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by Peter Moskos

May 27, 2017

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I've got over 2,500 posts on this blog. But I can't help but notice I've only posted six times in the past three months. That is a record low. So what have I been doing? Well, I do have a job. But also I've been on twitter a lot more. See, writing is work. And this work here? It don't pay.

Twitter scratches much the same itch for me as posts here, but with a lot work from my end. In terms of being engaged intellectually in police issues, Twitter is more interactive. Plus, on twitter I get to "meet" people like Jeff Asher. [See my previous post.]

Jeff has written some great stuff over at 538.com, which for some reason I simply did not know about until today. Take this on the effect which people insist shall not be known by the Ferguson Effect. Or on the rise in violence in Chicago, in particular, or nationwide, in general.

And I'm not shutting this blog down. And these things go in phases. Right now police simply aren't in the news like before Trump was elected. But if you want to know what I think about some current police issue and don't see it here, I've probably written something about it, but in 140 characters or less.


john mosby said...

Prof, why do you think police are in the news less under trump?

I have some hypotheses:

1. The dems realized this was a loser issue in the election, so they are staying away from it.

2. The msm would rather attack trump and the gop directly via the daily trump follies.

3 (actually a variation of 1) bringing up police shootings reminds people of street violence in general, which trump could then jump on to promote his law/order platform, so the dems and msm are staying away from it.

What's your hypothesis?


Moskos said...

When people who aren't at risk of being shot by police (most people, of all races) have better things to worry about, issues that affect them directly, they will quickly jettison other people's concerns. We now have real things to worry about. A handful of bad deaths at the hands of police and a few more questionable police-involved shootings a year suddenly don't seem so significant. I think it's about perspective and the fact that people can only process so much bad news.

Mostly I think Trump news has simply pushed other news off the cycle. So, B. But I don't think it's a MSM organized plan. They have limited means and report on what they think is the most important news. Right now that is the president. But I wonder if Dems do realize how much a loser issue blaming cops is? Though I think it was just one loser issue of many.

JMA said...

I think it's largely the bandwidth issue. For example I have several stories on policing languishing at 538 because it's nothing but Trump all the time.

Shane Taylor said...

For what it's worth, I'm glad to see you're still blogging. I hear what you're saying about Twitter scratching the same itch, but some things are better on a blog (like most Tweetstorms...). Personally, I burned out on Twitter and quit. Doing so was good for my mental health, especially after Trump won. But to each their own.

Unknown said...

Don't have twitter.

What do you think of the Castile shooting now that the dash cam video is out. Time for a blog post I think.

Moskos said...

He pulled the trigger too quickly. No reasonable cop should have been that afraid in that circumstance.

Moskos said...

I pretty much agree with this take: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/448828/philando-castile-shooting-police-must-display-reasonable-fear

john mosby said...

Prof, the nat rev article makes refernece to the reasonable-person standard for fear. But is it the reasonable person, or the reasonable cop? You seem to be arguing for the reasonable cop standard. The jury seems to have gone for the reasonable person standard, ie: "no way you could get me to pull people over, and if i somehow wound up doing that, i sure as hell am not going to wait to see what the guy pulls out!"

I think in general there's a legal development over the last 20 or so years not to bang people for malice-free mistakes. See for example castle doctrines. People got tired of sending a homeowner to jail just because she overreacted to a scary situation. Or for that matter, see drug decriminalization.

Cops using lousy tactics and giving flawed commands is not exactly the same thing as a homeowner shooting a burglar, but i think the jury nullification reasoning is similar: this guy didnt wake up that morning and say ima kill me a motorist today, so why send him to prison with people who did?


Moskos said...

The legal standard is reasonable police officer. If the jury thought otherwise, they're wrong. Maybe the prosecution should have put a cop on the stand. As a former cop, would I say the officer's fear was reasonable. Fear? Yes. Flinch? Sure. But to shoot because I guy gets squirrel? No. And I say that without knowing exactly what he saw. But having policed an area with real crime and real criminals and real shootings, I'm telling you that if we had shot every time somebody made a odd move, there would have been a whole lot more shootings. Also, the whole "I smelled weed and there was a baby so he had no respect for human life" is just weird.

I do agree that jury nullification, overt or subconscious, is a real factor. He was judged by a jury of *his* peers. And you get 12 together, and there's going to be somebody who won't convict (see Ofc Slager). In this case, though, it was not just a hung jury but an acquittal. People are very willing to give cops the benefit of the doubt (as they should) but facing an armed suspect is something a reasonable cops is supposed to handle without crapping his pants.

Also, keep in mind it's not just cops who occasionally get away with murder. Look at Baltimore. The system is *supposed* to benefit the accused, and it generally does. Bill Cosby? OJ? Does anybody really think they're innocent? Not even cop killers are sure to get convicted. (See Baltimore City Police Officer Kevon Gavin for a particularly grievous example that I still think about. https://www.odmp.org/officer/15384-police-officer-kevon-malik-gavin )

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