The increasing militarization of police has had profound social ramifications across the United States, as citizens increasingly feel threatened by those sworn to protect them. Beyond the social fallout, a recent Associated Press investigation skims the surface of the financial impact of police excesses over the previous decade.
In typical Associated Press misdirection, a video accompanies the article, which literally has nothing to do with what is written around it. The original title of the article is ambiguous, "AP Investigation: Nearly $1B in NYC Police Payouts." If one were only to watch the video, one would assume that the $1B somehow has been paid out in counterterrorism operations, as the video focuses on a "dirty bomb" patrol boat protecting the UN building. Strange. However, the article itself does possess a few kernels of truth.
According to the AP investigation into the NYPD:
Nearly $1 billion has been paid over the past decade to resolve claims against the nation's largest police department . . . the total spending outstrips that of other U.S. cities, though some smaller cities and departments also shell out tens of millions of dollars a year in payouts.
These payouts often are due to provable wrongdoing by individuals, yet ultimately fall on the taxpayer according to the report, as "officers themselves don't usually bear personal responsibility." It is precisely this lack of personal responsibility which contributes to the overall impact on society. There are countless examples of police who have been repeatedly cited for brutality and other ethics violations being protected by the "thin blue line" of the supposed police honor code that too often protects their fraternity above protecting the public.
The AP investigation deflects the payouts as being "less than the cost of insurance," but misses the point that this growing problem threatens to destabilize an already weakened trust in police that has more to do with failed police training and testing requirements than it does the legal system or a "litigious" atmosphere where, "Some law firms have made it their business to sue the city."
The public has been hoodwinked to believe that an increasing number of violent encounters over non-violent offenses is due to the "heat of the moment" or some type of combat lingo more appropriate to foreign war-time environments. What would people think if firemen responded to a house fire and instead of putting out the fire, came in with gasoline? They would rightly think poor training, or psychopathic behavior. It's a simplistic analogy, but accurate when one considers the AP's own example of police raining 50 bullets on a car carrying an unarmed man and his two friends following a bachelor party. The justification? The car didn't stop as ordered, and police "thought the men were armed." That's it? Proper hiring and training practices -- physical, emotional, intellectual, and cultural -- never would have permitted this to happen. Police are supposed to be trained using standard "containment" exercises for both vehicles and domiciles specifically to identify who is armed and who is not. This particular lapse cost the city (taxpayers) $7 million.
A recent failed containment of psychopathic proportions just occurred in Phoenix, Arizona that perfectly illustrates both poor training and poor hiring practices. Officer Richard Chrisman (cited previously for "disciplinary problems") and his partner responded to a domestic dispute. Not minutes into the encounter, an unarmed man and his dog were both killed, after Chrisman allegedly shouted, "I don't need no warrant mother------." Phoenix must now wait and see how their tax dollars will be applied to this barbarity.
Now that police are being equipped with the lastest military gear, even better training is required to temper their new lethality. As the economy continues to implode, and citizens wish to peaceably assemble and demonstrate their distaste for a wide range of political and economic policies, more high-tension police encounters are inevitable. This goes far beyond the highlight case of NYC. An entire YouTube channel is dedicated to Cops Out of Control, with video evidence of horrendous abuse.
Citizens everywhere should engage their local police to tell them that they unequivocally support their courageous duty to public service, but will hold them personally accountable for any sign of brutality or misconduct. For those who wish to be active, Citizen Review Boards are gaining support. If it really is "a few bad apples" as they like to say, then it shouldn't be too difficult to identify and remove them.
The National Police Misconduct Feed is a great source to track daily reports, statistics, settlements, and pending cases.
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