Posts Tagged: Police

The American Battlefield

There are many pieces about the murder of Michael Brown by a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer. This one, by Greg Howard at Deadspin, is one of the most wrenching: Give a man access to drones, tanks, and body armor, and he'll reasonably think that his job isn't simply to maintain peace, but to eradicate danger. Instead of protecting and serving, police are searching and destroying.

If officers are soldiers, it follows that the neighborhoods they patrol are battlefields. And if they're working battlefields, it follows that the population is the enemy. And because of correlations, rooted in historical injustice, between crime and income and income and race, the [...]


"Baby Jesus Stolen" Nativity News Watch 2012

According to the latest tally on Google News, there are 2,803 current media reports involving stolen Baby Jesuses from nativity scenes. This represents a [made up percentage] increase in nativity infant thefts over 2011, which had held the previous record with [made up number] documented desecrations of Christmas scenes. Many are wondering just how low we can go, as a species. If children and other pranksters think it's "okay" to lift a plastic baby with a hole in its bottom for a colored light bulb, then what else might people do, given the chance?

"It is one thing, I guess, to steal even the shepherd or a king," said [...]


Red State Gun Culture Kills Cops

This is a particularly brutal column coming in the wake of yesterday's big piece on the NYPD: eight black New York city college students reported being stopped and frisked 92 times all told. Meanwhile, also in the Times today, but over on the front page, it's this: killing of police officers is at a four-year-high. The Times plays this really big and really wrong, and calls this "a disturbing trend," but it's actually not. (It is disturbing, of course.) But 2008 was the ten-year low for police officers being killed, and 2012 is, so far, year-to-date, down 49% from last year. So it's actually the opposite of [...]


The Cleanup of the New Orleans Police Department Continues

In the case of the Danziger bridge shootings in New Orleans, after Katrina, five police officers have been convicted of an impressive array of charges, ranging from conspiracy to obstruct justice to false prosecution to planting a firearm to falsifying victim statements to fabrication of witnesses to "deprivation of civil rights by shooting." One of the victims was developmentally disabled and was shot in the back… seven times. The police officers were not, however, convicted of murder.


Law Comes Down Hard On Naked Guy

Here's the story of Eric Williamson, arrested by police in Virginia for being naked in his own kitchen at 5:30 in the morning. (A woman and her son were cutting through his front yard and, observing Williamson's dangling wang, called the law, who charged him with indecent exposure.) You will probably be distracted by the typically overheated local news reportage (I can't decide if my favorite part is where Williamson, now tastefully attired, recreates his making of the coffee or the ominous shot from outside of him standing by the window) here, but it's a pretty amazing thing: If I can't brew up a cup of joe in [...]


Rambos Among Us

There are a number of perfectly reasonable reasons to be concerned about the growing militarization of domestic U.S. police departments, which increasingly rely on military tactics, equipment and former personnel in the course of their day-to-day policing. Nearly as disconcerting is their rationale for doing so, John Rambo: In the Indianapolis suburbs, officers said they needed a mine-resistant vehicle to protect against a possible attack by veterans returning from war.

“You have a lot of people who are coming out of the military that have the ability and knowledge to build I.E.D.’s and to defeat law enforcement techniques,” Sgt. Dan Downing of the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department told [...]


87-Year-Old Man Wedges Car Into Bike Lane On Way To DMV

Here is how not to use a bicycle lane: An 87-year-old Marin County man was driving to the Department of Motor Vehicles office when he mistook a narrow concrete-walled bicycle-pedestrian path for Highway 101, and then he just kept driving until his car was wedged so tightly between the cement barriers that a tow truck had to yank the Toyota out. Is this symbolic of the increasingly hostile urban turf wars between automobile drivers and bicyclists?

Maybe! Listen to what this guy said, after all the trouble he caused: "They should block that off, that passageway."

Raymond Pierce will have a mandatory re-evaluation of his driving privileges, under California [...]


Vermont Prison Inmate Plays Good Practical Joke

"State officials Thursday pointed to the failure of the quality assurance office within the Vermont Correctional Industries Print Shop in St. Albans to detect a prisoner-artist’s addition made four years ago to the traditional state police logo. A spot on the shoulder of the cow in the state emblem was modified into a pig. An investigation has begun into how the computer program was improperly modified to insert the image, Vermont Corrections Commissioner Andy Pallito said." —Some thirty Vermont State police cars have been displaying the subtle joke of a clever prison inmate for the past four years. New decals are being produced (at a cost of 780 [...]


Drug Dogs Usually Wrong, Also Hate Mexicans

Apparently the drug dogs that sniff your car and get all excited when they smell your dope are not so good. Or maybe too good? "A Tribune analysis of three years of data for suburban departments found that only 44 percent of those alerts by the dogs led to the discovery of drugs or paraphernalia. For Hispanic drivers, the success rate was just 27 percent." To be fair to the dogs, the Chicago Tribune is working off some fairly lousy data here—the Chicago PD and the Illinois State Police don't even collect data, apparently, about drug dog alerts. But going through suburban police departments in Illinois, they found [...]


Florida Rap Robbery "Off the Chain," Says Florida Cop

A Florida rapper was robbed of $35,000 worth of jewelry last week in a Miami barbershop. That's a shame, but it may have been worth it for the interview with a local police officer, which comes at 1:38 in the video. This guy's got it all. The corny hard-boiled humor: "They took a little more off the top than he expected." The stilted use of hip-hop slang: "This robbery was off the chain." The insulting anthropological assessment: "For a rapper to have his bling stolen, they might as well have just stolen this man's heart!" All in all, a very impressive job of reinforcing cop stereotypes established by [...]


Killer Cops And Newspaper Wars On The California Coast

"America's largest open-air mental hospital," that's how Oceanside police spokesman Bob George described this run-down coastal city between Camp Pendleton and the surfer towns of North San Diego County. I called it the Slum by the Sea. Despite the miles of beach and the beautiful old Spanish mission and the Southern California weather, Oceanside was a honky tonk Marine Corps town on the west side of Interstate 5 and a sprawling mess of trailer parks and starter-home suburbs to the east.

I spent a lot of time at Bob's desk in the back of the OPD headquarters. Sometimes it was as a police beat reporter, sometimes it was as the [...]


Apple Maps and Apps: Are They Killing Everyone?

Australian police are warning the people down there to stop using Apple's terrible maps program, because the app is so worthless that people could easily die if they believe the ridiculous maps have any connection to earthly reality. For example, Apple Maps is telling gullible Australians that an entire city, Mildura, is hidden within a vast and terrible wilderness 44 miles away from the actual city.

Police have received calls from motorists who have been stranded in the park without adequate food and water for as long as 24 hours. The park does not have a water supply, police said. Combined with the fact that temperatures in the [...]


Italian Policemen Dress Up Like Gladiators For Undercover Sting Operation

"For the police operation officers dressed up as gladiators themselves to infiltrate the gangs. Other officers, disguised as dustbin men and members of the public, took part in the raid. They came to the rescue of colleagues who were set upon by angry gladiators. Police say the arrested men came from seven families, and were working with five tourist agencies that control the market for guides at the Colosseum. They had divided up tourist sites such as the Colosseum, the Piazza Venezia, and St Peter's Basilica, according to police, and were defending their territory with violence." —Some lucky policemen in Rome just got to take part in the best [...]


Gun Battle Rages As Jamaican Government Attempts To Arrest Aptronymic Druglord

Wow. Here is a story that seems likely to be made into many raps songs and eventually a feature film. The Jamaican government is trying to arrest a notorious Kingston gang leader for extradition to New York. But he's not going quietly. As the Times reports: "Security forces broke through barbed-wire barricades and fought their way into the warren-like Tivoli Gardens neighborhood Monday afternoon. Sporadic gunfire could be heard into the night echoing across the darkened slums, where authorities cut off power. Military helicopters flying with their lights off buzzed overhead. Masked gunmen swarmed around West Kingston trying to prevent the extradition of Christopher 'Dudus' Coke, who has been [...]


Rioting Cops To Have BBQ, Reminisce About Beating Longhairs

The rioting insane cops who beat protesters at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago are having a reunion next week! And it's bringing out the crazy all over again. Says one person claiming to be one of those cops: "Anarchists came to the city to disrupt the democratic process. They continue with their rhetoric but provide little substantive efforts to better their environment. They choose instead to intimidate a bunch of old men getting together for a good time." Yes, maybe some elderly anarchists will come by and try to crack some skulls at their peaceful get-together.