About . . . . Classes . . . . Books . . . . Vita . . . . Blog. . . . Podcast

by Peter Moskos

October 3, 2014

Stop making sh*t up!

Here are a few cases were cameras have backed up the police version.

One case I'd like to highlight is the Reverend Bill Godair who claimed a North Carolina officer was aggressive in a traffic stop. The good reverend said, "I refuse to sit back and not do anything, not say anything until Ferguson, Missouri becomes a reality here in Salisbury." And: "My wife was in my vehicle when this incident occurred and was scared by his actions. We honestly thought that I would be arrested." There was even a little press conference and everything! From PoliceOne: "The head of the NAACP chapter has called for Chief Collins to step down or face protests over the excessive force claims."

But my point isn't that the police version is always the truth (though it usually is). I'd prefer, if you don't like cops, to imagine what you would think if you heard this accusation against police and there were no camera present. And if you are a cop, why would you not want a camera to document what happened? As my colleague John DeCarlo likes to point out, "the police are the only ones out there without a camera!"

The reason I like this little example much is because of just how unremarkable the traffic stop was. It most cases something actually does happen, and you have to sort out what happened. But this was a traffic stop. No voices were raised. A ticket was issued.

But while we're at it, this incident in Celina, Texas is interesting because you see two very different perspectives from two very different cameras. In one shot, the cop looks bad, tackling a compliant suspect for no apparent reason. In the other (which starts at 1:40), you see the guy bolting before the cop tackles him. Job well done, officer!

And there's also a guy in Austin who blogged about "babysitting while white" (he was with his black granddaughter):
The officers got out with Tasers drawn demanding I raise my hands and step away from the child. [...] I complied, and they roughly cuffed me, jerking my arms up behind me needlessly. Nine police cars plus the deputy constable all showing up to investigate the heinous crime of baby-sitting while white."
Except that is not happened. There were no Tasers. There was frantic call about the girl being kidnapped. The guy was detained for 13 minutes before being let go.

Said Police Chief Acevedo (quite boldly and accurately, along with pointing out that most kidnappers are not strangers but relatives): "Had that been a real legitimate kidnapping. And we would have responded with one or two officers in a nonchalant manner. The same exact critics that are criticizing us now would be saying that the Austin Police Department does not care about an African America little girl being kidnapped from the Millennium Center."

[thanks to Sgt B for the initial link]


Anonymous said...

Seems like Acevedo is setting up a false dichotomy. In Acevedo's world:

APPROACH 1: respond with one or two non-chalant officers who presumably don't detail the blogger at all.

APPROACH 2: responds with TASERS drawn, order the blogger away from the child (thereby scaring, and perhaps scarring) the child, and then cuff the blogger with violent jerky motions.

There are other options and Acevedo knows it. I don't know what I like but I know about Art.

PCM said...

There were no Tasers drawn. That was part of the point. There were no "violent jerky" motions (whatever that means). It all looks pretty calm and professional to me. Even non eventfully, if one can handle being cuffed for a short period of time.

I would say that *is* the third approach advocated by Acevedo.

I'm not certain if you didn't watch that actual video or are just trolling.

Anonymous said...

I retract what I said. I didn't realize that there was a video for that one. You are correct -- the guy lied. I guess I don't know about Art (well he has done some bad things, like not disciplining when they shot the guy sleeping in the back of the car), but he is apparently on the side of right this time around. My sincere apologies.

PCM said...

Thanks. No problem.

Trust me... because I hand-picked these cases, you can be assured -- given the title of this post -- that they have at least one thing in common!

But my greater point, which you well show, is that many people instinctively believe what people say against police. And often (though you may disagree) it's just not true.

Anonymous said...

Ever since the Ferguson shooting there has been an outcry for making body cameras required for all police officers (mostly from liberal outlets). Do you support expanding body camera use for cops? Do you know if cops are generally for or against their use?

PCM said...

I am for. Most cops are against. But these same cops will come around in due time, when they realize how good it will be for police.

David Woycechowsky said...

I think the ones who arrested Jamar Kennedy are probably glad about no bodycams. It would be interesting to see what they have to say about the issue at any event.