UPDATE 11-05-2014, 2215 CST: I’m reposting this article for two reasons: I need to do some rearranging–web site stuff; terribly boring–in the Michael Brown Case archive, and I’ve noticed that the media and social justice cracktivists(I know; I repeat myself) just can’t let go of the “disparate impact” statistic. The statistic–or groups of statistics–that argue without explicating saying that the Ferguson Police Department should exactly reflect the racial makeup of Ferguson. So if Ferguson is about 70% black, the FPD should also be 70% black. To the literally minded and gullible, that might make a sort of sense. In the real world, absent actual evidence of intentional racism, it’s nonsense. This article addresses that issue, and also gives some insight into police agencies and officers that obviously can’t be repeated often enough.
Readers may also appreciate the photos of Michael Brown. I don’t believe he’s making hand signs in an attempt to practice his alphabet.
This edition of the continuing saga of the Michael Brown case is an update on what has happened since Update 4, published on August 30, 2014. The first four articles in this series are:
Since the initial flurry of press attention and racial hustling, Ferguson has, for the most part, returned to the usual pace of a suburban town of about 21,000. Until a definitive announcement on the charges–or lack thereof–laid against Officer Darren Wilson, Ferguson will probably remain more or less quiet. This incident is not demonstrating the potential for perpetual racial outrage the Trayvon Martin incident so seemingly effortlessly generated.
I suspect this relative lack of all-consuming interest will continue. After the first of its kind–regardless of whether it was actually what it was billed to be–it’s generally impossible to generate the same kind and intensity of interest and commitment again.
I’ll first focus on recent developments, and then discuss the realities of police hiring, and how the Holder Department of Justice’s “investigation” of the Ferguson Police Department, will turn Ferguson, Missouri into a politically correct basket case for at least a decade, if not a generation. And no, that’s no coincidence or accident.
FERGUSON: SHOOTING ITSELF IN THE FOOT. Fox News has the story:
The Ferguson City Council, set to meet Tuesday for the first time since the fatal shooting of an unarmed black 18-year-old by a white police officer, said it plans to establish a review board to help guide the police department and make other changes aimed at improving community relations.
Notice that even Fox News perpetuates the “unarmed black 18-year-old” theme. Being unarmed is in large part irrelevant to applying deadly force, and being 18 years old does not support the “harmless child” contention. At the age of 18, standing 6’4” and weighing 292 pounds, Michael Brown, unarmed, would present an overwhelming disparity of force in any encounter with most people. If you have not seen Andrew Branca’s informative article on this particular topic, by all means, take the link. For the rational person, willing to be informed by fact and the law, Branca’s article will disintegrate the “unarmed child” straw man.
City leaders vowed after Brown’s death to boost minority recruiting and outreach efforts at City Hall and throughout the community.
‘The overall goal of these changes is to improve trust within the community and increase transparency, particularly within Ferguson’s courts and police department,’ Council Member Mark Byrne said in the statement. ‘We want to demonstrate to residents that we take their concerns extremely seriously.’
Ferguson, a city of 21,000, is about 70 percent black. Its 53-member police department has just three black officers. The mayor and five of the six City Council members are white.
I’ll be dealing with these issues in more detail later in the article, but it’s hard to imagine how courts could demonstrate “increased transparency.” By law, all police and court records, unless placed under seal under limited exception of law, are public records. They’re accessible to anyone regardless of race.
Some in the city have said police disproportionately target black drivers during traffic stops. A 2013 report by the Missouri attorney general’s office found that Ferguson police stopped and arrested black drivers nearly twice as often as white motorists, but were also less likely to find contraband among the black drivers.
Let’s analyze this in a single paragraph: Ferguson is about 70% black. That means that there are more than twice as many black residents as white residents by any measure. The Ferguson police stopped and arrested black drivers “nearly” twice as often as white motorists. Hmmm. Could that be because there are more than twice as many black motorists in Ferguson? That the police were “less likely”–whatever that means–to find contraband–whatever that might be and however it might be quantified–indicates that the Ferguson police are apparently doing their jobs well, and are not, in fact, abusing black people because they are black. Consider too that the police don’t search everyone they stop for “contraband.” Such searches are actually relatively uncommon, so it’s hard to imagine from whence that statistic comes.
The U.S. Justice Department announced last week that it was launching a broad investigation into the Ferguson police department, looking for patterns of discrimination. The police department said it supported the investigation and was working to earn back ‘the trust of our residents and our neighbors.’
That inquiry is separate from a federal probe into Brown’s death, which a local grand jury is also investigating.
I’ve no doubt the DOJ is “looking for patterns of discrimination.” I’ve also no doubt it will find them, whether they exist or not, but more on the DOJ shortly.
WE DEMAND TO HAVE OUR VOICES HEARD–AND TO BE TURNED INTO ROAD KILL! From Fox News:
A planned highway shutdown fell through Wednesday as a wall of officers in riot gear kept people who planned to protest the Ferguson police shooting from walking onto Interstate 70 during the late afternoon commute.
State troopers and St. Louis city and county officers warned the roughly 150 demonstrators who gathered in a nearby suburb to stay out of the road as they protested last month’s shooting of Michael Brown, a black, unarmed 18-year-old, by a white officer. There were nearly as many officers as demonstrators.
Organizers said the protest in Berkeley was designed as an act of nonviolent civil disobedience similar to a 1999 demonstration in the same location. During that protest, hundreds of people shut down the interstate in a dispute over minority hiring for road construction projects.
Highway Patrol Sgt. Al Nothum said that 35 people were arrested, most on charges of unlawful assembly. Nothum said protesters threw rocks, concrete blocks, bricks and bottles, leading to four charges of assault on a law enforcement officer.
Un-huh. And peacefully blocking traffic on an Interstate Highway during rush hour would be an effective protest how, exactly? There’s nothing quite like angering random citizens for no reason and endangering countless lives to engender sympathy for any cause. You have to have sympathy for protestors peacefully throwing “rocks, concrete blocks, bricks and bottles.” And hardy, determined protestors they were:
A smaller group later went to the nearby Ferguson police station before a heavy, late afternoon thunderstorm dispersed most of the protesters.
The crowd included about 20 union workers who operate public transit buses and trains for the region’s Metro system.
‘We’re out here to show support,’ said Antoin Johnson, 30. ‘We feel that an injustice has been done.
Well, at least until it starts raining, anyway. And support? From what is known at the moment, Brown was a drug-abusing strong-armed robber. What, exactly, is the union movement supporting? Do they want higher pay and union bargaining rights and benefits for robbers?
TRANSPARENCY FOR ME BUT NOT FOR THEE. Via KSDK.com:
The court order petitions for the release of Michael Brown’s juvenile record have been denied.
Judge Ellen Levy Siwak denied both petitions filed by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and GotNews.com.
Last week, a juvenile court official said that Michael Brown had no serious felony convictions such as first-degree murder or second-degree murder. The information came out during a St. Louis County Circuit Court hearing.
Ah! So Brown has no “serious felony convictions such as first-degree murder or second-degree murder” on his juvenile record. Well OK then. Everyone can go home now. Nothing to see here; move along, move along! Notice that the “court official” essentially confirmed there was a juvenile record, and short of murder convictions, there is quite a bit of mischief in which a young man might indulge.
As one would expect, attorneys for the Brown family continue to argue that any information depicting Michael Brown as less then a prospective saint expecting a canonization letter from the Vatican at any moment is character assassination.
On the contrary, should that record contain evidence of violent behavior and/or drug use, that would indeed be relevant and meaningful in understanding what happened on the day Brown died and why. Motives matter, and most “unarmed 18-year-olds” don’t rob quick shops and assault police officers. In fact, only a vanishingly small portion of the 18-year-old population–thank goodness–engages in such behavior.
It’s possible the judge was motivated more by political than legal concerns. The entire point of juvenile privacy laws is the principle that making juvenile records public might deny a young person struggling to go straight a successful and productive adult life. This is, generally speaking, a reasonable policy. However, when that young person is dead, the entire reason for privacy vanishes. If they have no significant record, their reputation cannot suffer harm. If they have a voluminous criminal record, they are beyond harm and caring. When that person’s death arguably came about as the result of a robbery and assault on a police officer, other young people would be best served by knowing the facts of their criminal record as an object lesson, in the hope they might avoid the deceased’s fate.
RUH-ROH, SHAGGY! Via Reason.com:
A new study in the Journal of Experimental Criminology finds in an experiment measuring the reactions of participants to various threatening situations that people tended to pull the trigger faster when confronted by armed white suspects. This sounds counterintuitive to most people (including me). A 2001 Bureau of Justice Statistics report (latest available) analyzed justifiable homicides and noted:
‘Felons justifiably killed by police represent a tiny fraction of the total population. Of the 183 million whites in 1998, police killed 225; of the 27 million blacks, police killed 127. While the rate (per million population) at which blacks were killed by police in 1998 was about 4 times that of whites, the difference used to be much wider: the black rate in 1978 was 8 times the white rate.
The BJS study also found that black suspects were also as likely to shoot at police as be shot at.
To those that have been paying attention, this should come as no surprise. Violent crime of all kinds has been significantly declining for decades. Leftist ideologues like those populating the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice would take such raw statistics and draw the conclusion of a wanton, nationwide police conspiracy to slaughter black people. However, a rational and non-Marxist examination of the facts indicates that the black population–specifically young black men–commit crimes out of all proportion to their actual numbers in the population at large. More black people committing crimes increases the possibility of more black people–particularly young black men–being shot by the police. It should also be noted that black police officers have shot black criminals, but one never sees that factor hi-lighted in such statistics.
Participants in an innovative Washington State University study of deadly force were more likely to feel threatened in scenarios involving black people. But when it came time to shoot, participants were biased in favor of black suspects, taking longer to pull the trigger against them than against armed white or Hispanic suspects…
[WSU researcher Lois] James’ study is a follow-up to one in which she found active police officers, military personnel and the general public took longer to shoot black suspects than white or Hispanic suspects. Participants were also more likely to shoot unarmed white suspects than black or Hispanic ones and more likely to fail to fire at armed black suspects.
‘In other words,’ wrote James and her co-authors, ‘there was significant bias favoring blacks where decisions to shoot were concerned.’
When confronted by an armed white person, participants took an average of 1.37 seconds to fire back. Confronted by an armed black person, they took 1.61 seconds to fire and were less likely to fire in error. The 24-millisecond difference may seem small, but it’s enough to be fatal in a shooting.
Care to consider an even more counterintuitive factor?
This hesitation occurred even though the electroencephalograph generally identified brain wave patterns indicating significantly greater threat responses against black suspects than white or Hispanic suspects. So then why the difference?
James and her team speculate:
This behavioral ‘counter-bias’ might be rooted in people’s concerns about the social and legal consequences of shooting a member of a historically oppressed racial or ethnic group.
That seems, absent further information, a reasonable conclusion. Unfortunately, such a hesitation could also lead to fatalities among the innocent victims of crime where the criminals are black. Still, this is an interesting study to keep in mind when the Michael Brown case is discussed, and when race hustlers play fast and loose with statistics.
TAKING ON THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION. Make no doubt, that’s what the City of Ferguson is facing. The Holder DOJ is the most racist in the history of America. They are searching for discrimination, and they’ll find it, regardless of the facts or the law, and a familiar pattern will ensue. The DOJ will demand that Ferguson enter into a draconian consent decree giving DOJ lawyers absolute power to run the Ferguson Police Department, and much, if not all, of Ferguson City government. The alternative will be a legal battle pitting all of the resources of the federal government against little Ferguson, a battle that will surely bankrupt Ferguson or any town. The DOJ knows this. So does Ferguson.
Ferguson will cave in, as have countless cities before it, and in so doing, federal micro-managing domination of Ferguson for a generation or longer will be chiseled in stone. Ferguson will become a dysfunctional copy of Detroit, a warped laboratory for every social/racial experiment and pathology the race hustling Marxists of the Holder DOJ can imagine.
To understand the Holder DOJ, visit J. Christian Adams’ PJ Media archive titled “Every Single One,” about the hiring practices of the Holder DOJ which has packed that institution with radical, Marxist lawyers. Disclosure: I contribute the occasional article to PJ Media.
It would also be worthwhile to visit my PJ Media article “Diversity or Safety? Justice Dept. Lowers Lower Standards for Police Exam.” That article examines the havoc the DOJ wreaked on Dayton, Ohio under a consent decree, demanding that Dayton dramatically lower its test scores to ensure that unqualified black candidates were hired.
The Ferguson Police Department is, in terms of staffing, an unremarkable law enforcement organization (LEO). Serving a suburban community of about 21,000, the FPD has–according to its web site–54 commissioned officers. This means officers qualified under Missouri law to carry out all law enforcement duties.
There are 32 patrol officers–always the largest part of any LEO–and seven detectives. The remaining officers are no doubt administrators, school resource officers, and serve in similar functions. Apparently, three of these officers are black. That’s about 6% of the total of 54 and about 9% of the patrol force of 32. To reach a staffing of black officers that exactly reflected the Ferguson population of approximately 70% black, the FPD would have to have a total of 38 black officers, or considering only the patrol force, 22 patrolmen. If the Holder DOJ follows its usual practices, that’s exactly what they’ll demand.
And why not? Wouldn’t that be diverse, sustainable and fair? Shouldn’t the public servants of every city exactly reflect the racial and/or gender makeup of its population? Of course not. Those serving the public should be the best qualified and most competent–such qualifications and competency to be based on specifically job-related criteria–regardless of race or gender. If a given job absolutely requires the ability to lift 75 pounds and carry it up two flights of stairs, that is going to exclude many women, and not a few men. If a given job requires at least a high school diploma–and such criteria have been universally upheld by the courts–that is also going to exclude millions of all races and genders.
To determine whether Ferguson discriminated against black people in hiring, it is necessary to know far more than the mere numbers of black people working in the FPD. It is, minimally, necessary to know how many black people have applied, their qualifications, test scores, and the reasons they were not hired.
An example: In her first career, Mrs. Manor worked for the telephone company in Wyoming. In the early 80s, the highest levels of the corporation complained that her three-person central office (where all the electronic equipment that makes telephones possible resided) had not a single black person laboring over the relays and wiring (she was the sole woman). The local supervisor replied: “find me a qualified one, and when I have an opening, I’ll hire them,” and he would have too. In those days, few black people were fond of the cold, barren high plains of Wyoming, and fewer had the technical qualifications necessary. In fact, not a single black person, qualified or not, had applied in years. The other problem was there were very few openings. Once hired, most people stayed for a career. Mrs. Manor retired after 30 years, and the line of qualified employees anxious to transfer into her vacated position was long and deep in experience, knowledge and ability.
For small LEOs, there is a similar issue. They have relatively few positions, and people tend to stick around. It is not uncommon for a LEO the size of Ferguson to have no openings for several years at a time. The positions that do open tend to be only a matter of retirements–few and far between–and openings in the patrol force, which tend to occur only when someone leaves–relatively rare–or when someone retires–rarer still.
Most small LEOs don’t bother with recruiting efforts beyond posting information on a web site. More than enough people apply for the very few available positions. The process normally goes something like this:
Applications are read and people lacking the minimums–a high school diploma or GED, people with felony convictions, people with a DUI history or mental illness, etc.–are excluded. Those possessing, on paper, at least minimal qualifications, are scheduled for a basic test. Again, that test may be two years into the future, and by the time it comes around, many on the waiting list will have lost interest, moved, found another job, or otherwise be unavailable.
Initial screening examinations are designed to detect the minimum level of common sense and basic human skills — and I do mean minimum — necessary to establish an eligibility list for further testing. Those who pass such initial tests do not immediately become police recruits.
As a police officer and supervisor, I often participated in the selection process for police recruits.
I was often amazed at the “diversity” of applicants, and I’m not referring to race or gender. Many apparently had no idea that when applying for a job requiring great maturity and responsibility, it would be wise to shave and to wear clothing such that their lunch for the last few days wasn’t obvious and still gooey. Some were unacquainted with bathing and other basic aspects of contagion control and personal hygiene. Some wore sufficient piercings to set off airport metal detectors from the parking lot, and showed more tattoo ink than bare skin. A few actually tried to borrow money from me–a police supervisor and complete stranger!
Once a basic eligibility list is established, applicants are commonly put through a physical fitness test to weed out obvious medical ineligibility and lack of fitness that would render them dangerous to themselves or others. I’ve actually witnessed applicants black out or have cardiac incidents due to previously undiagnosed conditions. In some cases, the rejection saved their lives.
Having passed the first two steps, intensive background checks are done, and the applicants sometimes take psychological fitness examinations such as the Minnesota Multi-Phasic Inventory (MMPI), although this is more likely in larger agencies with greater manpower needs and resources.
Usually, there is an interview conducted by several police officers, usually including the Chief or other high-ranking officer, a sergeant, a detective and a senior patrol officer. Sometimes, only the Chief does interviews.
Almost always, a polygraph, where the essential truthfulness of a candidate is assessed, is administered. This test also gives an agency an opportunity to discover disqualifying personal facts that an applicant might not otherwise divulge. It’s true that polygraphs are not admissible in court, but they are widely used in law enforcement hiring and internal investigations.
Candidates are eliminated when background checks reveal sufficiently damaging skeletons in their closets, and psychological issues that might be otherwise overlooked are commonly discovered in that round of testing. This often happens: remember the piercings, tats, lack of hygiene, and trying to borrow money from strangers.
More LEOs are requiring at least an associate’s degree–two years of college–and some require a bachelor’s degree. These requirements have also been upheld in court, though if the goal is merely increasing the numbers of people of the “right” color at the Ferguson PD, the DOJ would surely oppose them. Specific Missouri basic eligibility requirements are available here.
The hiring process is time-consuming, expensive, and manpower-intensive, and that is just before an applicant is offered a job.
What most people don’t realize is that from the first day a recruit reports for work, an average of a year will pass before they are ready to patrol the streets alone. For a year, each new recruit will draw pay and benefits but will provide no direct police services to their community. Not only that, other officers will be taken from directly serving the public to train and prepare those new officers. This year-long process is absolutely necessary and very expensive.
In a small agency like the FPD, every patrol officer is a vital asset. An officer out sick, in court, on vacation or away at training, is an officer unable to answer calls. When there are only eight or so officers on a given shift, that’s an enormous problem. Hiring an applicant likely to fail is potentially dangerous and an egregious waste of taxpayer dollars. It’s also a great cruelty to that unqualified person, whose hopes will be eventually dashed, hopefully without injury to themselves or others. It’s an even greater cruelty to those that will be injured if an unqualified officer is hired and retained for the sake of racial quotas or any other reason.
During their first year, officers must pass a state-mandated training academy, which they must complete to receive state certification as police officers. In Missouri, such academies last about six months. In addition, they must pass training courses within their own agencies, the most important of which is a field training course wherein they ride with a variety of seasoned officers specially trained to educate and evaluate new recruits.
Some are too dangerous or inept with firearms. Some are temperamentally unsuitable. Some simply can’t write competent reports. Some can’t read on an adult level. Some can’t multi-task: they can’t drive, be aware of their surroundings, think and simultaneously speak on the radio. Only after successfully passing all of these experiences is an officer allowed to work on their own. Only then are citizens getting their money’s worth.
What’s more, to put one officer on the street 24/7/365, approximately four officers must be hired. That’s three officers for three eight-hour shifts, and at least one to cover for vacation, illness, court, mandatory training, and other issues that will routinely remove any officer from their duties. With all of this in mind, and considering the very real dangers of an undermanned police force, unnecessarily delaying the process for months for any reason is reckless and unconscionable.
In a small LEO like Ferguson, hiring usually consists of just a few officers, often, only one at a time. Obviously, the FPD wants to be reasonably sure anyone they hire will not only meet all requirements, but will be competent and likely to stay on the job for a long time.
Another interesting factor is that some LEOs pay entirely for the police education of their officers, but others require candidates to arrive for testing, state certificate in hand. This requires individuals to pay for their basic academy training. Missouri is such a state, and that basic training costs in the neighborhood of $5000 dollars. LEOs and their municipalities like this arrangement very much. It saves a great deal of time, effort and money.
But that’s unfair! That prevents minorities from getting police jobs! It’s discriminatory! It is certainly inconvenient for some, but fairness and discrimination don’t enter into it. That requirement is common across the nation and has been consistently upheld by the courts. The states provide free K-12 education. After that, it’s up to the individual, whether they wish to be cooks, cosmetologists or police officers. Arguing that minorities must have a free ride on the public dime to obtain the training and education necessary to secure a job on the public dime is arguing that they’re incapable of making their own way in the world. Do we want such people as police officers?
Do you understand now, gentle readers? The question is not how many black people are working as Ferguson police officers–as police officers anywhere in Missouri–the question is how many have arrived at the applications desk of the FPD with their Missouri certification in hand, having paid for their tuition and passed their basic academy with all of its background checks, occupational, fitness and character testing? I would suspect that in the last two decades, if Ferguson hired every one of those people for every job opening available, it still wouldn’t significantly change the racial composition of the FPD. Of course, I could be wrong. I don’t have access to that information, but experience suggests I’m not wrong.
Demanding that Ferguson pay for the basic academy education of black candidates is highly likely to be a part of the Ferguson consent decree. Black candidates will get a free ride on the citizens of Ferguson; all others pay cash.
With the Holder DOJ involved, the City of Ferguson and the FPD will be–like America under Mr. Obama–fundamentally transformed. And like America, Ferguson will have reason to regret it.