Guns, Cops and Video

December 4, 2014

solar-flare-tessa-hunt-woodlandSuper-bright sunshine this Thursday morning on California’s north coast, or maybe the luminosity appears intense after the last few days of thick clouds and rain.
We’re still forecast for rain showers today, and heavy downpour called for tomorrow and on into the weekend — and we’re also in a Coastal Flood Advisory, which indicate offshore winds and the tide could generate flooding in low-lying areas, especially in Arcata, but not where I’m currently sitting on my ass. We’re at nearly 200 feet above sea level, up on a cliff.

Down south, though, the recent heavy rains have required authorities to rescue about 40 people from various weather-related incidents around the region, including: ‘A woman in one car was “hanging out of the passenger side of her vehicle screaming for help…”

(Illustration: Tessa Hunt-Woodland‘s ‘Solar Flare,’ found here).

Well-beyond the weather, the continuing shit-news today is police shooting/choking to death of certain people — i.e., Michael Brown, and now Eric Garner — without as much as any type rebuke. Police work has become a shoot-first, ask what-the-problem is afterwards. A lot of this most-likely stems from the horrible fright engineered by George Jr. and his asshole buddies after Sept. 11, 2001, in which terror lurked everywhere. And the transformation of our local police departments to military occupation-forces, complete with the hardware.
And this morning, an item that reveals how fucked the cops — via the Guardian:

The police department that oversaw protests in Ferguson over the death of Michael Brown attracted new criticism on Thursday after weighing in clumsily on the fatal police shooting of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy in Ohio who was playing with a replica gun.
In a Facebook post headed “Kids will be Kids?”, St Louis County police told parents to warn their children that if they prompted an emergency call by playing with toy guns in public, “police will respond as though it is a real gun”.
The post was linked to from the department’s Twitter account.
“Pellet guns and Airsoft guns should not be allowed to be played with throughout the neighbourhood, common grounds, or used to threaten or intimidate people,” said the post, which was written by officer Aaron Dilks from the City of Fenton precinct.
The post met with widespread dismay on social media.
“Insanity,” wrote Shaun King, an activist and writer. “Stranger than fiction that they’d do this.”

A freakish pile of bullshit…
Of course, the FB post and the Tweet have both been since deleted. Yet a lot of all this is racist, pure and simple. And this age of rapid high-tech video has become part of the fabric of the whole cloth — an encounter on Thanksgiving Day in Pontiac, Mich, in which a black man was questioned by police because supposedly he was walking with his hands in his pockets thus does allow:

In a reflection of how both police and civilians are increasingly sensitized to recording their encounters after the August shooting of Michael Brown, the videos show the white deputy pulling out his iPhone and pressing record after the black man, Brandon Mckean, started to record the encounter on his own phone.

Blowback coming down in the Internet age: ‘The video was viewed 4.4 million times on Facebook and 736,000 times on YouTube, which is a longer version of the encounter.’

However, the use of cameras may make a difference in being civil. The Garner illegal-stranglehold was caught on video, and nix the result. Cameras on cops maybe will help with being nice to people, and to each other — like the cop and the black guy in Pontiac, Mich.

“Although advocates and critics have made numerous claims regarding body-worn cameras, there have been few balanced discussions of the benefits and problems associated with the technology and even fewer discussions of the empirical evidence supporting or refuting those claims,” wrote Michael D White, an Arizona State University criminology professor, for the Department of Justice.
“The overwhelming theme from this review is the lack of available research on the technology.”
One of the most-cited studies on the subject comes from the Rialto, California police department, where researchers found a 59 percent reduction in use of force by officers and an 88 percent reduction in complaints against officers when body cameras were in use.
White called this a “civilizing” effect.
Two UK studies, one in Plymouth and another in Aberdeen, found similar results.

Anything would help.

The Ferguson, MO, shooting, though, has opened a hole in the police shooting racket, and the sight beyond ain’t pretty.
Yesterday, from the Wall Street Journal:

A Wall Street Journal analysis of the latest data from 105 of the country’s largest police agencies found more than 550 police killings during those years were missing from the national tally or, in a few dozen cases, not attributed to the agency involved.
The result: It is nearly impossible to determine how many people are killed by the police each year.
Public demands for transparency on such killings have increased since the August shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown by police in Ferguson, Mo.
The Ferguson Police Department has reported to the FBI one justifiable homicide by police between 1976 and 2012.
Law-enforcement experts long have lamented the lack of information about killings by police.
“When cops are killed, there is a very careful account and there’s a national database,” said Jeffrey Fagan, a law professor at Columbia University.
“Why not the other side of the ledger?”

Those internal figures show at least 1,800 police killings in those 105 departments between 2007 and 2012, about 45 percent more than the FBI’s tally for justifiable homicides in those departments’ jurisdictions, which was 1,242, according to the Journal’s analysis.
Nearly all police killings are deemed by the departments or other authorities to be justifiable.
The full national scope of the underreporting can’t be quantified.
In the period analyzed by the Journal, 753 police entities reported about 2,400 killings by police.
The large majority of the nation’s roughly 18,000 law-enforcement agencies didn’t report any.
“Does the FBI know every agency in the U.S. that could report but has chosen not to? The answer is no,” said Alexia Cooper, a statistician with the Bureau of Justice Statistics who studies the FBI’s data.
“What we know is that some places have chosen not to report these, for whatever reason.”

The situation might be too far gone to actually make a difference, unless it’s extreme. But the technology at least might lower the odds a bit.

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