Each panel of this cartoon shows the same white dude in an armchair, from the same angle, watching the news on TV. Small details change throughout the cartoon – his hairline recedes, his drink changes, he switches from watching an old-fashioned thick TV to watching on a laptop to watching on a flatscreen – but the essential scene never changes. The man doesn’t seem very interested in the news, and in one panel he even dozes off.
TV: In today’s news, Prince Jones, an unarmed Black man, was shot to death when police mistook him for another man.
TV: Alberta Sprull, an unarmed Black woman, was killed by a concussion grenade thrown during a police raid.
TV: …almost ten percent of young black men are in prison, most often for non-violent drug offenses.
TV: …police say that Stansbury, age 19, was shot “by accident.” The officer was suspended for 30 days.
TV: …judge acquitted three officers who fired fifty shots into the car of Sean Bell, the night before Bell’s wedding.
TV: …despite economic growth, Black unemployment remains nearly twice as high as unemployment for whites…
TV: Deaunta Farrow, age 12, was shot when… Tarika Wilson, age 26…
This panel is divided into 17 sub-panels, getting smaller and smaller as they go on, implying a potentially endless number of panels. In each panel, the TV is speaking.
TV: …Oscar Grant was handcuffed face-down when police… Shem Walker… Kiwane Carrington… Manuel Loggins Jr…. Rekia Boyd… Reynaldo Cuevas… Kimani Gray… Eric Garner… Freddie Gray….
Suddenly the white dude looks engaged and outraged, leaping up from the armchair and pointing furiously at the TV.
TV: Private Property was damaged today when a protest turned into a riot…
DUDE: OH THE TRAGEDY!
* * *
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The third panel strikes me as questionable. The BJS document “Prisoners in 2013” is a good resource for statistics on this topic. Imprisonment rates for black men peak in the 30-34 age range, at a rate of 6.7%. Furthermore, 58% of black state prisoners are in for violent crime, with only 16% in for drug crimes. Federal prisoners are more likely to be in for drug crimes, but even assuming that every single black federal prisoner is in prison for drug crimes, there are still nearly twice as many black men in state and federal prison for violent crime than for drug crimes.
Now, sentences for violent crimes tend to be longer than sentences for drug crimes, so maybe if we look at the number of prison stays rather than the number of current prisoners, we can say that there are more prison stays for drug offenses than for violent crimes. Maybe. But I don’t have the statistics for that, and I don’t think that’s the natural interpretation of what the comic actually says.
While I oppose the drug war, I think a lot of my fellow travelers promise too much. The reality is that our prisons are mostly full of real criminals who committed real crimes, not innocent drug users. The war on drugs is a major factor in our high (heh) prison population, but it’s not The Reason our rate of imprisonment is high, and it would still be the far and away the highest in any first-world country if we released every non-violent drug offender tomorrow.
Brandon: I’m not sure how much I trust this site, but it has the same number as you for state prisons, 16%, but 51% for the federal prison population, so I’m assuming that Barry missed the “federal” bit from wherever he got his statistic. I also read “most often” as ambiguous whether it was referring to frequency or duration of prison sentences.
The Bureau of Prisons says 49% are in prison for drug offenses, but it doesn’t specify nonviolent drug offenses. (The 49% vs 51% may be due to different time periods.)
It is true that prison reform advocates often oversell what can be done just by modifying the sentences of nonviolent offenders.
I consider all this a fairly minor point in the context of the comic as a whole, though–the shootings are much more central to it, than the prison stats, IMO.
Yes and no.
At sentencing, the judge considers criminal history as part of the sentencing factors. For a given violent crime, an unrelated drug crime can still increase the criminal history score and therefore lengthen the sentence even if the defendant is not actually any more violent or any more dangerous. Similarly, the likelihood that a given violent crime will be investigated or prosecuted is higher for defendants who have a prior record (cops and prosecutors focus resources on “badder guys,”) which is another way that drug crimes can increase sentences in a non-obvious way.
Sentencing is brutally cumulative.
Say that you get arrested for being in a minor fight: a potential small assault charge. The court is deciding whether to offer the case to be “filed.” (This is an outcome where you stay out of trouble for a year and the case gets dismissed.)
The likelihood of that offering goes way down if you have a prior record. Even minor priors (possession; public urination; etc.) can make it less likely that the case will be filed.
But once you fail to get that filing then you end up with an assault on your record. At THAT point you are in a whole different sentencing category in the future. But the fact is that this sort of thing can often stem from minor illegality which happens very early in your life.
If you were to ask citizens whether “people with prior assaults” should be in jail they would say yes. But I doubt that many people realize how many assaulters are NOT in jail, because they have no priors. And I doubt many people know how many defendants end up in jail because of the ancillary effect of non-assault crimes.
I had a source when I wrote the cartoon, but that was weeks ago and I didn’t save whatever it was I was looking at. As ClosetPuritan says, getting this panel wrong doesn’t undermine the cartoon as a whole, but I’d still prefer to be accurate. So I think what I should do is rewrite that panel.
How about “Black men are six times as likely as white men to be sent to prison. Over forty percent are sentenced for non-violent crimes”? The sources are this Pew Research page, and the BJS document (pdf link) that Brandon cited.
I don’t quite get the cartoon.
Is this most white people (except for Ampersand and Richard Jeffrey Newman and other white people on this board)?
Most white people could care less if someone gets shot – especially a black guy? Who exactly are you talking about / trying to smear, Ampersand? Just general white men?
Amp, perhaps from here on out, in the description of your cartoons, you should include a note explaining whom you’re trying to smear. You could do the same should you attempt to vilify, besmirch, slander, denigrate, defame or sully.
Amp @6–that sounds like a good fix.
That’s a splendid idea, Grace!
I suspect Amp is trying to smear Some People.
More seriously, my coworkers usually avoid talking about politics, but these are the three instances where this general topic came up: one of them went on a long rant about the riots in which he explicitly said that the riots made him angry; another one made a comment to the effect of “Yeah, rioting, that’ll solve everything”; another pair blamed Eric Garner’s death on his being fat.
That still leaves unknown what most of my coworkers think, and I don’t know how common that attitude is among white people, or not-black people, overall, but based on my experiences, I do think people similar to what’s portrayed in the cartoon exist.
Yes, let’s please center discussion of this cartoon around how hard white people have it.
Of course, people like the ones in the cartoon exist. They are called the human species. It’s a good cartoon, and an insightful one. Most people exhibit the following behaviors:
– belief in the Just World Fallacy, or “They deserve what happened to them”. It is natural to enjoy believing that the people shot by the police were criminals, that they acted in a dangerous, or at least disrespectful manner, or at the very least, that the world is a better place without them.
– penchant for the Fallacy of Exclusion, or assuming that a particular behavior is only common to the group being discussed. Only the Black riot, or only illegal aliens, or only whoever it is that we are not.
– only sympathizing in we can put ourselves in someone else’s place. Because of all of the above, it is natural to think “It cannot happen to me” when it comes to be shot by a police officer. We would not act in a manner that would lead to being targeted by law enforcement, would we? But anyone can be burned out of their house by rioters, so of course this will get our attention… it’s not as if the ‘others’ will stay in their neighborhoods and mostly hurt themselves!
Normal, natural human behavior, just like shitting where the need finds you. Just as much something of which to be proud.
So yes, a cartoon like this has its use. Unless you believe that there are categories of humans who never act like this, who are always fair, who never enjoy the misfortune the others, who never assume the worse because of someone’s background… You racist/jingoist/sexist! (delete whatever is inappropriate)
As to why the bad guy is white, fit, male, financially secure (TV, laptop, flatscreen), higher class (drinks wine from the right glass), etc… Well what else would he be? If you make him anything else, you would be making a statement, and offending people. White, fit, affluent males won’t complain, we are too busy enjoying the proceeds from oppressing everyone else.
You know, I honestly can’t tell if that was irony, or if you meant it.
I actually think the cartoon would be more effective if you didn’t have the broad stuff in it, and stuck to the contrast of shootings versus rioting.
One benefit is that it would remove the “but those statistics aren’t right” discussion entirely. The other benefit is that those two panels are comparing super-broad and super-complex issues (unemployment, social views on prison and punishment**) with more limited issues like police shootings. That is very hard to do in the context of an editorial cartoon.
I think that the simple comparison is a stronger one. But that’s just my 0.02.
**Most obviously, the problem with those two examples, and the reason that there’s more apathy in those areas, is that educated people can’t even really agree on what has gone wrong with those things. Or what to do to fix them. To riff off your other thread, is the solution to high black unemployment: (a) raising minimum wage, so that employed blacks have better jobs if they can get them; or (b) lowering minimum wage, so there are more available “first step on the ladder” prospects for people with poor job skills and/or bad criminal histories, who are disproportionately POC? And so on.
I agree with G&W, the individual names and ages of the shooting victims had a much greater impact on me as I was reading than the panels with statistics. They seem to be the stronger of the two types of panels.
Hell, I came rather closer than I ever cared to once. Cold day in January in northern Illinois. Speeding, when I was young and not obviously affluent. I got out of my car (you did that then). Damn cold, did I say? No gloves, so my hands were in my pockets. Cop told me to take my hands out of my pockets. It was cold. I did not comply. Told me again. I did not immediately comply. In the next half second I got a good look at the muzzle of his gun. I stopped dead and, profusely apologizing, took my hands slowly out of my pockets. And continued to profusely apologize for scaring him.
If he’d of shot me it would have been my own damn fault.
You know, I read something really relevant on this point recently. Just a moment.
Ah yes, from tumblr:
I’ll add that it’s reactions like these that make the muscular anti-government rhetoric that underlies so much of the rhetoric of both conservatives and 2nd amendment absolutists ring so hollow to me.
“Yes, yes, yes, the government is the font of tyranny and we have to keep our guns to oppose them in the name of freedom. Unless of course there are government agents actually imposing tyranny. Then, if you don’t submit and you get shot it’s your own damn fault.”
Small world! I went to college with Bojill, and I saw that tumblr post of hers before. I fully share the concern over the apparent double standard.
 Does one “post” to Tumblr? Or is there a “tweet”-equivalent neologism?
This stuff just makes me tired.
This is a societal problem inextricably tied up in human factors which most people who comment don’t even try to understand. It’s not simple, and we’re not stupid. It’s not reducible to sound bites. It’s not going to be solved on Tumblr.
Yeah. Sure. I have “a license to overreact and shoot anything that moves”. That’s a fair characterization of the training officers get in the ethical and practical use of force. Now that we know, we can dispense with even the minimal training which the taxpayers currently grudgingly fund and replace it with a one-slide PowerPoint which reads, “Just shoot anything that moves” and we’ll get exactly the same results we’re getting now, because that’s a totally accurate representation of the police actions Ron describes in his anecdote.
Yes, you and G&W are right, that’s a good idea for this cartoon.
I’m getting real tired of people claiming that deadly force is the first reaction of trained law enforcement. In the recent high profile cases of police shootings we’ve seen it certainly wasn’t.
Yup, Myca, that’s what cops are doing when they pull you over for speeding (which I certainly was, BTW) and then ask you twice to take your hands out of your pockets so they can be sure you’re not getting ready to shoot them. Imposing tyranny. An astonishing misrepresentation of the incident I described, Myca.
Myca’s comment about what I described is an excellent illustration of why I am always so suspicious of claims of overreaction on the part of police officers by the media or by “community representatives” as soon as an incident is publicized but before the facts come out.
I’m not signing off on Myca’s closing comment about “muscular anti-government rhetoric.” I’ll leave that to him to address, if he cares to.
But since I did sign off on the “double standard” part, let me point out you said:
Would it have been your fault if you’d been deaf and unable to hear his instructions? As is claimed happened to these people? (http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2014/04/24/policing-and-the-deaf/)
What if you’d been hard of hearing, and your hearing aids weren’t working properly? What if you’d been a non-English speaker, and didn’t understand the officer’s instructions? I don’t have specific links for those, but I could find them without too much searching.
I think this points to the issue that any non-compliance, for any reason, is taken as a threat. Even in situations where non-cops don’t understand what they’re being ordered, or if they have their own fears about the encounter with police. I think there is a perception among many that cops’ fears and need for safety area more important and more reasonable than those of non-cops. That looks like a double standard to me. And that double standard might make sense if cops only ever interacted with violent criminals. But many of the people police confront day to day are pretty ordinary folks, much like yourself in the police stop you described.
Maybe you think you’d have deserved to get shot if you’d kept your hands in your pockets, but I don’t.
Who here said that?
You actually said deadly force would be a reasonable reaction to you not taking your hands out of your pocket after being told twice, so I don’t think Myca quoting that was unfair. Although, technically, shooting you in that situation would have been the second reaction, not the first, since the first reaction was to ask you to take your hands out of your pockets. But it certainly would have been a very quick reaction, if you had been shot in the circumstance you describe. Which, of course, you weren’t.
But I don’t see who claimed that deadly force actually is commonly “the first reaction of trained law enforcement.”
And of course, there have been recent high-profile cases in which shooting was a first, or at least a very quick, reaction of police. ( 1
Ron, can you say a bit more about the time you didn’t remove your hands from your pockets – specifically, what was going through your head? Were you thinking, “it’s too cold, so although I comprehend what I’m being asked to do and who is asking me, I’m going to keep my hands in my pockets anyway?” Or did you not understand the command at first? Or did you not understand at first that the person making the command was a police officer?
If I’d have been unable to respond – and had not been able to make it clear to the officer that such was the issue – then it would have been an unfortunate tragedy. But a cop has a right to defend themselves and not get shot in the line of duty. Whether the specific incidents you cite were on one side or the other of “shot too quickly” is unknown to me – sorry, no time right now to read those citations. I’ll readily grant that in a given instance cops may have well shot too quickly and that what you cite are examples of such. But that doesn’t mean that there are not plenty of examples of the other kind, where people get shot after refusing, sometimes repeatedly, reasonable requests from a cop and then exhibited threatening behavior.
Yup. And there are too many people that police confront day to day that look and sound like ordinary folks, right up until the time they kill or maim the cop that is confronting them.
No system, no set of procedures that require police to deal with people who may intend – unarmed or not – to commit violence with deadly force, and permit them to do so armed, will ever be perfect. Some number of people are going to be shot and possibly killed, because people are implementing those procedures, not divine beings. Should we structure those procedures carefully and train the officers exhaustively on them? Sure. But expecting that you can get to the endpoint that no one is ever going to get shot unnecessarily is unrealistic. So is an expectation that all confrontations with violent people can be ended by restraining them without the use of deadly force. No one here has said these things, but those things – along with the concept that racism is to be presumed whenever the cop is white and the civilian isn’t – seems often to be assumptions.
Myca did. And it wasn’t the second reaction, it was the third, after being requested to take my hands out of my pockets twice. The distinction between first reaction – which is what Myca referred to – and third reaction – which I clearly described – is non-trivial. And actually getting shot would have been a fourth reaction. That is what I am referring to when I state that Myca misrepresented what I said.
At this stage some 35 years removed, my guess is:
a) “Damn, it’s cold”
b) Some untold number of micrograms of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol.
I would not be surprised to find that the concept that a cop’s life or long-term health in a confrontation between them and a non-compliant civilian is more likely to be threatened than the non-compliant civilian’s is prevalent among cops. I’m willing to bet that the fraction of civilians in the U.S. injured or killed by cops is a lot lower than the fraction of American cops injured or killed by civilians.
Ron, you said – specifically – “I’m getting real tired of people claiming that deadly force is the first reaction of trained law enforcement.”
I asked you who said that, and you said “Myca did.” Can you please quote the exact words Myca used, that you interpret as meaning “deadly force is the first reaction of trained law enforcement”? Because I’m not seeing it.
Injuries, maybe. Fatalities, no.
Radley Balko, whom I linked to earlier, has written about this before. Here’s one of his articles from last month: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2015/05/06/this-isnt-1968-baltimore-isnt-watts-and-hillary-clinton-isnt-michael-dukakis/
At the time of the article (May 6, 2015) he wrote:
That’s just one county vs. the total number of all officers killed nationwide. That’s in line with a general trend of far fewer fatalities among police officers – something worth celebrating! Balko on this again: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2014/10/02/once-again-police-work-is-not-getting-more-dangerous/
To be clear, in both articles he is focusing on fatalities, not on injuries. I haven’t seen data comparing injuries for cop vs. non-cop.
Nonetheless, for any police encounter that ends with a fatal shooting, the odds are dramatically on the side of the non-cop being the one killed.
I haven’t seen stats on injuries. It seems to me like it’s plausible they could go either way. If you have evidence that, in any given police encounter, it’s the cop who is more likely to leave with an injury, please present it.
Upon reflection, it occurs to me that your cartoon is insufficiently inflammatory. You ought to bring up gun control and abortion while you’re at it. And maybe something about forcing a church to host a gay wedding.
Injured is hard to tell, because the numbers aren’t very good, and there tends to be dispute as to who was actually responsible (did the police do it or did the person arrive injured, etc). But killed, maybe, is possible to compute, so I checked.
Police are murdered at a rate of about 5 per 100,000 per year while on the job. Police fatalities are more like 20 per 100k per year; about half of those are motor vehicle accidents, and I’m not sure where the other 5 come in.
About 500 civilians have been killed by police so far this year, that’s 500/320,000,000*12/5 per year, or 0.38 per 100,000 per year. Cases like Tamir Rice are quite rare, and everybody on the list (with a known age) this year is 16 or older, which eliminates about 60,000,000 people from the pool we’re considering; now it’s 500/260,000,000*12/5, or 0.46 per 100k per year. If you consider the fact that almost all of them are men (I think the list is about 5% women though I didn’t count carefully), then it’s 475/120,000,000*12/5 or 0.95 per 100k per year. And if you add to that the fact that something less than 20% of men have face-to-face contact with the police every year…well, the chance that a man above the age of 16 who has face-to-face contact with a police officer will then be killed is about the same chance as a police officer has of being killed on the job by a civilian. I mean, that’s all very rough and order of magnitude, and I did it quickly so I may have missed some confounding factors, but hopefully it gives you something of an idea, at least–even without accounting for demographics, there’s about a factor of ten difference, which may or may not have been smaller than you were expecting. (And the chance of someone dying in a police-civilian interaction is, in all cases, rare.)
Which is not to say that a random man not currently armed or engaged in criminal activity has that chance of being killed: if you, say, do something stupid like get into an armed standoff, as several of the people on the list did, your chance of being killed is then really really high, which reduces the chances for everybody else.
Kohai, either you do not understand what RonF said, or your math skills are beneath contempt.
Using your own numbers, 10 out of 750,000 to 1,100,000 law enforcement personnel (with or without power of arrest) died in the same period as 14 out of 10,000,000 LA county citizens.
This is an order of magnitude in support of RonF’s statement. Furthermore, your numbers are cherry picked. LA county has had a huge number of shootings this year, it is all over the local papers. 10 dead policemen in four-five months is quite low, considering that last year, lowest on record, it was 8 each month.
So, yeah. With unrepresentative numbers, over different regions, you are still proving the opposite of your point.
Please tone down your tone. Disagreement is fine, but don’t be mean about it.
It’s quite relevant to note that the vast, vast, majority of these situations were also controlled or initiated by the cops.
A cop who does not wish to engage in a situation often (not always, to be sure, but often) has the alternative of waiting for backup, retreating, surrounding, and so on. That option is not available for the people who the cop encounters. When you control a large part of the risk/fear of injury or death, it isn’t reasonable to exercise that control in a such a way that goes against your opponent.
Aren’t the relevant numbers to use the following?
Number of injuries and fatalities of police in police/civilian encounters
Number of injuries and fatalities of civilians in police/civilian encounters
I don’t get why the rate per population is the correct ratio to look at in the context of this conversation. Don’t we all understand and accept that being a police officer is a lot more dangerous than the jobs that most of us talking about this have are? That a higher percentage of police than, say, IT professionals will be injured or killed on the job? Of course we do. But we’re specifically talking about injuries and fatalities in civilian/police encounters so the fact that I’m a lot less likely to have an encounter with the police than Grace is to have an encounter with a civilian seems like a different conversation than the one the cartoon is promoting.
Pesho, I assume you used to post here as Sebastian. That’s fine; Amp and I talked about it, and figured general amnesty wasn’t a problem. But, you know, please keep prior mod warnings about tempering your contempt for others in mind.
No, I used to post here, but not as Sebastian – Petar/Pesho/something. You banned me for antisemitism… which was probably a misunderstanding, what with my wife being Jewish and all, but hey, it’s your blog.
I know Sebastian, but we have an agreement not to frequent the same blogs at the same time, if only because it is more fun when we bring discussion topics from different sources.
As for contempt for others? I would not be surprised to learn that Kohai is well worth of admiration in many respects. But he should not trust his intuition for numbers.
Oh, okay. If you know him, that makes sense. You mirrored one of his comments a few weeks ago.
I have no idea what happened with the anti-semitic thing, or if I was involved. I’ll bow out now.
By the way, I have trouble understanding the point of all these ratios and probabilities. What is the question here, “Why do police officers shoot people?” Or is it “Why do US police officers end up shooting more people than their colleagues from other countries?” Or is it “Why do police officers in the US shoot a lot more Black and Hispanics than White and Asians?”
Because those questions have different answers. I’ll give it a try. I do not claim that my answers are true, but I have worked a lot with law enforcements in Bulgarian, I have a number of friends who are or have been law enforcement officers, and I had two personal serious problems with the Boston City Police while in college.
OK, first for the easy answer. “Why do US police officers kill so many people compared to everyone else?” Because US criminals carry firearms with a frequency unbelievable in any other country, because US sentences do not differentiate enough between violent and non-violent crime, because your police are neither respected nor feared the way they are in other countries, and because the US civilians exhibit something that to me looks like a death wish.
Then the important question. “Why do police officers shoot people?” Mostly, because they are afraid for their lives. In many cases, they are correct, and many people (like me) are fine with that. In other cases, they misread the situation, and people get killed that shouldn’t. This could be addressed by improving procedure and better training, and especially by weeding out people who should never have been police officers in the fist place. Those are the ones responsible for the really outrageous cases where an out of control asshole with a badge kills people because they challenged his authority or insulted him. Two months after I arrived in the US, I nearly got jailed or deported, because I disarmed a rookie who drew a gun (without identifying himself) to break a nerd brawl in an MIT dorm’s pub. If the guy had not managed to build a history of fuckups in seven months, had not actually forgotten his badge where it got logged, had not been a Boston cop on Campus Police turf… and especially if MIT had not taken my side, my life would have been different. So I know very well that police officers are human with their assorted failings.
As to why do US police kill so many Black and Hispanics? Because of the stereotype that Black and Hispanics are more likely to kill police officers.
For example, here is a list of police officers deliberately shot in the last six months. This is original research, please free to correct it.
Detective Wenjian Liu: shot from ambush. The murderer was Black.
Detective Rafael Ramos: shot from ambush. The murderer was Black.
Police Officer Charles Kondek: shot investigating a disturbance. The murderer was Hispanic.
Police Officer Tyler Jacob Stewart: shot investigating domestic violence. The murderer was White.
Detective Terence Avery Green: shot from ambush, the murderer was Hispanic.
Police Officer Robert Wilson III: shot during a robbery, the two murderers were Black.
Deputy U.S. Marshal Josie Wells: shot while arresting a double murderer, who was Black.
Police Officer Alex Yazzie: shot while pursuing a hostage taker, who was Native American.
Trooper Trevor Casper: shot while confronting a bank robber, who was White.
Police Officer Michael Johnson: shot while interrupting a suicide. His murderer was White.
Detective Brian Moore: shot inverstigating a possibly armed individual, who was Black.
Sergeant Greg Moore: shot confronting a car burglar, who was White.
Police Officer Benjamin Deen: shot during a traffic stop. The three murderers were Black.
Police Officer Liquori Tate: shot during a traffic stop. The three murderers were Black.
Reserve Deputy Sonny Smith: shot confronting a burglar. The murderer was White.
Detective Kerrie Orozco: shot during an arrest. The murderer was Black.
Patrolman James Bennett, Jr.: shot from ambush. The murderer has not been apprehended.
Officer Gregg “Nigel” Benner: shot during a traffic stop. The two murderers were Hispanic.
So here is a count of the murderers, each counted only once, without accounting for multiple officers killed by the same people (doing so would raise the Black over-representation)
The numbers in parentheses are over- or under-representation, without controlling for anything.
White males 4 (.60) females 0 (0.0)
Black males 8 (6.8) females 1 (.84)
Hispanic males 3 (1.8) females 1 (.65)
Asian males 0 (0.0) females 0 (0.0)
Native American males 1 (25.) (females 0 (0.0)
Total males 16 (1.8) females 2 (.21)
What do these numbers mean? At the most basic level, if the number in parentheses is less than 1.0, it means that the group kills police officers at a lower rate than it would be expected, based on its representation in the general US populations. For example, males kill police officers almost twice as frequently as you would expect, and Hispanic females kill police officers significantly less frequently than you would expect.
And yeah, the sample is small, and the data is meaningless without controlling for at the very least wealth. So? It is still as meaningful than any of the statistical data in these comments.
I have no recollection of this, either, so – yay, amnesty!
But for the record, “I have a Jewish wife” doesn’t, in and of itself, establish that whatever you said wasn’t anti-Semitic, any more than someone who says “some of my best friends are Jewish” is immune to saying anti-Semitic things.
I’m not saying that it wasn’t a misunderstanding. You could be totally right about that. I’m just saying that I don’t think the “I have a Jewish wife” argument is a good one.
I was responding to RonF’s assertion here:
which seemed to me to be implying that use or threat of deadly force occurs as a reasonable response because of the perceived danger to police. I thought it worth pushing back to point out that, in our current situation, the civilians are also at significant risk (and probably greater risk per incident, as Jake Squid points out above–it’s the per-interaction rate we should care about).
Now, that’s not to say that we can be sure there’s an (average, statistical–obviously many individual police officers are well-trained and effective) overreaction to the risk: it’s possible that if deadly force was used or threatened less often, police fatalities would rise sharply. (Given the many examples we have of overreaction, however, I don’t think that’s likely.)
Grace, I think I figured out how to respond to this comment, which I’d hoped to do sooner than this.
You responded to Myca’s point as if it were an attack on standard police practice. I don’t think it is. I think, instead, it’s an attack on the leeway granted by citizens to police, even when police are obviously acting outside of ethical behavior and/or standard practice.
When Daniel Pantaleo is not even indicted for Eric Garner’s death, that doesn’t say much about police practice–what he was doing was obviously outside what he should have been doing, regardless of how he was charged, and it may indicate systemic problems in the police force or it may just indicate that he was a bad apple. But it does tell you a great deal about who the grand jury thought was worth protecting, and how they wanted their police to behave in that goal. And, in turn, that lack of pressure affects how training and policies are changed or not changed in the police force that had Pantaleo as a member.
When Michael Slager said that Walter Scott tried to get his Taser and was a threat worthy of deadly force, that was in line with what a police officer behaving properly would have said, and if there had not been video evidence that countered his story so thoroughly, that tale may have been no different from Michael Brown’s.
There will be good and bad people in any job. The problem right now is that the public (or, rather, the segment of the public that most politicians listen to) is happy to give a pass to even vaguely plausible reasoning for things that are, in fact, far outside what the ethics and training say police officers should be doing. So when you say,
that would obviously make a severe dent in the actual quality of policing. I think it would take rather longer for a large segment of the public to stop saying, “Well, what did they do to deserve it?” every time there was a use of deadly force.
So when Myca said,
I didn’t read that as saying that all police uses of force are government agents imposing tyranny or behaving improperly. I read that as saying that the practical and political response to government agents imposing tyranny is identical to the practical and political response to government agents using force properly. The conflation of the two makes it harder to correct (or get rid of) the folks who are doing the bad thing instead of the right thing.
I should say, that’s how I interpreted what Myca was saying, and how I interpreted it when I’ve had similar previous conversations. It may not be what Myca meant, and I don’t mean to speak for him.
Your understanding matches my intended meaning, Harlequin.
My comment wasn’t intended as a critique of the police or of police training, but rather as an attack on the tendency to make excuses for even the worst abuses of police authority while leaping on any possible moral failings of the victims.
Myca and Harlequin,
I appreciate that you’re trying to continue the discussion in a civil and well-intended manner. I’d like to do the same, but it would take time and energy which right now I’m choosing to devote to other things. If you see me posting on other things in the next little while, all it means is that the resource threshold was lower for those than for this. So I’m going to leave this for another time.
I 100% understand, and I’ve had to do the same thing myself on occasion.
Yes, I’ve done the same, Grace. (And I won’t be offended if the time you decide to come back to this is “never.” :) )