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FBI Chief Links Video Scrutiny of Police To Rise In Violent Crime (nytimes.com) 372

HughPickens.com writes: This year, murders have spiked in major cities across America. According to FBI director James B. Comey the additional scrutiny and criticism of police officers that has come in the wake of highly publicized incidents of police brutality may be the main reason for the recent increase in violent crime. "I don't know whether that explains it entirely, but I do have a strong sense that some part of the explanation is a chill wind that has blown through American law enforcement over the last year," says Comey. He says he's been told by many police leaders that officers who normally would stop to question suspicious people are opting to stay in their patrol cars for fear of having their encounters recorded and become video sensations.

That hesitancy has led to missed opportunities to apprehend suspects and has decreased the police presence on the streets of the country's most violent cities. Officers tell Comey that youths surround police when they get out of their vehicles, taunting them and making videos of the spectacle with their cell phones. "In today's YouTube world, there are officers reluctant to get out of their cars and do the work that controls violent crime," says Comey. "Our officers are answering 911 calls, but avoiding the informal contact that keeps bad guys from standing around, especially with guns."

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FBI Chief Links Video Scrutiny of Police To Rise In Violent Crime

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  • Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 24, 2015 @12:52PM (#50793635)

    If the police acted respectfully during encounters with private citizens, I doubt there would be much need to record these encounters. I know I don't record my neighbor getting his mail or washing his car, because I don't consider either behavior threatening. Police have abused their positions of trust and the recording is one of many symptoms of this fact.

    • Re:Good (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Saturday October 24, 2015 @12:54PM (#50793643)

      But... But... If they have nothing to hide, they should have nothing to fear!

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by dgatwood ( 11270 )

      This is approximately like saying that the Holocaust was caused by someone who bullied Neville Chamberlain when he was a kid. The effect is so distant from the supposed cause that it is laughable.

      To the extent that video scrutiny leads to a rise in violent crime, it is principally because otherwise non-violent criminals have become scared of excessive police brutality, and thus more frequently choose to arm themselves for their own safety. You cannot foment peace at the tip of a sword. Violence begets v

    • No, it has lead to LOWER violent crimes....i.e. the ones committed by the police over and above anything reasonable.
  • by wbr1 ( 2538558 ) on Saturday October 24, 2015 @12:55PM (#50793653)
    "Please don't watch us do our jobs, because when we are watched we cannot accost and brutalize the dregs of society into submission, therefore you should be scared as those dregs will come after you!"

    Sorry, but do your job withing the confines of the law (including the constitution). You get no free pass. If you cannot do your job within those confines, then press to have those laws changed, in an open and democratic manner. If you do not, you are little (or no) better than the thugs and gangsters you wish to imprison.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Imrik ( 148191 )

      They aren't objecting to being filmed, they're objecting to people trying to get them to make a mistake on camera.

      • by khasim ( 1285 )

        They aren't objecting to being filmed, they're objecting to people trying to get them to make a mistake on camera.

        The problem is that the kind of "mistakes" that are being filmed are "mistakes" of shooting unarmed people or beating people who have been handcuffed.

        So now the FBI director says that because cops are afraid that someone will film those "mistakes" that the cops will refuse to do the job that the public pays them to do.

        And that's okay with him.

        How in the fuck would that even be logical in any oth

      • by Kohath ( 38547 )

        So? Try being professional then. Change your attitude to "serve the public" instead of "enforce laws" (upon the public). People can tell the difference between helping and bullying on a video, especially if there's sound.

        And, while you're at it, run your own camera and make all the raw video publicly available so no one can release edited videos that take your actions out of context.

    • Better still, don't go on a pouty sit-in (and get paid) strike because you think somebody has taken the fun out of your job.

      If you didn't want to be a police officer that everybody can respect when they see what you do, you shouldn't have applied in the first place.

  • Radical proposal (Score:5, Insightful)

    by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Saturday October 24, 2015 @12:58PM (#50793663) Journal

    Here is a radical proposal:

    don't choke to death petty criminals, don't shoot fleeing suspects in the back. Don't kill people in the vans on their way to the police station, etc... And more importantly: don't support the police officers who do this!

    And finally, actually discipline officers for their misdeeds.

    • by JBMcB ( 73720 )

      To get any reforms through you'll need approval of the unions. The unions will say no. You aren't anti-union, are you?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    the best part is that the director of the FBI says police are afraid of kids with phones who mock them. the police should resign if they are so afraid.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 24, 2015 @01:04PM (#50793705)

    2012 had the lowest crime rate since 1970 and even with the so called spike, the murder rate stills remains far below the record marks witnessed two to three decades ago, in the late 1980s and early ’90s. Can someone in the media call bullshit ?

  • Whether or not to stop, detain, punch or shoot a suspect is always a judgement call — calculations weighting pros and cons, risk and reward are automatically made in our heads.

    The additional scrutiny — and TFA talks about all kinds of scrutiny, not just video, that's Hugh Pickens' manipulations — shifts that balance towards the safer (for the policeman) course of action. Because if they do apprehend a dangerous criminal cleanly, at most, they'll get a pat on the back. But if they screw up, or even if they don't, but merely appear to — the entire "Hands up don't shoot" meme is based on a lie [washingtonpost.com], remember? — their lives will change dramatically. For the worse.

    The scrutiny is not going anywhere and that, on balance, is a good thing, in my opinion. The public — and the police — just need to learn not to rush to judgement. And the wronged cops need to receive their days in court — of public opinion — not merely "left alone", when they are exonerated. That might push the balance back a little...

    • Whether or not to stop, detain, punch or shoot a suspect is always a judgement call â" calculations weighting pros and cons, risk and reward are automatically made in our heads.

      And some officers tend towards the more violent approaches. That's why the complaints against NYPD officers are concentrated amongst a small subset of the officers.

      • by mi ( 197448 )

        And some officers tend towards the more violent approaches.

        Sure. The amount and measure of violence — is a judgement call too.

        ... concentrated amongst a small subset of the officers

        If it is a "small subset", then it is automatically off-topic where a nation-wide trend is discussed... Please, do not filibust.

        • If there is a small subset in the NYPD, then, it is likely that this is reproduced nation-wide.

          In other words, it is likely that nation-wide the excessive force complaints are against a subset of officers in every city. The problem is that there is no effective discipline for this subset.
          • by mi ( 197448 )

            If there is a small subset in the NYPD, then, it is likely that this is reproduced nation-wide.

            If it were, it would've, probably, been reproduced by now. Wake me up, when it is. But remember the saying: New York is not America, and Manhattan is not New York.

            it is likely that nation-wide the excessive force complaints are against a subset of officers in every city

            Sure. But your statement — thanks to its caveat-words like "likely" and "subset" — is non-falsifiable [vcu.edu] and thus non-scientific. And ther

            • by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Saturday October 24, 2015 @02:39PM (#50794229) Journal

              Another thing to remember is that any time a citizen disobeys a policeman's order, violence becomes justified.

              "Any time"? Really? What if a policeman tells you to go into a bank and start shooting? Or tells you to shoot yourself? Is violence justified then? So, no, not "Any time".

              What all police-critics ought to remember, however, is that "excessive force" is a term, that's even harder to define than "pornography"

              But, it can be recognized when caught on camera.

              Frankly, it's people who blindly support the police, irrespective of the violence that they perpetrate on people, that are the root cause of the situation that we are in now.

  • by SwashbucklingCowboy ( 727629 ) on Saturday October 24, 2015 @01:07PM (#50793723)

    is a license to break the law. Cops need to be held accountable for their misdeeds, just like everyone else. Maybe the cops that are afraid to be recorded don't know how to do their jobs while following the law.

    • by Shaman ( 1148 )

      This is entirely true. I have had friends and acquaintances that are cops. Not only are they some of the worst offenders, I and other people have found out first-hand why it's not a good idea to befriend a cop. If they decide for some reason that they don't like you (say you start dating their younger sister) or you have a falling-out in general, they can and very well may make your life a living hell. They have all the tools they need to do it, facts be-damned.

      The ones that have made society an us-and-

      • The ones that have made society an us-and-them situation

        You mean like all politicians? George Washington warned of this in his farewell address.

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      Actually, because of their special powers, cops need to be held to much higher standards. These days it seems they are held to much, much lower standards.

  • In other words (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dirk ( 87083 ) <dirk@one.net> on Saturday October 24, 2015 @01:07PM (#50793727) Homepage

    In other words, police have no idea how to do their job without being able to assault people, racially profile them, and generally be dicks. If these police are afraid to do their jobs because they might be filmed, the easiest solution is to hire police officers who don't do anything wrong that will be an issue if it ends up on tape. The reason people are taping the police constantly now is because they expect the police to do something wrong because they have shown in a lot of cases they do. If the police get better and stop setting the expectation they will treat people like garbage, then people won;t expect it and won't feel the need to film them constantly.

  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Saturday October 24, 2015 @01:10PM (#50793741) Homepage Journal

    "In today's YouTube world, there are officers reluctant to get out of their cars and do the work that controls violent crime," says Comey.

    If they have nothing to hide, why are they afraid of being recorded? If they aren't breaking the law, then they should not fear to do their jobs. That's what they've been telling us all along; if we have nothing to hide, we shouldn't fear their disregard for the fourth amendment. But if the cops have to break the law to save it, what are they fighting for anyway?

    The cops are still playing this issue like it's part of the non-existent "war on cops". There is no such thing. Instead, there's a ground swell of support for the idea that the cops should be made to follow the law just like the rest of us, or even moreso. With great power comes great responsibility.

  • From the article (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tomthepom ( 314977 ) on Saturday October 24, 2015 @01:12PM (#50793747)

    But he acknowledged that there is so far no data to back up his assertion

    Now there's a surprise.

  • More anecdotes (Score:5, Informative)

    by Okian Warrior ( 537106 ) on Saturday October 24, 2015 @01:12PM (#50793753) Homepage Journal

    Since wer're posting anecdotes and vague "feelings", here's what I've noticed.

    I've lived in my neighborhood for decades, and haven't had any problem with police... except this year, in which I was stopped and questioned three times. Make that "stopped, handcuffed, searched, ID'd, and questioned" three times. One time I had a prescription in my jacket pocket (antibiotic), and the officer jotted down the drug, my name, and the prescription number in his notebook.

    We're supposed to be free to go about our business, and we're not required to interact with police when they call out to us. Police can walk up to someone and try to start a conversation, but I've always been told that they are like any citizen, and you can choose not to interact with them.

    In all three cases I *could not* avoid interacting with the police despite trying, and all three situations ended in a confrontation. The officer *began* the encounter visibly irate, and escalated to *enraged* when I wouldn't interact. (Yes, I'm aware of my state's "must identify" law. I don't/didn't lie to them, but I don't show ID when asked.)

    One told me he was going to taser me if I didn't show ID, one actually arrested me for not having ID (while hiking on a public trail), but then changed the charge at the last minute. On that last one, the officer stated that not carrying an ID was illegal.

    I'm white, elderly, and live in a low-crime bedroom community, and I can't take a walk at night without fear of being randomly intimidated by an angry cop.

    A neighboring town had a pumpkin festival last year, and the police had snipers [vocativ.com] out during the event.

    I don't know what it is with America these days, but we're definitely seeing more angry police, and this is reflected in the public's perception.

    I think it's counter productive. I won't have anything to do with the police now, and I don't know anyone on my block who will. If they come door-to-door asking if we witnessed some crime, they get nothing from me.

    The chance of abuse is too high for me to have any interaction with them. If they come door-to-door, I didn't see anything.

    • Re:More anecdotes (Score:5, Interesting)

      by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Saturday October 24, 2015 @01:24PM (#50793823)

      A neighboring town had a pumpkin festival last year, and the police had snipers [vocativ.com] out during the event.

      Yup. Most police today look and act like extras straight out of RoboCop, and many of them behave as if they're about to be killed at any moment. They overreact at the slightest thing and rarely use their discretion any more. It's just gone fucking nuts.

      Most cops carry 2 guns, a knife, a baton, a Taser, and pepper spray. They wear a bullet-resistant vest, steel-toed boots, and have a radio to call for backup with...and yet they're terrified of a guy in shorts and a t-shirt. WTF?

      When I was young the police (most police) were actually friendly and you could count on them for help. Most people liked and respected police officers. Now they mostly seem to be dicks itching for any excuse to make an arrest over the smallest thing. I avoid them at all costs.

      The problem is that most cops these days can't tell the difference between a felony and just fucking around.

      • Re:More anecdotes (Score:4, Interesting)

        by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Saturday October 24, 2015 @02:06PM (#50794033)

        The problem is that most cops these days can't tell the difference between a felony and just fucking around.

        To be fair, the bigger problem is that many things that were 'just fucking around' when we were kids are now felonies. If you demand that the police 'enforce the law', they're far more likely to arrest kids who are 'just fucking around' than gang members who are likely to shoot them.

        • To be fair, the bigger problem is that many things that were 'just fucking around' when we were kids are now felonies.

          I disagree. I don't think there have been very many civil offenses or misdemeanors that have been upgraded to felonies. Some, I'm sure, but not many.

          Drinking beer in a park, hanging out after dark ("loitering"), getting caught with a joint, graffiti, minor vandalism, etc etc have never been felonies. It's just that with the advent of "proactive policing" (also called the Broken Windows theory of enforcement) every tiny little thing is now taken to the extreme and prosecuted.

          When my friends and were caught w

    • by Nyder ( 754090 )

      Tasers are part of the problem. They were introduced as a way to keep officers from having to shoot with their guns when someone was out of control, but didn't have a weapon. Instead officers think that it's okay to use it to get compliance for everything, thus abusing people while abusing the intent of tasers.

  • Seriously, how can we fuck around, beat you, shoot you, and violate your rights on a whim if you pesky citizens are going to video us all the time?

    Signed,

    The Police

  • by riskkeyesq ( 709039 ) on Saturday October 24, 2015 @01:17PM (#50793779)
    538 recently ran a piece on this misguided and largely misleading storyline police are touting. It's worth a read if you like facts. But this is /. http://fivethirtyeight.com/fea... [fivethirtyeight.com]
  • Let's use the usual police argument:

    He says he's been told by many police leaders that officers who normally would stop to question suspicious people are opting to stay in their patrol cars for fear of having their encounters recorded and become video sensations. That hesitancy has led to missed opportunities to apprehend suspects and has decreased the police presence on the streets of the country's most violent cities.

    If you have nothing to hide and don't break any laws, why would you object to being reco

    • He says he's been told by many police leaders that officers who normally would stop to question suspicious people are opting to stay in their patrol cars for fear of having their encounters recorded and become video sensations

      Good...maybe they'll learn a little fucking restraint instead of popping out of their cars and shooting 12-year old kids [wikipedia.org] for holding a toy gun.

      Seriously, stay in your fucking copmobile unless you have a reason to be "interacting" with the public. It's not your job to go on fishing expeditions hoping to make another arrest or choking a guy to death for selling cigarettes [cnn.com] or "jogging while black [newsone.com]".

  • If the police routinely harass, put in hospital, and arrest for "disrespect cop" random people, you would expect crime rates to go down. After all they'll get lucky occasionally and pick someone who was just about to rob a gas station or something.

    Apparently the FBI thinks that's a great way to reduce crime. Which isn't unexpected given the FBI's views on warrantless surveillance.

  • by coldsalmon ( 946941 ) on Saturday October 24, 2015 @01:37PM (#50793905)

    Our criminal justice system is biased in favor of Type II errors (false negatives), rather than Type I errors (false positives). We think it is worse to jail, kill, or harass an innocent person than to let a criminal go free. Recently, we have had a lot of Type I errors (false positives), and we have corrected our procedures to reduce this type of error. There is a corresponding rise in false negatives (criminals going free), but this is the way we have deliberately designed the system. We are going back to the way we want things to be.

  • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Saturday October 24, 2015 @01:49PM (#50793957)

    For example, murders are typically not stopped by police at all as they are very rarely crimes of opportunity. This person must know that. That he choses to ignore this knowledge is is a very bad sign, but what do you expect from the chief official of a police-state. What he also completely ignores is that some of the officers that have become "video sensations" are cold-blooded murderers. He seems to imply that these scum being caught is somehow a bad thing. Another strong indicator the US is a de-facto police-state, because only in a police-state is catching criminal policemen a bad thing.

  • Illegal Police (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jim Sadler ( 3430529 ) on Saturday October 24, 2015 @02:05PM (#50794025)
    Could it be that so much police work is done illegally or in violation of policy that they have trouble doing their job unless they can commit criminal acts? And it is racist as it can be. How much stop and frisk and the like goes on in wealthy, white neighborhoods? If cops acted the same way with wealthy people that they do with poor people every cop on the force would get fired quite quickly.
  • I'd much rather have my ass beat or murdered by a criminal who likely will do hard time for it, than by a cop who gets away with it 'because he's a cop'.

  • Lying sack of shit (Score:4, Informative)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Saturday October 24, 2015 @02:13PM (#50794075) Journal

    There is no "rise in violent crime". It's still lower than it was in the '90s, and one data point does not a trend make.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com... [washingtonpost.com]

    Also,

    The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, said on Friday that the additional scrutiny and criticism of police officers in the wake of highly publicized episodes of police brutality may have led to an increase in violent crime in some cities as officers have become less aggressive.

    With his remarks, Mr. Comey lent the prestige of the F.B.I., the nation’s most prominent law enforcement agency, to a theory that is far from settled: that the increased attention on the police has made officers less aggressive and emboldened criminals. But he acknowledged that there is so far no data to back up his assertion and that it may be just one of many factors that are contributing to the rise in crime, like cheaper drugs and an increase in criminals who are being released from prison.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10... [nytimes.com]

    So really, it could very well be that the rise in violent crime is the result of increased surveillance on the general population rather than increased surveillance on police.

    You don't have to be dishonest to be in law enforcement, but it helps.

  • All this shows is just how far out of touch police have become with the communities they're supposed to be serving. The problem isn't the videos, it's the police. They need to de-militarize and become community officers who not only get out of their patrol cars, but don't even patrol in a car in the first place, instead choosing to walk among and be friends with the people they're supposed to be a part of and protecting.
  • by non0score ( 890022 ) on Saturday October 24, 2015 @05:54PM (#50795103)
    Yes, yes, a handful of police officers breaking the law means all police officers are assholes. Just like a couple of citizens breaking the law means all citizens are assholes. Great job, everyone.

    Honestly, this is simple to solve. The police should start taking videos of everything they do as well. If an edited video pops up of them doing bad things, then they can simply post the video from their perspective. Now no more "look at this video of a cop beating this innocent man" AFTER the supposed "innocent man" kicks the officer, except not on camera or edited out. Mass surveillance works in every way. Govt. -> public -> police -> public.

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