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Thu Oct 23, 2014, 07:01 AM

Concerning the ongoing deluge of stories about police misconduct --

Does the badge make otherwise good people become monsters or do monsters seek out the badge because it gives them the power to act on their darker desires? Do they become traumatized bad the responsibilities of the job and / or frustrations or is it something else? Is it a combination of things?

It's clearly getting out of hand.

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Response to Nuclear Unicorn (Original post)

Thu Oct 23, 2014, 07:26 AM

1. You hear a lot about the 'bad' ones, but

Very little about the really good one. The most disturbing thing about the baddies is that their management (chiefs) don't seem inclined to fire or charge them with anything.

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Response to clydefrand (Reply #1)

Thu Oct 23, 2014, 11:47 AM

14. Police unions have made it virtually impossible to fire

 

bad cops. And police culture more or less prevents good cops from reporting bad ones.

Generally, I think it's the bullies who seek the badge. Back in the 1970s I knew a couple of guys who wanted to become cops someday - I asked one why and he said, with not a trace irony, "so I can beat up n*****s."

It's the 70% of bad cops who make the rest look bad.

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Response to Nuclear Unicorn (Original post)

Thu Oct 23, 2014, 07:38 AM

2. It's in our nature to be mean to the weak: Standford Prison Experiments:

 

The Stanford prison experiment (SPE) was a study of the psychological effects of becoming a prisoner or prison guard. The experiment was conducted at Stanford University from August 1420, 1971, by a team of researchers led by psychology professor Philip Zimbardo.[1] It was funded by the US Office of Naval Research[2] and was of interest to both the US Navy and Marine Corps as an investigation into the causes of conflict between military guards and prisoners.

Twenty-four male students out of seventy-five were selected to take on randomly assigned roles of prisoners and guards in a mock prison situated in the basement of the Stanford psychology building. The participants adapted to their roles well beyond Zimbardo's expectations, as the guards enforced authoritarian measures and ultimately subjected some of the prisoners to psychological torture. Many of the prisoners passively accepted psychological abuse, and, at the request of the guards, readily harassed other prisoners who attempted to prevent it. The experiment even affected Zimbardo himself, who, in his role as the superintendent, permitted the abuse to continue. Two of the prisoners quit the experiment early, and the entire experiment was abruptly stopped after only six days. Certain portions of the experiment were filmed, and excerpts of footage are publicly available.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_prison_experiment

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0997152/
26 men are chosen to participate in the roles of guards and prisoners in a psychological study that ultimately spirals out of control.

Director:
Paul Scheuring (as Paul T. Scheuring)
Writers:
Paul Scheuring (screenplay), Mario Giordano (novel), 4 more credits
Stars:
Adrien Brody, Cam Gigandet, Forest Whitaker |

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Response to LawDeeDah (Reply #2)

Thu Oct 23, 2014, 08:24 AM

8. Hilarious. In our nature, because of a shitty, contrived, unscientific and incomplete role playing

 

game? The question 'does the job make them authoritarian or do authoritarians take the job' is not in any way addressed by Zimbardo's game because one of the flaws in his 'study' was selection bias. That is he recruited participants specifically for a prison life experiment. This means that people who say 'Prison? No fucking way' are simply not present, and those who are found 'prison' to be of interest in some way.
The 'experiment' lacked controls, lacked neutral observer, had several participants drop out, others did nothing cruel, and the whole thing was ended on day 6 of 14 because the grad student Zimbardo was dating convinced him it was not a valid study,that he was interfering with it and that it was unethical.

It's in our nature! Because of a contrived game played by a sadist following no protocols which was called off less than half way in because it was not science, but role playing to serve Zimbardo's fetishes. Participants playing prisoners were not allowed underwear, they were blindfolded, many other things were done to them that are not features of standard prison life. Why were those things done? 'Take off your underwear and put on this blindfold' says the professor, 'because that's what all the prisons do, and you said you wanted to play prison with me, so off with the undies, young man!!!!'

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Response to Bluenorthwest (Reply #8)

Thu Oct 23, 2014, 08:42 AM

9. I don't know what your idea of 'standard prison life' is

 

Last edited Thu Oct 23, 2014, 09:21 AM - Edit history (1)

It's pretty damn harsh, I think people can attest to.

This was a guess at why some police are meaner than shit and treat people like shit - I didn't mean to upset you. In my limited experience at life, I know for a fact that if some people see a weakness in you, instead of helping, they will kick you down further. I think this may be connected to the opening post's question, if you disagree, that is fine.

It's all around us: The 'I got mine and fuck you crowd', the people that think if you aren't wealthy you are lazy and stupid and deserve any misery you get. The people who were born on base just by luck of heritage and which country think they 'earned' their privilege. It's all around us. We are good and we are evil and the opening post question: I think it a combo - if you go in as a decent person into law enforcement you get changed by what you see (you have to harden yourself much like ER staff and their black humor and their reasons for that) and if you like to lord it over people and thump your chest, that is the perfect job.

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Response to Nuclear Unicorn (Original post)

Thu Oct 23, 2014, 07:54 AM

3. I had a high ranking police officer in my family until he passed away about a decade ago

He basically indicated it was both of your theories, that some people are attracted to the job for the wrong reasons and that even those who start with the right attitude sometimes stay in the job too long and dealing with the bad in people on a regular basis warps them mentally.

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Response to Nuclear Unicorn (Original post)

Thu Oct 23, 2014, 08:09 AM

4. I'm afraid police work attracts authoritarian bullies.

I'm not saying most cops are bullies, but if even 10% of them are, we are in trouble. Three other problems:

1. The police always close ranks to protect officers accused of misconduct.

2. The courts almost invariably side with law enforcement.

3. I suspect the glorification of the police in police procedural TV shows has reinforced the conservative belief that the police are always right.

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Response to Nuclear Unicorn (Original post)

Thu Oct 23, 2014, 08:11 AM

5. A little of both probably but more of the latter

The screening process for police officers definitely favors those with tendencies to be sadistic or aggressive, so people with a more positive worldview generally don't get hired in the first place.

If you're willing (or better yet, eager) to see the worst in people, you'll do well in the police culture. If you aren't (or can't), you'll either adapt or get out.

My son was a police officer for about five years. A friend talked him into applying for the job and we were amazed when he applied and was hired because he is the most laid back, mellow human being I have ever known. But he's 6'5" and 240 lbs, so they snapped him up. He did an OK job but he could soon see that he was never going to go far up the ladder because of his relaxed attitude so when he had an opportunity to do something else, he bailed.

About the same time, I had a kid working for me who was an utter psycho. He openly spoke about wanting to be a cop so he could beat up people without getting in trouble for it. He hated hippies and wasn't overly fond of minorities either. He applied for a job with a law enforcement agency some miles away and they called me for a reference. I gave them my impressions and told them I thought this guy was a bit too tightly wound to make an effective officer. In less than 2 hours, they had called him back and offered him a spot in the police academy. Two hours! It almost seemed to me that I had told them what they wanted to hear. He took the job and I never heard of or from him again. But I always expected to read that he was in trouble for busting heads in some demonstration.

Anecdotal evidence to be sure, but I do believe these cases are fairly typical. If you aren't somewhat of a bully you won't do well. And if the environment makes you a bully, well, you probably were one in the first place.

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Response to Nuclear Unicorn (Original post)

Thu Oct 23, 2014, 08:18 AM

6. Every occupation has employees who shouldn't be in that field.

There's not a single occupation where there isn't at least someone (and usually it's several someones) who aren't suited for the job they're in. You're not going to eliminate that. What draws them to the job is as varied as the people themselves.

Upon realizing that fact, now you move on to levels of occupation where the one employed in that field becomes more of a danger to themselves and others. For instance, I would much rather run into a bad law enforcement officer than I would a bad heart surgeon.

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Response to Nuclear Unicorn (Original post)

Thu Oct 23, 2014, 08:20 AM

7. Bullies seek out the job

It's really obvious if you have had interactions with many cops.

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Response to rock (Reply #7)

Thu Oct 23, 2014, 11:54 AM

16. Didn't Zimmerman attempt to become one? He definitely seems like a bully type to me. nt

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Response to Nuclear Unicorn (Original post)

Thu Oct 23, 2014, 10:05 AM

10. I watched how cops became more aggressive on the series Cops

When the series first came out most of cops were fairly tame and quite civil. They seemed to give a lot of warnings for minor offense. In the 2000s it seemed like they became more aggressive. I couldn't figure out the reason.

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Response to Nuclear Unicorn (Original post)

Thu Oct 23, 2014, 10:18 AM

11. It's mostly the media influencing you because they want sensationalism

 

And if your preconceived bias is to oppose cops you will see what you want to see.

There are around 1,000,000 sworn LEO's of all kinds in this country.

When you actually sit down and break it down, what percentage of cops are reported as causing problems?

How does that relate to the percantage of people in the general population who break the law?

How does it relate to percentage or politicians who abuse thier office?

How does it relate to the percentage or doctors who commit malpractice?

The institutional bias here on DU is anti-cop and of course that shades perception. It's no different from someone with racist tendencies seeibg all black people as "thugs" when they interact even if it isn't true, because the media and the circles they travel in only show and relate to black people as criminals.

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Response to Lee-Lee (Reply #11)

Thu Oct 23, 2014, 11:41 AM

12. I'm sorry, but there is a serious problem with police culture in this country.

 

Y'all are just getting caught more often because of the cameras these days.

Cops aren't normal citizens. They have the power of life and death. A crooked politicians may pocket your money; a bad cop takes someone's life without just cause.

And bad cops don't just cost lives; they cost taxpayers big bucks:

$428 Million in NYPD-Related Settlements in the Past Five Years

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2014/10/428-million-in-nypd-related-settlements-paid.html

That's ONE department.

Speaking of institutional bias, cops need to look in the mirror.

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Response to Comrade Grumpy (Reply #12)

Thu Oct 23, 2014, 11:45 AM

13. I worn deny there are issues

 

Just as there are with any group of people.

But the constant "all cops are corrupt", "all cops are racist pigs", "only power hungry scumbags before cops" bullshit posted by so many here is just as wrong as the "all black people are thugs" or "all
Muslims are terrorists or support them" bullshit that comes from the right.

And it isn't productive at all toward solving the problem. In fact, all the blanket labeling crap just makes people on the job dismiss you as hyper biased and irrational.

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Response to Comrade Grumpy (Reply #12)

Thu Oct 23, 2014, 11:49 AM

15. Here in Denver too.. this is a real and serious problem.

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