Here's something to think about. Kaepernick has made the mistake of linking his protest to Black Lives Matter. Where BLM may have initially had something of a point, they have become an irrational distractor in the national discourse on this business of police ... what. Misconduct? Certainly so. Incompetence? Certainly so, and more so, in my opinion, than 'misconduct.' Corruption? Always a possibility; I used to comment that here in Colorado we always have at least one sheriff facing indictment. It was a bit of dry humor not entirely misplaced in fact.
The incompetence and lack of accountability in policing in America is where I think Kaepernick's protest should be drawing more of our attention.
Take a look at one of the cases that Black Lives Matter really latched onto, and then lost. The Tamir Rice incident up in Cleveland. Here is how I saw that incident unfold:
Dispatch received a call that there was a person with a gun. Then the caller said it might not be a real gun. But the cops don't know about that last tidbit, and even if they did, so what. A gun is a real gun until shown otherwise.
So the cops rolled up on the scene, and here is where I think so many people miss the evidence of the real problem. Look at the video, and look how they approach. When I saw the video, I thought ... "What kind of an incompetent cop rolls up on a 'man with a gun' call like that?" We see the police car charge up on to the grass, putting the passenger officer within a few feet of the suspect, who has what looks like a gun. The cop was criticized for shooting so quickly, but at that distance, how much time did he have to evaluate his circumstances? So the first screwup at the scene was the entire approach. I thought, "Who trained these guys? Who supervises them?"
And then the rest of the story slowly unfolded. Cleveland PD had been under a consent decree for ten years before the Tamir Rice incident. They had been found seriously lacking in training, supervision, use of force issues, hiring practices. And nothing had been corrected in those preceding ten years; that is why Cleveland PD was in the process of being slammed with a second consent decree, for the same reasons.
On Tuesday, May 26, 2015, the City of Cleveland and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) released a 105-page agreement addressing concerns about Cleveland Division of Police (CDP) use-of-force policies and practices.
The agreement follows a two-year Department of Justice investigation, prompted by a request from Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, to determine whether the CDP engaged in a pattern or practice of the use of excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, 42 U.S.C § 14141 (Section 14141"). Under Section 14141, the Department of Justice is granted authority to seek declaratory or equitable relief to remedy a pattern or practice of conduct by law enforcement officers that deprives individuals of rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution or federal law.
This is why we had a couple of cops making such a pathetically incompetent approach on this type of a call. The training and supervision of CPD has been under the gun for a decade or more. So have their hiring practices; the officer who did the shooting arguably should never have been hired by CPD in the first place.
In a memo to Independence's human resources manager, released by the city in the aftermath of the shooting, Independence deputy police chief Jim Polak wrote that Loehmann had resigned rather than face certain termination due to concerns that he lacked the emotional stability to be a police officer. Polak said that Loehmann was unable to follow "basic functions as instructed". He specifically cited a "dangerous loss of composure" that occurred in a weapons training exercise, during which Loehmann's weapons handling was "dismal" and he became visibly "distracted and weepy" as a result of relationship problems. The memo concluded, "Individually, these events would not be considered major situations, but when taken together they show a pattern of a lack of maturity, indiscretion and not following instructions, I do not believe time, nor training, will be able to change or correct these deficiencies." It was subsequently revealed that Cleveland police officials never reviewed Loehmann's personnel file from Independence prior to hiring him.
Hiring practices. little to no supervision, little to no command oversight, poor training.
How well do you think CPD is responding to all this? About as well as they did the first time around.
Cleveland consent decree monitors: Police still fail to hold officers accountable
This is hardly anything new for police departments across the nation. Nor is the lack of compliance, the lack of 'repair' of problems, anything new. In larger departments, we have police unions and labor contracts that prevent or at least impede reforms. There are also civil service rules that impede reform.
We just saw a scathing report from DoJ on Baltimore PD.
Seattle PD consent decree monitor
Oakland PD: Sex, suicide, and failure to report
The Oakland Police Department, for example, has been under a consent decree for 13 years, and thus far the city has spent more than $13 million to pay for auditors, officer-monitoring equipment such as body cameras, and court fees. Observers say that policing in the city has improved, with a large drop in use-of-force incidents and class-action lawsuits alleging police misconduct. However, an 18-year-old woman recently alleged that she had had sex with multiple officers during a time when she was forced into prostitution as a minor. The revelations have rocked the department and deflated perceptions of meaningful reform, with three police chiefs resigning in nine days in June.
Albuquerque PD consent decree
Diamonds, Dinners and ‘Rats’: The NYPD’s Political Gangsters
Teenage sex worker at center of Bay Area police scandals arrested at Florida rehab
We have the training fiasco over in Los Angeles County. How can administrators and supervisors be so ... oblivious?
How about the Lee Baca mess?
How about closer to home? How about the on-going Denver jail scandal? How about Sedgewick County? Former Sheriff Terry Maketa? How about the recent Rocky Ford incident?
There's more. Sadly, there is a lot more. Over 20 major American cities are under consent decrees. It's not hard to find. You can even cross-reference articles and sources to make sure you aren't getting a one-sided perspective from either side of this 'issue.'
All is not well in American policing. American policing has a long history of incompetence and corruption. In April 2016, Bowling Green University's Criminal Justice Program released a study funded under a National Institute of Justice grant. An excerpt:
Although not explicitly related to police corruption, a study identified 6,724 cases involving the arrests of 5,545 sworn officers across the nation between 2005 and 2011 for a variety of criminal acts.That is, on average, police officers are getting arrested around 1,000 times per year. 41% of the total crimes were committed while the officers were on duty. A breakdown listed five main types of crimes:
- sex-related police crime (1,475 arrest cases of 1,070 sworn officers)
- alcohol-related police crime (1,405 arrest cases of 1,283 sworn officers)
- drug-related police crime (739 arrest cases of 665 sworn officers)
- violence-related police crime (3,328 arrest cases of 2,586 sworn officers
- profit-motivated police crime (1,592 cases of 1,396 officers)
All is not well in American policing. To pretend otherwise, to blow Kaepernick's Kaper off as cheap theatrics or chalk him up as a 'hater' of America is not going to fix any of that. Nor is signing on to all the self-serving sob stories about all the great cops that are doing a great job. "Self-serving?" Yes. "Sob stories?" Yes. Because all of that just draws attention away from what's badly broken in American law enforcement. Pointing out that the vast majority of the over 765,000 cops we have in this country are honest, decent people doing a good job, though true ... ignores that which needs to be fixed.
Elected officials, police administrators, who answer to none of this, yet who allow it to flourish ... while the cops on the street are thrown under the bus. Some of them deserve it, yet many of them would not be in such positions were it not for indifferent and self-serving politicians and police administrators.