Monday, November 16, 2015

In a Police State Where They Kill a Lot of Dogs

Last year, American police killed more unarmed American citizens than Isis and Al Qaeda combined.

What's going on?

The problem is simple: We have recruited from the bottom half of the high school class, militarized them, wrapped them in a cocoon of impunity, and then incentivized them to escalate everything towards court or jail, which makes for big overtime pay for cops, as well as jobs for police, bailiffs, defense lawyers, judges, magistrates, prosecutors, court reporters, and prison guards.

Consider  the graph below and the seven-fold increase in incarceration we  have seen since 1970.

Part of the rapid rise of the police state we see in the U.S. today can be seen in the routine and almost casual shooting of family pets.

Police either do not know how to deal with dogs, due to incredibly poor training, or else they shoot dogs simply to terrorize citizens and demonstrate their police powers.

On Oct. 20, 2015, a Florida City police officer came to this home to let them know their car door was open. The family's 2-year-old dog, Dutchess, ran out the front door, and the officer shot and killed the dog.

As The Washington Post noted in a recent article, it's not like the police have a rational excuse for the shootings, and it's not like there are clear steps that cannot be taken to reduce the mayhem.

[J]ust like police officers, postal workers regularly encounter both vicious and gregarious dogs on their daily rounds. But letter carriers don’t kill dogs, even though they are bitten by the thousands every year. Instead, the Postal Service offers its employees training on how to avoid bites. (In addition, the agency keeps a centralized database of dog bites, a marked contrast to the lack of data on police killings.) At the sessions, handlers put postal workers through sample scenarios using live dogs, teaching them how to calm a dog, distract a dog and even fend one off if necessary. Similar training for meter readers has massively reduced instances of bites.

Trainers say that in many cases, officers simply have no idea how to read a dog’s body language. Dog behavior counselor Brian Kilcommons, who helped produce the Justice Department’s training videos on police encounters with dogs, says officers’ inclination to “take command and take control” can cause them to antagonize dogs unnecessarily. “What they term as aggression is usually fear,” Kilcommons says. Officers “need to realize they’re there to neutralize, not control.”

He adds: “If they have enough money to militarize the police with Humvees, they have enough money to train them not to kill family members. And pets are considered family.”

Even when they occur, dog bites are rarely a serious enough threat for lethal force to be a sensible response. According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, a national database of law enforcement officers who lost their lives in the line of duty, 15 deaths in the past 70 years have been animal-related, but none of them involved a dog attack. (Almost all involved horses or insect stings.) One would expect, then, that there would be very little need to use a firearm.

Yet it happens all the time...

Yes it does. And the police continue to do it with complete impunity, same as they do locking up 2 million more Americans a year than they did in 1970.

It's time to defund the police. It's time to end the runaway abuse of power, and to fence up against the rise of the American police state. There is something terribly wrong with the criminal justice system when we have twice as many people, per capita, locked up in the U,S, than the Soviet Union or South Africa did during their most brutal civil rights-destroyong periods.


jeffrey thurston said...

Amen brother! We here in :The Land of the Free" lock up more people proportionally than even Joe Stalin did at the height of the Great Terror! And as far police safety the blue-clad hide of the cop is now the Most Precious Thing on Earth! Our police today operate from a position of extreme cowardice- they have no shame executing 600 or 700 Americans a year. Statistically their job is safe- safer by far than construction, fishing or firefighting. Their model of operation (like our military's) is the NFL player beating up a third-grader- any HINT of danger is met with overwhelming blind force. They need a complete change of culture- cowardice needs to be a shame- not a virtue!

Donald McCaig said...

Dear Patrick,
I had an uncle and brother in law cop and I came within an inch of making a career in the LAPD. Neither my kin nor myself would have shot your dog, nor you.

But modern police have been very badly trained with videos and range exercises which paints a world that is much, much more dangerous than the world we live in. They've been taught the sensible response to an ambiguous threat is to eliminate that threat.

I live in a very rural county with less than 2000 citizens. Some years back a despondent citizen took his rifle and started firing from his front porch.

Instead of calling for the SWAT team, our sheriff drove to the house, got out of his car and said, "Henry, does your mother know you're doing this?"

Fellow broke down in tears and was escorted to the hospital.

There are other ways to police.

Donald McCaig

Olde New England said...

The reason that Joseph Stalin locked up less people than we do is that he either killed them or starved them to death. An example is the Holdomyr in Ukraine. I am unfortunately familiar with that because a lot of the relatives of my grandparents' generation - who did not immigrate to the USA - died in that massive, state-sponsored famine.

RescueTrain said...

The National Canine Research Council offers training for police officers on how to safely handle situations with dogs:

This needs to become part of regular police training.

Yes, the incarceration rates are horrid. Thanks for addressing both!

jeffrey thurston said...

I get into an internet argument WHENEVER I bring up Joe Stalin. Always with Ukrainians. The so-called Holomodor is Cold War propaganda cooked up by Ukrainian right-wingers here in the US to cover up their WW2 crimes. I've had my life threatened and more by these nutbags because I dare insinuate that Ol' Joe's crimes have been highly exaggerated. Patrick- you're a demographer- check out the numbers sometimes concerning Stalin- it seems he killed most of the people in the USSR at one time or another...