Patterico Just Doesn’t Quite Get It

Some may already have heard the story about how it is looking like that botched raid in Atlanta was well and truly botched. As in the cops lied to obtain the warrant. If this is true, then we are quite possibly looking at a murder committed by the cops.

Patterico got in on this story early and cautioned everyone not to jump the gun and assume the cops were dirty and/or screwed this up. Now he is defending himself against a commenter who was critical that Patterico didn’t comment about the above story shortly after it put on the Atlanta Journal Constitutions website. And Patterico is right that criticizing him for that is a more than a bit dopey. After all, one can’t read every on-line news article and be right on top of story all the time.

However, where Patterico drops the ball is when he writes,

P.S. I know that there will now be a pack of libertarians in the comments screaming that I was wrong and I owe an apology. I sense that it will infuriate them to know that I do not apologize for saying that we should wait for the facts before forming concrete opinions.

And here we see the double standard of those in law enforcement circles. It is okay for the cops to “jump the gun” and not verify all their facts and go in with their machine guns locked & loaded, tossing flash bang grenades, hurling people to the floor, and shooting the family dog. But if we civilians, who don’t have machine guns, flash bang grenades, and aren’t shooting any dogs, jump the gun…well were just bad people for that. And what happens to the cops when we civilians jump the gun? Pretty much nothing. At most they might get a suspension, but even that is rare, based on what I’ve read about botched raids. Of course, if Patterico has any data on this, I’d be willing to look at it and change my views. Somehow though, my guess is that police departments keep few if any statistics as to when they screw up.

Sure the above is the ideal. But the complaint of us “infuriated” libertarians is that the cops just don’t seem to come anywhere close to that ideal all too frequently. Yes, yes I know that most raids are on the right house. That in most raids nobody is hurt and criminals are apprehended. My comment didn’t say all, but that all too frequently such raids are botched. Radley Balko compiled a list of about 300 botched raids and considering that little if any data is kept on such raids that number is at best a lower bound–i.e. the number of botched raids is almost surely higher and a some of these botched raids could have been avoided by doing simple things like looking at the address on the warrant and the address on the house. Is it asking too much of the police that they double check such things. Really such a measure should take what, 1 to 2 minutes? And if your suspect is a well respected member of the community with no criminal record…maybe sending over a couple of uniformed police officers to take him into custody is better than sending in the SWAT team that shoots him dead in front of his home.

Patterico then goes on to make the following statement,

P.P.S. The observant reader will note that, in this post, my opinion is conditioned on the statement “if the source is correct.” That’s because the source is anonymous, so there is a chance we are being fed bad information. I know that not a single libertarian will see this as a possibility.

Care to over-generalize anymore Patterico? Hey, two can play that game. Let me see, Patterico is a prosecutor out here in Los Angeles. Mike Nifong is a prosecutor in Durham North Carolina. Nifong has shown to be incompetent, deceitful and general a fool. Hmmm…could one make an over generalization here about Patterico based on the actions of another prosecutor? Hopefully it is obvious that such over-generalizations are non-sense and bad logic, and yet here have Patterico hectoring us “infuriated libertarians” about logic.

P.P.P.S. I may stop blogging about libertarian topics generally, because people become so personally nasty with me that it becomes no fun running the blog.

Well gee, I have no idea why that would be the case. Oh…wait, could it be that because you tar every libertarian with an awfully broad brush? Naw, that would be crazy talk.

Update: In the comments Patterico asserts that my statment about how it is okay for the police to “jump the gun” distorts his position. He asserts that he does not think this is okay. However, there is one problem. In another comment Patterico admits that he gives the cops the benefit of the doubt generally speaking. Now as a person who likes to put things into Bayesian probabilities whenever possible this leads to a bit of a problem for Patterico. To keep things simple we’ll look at two probabilities,

    Prob(cops telling the truth),
    Prob(civilians telling the truth).

One could argue that an unbiased starting point would be to set these two probabilities equal. Then we’d update them via Bayes theorem,

    Prob(cops telling the truth|Evidence) ∝ Prob(Evidence|cops telling the truth)*Prob(cops telling the truth),

    Prob(civillians telling the truth|Evidence) ∝ Prob(Evidence|civilians telling the truth)*Prob(civilians telling the truth).

Since Prob(cops telling the truth) = Prob(civilians telling the truth) the above basically resolves to looking at,

    Prob(Evidence|cops telling the truth) vs. Prob(Evidence|civilians telling the truth).

That is we look at the likelihood of who is telling the truth.[1] Whichever is the larger is the one we go with. But once we deviate from this we simply can’t look at the likelihoods. Now the initial probability becomes a factor. This means that the civilians have to have evidence that is much more in their favor than the cops would. In short, Patterico is admitting to stacking the deck in favor of the cops–at least in this kind of simplified scenario and in fariness life is rarely this simplified[2]. So while he may not see the cops “jumping the gun” as okay, he certainly isn’t going to be open to the idea that cops “jumped the gun” and that they should be held accountable. And to be fair, I also have my own biases that are counter to Patterico’s. Of course, I’m not a prosecutor.

UPDATE (James Joyner) 1-17: Since xlrq and Patrick have invoked my name in this one, I’ll exert moderator’s privilege and weigh in.

I haven’t read the comments Patrick received at his site that has him apprehensive about the libertarian hordes although, having been around the Internets for a number of years, I have no doubt that they are “personally nasty” and that, taking them personally would sap any “fun running the blog.” And, while I read his site and Radley Balko’s with some regularity, I’m only vaguely familiar with the squabbles between them.

My own biases in these matters are as follows: My dad was a cop, both an Army MP and later a CID special agent, including a stint as an undercover narcotics officer. I’m very appreciative of the risks cops take on a daily basis. At the same time, I expect them, as agents of the state with the license to employ deadly force and cause substantial harm to individual liberties that come with their badge, to exercise a high degree of professionalism at all times. The vast majority of cops do this, I think, but far too many don’t. Unfortunately, just as we focus far more attention on rare plane crashes than on the tens of thousands of safe landings, the abuses are what we notice.

While there is a tendency for those, like Radley, who study police abuse cases to jump the gun in assuming that every innocent death is the result of recklessness rather than a horrible accident, I think Patrick’s original post went too far in the other direction. Yes, waiting for the facts to come in is a good thing. Still, the nature of breaking news reporting–and certainly of blogging–is to speculate from available facts, including past incidents.

Absent a hostage situation, no-knock raids and paramilitary action on the part of police are highly problematic. Domestic law enforcement should not be handled as a MOUT operation. Even in the 99 percent (caution: made up statistic) of cases when police are at the right house, kicking in the door activates a fight-or-flight instinct that leads to a lot death than it prevents. Properly trained and equipped officers can chose the time and place of their actions to minimize the danger.

Further, police are more effective when they have the support and cooperation of their communities. Treating the city as a war zone and all civilians as likely perps creates animosity and distrust. How many times have you heard a law-abiding citizen avow a hatred for cops? That’s an untenable situation and one that needs to be addressed quickly.

_____
[1]Technically, I’m abusing the terminology here in that the actual likelihood would also be divided by the Prob(E). But since this is the same in both cases, we can dispense with this as well.
[2]In the above it is implicitly assumed that if one side is telling the truth, the other side would be lying. I suppose it is possible that both sides could be lying, or that there are not simply two sides–e.g. two defendants each telling different stories. Also, the rules of how evidence sharing works could play a role as well. The prosecution has to share everything they find, I don’t know if that is the case with the defense, although I suspect they would share evidence if it meant their client wouldn’t have to go to trial.

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, US Politics, , , , , ,
Steve Verdon
About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research. He joined the staff at OTB in November 2004.

Comments

  1. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Verdon, you are not a libertarian, you are a liberal secular progressive. Patterico only suggested we wait until all the facts were available before we affix blame on the police. He did not say we do not blame the police, wait for the facts. I have been reading your stuff for a while now that James let you crap on this post. I come to the conclusion that you need to give back any degrees that may have been bestowed on you as you do not display the wisdom that sometimes accompanies education. You are not only unwise. You are foolish.

  2. RJN says:

    Can’t we all just get along?

  3. Steve Verdon says:

    Verdon, you are not a libertarian, you are a liberal secular progressive.

    I think you need to stop listening/watching so much O’Reilly.

    Oh, and am too a libetarian. And your mama wears combat boots!

    RJN,

    Can’t we all just get along?

    This is internet…of course not!

  4. Radley Balko says:

    I think the problem is that while Patterico is rightly skeptical of media outlets like the Los Angeles Times, he puts near-religious faith in in the word of police and prosecutors.

    Early on in the Johnston case, he chastised me for taking an article in the Atlanta Journal at face value on a point of Georgia law (as it turns out, the paper was correct). But at the same time, also while chastising me, he was repeating the Atlanta Police Department’s version of events as if it were fact (we now know that early on APD officials were lying, or at best repeating lies first iterated by the narcotics officers). If you look into his comments section, Patterico said a lot of pretty damning things about Ms. Johnston, assaults on her character that he based on information from APD that now turns out to have been false.

    (To his credit, he was pretty harsh on APD when word first began to leak out that they’d given out false information in the days following the raid.)

    Patterico’s prevailing instinct is to always assume that agents of the government are telling the truth, even in the fact of considerable evidence otherwise — as was the case in the Johnston raid. That’s understandable. He is an agent of the government himself, after all. As libertarians, our tendency is to view most of what the government says with a healthy amount skepticism.

    That, I think, is the conflict.

    Patterico’s admonition to wait for the facts to come in before jumping to conclusions is generally a wise one. Problem is, in cases of botched raids, police excessive use of force, or public corruption, the government responds most accountably when there’s public pressure, and people are asking tough questions. Without skepticism and public pressure, these sorts of things tend to get looked over — or if you’re more cynical, swept under the rug. And with good reason. The city of Atlanta stands to lose a lot of money to Ms. Johnston’s family.

    I just think Patterico’s “wait for the facts” approach would carry a lot more weight if he applied it more consistently.

  5. Steve Verdon says:

    I just think Patterico’s “wait for the facts” approach would carry a lot more weight if he applied it more consistently.

    Which is precisely my view.

  6. just me says:

    I agree with waiting for the facts-especially when assigning criminal intent to any of the parties involved.

    Voicing skeptimism is one thing, but assigning blame without the facts is wrong.

  7. Steve Verdon says:

    just me,

    Cops rarely face criminal charges for their actions. It takes an extra-ordinary case like the one in Atlanta for that to happen. As such, “jumping the gun” wrt to cops and botched raids really does cops little or no harm. It isn’t good logic, to be sure, but the idea that the cops somehow suffer is…well…laughable.

  8. just me says:

    It isn’t good logic, to be sure, but the idea that the cops somehow suffer is…well…laughable.

    Not so sure. Having your name drug through the mud, when later facts indicate otherwise isn’t fair to anyone. It is hard to rebuild a reputation, if the nationally media calls you a criminal.

    I think I would rather see skeptimism without condemnation, when facts are still unknown.

    And you are correct that cops aren’t always held criminally accountable, but that isn’t reason to convict cops in the court of public opinion, when facts are still unknown.

  9. Steve Verdon says:

    Not so sure. Having your name drug through the mud, when later facts indicate otherwise isn’t fair to anyone. It is hard to rebuild a reputation, if the nationally media calls you a criminal.

    What damage to one’s reputation? Fellow cops cover for the officer, rightly or wrongly, and I’m going to ask for some data to support the allegation that such police officers actually suffer a loss of reputation.

    I think I would rather see skeptimism without condemnation, when facts are still unknown.

    So would I, but this is a two way street and the police just don’t go down that street. In general it works out, probably because most civilians and shit-scarred of the cops. They’ve all seen the tapes, pictures, read the stories, etc. of what happens when you don’t do what a cop asks as soon as he asks it. Can you spell TaserSM?

    And you are correct that cops aren’t always held criminally accountable, but that isn’t reason to convict cops in the court of public opinion, when facts are still unknown.

    As Radley Balko pointed out, the court of public opinion is often the only recourse for many people. And factor in that “thin blue line” mentality and the idea that we should let the courts do their job just isn’t cutting it anymore. Sorry, but the cops have made their bed, now they have to lie in it.

  10. Patterico says:

    Replying to Steve Verdon in the post:

    And here we see the double standard of those in law enforcement circles. It is okay for the cops to “jump the gun” and not verify all their facts and go in with their machine guns locked & loaded, tossing flash bang grenades, hurling people to the floor, and shooting the family dog.

    And when did I say it is okay for cops to “jump the gun” and not verify all their facts?

    You have violated the first rule of Internet argument, right off the bat: don’t mischaracterize your opponent’s position. Characterize it in a way he’d recognize.

    Of course cops should not jump the gun. Of course they should verify their facts. And you can’t find anyplace I’ve said otherwise.

    What not argue against me based on what I actually say? If it’s really that bad, you can stick to the facts and still make a compelling argument.

    And what happens to the cops when we civilians jump the gun? Pretty much nothing. At most they might get a suspension, but even that is rare, based on what I’ve read about botched raids.

    We’ll wait and see what happens to the Atlanta cops. As to the more general question of police misconduct, there’s a case of some Border Patrol agents getting double-digit sentences for shooting at a drug dealer. I don’t know much about it, but a lot of people seem to think they got a raw deal. Cops are prosecuted, though I’ll agree it’s relatively rare.

    Care to over-generalize anymore Patterico?

    You’re correct, I overgeneralized. I should have said very few libertarians will question the anonymous source in the article — not all of them.

    By the way, I’ve been getting plenty of the “all prosecutors are scum” stuff on my blog. You know, where you accused me of being a “shrinking violet” because I noted that some people had been personally nasty with me, and you claimed that they had only gotten a “little annoyed” at me. A “little annoyed”? People who have called me “goddamned punk” and said things like this: “You and all other prosecutors enable and cooperate with murdering thugs, perjurers and thieves in uniform. As I said, you are all scum. This Nifong character just happened to be clumsier and unluckier than usual.”

    When I blogged another libertarian pet issue, discussing the reasoning of a court decision on forfeiture, a commenter exulted that my wallet had recently been stolen while I was on vacation in NYC. “Karma,” he called it, because in his view, my support for a particular court decision meant that I was a thief who deserved to be stolen from.

    People have gotten more than a “little annoyed” at me when I blog libertarian issues. You can minimize it all you like, but if you to really look at the vitriol I regularly get when I blog these issues, I think you might conclude that it’s a bit more than people getting a “little annoyed.”

  11. Bithead says:

    190 year old woman gets shot to death, incidental to a drug raid, it seems an open and shut case that something got screwed up. Patterico was, I think wise not to dive too deeply into that particular cesspool, until such time as these facts show themselves out.

    At the same time, however, let’s be honest with each other, enough to say that the real libertarian problem here is the war on drugs. The war, I will say up front, in all fairness, I support.

    What all these little side arguments boil down to was, that many libertarians, and most liberals, would like to see drugs legalized, and the war on them ended. They see this shooting as part and parcel of that war… the but it is not so.

    This case comes down to a clear cut violation of established procedure. IE; The cops lied to get the warrant they got. Even absent unknown not warrant, therefore, the chances of that happening in this case were still as high as they were with the usual kind of warrant.

    I’ve said it before, and will say it again:

    To my mind, one cannot successfully argue against the war on drugs,and the procedures established for fighting a war, using this case , since those procedures were not followed. Rather, what we have here, is a capital murder case, plain and simple.

  12. Patterico says:

    Early on in the Johnston case, he chastised me for taking an article in the Atlanta Journal at face value on a point of Georgia law (as it turns out, the paper was correct).

    The post where I discussed this issue is here. In it, I noted your claim that search warrants were public record, and very politely said that I wasn’t so sure that you and the paper were correct. I admitted that I am no expert on the issue and was subject to correction if I was wrong, but cited some legal authority that appeared to show that they were not public record under all circumstances.

    I’d be interested in authority that shows that you and the paper were correct on this issue.

    But at the same time, also while chastising me, he was repeating the Atlanta Police Department’s version of events as if it were fact (we now know that early on APD officials were lying, or at best repeating lies first iterated by the narcotics officers).

    Really? I think that if someone were to read my posts from that time, fairly and with an objective eye, they would see that the thrust of what I was saying was this: we don’t know all the facts. Let’s wait until the facts come in. Some people are jumping to the conclusion that the police killed an innocent woman, but the reports I have seen on this, if true, indicate that they had a lawful search warrant and were properly executing it.

    I repeatedly said things like “if the reports are true” in my posts on this issue. For example:

    It looks like nobody knows much about it, but that doesn’t appear to stop the libertarians from concluding that the police did something wrong, even before they know all the facts.

    . . . .

    For the last time: let’s wait until the facts come in, and save our criticism until that time.

    . . . .

    The fact (if true) that an earlier undercover buy was made from a man, not the old woman, doesn’t make the house the “wrong house,” as Balko and Instapundit imply.

    Got that? “If true.”

    And so forth. Taken as a whole, my posts don’t swallow the police line whole. They simply say that, based on the facts in the public reports, the police didn’t necessarily do anything wrong. So let’s wait for the facts.

    If you look into his comments section, Patterico said a lot of pretty damning things about Ms. Johnston, assaults on her character that he based on information from APD that now turns out to have been false.

    If you look at the comments in context, I am replying to people who leapt to the conclusion that she was innocent, or even a hero, for shooting at cops. I said that, from all available information, she was firing on cops just doing their jobs. I understand you disagree, Radley, and — assuming that the latest reports are true — you were right: the cops lied. (There I go, qualifying my statements by saying it depends on whether the reports are true!)

    Do I believe that, in most cases where the police version conflicts with a defendant’s version, the police version is more likely true? Yes, I’ll allow that I do. Not always, but usually. But every case depends on its own facts.

    Patterico’s prevailing instinct is to always assume that agents of the government are telling the truth, even in the fact of considerable evidence otherwise — as was the case in the Johnston raid. That’s understandable. He is an agent of the government himself, after all. As libertarians, our tendency is to view most of what the government says with a healthy amount skepticism.

    . . . .

    I just think Patterico’s “wait for the facts” approach would carry a lot more weight if he applied it more consistently.

    As I read this, Patterico is the unthinking automaton who always accepts the state’s explanation, whereas Radley Balko is the fearless questioner of government. His prejudices never get in the way of a clear-eyed statement of Truth. His shit doesn’t stink. He never misstates the facts. He never draws unwarranted conclusions in support of the position of someone opposed to the police. He never misstates the holding of a court case.

    It must validate your opinion of yourself and make you feel awfully good to make these dismissive statements about me, and by implication to puff yourself up as someone who just speaks Truth to Power. But I think you think a little more of yourself than the truth warrants.

  13. Steve Verdon says:

    Patterico,

    And when did I say it is okay for cops to “jump the gun” and not verify all their facts?

    You have violated the first rule of Internet argument, right off the bat: don’t mischaracterize your opponent’s position. Characterize it in a way he’d recognize.

    You mean you don’t give cops the benefit of the doubt when things go wrong? That you treat the cops exactly like you would treat a civilian in the same situation?

    We’ll wait and see what happens to the Atlanta cops.

    The Atlanta situation is the exception. The situation was so bad from the get-go that it prompted quite a bit of out-cry. Generally wrong-door/botched raids lead to nothing for the officers screwing things. Unless you have a dead body of an innocent person the cops usually don’t get more than a slap on the wrist.

    By the way, I’ve been getting plenty of the “all prosecutors are scum” stuff on my blog. You know, where you accused me of being a “shrinking violet” because I noted that some people had been personally nasty with me, and you claimed that they had only gotten a “little annoyed” at me. A “little annoyed”? People who have called me “goddamned punk” and said things like this: “You and all other prosecutors enable and cooperate with murdering thugs, perjurers and thieves in uniform. As I said, you are all scum. This Nifong character just happened to be clumsier and unluckier than usual.”

    Please just the other day I was accused of celebrating murders and rapes since I have changed my view on SWAT team tactics. This is the internet, people say idiotic things. You know the saying, if you can’t run with the big dogs, stay on the porch.

    Bithead,

    What all these little side arguments boil down to was, that many libertarians, and most liberals, would like to see drugs legalized, and the war on them ended. They see this shooting as part and parcel of that war… the but it is not so.

    This case comes down to a clear cut violation of established procedure. IE; The cops lied to get the warrant they got. Even absent unknown not warrant, therefore, the chances of that happening in this case were still as high as they were with the usual kind of warrant.

    Uhhhmmm, I guess you failed to note that the officers were part of the narcotics unit. They they used what is now alleged to be fake drug buy to justify the warrant. This raid was indeed part-and-parcel of the Drug War.

    To my mind, one cannot successfully argue against the war on drugs,and the procedures established for fighting a war, using this case , since those procedures were not followed. Rather, what we have here, is a capital murder case, plain and simple.

    Again no, the procedures are flawed in that there is nothing to prevent this kind of abuse from happening. In fact, the procedures are set up so that this kind of abuse is actually easy. From what I’ve read many warrants are now handed out without the judge seeing the cops, the informant, and instead looking at all the information on a computer screen. Whatever the cops type is all that the judge sees. Further, it turns out that at least one of these cops has had a problem with abusing procedure in the past as well.

    Patterico (again),

    Do I believe that, in most cases where the police version conflicts with a defendant’s version, the police version is more likely true? Yes, I’ll allow that I do. Not always, but usually. But every case depends on its own facts.

    Well there it is, you do put more emphasis on the word of cops than civilians. You are, in short biased. Seriously, wouldn’t an unbiased approach be to give each side equal probability of being true? Then look at all the evidence and update those probabilities based on the evidence? Starting out with probabilities that initially favor the cops means that the civilians have to come up with evidence that is far stronger than the cops. Strikes me as rigging the deck in favor of the cops and against civilians. Argue all you want, but there isn’t really anyway out of this conclusion, you know the laws of probability and all that.

    As I read this, Patterico is the unthinking automaton who always accepts the state’s explanation, whereas Radley Balko is the fearless questioner of government.

    Ha ha ha ha. What was that you were telling me about not changing the other person’s argument so they no longer recognize it? Seriously Patterico, did you know that probability theory can allow one to reason logically? No really. Balko’s statment doesn’t read as if you are an automaton, but that you merely put more weight on the cops telling the truth than the civilians. From a Bayesian standpoint one would say your prior probability favors the cops. You’ve admitted this already, so the above is merely a recasting of Balko’s claims in a way that allows you to more easily refute them.

    Further, with a prior probability that favors the cops it would mean that stronger evidence is necessary on the part of the civilians to overcome your initial priors. And by the same token, the cops would not need such strong evidence for you to increase the probability (Bayesians call this new probability a posterior probability) that they are the ones telling the truth. From the Bayesian stand point, probability theory becomes very much like Ockham’s Razor.

    His prejudices never get in the way of a clear-eyed statement of Truth. His shit doesn’t stink.

    Balko didn’t even remotely imply this. In fact, he did just the opposite and pointed out that his bias cuts in the opposite direction as yours. To what degree is open to argument I suppose, but you have, as you would say, violated the first rule of internet argumentation.

    He never misstates the facts. He never draws unwarranted conclusions in support of the position of someone opposed to the police. He never misstates the holding of a court case.

    Do you do parties too, Kreskin? Really, you got alot more out of Balko’s statement than I did.

  14. Patterico says:

    You mean you don’t give cops the benefit of the doubt when things go wrong? That you treat the cops exactly like you would treat a civilian in the same situation?

    I mean that you are using sophistry to change your argument. You claimed that I said it is okay for cops to “jump the gun” and not verify all their facts. I didn’t. “Man up” and admit you made an accusation you can’t back up.

    If you can’t even do that, the rest of your nonsense — with all its sarcasm and haughty attitude — is not worth responding to.

    And as for the stuff about Balko, he was just beating his chest. He fearlessly questions. I am the one who mindlessly accepts. But I can’t help it. I am a Government Agent.

  15. Steve Verdon says:

    I mean that you are using sophistry to change your argument. You claimed that I said it is okay for cops to “jump the gun” and not verify all their facts. I didn’t. “Man up” and admit you made an accusation you can’t back up.

    I already did–see the update, now “man up” and admit you are biased.

  16. Patterico says:

    And you’re also utterly missing the point about why I cited the rhetoric my libertarian commenters used. It has nothing to do with being unwilling to run with “big dogs” (who are in truth yapping chihuahuas) and everything to do with your mischaracterization of those comments. It’s either deliberate misrepresentation, or a statement made in utter ignorance, for you to say people were only a “little annoyed” with me when they were calling me a “goddamned punk” and “scum” who cooperates with murderers.

    That goes beyond being a “little annoyed” and any rational person can see that.

    If you can’t argue honestly, frankly, that’s your problem and not mine.

  17. Steve Verdon says:

    As I’ve noted, I’ve had similar comments hurled at me. This is the internet, either you get used to this kind of thing or you go offline. And based on your response to Balko, I think it is more than a bit hypocritical of you to be complaining about honest arguing.

    Fruther you are committing the same error that “Frank N Stein” committed. You seem to expect me to have read all your comments when I respond. Clearly that is a ridiculous standard. All I read was that people became abusive and nasty. I get that here at times (e.g. that I celebrate murders and rapes), but I don’t let it change how I blog.

  18. Patterico says:

    In another comment Patterico admits that he gives the cops the benefit of the doubt generally speaking.

    That’s not what I said.

    I’m surprised Joyner wants to let some clown who misquotes people and distorts their positions post on his blog. You truly are a piece of work.

    Anyway, I see you took back what you said, sort of, about how I supposedly think it’s okay for cops to jump the gun. You don’t have the intellectual honesty to admit it, but now that I’ve called you on it, and pointed out what a stupid and indefensible thing it was for you to say, at least you’re not still arguing it.

    It’s been fun. By which I mean to say, it’s been a big fat waste of time.

  19. Patterico says:

    Fruther you are committing the same error that “Frank N Stein” committed. You seem to expect me to have read all your comments when I respond.

    No. I was expecting you not to make assumptions about things you don’t know anything about. If you hadn’t read my comments, you could have asked me which ones got me upset. Instead, you simply declared that the comments demonstrated only a little annoyance, when in fact you had no fucking clue what they actually demonstrated.

    I was expecting you to have some idea what you were talking about, in short, before opening your pie-hole.

    Now that I have gotten to know you better, I no longer expect that of you.

  20. Steve Verdon says:

    Patterico,

    You are the epitome of a nitpicker. Seriously, you wrote,

    Do I believe that, in most cases where the police version conflicts with a defendant’s version, the police version is more likely true? Not always, but usually.

    You clearly believe that the police are usually the one telling the truth. In Bayesian probablity theory these beliefs get transformed into probabilities. In short, you said you think the police are telling the truth with a higher probability (this would be your word “usually”) which is precisely what my update claims. Even though you are biased you still look at the evidence, which is also in my update and fits with what you wrote. The bottom line is you are biased and you’ve got no argument in response save insults.

  21. Patterico says:

    When the police version conflicts with the defendant’s version, tell the readers what percentage of the time you figure the cops are lying and the defendant is innocent.

    Go ahead. Give an estimate.

    You’re like that guy who went to prison and learned that everybody there is innocent. After all, they all said so!

    By the way, there’s a comment from me stuck in moderation. Probably because I cursed at you for having no [expletive deleted]ing idea what you were talking about when you said my commenters were only a “little annoyed” at me.

  22. Bithead says:

    Uhhhmmm, I guess you failed to note that the officers were part of the narcotics unit. They they used what is now alleged to be fake drug buy to justify the warrant. This raid was indeed part-and-parcel of the Drug War

    So, if we have a corrupt cop in the assigned to traffic law enforcement, and he turns out to be a lying scumbag, does that manea you’re going to argue for the elimination of traffic laws?

    Again no, the procedures are flawed in that there is nothing to prevent this kind of abuse from happening

    True, but OTOH, there wasn’t any under the conditions of the more normal warrant, either, as I indicated.

    And consider; Can you honestly say that the woman would be alive today, had the cops lied in the process of obtaining a standard warrant? If not, your argument is flawed.

    The issue here, is not a flaw in the law, but corrupted cops.

  23. Bithead says:

    You clearly believe that the police are usually the one telling the truth.

    And that’s usually true, because that’s their job. Most cops… and even you will likely agree to this… do their job in an upright manner. It’s the occasional cop that does not. As such Patterico’s statement, is true.

    Which is also why the issue of corrupted cops is the larger one, here… not the law. How can you blame the law, if the law isn’t followed, Steve?

  24. Steve Verdon says:

    Bithead,

    So, if we have a corrupt cop in the assigned to traffic law enforcement, and he turns out to be a lying scumbag, does that manea you’re going to argue for the elimination of traffic laws?

    Of course not, the traffic laws have an obvious benefit: keeping people from driving in a dangerous manner. This is very much like an externality or a public good, hence government involvement is justified.

    The War on Drugs, WoD, on the other hand doesn’t do the same thing. It is basically using the law to keep one group of people from doing something that another group finds objectionable. Now, having laws that says you can’t drive while under the influence, or do other things is reasonable as it fits with traffic laws.

    Basically, your analogy is false.

    And consider; Can you honestly say that the woman would be alive today, had the cops lied in the process of obtaining a standard warrant? If not, your argument is flawed.

    What you mean if they knocked on the door, provided credentials visible to her inside her home (e.g. through a window, peep hole, etc.) and then waited till she opened the door? Yeah, I’d say the probability is higher that she’d still be alive.

    And that’s usually true, because that’s their job. Most cops… and even you will likely agree to this… do their job in an upright manner. It’s the occasional cop that does not. As such Patterico’s statement, is true.

    No, Patterico’s statement isn’t “true” it is a value judgement and hence isn’t true or false. The problem is that when approaching such a situation with the idea that the cops are “usually” telling the truth, is that it can stack the deck against the accused in terms of bringing charges and/or believing either side. We hear that the prosecutor’s job is to seek justice. If that is the case, then there should be little harm in setting one’s prior probabilities to being equal. After all, if the cops are telling the truth and the accused are lying then that should affect the posterior probabilities.

  25. Steve Verdon says:

    When the police version conflicts with the defendant’s version, tell the readers what percentage of the time you figure the cops are lying and the defendant is innocent.

    Go ahead. Give an estimate.

    I thought you were leaving.

    Anyhow, why should I give an estimate for your subjective probability. And in any event it doesn’t matter because my argument is qualitative in nature, not quantitative. You have already stated you are more likely to believe the cops vs. the accused when the stories diverge, at least initially. So long as that is the case, my argument stands. The only way for it to “fall” is for you to set the probabilities equal. If you do that, then you are contradicting your earlier statement.

    You’re like that guy who went to prison and learned that everybody there is innocent. After all, they all said so!

    Again, there you go distorting my argument. This is quite ironic considering you were all upset about me doing this to you. In any event, nothing I have written comes even close to the above statement by you of my position.

    By the way, there’s a comment from me stuck in moderation. Probably because I cursed at you for having no [expletive deleted]ing idea what you were talking about when you said my commenters were only a “little annoyed” at me.

    I have no idea why comments get flagged for moderation. Some of mine have been flagged as well in the past. Was it the language you used? Maybe, but in all honesty I don’t know. I’ll look to see if it is still there and approve it.

    As for this tempest in a teapot about posters being a “little annoyed” if it would really make you feel better about the whole situation, would you like it if I go back and add a comment saying “little annoyed” should be “greatly annoyed”? And if that doesn’t work tell me which adjective you’d find acceptable in front of the word annoyed.

  26. Bithead says:

    Your response it noted. I’ll respond, Steve, in more detail tonight, (being at work).

  27. Bithead says:

    Of course not, the traffic laws have an obvious benefit: keeping people from driving in a dangerous manner. This is very much like an externality or a public good, hence government involvement is justified.

    The War on Drugs, WoD, on the other hand doesn’t do the same thing. It is basically using the law to keep one group of people from doing something that another group finds objectionable. Now, having laws that says you can’t drive while under the influence, or do other things is reasonable as it fits with traffic laws.

    In your judgement.

    And therein lies a major flaw in your argument. You assume that there are no obvious benefits from keeping (Shall we call them “recreational?”) drugs under control. Yet, this as you call it, a value judgement.

    Your apparent problem is that society’s value judgments ran opposite of your own, as of the time the laws were being created. And so, you target laws and procedures created to enforce said laws, instead of targeting the real issue; the corrupted people who skirted such procedures, to disastrous effect. You’re willing to call the cops killers, but instead of laying the blame on them, you blame the law? Are we not to asume all cops are liars and killers?

    Makes no sense, Steve. You seem far more willing to accept that the cops are telling the truth in the case of our increasingly hypothetical traffic court, but not here? Seems rather conveinient, if nonsensical.

    And:

    What you mean if they knocked on the door, provided credentials visible to her inside her home (e.g. through a window, peep hole, etc.) and then waited till she opened the door? Yeah, I’d say the probability is higher that she’d still be alive.

    What an interesting fantasy world you live in, to be sure.

    And I said naught of probability… I asked for the same assuredness you made the statement with… and since the answer doesn’t match the question in the mode I asked it, I’m forced to ask again… would she be alive or not, yes or no? (Hint; if you’re unsure, that’s a completely acceptable answer… indeed, it’s the very point).

    Finally:

    No, Patterico’s statement isn’t “true” it is a value judgement and hence isn’t true or false. The problem is that when approaching such a situation with the idea that the cops are “usually” telling the truth, is that it can stack the deck against the accused in terms of bringing charges and/or believing either side. We hear that the prosecutor’s job is to seek justice. If that is the case, then there should be little harm in setting one’s prior probabilities to being equal.

    No, it’s not the case. The prosecutor’s job is to prosecute. It’s the job of the defense to defend. It’s the judge’s job to render Justice… and the jury, if it gets to that.

    Your premise is gone, which results in the argument made from that premise being gone as well. Now you are faced with the logical problems involved in denying that most cops work within the law and tell the truth, and criminals are prone to not doing so.

    Enjoy.

  28. Patterico says:

    I see James has put his two cents in the post. Since there is now an adult in the house, I’ll respond.

    James, I agree with almost everything you say in your update. We’ll have to agree to disagree as to whether my original post went too far in a particular direction by urging people not to speculate. Sometimes the speculators are right (as in the Johnston case) and sometimes they’re wrong (such as the folks who speculated that Jamil Hussein did not exist). I urged caution and skepticism in both cases, and I am happy to have done so in both cases, even though the speculation proved right in one of them.

    I don’t know of your readers are aware of this, but in the aftermath of this shooting, I did a detailed interview with a use of force expert who opposes the war on drugs and generally opposes dynamic entries. If I were truly the unthinking police supporter that Verdon and Balko make me out to be, I don’t think I would have published that interview — nor would I have called for these cops to be prosecuted for murder if it’s legally appropriate to do so.

    I’d give the link to the interview but I’m on a Treo. Anyone who is interested can type the word “Klinger” in the search box on my site and will find it easily.

    I’ll leave it up to you whether the tone of this Verdon fellow’s posts really suits your site. You know my opinion.

  29. Steve Verdon says:

    In your judgement.

    And therein lies a major flaw in your argument. You assume that there are no obvious benefits from keeping (Shall we call them “recreational?”) drugs under control. Yet, this as you call it, a value judgement.

    Well then are you in favor of making booze illegal again?

    Your apparent problem is that society’s value judgments ran opposite of your own, as of the time the laws were being created.

    No, that is a vast over-simplifcation. Many people advocate ending the WoD. Many don’t and some probably have little or no opinion. And isn’t just because society’s judgement runs counter to mine, but because I think there are other negatives that outweigh what few positive their are. To reduce the argument to this simplified level is a bit misleading.

    And so, you target laws and procedures created to enforce said laws, instead of targeting the real issue; the corrupted people who skirted such procedures, to disastrous effect. You’re willing to call the cops killers, but instead of laying the blame on them, you blame the law? Are we not to asume all cops are liars and killers?

    Of course not, and nothing I’ve written comes even close to calling all cops liars or killers.

    What an interesting fantasy world you live in, to be sure.

    And I said naught of probability… I asked for the same assuredness you made the statement with… and since the answer doesn’t match the question in the mode I asked it, I’m forced to ask again… would she be alive or not, yes or no? (Hint; if you’re unsure, that’s a completely acceptable answer… indeed, it’s the very point).

    What a stupid response, this is a classic false dichotomy, and yes I’ve already indicated I’m not certaint/sure she’d still be alive. Hence the word probability. Duh.

    No, it’s not the case. The prosecutor’s job is to prosecute.

    Really? I’ve been reading in the Duke case about how the prosecutor’s job is to seek justice. You’ve reduced the prosecutor to being the anti-defense–i.e. they are the exact polar opposite of the defense attorneys. In your version Nifong is doing the right thing, prosecuting a case that has absolutely no evidence save a very shify wittness/accuser.

    Your premise is gone, which results in the argument made from that premise being gone as well.

    Whatever.

    If I were truly the unthinking police supporter that Verdon and Balko make me out to be,….

    You keep writing this and it is really starting to look like you have some sort of persecution complex or something. Nowhere did I say you are unthinking, that is something you keep making up. Keep it up with the strawman arguments though, funny how they are good enough for you, but anybody else uses them and they are suddenly “clowns”.

  30. Bithead says:

    In your judgment.

    And therein lies a major flaw in your argument. You assume that there are no obvious benefits from keeping (Shall we call them “recreational?”) drugs under control. Yet, this as you call it, a value judgment.

    Well then are you in favor of making booze illegal again?

    I wondered when you drag that one out. Thank you. It makes my job infinitely easier. The reason it does so is because again you’re talking about value judgments; you’re a value judgment would have alcohol and equivalent to what I have defined for our discussion purposes, as ‘recreational drugs’.

    Society, however, feels differently, and always has, which is precisely why prohibition didn’t work. To equate the two, is to completely ignore society’s judgment in the matter. Convenient for argument’s sake, but having little bearing on reality.

    What a stupid response, this is a classic false dichotomy, and yes I’ve already indicated I’m not certaint/sure she’d still be alive.

    Nothing false about it, Steve. Sorry. But, thank you, for at least admitting that you can not give me any surety on whether not the woman would have survived the encounter, had your prescription been followed.

    You see, Stephen, the point i”m making here is this; The biggest weakness in your argument is one that you have thus far ignored; the police officers themselves. If they are as untrustworthy as you describe, no law in existence or possible to write would have protected that woman’s life. None. Which, in turn, is precisely why I suggested the real problem here was the corruption of the individual police officers. Not the law.

    Really? I’ve been reading in the Duke case about how the prosecutor’s job is to seek justice. You’ve reduced the prosecutor to being the anti-defense—i.e. they are the exact polar opposite of the defense attorneys. In your version Nifong is doing the right thing, prosecuting a case that has absolutely no evidence save a very shify wittness/accuser

    .

    This response of yours is quite illustrative of my point.

    Consider, please; Do the guilty get off on technicalities, posed by their legal mouthpieces? Do the innocent in unfairly convicted? The answer to both, of course, is ‘yes’. Indeed, that happens as a matter of routine. That’s the reality of the situation. Why would Nifong have done what he did? So that he could present the image, that he was doing his job. Thus, he could retain his position.

    The problem, however, with your argument, is that Nifong also, while doing that task, is supposed to play within the rules. Demonstrably, he did not do this. For example, his withholding of evidence doesn’t strike me as playing within the rules. Therefore, he wasn’t doing his job correctly.

    There’s a major difference, between doing one’s job so that it looks like somethings being done, and doing it correctly, as the police officers under discussion, here, rather aptly demonstrate. Their lack in that area seems very similar, indeed to Nifong.