Addressing Misconduct Will Require A Change in Police Culture. Is Police Leadership Up To The Challenge?

This article is part of TPM Cafe, TPM’s home for opinion and news analysis.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://talkingpointsmemo.com/?p=1317191

Police Leadership are just the older gang members. So no, they’re not up to changing the culture. Defund them all and start over. That is the only way to get rid of all the ‘bad apples’ (aka the vast majority of police).

Gang Members:

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Yep. Like it’s good idea that a civilian is SecDef. It is a good idea that a Police Chief has never been a cop.

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No, next question.

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Not just leadership. There’s an entire ecosystem of trainers, hooked into gun culture and martial arts culture.

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Easy answer…

No way.

No way at all.

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Killing people in custody (mostly minorities) is not just a “police culture” problem.
Before George Floyd was murdered by Chauvin, Tuscon police killed a Hispanic prisoner in pretty much the same way. He died calling out for his nana (grandmother).

If all major cities had a program similar to Oregon’s CAHOOTS program, Carlos Lopez would most likely be alive.

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Whether they’re up for it or not…are they even interested in it?

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There’s some merit to the “bad apples” argument to this extent:
People in groups, especially in quasi-military groups like police, will adopt the values of their leaders. Fire those persons, replace them with persons committed to replace the culture and we’ll be a long way ahead. That said, it’s very hard to do.
I’ve know several men over the years who resigned from police forces. Each just could not stand the culture. My son is a graduate of a police academy, decided he did not want to join the club.

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Changing police culture will hurt the feefees of those who wear Confederate Flags to the beach.

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Ah the outline tattoo. It’s like getting a tattoo on layaway.

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In the tri-state – NY, NJ,CT – it’s Puerto Ricans they despise – call them “peter rabbits” over the police radios. “I’ve got two peter rabbits in cuffs here at 5th and Main”.

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Hitler is rolling over in his bunker.

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Changing police culture will look different in different places, depending on the situation in the department. There is already some “guardian” culture in some departments, sometimes even at the top. Nonetheless, it certainly does seem that some departments are beyond redemption in their current forms and may well need top to bottom change. In others, the problem may be more at the command level and the majority of patrol officers are not beyond saving. In others the problem is more at the patrol and mid (e.g., sergeants and lieutenants) levels than at the command level. And there will be departments that just need a bit of selective pruning. One concrete issue that needs to be addressed in any event is how to reform the various POBRAs around the country. I will concede that they often go a bit overboard in protecting (or creating) the “rights” of police officers, to the extent that proper management and discipline becomes far too difficult. But given the dificult nature of their jobs, police do need some protections. A discussion of how these interests should be re-balanced in the form of new laws is part and parcel of the “culture” discussion and might even shed some light of its own.

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“Is Police Leadership Up To The Challenge?”

Um, let’s see. The answer is no. Police misconduct has been obvious since the police existed. The police have become a self-sustaining culture: abuse is endemic, including amongst leadership – otherwise it might have done something about it many many years ago.

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Your OneWordAnswer™: No.

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It will vary. Police leaders should be happy to reapply for their positions, relying on their records as part of the application, along with community input. Some chiefs might be running good organizations, others not so much. Look to the sorts of instructions that they pass down to the ranks. Do they instruct the officers on the streets to be polite, helpful guardians, and brook no nonsense? Or do they allow their officers on the streets to run around giving orders to people. An officer who says to me “Get back in your car” isn’t what we need. We need officers who would say, “Please get back in your car so we can clear the area,” or some such.

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Got that right with trainers. Former neighbor would walk the 50 ft to mailbox with pistol, shotgun and long gun in hands. No slings, no holster, nothing. He would usually drop the pistol along the way. Told it made him feel safe. This was a certified police weapons safety instructor. Not just that but loaded, round in chamber and safety off. Cops said everything was A-OK.

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No.

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I don’t see any chance of true change until qualified immunity is tossed into the trash, where it belongs.

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