In this article of Police Brutality, we will be using the Trivium Method of Thinking (Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric) to address a very real problem with Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs). Grammar is discovering and ordering facts of reality to comprise basic, systematic knowledge. Logic is to develop the faculty of reasoning in establishing valid, non-contradictory understanding of the facts. Rhetoric is applying knowledge and understanding expressively to comprise wisdom or, in other words, it is systematically usable knowledge and understanding.
Part 1: Grammar
Most Americans cannot deny the rise in police brutality and killings over recent years. We can all site multiple instances brutality and murder cases that spanned throughout our lives. It is a hot button topic that is highly contested by both sides because they have legitimate emotional investments.
Those who support LEOs, whether they are right or wrong, have been helped, saved or have had family members who are LEOs. Those experiences involving LEOs, or having family members in those ranks, will always side on the LEOs side when their safety is concerned; wouldn’t you want them to be safe? One of my favorite family members is a cop. I don’t want him to die, but that doesn’t stop me from trying to talk him out of the job. We all have an innate desire to have security for ourselves and for those we love.
Those of us who are upset with corrupt LEOs and their practices have experiences rooting in reality as those who support all LEOs. We have had personal harassment, friends and loved ones who are beaten and arrested on victimless trumped up charges, and even been a part of families of unarmed human beings, who are not a threat, but still murdered at the hands of an officer that would later be found to have acted within “Police Department procedure.” No one in their right mind could argue that these victims don’t deserve justice.
We want to take a moment to say that WE DO NOT HATE COPS. We understand the need for policing agencies. Even in an Anarchist society communities and individuals would be free to hire people with the purpose of insuring the Non-Aggression Principle (NAP) is not violated. We hate actions of individuals that violate human rights and we are against monopolies of force. We will not be pulled into collectivizing an entire group of people because of their costumes, or better known term - uniforms.
With that said there are a myriad of statistical, philosophical and practical reasons to be incredibly angry with the police system and most of those in it. We have become disenfranchised by those who claim to be our protectors. The Grammar of the situation is tricky. There is no unbiased complete data on police brutality due to self-governing and voluntary reporting which is a direct conflict of interest.
According to F.B.I. Director James Comey:
“Not long after riots broke out in Ferguson late last summer, I asked my staff to tell me how many people shot by police were African-American in this country. I wanted to see trends. I wanted to see information. They couldn’t give it to me, and it wasn’t their fault. Demographic data regarding officer-involved shootings is not consistently reported to us through our Uniform Crime Reporting Program. Because reporting is voluntary, our data is incomplete and therefore, in the aggregate, unreliable”
We question every statement from a person of power. We looked into Mr. Comey’s claim and he is correct. The F.B.I. does publish a report for “justifiable homicides” by police, but the information for said report is again, all voluntary.
In the words of James Comey:
“He said he didn’t know whether the Ferguson police shot one person a week, one a year, or one a century, and that in the absence of good data”
D. Brian Burghart, the editor and publisher of the Reno News & Review, has been trying to keep record of every police shooting for the past several years and had this to say about the lack of data:
“Don’t you find it spookey? This is information, this is the government’s job,” Burghart said. “One of the government’s major jobs is to protect us. How can it protect us if it doesn’t know what the best practices are? If it doesn’t know if one local department is killing people at a higher rate than others? When it can’t make decisions based on real numbers to come up with best practices? That to me is an abdication of responsibilities.”
Now we don’t necessarily agree with his obvious statism, at the federal level, but he does raise a good point. Without proper data how can we come to any sort of conclusion?
To put the final nail in the coffin of the current state of the data about Police Brutality, Jim Fisher, a former FBI agent and criminal justice professor has compiled the most complete data on the subject thus far, had this to say:
“I was rather surprised to find there are no statistics,” Fisher said. “The answer to me is pretty obvious: the government just doesn’t want us to know how many people are shot by the police every year.”
Unfortunately, the lack of data will not help us reach the Logic of the problem. So, what data do we have that could help us understand the “why”? Training.
One of the very first things a new recruit will be taught is what is commonly referred to as “The first rule of law enforcement.” It was popularized in the movie, The Untouchables. The rule is basic; make sure that you go home at the end of the day and always be on guard because “complacency kills.” Recruits will be shown videos of cops being beaten or killed for the sole purpose of scaring them into the incredibly flawed logic of “Better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6” with every single interaction they have regardless of the individual.
Think about that for a moment. According to that logical fallacy, in the context of their training, it is better to murder an innocent person than to chance the risk of being murdered by a criminal. Is it really? It’s better to be arrested, tried, convicted, torn from your family, which you can no longer support, and have your children live with the fact their parent is in jail for murder, than to die a hero? Neither is desired or optimal but either way you are not going to be there for your loved ones and as a bonus you killed an innocent person.
Immoral training goes further than that. At continuing education seminars around the country, civil forfeiture experts are not only encouraging LEOs to use the practice but offering advice on the best property to seize. In fact, at a conference in Santa Fe, a police officer took the opportunity to belittle forfeiture’s potential impact on the guiltless by attacking the entire concept of an “innocent owner”— someone who has no knowledge his property is being used to commit a crime. Consider a man arrested for soliciting a prostitute while driving his wife’s car. In seizing the car police are, in effect, punishing the innocent betrayed wife.
This is not a hypothetical situation but an actual Supreme Court case. As many as four out of every five seized vehicles are driven by somebody other than the owner. A statutory “innocent owner” defense is often the only way to win back the car (or home, in some cases). Furthermore in a Firearms and Training Simulator (FATS), which police use to train for the “use of force” is designed to teach the officer to kill or die. In an interview with The Free Thought Project, whistleblower cop Alex Salazar gives important insight into this training when he explains:
“These scenarios are designed to make any person fail and to cause them to believe there are no other options. He had no taser, baton or any other less than lethal weapons. What about kicking the big guy in the nuts, waiting for backup, or tasering him. The profession of law enforcement is difficult at times, but the excessive brainwashing on a daily basis taking place, that you may die, is too extreme and gives many the belief it is OK to use deadly force. In many of these situations, Tamir Rice or Andy Lopez comes to mind, these officer’s just wanted to plain shoot and kill.”
Salazar went on to say, “It’s a brainwashing mechanism to get you over to their side, to start thinking about killing. In what they call the ‘FATS simulator’, you are automatically designed to DIE… Yes it’s a game and useful for training… (But, Also) It has nothing to do with training. Every recruit, I don’t care if they’re an ex-badass Navy Seal… everyone dies.”
According to the factual data about police training our “Peace Officers” are being trained to fear you, to take your most expensive property and if you resist, to murder you ("justifiably" of course). Some of you might be saying to yourselves:
“But, being a cop is dangerous and they should be trained to stay safe.”
You will get no argument from us about staying safe. Everyone has the right to self-defense, but dangerous? We’ll agree LEOs can get into some pretty dangerous situations, but how dangerous is it? Well in 2013 the garbage industry there were 327 on the job deaths. How many LEOs lost their lives? 97… So being a cop in 2013 was less dangerous than throwing garbage.
Here is a list of the 10 Deadliest Jobs: Deaths per 100,000 (as of 2013) 1. Logging workers: 128.8 2. Fishers and related fishing workers: 117 3. Aircraft pilot and flight engineers: 53.4 4. Roofers: 40.5 5. Structural iron and steel workers: 37 6. Refuse and recyclable material collectors: 27.1 7. Electrical power-line installers and repairers: 23 8. Drivers/sales workers and truck drivers: 22.1 9. Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers: 21.3 10. Construction laborers: 17.4
And where do LEOs fall? In 2013, out of approximately 900,000 sworn officers, 97 died from a job-related injury. That's about 11.1 per 100,000, or a rate of 0.01%. Bear in mind not all officer fatalities are homicides. Out of the 100 deaths in 2013, 31 were shot, 11 were struck by a vehicle, 2 were stabbed, and 1 died in a "bomb-related incident." Other causes of death were: aircraft accident (1), automobile accident (28), motorcycle accident (4), falling (6), drowning (2), electrocution (1), and job-related illness (13). Far from justifying current levels of Police Brutality.
The dangers of being a police officer has been on a steady decline for decades. The last thing we would like to bring up about training is profiling. We’re all aware of racial profiling of minorities, but today we have illogical profiling of Muslims. We are not against profiling as a science, profiling techniques like, micro-expression training, body language and other psychological means of identifying suspects. Crimes must happen first before a profile can be created, which is the opposite of how LEOs are trained.
As an example for 16 years, "mad bomber" George Metesky eluded New York City police. Metesky planted more than 30 small bombs around the city between 1940 and 1956, hitting movie theaters, phone booths and other public areas.
In 1956, the frustrated investigators asked psychiatrist James Brussel, New York State's assistant commissioner of mental hygiene, to study crime scene photos and notes from the bomber. Brussel came up with a detailed description of the suspect. He would be unmarried, foreign, self-educated, in his 50s, living in Connecticut, paranoid and with a vendetta against Con Edison; the first bomb had targeted the power company's 67th street headquarters.
While some of Brussel's predictions were simply common sense, others were based on psychological ideas. For instance, he said that because paranoia tends to peak around age 35, the bomber, 16 years after his first bomb, would now be in his 50s. The profile proved dead on as it led police right to Metesky, who was arrested in January 1957 and confessed immediately.
Today, we aren’t seeing actual psychiatrists or psychologists being called in as an impartial 3rd party to make an unbiased assessment. We’re seeing front line LEOs being trained to hate and distrust Muslims, and by default anyone who looks Muslim, like Sikhs. This is due to the turban. A turban is used as a head covering by many cultures in Africa. Only the high officials in Islam wear turbans and Hindu priests wear turbans as well. Identifying people wearing a turban as a terrorist and making them a target of hatred is completely and morally wrong.
In 2010 at Broward College in Davie, Florida, about sixty police officers and other frontline LEOs gathered in a lecture hall for a course on combating terrorism in the Sunshine State. The instructor, Sam Kharoba, described how he would teach his audience the fundamentals of Islam. “We constantly hear statements,” Kharoba began, “that Islam is a religion of peace, and we constantly hear of jihadists who are trying to kill as many non-Muslims as they can.” Kharoba’s course would establish for his students that one of these narratives speaks to a deep truth about Islam, and the other is a calculated lie.
In this class Kharoba said. “Would Islam be tolerated if everyone knew its true message?” he then asked the class. “From a Muslim perspective, do you want non-Muslims to know the truth about Islam?”
“No!” came the audience reply.
“So what do Muslims do?” Kharoba demanded.
Kharoba strode forward to the front of the room. “Islam is a highly violent radical religion that mandates that all of the earth must be Muslim.”
Kharboa then asked, “You remember the Alligator Alley incident?”.
He was referring to the events of September 13, 2002, when three Middle Eastern men at a Shoney’s restaurant in Calhoun, Georgia were overheard talking about “bringing it down” to Miami. A nearby diner became alarmed contacted the Georgia highway patrol. In what became a terrorist scare with national coverage, the police pulled the three men over on Alligator Alley, the long section of Interstate 75 that cuts west across Florida. For thirteen hours, the police combed the vehicle for explosives finding zero evidence of anything terrorist or criminally related.
Kharoba projected a picture of Ayman Gheith, one of the arrested men, onto the screen. “The first thing is facial hair,” Kharoba said. “Do you see how the moustache is trimmed, and the beard is in a cone shape? It is very common to have this beard, and the moustache will always be the same, just like Muhammad.”
There is only one problem with the Alligator Alley case — a problem Kharoba never mentioned to the class. The incident was a false alarm. The “terrorists” turned out to be medical students on their way to a conference in Miami. They were unquestionably innocent. After thirteen hours of interrogation the police released them with a “my bad” and a pat on the ass. Kharoba, however, taught the class that Ayman Gheith was a “textbook case” of Islamic fanaticism.
So, we have one question about this type of teaching. Can we hire actual experts instead people like Kharoba? He had no professional experience in law enforcement, no academic training in terrorism or national security, and is not a Muslim. Kharoba is a Jordanian-born Christian that was able to turn his place of birth into a selling and talking point. When Alternet.org asked the dean of the Institute of Public Safety why she recruited Kharoba to teach there, her answer was that Kharoba “put the flavor of Middle Eastern culture into it.”
Kharoba is an especially colorful character, but he is in some ways typical of the kinds of people who have migrated into the police counterterrorism training business. Many have limited background in U.S. counterterrorism and domestic law enforcement with little patience for the rules and conventions that govern both fields.
So, just a quick recap: Objectively, police are being trained to fear every interaction with a “citizen”, regardless of their innocence or guilt, on the false premise that their job is one of the most dangerous profession that an individual can have. They are also being trained (for the lack of a better term) to steal from the average American. They are being trained with immoral instructions on how to profile. This information alone leads to even more questions about why and how this is happening. Especially since it is safer to be an officer now than ever before since the 1900’s.
Another piece of Grammar that we need to address is the philosophy behind police. We can start with the clichéd motto “To protect and serve.” It’s a nice slogan, but what does it really mean?
Protect comes directly from Late Latin protectionem (nominative protectio) "a covering over," noun of action from protegere "protect, cover in front," from pro- "in front" + tegere "to cover".
Now things get interesting with serve. Serve comes from Latin servire "be a servant, be in service, be enslaved;" figuratively "be devoted; be governed by; comply with; conform; flatter," originally "be a slave," related to servus "slave".
So the phrase, “To protect and serve” can be said to mean; “To stand in front to provide cover and to be a servant (or slave).” The question we need to ask now is; to stand and cover whom and to be a servant or slave to who? Have they become the shields and slaves for the corrupt?
We will end this part of the article with a reiteration. WE DO NOT HATE POLICE, but just like anyone who is in a position of authority or entrusted to make snap decisions about people’s safety, they must be held to a higher standard. Right now as it stands their ethical bar is set to a lower standard than it is for us.
In part 2 of this article we’ll attack the Logic (or lack thereof) behind militarization and the rise of police brutality.