How to fix the American Cop

How to fix the American cop

Ryan Cooper

After a decades-long steady decline, murder has jumped back to center stage in many American cities. Though the overall rate across the country showed only a minor increase, in several cities it is a genuine emergency. Chicago had 762 murders in 2016, an increase of over 50 percent in one year. Baltimore had 318, off slightly from 2015 but still 50 percent more than 2014. This raises two obvious questions. What is driving the murders, and how might it be stopped?

It’s a good opportunity to read Jill Leovy’s Ghettoside, an extraordinarily good work on murder in the modern American city. It advances a deceptively simple thesis: To stop homicide, police should solve the ones that happen.

Let me address causes first. There is a very strong case that the immense crime wave of the late-middle 20th century was caused by heavy metal poisoning from leaded paint and gasoline. But there is no such obvious environmental factor this time — the increases are too fast and too localized.

Instead, though one must be cautious at this early stage, it appears to be a problem with the police, who have sharply cut back on work in many cities. A recent 60 Minutes report in Chicago detailed a near-collapse of investigative effort, and Baltimore has been struggling with police recruitment since 2015.

 Conservatives and police unions point to this as the so-called “Ferguson effect,” or what happens when liberals disrespect the police — meaning things like “getting mad when cops are constantly shooting unarmed people to death.” By this view, the cops can do nothing wrong, and they deserve constant deference no matter who they strangle, batter to death, or gun down.

This is a crock. But it would also be a mistake to say that the police brutality protests led by Black Lives Matter and today’s murder problem are totally unrelated. BLM is not responsible for the murder increase, but it reflects one aspect of why the police are not doing their jobs properly.

This is where Ghettoside comes in. Leovy persuasively argues that the spectacular murder problem in the American black community is a failure of state-building. The most basic function of the state is to enforce a monopoly on violence, and the single most important task in that effort is ensuring that violent crime is punished. Murder is the king of crimes, and if the state cannot be relied upon to find and punish the culprits, then people will take matters into their own hands.

This was the case in the Appalachian backwoods years ago where rival clans would get into horrifically bloody, decades-long feuds, and it is the case in many African-American communities today. Clans and gangs are not the product of “bad culture” or other such anxious liberal notions. They are the product of the basic human desire for safety and justice manifested in an area of state weakness — indeed, they might well be considered a sort of broken, horrible proto-state.

The responsibility for murder falls to police homicide investigators. But as Leovy demonstrates, American police are not great at this task. It’s not due to a failure of talent — the detective Leovy follows, John Skaggs, is cocksure but extraordinarily effective — but due to the structure of American police departments. Homicide work is challenging, extremely resource-intensive, and not much amenable to the sort of Taylorism that is in vogue among the upper-class liberals who design policy for large cities.

Good homicide work is a craft. It requires someone with organization and discipline, a powerful work ethic, and excellent people skills. It means careful management of evidence, backed up by a trained forensic team; interviewing tens or hundreds of sources, often going back again and again and again to wheedle someone into talking; placing witnesses in protected locations to convince them to testify; and great skill in psychological manipulation to convince suspects to confess. This is poles apart from simply beating false confessions out of someone, of course; one of the most remarkable parts of the book recounts Skaggs’ coaxing a confession out of a guilty suspect with nothing but some off-putting friendly banter and a few well-chosen lies.

Modern police departments are not a friendly place for the craftsman. Department budgets are strangled in the age of austerity, and the brass are constantly possessed by faddish ideas about preventative policing like “broken windows” and “stop-and-frisk” that can be quantified down to the pencil stroke. Grueling, uncertain detective work does not have that Big Data shine, and even a moderately complicated case can rack up tremendous bills before it is remotely close to going to court, with no guarantee that it will lead to a conviction.

Skaggs and his comrades make a good living at detective work, but they struggle constantly for department resources and professional recognition — what success they have is more in spite of the department structure than because of it. Worse still, the beloved Big Data projects often involve flooding troubled areas with patrolmen who do little more than stand around and hassle people, leading to the occasional beating or killing, and creating tremendous resentment of the police.

That structural incompetence is colliding head on with a popular uprising against police brutality to create a crisis of legitimacy for American police in cities like Chicago and Baltimore, both of which had brutal, high-profile police killings. People are outraged and often refuse to cooperate with investigators, police morale is low, and more than a few cops appear to think that a huge increase in murders is just deserts for failing to respect the police. Result: a spree of murders. As Leovy emphasizes, it is precisely because police are generally apathetic about a certain class of homicides — namely, those of black men — that so many happen.

The solution is as obvious as it is difficult — reform police departments to solve murders. First, restore the reputation of police. Punish abusive cops, and drastically cut back mass harassment tactics, like stop-and-frisk, that solve nothing except soothing upper-class liberals’ neurotic need for large spreadsheets. Patrolmen and beat cops have important roles to play in investigation (and in policing generally), but “constantly jacking up tens of thousands of innocent people” is not among them.

On the other hand, make homicide detectives the crown jewel of the police — recruit the best investigators and shower them with resources and status, then demand dogged, ethical effort and solved cases. As Leovy writes, homicide work is extraordinarily compelling for someone with a talent for it. It quite literally is a foundation of American society. Given a reasonable context and proper support, the work will be done well.

Cops As Killers

Growing up, a cop was a man that you would help you if you needed help. We had a volunteer fire department and I knew most of them and several of them were family.  In school they taught us policemen were our friends, and I had faith in that idea, faith in the police. Then  the day came when protesters to the Vietnam War at Kent State, Ohio were murdered by the National Guard (cops). I cried. I screamed. I lost my faith in cops.


Now, we have cops killing a lot of people. A frightening number of people. Often they are minorities, some of them have even been entitled whites. Almost all have been innocent and trying to explain and/or being compliant with the cop.


Now cops are killing children. The first event took place in Cleveland, Ohio. I lived there 20 years. I know the city well. A black child, Tamir Rice was playing with a toy gun at a neighborhood park. A person called 911 and reported a suspicious person having a gun. They said it might be a toy gun. Meanwhile, Tamir is just minding his own business playing on a cold winter afternoon. A police cruiser comes racing down the street and quickly pulls up a few feet from this child. The cop in the passenger gets out and shoots Tamir dead. One second he is a child playing and the next he is lying on the snowy ground as his life force ebbs out of his body. His big sister then arrives and tries to go to Tamir and the cops refuse to let her near her brother. They made sure he died alone.


Tamir is not the only child or teen to be murdered by cops and most have been black. This has made me a staunch supporter of Black Lives Matter. Tamir was black. When he arrived in heaven, he looked like everyone else because we are all the same. The blood floods through our veins and arteries the same, our kidneys work the same, our hearts beat the same, our skin is the only difference.


I have attached stories about more of the same. I want to write about happier things, but the National Rifle Association and the cops won’t let the subject be out of the news for very long at all.


The way to positive change is for as many people as possible to know what is happening. Knowledge is power to make the changes that are required. Please feel free to give me your honest feedback in civilized language. I guess I should mention, if anyone hasn’t deduced by now, I don’t trust cops anymore. I am sure there are some good cops but recent event make is seem that there are not enough, not nearly enough. The bad and/or racist cops appear to be growing in numbers too fast to ignore.









Video of police shooting that killed 6-year-old

autistic La. boy released

Last Updated Sep 28, 2016 7:10 PM EDT

MARKSVILLE, La. — The public is getting its first look at a police body camera video that shows two deputy city marshals opening fire on a car, killing a 6-year-old boy and critically wounding his father in Louisiana.

Prosecutors showed the tape in court Wednesday to support their claim that one of the deputies, Derrick Stafford, had a pattern of using excessive force — including last November’s fatal shooting of 6-year-old Jeremy Mardis in Marksville.

Police say the officer’s chased the boy’s father Christopher Few after he drove off from an argument with his girlfriend. The video captures the moment the SUV was cornered, CBS News correspondent David Begnaud reported.

Defense attorneys argue the deputies acted in self-defense and claim Few rammed into a deputy’s vehicle before they fired.


christofer-few-left-with-jeremy-mardis-right-cbs-affiliateChristopher Few (left) and his son Jeremy Mardis (right).

However, state District Court Judge William Bennett said the video doesn’t show Few using his car as a “deadly weapon” at the time of the shooting.

The court released the video to reporters after the hearing.

The shooting happened Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015 around 9:30 p.m., CBS affiliate WAFB reported. Jeremy Mardis, who had autism, died at the scene from multiple gunshot wounds. His father, Chris Few, survived.

Parish investigators initially said marshals were chasing Few because of an outstanding warrant, WAFB reported.. However, WAFB checked with the Clerk of Court, the District Attorney’s Office, Marksville Police Department and City Court and did not find any outstanding warrants.

Col. Mike Edmonson said so far, their investigation shows the same.

WAFB has posted the first minute and 35 seconds from the shooting. They are currently reviewing the rest of the body cam footage.

Part of the video can be found below. Video may be disturbing and graphic for viewers.








” I, too, am America.” – Langston Hughes


I have been thinking about Black Lives Matter.


First of all, I am totally behind this movement. In fact, I hope it grows by leaps and bounds. I also wish it started a couple of hundred years ago. This is not realistic, I know, but I wish it were.


I have been writing at different times about Black Americans  who, through luck or circumstance, have made a difference in the world;  enough of a difference that history records their deeds and contributions to civilizations. Inventors, freedom fighters, writers, fighters for freedom, poets, doctors and others.


Because every black life matters, I want to take the time to honor every black person who survived every day of their life in slavery. They all matter. Every black person who lived through segregation matters; From the domestics who worked for white people, to those who drank at the black water fountain to those who rode at the back of buses. Black men who were referred to as “boy”;  any black person who was referred to as “nigger”: You all shine to me. Your courage and strength of character is amazing. You were brave and tread where angels feared to go.


Since there has been integration — at the cost of hundreds of black lives and Martin Luther King Jr. , JFK and Bobby Kennedy — there have been some improvements. My children and grandchildren went to school with and are friends with black people and other minorities, including Native Americans.


Today, there should be no more racism. In America alone, there are millions of black people who have so much to give. What they need is for us white, Caucasian, people to let go of racism and give them a chance at educations equal to what our children receive.


Black parents need to tell your children that they are wonderful and smart and will be successful in life. However to do this, they need to be able to stop spending time teaching their children what to do when the inevitable cop stops them because of the color of their skin. How to answer their questions, where their hands should be, the tone of voice they should use: the type of training white children never receive because no cop will stop and frisk them for being white.


In another life, I marched and picketed in many cities in different states including Washington DC. I never got arrested. I believe my whiteness had a lot to do with that. I can have a sarcastic voice, so I doubt it was because I was so sweet.


American society has pushed the black portion of our society about as far as they are willing to go. I don’t blame them. Would your white friends take what black people are expected to swallow? Mine wouldn’t and neither would I.


America has come to yet another fork in the road that makes up our society. There have been enough black lives taken, like Tamir Rice, and Michael Brown and so many others. What could they have accomplished had they not been treated as “other” all of their lives? What if they had been told how well they were doing in school, if college had been talked about as a natural step in their growing up? What if their teachers had told them to keep working, they were going to make it? What if one or two had graduated as Valedictorian?


What if every child in America, no matter what color they were, or what disabilities they had, would have an equal chance in their life?


Well, I am going to say it to any one who wants to hear it:

You, too, are America.

You are a unique child of God/Goddess and you can accomplish whatever you want to.

You are good, smart, strong and people believe in you.

You can ignore those around you who don’t want you to succeed.

You were made to accomplish big things and you can.

Believe in yourself,

I believe in you. I believe in every black person in America.


Black Lives Do Indeed Matter.








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Some of the great black Back Americans who have made America stronger.

Some of the great  Back Americans who have made America stronger.

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