The police aren’t making too many friends these days. It seems like there isn’t a day that goes by where some tragic and outrageous story comes out involving the the cops and somehow violating somebody’s rights, or even killing them. But, no matter how much we see this behavior, no matter how frequent it becomes, there seems to be an army of ignorant, dependent, terrified people who will jump in to defend the police from any criticism, because, you know, they are heroes…. Next time you encounter somebody like that, show them this article, and if they still dismiss it, just move on, there’s plenty of people with eyes to see and ears to hear if you aren’t wasting your time with the willfully apathetic.
But first off, I want to give a shout out to all of the alternative media outlets that tirelessly cover issues of police abuse, and show us just how common these violations are:
Now, just why should we be skeptical of the police? Well where do I begin….
1. The Police Have No Duty To Protect You It’s plastered right on the side of many police cruisers: “To Protect And to Serve”, but this serves as little more then a PR slogan for the public to feel more comfortable and trusting of the police. In 2005 the supreme court ruled in a case titled Warren Vs The District of Columbia it was ruled that police do not have a constitutional duty to protect, all the way to and including against a women who has a protection from abuse order from a husband and is being attacked by said husband. Being stalked? No duty to protect. Locked away somewhere by an attacker. No duty to protect. Being raped? Well, you get the point, unfortunately. The court went as far as to say “”[t]he duty to provide public services is owed to the public at large, and, absent a special relationship between the police and an individual, no specific legal duty exists. ”. Supporters of this verdict will tell you that it is because individuals are expected to protect themselves and their loved ones, which is true, but many states such as New York, and New Jersey get in the way of that with their draconian gun laws, effectively making them reliant on police, who then have no duty to oblige. A viscous cycle indeed.
2. Private Prisons Have “Lockup Quotas” In 2011 Management & Training Corp threatened to sue the state of Arizona over a line in the contract between the two that required that the prison remain 97% full. The lawsuit threat was spurred after 3 murder convicts escaped from the prison, and the state found the prison to be “dysfunctional” and thus stopped sending inmates to the facility. The state caved and paid 3 Million dollars in tax payer dollars to a prison that let 3 murderers escape from their facility to cover the losses created by the diverted prisoner population. This notion of “lockup quotas” or “guaranteed occupancy rates” has actually found to be a common practice after analyzing over 60 contracts between states and prisons, with some Arizona prisons having an expectation of 100% occupancy!
3. Police Profit From Enforcing the War On Drugs Did you know that when the police arrest somebody for a drug charge, even marijuana, they actually earn money? Yup, for any low level arrest, a department can make $153 per arrest in federal grants, called Byrne Grants. This totally changes the incentives for what police work is. When you combine this, with the fact that drugs are widely available, hugely demanded, very profitable, and in some states, marijuana is becoming legal, the fact that there are lockup quotas, this makes the average citizen a fish to be baited into the system for profit, more then a master that is to be served, as all government is supposed to be. Then there is asset forfeiture, another very profitable revenue stream. This is where alleged drug dealers have their property stolen under the suspicion that they got that property from nasty drug money. It’s literally legal theft. It’s such an unsustainable method of revenue generation that many departments have a blanket opposition to legalized marijuana, despite its overwhelming medical potential in addition to the moral hazard of assuming what control over what people can do with their own bodies, that departments have even expressed that the stability of their budgets is dependent on this insane practice.
4. SWAT Teams Are Corporations, And Are Used VERY Commonly In a 2014 report on police militarization, the ACLU was effectively told by Massachusetts SWAT agencies, that they are private corporations, and thus are not subject to open records requests, and generally not obligated to answer to the public. The report went on to find that SWAT are overseen by LECs or Law Enforcement Councils made up of police chiefs in the surrounding area, and funded by these same departments. Somehow, even though it’s a police agency made up of police departments and police officers, these LECs were able to incorporate into 501(c)(3) status, granting them corporate privacy.In Massachusetts alone 240 of the existing 351 departments belong to these LECs, effectively creating a blanket of secrecy over SWAT and it’s operations.
This is met with a dramatic rise in the use of SWAT teams over the past 25 years. It is commonly thought that SWAT are used for hostage crises and other extreme situations, but more often then not, they are used for suspected drug raids. And as we have seen, they often get it tragically wrong. The methods used for a lot of these drug raids are overwhelmingly forceful using no knock, forced entry, flash grenades, and other excessive shows of force, even for $2 worth of marijuana. Some studies have shown that SWAT teams are called out as much as 40,000 Times a year.
5. Police Can, And Do, Lie To The Public Many people think that as “authority figures” that police have an obligation to be honest, but that is untrue. The most common example of this is undercover police telling suspects that they are not undercover. But this extends quite a bit. Police commonly use intimidation tactics in order to scare or trick you into giving up your rights to privacy and not to incriminate yourself. They can tell you that a witness has seen you that hasn’t, that a confession was made that never was, that you are legally obligated to do things that you aren’t, like submit to searches. The most effective defense is knowledge, courage, and a camera.
6. The Police Kill Far More People Then Commonly Thought The FBI reports that in 2013 they killed only 461 People, with an average of about 400 people killed per year since 2008. It has been found that this is inaccurate. First of all, these numbers are based on what are considered to be “justified homicides”. Thats right, the FBI is not interested in telling you about police murders, just police homicides. If that wasn’t bad enough, the data given to the FBI is turned in on a voluntary basis. In other words, if a police department like, oh I don’t know, the Albuquerque police department decides that such disclosure is bad for business, then they can keep the information to themselves.
On the flip side of this, several independent efforts, such as Fatal Encounters, Deadspin , and my personal favorite because of it’s simplicity, Killed By Police have taken a crack at getting the real number, and with legitimate sourcing, have come up with over 1000 people killed both in 2013 and 2014.
7. Police Officers Are Not In The Top 10 Most Dangerous Jobs Many people will claim that the police are selfless heroes who put their life on the line on a regular basis for your safety. Much like the PR slogan of “protect and serve”, this is another inaccurate factoid that serves to suppress criticism of police officers. Data from the bureau of labor statistics shows that being a construction worker, roofer, or truck driver are much more dangerous then being police officers. In fact, you are statistically safer as a cop then as a civilian, with 2013 being one of the Safest years on record for police. This is in stark contrast to the perilous dangers that police would have you think they encounter every day.
8. Police Kill A Lot of People’s Pets While it is unclear exactly how often it happens due to a lack of data, through the use of cell phone video’s and the alternative reporting, we are getting a glimpse of how often police kill man’s best friend. A development team is currently working on a documentary entitled ”Puppycide” tackling the issue in depth, with the website claiming that a pet is killed every 98 minutes.
9. Police Will Share Private Photographs With Each Other For Amusement Last October, Officer Sean Harrington of the California Highway Patrol was arrested after after a DUI suspect that he had arrested alleged that he had gone through her phone without her permission, and then proceeded to send himself nude photos of her. After a search warrant was served, it was found that Harrington was not alone in this behavior, and several other officers were identified who not only admitted to doing this multiple times, but called it part of “a game”. Later evidence showed several police commenting on the photos with each other. Harrington, an Dublin, CA officer, claimed to have learned this “game” from LA, and that it was a common thing among police officers. It’s anybodies guess how many police officers can figure out they can victimize women like this across the country.
10. Police Can Enforce Laws They Don’t Know 2015 Started off with another blow to freedom, as the Supreme Court, in Heien Vs. North Carolina ruled A police officer can stop a car based on a mistaken understanding of the law without violating the Fourth Amendment. This arose after a man was found with cocaine in his car following a search, based on a stop where the suspect had a tail light out. Only problem is, no law exists making that a crime, or a reason to get a search. The officer was mistaken, which lead to the defendant motioning to dismiss the cocaine as evidence as it was the result of an illegal search. The supreme court sided with the officer. This creates a double standard in the application of law. If you or I are guilty of a crime that we legitimately did not know we have committed, ignorance of the law is no excuse and we have our lives torn apart. A police officer does it, and it’s “valid” and your life is still ripped apart.
11. Police Have Technology That Greatly Infringes Our Right To Privacy f Everybody knows that the TSA has been data mining us through our phones, and our computers for years now. But it’s not just the TSA that is collecting data, but maybe even your own local police department. Many police departments are making use of what is called Stingray technology without a warrant to track peoples cell phones for anything that might lead to a drug bust. LAPD has even used the technology on non suspected neighbors of suspects in search of info! And of course, this has all been found to somehow be constitutional according to the Arizona Superior Court.
Some Police Departments, such as NYPD have taken to use TSA like Naked body scanner technology to scan people and their cars in search of guns in New York, where guns are unconstitutionally illegal. Not only do these scanners present a serious threat to every person’s right to privacy, but also a serious health threat
In addition to this, A RAND Corporation study has found that 70% of police departments use license plat scanners. These are scanners that scan your license plate information, allowing full access to it for the officer, usually without knowledge, consent, warrant, or even a traffic violation.
Many of these departments work hand in hand with fusion centers, with the federal government via the Department Of Homeland Security being able to take over local departments, so any information that a police department has is liable to end up in the hands of the federal government as well.
12. Police Will Potentially Kill For Even The Most Minute Laws All police encounters are potentially deadly. As the Eric Garner case has shown to the whole country, the police will escalate any situation to maintain control and dominance. If it came down to it, they would kill you for a seatbelt violation if you don’t comply with them how they want you to. Any law, ordinance, or statue is essentially a death threat to disobedience. If you get a ticket, they demand money at gun point, you don’t pay, you get a warrant and they will come to put you in a cage, you resist the cage and they will hurt or kill you. That is how it works. ALL laws are enforced at gun point, and there are so many laws that you can be put in the cross hairs at any given moment and not even know it.
13. Police Unions Keep Violent Police On The Street It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes you see a story where a cop is overtly abusive, obviously in the wrong, and definitely undeserving of a badge, and that cop is fired. And to many people, justice is served and that is the end, but in many cases, it isn’t. The Atlantic has compiled a list of examples of how police unions will go to bat for people who have been investigated by internal affairs and fired, and get them their job back or get their punishment reduced. This list is just the tip of the iceberg. Unions are known for protecting and shielding police from criticism, no matter how outrageous they behave.
14. The Police Have Their Own Secret Society Called The Fraternal Order of Police Like it’s name suggests, the FOP is a fraternal organization that has hundreds of thousands of members who meet up only with each other, in private, in thousands of lodges across the country. It’s cops meeting with other cops to figure out how to push forward their interests. The FOP lobbies a good bit of money to their friends who then cover their backs in the police unions. The FOP gets involved in a lot of reactionary measures, such as Security and fundraising for Darren Wilson, even as the case publicly became little more then a sad joke to usher in the inevitable judgment. Now they are Calling for ‘Waze’ to be disabled, even though the app and the technology are an extension of free speech.
15. They Can Discriminate Against New Hires On The Basis of Too High Of An IQ In September of 2000, The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a decision that was being contested by Robert Jordan, an aspiring NYPD officer. He scored 33 points on his police exam, which corresponds to an IQ of about 125, but NYPD was only interested in hiring people that scored around the 22 point area, corresponding to about a 104 IQ. That’s right, NYPD is NOT interested in hiring the best man for the job. They claimed that this score mean that Robert would get bored with the job.
But let’s be honest here, this has little to do with Robert “being bored”. The court even admitted that it was an unwise procedure. No this is more about making sure that free thinking people, people who might question orders, who might morally oppose enforcing certain laws, people who might expose corruption, or blow the whistle on police abuse, or any other crossing of the thin blue line, are kept out of police work.
16. Even Small, Local Police Departments Have Received Military Equipment It is no secret that police departments across the country have received a frightening amount of military equipment. Fully automatic rifles, anti mine tanks, grenade launchers, you name it, many police departments have it. What is not quite as well known is just how wide spread this has become. Very, Very small police departments all over the country.
17. Cops Are Going Out Of Their Way To Hire Returning Veterans Now this can get touchy, as it is well known that veterans have a high unemployment rate. That being said, I think the argument can be made that in many cases the role of a combat veteran is only appropriate for police work if the police have become seriously militarized, and that the role of the police has switched from protect to serve to something more closely resembling that of a military platoon. Posse Comitatus strictly forbids the military from being used as a police force (but of course, it has been violated). The reason for this is that having a standing army in your own country enforcing laws with the kind of firepower that the military has is by definition a military occupation, which I would argue the police have become. NYPD has already proclaimed to be able to shoot down a plane, for example.
The Justice Department are offering “COPS grants” to police departments that hire veterans, and where incentives are, people follow.
Another troubling aspect of this is that many many veterans suffer from PTSD, (which, by the way, the federal governmen tcould massively reduce by repealing federal drug laws.). It Is hard to know just how many of them actually have PTSD. Many have chosen to hide their symptoms from the VA because in a lot of cases PTSD is being used to take away the gun rights of veterans. On top of that, police are required to do extra psych evaluations to tackle PTSD if there is a history of it in the applicant, but if the applicant has never reported it, there is “nothing to worry about” from the hiring department’s point of view. Between the grants incentivising veterans towards police work, the number of homeless vets there are, and how many who are more in need of help then a new war zone on the homeland, and it’s not hard to imagine that there are at least some combat veteran police officers who should not be in that job.
18. Police Have Little To No Real Accountability So who arrests the cops? Other cops, after and internal investigation turns up wrong doing first, of course. So after the police investigate themselves, guess how often they find themselves to be in the wrong? Not very often at all. Grand Juries vote to indict the defendants almost every time. But if the defendant is a police officer, it magically becomes very difficult to indict them.
In the event that cops do have body cameras, they simply can Turn them off. As we saw with Eric garner, and I know from personal experience, that cops will lie under oath, conveniently “lose” evidence, fabricate charges, lose their footage and the list goes on and on of all the tricks they can and will pull to keep you down. In 2 cases, both for summary offense violations, I had 2 separate lawyers tell me, essentially that I am innocent, and I have a great case, but that its the police and there just isn’t hope. Cops word are automatically taken as truth in court, putting the defendant in a position where they must prove their innocence, turning the justice system on its head.
20. Many Police Departments Have A Culture Of Racism This is something that the black community has, for good reason, been screaming about for decades. The subject reached a bit of a head last year with Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and Eric Garner all morally unjustifiably being killed by the police. Statistics show that You are more likely to get arrested as a black drug dealer then a white one, even though there are more white drug dealers. They are more likely to be arrested for Marijuana Related Charges, they are for more likely to be subject to Stop and frisk, which is essentially random, and warrantless searches. With 25% of black males entering the justice system, they are way more likely to be arrested by police. Former police officers have gotten on the record about just how racist and sexist many of their co workers were.
21. They Have No Mercy For The Homeless The country is in economic doldrums that the government would like to have you believe have been on an upswing, but sadly It’s getting worse. There are over Over 600,000 homeless at any given moment, and economic trends ensure that that will probably rise. Starting with the Occupy raids in 2011, there has been a trend of police raiding homeless encampments and displacing already displaced people. In Some cases they run blanket background checks on all of the residents of a homeless shelter. other times they just force the people out, or even shoot them.
22. Some Police Departments Do Weapons Training With Targets Depicting Pregnant Woman, Children, And The Elderly It’s truly chilling, and bizarre, but it’s true. The targets were made by a company called “Law Enforcement Targets Inc”, all targets include whoever imaged, whether it be a pregnant woman, or a child, with a gun pointing back at them. This line of targets is called the “Zero Hesitation” series, what hesitation is looking to be eliminated, I’m sure you can figure out just by looking at the images. With $5.5 million worth of targets sold, at 99 cents a piece, it’s safe to say they have been spread to police shooting ranges all over the country.
23. They Will Plant Evidence On People The Walter Scott video served as a major wake up call to people all over the country to the corruption of the police force. Not only was Michael Slager found to be lying when he said that he “feared for his life” from the fleeing Walter Scott, who he shot in the back, but the video also showed Slager planting a taser in order to “prove” that there was a threat when there wasn’t. To make matters worse, the senior officers assured him that he would have days before he would be asked any questions about the shooting, assuring him that he could come up with any story he needed to. The department also backed his story that Scott had fought with him and brought the shooting on himself, before the video came out and put egg on the entire department’s face.
Unfortunately, this does not appear to be an isolated incident of an officer planting evidence and framing his victim to take the fall. On a segment on “Fox and Friends”, for District Attorney Arthur Aidala, who has been on Fox news many times as an expert analyst on legal matters, said in no uncertain terms that over the course of 30 years that planting evidence on somebody that was killed by police was a common occurrence, saying:
When I was in the DA’s office in the 80s and 90s, that was standard operating procedure. Police officers — I hate to say this — would keep a second gun that nobody knew about on their ankle, so if they ever killed someone they shouldn’t have they would take that gun out.
I’m talking about dirty cops in the 70s and 80s.
As a DA, he must have sided with such cops many, many times over the course of his career to have this information.
It doesn’t stop at the 90’s though. Earlier this year, a former Philadelphia cop, Jeffrey Walker, who was on trial for years worth of embezzlement, false arrests, false charges, corruption, had testified against his fellow officers in order to avoid a life sentence. Yes, a cop on trial for life and it wasn’t murder, the level of corruption was THAT bad and sustained for THAT long. He went on to detail how they would target “White males, college boys, wearing khaki pants, easy to intimidate”, sometimes even holding victims over balconies, to extort money and drugs from them. He once carried a safe full of drug money down 17 flights of steps to avoid the cameras on the elevator. He was just one member of a inner circle mafia within the Philadelphia Police Department.
Also this year, another video surfaced of a police officer planting drugs inside a man’s car after that man had been brutally beaten and choked. His “crime” was running a stop sign
A simple youtube search yields a frightening number of results.
24. They Have Ready Made Stories Designed To Clear Them Of Wrong Doing This is another area where the Walter Scott case destroyed the facade of the police as honest and trustworthy. In the time immediately after, the police backed Michael Slager’s story without question. It wasn’t until the video surfaced that the entire situation was found to be full of holes and lies.
Peter Keane, a former San Francisco Police commissioner, in an article for the San Francisco Chronicle, titled Why Cops Lie, wrote:
“Police officer perjury in court to justify illegal dope searches is commonplace. One of the dirty little not-so-secret secrets of the criminal justice system is undercover narcotics officers intentionally lying under oath. It is a perversion of the American justice system that strikes directly at the rule of law. Yet it is the routine way of doing business in courtrooms everywhere in America.”
He goes on tie the culture of lying within police departments with the war on drugs, because narcotics officers have incentives, as outlined above, to make as many drug related arrests as possible at all costs. The result is persecution of poor and minority communities who are unable to defend themselves.
Because police have set themselves up as the arbiters of the law, average people on the jury are quick to take their side in a case where its a “their word against mine” type of scenario, basing judgment solely on police testimony, even if there is a total lack of any other type of evidence. This gives police officers a “too big to fail” type of safety when it comes to honesty in the courtroom. More often then not, the cops have what they would call a “working relationship” with judges, prosecutors and even defense lawyers. To everybody else it much more closely resembles a “conflict of interest”. Judges have an incentive to lock people up to fulfill the aforementioned prison occupancy quotas, prosecutors want to have a good record, and defense lawyers want a play to get the most money for the least amount of work. Not to mention, infamously, arrest quotas from the police.
25. If Things Get Bad In Your Area, They Will Simply Stop Responding To “Lesser Crime” To Protect And To Serve….. Unless you aren’t a big enough victim to be worth our time. That’s right, in areas all over the country, the police have announced that they simply will not respond to certain crimes like vehicular theft or burglary. Granted, these areas are some of the most violent in the whole country, and the cops claim they are doing this so they are more able to respond to shootings and other violent crimes, but I think I speak for most everybody when I say that we would prefer that they would then just not enforce frivolous laws such as those for drug possession, but of course that is noticeably absent from the list of crimes that these departments have said they will no longer be responding to. Areas that have followed this policy include Chicago, Oakland, Detroit, Las Vegas, San Jose and others.
26. They Would Rather Go After Drug Users Then Violent Criminals When examining violent crime clearance rates, that is the percentage of cases that are closed due to arrest, or “exceptional means”, we find that Cops are horribly inefficient at making arrests having to do with violent crime, as well as property crime. The highest clearance rate, according to the FBI is murder at 60%. That means that only slightly more then half of all murders have an arrest made to close the case. But the focus comes when you look at the sheer numbers. The most recent numbers I could find were from 2012, in that year over 1.5 Million people were arrested on drug charges, with just over 500,000 were arrested for violent crime. Obviously, with such low clearance rates and such high number of drug arrests, there is a huge missed opportunity by the police to actually administer justice for people that are victims of actual crime.