In my last roundup, I asked you to send me your questions. So here they are — with my answers. What TV shows or movies have done the most damage to how the public views the criminal justice system? Are there any that get it right? I’m not sure which question is more difficult — the first
If anyone asks me who they should be following on criminal justice issues, I give them your name. Every time. I've be in DC for over 35 years now, so I've seen plenty of criminal justice reporters from multiple outlets come & go. Very damn few ever dig as deep and as thoroughly as you. If you're ever in DC, look me up & the lunch/dinner is on me.
I believe you also helped prevent dogs from getting shot given your coverage of the issue several years ago. Not long after legislatures started mandating police dog encounter training and last I checked it's had a positive impact in Texas.
I understand why people may be upset by disproportionate coverage of dog shootings relative to people shootings, but it still made a big difference. Having your beloved companion killed by cops (something that thankfully never happened to me, but did happen to other dogs I knew) is an absolute nightmare. So thanks for that.
Maybe there are other journalists covering policing and criminal justice from a similar angle as Radley, but I'm less aware of them. If there is a reason for this newsletter (Q. 3) it would be, from my point of view, as a resource for all those newspapers that need a go-to resource to make them properly skeptical of the Official Story. Being a bit of a geezer myself, I've seen plenty of stories of how bad stuff goes down even prior to reading Warrior Cop. In fact, gave a copy to our mayor.
Someone has to do the deep dive into this septic tank of injustice. I'm glad Mr. Balco has the fortitude to be doing it.
Member, Santa Fe Public Safety Committee
Santa Fe, NM
As someone who has always been somewhat left-of-center, and is now starting to get comfortable, at the age of 65, with considering myself a socialist (in the Democratic Socialist sense of the word), I've tended to mock libertarians (which includes some dear friends of mine) as "pot-smoking Republicans." Thankfully, I can always point to people like you and Jane Coaston as libertarians who I admire and respect.
Sadly, the vast majority of people who fall under that description tend to leave me cold - the Tyler Cowens, Nick Gillespie, Megan McArdle types are in general shallow thinkers and awful writers. Silicon Valley billionaires and tech bros (like Blake Masters, who could easily be a Senator today, if he had a semblance of a personality) are among the most dangerous people on the planet. The Mises people are just plain nuts. And why anyone still considers Milton Friedman and Alan "with notably rare exceptions, the invisible hand of the marketplace totally rocks!" Greenspan to be worthy of any kind of attention is beyond me.
All of that notwithstanding, I subscribed to your newsletter because you are on the the few voices out there that is sincerely addressing civil liberties and police violence. Maybe you could highlight some other libertarians you admire in one of your next pieces, so that I can continue to overcome my biases against the L word.
Thank you for all the great work you do.
I only recently found your work after your podcast with the Bulwark, and I've been doing as deep of a dive as I can on your writing. I really appreciate what you're doing. I grew up with a dad who was a cop and most of the older people I knew were police or friends of police. Looking back now on the culture and the things that they found funny sometimes makes me sick, and I'm glad you're doing what you are.
Mr. Balko, I am a new subscriber but have always loved reading your work when I came across it.
I found the first 2-3 seasons of Barney Miller (having recently binged it as a nostalgic thing I used to watch with my dad) are a lot darker and spot on about ALL of the societal issues going on, Smog being the only one we don't STILL talk about. You might find it interesting as they are struggling with the transition from old-style to the reforms that had just happened.
Thank you for your efforts.
Thank you for this. I read "Rise of the Warrior Cop" last year and I've recommended it to everyone I know - the frustrating thing is how many times the reply is "that sounds too dark and depressing." - Geez, try being the people he's writing about (and I mean the police too - when I was reading your book, I kept thinking about the consequences of some of these truly messed up situations on the minds/souls of the police involved - I feel like they must either get super hard or pay a life long psychic price). Anyway, you're now my second substack subscription. Keep up the excellent work.
Thank you for everything you do. I've been following your work for decades now and it was a big reason I became a public defender.
This is magnificent. Just that.
One note on business coverage. It's terrible, largely because reporters tend to be social liberals, with a vaguely aristocratic disdain for business. To the extent they are institutionalists, it results in mindlessly accepting business propaganda at face value. To the extent they are crusaders, they can't distinguish between tilting at windmills and genuine villains.
Hello Mr. Balko. I recently read your gripping "Rise of the Warrior Cop" and I just subscribed here so as to be able to share with you my own experience with Los Angeles Police Chief Daryll Gates. Years ago I worked hard in two separate initiative campaigns to establish a Civilian Police Review Board for the City of Los Angeles. They both failed. I was also fortunate to be able to substitute for my Unitarian Universalist minister at a meeting for San Fernando Valley religious leaders hosted by the LAPD. Daryll Gates was the speaker. After his talk, I averred that the killing of Eula Love by two LAPD officers was appalling. He responded that it would happen again, even though such killings happen only "once in a while, just once in a while." Those "once in a while(s)" of course ultimately led to the two efforts to establish a Civilian Police Review Board. Unfortunately, this comment platform does not support posting the Los Angeles Herald Examiner article on the exchange the next day -- August 4, 1979.
I'm glad like Brian Krebs you are still doing that great work that mainstream media does not care about anymore. Keep up the amazing work! I wish our society didn't need to be held accountable as much as it does.
Highly recommend We Own This City! Just as good as the Wire IMO, if much smaller and self contained