Here’s something I’ve been thinking about for a few days now. About a week, in fact. But I wanted to put off reacting to it until more information had come out. Not that much more has, since it’s not in style anymore.
Here’s what’s come out, to date….
About three weeks ago, a cop shot a kid. Meaning that, three weeks ago, that’s what we were hearing. In fact, there were a few more details. Like the kid in question being eighteen, and close to my height, and possibly the weight of my car. So, initial images of a cop shooting an infant in the back may have been a little…off.
Poor little guy….
On the topic, the kid in question—Michael Brown—wasn’t evidently shot in the back; the eventual story fed to the press is that Brown, beleaguered by an anonymous cop, had been walking in the street, when he’d been ordered to stop doing that, leading to Brown rushing the cop and trying to steal the cop’s gun.
A week after the incident, the police finally released the name of the officer involved—Darren Wilson—upsold with an irrelevant video of Brown in a convenience store. The implication is that the cop shot the kid for stealing cigars.
I call the video irrelevant for a few reasons. One’s that the cop had no apparent knowledge of the robbery; another’s that no one’s certain that a robbery ever took place; a third’s that, even if the cop had known that the kid had just stolen a few cigars, it turns out that cops don’t get to shoot people for that. You kooky Americans and your Rule of Law.
Riots ensue; Al Sharpton remembers that he exists; who cares.
People did, of course…you know…care.
Then, on the nineteenth—about a week ago now—the Washington Post ran a sorta open letter from Sunil Dutta: a Professor of Homeland Security at Colorado Tech University, formerly a cop in Los ‘Rodney King Yo’ Angeles for seventeen years.
The contents of that open letter concern me. So I’ve been thinking about them for a few days, waiting to react until more information had come out. Which, again, it never really did.
This is what concerns me about this letter. I’ll repost it, line by line, with my thoughts in red:
I’m a cop. If you don’t want to get hurt, don’t challenge me.
You now have my attention. Your fault….
A teenager is fatally shot by a police officer; the police are accused of being bloodthirsty, trigger-happy murderers; riots erupt.
With ya so far….
This, we are led to believe, is the way of things in America.
Yeah. That’s absurd. Ordinarily, when a cop shoots a teenager, the whole incident remains safely beneath the radar of the media; Internal Affairs, functionally policing themselves, investigate for a couple weeks, while the cop sits at home or at a desk on paid leave, before ruling it a good shooting; the dead kid’s parents sue the city; the city settles out of court for a typically undisclosed amount of taxpayers’ money; riots never erupt.
The city doesn’t settle out of court when the kid was clearly asking for it
It is also a terrible calumny; cops are not murderers.
Agreed. Also not murderers: people who get abortions; people who eat inhuman meat; people who dig calumny out of a thesaurus to sound more educated than they’re about to….
No officer goes out in the field wishing to shoot anyone, armed or unarmed.
‘…but I’d never unholster my NiggerKiller.’
And while they’re unlikely to defend it quite as loudly during a time of national angst like this one, people who work in law enforcement know they are legally vested with the authority to detain suspects — an authority that must sometimes be enforced.
The specific authority in question:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.—Amendment IV, US Constitution
Definition of Probable Cause: a reasonable amount of suspicion, supported by circumstances sufficiently strong to justify a prudent and cautious person’s belief that certain facts are probably true—Ballentine’s Law Dictionary
Regardless of what happened with Mike Brown, in the overwhelming majority of cases it is not the cops, but the people they stop, who can prevent detentions from turning into tragedies.
…it is not the cops…who can prevent detentions….
Cops: the mindless blunt tools of the Executive Branch.
Working the street, I can’t even count how many times I withstood curses, screaming tantrums, aggressive and menacing encroachments on my safety zone, and outright challenges to my authority.
This is why we encourage you to write these things down, amassing a sum total of quantifiable police reports: we don’t trust your memory.
The entirety of Wilson’s Incident Report, filed some 214 hours past Legal Deadline.
In the vast majority of such encounters, I was able to peacefully resolve the situation without using force.
Someone’s in line for a StarSticker….
Cops deploy their training and their intuition creatively, and I wielded every trick in my arsenal, including verbal judo, humor, warnings and ostentatious displays of the lethal (and nonlethal) hardware resting in my duty belt.
Verbal Judo is just bad lipsynching in the transition from Japanese to American, right? Ah, so: Gojira! Gojira!
One time, for instance, my partner and I faced a belligerent man who had doused his car with gallons of gas and was about to create a firebomb at a busy mall filled with holiday shoppers.
One time, I faced a belligerent cop who accused me of walking with a cane to conceal public intoxication. Your turn….
The potential for serious harm to the bystanders would have justified deadly force.
Shooting the car saturated in petrol, you mean.
Instead, I distracted him with a hook about his family and loved ones, and he disengaged without hurting anyone.
‘Yo’ mama’s so ugly, cars explode spontaneously.’
Every day cops show similar restraint and resolve incidents that could easily end up in serious injuries or worse.
Never underestimate the 115 IQ Ceiling.
Sometimes, though, no amount of persuasion or warnings work on a belligerent person; that’s when cops have to use force, and the results can be tragic.
Like when a kid won’t stop walking down the middle of an empty street in broad daylight.
We are still learning what transpired between Officer Darren Wilson and Brown, but in most cases it’s less ambiguous — and officers are rarely at fault.
Source: Internal Affairs.
When they use force, they are defending their, or the public’s, safety.
‘You! CigarGuy, weighing a tenth of my squadcar! Stop endangering the pavement!’
Even though it might sound harsh and impolitic, here is the bottom line: if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you.
Do what I tell you, or get shot. Assault with a deadly weapon. By definition. If he weren’t writing this from sixty-two miles away, in Colorado Springs, I’d call this a watertight violation of USCode 18.875.
Don’t argue with me, don’t call me names, don’t tell me that I can’t stop you, don’t say I’m a racist pig, don’t threaten that you’ll sue me and take away my badge.
I wouldn’t threaten to sue you and take away your badge; I’d sue you and take away your badge after the fact. Scientist thing: I don’t wanna taint your behaviour by heisenberging it.
Don’t scream at me that you pay my salary, and don’t even think of aggressively walking towards me.
I’ve got a cane. Is that aggressive? Because wheelchairs can be.
Most field stops are complete in minutes. How difficult is it to cooperate for that long?
You’re asking how difficult it is to submit to assault with a deadly weapon? It’s kinda against my nature, based on the fights I’ve been in.
I know it is scary for people to be stopped by cops.
Is it? I dunno. Things don’t scare me. Sociopath thing. The closest I get to fear, in a situation like this, is devoting too much thought to …don’t kill the moron…don’t kill the moron…. It’s tantamount to the hassle of having to pull my feet up to land correctly after being thrown off a ZBoard which has hit a large rock at twenty miles per hour.
I also understand the anger and frustration if people believe they have been stopped unjustly or without a reason.
Your thesaurus has failed you: doubting that a cop has a reasonable amount of suspicion, supported by circumstances sufficiently strong to justify a prudent and cautious person’s belief that certain facts are probably true is not by definition a belief.
I am aware that corrupt and bully cops exist.
Caught that, didya?
When it comes to police misconduct, I side with the ACLU: Having worked as an internal affairs investigator, I know that some officers engage in unprofessional and arrogant behavior; sometimes they behave like criminals themselves.
Close. A cop breaking the law isn’t behaving like a criminal; a cop breaking the law is a criminal. Try arresting and booking one on suspicion, instead of throwing him at a desk on salary, and you might start seeing the similarities.
I also believe every cop should use a body camera to record interactions with the community at all times.
Agreed. And I’ll go one further: in the event that the timestamped camera malfunctions, or gets its view blocked, we’ll call that a lack of evidence contributing automatically to reasonable doubt.
Every police car should have a video recorder.
Is this not already the case? Everyone made of molecules in Russia has a dashcam; there are squadcars lacking in these things in the US?
(This will prevent a situation like Mike Brown’s shooting, about which conflicting and self-serving statements allow people to believe what they want.)
Are you seriously telling me that Wilson’s squadcar had no dashcam? See the bit about reasonable doubt, above.
And you don’t have to submit to an illegal stop or search.
Awesome. I’ll quote you on this if a cop onscene ever says otherwise. I’ll yell back: ‘You pull over; you can’t stop me, you racist pig; I’ll sue you and take away your badge! Officer Dutta says Hi!’ Like that?
You can refuse consent to search your car or home if there’s no warrant (though a pat-down is still allowed if there is cause for suspicion).
I’ve done that. Officer Smith [seriously] of the Des Moines Police Department had me stand with my palms flat on the bonnet of his squadcar while he searched my vehicle regardless. Any other bright ideas?
Always ask the officer whether you are under detention or are free to leave.
No. I don’t wanna know whether I’m being detained; that’s a meaningless, halfassed state. I wanna know whether I’m under arrest, or free to go. Because being under arrest requires evidence to get out of having kidnapped me.
Unless the officer has a legal basis to stop and search you, he or she must let you go.
Because, otherwise, he’ll force you at gunpoint to remain standing with your palms flat on the bonnet of his car while he searches yours.
Finally, cops are legally prohibited from using excessive force: The moment a suspect submits and stops resisting, the officers must cease use of force.
Note to Cops: Keep shouting ‘Stop resisting!’ while beating the guy you knocked unconscious thirty seconds ago, in case there are cameras.
But if you believe (or know) that the cop stopping you is violating your rights or is acting like a bully, I guarantee that the situation will not become easier if you show your anger and resentment.
What anger and resentment? I’m a sociopath. To me, you’re just another boring object making noises at me. You serve no practical purpose. Being angry at you is like being angry at the rain: a stupid incidence of downtime preventing me from rolling along on my EV Skateboard.
I’ll have you incarcerated later, when I’m less busy.
Worse, initiating a physical confrontation is a sure recipe for getting hurt.
Read: when a cop, who’s threatening however implicitly to shoot you if you don’t obey him, suspects that you’re not obeying him, you’re initiating a confrontation. Also: pissing yourself might repulse him into leaving you alone, I’ve heard.
Police are legally permitted to use deadly force when they assess a serious threat to their or someone else’s life.
Good call: your need to use deadly force was coincident to someone’s life being in danger.
Save your anger for later, and channel it appropriately.
And, here I am.
Do what the officer tells you to and it will end safely for both of you.
‘Gi’me the justice, and no one gets hurt!’
We have a justice system in which you are presumed innocent; if a cop can do his or her job unmolested, that system can run its course.
Think happy thoughts; it’ll all be over soon….
Later, you can ask for a supervisor, lodge a complaint or contact civil rights organizations if you believe your rights were violated.
Or suspect. Or suppose. Or presume. Or affirm. Or don’t use a thesaurus.
Feel free to sue the police!
Free being six hundred bucks to file a lawsuit; hiring a lawyer is optional.
Just don’t challenge a cop during a stop.
The guy’s got an IQ under 115; what wouldn’t challenge him…?
An average person cannot comprehend the risks and has no true understanding of a cop’s job.
I’m not average: I’m six and a half feet tall and emotionless, and my IQ looks like your cholesterol.
My ZBoard is a metre long; the soles of my Vans are under an inch.
Hollywood and television stereotypes of the police are cartoons in which fearless super cops singlehandedly defeat dozens of thugs, shooting guns out of their hands.
I know: I’ve heckled those films.
Real life is different.
Not a lot: I heckle real cops too.
An average cop is always concerned with his or her safety and tries to control every encounter.
All cops are average: perfectly IQ Normative. Did you read the article I linked to?
That is how we are trained.
And why people with IQs of 125 are rejected.
While most citizens are courteous and law abiding, the subset of people we generally interact with everyday are not the genteel types.
ThesaurusBoy used another word.
The cops I interact with aren’t polite, refined, or respectable either; as for ostentatious affectations: a fun drinking game involves noting a cop calling everything in the universe an altercation.
You don’t know what is in my mind when I stop you.
I know it’s nothing particularly postgrad.
Did I just get a radio call of a shooting moments ago?
Not if your name is Darren Wilson.
Am I looking for a murderer or an armed fugitive?
And is he DtF in my area?
For you, this might be a “simple” traffic stop, for me each traffic stop is a potentially dangerous encounter.
Possibly because you’re using an emergency vehicle improperly to arrest the right to travel under pain of death.
Show some empathy for an officer’s safety concerns.
[sociopathy] is traditionally defined as a personality disorder characterised by enduring antisocial behaviour, diminished empathy and remorse, and disinhibited or bold behaviour.
I don’t do empathy. You emotionally motivated dweeb.
Don’t make our job more difficult than it already is.
‘I pulled you over for doing seventy-three in a sixty-five; but I’m going to call it seventy. And do you know why?’
Because you can’t do fractions.
Community members deserve courtesy, respect and professionalism from their officers.
And also evidence of Bigfoot.
Every person stopped by a cop should feel safe instead of feeling that their wellbeing is in jeopardy.
So, don’t challenge me; walk nonaggressively, or I’ll kill you to death.
Shouldn’t the community members extend the same courtesy to their officers and project that the officer’s safety is not threatened by their actions?
Equivocation. A guy using a gun to stop me and ask whether I have a gun isn’t deserving of quid pro quo.
Now, don’t get me wrong: I have no particular problem with cops. Though that’s a bit of a loaded sentence, I suppose. To me, cops are about the same as anyone: someone holding down something of a McJob because he’s comfy with routine. But note that I’m talking precisely about cops here. What I’m not talking about are criminals impersonating officers to get their bully on; those are people I have a problem with.
I’ve mentioned this before. Not recently, I suppose; but, way back in NotS, in 1999, I mentioned that real cops—good ones—very likely the vast majority of them—are great. Arguably needless; not people I call when I’ve got a problem [the last time I was involved in a situation I could have called the cops over was in 2008, when I phonecammed the ?janitor at KingStoopids accusing us of shoplifting, preventing us from leaving the store and searching Hunter for stolen merch she didn't possess; I didn't call the police (or, really, the FBI, who handle kidnapping cases); I went back the next day to talk to the store's manager and, to misuse a word related within a thesaurus, blackmailed her into resolving the situation to my satisfaction]. But, in general, and on disappointing average, Johnny Law is just some goof in a costume with a zipper beneath his clipon tie who does little more than act as a scarecrow to remind people to slow back down toward the speedlimit. Real cops, who do their actual jobs, don’t really mean much to me.
Bad cops—which I argue aren’t really cops—annoy me. These are just bullies, reassured by a selfpolicing internal review board which excuses things—like scarring an infant with a grenade and shooting hostages and filling parked cars with more bullets than you’d reasonably expect a given precinct to possess—as proper conduct becoming an officer of the law. And that’s all just within the last year.
In my own experience, there’s always Officer Smith, who actually asked me this inane question: Have you got anything in your car that could hurt me? Guns? Knives? Big snakes?
Yeah. You caught me. I do herpetological animal husbandry in a Pontiac as a hobby. You thin, blue waffle.
Which I didn’t actually say. What I actually said was: I’ve got some Advil; the warnings indicate that you could overdose.
And then he ordered me out of my property to search it without my consent. Because he was a bad cop—a bully impersonating an officer.
I once had a cop pull me over near Atlanta, because my 1965 Mustang impressed him as Close Enough to matching the description of a latemodel Corvette. He didn’t like my insurance card [it may have contained big words] and wrote me a ticket I had to talk to a judge about nullifying.
I once had a cop pull me over for failing to wear a seatbelt [before that became something a cop could pull you over for] in my 1974 Buick LeSabre Custom Limited convertible. He was wrong. The 1974 LeSabre came standard with lapbelts invisible from outside the car. That criminal decided that he smelled alcohol, pulling me out of my car to search it. Of course, when I say my car, I technically mean Dad’s car—Dad having been an attorney who—later, and without anger—calmly destroyed that moron for assaulting me under suspicion of driving in the eighties with long hair.
I’ve had a problem with bullies impersonating cops for a while now.
Where Wilson is concerned: I don’t know whether he’s a bully impersonating a cop. I suppose we’ll find out, eventually—presumably sometime after the guy who shot up a cinema here in Aurora in 2012 finally gets to trial. Whatever the outcome, I doubt it’ll make the headlines; I’ll probably hafta watch for tiny articles buried far beneath the lead—whatever plane has gone missing in 2019, I’d guess.
As for Sunil Dutta, Professor of Homeland Security [that's a thing?] at Colorado Tech University: I think I’ve seen enough. His written confession to conspiracy to assault those who walk aggressively [seriously: grab a copy of Poser and show me the kinaesthetics of aggressive ambulation; I have no idea what that is] assures me that he’s another bully impersonating a cop. Or not, if he’s teaching Homeland Security in Colorado Springs now. Those, who can’t assault with a deadly weapon, teach.
So, here’s my open letter to the police. Really, to the sum total of the Executive Branch: cops, agents, soldiers, and whatever else has been pulled into this governmental sector.
Dear Executive Branch:
Gremlin here. You may remember me as the guy who redesigned the [redacted] at [redacted] for you in 1993 [and good job somehow not nuking everyone before I fixed that]; you could also vet me through a few O6 paygrades in both the army and the airforce. In short: ask around.
As Officer Taxbase, Ret., has brought your misunderstanding of our relationship to my attention, I’d like to set the record straight.
As I live primarily in the United States, I am not strictly described by the legal status of Royal Subject. I am in point of fact a sovereign entity operating within the US without applicable nationality; I don’t take orders from you: you’re not my supervisor.
Therefore, Officer Taxbase’s meaningless commands that I walk without aggression in his presence, under colour of authority [see USCode 18 242], presents us with a problem.
To give you the benefit of the doubt—that Officer DoNotChallengeMe was operating independently and without governmental pervue—I would submit his opinion as disseminated in the Washington Post for review, as it violates a number of local, state, and federal laws prohibiting the issue of threats as a means to coerce the behaviour of a victim—including but not limited to the attempted extortion of ransom, reward, or other thing of value [exempli gratia: time lost; opportunity missed; et cetera] and which carry penalties of imprisonment for up to twenty years. I assume you can handle arresting him for it.
If, in the unfortunate event that you as the Executive Branch support Officer WalkyArbiter’s assertions that I, and the public at large, should—and I quote—’just do what I tell you [if you don’t want to get shot, (electrocuted), pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton(,) or thrown to the ground]‘, then I bid thee: bite me. For, as the least powerful of the Three Branches of American Government—sworn only to uphold the laws passed by the Legislative Branch and to defer to the Opinions of the Judicial Branch, insofar as activities upon American Soil [see Posse Comitatus] are concerned—you lack by definition the authority to command my actions or omission of actions; threatening to kill me if I don’t do what you tell me is at best hilarious and at worst an act of treason.
I trust that this letter will find my Representative Republic well, and advise you accordingly to redress my grievance; meanwhile, I’ll be on my skateboard in the middle of the street as per Colorado Law 42-4-1412, Paragraph 5a inclusive.
Duly SelfAppointed Representative of We the People
Curiously related, today’s webcomic: