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You look guilty to me…

As the state becomes more authoritarian and the police more militaristic, revelations like this one from our overlords sure puts things into perspective:

The backstory is this: a woman was walking down the street when a motorcycle cop approached her, asked her if she lived in the area and if she would talk to him. She says his approach made her feel uncomfortable, so she refused and continued on her way.

“I thought that maybe he was flirting,” she said. “I just thought it was odd, I thought it was odd. I wasn’t really sure but I felt uncomfortable because there wasn’t anyone around.”

She says she was worried he might not even a real cop, so she refused to stop and began jogging away from him.

“He just crept along beside me on his motorcycle and he started saying, ‘Hey ma’am! I want to talk to you. Hey stop, ma’am! I want to talk to you.’ Then my anxiety rose even higher,” she said.

This was followed shortly thereafter by the cop dismounting, chasing her down, tackling her and placing her under arrest. The police chief claims this arrest was for “walking on the wrong side of the road,” (as well as “evading arrest” and “resisting arrest”) despite the fact that the woman wasn’t ultimately charged with anything.

Even if the preceding events could possibly be dismissed as hearsay, or something tainted by false impressions and emotions, there’s the police chief’s responses to questions about this interaction.

Whitehouse Police Chief Craig Shelton says this:

Shelton says by law you’re not required to stop and talk to an officer if there’s not a lawful reason for them to be stopping you.

But then he says this:

“Normally if a police officer pulls up, in my opinion, it’s awful odd for somebody just to take off and not want to speak to the police officer,” Shelton said.

Yes, this may seem “odd” to a police officer, but it’s not all that odd for citizens, even those committing no real crime (Shelton justifies the stop with the “walking on the wrong side of the street” crap) to have no desire to talk to police officers. A huge imbalance of power makes conversation uncomfortable. Anyone who’s attempted small talk with their boss understands this. If someone doesn’t want to talk to a cop, it’s not odd, it’s normal.

Get it? If you refuse, as Cartman from South Park would put it, to respect their AU-TOH-RAH-TAY, you must be up to no good. My personal experience is that agents of the state tend to have over inflated opinions of their worth and are practically always dismissful of the fact that they work for us tax paying citizens. Not the other way around. The trending I am seeing these days, where this field, too often dominated by ego maniacs, is arming up, thinks the law applies to us but not them, and quite often don’t even know the law, worries me. When you hear stories of police officers abusing citizens just because they record them, thinking that they should be immune form scruteny, it bodes nothing but ill, too.

Look, don’t get me wrong. I am not advocating either anarchy or disrespect and active resistance to the law, but I think most of these public servants need to be reminded that they are there to serve us, not to treat us like criminals that just have not been caught in the act yet.

13 comments

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  1. Seattle Outcast says:

    Sounds like a variation of “stop and frisk”, which also strains the constitution to the bursting point.

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  2. Hal_10000 says:

    Oh, i’m sure he was all about frisking her.

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  3. Seattle Outcast says:

    I’m of the opinion that all police officers need to have every interaction with the public recorded, and that recording out of the police’s control for storage/editing.

    There’s been too many incidents of “lost” dash cam video to be anything but cops protecting their own ass after engaging in brutality or merely tossing someone’s rights out the window after wiping their ass with them.

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  4. richtaylor365 says:

    As the state becomes more authoritarian and the police more militaristic, revelations like this one from our overlords sure puts things into perspective:

    The latter is not symptomatic or related to the former in any way. Cops (or any person in position of power) have been abusing their color of authority to get laid for like, well, as long as we have had cops, ditto with the military or even the corporate world. I have seen more than a few cops get fired for stuff just like this. Pussy or money, 95% of terminations come down to either or. Yeah, tackling her is a tad aggressive ,”Hey pal, go find a hooker if you can’t get a girlfriend”.

    My personal experience is that agents of the state tend to have over inflated opinions of their worth and are practically always dismissful of the fact that they work for us tax paying citizens.

    And my personal experience (having known several hundred over the years) is just the opposite. Sure, there are bad apples, the sooner they get exposed and terminated-the better for everyone, but most are ex military/family guys, with a fairly good handle on providing the proper balance between duty and getting home safe every night, back to his family.

    Agree with you though in the militarization trend, very troubling. I read stories about some municipality getting their hands on a military assault vehicle the government just unloaded and think ,”Holy smokes, this is Anytown USA, not Fallujah, where is the proportionality?

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  5. Xetrov says:

    The police chief claims this arrest was for “walking on the wrong side of the road,”

    WTF is the “wrong” side of the road to walk on?

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  6. Ed Kline says:

    “And my personal experience (having known several hundred over the years) is just the opposite. Sure, there are bad apples, the sooner they get exposed and terminated-the better for everyone, but most are ex military/family guys, with a fairly good handle on providing the proper balance between duty and getting home safe every night, back to his family.”

    I believe everything you just wrote there, with one important caveat :
    Good cops way too often close ranks with bad cops. Too much pressure from the brotherhood to not do that combined with the knowledge that if they don’t close ranks with a bad cop, and that cop ends up not getting fired (which happens way too often because of the strength of the unions) their work environment is gonna be bad for a long time. The point being is that it doesn’t matter if most are good, if they cannot be counted on to be active in rooting out the bad.

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  7. Ed Kline says:

    And if anyone can tell me how to quote correctly, I’d appreciate it.

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  8. richtaylor365 says:

    Here ya go,Ed;

    < b l o c k q u o t e >< / b l o c k q u o t e >

    Just put your quote in the middle and it will look just fine. I had to put a space between all the letters for it to show up, remove them, then copy it, you can cut and paste it never needed.

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  9. Hal_10000 says:

    Good cops way too often close ranks with bad cops. Too much pressure from the brotherhood to not do that combined with the knowledge that if they don’t close ranks with a bad cop, and that cop ends up not getting fired (which happens way too often because of the strength of the unions) their work environment is gonna be bad for a long time. The point being is that it doesn’t matter if most are good, if they cannot be counted on to be active in rooting out the bad.

    This is very true. One of the things that sometimes will get a cop fired is reporting on his fellows. And I think the militarization has only intensified that thin blue line mentality.

    I agree that the vast majority of cops are good. But then again, I haven’t dealt with cops in difficult situations, where things can be different.

    One of the reasons many forces are now big on lapel cameras and stuff like that is because it can protect cops from false accusations of misbehavior. I also think knowing they are being filmed will bring out their better nature. But I’m known to be optimistic about these things.

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  10. Ed Kline says:

    Thank you Rich.

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  11. richtaylor365 says:

    Ed, there is some truth in what you say and I’ll add the usual caveat that different states run their departments differently, but I really believe that things have gotten better. In California there was a seismic shift that occurred after Rodney King (you remember him). What started out as a CHP pursuit ended up with the LAPD getting involved and beating the shit out of him. What happened next changed everything. The initial officers wrote reports accurately describing the events and a formal complaint against the LAPD was being penned when that video surfaced. Initially there was some bad blood but that was minor and temporary compared to the support (even from LAPD guys) those officers received. From that point on, protocol changed;

    1) Initiating agencies have jurisdiction and command over events
    2) Officers that witness criminal conduct done by other officers and do not report it risk termination
    3) Lying to an investigator or during a formal inquiry is grounds for immediate termination

    I won’t say that “closing ranks” is totally gone, but the days of good cops risking their careers to cover for a bad cop is long gone. What we see now is several bad cops (like with the murder of Kelly Thomas) closing ranks and lying for each other because their own skins depend on it, they sink or swim together.

    In the above incident that Alex wrote about, if this guy has a history of hitting on women on duty (they can never help themselves and always show a pattern) this guy is gone, fired, and if the victim gets herself a lawyer, the city will settle with some go away cash. Liability alone makes cash strapped departments eager to remove the dead wood, keeping them around is just too expensive.

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  12. Aussiesmurf says:

    Firstly, I agree with the bulk of this post. The idea that people should ‘reflexively’ obey agents of the state is breathtakingly wrong. I sure as heck have no particular wish to speak to any police officer just as, if I’m in a hurry, I don’t particularly want to speak with an accountant.

    Secondly, this comes back to the frequent use (and abuse) by police in the US of tasers. I clearly recall the initial guidelines for tasers, which were that they would only be used in situations where otherwise the police would have been compelled to use their firearm. Now, in situation after situation, they are simply used to COMPEL ‘respect’ and ‘speedy obedience’.

    Finally, why is this post tagged ‘left wing idiocy’? Because police officers are public employees and therefore left-wingers must automatically be big fans?

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  13. richtaylor365 says:

    I clearly recall the initial guidelines for tasers, which were that they would only be used in situations where otherwise the police would have been compelled to use their firearm.

    Not correct. Tasers were to be used to subdue a combative subject when the use of firearms was NOT warranted. They were designed to be “next level up” from the PR-24 (requiring close quarters) and pepper spray (ineffective with too many people). I agree that the use of tasers has been abused, only the lazy cops go to it as a first resort.

    I am trying to think of the last interaction I had with the police, over a decade for sure, I guess I don’t look that hot in a dress.

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