Re-imagining Policing

Since I hate the verb “defunding”, I’m going to use a term both Kamala and Cory used, re-imaging.

One of the broad areas of agreement is that sending police with guns to respond to mentally ill people is a really bad idea.

HBO released this good documentary for free, about the two San Antonio cops Joe and Ernie who are in their mental health department.

TL:DR. Joe is 35-year-old former Marine with a troubled childhood, and Ernie is a 22-year veteran cop who started the department. They save lives, armed only with two ears for listening.

Personally, I think it makes more sense to train social workers to use tasers, but this unit shows there are multiple ways of solving the problem.

If you don’t have time for the 97- minute documentary

Here is Joe TedX talk it is only 10 minutes.

Finally, I want to say the media has important role to play in this process. I watch a lot of cop shows, and while they’ve generally made cops more human over the years. They still glamorize violence, and brutality. Law&Order Special Victims Unit is one of the longest running cops shows and attracts a large female audience. No doubt because the lead Oliva is portrayed as empathetic to the victims.

Some network needs to make a show about cops like Joe and Ernie, because the 6K YouTube views for the documentary isn’t going to cut it.

If I thought petitions did anything, I’d start petitions to remove all cop shows from network TV. The glamorization and lionization of police in our society is out of control, and those shows are the tentpoles of a lot of network lineups.

They glamorize violence to a degree, but they also just normalize it, because TV shows need conflict, and they characters have guns, so they’re going to use them. If all the cops were Andy Griffiths, I wouldn’t have as much a problem with it.

But, I’m a #ACAB pinko commie who hates America and feels slightly uncomfortable with my kids watching Paw Patrol. So I’m definitely on the outer fringes of that conversation.

I think the problem with cop shows is more that they treat “breaking the rules” as something good cops do all the time and it’s fine. In fact, they HAVE to do it or innocents will die/be raped with abandon.

Cop shows as a concept is fine, but we need more of The Shield and a hell of a lot less of Blue Bloods.

We need to see that breaking the rules corrupts. That we have laws for a reason. Let me see the episode of SVU where they break the rules and an innocent person goes to jail or is harmed. You’ll never see that episode. But the one where they have to steal evidence from a perp’s house without a warrant and then find a way to sneak it into evidence? That’s basically half of cop shows.

Re-imagining policing at it’s heart is asking how many things do police do that really warrant needing a bulletproof vest and a gun and then asking for those things that don’t, can a better trained / qualified person do that exact same task? I would say that you don’t need guns for dealing with mentally ill / homeless as Strollen points out above; a theft research team that can do better at recovering stolen items; traffic citations ; managing accidents - which is really just diverting traffic / taking testimony. The list goes on & on. Yes, you will need an armed team on rare occasions and perhaps this is shared between communities - like the SWAT teams of today.

Traffic is one piece where I would add in community complaints - with the advent of cameras, I think citizens should be able to record infractions and mail report people using this. Depending upon the evidence (video vs picture), I bet you get many people complaining to provide ample evidence and you ticket that SOB for their erratic driving.

Then take this group of qualified people and have them work as a unit together in their geographic area (town / neighborhood) but they each report into their own management chain for their specialization which may be a broader geographic area (county perhaps?)

The original “Cops” reality show has already announced this is their last season. Not network but it is probably on somewhere every afternoon.

Sadly, I never got into Shield but I heard good things about. Actually Blue Bloods is one of the better cop shows because two out of the three cops in the show do follow rules. To me the worst offenders are shows like Hawaii Five Oh and Magnum PI.

I had/have hopes for the the Rookie. In an otherwise forgettable police procedural Nathan Fillion, charm and charisma really carry the show. Some of the best scene are where Nathan talks to people to resolve conflicts. Still he constantly is being shot at or shooting people.

But you are absolutely right the problem with police shows in general is that rules are made to be broken and breaking rules leads to positive results not negative. It is a particularly damaging message because in general I think most successful cops are Lawful Neutral.

This reminds me recently of starting to watch Grey’s Anatomy. I figured it was so popular and ran for so long it would likely be a good thing to watch, and it was at first. Dramatic, training sequences which I always love, but after eight or so episodes the sheer malpractice on display just was gobsmacking. I couldn’t suspend disbelief that all the hinky shit they did would ever persist in a medical setting.

You know what I don’t get is despite watching hours of CNN, and even fair amount of MSNBC,
it takes a late-night comedian to do this segment?

A rather depressing report, basically nothing works.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/five-myths/five-myths-about-policing/2020/06/25/65a92bde-b004-11ea-8758-bfd1d045525a_story.html#comments-wrapper

The way it’s always been. There is a reason the Daily Show and Colbert were so big and why Oliver is.

An interesting theory:

TLDR: Make the Top Cop an elected official with complete power to hire/fire cops, no police unions in the loop.

He makes a pretty solid case for it and why major cities seem to have more police issues than say county sheriff’s departments.