Looking back on Ferguson, George Floyd, and the decade in American policing since my first book was published
ROTWC was pretty foundational for me, and was one of the books that I read as an entry-point into larger thinking about the American carceral state and policing more generally. One thing I will add re Dan Cameron is my understanding from the grand jurors who sued to be able to speak and contradict him is that it was not just that he withheld information from the grand jury, but that he affirmatively told them that they could not consider homicide charges, before going to the press conference and telling the world that the grand jurors agreed with him that homicide charges were not warranted.
In San Francisco, police (their unions) effectively went on strike when we elected a progressive prosecutor who wasn't good at creating a strong constituency. Now that they've deposed him, they have only sporadically bothered to go back to work. Mostly on serving their political interests by banging on homeless people. Eventually there will be further police atrocities that will drive the next cycle of semi-reform. It gets old on the ground.
This book is an excellent read. I purchased my copy shortly after the book hit the market. As I recall from reading "Rise of the Warrior Cop", Daryl Gates was instrumental in transforming police into a paramilitary style force. That fact, I believe, sorely corrupted police departments across the nation. That fact elevated police to believing that not only were (are) they the enforcers of law. They BECAME the law, with reckless abandon and brutal take-downs and enforcement. I grew up in the 1950s, coming of age in the early sixties. I was taught to respect the police. Today, more often, I see them deserving less respect; requiring caution and apprehension. They have a chip on their shoulder, and too often are arrogant with a sense of untethered empowerment over the average citizen.
Excellent review. Now, if I can only get my copy of your first edition of Warrior Cop back from whomever the mayor gave it to....
It's a good article except...
This statement is bothsiderism: "when conservatives railed against those federal law enforcement interventions at Waco and Ruby Ridge, but excused or even made light of abuses by local police... Democrats, meanwhile, had little to say about ATF or FBI abuses, mostly because they found the people on the receiving end of those abuses to be politically unsavory."
Not remembered is that *Clinton* routinely got blamed for both Waco and Ruby Ridge despite the fact that it was the Bush DoJ that started events in motion for both incidents and Ruby Ridge occurred exclusively under Bush. Janet Reno hadn't even been sworn in as AG when the DoJ disastrously attempted to serve a warrant at Waco and she had been in office a little over a month when the FBI decided to shoot its way into Waco. If there has been less than total sympathy to right-wing complaints about those abuses, it has been because they have told many lies, and those lies were told for political reasons: to hang the blame for these deaths on Clinton and Reno.
Nor has the right been honest about the fact that Randy Weaver and Vernon Howell's acolytes were heavily armed, resisted lawful (even if ridiculous) law enforcement demands and that in the initial service of a warrant, Howell & Co. had ambushed and murdered four federal agents (crimes for which they were never held to account), whereas almost all of the BLM protests have involved unarmed people who had not assaulted officers. In any way equating these incidents with bursting in on a completely innocent couple in the dead of night is...weird.
I don't see judgments on the degree of misconduct by law enforcement in the Waco and Ruby Ridge incidents as a partisan matter. We have seen unequal enforcement of the law for generations, but (prior to Ferguson) the only time that disproportionate force has seemed to become an issue is when white people died. So, yes, law enforcement acted irresponsibly in both Waco and Ruby Ridge and innocent people died needlessly. But the lack of reaction probably wasn't because Howell&Co. and the Weavers were "unsavory." It's probably because they used deadly force in resisting law enforcement and especially because so many lies were told to whitewash their roles.
Radley, in the states that have eliminated qualified immunity, has policing changed appreciably because of it? Are cops being personally sued? Are police departments losing officers in droves because they can be sued personally? An update would be great, thanks.
John McWhorter writes about police abuse of white people which parallels the abuse of black people but gets much less attention.
He isn't coming at this from a conservative point of view, more of a human rights point of view. Police impunity isn't just about racism, it's about a lack of decency toward people in general.
Thank you for this... I wonder though, how does this analysis apply to an institution like the NYPD? A small town cop in a red state is, I think, more likely to be disciplined than some asshole NYPD detective. As a lefty I hate to say it, but I think it's because of the history of union power in blue states, that never really existed in red states, so the police unions don't own every Mayor in the same way ...