involved in complaints, the details of the complaint, and the findings are all available to anyone. Don’t be afraid to put the fear of punishment front and center in the mind of an officer. Officers should think twice before resorting to force, they should be held to a higher standard than other citizens because thats their job. If they fuck up they ought to be at least fired.

    The fourth thing you do is you create an automatic sentence enhancement for any officer convicted of any felony which was either committed while on duty or which they subsequently used their authority to cover up and you make them individually liable in civil courts for any violations they might commit. Given the incredible amount of power police are given it is only reasonable to hold them to a higher standard. I work as a therapist, and my job puts me in a position of considerable power over my clients. As a result the rules for how I am allowed to conduct myself with clients are very strict, and violating them will get me barred from practicing in the future, sued, and quite possibly put in prison. And I’m not even issued a gun or much in the way of official authority.

    The fifth thing you do is work to change the culture of the police force. Community policing programs have worked well in a lot of areas because it humanizes residents in the eyes of local police and vice versa. When cops see citizens as perps waiting to happen and citizens see cops as criminals with a badge relations are going to be terrible, actually knowing the other person on an individual level does a lot of fix that problem so long as the police do not violate the public trust. It isn’t the job of citizens to be nice to the police, but it is the job of police to serve citizens.

    Finally, and I know I’m going to catch flack for this around here, we need responsible citizens to be able to hold police accountable. That means always making it legal to photograph or film any on-duty police officer at any time for any reason. That also means allowing responsible, well-trained citizens with clean criminal backgrounds and no history of restraining orders the means to defend themselves in a worst case scenario if they so choose. Thats why a free press and the right to bear arms are right next to one another in the constitution, those are really the only means citizens have to keep their government honest.

  69. William
    William March 4, 2009 at 5:38 pm |

    better psych screenings for anyone who we are going to authorize to use dangerous amounts of force

    God, that one can’t be important enough. The people who do psych screenings for the Chicago Police let second year Psy.D. students do virtually all of the testing and interpretation of results and have a ridiculously high ceiling for what will be tolerated. For instance their scoring standards for the MMPI-III and MCMI-II (the two big objective personality tests in use today) give cops a clean bill of health unless personality variables like “psychopathic deviance” and “sadism” are elevated above even the cut-off for clinically significant.

  70. Radfem
    Radfem March 4, 2009 at 5:52 pm |

    Holly’s suggestions are very good ones and come up in a lot of community meetings I’ve attended in my city. Here, it’s not always more police, less police but who makes the decisions on what public servants do in people’s neighborhoods. Neighborhoods want more autonomy in this decision making process.

    I do hope for many of these measures. The problem will arise when people dont want more money going to law enforcement. Some of your best suggestions will add to budgets of recruitment and training, but I think that managed well, they are very well worth it.

    Law enforcement and “public safety” in general is the majority of the budgets of most cities. Sometimes even LE can be more than half of an annual budget. A lot of that is personnel expenses including over time. Recruitment and training budgets will increase with these changes, but right now, hiring is down across the country in most places, though there are exceptions. Some cities are doing furloughs and even layoffs or positions vacated through attrition frozen. Though police are usually the last public employees furloughed and/or laid off.

    It remains to be seen what impact that Obama’s provisions involving LE in his stimulus package will have. Usually, “new” positions are budgeted for two years salary but hopefully, money will go to recruitment and hiring so that local agencies don’t make the shortcuts they did during a similar package passed by Clinton during his terms.

    Even black police officers in a well-to-do area like Westchester County have to worry about getting shot by their peers in the police force while in plain clothes:

    This is a situation more common for Black and Latino officers than most people think particularly in larger-sized agencies where officers don’t know each other. Under cover or off-duty. I read an interesting essay by a Latino narcotics detective who said the scariest thing for officers of color was to be under cover b/c of the danger from all sides including cops.

    The son of Providence’s highest ranking Black officer was shot and killed by White officers when trying to assist the officers who were struggling with a man. A Black officer was shot and killed in Oakland by rookie officers. Also in the LAPD, in a “road rage” incident though there’s controversy about whether or not that incident involved an officer who was tied up in the Rampart Scandal. That shooting was depicted in the movie, Crash.

    Then the ex-Long Beach police officer who was beaten and shoved through a glass-plated store window. He’s now working with the Police Complaint Center in Florida which “stings” LE agencies by auditing their sometimes non-existent complaint policies.

    The list goes on. But it’s pretty strong proof of racial profiling’s impact on all levels. I remember in a discrimination trial involving a Black officer in my city, this White officer married to a Black woman and having a biracial son testified about how as a training officer, he taught his trainees to profile Black men based on hair styles like corn rows. His own son wore corn rows while growing up and he was asked on the stand whether his son still wore them and he said, no, he had stopped allowing him to wear them when he was in middle school. An action taken by a father to protect his son from the kind of officers he himself trained to be that way. It was the most telling moment of the six week trial for most of us.

  71. RD
    RD March 4, 2009 at 5:56 pm |

    The women often quit in large numbers b/c of harassment and retaliation.

    I have an ex-girlfriend who (long before I met her) quit the police academy after she was raped there (by a guy also attending the police academy). When she went to report it, not only did nothing happen to the guy but a bunch of his buddies gang-raped her as revenge for making the complaint. They are prolly all cops now.

  72. Radfem
    Radfem March 4, 2009 at 6:06 pm |

    Here’s a great site from a former law enforcement officer who writes on different issues in the profession from a different perspective.

    Blue must be True

    God, that one can’t be important enough. The people who do psych screenings for the Chicago Police let second year Psy.D. students do virtually all of the testing and interpretation of results and have a ridiculously high ceiling for what will be tolerated. For instance their scoring standards for the MMPI-III and MCMI-II (the two big objective personality tests in use today) give cops a clean bill of health unless personality variables like “psychopathic deviance” and “sadism” are elevated above even the cut-off for clinically significant.

    The State AG claimed that his investigation of my city’s department uncovered a failure to do psych evaluations in hiring officers but I think they actually did do them. A friend of mine in mental health told me that his friend worked for the department doing the screening but was frustrated b/c he would reject an applicant and the department would just ship the applicant off to different professionals until one “passed” him. Especially if they were command staff kids. And in that pool, one child molester and one “road rage” case and a number of hires of that time period have had serious problems. I think some sociopathic people got in too. I sat and listened to an interview by an officer who shot and killed a woman (and it was caught on video) and laughed during his interview with detectives (and one of the detectives laughed with him). A former officer told me yeah, they are there but the agency buries them too deep to find.

    One of my blog harassers was rejected from one agency twice, claiming it was reverse racism but I suspect it had more to do with what was between his ears than his skin color. Meaning that he had psychological issues. Maybe that agency tested them and my city didn’t at the time.

  73. Radfem
    Radfem March 4, 2009 at 6:15 pm |

    I have an ex-girlfriend who (long before I met her) quit the police academy after she was raped there (by a guy also attending the police academy). When she went to report it, not only did nothing happen to the guy but a bunch of his buddies gang-raped her as revenge for making the complaint. They are prolly all cops now.

    Probably, unfortunately. How horrible, but there’s serious harassment including sexual harassment and assault at the academies.

    My city loses women at the academy level. But they just say, oh they changed their mind or “washed out”. But harassment almost always plays a role according to experts I’ve contacted who work hard in gender and policing issues. There’s several who’ve been invaluable in educating me on what’s going on and they have been generous with their time and efforts.

    We had a woman who tried to file a complaint for sexual harassment against a cadet at the academy and she alleged she was warned by officers in my department that they were unhappy with her filing a complaint. She graduated with fairly good standing and was fired the first day of field training (after completing two weeks of orientation). She sued the city and within 90 days of being served, the city settled. Very quietly. One of the things I’ve found out is that probational women in both sworn and civilian divisions are at high risk of termination of employment for complaining.

    I’ve been researching the issue of extremely low retention in my agency even when hiring rates of women increase and it took forever but I’m figuring out what’s going on. It’s not a welcoming environment for women to say the least which sounds obvious but it’s hard to get that kind of verification from an environment so insulated and isolated that even the second-class (and lower) members of it are bound by it.

  74. amandaw
    amandaw March 4, 2009 at 7:14 pm |

    I can’t believe this entire fucking thread has turned into police apologia. Renee made an excellent point about the incentives for going into the police force in the first place — seriously, WHO is going to argue that people who get high on power and control over others wont be attracted to that type of job? — and that conversation almost immediately stops dead. Ugh.

    I think there’s a huge problem, even excluding the police force ITSELF, with a culture of reverence around public officers — the police, the military, the guard. Our culture is one that assigns inordinate value to these positions, allows them inordinate power, and then discourages criticism when those two things are used to bad ends. Our culture rushes to excuse people with power who do bad things. Our culture teaches bystanders to shut their traps and carry on, because the system is built so that HONEST people who DO want to see justice carried out are PUNISHED when they report bad behavior.

    How the FUCK are we going to get a good police force out of that? Honestly, at this point, the good ones ARE the “bad apples” in the eyes of the force as a whole AND our society as a whole. Sure we’ll heap condemnation on the especially bad cases, but then we’ll also turn around and apologize for the pretty-bad cases and tsk-tsk at the cases of the ones who try to make their force BETTER by reporting the bad stuff — and tell them that there is something wrong with what THEY did.

    How do you get a good police force out of that? I’m sorry, but I just don’t see it.

  75. amandaw
    amandaw March 4, 2009 at 7:18 pm |

    You know what else fucks things up? The fact that people are urged to shush with criticism, even criticism the shush-ers think is perfectly valid, because it makes the entire force out to be bad. Because it makes the force loo bad.

    A culture of silence is the worst possible thing that can ever happen to any group, especially one which is granted extraordinary power. And God help the people that group uses their power on.

  76. William
    William March 4, 2009 at 7:32 pm |

    . A friend of mine in mental health told me that his friend worked for the department doing the screening but was frustrated b/c he would reject an applicant and the department would just ship the applicant off to different professionals until one “passed” him. Especially if they were command staff kids. And in that pool, one child molester and one “road rage” case and a number of hires of that time period have had serious problems. I think some sociopathic people got in too.

    That doesn’t surprise me in the least. A good psych eval isn’t that hard to do if all you’re trying to do is determine fitness for duty. We’re talking maybe 10-15 hours of work for the psychologist and a third to a half that for the person getting the eval. The MMPI-II is good at picking up active deceit, attempts to show yourself in a positive manner, defensiveness, and a pretty wide range of personality factors from depression to sadism to submissiveness. The MCMI-III is good at finding clinical personality disorders. Both can give you a pretty decent idea of interpersonal style. Throw in a Rorschach and a TAT administered by someone who knows what you’re doing and you can get a pretty good picture of whether or not someone is likely to be temperamentally suited to being a police officer. Perhaps more importantly, its pretty much impossible to figure out and bullshit any one of those tests (with the possible exception of the TAT), much less all three.

  77. Radfem
    Radfem March 4, 2009 at 7:40 pm |

    That brings us to raising the bar for police officers. Being a cop shouldn’t be something someone dreams about because they want to be Kojack or because they can’t imagine what else they’re going to do with two parts brawn to one part brains. I know, thats not how ALL officers are, but the vast majority of people that I have personally known who went into the police force stumbled into the job. A four year diploma in the humanities (not in “criminal justice”) and a thorough psych evaluation ought to be the bare minimum. We expect a lot from police physically, we ought to expect at least as much intellectually, emotionally, and interpersonally.

    I think some LE agencies but they’re a minority require bachelors degrees including outside criminal justice/criminology. A lot of the cop shows in the 1960s and 1970s hired LAPD officers as their research or technical advisers and they were thinly disguised recruitment for the LAPD which has had some image problems to say the least.

    The third thing you do is get rid of IA and institute civilian review boards that have real authority, subpoena power, and are able to enforce real punishments on problem officers. Make the process transparent and public, and mandate that the names of officers involved in complaints, the details of the complaint, and the findings are all available to anyone. Don’t be afraid to put the fear of punishment front and center in the mind of an officer. Officers should think twice before resorting to force, they should be held to a higher standard than other citizens because thats their job. If they fuck up they ought to be at least fired.

    Civilian review is an interesting exercise in struggling to implement them as effective and independent but it’s a very difficult battle in most cities and counties which implement them. I know that personally in my own city. But it’s like that in many places. San Jose has a police auditor, and it had a strong one in Barbara Attard (who directed the review board in Berkeley before that) and she tried to push for more power to investigate shootings and deaths. She was up for a new term by the city council and by one vote, lost her job.

    My state, California, has the most restrictions on and the most suffocating laws including in the state’s Constitution regarding access to police personnel information in the country. And every attempt to loosen those laws is met with huge resistance from the state’s most powerful labor union force, police associations. They can and did show up enmass at legislative subcommittee meetings to literally scare agenda items pushed to encourage more disclosure right off the table before they can even be voted down. That happened in 2007. We had one in my city forced to resign and he was replaced by a former officer turned lawyer who had fielded a job offer from a police defense firm. So he gets his instructions from his boss and tussles with the commissioners he’s supposed to be serving.

    And even though the state AG issued a legal opinion for LE agencies to release the names of officers involved in shootings and/or incustody deaths, many including mine have spotty records still at doing that, due to the “public safety” exception. So that was toothless. We just figure if the officer’s name isn’t released, it means he or she’s done it before. And that’s probably the truth.

  78. RD
    RD March 4, 2009 at 8:15 pm |

    Yeah no wonder the cops so rarely take any rapes seriously at all, since so many cops ARE rapists. And no wonder nobody wants to report rape to the cops.

    And its been said before here but there are groups of people where this happens a lot more often and its just taken as routine and nobody with any power gives a shit. This cop may actually be punished for that horrible shit he did (which is good!). But what about the fact that for many sex workers, rape and assault by the cops happens more often than arrest does (usually, but not always, it is by extorting a choice between say a bj or ‘sex’ and jail). Oh yeah sex workers don’t matter, or its just thought of as part of the job. To say nothing of the fact that nobody takes violent crimes against sex workers seriously either…the people in power are too busy raping and beating on sex workers themselves.

  79. Lynn
    Lynn March 4, 2009 at 11:42 pm |

    Al Sharpton. The real source of police corruption.

  80. Radfem
    Radfem March 5, 2009 at 12:38 am |

    what proof is there that the cops did this? some other cop who was probably paid off by al sharpton? innocent till proven guilty. anything else is spitting in the face of the nypd who risk life and limb every day.

    So police officers are credible until they tell on other police officers?

    Any officer who beats someone who’s handcuffed, who kills his fiancee because she wouldn’t commit to a wedding date, who robs banks, who sodomizes men in police stations and in subway stations, sexually assaults people, and engages in illegal conduct (and all these are examples of recent conduct involving NYPD officers), spit on the face of good law enforcement. But you always get those who believe that if you criticize bad officers and want them to be held accountable, you’re endangering the profession.

    It amazes me that it’s the officers who engage in misconduct that always enjoy the most protection and support. Well, maybe it used to.

  81. Natalia
    Natalia March 5, 2009 at 5:39 am |

    William has brought up an excellent point about the so-called “war on drugs” in the States. Revolutionizing the police force must start with a more productive approach to this issue. Too bad that for most public officials, talking about these things amounts to career suicide.

    It’s good to remember that the police don’t just police us – they police each other. Stand up to a fellow officer and it’s most likely that you’ll end up getting branded a snitch, or worse. It becomes a cycle.

    I think that having a good police force is very important, to any society. I grew up in a lawless country (that lawlessness hasn’t really gone away either), and I can’t help but think how much easier life could have been with decent law enforcement. Paying off cops (who then half-assedly do their job) sucks. If you don’t have money or connections, you’re forced to take matters into your own hands. That sucks even more.

    Obviously, the issues surrounding this rape probably have very little to do with money – and everything to do with a culture of violence. I am thinking about that junior police officer now – instead of being told that he did the right thing, he’s probably terrified of retaliation from his buddies. I’m sure the victim is probably terrified as well. It does indeed point to a broken system.

    Now, I’m thinking – why shouldn’t police academies involve more intellectual pursuits? My cousin in Ukraine went to the Academy of Internal Affairs – by the end of it he knew how to shoot a gun and secure a crime scene and so on, but he also had a law degree. He could choose between staying on the force as a detective – or go into the private sector (unsurprisingly, he ended up choosing the latter within a year or so).

    My cousin’s example, despite the fact that it looks bad for the force overall, makes me think about making the police force be more than a magnet for power and control (I’m not saying that all of it is – but that’s the side that is often “sold” to potential cops) – you could also make the job itself more appealing to a wide spectrum of people who otherwise wouldn’t join the force. They would receive valuable training that could prepare them for all sorts of career paths, but could, potentially, make it attractive to stay on the force.

    And then you just might end up with an improved force, overall.

  82. AMM
    AMM March 5, 2009 at 9:27 am |

    Re: Training

    At one point, we had an au pair from the UK who was planning to be a police officer (in the UK.) She told us that she was shocked by how little training US (in our case, New York) police officers get. In the UK, it’s several years of full-time training; here (NYC? NY State?), it’s 6 months, IIRC.

    One difference is that in many countries, training and standards are set by the national government, whereas in the US, they are set by the state or even the local government. I have the impression that, in some areas of the US, the police don’t have to have any formal training at all, but I hope someone will correct me if I’m wrong.

  83. William
    William March 5, 2009 at 11:00 am |

    AMM:

    It doesn’t really matter how much training you provide, you’ll never develop a class that will give a sociopath empathy or cure a hard-on for power. Having more government mandated training for cops might increase their understanding of procedure, but its important to understand that the government is going to train in areas the government would like to see better performance. Protection of civil rights isn’t too high up that list for any government.

    What we need in this country is to recruit police who are more likely to be educated, well rounded, stable, mature individuals. Right now the biggest hurdle anyone faces to becoming a cop is being able to run a mile in a given period of time, lifting a certain amount of weight, and finding the right connections to get onto the force. After that the formal training they receive is going to be the formal training that the police department has decided they need. How on earth can you trust a government that set these kinds of animals loose on it’s own people to train the horror out of the system that has served them so well?

  84. Emily
    Emily March 5, 2009 at 2:29 pm |

    I think bruce goldensteinberg’s comment 83 should be deleted. It’s not even at all engaging in good faith.

  85. Cara
    Cara March 5, 2009 at 2:33 pm |

    You’re right, Emily — not sure how that got there, but you’re right that there was no suggestion of good faith whatsoever. It’s gone.

  86. anonymous
    anonymous May 11, 2009 at 8:48 pm |

    I think that it is easy to jump to the conclusion that COPS are bad because that is what you see in the news. Corruption is reported in the news, business as usual is not.

    Fair is fair, if they repeatedly prove to us they’re bad, then they will be considered bad. Btw the mainstream media doesn’t even report the half of it. Follow Injust_Seattle on twitter.com for a week. You will NOT believe the extent of police abuse in this country.

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