THE NATURAL PARANOIA OF THE POLICE – YOU’RE NOT GETTING THE TAILLIGHT OR THE WAY THE STOP WENT DOWN
I don’t suspect that either “side” (of the political argument anyway) is getting the taillight or the stop. So let me explain something that probably most of you aren’t understanding then. At least not a lot of you.
Yes, it’s possible the woman made up the story of the taillight, but equally possible, if not far more so, that is simply the reason the officer gave for the stop. That, if the kid was a suspect, you give a fake reason for stopping them in order to throw the guy off his guard and not arouse suspicion.
Rarely would you stop a guy, especially if you spot that there is a woman and a kid in the car, and say to them, “Excuse me sir, but you fit the profile and so does this vehicle involved in a recently committed crime. Mind if I talk to you for a minute so we can see if you are the actual perp?”
Game is over at that point. You can likely expect trouble. I mean who the hell does that? Yes, the black humorist in me would like to see it tried sometime but not around anyone else.
And yeah, the cop lied to you in a semi-believable way or a way he can fake later, “Yeah, well, from what I saw the light wasn’t functioning.” Big deal, he’s trying to defuse or cover or prevent a far more dangerous or even potentially deadly situation. Which I’ll get to in a minute.
What I would have said and done, had I been the officer, was this,
“Excuse me, sir or madam (whoever is driving, I’d have to rewatch the video but notice he approached the boy in either case) and I don’t know if you are aware of this or not but your license tag is missing. It’s possible it either fell off or was stolen. No, don’t get out of your car. I just want to know, do you know your license tag number or can you recite it for me?”
I’ve used that ploy myself to great effect and it confuses people and distracts them. Setting their mind to a task that occupies them. But then again I’m fifty something years old and this cop was apparently a rather young guy with 3 or 4 years on the force and his partner about the same. You can’t blame a man for being inexperienced. That alone is not a crime. Though sometimes it can be a disaster.
But in either case the cop likely used the broken taillight as a ploy for the stop. Then everything else went down.
I have no problem with the stop. Or the ploy, if that’s what the cop did and I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts that’s what he did. That’s not my complaint with this entire incident.
My complaint is with everything that follows.
Some of you are gonna think I’m anti-cop and some of you are gonna think I’m racist and so the hell what?
I’m not interested in either, I’m not either, and I don’t give a fuck what you think. None of that is germane. I am interested in solutions.
Let me tell you how I would have likely handled this and how most old timers would have handled this and without a shot being fired (unless the kid pulled a gun and started shooting, which you cannot control).
I would have told them both, “Your license tag is missing.” To occupy them. Then I would have filmed them all good with my body cam (an advantage of modern technology). If the guy informed me he had a gun and a permit I would have said, “Good, just wait on that please. No hurry.”
Seeing there was a kid (in case I hadn’t before) and a woman I’d have likely said, “You have a child in the car, you don’t want anything to happen to that child or to be stopped again. Do you?”
“No, of course not. No one wants to endanger a child.”
“Do you two live together?”
Yes, or no.
“What are your addresses? Do you live nearby?” Get them without arousing suspicion and knowing they might or might not be true. But remember you still have the licenses and you still have the tags. Even if they don’t know that.
“Okay, go straight home and get this car and your child (even if it ain’t his kid you want him thinking that way about the kid) off the road. Someone else could pull you over.” (Remember you could be aware that there is a call out for the vehicle or the suspect, but they don’t necessarily know that.) “I’m gonna give you a warning ticket about the tag and if another officer pulls you over between here and home then show it to them. That will clear you, but go straight home, okay? Will you promise me that until we can recover your tag?”
Then I would have all I need for alter advantageous action and I’d send them on their way. I might even shadow them home but more than likely I’d just call it in and let everyone know what I did and for someone else to pick them up along the way or near their home(s). Once I could be sure the boy was safely separated from the child and woman then I could isolate and interrogate him and either verify or disprove he was the actual suspect.
Will they check their license tag on getting home? Maybe. If the boy does and he knows he’s a suspect then he might take off. Likely alone. Which is what you want. (Not necessarily policy wise, but practically and realistically.) If he has been properly shadowed or picked up he won’t get far and you won’t have to wait for long to pick him up at an advantage to you, and at a disadvantage to him. If he’s not the real suspect then you’ll just confuse him and the girl. No harm done. And again you can wait, observe, and possibly eliminate him as a suspect.
Either way your real effort is to get them separated. If he’s a suspect and isolated then the danger to everyone else is eliminated, if he is not a suspect then you either make up a story “It really looked like your tag was gone,” or you level with the guy. And apologize. And let him know why, “you fit a suspect description and so did your vehicle, but we’ve either been able to clear you or we caught the real suspect. I wanted you to know that because this could have gotten dangerous for you. And for us. I’m very glad it didn’t and hope this never happens again to you.” Then shake his hand.
Most of the time that satisfies most people. Even endears you to a few. Sometimes someone will file a complaint. But, and I don’t wanna sound syndical here but you know exactly what I mean, that beats the hell out of the paperwork and complaints you’ll receive for a shooting or for getting shot.
Point is, you don’t have to solve every possible criminal problem or engage every criminal suspect at first encounter unless of course you or someone else has found them in the commission of a crime. Or the suspect suddenly draws his own weapon and starts firing. Things you can’t control anyway.
Danger is not your real job as a police officer, it’s a perk (black humor again), and shooting and getting shot is not your real job as a cop, avoiding or deescalating danger and avoiding shooting and getting shot, and thereby resolving crime as peacefully as possible – that’s your real job. (Is that always possible, no, sadly, you understand real people too, but that is your aim and most of the time it can be done if you are craftier than the criminal or the public, and you should be craftier than both. Oh few people will say that out loud, because of modern political pussification, but it’s true. You want to be far smarter than either the criminals or the public to both defeat and destroy crime and to guard society, sometimes even from itself, without endangering the innocent.)
Now a lot of people will say by way of objection, “Well, our resources are already stretched too thin and we can’t afford to wait and to isolate.”
Of course you can. Don’t be absurd. Waiting and isolating is a hell of a lot cheaper and safer for everyone, including you (in the vast majority of cases) than facing lawsuits and riots and potshots at your fellow officers and mass murders attacks (I am not saying any of these things are actually justified, I am saying you likely will face them, and you know that if you are really honest with yourselves) and possibly getting civilians involved in a shooting. Shooting is the very last thing you want to do if you can possibly help it, but nowadays if an old woman with a knife is running around screaming, you just shoot her.
For God’s sake, think on that and think on how your grandfathers would have handled that.
You don’t, returning to the subject matter at hand, escalate a potentially dangerous situation around a woman and child. Even assuming you have a right to fire (and being a suspect does not make a man guilty and having a firearm – unless you are a convicted felon – is legal for everyone else or should be under our Constitution) bullets can hit bones or metal or other material and spin away and hit the woman or kid, or in a rush you can just plain miss.
And suspicion does not give you a right to fire.
And after you do fire and have severely injured a guy you immediately disarm him, clear the child and woman, and render assistance. You do not stand there with your weapon continually aimed at the guy as he bleeds out and dies.
There are lots of ways this could have been handled. Most all would have ended safely for everyone.
Now was this stop racism? Very, very unlikely that most any situation like this is racism. That’s ridiculous. It’s paranoia, is what it actually is. If it was racism or “systemic racism” then cops would be shooting sixty year old back guys and black women and little black kids, or whatever. They aren’t. They tend to shoot young black males because that is who is usually proven dangerous. After all young black males kill far more young black males than most cops ever will. (And you gotta be honest about that too.) But cops are paranoid of young black males precisely because, primarily in big city/heavily urban areas, they kill each other so often. Add that, to a cop’s already natural sense of paranoia and danger, not only abides for all, it multiplies and thrives.
And that’s fine and I get that, paranoia has on more than one occasion saved my ass. But paranoia and inexperience and the idea that you must be in a rush to resolve every dangerous or potentially dangerous situation has a bad side as well.
If you ask me, by studying this situation carefully, you can see how modern police training is going badly awry. Your training is all fucked up. Especially big city training. Well, most big city training anyway.
You gotta start being honest about that. Primarily, urban police officers, I mean.
You gotta start acting beyond your training and incorporating your own experience to your actions and reactions and listening to what your older officers and old timers do/did in tough situations, and listen to their stories.
You gotta stop being in such a rush and yeah, I know, if your superiors second guess you and think you have fucked up by letting a suspect walk (for the moment) they will give you hell and maybe even screw with your career. I know all of that shit. Your job sucks.
And yeah, I know you’re not racist, you’re paranoid. You’re stuck in a system, and an environment (just like most young decent blacks kids are) where the usual suspect and the usual perp of violent crime (and the usual victim) is a young black boy. That’s just Reality. So if you’re a cop, especially in certain areas, and you’re not paranoid, then you’re a fool.
But don’t let paranoia rule you (easier said than done, I know), don’t be in a rush, rely upon your training but don’t be hamstrung by it, add to it your experience and the experience of those around you, and remember a lot of problems, even those that seem immediately dangerous aren’t really if they are handled right. And given some time, thought, and pre-calculation.
(It sure as hell wouldn’t hurt for you to write down all of the tricks you’ve employed over time that worked out well, and all of the things you’ve done that haven’t worked and review those with yourself and your fellow officers from time to time. Screw policy when necessary, write down and think about and review what actually works. Lessons Learned. Keep your own records and notes on your own best techniques and the best techniques of those who do best.)
And remember that if you see a woman and a kid, assuming your suspect hasn’t already pulled a gun then he’s just a suspect and a lot of things can wait until the situation is to your advantage, and to the woman and kid’s advantage, not the suspect’s advantage.
And you owe people who are not criminals (especially when they are in or around potentially dangerous situations) respect even when they give you a hard time, and many will for reasons that have nothing to do with you. Most people are driven by their emotions at least some of the time. Everyone is from time to time. You know that better than most. You see it constantly.
And so for God’s sake be careful out there. I mean that in all of these potential senses, careful for yourself, careful of others, and careful for others. All are equally important but not all have to be serviced immediately and sometimes it is just plain better to wait, to observe, to qualify, and to understand before acting.
And for you civilians out there, especially you middle class blacks (and whites and others) who have lived basically sheltered lives but for whom the police may still be paranoid of you, they are paranoid by nature and as a result of the job (keeps them alive), not racist.
(At least not racist in the way you think at all. They are practical racists, if that is the real term or expresses the real idea. I know no one wants to hear that, even cops because they are not racists or bear ill-will against a race-group but they have “attached danger to the idea of young black males” primarily young black urban males because they have seen so many dangerous young black urban males. To that one group they are, rightfully or wrongly, extra-paranoid. You can call that racism if you like, I don’t, it should have its own term, and maybe I should devise one, but it’s not race-hatred, it’s an extra-heightened sense of danger and paranoia around a particular group of young black males born of experience, particularly those who live in certain areas.)
Nevertheless, and all of that being true, a police officer cannot rely upon suspicion and paranoia as a tool of interaction in working with the public. A police officer owes you respect especially if you are not engaged in crime or have no record. But cops have a heightened sense of suspicion and danger. Often to them suspect = convict or dangerous individual because they have seen it so much.
I wish there was a way I could magically wave a wand and resolve these situations for everyone involved or make everyone understand the other better.
But I can’t.
But I can say this, we can all do lot better. Cops, civilians, society, black, white, you name it. And we should all do lot better.
And criminals, for God’s sake, stop doing the shit you do.
There’s no future in it for you or anyone else. Without you being idiots and fools most of this shit would never happen. That’s the real answer to the vast majority of this mess.
Criminals, find and pursue a better way. You’re the real and by far the most prominent and dangerous problem.
Do I actually expect that? For criminals to suddenly grow a conscience and to change?
What the hell am I? Some kind of naïve modern man?
Not likely. But still, it’s what ought to be done.
A shocking video shared live on Facebook by an African American woman whose partner was just shot four times by police has rocked the United States.
Having been pulled over for a broken tail light on Wednesday, Philandro Castile informed the police officer that he had a weapon in the car and a licence to carry before reaching for his wallet.
It was then that the officer opened fire, shooting Castile four times.
Castile’s partner, Diamond Reynolds and her four year old daughter watched on helplessly.
Philandro Castile in his last moments. Source: Diamond Reynolds / Youtube.
Within moments of Castile being shot, Reynolds began filming, live-streaming what was happening to Facebook, speaking to the camera and police officer intermittently.
“He let the officer know that he had a firearm and he was reaching for his wallet and the officer just shot him in his arm,” Reynolds said to the camera.
Reynold’s four year old daughter offers comfort to her mother. Post continues…
Castile can be seen slumped between the front seats, his white t-shirt soaked with blood, his breathing slowing between cries of pain.
“I told him not to reach for it. I told him to get his hand off it,” the St. Anthony police officer can be heard saying to Reynolds.
Following the arrival of more officers, Reynolds’ confronting footage continues, with her being forced to drop to the ground at one point.
The shooting of Castile comes following the death of Alton Sterling, another African American man shot dead by police in Baton Rouge on Tuesday.
Diamond Reynolds speaking to press following the shooting. Source: Youtube.
“Please don’t tell me this, Lord. Please, Jesus, don’t tell me that he’s gone,” she said. “Please, officer, don’t tell me that you just did this to him. You shot four bullets into him, sir,” Reynolds says frantically. “He was just getting his license and registration, sir.”
Later, as Reynolds and her daughter are being loaded into a police vehicle, she again cries, “Please Jesus, no. Please no. Please no, don’t let him be gone.”
From out of shot, Reynolds daughter can be heard saying, “it’s okay, I’m right here with you.”
Castile was pronounced dead at at Hennepin County Medical Center. He had no criminal record and was said to be well respected by co-workers and friends.