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Posts tagged Officer.com

Siege mentality

Last month, POLICE: The Law Enforcement Magazine published another ill-tempered tirade by retired L.A. cop Dean Scoville in the magazine’s Patrol Tactics section. (You may recall Sergeant Scoville from his previous ill-tempered tirade in which he openly praised police brutality against captive prisoners.) This most recent tirade, Four More Cops Killed: Where Is The Outrage? launches into this subject with the following claims of imminent and growing danger that people (non-police) pose to government police:

Shortly before I retired, I openly speculated that we were on the cusp of a new era where people would increasingly bring the fight to us. Moreover, I said they would prove to be greater threats, less predisposed to gangsta-style shooting and actually recognize the significance of sight alignment and trigger control.

I also noted that technology has helped the people who want to kill us develop better eye-hand coordination and tactics via video games and other poor man’s combat simulators, …. They have also become more sophisticated in their choice of weaponry, and are fast becoming better armed than us, accessorizing with everything from laser sights to cop-killer bullets.

… More recently, economic stress, racial strife, a resurrection of militia types, and spillover from Mexican cartel activity have made this toxic cocktail even deadlier.

— Sergeant Dean Scoville (2009-12-01), POLICE: The Law Enforcement Magazine: Four More Cops Killed: Where Is The Outrage?

He closes the article with the following credo:

Yes, I believe that the job is increasingly dangerous. And it is made more so by what is put out there about it.

(This is used as a springboard for a couple pages’ worth of rambling complaints against society at large for our willingness to embrace anti-cop sentiments and stereotypes, with a special focus on the alleged anti-cop drum beating of Hollywood, rap music, and those segments of society who have fundamentally failed to hold their own [sic] accountable — and, just so we’re clear, by those segments of society, Scoville means black people.[1] Also, I guess he’s pissed off that Dick Wolf decided to cast Ice-T as a cop in Law and Order: SVU.)

Scoville’s claim that being a government cop is increasingly dangerous is not an isolated claim. For example, down in the comments section on the article, another retired government cop, mtarte, writes:

I’m retired now and still wish I could do the job, but today’s cops are in much more dangerous situations than ever before.

— mtarte, in re: Sergeant Dean Scoville (2009-12-01), POLICE: The Law Enforcement Magazine: Four More Cops Killed: Where Is The Outrage?

In Milwaukee, by way of explanation for why Milwaukee Police Department had begun arming regular patrol cops with semiautomatic rifles:

It’s obvious that our officers are facing an increasingly dangerous threat to their safety as well as the safety of the community as represented by these weapons ….

— Police Chief Ed Flynn, quoted in Officer.com (2009-04-24): Milwaukee Police Increase Firepower

CRIPT Academy, a tactical training outfit for government cops, says that it:

… provides cutting edge training, information, and service that is continually updated to adapt to today’s fluid environment which is becoming increasingly dangerous for those professionals that must operate in harm’s way.

— Officer.com Directory: CRIPT Academy Mobile Training Teams

If you spend much time at all reading articles and public statements by government police, you’re likely to see this received factoid over and over again. Time never alters it; things only get more and more dangerous. No matter what year it is, it’s always this year that’s poised to become the most dangerous year for police ever; in 2007, in an article on how government cops can better confuse detained Suspect Individuals about their rights to refuse searches, former government cop and government prosecutor Devallis Rutledge offered the following:

So far, 2007 is the deadliest year for law enforcement officers in nearly three decades.

— Devallis Rutledge, POLICE: The Law Enforcement Magazine (October 2007): How to Justify Officer Safety Searches

The thing is that all these claims are false. Both in factual detail and in overarching narrative. They could easily have been discovered to be false by taking even a cursory glance at statistics about police deaths in the line of duty. In fact, 2009, when Dean Scoville declared the job to be increasingly dangerous, was the safest year for government police in the U.S. since 1959, in terms of absolute numbers of police officers killed while on duty. With only a few exceptions, the number of government police killed on the job had been decreasing steadily for the past 35 years. Here’s the annual data for the past 35 years, as reported by the Officer Down Memorial Page yearly reports.[2]

Year Total line-of-duty deaths Deaths from violent attacks
(Excluding terrorist attacks.)
Total violent deaths adjusted to 2009 population
1974279149215.48
1975240148211.93
1976202117165.92
1977189108151.63
1978215109151.42
1979214120164.87
1980210113153.44
1981201105141.18
1982194100133.18
198319392121.41
198418483108.59
198517985110.23
198617880102.79
198718284106.97
198819485107.26
19891967998.75
19901627187.76
19911487591.47
19921707286.60
19931638398.53
199418086100.84
19951857789.22
19961436473.30
19971777686.00
19981766673.82
19991514954.18
20001635560.13
20012426772.45
20021596367.41
20031475154.22
20041645658.99
20051645456.37
20061565455.84
20071936566.56
20081384242.62
20091204949.00

Or, if you prefer, here’s the chart. The blue line represents the absolute number of cops killed that year in the line of duty; the yellow line best represents the overall danger to cops from violent attacks (specifically, the number killed in violent attacks against police, adjusted to the U.S. population at the end of 2009).

It shows three lines, each sinking steadily with occasional upticks, for the total number of police deaths, the total number due to violent attacks, and the total number of violent deaths adjusted for 2009 population.

Coming back to Devallis Rutledge’s deadliest year in nearly three decades, it’s true that 2007 saw a sudden jump in the number of police killed, compared to 2006. (The next two years saw a sudden drop back to the trend of decreasing police deaths.) But the main reason for that was a jump in deaths due to automobile accidents and other accidental deaths; the number of cops killed in violent attacks — 65 total — was less than the total number killed in 2001, let alone the much higher rates of violent deaths in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. And in fact, if you adjust for the increases in the total population, and the absolute number of police on the streets, it turns out that the increasing safety of government police over the past 35 years is only the tail end of a general trend that has been going on since 1921. (The temporary uptick in violent police deaths from the early 1960s to the mid-1970s never ended up producing more per-capita violent deaths than there had been in 1935.) Following the yellow line, you can see that 2008 and 2009, at the tail end of this trend were the safest years to be a police officer in over 110 years.

Here's a chart showing three lines, each sinking steadily with occasional upticks, for the total number of police deaths, the total number due to violent attacks, and the total number of violent deaths adjusted for 2009 population. The yellow line, representing the number of violent deaths of cops adjusted for U.S. resident population, shows the steepest and most consistent decline, with 2008 and 2009 lower than any other years else on the chart.

In other words, it’s never been safer to be a cop in America than it has been over the past 2 years. Yet boss cops, spokespeople for the government police, and articles written by cops and for cops, constantly repeat the demonstrably false claims that criminals are more violent than ever before, and that government cops somehow face more danger on their patrols now than they ever have before. That this is a complete lie would be obvious to anyone who had spent 15 minutes perusing the police’s own institutions and resources for honoring their fallen comrades. The interesting question, then, is what kind of purpose the constant refrain of this unfact from government police serves — what it means when ever-more-heavily-armed government cops keep insisting on a completely mythical ever-present, ever-increasing danger to their politically-sacred persons, in spite of the evidence of the senses and the consistent trends over the last century of historical reality. When you see heavily-armed, well-protected men trying so very hard to psych themselves up to believe in a growing danger that does not actually exist — and when this constantly repeated Big Lie is used to slam pop-culture for any attempt to portray any abuse of police power; to swat down real-life complaints about police belligerence or invasions against civil liberties; to explain the alleged need for assault rifles, tanks, cordoning off strategic hamlets in inner cities, and a niche industry in warrior mindset trainings — I couldn’t much blame you if you did see some real danger in this concerted effort to inculcate and reinforce a consciously-constructed, fact-resistant permanent siege mentality among patrol cops. But not danger for the cops.

Do you feel safer now?

[1] These cop haters are often composed of those segments of society who have fundamentally failed to hold their own accountable, the likes of whom celebrated the King riots, the O.J. acquittal, and the Oakland shootings. This is followed up by out-of-left-field references to Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and Earl Ofari Hutchinson.

[2] If you’re interested in getting the dataset in spreadsheet format, just drop me a line and I’ll send it along. For what it’s worth, if you compare thse figures with figures from other sources, like the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund annual statistics, the numbers are typically very similar, but differ by a few. I presume that this is from differences over which agencies to count as law enforcement officers (Officer Down, for example, counts MPs deployed on overseas assignments.) In any case, the numbers tend to reveal the same trends over time. I used Officer Down’s numbers because they provided an easily-accessible breakdown on causes of death over the years they covered.

See also:

Professional courtesy, part 2: thugs on patrol

Here’s what I said back in April about what professional courtesy means when it comes to law enforcers:

The term professional courtesy comes from the traditions of medicine: many doctors will not charge money when they treat another doctor’s immediate family. When doctors talk about professional courtesy they are talking about a very old system of mutual aid in which one doctor agrees to do a favor for another, at her own expense, for the sake of collegiality, out of concern for professional ethics (to offer doctors an alternative to having their own family as patients), and because she can count on getting similar services in return should she ever need them.

But when the Gangsters in Blue start talking about professional courtesy, they’re talking about something quite different: a favor done for a fellow gang member at no personal expense, with the bill sent to unwilling taxpayers who must pick up the tab for the roads and parking; and a favor done in order insulate the gangsters and their immediate family from any kind of ethical accountability to the unwilling victims that they sanctimoniously insist on serving and protecting. Professional courtesy in medicine means reciprocity in co-operative mutual aid in healing sick people; professional courtesy in government policing means reciprocity in a conspiracy to make sure that any cop can do just about anything she wants by way of free-riding, disruptive, dangerous or criminal treatment of innocent third parties, with complete impunity, and the rest of us will get the bill for it and a fuck you, civilian if we don’t like it.

It turns out that the Virginia State Patrol is stretched thin right now: money is tight because of the state’s economic and budgetary troubles, and — as a result — they’ve delayed a lot of new hiring and they’re having trouble getting up enough active cops for adding special agents to the Joint Terrorism Task forces, creating a Homeland Security Division and dedicating more troopers to investigate illegal firearms purchases at gun shows. (Well, good. Three cheers for the state’s budgetary troubles, if they make for a financial roadblock against ridiculous gun grabs and Stasi statism.) But now check out what the coppers at Officer.com have to say about the Virginia State Patrol in the comments:

Posted by JJS (09/24/08 – 10:41 AM)

VSP has a bad reputation for writing tickets to other officers.

How dare they? Cops deserve to be treated more considerately than everybody else when they are stopped by other cops.

Posted by People Are Sheep [sic!] in Maryland (09/24/08 – 11:19 AM)

VSP Anti-Courtesy

For years, I have heard rumors about VSP stopping and citing police officers both on and off duty. Whatever the circumstance, it is not in the professional interest (and sometimes legal interest) for ANY police officer/trooper to stop (or attempt to stop) any on duty marked police vehicle. In some states, it’s unlawful to do so … and in some states, an arrest warrant or state’s attorney consultation is required BEFORE a stop is made and charges are cited. Off duty officers/troopers should use common sense when driving. Period. On the same token, on duty officers/troopers should use common sense and professional courtesy when it appropriate. . . .

In nearly two decades as a police officer, I have stopped many, many off duty police officers for traffic violations. During those times, I have issued no tickets and made no arrests. There are alternatives to citing and arresting off duty cops: verbal warning, calling their supervisor or just assisting the officer reach their destination safely. All options are, of course, dependent upon the violation at hand.

Remember, we are all that we have out there on the street … each other. The legendary conversation between an overzealous on duty officer and the off duty officer during a traffic stop bears truth: After signing the ticket, the off duty officer says, Just remember, I could be your closest backup out here.

In other words, this sanctimonious server and protector has spent the past two decades completely abdicating his supposed professional responsibilities when they involved holding a fellow cop accountable for endangering the safety of the people he and they are supposedly hired to protect. Because he thinks it’s important never to forget that some day he may need his gang brothers to get his back.

Posted by Harry in District of Columbia (09/24/08 – 04:09 PM)

VSP Anti-Courtesy an understatement

I can in contact with a vehicle that struck a fix object at 21st and Washington Circle NW Washington, D.C. The vehicle was an unmarked VSP vehicle occuppied by 4 VSP officer. All of them had been drinking. knowing what there fate would be if I’d taken a report I had them make a call and two other off duty VSP officer responded to my location, sober, and I allow all to leave. I figured it was up to them to explain to there supervisor the damage to the unmarked cruiser. Now if they had struck another vehicle civilian driver or pedestrian there would have been a different outcome.

Shortly after that I was driving southbound on Rt.29 in Nelson County, VA at 0300hrs and was stopped by a VSP for doing 67 in a 55. I never identified myself as a police officer, probably because I had FOP licence plate, and he never inquiried, and wrote me a speeding ticket. He never spoke a word.

A month later I stoped a civilain vehicle driven by a off duty VSP trooper for a traffic violation, he immediately produced ID and I told him to that a nice day.

VSP is really short on professional courtesy.

A Texas Highway Patrol enforcer defends the honor of his crew from the allegations of a Houston cop:

Posted by TXTroop in TEXAS (09/25/08 – 11:36 AM)

VA & TX

Let me first start off by saying that RICK G in Houston is an idiot. We DO NOT get uniformed officers out of their vehicles to stand on the side of the road. If this happens in Houston it is because Houston PD officers have a habit of holding their badges out the window when they are being stopped. Very UNPROFESSIONAL. As far as our stupid cowboy hats go, even the hood is affraid of the HATS. Now that the idiots comments have been addressed, if VA Troopers are writing other officers, on or off duty shame on them! The only reason any state has a shortage of Troops is PAY. Troopers all over the Nation are reveered as the best officers in their state, they should be paid as such. Sounds like VA needs to up their pay and implement the DONT PUT COPS ON PAPER – TICKETS OR WARNING plan!!!

TXCOP in the DFW area scratches their backs and expects them to scratch his:

Posted by TXCOP in DFW AREA, Texas (09/25/08 – 11:16 PM)

Wow sounds like Rick G. got really upset. Before I moved to Texas I was a LEO in Baltimore City, Md. The only contact I had with VSP was being stopped for speeding something like 80 in 60 or something its been a few years now. But the trooper (an older older officer) made me for a cop and after showing my ID he asked me to slow down and to cut him and his friends a break next time they visit the city for a Ravens or orioles game. Now on that same trip (enroute to visit family in Texas) I was stopped about 40 miles into Texas from arkansas on I 30 by a Texas State Trooper he pulled up next to me hit the alley light and motioned to me so of course I waved at him and continued driving after a minute he motioned again so i figured he wanted me stopped so I shook my head and slowed down he then proceeded to hit the red lights and stop me and the guy in front of me. So here I am the officer stopped between both of us he came to me first and I told him I’m a Leo and have a gun so that he would not be surprised. He asked me to stay with him while he finished the other stop and then he would let me be on my way. He wrote the other guy a citation came back wrote me a warning to get his stat and then I gave him a Uniform patch and was gone.

From a Virginia sheriff’s deputy:

Posted by VA Deputy (09/26/08 – 04:58 AM)

As for professional courtesey… I have worked for a PD and a S.O. and for all you out of town guys, not everyone in VA is into writing LEO’s… professional courtesey ia alive and well in the local jurisdictions… Too many people on the outside are trying to hang us on a daily basis for no reason, we shouldn’t be hanging ourselves. As long as you don’t come out of your vehicle swinging at me, you got a pass here… Stay Safe.

That’s As long as you don’t come out of your vehicle swinging at me and you wear the same gang colors I do, of course. Those passes are not for mere civilians.

I should say that when I refer to cops as a street gang or Gangsters in Blue or what have you, I’m not indulging in metaphor. I don’t mean that cops act kinda like gangsters (as if this were just a matter of personal vices or institutional failures); I mean that they are gangsters — that is the policing system operating successfully according to its normal function — that they are the organized hired muscle of the State, and that the outfit operates just like any other street gang in terms of their commitments, their attitudes, their practices, and their idea of professional ethics. And if you wonder why, it may help to ask yourself what kind of person, and what kind of outfit, you’d need to have for this kind of talk, and this notion of professional courtesy, to make any kind of sense.

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