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Author Topic: Serve and protect?
terra1st
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 4605

posted 05 January 2004 06:03 PM      Profile for terra1st     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Good Lord!

cops in the news just today:

Chief mum on Estevan police suspensions
http://sask.cbc.ca/regional/servlet/View?filename=suspensions040105

Ex-mayor testifies about Stonechild rumours
http://www.cbc.ca/stories/2004/01/05/stonechild_witness040105

No jail time for Vancouver police officers
http://www.cbc.ca/stories/2004/01/05/vancouver_police040105

And these three cases have nothing to do with demonstrations or protesters, unionists, queer spaces, or anything else that the public sees as overly "political" (with the stonechild case being a bit of an exception, the average person doesn't equate racism with politics)

meanwhile there's always more... when will it end? what will it take to stop police corruption?

and beyond this, just when does the average public just start to realize that the cops aren't there to serve and protect (anyone but the rich)? Hell, what will it take for the 'soft' left to realize this?


From: saskatoon | Registered: Oct 2003  |  IP: Logged
arborman
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 4372

posted 05 January 2004 07:33 PM      Profile for arborman     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Well, there have been two times in my life when I have thought:

"Oh Thank God, there's a cop!"

Those times, I was very appreciative of the existence of a police force.

There were about 50 times (in my younger years) when I thought:

"Oh Shit! Cops! Eat that joint!"

Those times, I was very unappreciative of the existence of foolish laws, enforced by people with more authority than critical thinking skills.

The problem is, we DO need police. The other problem is, when you give any group a strong authority role, combined with a set of laws that force them to categorize people into 'good' and 'bad', there will be abuses. Our role in a democratic society is to ensure that the abuses are caught and eliminated, and that we continually work to ensure that police, like any other group with the right to use weapons, is under strong oversight and is VERY accountable.

That doesn't always happen, and that sucks. The solution is NOT to get rid of police.


From: I'm a solipsist - isn't everyone? | Registered: Aug 2003  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
Moderator
Babbler # 560

posted 05 January 2004 07:38 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
What arborman said.
From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Rufus Polson
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posted 06 January 2004 03:36 AM      Profile for Rufus Polson     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
An additional problem is organizational.
The cops in this country (and many) are organized in a quasi-military structure. Leaving aside the question of whether even militaries should be organized the way they are, any resemblance between policework and the needs of the military are superficial at best, while the differences are profound.
The key characteristic that military organization is supposed to give to militaries is speedy decisiveness on a large scale. When there's a battle happening, it is often more important that a decision be made and followed through vigorously than that exactly the right decision be found. The command structure of the military is designed to allow the decisions of leadership to be followed instantly, before the situation changes and the decisions become irrelevant. Most other considerations are subordinated to this requirement for instant, vigorous response to contingencies.
Good policework, although it requires a good capacity for quick small-scale reaction, does not require a military-style chain of command any more than ambulance work or taxi service does. Aside from 911 responses and some aspects of patrolling, it's quite the contrary: good policework requires precision and patience, getting things right. In a way it's a lot like field sociology and/or archaeology, where if you get it wrong you can expect the scientific community (i.e. defense lawyers and judges) to shred the discrepancies in your findings/evidence.
I would suggest that not only does military-style organization in the police have the nasty side effect of pushing its members towards thuggery, it also worsens the quality of police work in other ways--tending to make them push for quick, decisive "fixes" rather than work patiently to find the right solution. Often, these quick, decisive "fixes" involve thuggery. Often, they involve rearranging evidence to nab the suspect they've got rather than going to the trouble of continuing to follow up evidence until they can be reasonably sure they've got the real culprit. Often, they involve designating broad groups as the enemy rather than taking a more detailed, balanced assessment. This kind of thing is worsened not only by the military tendency to value speed and decisiveness, but also by the military practise of exaggerating the distinction between in-group ("the unit", "the outfit") and out-group ("perps", "wogs", and more broadly "everyone else"). In this way it kind of mirrors organized crime groups and biker gangs. The profession of police officer tends to breed a sort of paranoia that sees everyone as a criminal; the military-style insularity encourages and deepens this attitude.

And of course the lack of anybody custodying the custodes doesn't help a whole lot. It allows these tendencies to continue being reinforced rather than being corrected.

The police need a flatter, looser organizational style. They also need outfits to watch the watchmen.


From: Caithnard College | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged
arborman
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posted 06 January 2004 03:38 AM      Profile for arborman     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
What Rufus said too.
From: I'm a solipsist - isn't everyone? | Registered: Aug 2003  |  IP: Logged
Tommy_Paine
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posted 06 January 2004 04:27 AM      Profile for Tommy_Paine     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
The solution is NOT to get rid of police.

Quite right.

But I don't think the solution lies with making new laws or new oversight bodies.

The laws are on the books already. We just need those in the administration of justice to apply them in a less corrupt manner.

When various agents of the state, be they CIU, judges or the Crown act in such a way that they effectively put police officers above the law, they violate everyone's rights.

[ 06 January 2004: Message edited by: Tommy_Paine ]


From: The Alley, Behind Montgomery's Tavern | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Mr. Magoo
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posted 06 January 2004 10:48 AM      Profile for Mr. Magoo   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
and beyond this, just when does the average public just start to realize that the cops aren't there to serve and protect (anyone but the rich)? Hell, what will it take for the 'soft' left to realize this?

This sounds a little like you aren't looking for reform within the law enforcement system so much as to get rid of it altogether. If so, what do you suggest we replace it with? I've asked this of anarchists in the past and received no answer. Do you have one? Vigilante groups? Every man for himself? Just wait for the utopia to kick in and everybody will be so blissed out that crime will disappear all on its own?


From: ø¤°`°¤ø,¸_¸,ø¤°`°¤ø,¸_¸,ø¤°°¤ø,¸_¸,ø¤°°¤ø, | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged
arborman
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posted 06 January 2004 09:03 PM      Profile for arborman     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Of the two occasions on which I was very happy to see a police car, one of them was about 30 seconds before myself and 3 friends were going to be swarmed by about 15 people, some of whom had baseball bats etc. I am not exaggerating, and since that point I have been very aware of how much I appreciate the existence of police, although I often am outraged by the behaviour of individual officers, or even by entire forces (i.e. the Vancouver P.D)

If it is the structure of policing that needs changing to help minimise corruption and thuggery, fine. If it is more oversight, fine. I suspect it is a combination of options.

Utopian ideals of removing the police force altogether tend to assume that we will be able to get along fine without them.

If they are utopian leftist, they assume everyone will be friendlier and more respectful once we are free of the yoke of intimidation. Possible, but it's a hell of a gamble.

If they are utopian rightists, they assume everyone will be able to defend themselves. Usually this has some hazy images of showdowns at high noon or something. It usually doesn't reflect the image of the female rape victim etc.

I know that if there had been no police when that swarm of kids with weapons was about to do me and my friends serious harm, we may well have been killed or seriously maimed. No utopianism there, it was pure terrotorialism (we were from out of town). If we had been armed ourselves, chances are there would have been an awful slaughter (probably of us, depending on relative firepower and ability I assume). Either way, I'd be screwed, along with many others.

With that in mind, I'll stick with our current flawed, though better than nothing, police system. I will support efforts to improve it, of course, there is a LOT of room for improvement.


From: I'm a solipsist - isn't everyone? | Registered: Aug 2003  |  IP: Logged

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