Dear Police: Stop Treating Us Like We're Part Of ISIS

Another day, another shocking example of police violence.

On Friday, the Tulsa, Oklahoma police department finally released video from the April 2 shooting death of Eric Harris, an unarmed black man who police say was trying to sell a gun to an undercover cop.

The video, which was captured by sunglass cameras and is about a minute long, shows Harris running from officers before they finally catch up with him and tackle him to the ground.

Then, all hell breaks loose.

After yelling out the word “Taser,” one of the officers opens fire - but with his gun, not his taser - and shoots Eric Harris right in the shoulder.

Take a look, but be warned that this is some disturbing stuff.

That’s right -“F-ck your breath.” How’s that for protecting and serving?

Oh, and if that wasn’t bad enough, it now turns out that the cop who shot Eric Harris isn’t really a cop, at least in the official sense.

His name is Robert Bates and he’s a 73-year-old insurance manager as a well as a big time donor to the Tulsa police department who serves on the force as a volunteer Reserve Deputy.

He did have to go through training before hitting the streets, but once that training was complete, he only had to work 40 hours every six months to stay certified. .

Bates was charged with second degree manslaughter earlier today, but the fact that this even happened in the first place is an example of everything that’s wrong with policing in America.

In most Northern European countries, it takes years and years of training to become a police officer - and once they’re on the force, police officers take home good, solid upper-middle-class salaries.

Here in America, though, police officers often have to scrape by on poverty wages, and don’t have to go through near the level of training that their European counterparts have to go through before they put on a badge.

Obviously, if there’s anywhere this toxic combination of low pay and a lack of training is going to show up and cause a big problem, it’s with a volunteer reserve officer trying to do more than he’s really trained to do.

If we simply raised the pay of police officers in America - and set high nationwide hiring standards like the countries of Northern Europe do - that would go a long way towards ensuring that only the best and brightest make it out onto our streets.

But making the police more professional only solves part of the problem.

We also need to change how we train them and what we’re training them for.

Right now, law enforcement agencies all across the country recruit new officers using videos like this one, put out by the Stillwater, Oklahoma police.

With a recruitment video like that, you’d think that Stillwater, Oklahoma was a war zone. And that’s the problem.

Ever since Reagan ramped up the War on Drugs in the 1980s, we’ve essentially told cops that they’re soldiers fighting a long and brutal campaign against the criminals among us.

Popular culture, with its TV shows that celebrate police violence, has only made things worse.

This is a huge problem.

Not only does this permanent war footing prevent cops from getting to the bottom of what really causes crime - poverty - it also tells them to fear the public they’re supposed to protect.

In this type of environment, police shootings aren’t just more likely - they’re inevitable. Police officers aren’t warriors; they’re public servants.

Let’s start acting like it.


mathboy's picture
mathboy 9 years 9 weeks ago

Genesis 3 is not best interpreted as being about all humanity. It's an explanation of the difference between farmers and nomads, Us and Them.

A child asks, "Dad, why do we have to work on the farm all the time? Those nomads don't farm, and they have plenty of food." (In recent history the circus takes the place of nomads.) The father responds, "Well, you can run off and join the nomads if you want, but they don't have morality. They'll kill you or steal your stuff as soon as look at you."

In Genesis, Adam and Eve eat the fruit of Knowledge of Good and Evil, then are forced out of the garden. Actual societal development took the reverse course; as people settled down to farm, they had to develop morals against theft and murder because the society couldn't survive otherwise. But since no one would have written down or told stories of how this came to pass, a religious story was made up after the fact.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 9 years 9 weeks ago

I'm kind of surprised I haven't heard anything about the political orientations of the recent gun tote'n white cops killing unarmed black men. Progressive Democrats?.....probably not! I have a strong feeling these guys soak up all the Fox TV propaganda they have time for. Their actions are very likely inspired by big money sponsored hate well is the severe sentencing handed down today by Fulton County Judge Jerry Baxter for the Atlanta schools cheating scandal. Baxter is a racist plain and simple, and I'm sure he has his pompous ass firmly planted in front of Fox News tonight.

Big money control of the media is no less a roadblock to liberty than Citizens United is...both enslave and undermine the will of the people, while simultaneously promoting an extreme and immoral enrichment of the few.

Ou812's picture
Ou812 9 years 9 weeks ago

10K Those teachers deserve every year the received. Any teacher who doesn't demand and receive the best from his students don't belong in the profession. I applaud Judge Baxter. I hope more follow his example.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 9 years 9 weeks ago

Mathboy, what the hell does the Bible, or nomads versus farmers, have to do with another unarmed black man getting slaughtered by a goddam cop?!

10K’s post is the only one with the remotest relevance to the topic Thom brought up. HELLO. But I guess I shouldn’t expect more than that from a majority of my WHITE counterparts. Cheers! - AIW

stopgap's picture
stopgap 9 years 9 weeks ago

The police are a cult. Simple as that. And like any cult... you're either in, or you're out.

Sunshine Susie's picture
Sunshine Susie 9 years 9 weeks ago

As more and more police are called out on felonious behavior, I worry that our 'federal' powers will use it as an excuse to take over all police departments. This would be a most horrible position. Having a national police system would take power out of the local and state hands and give it to "them."

I have never had a reason to call the police. I doubt I ever will. For friends who have tried to call them, they don't show up or, when they do, it's hours later, or they do nothing. (So far, no one has been shot or killed that did the calling.)

I truly believe it's We, the People, who need to start taking back our power. Not only with protecting our property and selves, but with our politicians. WE have let everyone else take care of us and it needs to stop.

mathboy's picture
mathboy 9 years 9 weeks ago

Holy crap, Alice, chill the hell out. You are the angriest pothead I've ever heard of and I know one who's a gun nut.

In the radio show, on which I like to comment on that day's post, Thom gave an interpretation of that part of Genesis, and I have an alternative theory. I just wanted to put it out there and see what people thought. I left out something important though. In Gen 1, God creates people both male and female and tells them to be fruitful and multiply. In Gen 2, he makes Adam out of existing material, eventually makes Eve, then after the original sin, they're finally fruitful. So my interpretation is that those earlier people were "everybody else" besides the Israelites. This also gets rid of the idea that people were incredibly incestuous for the first 10 generations or so.

anastasi's picture
anastasi 9 years 9 weeks ago

I disagree with the theory that higher police pay will make them less thuggish. My state pays them very well, into the six figures after less than ten years on the force - and they make very good pensions based on the last years' salary PLUS OVERTIME. They routinely clock in for double the hours worked, and retire on double what they would otherwise make. Teachers, DPW workers don't get this option for their pensions.

There are still incidents of police brutality that have nothing to do with being frustrated and underpaid....

mathboy's picture
mathboy 9 years 9 weeks ago

Good point anastasi. Robert Bates was a somewhat well-off guy, and he was volunteering. He sounded like he did this to play action hero with live ammo. It's just sickening that some people can't distinguish fun from situations with real consequences.

Craig Bush's picture
Craig Bush 9 years 9 weeks ago

Here in Santa Cruz, CA a young man was executed by taser while incarcirated inside jail. We have the highest mortality rate while in jail in the state. If your in jail and denied health care it is the same as an execution. A 78 year old was jailed for smoking pot and denied health care. He died later. We built a new 12 million dollar prison and gave raises to every cop. Cops do not need more money. City police chiefs earn more then the president of the United States.

I support a new division of the US Marshall Service. A federal police force to police the police. Take over internal affairs and the investigation of police misconduct. End the military procedures to arrest. Using a military sniper to execute an American without due process is unconstitutional. Military chokeholds are illegal.We should not be afraid to call 911. No parent should to have to watch their child be executed like an animal.

We haven't built a new school in Santa Cruz in decades. A retired prison guard without a college education can earn more on retirement then a working teacher with a post graduate degree. A teacher with 15 years experience with a post graduate degree is still earning $60,000. To get the last raise she needed to add 2 more students of over 30. After the students leave they turn off the air conditioner. She has to continue working in the hot environment.

Join the national teachers movement starting in CA. We want a $10,000 raise for every teacher and a class size limit of 20. End the economic injustice. Get the health care ceo's out of our education budget. Let teachers buy into the medi-care system. The savings to the district to go directly to the teachers.

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