Rad Geek People's Daily

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Cops are here to protect you. (#6)

Here's a pretty old post from the blog archives of Geekery Today; it was written about 16 years ago, in 2008, on the World Wide Web.

Cops are here to protect you by stopping an upset man from cutting himself with a knife by shouting at him in a language he doesn’t speak, then, after he fails to obey commands he couldn’t understand, by tasering him, firing pepperballs at him, and then shooting him dead — with several shots fired after he had dropped the knife.

All for his own good, of course. It became necessary to kill Odiceo Valencia in order to save him.

Cops are here to protect you by pulling you over if your car seems suspicious to them and then, if you want to know what you were pulled over for, pulling you out of the car, getting up in your face, and shouting, Ever get smart-mouthed with a cop again, I show you what a cop does, threatening to arrest you for some fucking reason I come up with, bragging that they can come up with nine other things to arrest you for, insisting, when you tell them that their conduct is being recorded, shouting I don’t really care about your cameras, ’cause I’m about ready to tow your car, then we can tear ’em all apart, and then proceeding to give you a ten-minute lecture on how you should properly address your public servants.

Please note that Officer James Kuhnlein’s dash cam tape from that night was inexplicably missing when Brett Darrow filed a complaint with the St. George police department. Actually, I don’t think it’s particularly difficult at all to explain what happened to the tape.

Cops are here to protect you by pulling you over for possibly speeding and then arresting you on a 10-year-old dog violation. Then, since they just can’t be bothered to wait half an hour until your sister arrives, leaving a 15 year old girl and a 7 month old infant stuck alone in a car on the side of the road at 11 o’clock at night.

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.—A Grand Junction woman says a state trooper left her baby and her teenage niece unattended in her car for 25 minutes one night when he took her to jail after a traffic stop.

Keio Saupaia said Trooper Jeffrey Vrbas pulled her over at about 11 p.m. on April 28 when she had her 7-month-old daughter and 15-year-old niece with her.

She said Vrbas contacted her sister to come get the children, but that he didn’t wait for the sister to arrive before taking Saupaia to jail.

If that was me, I could have been charged with child abuse, she told the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel.

Colorado State Patrol Capt. Ed Clark confirmed to The Associated Press Monday that Vrbas had arrested Saupaia. Clark said he doesn’t dispute Saupaia’s account but declined to discuss specifics of the incident.

Clark said the matter had been handled internally, but he declined to say whether Clark had been disciplined or to give any other details, citing confidentiality rules covering personnel matters.

I just ask the public to trust that we would handle this appropriately, he told the AP in a telephone interview.

— Denver Post (2008-05-19): Woman says trooper left her baby, teen alone in car at night

But why the fuck would anyone trust them to handle it appropriately?

Trust is earned, not bestowed, and in the case of out-of-control cops like Trooper Jeffrey Vrbas, there is no empirical evidence at all to justify putting trust in the police department administration to do a damned thing about it, beyond possibly ripping him for causing a P.R. problem. When every fucking week brings another story of a Few More Bad Apples causing Yet Another Isolated Incident, and the police department almost invariably doing everything in its power to conceal, excuse, or minimize the violence, even in defiance of the evidence of the senses and no matter how obviously irresponsible or dangerously out-of-control the cop may be, it beggars belief to keep on claiming that there is no systemic problem here, that cops ought to be given every benefit of the doubt, that the same police department that hires and trains these goons ought to be trusted to handle it internally (which means secretly), and that any blanket condemnation of American policing is a sign of hastiness and unfair prejudice. The plain fact is that what we have here is one of two things: either a professionalized system of control which tacitly permits and encourages cops to exercise this kind of rampant, repeated, intense, and unrepentant abuse against powerless people–or else a system which has clearly demonstrated that it can do nothing effectual to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist.

See also:

11 replies to Cops are here to protect you. (#6) Use a feed to Follow replies to this article · TrackBack URI

  1. LadyVetinari

    What the fuck does that mean, “handled internally”?

    Why do people keep falling for this nonsense, I wonder?

  2. John Markley

    I’ve become convinced that the whole business of letting police misconduct be “handled internally” is one of the most bothersome aspects of modern law enforcement. If I,a private citizen, were to beat or abuse someone, everyone would immediately recognize the absurdity of limiting any consequences I might face to sanctions at work and letting my boss or coworkers decide what to do about it rather than treating it as a crime. The problems with such an arrangement, in terms of both justice and the incentives created, would be screamingly obvious. But when the police do it, and internally “handle” acts that would land anyone else in prison, people don’t bat an eye. Putting the police above the law is so ingrained it isn’t even commented on by most people.

  3. Soviet Onion

    I think Rod Long said it best when he described the contrast between anarchist and statist justice systems:

    “How comforting would it be to know that any misconduct by General Motors would be handled by the legal department of General Motors?”

  4. quasibill

    “Why do people keep falling for this nonsense, I wonder?”

    Most don’t ever pay it any attention. It’s too hard to think about, and it’s just easier to ignore, especially when the media that they tune in to doesn’t make a big deal out of it.

    Those that do reflexively defend it aren’t really “falling for” it. They buy into the macho notion that the police are “warriors” on the “thin blue line”. I think Charles addressed it in the past, but if not, Will Grigg did (note that he is anything but a feminist if you read his stuff) – more than a significant minority of cops today are “juicing”. And that is just the most telling point of the larger problem. The SWAT teams and raids and etc. have all helped to create an environment that brings out the worst in macho, testosterone laden culture. And those that reflexively defend actions such as Charles periodically points are people who think such a culture is a good (and necessary!)thing.

    Once you realize that they don’t share basic, fundamental cultural values with you, you’ll begin to understand why they think the way they do. It’s like trying to find common ground with cannibals – if it’s possible, it will only be after one side or the other surrenders a basic value position.

  5. LadyVetinari

    quasibill, I’d agree, except that I don’t think most advocates consciously adopt the macho, violent and authoritarian values you describe. Most would reject those values if described to them in that way. So why does it have this appeal when cops are concerned?

    Is it just a basic desire to believe that authority figures in America are at least reasonable?

  6. Jeremy

    This video is absolutely ridiculous in every possible way.

    When you encounter a cop, I think it’s a good idea to just start mentally preparing to be arrested. The key always is to not be caught by surprise and scared into doing anything that would compromise your safety or give them any information whatsoever. They’ll just throw shit at you to see what sticks, and it’s going to take a lot of self-discipline on your part, so be prepared. But utlimately, you can’t count on cops to be dispassionate and professional – YOU have to stay calm, YOU have to exercise the better part of wisdom.

    Don’t rely on the system to protect you and you’ve already made a significant step on the path to the voluntary society we all want to see.

  7. Discussed at blog.6thdensity.net

    Social Memory Complex » Don’t talk to the police, Part 2:

    […] Via Rad Geek I found some great footage that demonstrates just how difficult it can be to be silent in the face of aggressive police tactics: […]

  8. Discussed at radgeek.com

    Rad Geek People’s Daily 2008-06-09 – 10,000 ways to lose your freedom:

    […] their own abuse, and in which cops are never held to account for wrongdoing by any means other than “handling it internally” and issuing the occasional “Oops, our […]

· September 2008 ·

  1. Discussed at radgeek.com

    Rad Geek People’s Daily 2008-09-09 – Cops are here to protect you. (#7):

    […] GT 2008-06-03: Cops are here to protect you. (#6) […]

— 2009 —

  1. Discussed at radgeek.com

    Rad Geek People’s Daily 2009-06-22 – The Police Beat:

    […] GT 2008-06-03: Cops are here to protect you. (#6) […]

  2. Discussed at radgeek.com

    Rad Geek People’s Daily 2009-07-31 – The Police Beat:

    […] and Protected good and hard until you are physically subdued. Or dead, whichever comes first. And yet again, it became necessary to kill Dre Thomas in order to save him. The case is in the news again […]

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