Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

| March 15, 2019 | 20 Comments

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“Who will guard the guards themselves?”
Juvenal from his Satires (Satire VI).

Our own Veritas Omnia Vincit is back with some thoughts on Police issues, and where bias, if any, is to be found there. The discovery of Police bias and its origin is the first step in dealing with the issue. Case in point- Ferguson. The riots were not really caused by the shooting of Michael Brown- that was the spark needed to inflame long standing grievances between police and the population.

Anyway, here’s VoV.

The policing of America, does an ongoing Stanford project indicate bias or will the study itself reveal its own bias?

Three years ago, an unmarked police car tailed Richard Jackson into an alley behind his home on Chicago’s West Side and pulled him over. Jackson, a black Navy veteran, had become used to being stopped by police for what he believed was no reason since returning to Illinois from the military in 2012.

But this time was different. After an officer ran his driver’s license, then said he was free to go, Jackson pointedly asked what he had done wrong. The officer, who is white, said Jackson had cut him off, which Jackson denied. The officer then issued Jackson citations for failing to yield at a left turn and stop sign, which Jackson also denied.

Although the officer did not allude to Jackson’s race, the veteran believed that was why he was stopped. He successfully fought the two citations and filed a complaint with the Chicago police.
The military works hard to strip away racial barriers, we veterans have friends of all colors and backgrounds. We promise to defend the constitution and the ideas behind equal treatment under the law. Studies like this, while perhaps uncomfortable, are a good step towards improving policing in the nation and discussing what we want from police as citizens.

Like our politicians who are supposed to represent us, but now believe they are our leaders, the police were supposed to be the enforcement arm of we the people. Something has happened though to our police, and anyone considering themselves a freedom loving American should recognize that we the people have the right to decide how we want to be policed. Do we want a militarized police force? Do we want the police to have the right to stop anyone for no reason, ask for id, and then arrest you for failing to comply even without evidence of crime? My fallback position is always the founders, dangerous freedom or peaceful slavery. It often appears to me that my fellow American not only prefer the latter, they have been so conditioned by corporate media propaganda that they actually believe the government has the right to decide how to apply police force in communities as opposed to the citizens having the right to decide how the police are to be used. The consent of the governed was always a requirement for the founders, these days it’s no longer required or even considered. The government thinks of you as a tax slave that they own and can utilize for their benefit while stealing your money your entire life. Then after promising they would conserve a portion of that theft for your benefit in old age they are failing to deliver on that as well.

Consequently for me, a study of this nature on the realities of policing using a large data set seems long overdue. A study not funded by the government and thus not subject to government interference, a study that is a cooperative effort between two departments of a well respected university and a study that is opening the data sets up to everyone free of charge to be reviewed and analyzed by everyone who has an interest in such things. This means it’s an open source review of the data. In the end the datasets can be analyzed by conservative groups, liberal groups, fiscal groups, anyone with the ability to understand the data can take the time to come to their own conclusions. That makes this ongoing project far less susceptible to claims of bias because the data is open sourced to the world.

There is nothing more infuriating than an organization that investigates itself and finds no evidence of wrongdoing or bias. This study’s nature is different from day one. The idea that it’s an ongoing data collection set means data can be tracked in real time each year and policy changes can be seen to have an effect or not almost immediately.

I’ve not had the time to run through the datasets myself, nor have I come to any conclusion or any hard and fast opinion on the merits of this study. As someone with a large extended family that is multi-ethnic, multi-racial, multi-etc…my interest is personal as well as theoretical. These kinds of discussions in our nation are often impossible to have without someone being uncomfortable somewhere. There are some realities about crime in America that are uncomfortable for blacks and whites that we are reluctant to discuss.
We all know there are race baiters in the nation making a good living off perpetuating racial stereotypes and the racial “divide”. We all also know that much of that is great for news ratings, but doesn’t exist quite as portrayed.

Here’s hoping a study of this nature means that all of who served will be treated equally under the law regardless of skin color. Here’s hoping this study is used as a tool and not a bludgeon for actual progress towards as equitable a policing situation in the United States as is possible.
I’m leaving you without an opinion on the merits of the study, largely because the data set is so big it will take quite some time to chew through it. It was an interesting enough concept that I thought it deserved our attention and it might merit a bit of our time as well.

Link to the article: NBC News

Link to the project: Stanford Open Policing

Thanks, V. Keep ’em coming.

Category: Crime, Guest Link, Guest Post, Police

Comments (20)

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  1. Wilted Willy says:

    It will be nice to have a report on just the facts with no racial bias! It will be interesting to see becomes of it??

    • Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

      WW that is my fervent desire here as well.

      I will be happy to have multiple reputable sources from both sides of the aisle as well as neither side of the aisle have at these numbers.

      I’m willing to take a minute and see who looks at the data and what that data provides.

      If you get a chance to read the study parameters they take a good bit of time to explain how the datasets reveal different points of interest.

      The Computational Lab and Journalism Lab are working together.

      The engineers I’m hoping bring some sanity to the process and I hope that outside organizations that access the data reveal their process as exhaustively as Stanford seems to be doing.

  2. 26Limabeans says:

    “we veterans have friends of all colors and backgrounds”

    This is why I am elated to see more and more veterans become police officers. They are the best candidates for the job.

    The haircut in Basic levels the field in an effective way. The different skin colors fade as we work together for each other.
    You will not find that in Public Schools and Universities. Service grows character and that is what we need in Leo’s.

    • Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

      In our community several of the new LEOs are former service members, hooking them up through my connection to the chief with our local youth programs is really simple and having served they understand the concept of volunteerism far better than a lot of my non-military friends and acquaintances.

      • KenWats says:

        “they understand the concept of volunteerism far better than a lot of my non-military friends and acquaintances.” which is ironic, since one of the first things we learn in the military is, “Never volunteer for anything.” 😉

    • UpNorth says:

      My recruit class at the PD had 19 veterans, out of 23 recruits. That was way, way back, when the war in the Viet of the Nam was winding down. Great cops, most all of that class. And, the two who weren’t all that good were soon weeded out.
      Not long after that class, the push for “diversity” and college-educated officers began. Over the next 10-15 years, we ended up with people who shouldn’t have been allowed near a stapler or any other mechanical device, much less a pistol, shotgun or the authority to arrest anyone. It took a long time to weed most of them out. The few that remained became captains, LT’s and sergeants.

    • timactual says:

      Another reason I favor the draft instead of an all volunteer military. If nothing else it teaches you to live and work side by side with someone you dislike.

  3. 5th/77th FA says:

    Good post VoV, why am I not surprised. Much of this goes back to home training. Having been born and raised a baby boomer in the deep south, I coulda been the stereotypical raciss redneck hick. Again, Mama and Papa raised us to treat all people with respect, including blacks and LEOs. Use of the “N word” would get your mouth washed out with soap as quick as any other 4 letter word. We even changed our Church of attendance when a Black Gentleman, Papa’s best friend, was attempted to be stopped from entering the church for his funeral service. Mama wouldn’t stand for disrespecting anyone. In my many years of travel, I have been pulled over by LEOs of different races and jurisdictions. They would usually ask me if I knew why they had pulled me over. There was only one instance where I was issued a citation and instead of being 105 in a 55, it was 67 in a 55. Didn’t realize that until I got home and actually looked at the ticket. Ran into the officer a little while later in a cafe and asked why he cut me that much slack. He said it was due to the respect I showed him. He was black. I could go on but won’t.

    My military experience was more of a leveling of the field for others than it was me. I already had that from “Mother’s knee.” Had a black DS gave some of the black troops hell for their raciss comments…”his cracker ass might save your ni&&@r ass one day, learn how to earn and give respect.” SFC Sledge was a Soldier’s Soldier. 1SG Albert Richardson was another Soldier’s Soldier. We were all “colored”…green; and we all would bleed red.

    • Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

      I suspect a lot of us had a similar foundation, the biggest eye opener in the service for me wasn’t the racial variety but the educational variety.

      I was deeply saddened to realize so many young men had been screwed out of a decent high school education.

      It was 1977 and I thought all school systems were the same throughout the nation…I was so naive on so many levels.

      • Mason says:

        My dad recently told me a story about one of the guys he was at Ft Huachuca with circa 1970. Buck Sgt who was about to ETS brings in his wife one day. My dad was surprised his wife was black. It was because he hadn’t really thought of the Sgt as a black guy, he was just another soldier.

      • timactual says:

        Being a naive, sheltered middle-class lad myself I had never associated with anyone other than other middle-class white folks before I joined the Army. Definitely a learning experience.

        The first week of basic we were sitting on the floor filling out paperwork when the guy next to me asked “How do you spell ‘roofer’?”. I consider that to be one of the most educational moments in my life.

  4. Perry Gaskill says:

    Dunno, VOV. I’m seeing a couple of problems with both the NBC story and the Stanford Data Set.

    In the first place, the NBC piece was written by a Latino named Erik Ortiz who apparently specializes in “racial injustice and social inequality.” Aside from having a news beat that actively searches for those playing the race card, Ortiz also structures his story in a way that rounds up a lot more liberal NGOs than it does those speaking for the cops. A form of introducing his own bias.

    Ortiz also makes no apparent effort to explore other factors which might explain traffic-stop disparity. It’s as if he was convinced of police racial bias to start with, then hunted for facts to support it. Also notice that out of 21 states and 29 municipalities there were no distinctions made for changes in geography. Evidently we’re supposed to believe that patterns of bias are similar nationwide because all the cops go to the same racist cop school or something.

    The Stanford Data Set also seems to have a problem with fields in the database not being fully populated. Also, a relevant field that’s missing, at least it seems to me, is that of the race of the cop making the traffic stop. Is it biased if a Latino cop stops a Latino driver?

    It might also be pointed out that communities usually get the kind of cops they want. Sheriffs in county jurisdictions are usually elected; police chiefs in cities are hired by city councils who are elected. Which means any gross behavior at the patrol level tends to get sorted out.

  5. aGrimm says:

    Looking at the numbers on the interactive map:
    9 million stops in Nebraska?
    7 thousand in Kentucky?

    Lived in Nebraska for a few years and the cops are thick as ticks in a corn field for two stretches of the I-80, but 9 million traffic stops? This numbers guy says Hmmm. On the other end of the spectrum, would you stop any of all them Kentucky gun rack owners? Must be smart cops in Kentucky.

  6. JimmyB says:

    A good friend of mine went through the highway patrol school (they nearly starved him) and graduated. On his first traffic stop as a solo HP, he pulled over a lady in a Mercedes going about 20 over the speed limit. He was going to just give her a warning but when she (who was black) saw him (who is white) she snapped out – just give me the damn ticket! He said he was a little taken back but then he decided ok, so he said yes ma’am, and proceeded to write her a ticket. So, was race a factor? or was it “I’m important and in a hurry” or was it just being a dumbass? All the people I know in law enforcement have all said that they give back the respect they receive. Sure, there are bad cops and bad citizens too. I firmly believe what passes as news media grossly inflates the whole evil police thing.

    • Mason says:

      “All the people I know in law enforcement have all said that they give back the respect they receive.”


      P.S. When people would say “Just give me the ticket”, I’d write in the notes field (that was also on the copy they received) “DRIVER REQUESTED CITATION” in very large, bold lettering.

    • The Other Whitey says:

      “All the people I know in law enforcement have all said that they give back the respect they receive.”

      That’s just common sense. Why antagonize somebody who can write you a ticket that will cost you lots of money and put you in court, can have your vehicle towed, and arrest you if you shoot your mouth off enough? As my retired-CHP uncle would say, “Okay, asshole. If you wanna be like that, I can make you a whole lot more miserable than you can make me.”

  7. Poetrooper says:

    From the NBC article:

    “In response to a January report by the ACLU of Illinois that found racial disparities in police stops, Chicago police said the numbers failed to note the high volume of crime and calls for service made in the predominantly minority neighborhoods where police also conducted the most stops.”

    I suspect that is true of most of the data input for this study, as well. And that being the case, another socio-cultural consideration comes into play: that is the initial response officers encounter in a stop. If the subject is polite and follows the LEO’s instructions, the chances of a favorable outcome for the person stopped are greatly enhanced. If that individual is angry, profane and uncooperative, the chances of receiving a ticket, being searched or even being detained are much higher.

    My own experiences as a military policeman taught me the wisdom of the above observation, and over the decades since I served briefly as a young cop, that wisdom has served me well, allowing me to leave many speeding stops with nothing more than warning tickets and admonitions to “slow it down.” Conversely, I have been treated rudely and ticketed to the max on those occasions when I was less receptive to the officer who pulled me over.

    My skin color didn’t change in those encounters, my behavior did. Hostility begets hostility and the LEO’s of this country are far more likely to encounter antipathy from a socio-political cohort that labels itself Social Justice Warriors and is overtly and irredeemably hostile to law enforcement, even going so far as to cheer police assassinations.

    I’ll wager there is no consideration of that reality of contemporary law enforcement plugged into this study. And I can understand why so many police jurisdictions do not want to cooperate in a study that fails to do so.

    • UpNorth says:

      “In response to a January report by the ACLU of Illinois that found racial disparities in police stops, Chicago police said the numbers failed to note the high volume of crime and calls for service made in the predominantly minority neighborhoods where police also conducted the most stops.”
      Also, more officers are normally assigned to high crime areas as a safety factor. If the high crime area is the inner city, or the barrio, more officers equals more traffic stops. When they aren’t chasing calls.
      Other than white Johns from the ‘burbs looking for a 20 minute “date”, there aren’t a lot of white motorists in the inner city after 10pm on just about any night.

      • 5jc says:

        Oh there are white motorists but many are looking to buy drugs, sex or attack a rival gang.

        But yes the entirety of your post is quite accurate. Impoverished high crime areas areas tend to be minority heavy. One of the ways to combat crimes in these areas is to make traffic stops. Those stopped will be disproportionately people of color.

        The study noted that “less contraband was found”. This tends to be true for the more seasoned criminals. They are better at hiding stuff and getting rid of stuff before getting stopped. The dumbass kid that drove down to the hood to buy a bag of weed is much more likely to get caught with it than the dealer who drives around with it all night.

        I have to say though that from 2015-18 I conducted a number of somewhat surreal traffic stops. They typically would involve me stopping a vehicle with no lights on driving at night. The driver would immediately accuse me of stopping him/ her for being black. I’d explain that their lights were off and then they would tell me that they were on even though they clearly were not. 😕

        Sometimes I would even turn the lights on for them and they would still claim that they were already on. This trend died out last year but I never did figure out where it came from.

  8. Mike W. says:

    As a federal corrections officer, I’m the FIRST one to admit the law enforcement community does NOT get rid of it’s bad apples quick enough. The shitheads are what gives the agencies the bad images.
    It also makes our jobs tougher because people expect the worse….

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