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by Peter Moskos

December 2, 2015

"The Deadliest County for Police Killings in America"

Oh, Bakersfield. Now it's in the Atlantic. Of course you heard about Bakersfield and Kern County here first, back in April. And even gave Bakersfield an honorary mention, back in 2014, too.)

The actual reporting is going on in the Guardian, the only paper, and an English paper, that seems to honestly care about investigating the issue of trigger happy cops (as opposed to just highlighting individual cases of questionable shootings).

In the Atlantic piece, I think Conor Friedersdorf lets #BLM off the hook too easily. And it's worrisome when the left-wing media starts blaming the media:
Perhaps that’s partly because the Black Lives Matter narrative has dominated press coverage of police misconduct--in Kern County, most of the victims are Latino. But the issues raised by the Black Lives Matter movement affect a variety of communities, even if that’s not always acknowledged in the media.
But a limitation of Black Lives Matter is a laser-like focus on state-against-black violence. Black Lives Matter can and should focus on whatever they want. Certainly blacks in America have specific and unique and legitimate grievances not shared by other minority groups. But the problem of bad and/or unnecessary police-involved killings affects a lot of poor America. But if one attempts to shift the focus to other communities by, say, substituting another word for "black," one faces immediate racial reprimand. Still, and to Black Lives Matter's credit, we wouldn't be talking about this at all were it not for #BLM.

Along with more investigative coverage in American papers, it would be nice to see more attention placed on where the problem seems to be worst (west of the Mississippi and in high Latino areas). The flip side of this is to look at departments, like the NYPD, that have have low rates of police-involved shootings. We have departments that could be used as case studies in best practices. But the police-are-the-bad-guys crowd can only see all police as an outlet for criticism.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: if we want to -- and we do want to -- reduce the number of black people shot by police, we need to reduce the number of people shot by police. On society's side this happens with reductions in overall violence. On the police side this happens with better hiring, training, and tactics.

7 comments:

John said...

The exact reason why, when you attempt to change the "black" in BLM to another race/minority group, you get a serious push back, is that 1) you (generic) weren't talking about the other group 5 minutes before or ever really; and 2) black folks are, by a very long shot, in a worse place than other races/minority groups in every category you can name. So it looks to me and to a lot of other people like a derailment, a dismissal of legitimate claims in favor of "Well, other people have it bad too. What aren't you talking about them, huh, huh?"

campbell said...

The actual reporting is going on in the Guardian, the only paper, and an English paper, that seems to honestly care about investigating the issue of trigger happy cops

The Guardian publishes some seriously dishonest hack shit like Ackerman's "black site" Homan Square article.

Peter Moskos said...

The Guardian's police coverage has ranged from anti-police to absolutely horrible. But at least they care! I also have reason to believe, speaking to some of their reporters, that they're getting better.

Concerned citizen said...

I wonder if the shockingly high rates of fatal police shootings in some Western cities (e.g, Bakersfield) are at least partly explained by the stupendously higher rates of methamphetamine use there as compared to the East (e.g, NYC).

Is there nationwide toxicology data for victims of fatal officer-involved-shootings?

Andy D said...

Nobody wants to focus on "hiring, training, and tactics" because a)Recruiting ANYONE decent to be a cops is insanely hard. The pool of applicants is woefully bad. b) "training" is just as you said about the BPD academy in your recent post: just a CYA operation to avoid accusations of negligent training. Most LEO training I have attended is death-by-powerpoint and a waste of time. There is nowhere near enough money for actual hands-on training. Even hands-on training I have attended is mostly standing around waiting your turn to run through a poorly-put-together "scenario" which you *might* get one crack at during the day. and c) tactics are taught in the same manner as (b) above. There's my $0.02

Devin O said...

The big issue I have with the Black Lives Matter campaign is that people are ignorant to the fact that there are much larger numbers of black on black crimes than there are with police killing a black person. People are so focused on trying to find cops as being racist, that they are blind to the fact that everyday there are black on black killings. We only hear about the "white cop who shot a black kid" because we want people to view cops as being racist and out there hunting black people. Sure not all cops do the right thing, but we can let one, or a few bad apples spoil the entire bunch. All lives matter.

Devin O said...

The big issue I have with the Black Lives Matter campaign is that people are ignorant to the fact that there are much larger numbers of black on black crimes than there are with police killing a black person. People are so focused on trying to find cops as being racist, that they are blind to the fact that everyday there are black on black killings. We only hear about the "white cop who shot a black kid" because we want people to view cops as being racist and out there hunting black people. Sure not all cops do the right thing, but we can let one, or a few bad apples spoil the entire bunch. All lives matter.