Professor-Cop Blames Victims of Police Violence
17-year veteran of the LAPD says, "If you don't want to get hurt, don't challenge me."
Sunil Dutta, an adjunct homeland security professor at Colorado Tech and 17-year veteran of the LAPD, has an op-ed in the Washington Post headlined, “I’m a cop. If you don’t want to get hurt, don’t challenge me.” While authors seldom write their own headlines, in this case, it conveys the article’s message exactly.
Dutta is highly accomplished. He has his PhD in plant biology from UC Davis (1995) and an MA in homeland security from the Naval Postgraduate School (2012) and an impressive bio:
Dr. Sunil Dutta is a full time law enforcement professional working in Los Angeles (LAPD). He has been with the LAPD for sixteen years. His assignments have included Watch Commander, Internal Affairs Investigator, Special Projects Unit Officer-in-Charge, field supervisor, patrol officer, Staff Researcher, and Collision Investigator. Prior to joining the LAPD, Dutta was a scientist with a specialization in biochemistry (host-pathogen interactions, plant hormones, carbohydrate metabolism, and regulation of dormancy). He is a published author and amateur musician. Dr. Dutta has published several articles related to terrorism and criminal justice.
Dr. Dutta’s teaching experience goes back two decades and includes teaching police academy instructors as well as high-level police and military professionals at the International Law Enforcement Academy. He has taught at all levels, including high school, community college, and university.
Yet, all that education and experience hasn’t removed the “respect my authoritay” attitude. Indeed, he cites it at the outset:
Working the street, I can’t even count how many times I withstood curses, screaming tantrums, aggressive and menacing encroachments on my safety zone, and outright challenges to my authority.
Note that “outright challenges” to his “authority” rank higher on his pecking order of the vicissitudes of the job than “aggressive and menacing encroachments.” His advice to the citizens he’s sworn to protect follows naturally:
Even though it might sound harsh and impolitic, here is the bottom line: if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you. Don’t argue with me, don’t call me names, don’t tell me that I can’t stop you, don’t say I’m a racist pig, don’t threaten that you’ll sue me and take away my badge. Don’t scream at me that you pay my salary, and don’t even think of aggressively walking towards me. Most field stops are complete in minutes. How difficult is it to cooperate for that long?
Note that none of those things, save perhaps the “aggressive walking,” justify the use of force by police officers. And that citizens are seldom under any obligation to do what police officers tell them. Yet, while he is “aware that corrupt and bully cops exist,” his advice is for citizens to become sheep in their presence.
But if you believe (or know) that the cop stopping you is violating your rights or is acting like a bully, I guarantee that the situation will not become easier if you show your anger and resentment. Worse, initiating a physical confrontation is a sure recipe for getting hurt. Police are legally permitted to use deadly force when they assess a serious threat to their or someone else’s life. Save your anger for later, and channel it appropriately. Do what the officer tells you to and it will end safely for both of you. We have a justice system in which you are presumed innocent; if a cop can do his or her job unmolested, that system can run its course. Later, you can ask for a supervisor, lodge a complaint or contact civil rights organizations if you believe your rights were violated. Feel free to sue the police! Just don’t challenge a cop during a stop.
Now, that’s certainly prudent advice in the presence of an armed bully with legal sanction to employ violence and who will almost certainly be given the benefit of the doubt by prosecutors and society when he does. But it’s the same advice we give to citizens confronted by armed robbers and hijackers.
Similarly, while this is prudent, is puts the onus on the wrong party:
Did I just get a radio call of a shooting moments ago? Am I looking for a murderer or an armed fugitive? For you, this might be a “simple” traffic stop, for me each traffic stop is a potentially dangerous encounter. Show some empathy for an officer’s safety concerns. Don’t make our job more difficult than it already is.
Cops are supposed to be trained to control their emotions. Citizens, by contrast, are untrained. They’re also conditioned to expect to be treated as innocent unless proven guilty.
Community members deserve courtesy, respect and professionalism from their officers. Every person stopped by a cop should feel safe instead of feeling that their wellbeing is in jeopardy. Shouldn’t the community members extend the same courtesy to their officers and project that the officer’s safety is not threatened by their actions?
The police are public servants who are supposedly trained to deal with crisis situations. The citizenry’s safety and welfare is their sole reason for existence. This is not a symbiotic relationship and the obligations of the two parties are wildly different. While police are not soldiers, they are trained agents of the state authorized to use violence in the public’s name. We expect them to act like trained professionals, and that decidedly includes restraint when facing fear—especially in the presence of unarmed civilians.
Now, in practice, I practice what Dutta preaches. Whether it’s because my dad was a cop (albeit a military one) or because I was a soldier, I do in fact empathize with the stresses cops face on the job. While I don’t cower at their every glare or jump to attention and salute when they issue instructions, I treat them as fellow professionals doing a stressful and sometimes dangerous job. That’s the right thing to do. It shouldn’t, however, be enforced at the threat of violence from our public servants.
Sound advice. Not a problem for me, I am, and look, so whitebread I’m not going to have a problem with a cop, even the IN trooper who had been using the same radar reading all afternoon.
But Dutta does seem to project a lot of attitude. You are exactly correct, he’s supposed to be trained to handle interactions with citizens. He has no reasonable expectation that I have been trained in, or even given ten seconds thought to how to interact with a cop. He also seems to have an underlying assumption that the cop will behave properly, which does not strike me as a given. Particularly for someone less whitebread.
This guy sounds like he could make Judge Dredd look kinda liberal..
He doesn’t address any problems of cops being tribal and insular, he’s taking the best-case scenario there. Coming from a veteran of the LAPD, that’s beyond high comedy.
The thing that I found problematic about the columns was that while he says this:
That really all goes away with this phrase: “just do what I tell you”
If the basic advice is “just do what I tell you” then what if I am being subjected to an illegal search? What if I am being unlawfully detained or harassed?
The whole column really boils down to “just do what I tell you” and that profoundly disturbs me.
(And I say that understanding and acknowledging that one should be polite to law enforcement and that they have difficult, stressful jobs).
@Steven L. Taylor: Agreed.
I didn’t go into that particular passage because it takes us down a completely different rabbit hole. In fact, precisely because most cops have the attitudes Dutta expresses, citizens—especially black, Hispanic, and poor citizens—act at their peril when they challenge unlawful conduct by a cop in said cop’s presence.
So, again, following Dutta’s advice to do what you’re told is prudent. But for all the wrong reasons.
Very glad this issue is getting the light of day it needs. Ferguson is about to be flattened by lawsuits and the only conceivable way the cops can respond is more dash cams, more head cams, and more surveillance by an increasingly present video-recording public. Cops have to realize we stream live to the net now, so feel free to eat my phone if you must. Galaxy 5 now has HD camera standard. Galaxy 6, 7 latest will be 3d and track your every twitch.
Better policing means you help the protesters protest peacefully. Helping them make the signs wouldn’t kill anyone.
This guy is a bully, plain and simple. Every single sentence he writes practically drips with contempt and derision for any “non-cop”. His entire piece can be summed up in his headline. I would not want a cop like this protecting my home – at least I’m allowed to shoot back at criminals.
@Steven L. Taylor: @James Joyner:
You’re absolutely correct. A dedicated community servant deserves courtesy and respect from other members of that community; someone who tells me to “just do what I tell you” doesn’t see me as a fellow citizen but a subject.
Dutta clearly considers respect as something to be taken rather than earned.
LAPD. Is anyone really surprised? They’ve always been thugs.
@Steven L. Taylor: I along with most people that I know are going to cooperate with a police officer. That does not mean that I will admit to speeding or knowingly park without putting money in the meter. If I am pulled over, I usually make it a habit to remember the officer’s name. I have actually sent a few letters to the police dept. complimenting the officers on their manners and tact. Bad experiences with an officer have been few.
The local police chief here is also the mayor, magistrate, and owns most of the town’s businesses.
These are summer greats:
“Indiana wants me, Lord I can’t go back there…this is the police, you are surrounded, give yourself up” (Dean Taylor, 1970)
“I’m breakin’ rocks in the hot sun …I fought the law, and the law won” (Bobby Fuller, 1966)
“Hot town summer in the city, back of my neck gettin’ dirt and gritty” (Loving Spoonful, 1966
’60’s: can’t beat ’em, memories galore. Drive in theaters, cookouts, fishing, car races, baseball in Atlanta (hotter than a firecracker), beach, and roller coasters. Year round school? Nah, no way.
“Just do what I say” – has kind of a nice East Berlin ring to it, no?
His remarks assuredly will instill resentment in the community, not respect. If he wants people to fear him, perhaps these remarks will get him that, if he wants respect his remarks will not get him that.
So is Berkeley okay with its faculty members making terroristic threats toward the rest of the students and faculty?
@anjin-san: @al-Ameda: This conservative/libertarian agrees with both of you.
Sunil Dutta…He’s a uniter!
I too cooperate with the police, in the same sense that I will cooperate with a mugger when he demands I turn over my wallet at gunpoint.
Some of us most definitely are trained, in the school of The Hood. I learned a long time ago to keep my hands visible at all times. I don’t even reach for my drivers license until the cop is at my window and THEN before I reach for it, I tell him what I am doing, where I am doing it, and then I ALWAYS ask permission. Last time I got pulled over, the cop looked at me and said, “You’ve been through this before, haven’t you?”
It ain’t a big deal. It’s just business and what one has to do, to close the deal.
Not to pick on you but, he’s a COP. This is what cops are like, what they do. I really wonder what kind of sheltered lives people live in. When a cop gets involved, he knows one thing and one thing only: “I am going to piss somebody off.” As often as not he/she pisses everybody off.
Don’t take it personal, the last d!ckhead he pulled over gave him enough abuse for the week.
@Stormy Dragon: “So is Berkeley okay with its faculty members making terroristic threats toward the rest of the students and faculty?”
Berkeley? This guy teaches at Colorado Tech. Although Berkeley does employ John Yoo, who is this guy without the practical experience…
While we probably should expect a lot of police officers to be bullying thugs, such behavior shouldn’t be tolerated and they should follow and be held to a higher standard…
You’re not forced to comply to an illegal search, but I’ll shoot you if you don’t.
@James in Silverdale, WA: An arrest in this csse is still not a sure thing, and certainly not for any murder charge.
Help making signs? You’ve got to be kidding. No one pays any attention to those signs any way.
i slugged a cop when i was a kid, before you could be tried as an adult- i just remember the judge telling me i was going to jail if he ever saw me again. never got in trouble again, good advice.
all these whiners seem to forget that our cities are as safe as they are due to police enforcement.
and all this michael brown bs is so lame it’s not even funny anymore. i wish the apologist white crowd would stop making excuses for blacks who act like savages, it enables them to act sub-human.
For your viewing pleasure, angry people.
@bill: so, I guess it was a good thing you weren’t shot 6 times, eh?
Adam Lanza kills 20 kindergartners; not called a thug.
Rich white youth drives drunk, kills 4; not called a thug. Receives rehab as punishment.
Another rich white youth guns down 6 ‘coz he can’t get laid; not called a thug.
Characters of none of the above assassinated after their deaths/following their murderous rampages.
Black Trayvon Martin smokes weed, kills no one. Thug. Murderer protected by police.
Black Michael Brown smokes weed, kills no one. Thug. Murderer protected by police.
Look at the bright side, here’s your police state – government; natch – ………..
but at least people aren’t having the IRS harass them for their political beliefs.
I will copy a short post I did at The Moderate Voice yesterday:
You’re at the wrong website. Stormfront is that-a-way ———>
From LosAngeles to Jaipur India (where Dr Dutta was born and raised) to (from my personal knowledge) Jackson, Tennessee, cops are all the same all the time. They have a tough job. They make lots of people mad. They know that as long as the people who have the real authority (not you or me, my friends) are satisfied with the security of that authority, the cop is safe to be a bully.
We are very slightly changed
from the semi-apes who ranged India’s prehistoric clay,
Whoever drew the longest bow
ran his brother down you know,
As we run men down today.
(A General Summary — Kipling)
That’s probably the best framing of that article I’ve read so far. Thank you!
The trouble is that every situation is context-dependent and there clearly are times when “listen to the cop” is what one should do. An example from my own experience:
As a youth I was pulled over by two cop cars while driving home from work one night. They didn’t come up to my drivers window, but ordered me out of the car and to get on the ground. At first I was like, WTF is this bullshit, but I complied. They came out from behind the bright lights of their vehicles with guns drawn and hand-cuffed me. Since I had done absolutely nothing, it was all quite a shock.
However, I was quickly released. It turned out that there was an armed robbery nearby and the description of the getaway vehicle was exactly my car and I was on a road driving in the direction that the suspect vehicle reportedly fled. So from the cop’s perspective I was a potential armed robber and they acted accordingly until they found out I wasn’t who they were looking for.
So from my perspective, knowing nothing about an armed robbery, their actions, at the moment, seemed entirely unjustified. I was just a teenager trying to get home and get ready for school and here these fascist cops are suddenly pointing guns at me for no reason! I felt the outrage. Except they had a reason and I think most reasonable people would agree their actions were justified given the circumstances and information they had at the time. I think back and wonder what might have happened had I acted aggressively at the perceived injustice I felt – that’s not an uncommon attitude for young men to have.
So yes, “the police are public servants who are supposedly trained to deal with crisis situations” but no training is perfect and even the best training can’t account for all situations. During a confrontation the police and a citizen can, and often will, be operating under completely different assumptions and frame of reference.
Just because this is the OTB comments section, I’ll caveat all that by pointing out that the above comment isn’t meant to take any side in the debate over what happened in Ferguson and readers should not jump to conclusions about what they perceive are my views, political beliefs, etc. Thanks.
@Andy: Automobiles are mass market products. Thousands of cars are going to meet a particular description. Under the circumstances, I would agree they had probable cause to pull you over and should have approached with caution. But what provocation did they have to handcuff you?
Excellent post, James. Every bit as strong as it needs to be.
@Steven L. Taylor: yes, but i was 15- wasn’t the size of an offensive lineman either, and it was just one swing.
@Surreal American: diverting from reality doesn’t make it better. acts of civil disobedience are fine as long as they’re for the right reason. this case is unraveling quickly as the facts become known and the msm’s attempts to delay them so they can use the black community for more fun video is pretty disgusting. is “stormfront” some sort of fetish website for you or something?
@anjin-san: Yes, the article was better in the original German
No, Stormfront is a website where you can call black people “savages” and “sub-human” all the live long day. Please go there and find the wingnut happiness that eludes you here.
@bill: You realize that you just said of Michael Brown, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”?
There’s always an
excuseexplanation isn’t there. I mean, since you’re white there’s no possibility that action was “savage.” In that case, it was just a boy being a boy.
If you were a 15 year old person of color, who did the same thing, do you think you’d be let off with a warning? Or without having significant force being used to subdue you?
I’d disagree. Adam Lanza is pretty much considered a psychopath now.
Not the point at all, Bill.
My point is, was it all necessary to use deadly force in this situation? Nothing we have heard thus far – not even the subsequent video tape (which evidently Officer Wilson was unaware of) of Brown stealing cigars – nothing points us toward justification of deadly force. Brown was shot repeatedly, and he was unarmed.
Things are often different if you’re White.
A few years ago in Oakland, at the Rockridge BART transit station, upon return from work in San Francisco I walked out of the station to connect a bus. There are wide turnouts for buses under the BART overpass. I stepped part way into street to see if there my bus was coming. While I was in the bus turnout a voice behind me yelled, “hey, get back to the sidewalk,” I ignored the voice and continued to glance up the street looking for my bus, and again the voice, “hey, get back out of the f***ing street and on to the sidewalk!” I finally turned around to see who was shouting at me – it was coming from a police cruiser – and one of the officers was yelling at me, he then said, “I don’t want to say this again, get back to the f***king sidewalk.
Now, I’m White, and I was wearing khaki pants, a blue pinstripe shirt, a dark blue tie and bass loafers – I did not fit the profile of a gang banger or some other stereotypical perceived threat. I’ll never forget that, it was completely uncalled for, and it made my skin crawl. I was agitated for the rest of the evening.
If I was Black, who knows what happens? The officers might have gotten out of the cruiser, crossed the street and questioned me, and perhaps further harassed me for “ignoring” their command. We know that this stuff happens more frequently in Black and Hispanic neighborhoods. Also, this was in a middle class district of Oakland, not in the tough East or West Oakland district.
I’m from a law enforcement family, I understand a police mindset, and I am not thin-skinned, the police (especially in urban areas) have a generally difficult job to do. That said, I can tell you that THAT kind of police behavior does not engender respect. That kind of police behavior causes citizens to lose respect for their police department.
HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA
Officer Safety is paramount.
City Argues NYPD Had No “Special Duty” To Protect Subway Hero From Madman’s Rampage
Cartman said it better, and used fewer words: Respect mah authoritah!
That’s what this boils down to.
I would, if I found myself in such a situation, obey. I might object and then obey, at most. I’d rather not have my skull cracked or worse. That doesn’t make it ok.
This is sort of like writing advice to girls who go to parties about how to avoid being raped – watch your drink, go with friends, etc. It’s not that it’s bad advice, but it’s missing something huge (the actions of rapists, and those who enable them, which is the real problem). One difference I see is that typically the article isn’t actually written by a rapist…
Yes. Not only is it prudent, but I think public servants deserve a minimal level of respect. We fall all over ourselves to demonstrate respect for the military these days; what police do is equally dangerous (if not more so) and arguably more important.
If we believe that our government is legitimate, then we accept that the actions of public servants deserve a base level of respect until demonstrated otherwise. (Of course, the problem in Ferguson is that many residents don’t believe their local government is truly representative, and they appear to be correct.) Screaming at police officers or threatening to sue them (much less invading their space during tense situations) is not only unwise but is, in a way, undemocratic.
I usually agree with Joyner, but I think he over-reacted to this piece. It’s clear that the author believes that there are plenty of issues with how law enforcement is practiced in this country, and supports measure (such as recording all interactions with the public) to improve the situation.
@James in Silverdale, WA: “…Very glad this issue is getting the light of day it needs. Ferguson is about to be flattened by lawsuits”
Probably not; if the police force is overwhelmingly white in that area, what do you think the judges are? And now they can excuse *anything* done by the police on the grounds of ’emergency’.
There was an incident a few years ago there where the police beat a guy, charged him with *bleeding on their uniforms*, and then lied about the documents they had signed when sued.
A federal judged ruled that assualt and battery, filling of false charges and perjury was not substantial enough for a civil rights claim.
Never underestimate the willingness of a judge to be an accomplice to evil and criminality.
This is important because even the little indignities add up. It is also not just city or urban police but small and rural also.
My kids drive back to college (texas Tech) and they regularly stopped by local sheriffs (Garza Co, Texas, in particular). Once it was because the window tint was supposedly too dark (it wasnt’). Another time because the license plate holder partially obscured the bottom of the license plate. Texas law requires no masking at all. About 50% of cars and trucks violate this mostly by dealer plate holders.
Couple of observations. Police are looking for an excuse to stop college kids in the hope of getting something more (they ask to look in the car). It is also a source of income for their departments. Finally, I think, in this case, it is a class issue; there is deep seated resentment of college kids and their perceived privileges.
Bottomline though: It breeds, in return, suspicion and disrespect.
I can’t shake the feeling of horror that the author of the piece is an actual instructor to police, a standard setter for Colorado law enforcement personnel to emulate, and an out-and-out sociopath.
@James Joyner: It was 1986 and I don’t remember if they even gave a justification. It was only for a couple of minutes because it became clear very quickly I wasn’t the guy they were looking for.
@al-Ameda: “His remarks assuredly will instill resentment in the community, not respect. ”
It’s not his remarks, it’s his actions.
@Sirkowski: “You’re not forced to comply to an illegal search, but I’ll shoot you if you don’t.”
More like, “He’ll shoot you, and I, the internal affairs investigator, will have the ‘investigation completed – found justified’ forms already filled out.”
@Steven L. Taylor: “…so, I guess it was a good thing you weren’t shot 6 times, eh?”
For him, yes. For the rest of us, it’d clearly have been no big loss.
@Andy: “The trouble is that every situation is context-dependent and there clearly are times when “listen to the cop” is what one should do. An example from my own experience:”
Perhaps you should go over to the WaPo, actually read his op-ed, and realize what he justifies force with.
@Tyrell: “Help making signs? You’ve got to be kidding.:
Of course it’s “kidding” to you. Brutality is all that has been practiced. How has that worked out?
@Tillman: Adam Lanza has never been savaged in death to the extent of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin, even after slaughtering 20 babies.
Someone recently accused me of being quick to defend or rationalize hateful statements. I think what I do is ask people to drop their assumptions and actually read the original comment in context.
Dutta is a former IA investigator. He knows more stories about bad cops than all of us put together. He’s not pretending they don’t exist. He’s saying two things we all learned before we were six: that courtesy is always the right approach, and that in a bad situation courtesy is usually the safest approach. James skipped all the most reasoned passages of the article and presented only the paragraphs that sound like they should be shouted from behind a riot shield. Drop your assumptions, read the whole thing, and think about it in context.
James could have at least included Dutta’s call for body cameras.
To the point Steven raised above, how do your courteously ask an officer to not illegally search your car?
I’m asking this seriously as I was once “temporarily” detained for driving with a suspended license (unpaid speeding ticket). Due to a series of moves, I didn’t know about the suspension. I was pulled over, courteously handed the cop my license and papers. Seriously, my goal with cops is always to be courteous.
The next thing I knew I was being asked to step out of the car, was cuffed, and if not roughly, not particularly gently, placed in the back of a cruiser while the cop spent 15-20 minutes “searching” my car (not particularly neatly either).
Fun fact, the back of a cruiser has absolutely no leg space or cushioning in the seat. The net effect is any movement only tightens your cuffs (which you are sitting on). At the end of it, I was uncuffed, given a ticket, and left with my car.
Even if I had been in my front brain enough to realize that he didn’t have the right to search the car, please help me understand how to courteously ask him not to do so. And if you think that would have gone particularly well for me.
BTW, thank god I’m white. Here’s what happened to a young black man who “courteously” asked Denver police about their need to have a warrant in order to search his car on a routine traffic stop:
@Pinky: No, what he is saying is respect my authority or I will beat the bejesus out of you.
He IS a part of the problem and is offering not one solution.,
@Nikki: Their deaths were politicized almost instantaneously because they were victims of unnecessary white-on-black “police action.” (I’m being extremely charitable to Zimmerman there.) Lanza, meanwhile, murdered twenty children. If you ask the average person who is worse, they’re going to go with the kindergarten class murderer every time. So no, I don’t think the media “savaged” Lanza less than Brown or Martin. He was literally all anyone could talk about for a week.
@Pinky: Frankly, every conversation about the proper ethics of police officers should include a call for body cameras.
Even in context, though, he doesn’t come off that well. There’s prudence, courtesy, and respect, sure, but there’s also limits to my courtesy and respect (and prudence). Further, he ignores the history of warped police relations with minorities that led to such an elevated attitude of “**** THE POLICE!” among people. As I read it, he’s presenting the best-case scenario on the officer’s part and evaluating from there.
@Pinky: Every post isn’t about everything. Yes, Dutta called for some good steps. The point of this post, however, is that he repeatedly argued that citizens ought to simply do what they’re told by police, regardless of whether they think it’s legal or justified. That’s prudent conduct. It’s also an outrageous standpoint for a veteran officer, let alone one who’s also a college professor, to take.
@Tillman: Kinda shocking that someone wrote an article about something and didn’t go on about race.
Yes. This is almost there. Add a presumption of wrongdoing when the recording devices are invariably powered down or disabled and it’s as close to optimal as we’ll get without forcing the cops to broadcast the camera stream in the clear, live for anyone who wants to document the officer’s performance.
@Pinky: Well, the way he puts it, the attitude towards cops that results in them being rough with people is just a thing that happened. It’s in vogue now to challenge police authority, all the kids are doing it. That’s ignorant of history.
I mean, it’s not like he’s writing this in response to a riot over the death of a black guy.
@Tillman: I would disagree with you on the savaging of Adam Lanza. To this day most news reports of him talk about his mental state or his autism or question what was wrong with his brain that made him do that. I’ve never once heard anyone who believes the worst of them speculate that Trayvon Martin or Michael Brown had a mental condition that made them violent – they were just assumed to be black thugs – no reasons necessary. I’m not saying that they think Lanza is a “better” criminal than anyone else but there’s a whole world of journalism devoted to finding out/justifying why he was such a monster. I would say the same for James Holmes and the Tucson shooter.
Pinky, seriously, this is what makes his article irredeemable:
He’s trying to have things both ways. He tries to present as reasonable, and even has some ideas with which we can agree. But that paragraph is so bad it just overwhelms everything else.
If you don’t want to be brutalized, just do as I say. That might bring applause from wife beaters around the country, but to the rest of us it gives the game away.
“Don’t resist — it will only be worse for you.” That’s the message of both the rapist and the police officer, as candidly digested by Sunil Dutta, a 17-year veteran of the LAPD who now preaches that doctrine as a professor of homeland security at Colorado Tech University.
Most field stops are complete in minutes,” coos the apologist for state-licensed aggressive violence. “How difficult is it to cooperate for that long?”
The same is true, of course, of most encounters between a rapist and a victim. The violation of a free person’s rights is not any less egregious for being brief.
To that litany, he might had added: Don’t think of walking away from me, either, because that act is also considered “aggression” by a police officer; don’t place one foot behind the other, or crouch even to the slightest degree, because this will be defined, after the fact, as “assuming a fighting stance”; don’t flinch or recoil from the officer when he batters you, because this can be, and often has, been defined as “assault on an officer”; if the officer throws you to the ground and starts to choke you, don’t defend yourself, or you can be charged with “attempted murder.”
@Rob in CT:
How do you reconcile
All three quotes *are from the same article.* In the first one he council you to do what the cop says. In the second one he states you don’t have to submit to an illegal stop. And yet in the third, he says “Just don’t challenge the cop during a stop.”
So seriously, if you’re pulled over and a cop asks to search your car without a warrent, which of Mr Dutta’s advice are you going to follow?
I’m not sure how anyone can miss not only the fact that he’s directly contradicting himself, but he keeps coming down on the side of “always do what the cop says.”
Again, @Jack, note how people perceive the job of a cop as being “equally dangerous (if not more so)” than military work. As per our previous conversation, that perception — which you and I both agree is ungrounded — is critical in the entire militarization argument.
@Matt Bernius: Apparently the Washington Post does not employ editors anymore. That’s the only explanation I can come up with.
@Matt Bernius: I, for one, disagree that a police officer’s job is as dangerous as military work. To suggest so would equate a police officer’s job to a occupying force there to subjugate the enemy. Anyone who believes that to be true needs to get in touch with their inner Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights.
Like I said, you and I agree on that point.
The only reason I brought it up — following up on our previous conversation — is that a lot of political and public perception (which has been fueled by numerous factors) unfortunately appears to be against us on this.
BTW on the relationship between expectations that an attacker had a gun and police reaction from the article @Paul L. linked to:
Again, this get’s to the entire issue of the *expectation* that all bad guys have fire arms[*] and that the police need to be equipped to deal with them accordingly.
Granted, people can say, the police have been able to deal with this prior to militarization, but I still contend that the perception that everyone is a potential criminal (Jack’s point about the shift to law enforcement), coupled with the expectation that every criminal has a gun, greases the skids towards harsher police tactics and military hardware in the name of officer safety.
[*] – Knives are nothing to underestimate. There are tests that show that an assailant with a drawn knife can cross 30 feet and start stabbing before most people can draw, aim, and fire a handgun.
Well, Dutta shoulda ended his article with this caveat “You can obey and be courteous all you want, but if you are black, all bets are off, we will beat the schitt out of you anyway.”
is more of the same problem. Cop demands everyone walking towards him put their hands in the air and threatens to #$%^ing kill a photographer. He has since been “relieved of duty” which means a paid vacation at taxpayer expense, but it’s guys like these that need to be weeded out of the police force–permanently.
Mod: Please release my last post. I know it goes against the sites foul language policybut, I cannot control the words in the link.
Just from my own experience, the people I went to high school with that became cops were all pretty much social outsiders. Most of them ended up on their hometown force, and I got the distinct feeling that doing a little book balancing when dealing with their more popular peers from their school days was on the to-do list.
The one interaction I had with a classmate turned cop was over some kind of minor traffic infraction. My attempt at a little friendly chit chat was met with “you just sit there and keep quite until I am done with you.” I’ve heard similar stories from a number of people. It was just a brief unpleasant experience, nothing earth shaking, but this is a bad mindset for someone in a position of authority.
Of course this is just a tiny fraction of the crap sandwich people of color are fed regularly. In the infrequent interactions I have had with cops in the last 20 years, I’ve always been treated with polite professionalism. Why not? I’m an upper middle class white guy from a good family. On the other hand, some of my black classmates who are far more successful and accomplished than I hate dealing with the police. They get pulled over for driving while black, and each traffic stop is a can of worms that can turn out to be anything from minor humiliation to something much, much worse.
I once went through a few years of BLS statistics and found that, on average, the odds of being murdered on the job as a police officer was about the same as an office worker.
@James: Yet, to hear a police officer tell it, their job is the most dangerous in the world, when in actuality…they don’t even make the top 10.
The 10 Deadliest Jobs:
1. Logging workers
2. Fishers and related fishing workers
3. Aircraft pilot and flight engineers
5. Structural iron and steel workers
6. Refuse and recyclable material collectors
7. Electrical power-line installers and repairers
8. Drivers/sales workers and truck drivers
9. Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers
10. Construction laborers
@Jack: Yes, that’s what prompted me to do the digging. I wanted to see if there was any truth to the frequent rhetoric about police work being dangerous (Indeed, I found that security guards, who are mostly unarmed are more likely to be killed on the job than the police).
@Matt Bernius: well i didn’t continue to pummel the cop- he had a partner with him so i got a free ride to the station! and back then the cops didn’t shoot black’s either- just roughed us up and such.
@Surreal American: oh, i don’t have a need for white supremacists either, they’re pretty lame too. my girlfriends black btw, so spare me the racist bs.
@al-Ameda: there were reports last night of x-rays, seems the cop got his face punched in by mr. brown- and more witnesses are coming forward to say they did have quite a scuffle. i’m not sure how big the cop is but if a 6’4″ guy weighing nearly 300 pounds is coming at me for more- i’m taking a shot until he stops, as i sure don’t want him getting my gun. there’s a lot more evidence coming out, slowly for whatever reason. heck, the cop may not have even known what he was shooting at after having his eye crushed.
like i said before, everyone’s in a rush to judge but nobody seems interested when the real story comes out and destroys the racially charged narrative that the media feasts on. i don’t blame the “angry black crowds” as much as i do the media and their hot heated leaders for edging them on.
Hmm. Exactly which magical alternate history are you referring to?
Do you think that is some sort of magical get out of jail free card that let’s you call African Americans savages without it being racist?
Sounds like Mr. Dutta would be right at home working in Ferguson.
From the workplace violence stats I’ve seen (which don’t include military service) police have the second-highest rate of violent encounters, just behind bartending.
@beth: A fair point, but I’d argue the constant examination of Lanza’s mental state as opposed to Brown or Martin’s suggests the media depicted Lanza’s motivation as utterly alien. You can sympathize with a thug if a thug has never known better, and thugs are part of every race, color, and creed. Lanza was portrayed (rightly) as a monster.
A thug is human. A psychopath isn’t.
@Tillman: Or it could be indicative of laziness, since to depict the mental landscape of Brown or Martin you’d have to touch on America’s racist past and continuing institutional racism, and that would require work besides having an on-staff psychologist pontificate.
Dutta’s piece is one of the most tone-deaf and least self-aware articles I have ever read in my life.
WaPo should be ashamed for running that piece.
First, I agree with your observation about tonedeafness etc.
Second, actually, I’m glad WaPo an that piece, because it really does go to the mindset of many people (and not just law enforcement) in this country. It certainly is, and should be, a lightening rod for a discussion that should take place.
Ok, good point.
Adam Lanza connected to a politically charged issue (guns) but wasn’t a controversial character in himself. He had no defenders and no one called him a victim, and thus there was no need to smear his character. How weird would it sound to say “Here’s a picture of Adam Lanza with a sinister tattoo, flashing a gang sign and using meth — which proves that he was evil!”
(I’m reminded of debates about child abusers like Jerry Sandusky and their enablers like Joe Paterno. Some people said “Why all this hatred for Paterno and not Sandusky?”, and the simple answer is that explicitly attacking Sandusky is redundant.)
Trayvon Martin, on the other hand, was (rightly) seen as a victim by many. His victimhood was obvious enough to others that they had to vilify him to blunt their own guilt for sympathizing with his killer. Thus, as many observers put it, he was put on trial for his own murder.
People don’t tend to go on tirades about the evil or thuggery of someone who is agreed by everyone to be such.
Note: I don’t intend to deny that Lanza benefitted from white privilege, and I imagine that a black school-shooter would get a lot more grief and a lot less post-mortem psychologizing.
@Grewgills: calling looters/rioters “savages” has nothing to do with race- they are what they are. if they happen to be black, then who really cares? and yes, having a black girlfriend is a get out of jail free card- try it some time.
I have dated African Americans and Asian Americans, but fell in love with a Dutch woman. Who I do or don’t date doesn’t give me a free pass when it comes to bigotry against that group. Strom Thrumond had an African American mistress, yet still managed to be a raging bigot.
Your framing in this argument and others comes across as bigoted regardless of what is in your heart.
The Dutch are all German hating, bike loving, tulip sucking, clog stomping, windmill living, socialist pancake eaters. I can say that without being a bigot because my wife is Dutch.
I read the Op-Ed and my comment wasn’t about the Op-Ed, but thanks anyway.
@Rob in CT: