Monday, June 1, 2015

Neither a Warrior nor a Guardian Be -- Advice the Cops Need

Sometimes when I explore the issue of violent policing and police abuse of the public, it seems perfectly obvious where their beliefs and attitudes come from, why so many die at their hands or through their neglect of basic human decency. It's a matter of character -- individual and institutional -- and it's a matter of training and inculcated beliefs (brainwashing) about their jobs and the people and institutions they serve.

A key to understanding is that the police don't serve the public. They serve the powers that be operating through governments. In many jurisdictions, "the public" are enemy forces to be corralled and suppressed by any and all means necessary, including use of lethal force, so as to maintain "order" -- which is to say established systems of authority, control and exploitation designed and implemented to protect wealth and the property of the wealthy, not in any way to serve and protect the Rabble.

To the extent they are not violently and abusively policed, the public should consider themselves lucky. To the extent they are violently and abusively policed, the public should realize they deserve it. Thus runs the mindset in many, too many, police departments.

Recently a column appeared at, the often controversial website maintained by a cadre of retired police officers, equipment and training suppliers and consultants and by others as a means to foster and enhance police "professionalism" -- a term much used and misunderstood in the field -- in service to... well, that's typically left unstated, but it's not the public.

The column lambasted President Obama for his call on police to adopt a guardian as opposed to a warrior mentality as a means to overcome some of the objections to their behavior that have been raised during the lengthy "national conversation" about police and their appropriate role in the 21st Century.

This call grew directly out of the presidential task force, "Policing in the 21st Century" (116 page final report, pdf), empaneled last year after the so-called riots in Ferguson, MO following the summary execution of Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson of the Ferguson PD, apparently for the crime of having demon eyes and disrespecting the officer's authority in broad daylight.

This killing followed on the heels of many others, and there would be many more to come. Summary execution has become one of the favored tools of US police forces and is employed some 1,000 or more times a year, frequently on unarmed individuals and those in mental health or other crises, with nearly total impunity. All the officer has to say to avoid criminal responsibility and liability for these killings is that s/he "feared for my life and the safety of others." Bingo, home free to their families and who knows, maybe a medal and parade on top of it.

On the other hand, the city is often left liable in civil court for hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars in awards to the victims, survivors and families of those subjected to summary execution and abusive policing. Oh my yes. The awards seemingly have become more frequent, and the amounts awarded are growing. This despite the fact that it is all but impossible to charge and convict a police officer for crimes committed while on duty -- apart from sexual indiscretion or impropriety.

The columnist at PoliceOne, Lt. Dan Marcu (ret) disputes the call on police to adopt a guardian as opposed to a warrior mindset, a call that came from a task force that had a heavy police presence and represented mostly an establishmentarian point of view.

No, says Marcu, the police must maintain warrior competence and vigilance, because the Persians are at the gates, and the police are the Spartans at Thermopylae, holding off the invading horde and protecting Democracy. I kid you not.

Guardians will fail in the task according to Marcu. Only warriors can keep us safe from the Persians at the gates.

This is nonsense on stilts, but it represents the kind of thinking that infects police departments throughout the land. The idea that the police must behave as self-described Warriors to prevent the Persians -- or any other foreign entity -- from invading and having their way is insane and ridiculous. Marcu even cites the threat of ISIS in his defense of Warrior Policing.

No. No. No. No. No.

I'm not a fan of Guardian Policing, either, because it assumes that the public, the Rabble, are nothing more than incompetents and infantile, unable to look after themselves and their own communities without the sometimes heavy hand of the police to guide and protect them from... themselves, primarily.

I tend to be more of an abolitionist, truth to tell. But I realize that police cannot be abolished without thinking through the means and methods and the many consequences thereof. We're nowhere near that point yet. The thought process for abolishing police has barely begun.

But the cult of Warrior Police is out of control, and people like Dan Marcu and David Grossman -- who retails the cult of the Sheepdog-Warrior Police -- are a big part of the reason why.

Marcu's argument is that the President is wrong because he calls on police to "abandon" the Warrior mindset, whereas, according to Marcu, every police officer is already a guardian, and inside each and every one,

there must reside the beating heart of an honorable warrior ready to be summoned at a moment’s notice...

What he and so many others of his ilk seem incapable of comprehending is that that's the problem you fools!

That so-called "honorable warrior" is shooting down people they've been called on to help each and every day; that "honorable warrior" considers any questioning or challenge to his or her authority to be an existential threat to be neutralized with whatever force the officer can muster; that "honorable warrior" sees a black man with a weapon or thought to have a weapon as an existential threat to be neutralized with lethal force; that "honorable warrior" sees all residents of certain sections of their jurisdictions as insurgents or potential insurgents who must be made to obey with whatever force and intimidation tactics the officer chooses to utilize. They must be made to obey -- or they must die.

This is absolutely the wrong way to deal with the American public, but it is the way the police have come to believe they must believe and behave or... the Persians will overwhelm the Spartans at Thermopylae. The heroic Spartans who are only defending Democracy, after all.

Which is complete and utter bullshit. It's ahistorical bullshit besides.

But it's the belief. It's one of the underlying beliefs that drives the killing spree the police have been on. It's a big reason why they feel it is necessary to shoot down various categories of threats:
  •  The mentally ill -- just because.
  • Anyone addled by drugs whose actions are not under complete control and whose compliance is not 100% at all times -- and even then, execution may be carried out... just because.
  •  Negroes, Mexicans, and/or American Indians, whether armed or unarmed particularly if standing still, driving or running away.
  • Anyone challenging the authority of the officer, particularly if armed -- but not white people if open carrying
  •  Non-compliant individuals who may be demons or Hulks in disguise and therefore may pose an existential threat to one and all.
  • Anyone -- and/or any pet -- in a structure at which a warrant is being served who does not immediately comply with any and all commands issued, no matter how contradictory, incomprehensible, whether or not accompanied by grenades and bullets.
These are the people -- and animals -- who die at the hands of police at mind numbing rates.

These are warrior actions that are completely inappropriate in a civilian/domestic context, and were (or still are) inappropriate and counterproductive in the context of the military occupations they have been derived from.

Thousands upon thousands of completely innocent civilians in our overseas satrapies have executed by troops in much the same way domestic police forces have been summarily executing civilians in the United States.

As observers and critics have long been pointing out, most of this killing is completely unnecessary, and it leads inevitably to distrust of police/military and rebellion against their authority. Inevitably.

They are not protecting anybody, not even the masters they are in place to serve. They are not even protecting themselves. They are acting crazy. Causing more problems than they solve. Precipitating chaos not order.

The police and the troops they emulate are the problem, not the solution.

But it's clear that powerful forces and voices within the police and military want it this way and will not brook opposition or counter arguments.

They want more killing, not less; they demand more chaos, not order; their rules of engagement are madness. They are actively destroying what they pretend to preserve.

A stop must be put to it.

Cops must become neither guardians nor warriors but become the servants of the People they were long mythologized to be. They must cease their contempt and violence toward the public, stop the killing and abuse, and de-police communities rather than becoming ever more intrusive and violent. The commando mindset must be eliminated. Military equipment and trappings must be removed. Laws which protect police violence must be revised or overruled, and the system of injustice which the police serve must be overhauled top to bottom.

Given the kind of resistance and full-on paranoia and insanity that pervade police departments nationwide (not all of them, but far too many of them)  the kind of necessary reforms that are being mentioned more and more simply can't happen -- or at least they can't happen soon enough to preserve life and liberty of the public. The police are infected with a cult of death. They cannot comprehend that what they are doing is crazy and destructive. They can't imagine that they are doing anything wrong.

It doesn't occur to them to change their ways to suit the interests of the public. The only thing that occurs to them is that they have the power and authority to use whatever force they deem necessary at any given time to enforce obedience to their command. And they can do so with impunity. No matter the consequences.

That's what they know.

That's all they know.

And that's why I think abolition is the necessary solution once the means, methods, and consequences are sufficiently thought through.

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