Sunday, 20 November 2011

Police officers are people who want to put on uniforms so as to coerce members of the public

Here is disturbing footage of an American police officer beating a civilian, in front of other police officers.

"Oh, that's just a rogue bad apple police officer beating up a civilian whilst we do nothing to intervene," the other police officers must be thinking.

And, sadly, one can quite imagine an English police officer doing just the same thuggery, whilst their colleagues - usually so very quick to arrest for "public order offences" and "breaches of the peace" - happily look on.

A uniformed police force is better than the alternative of a plain-clothed "secret" police force.

Vesting coercive powers in trained professionals is better than having private armies on the streets.

And public order situations can be very stressful (though that is why expect professional police officers not to just become thugs when under pressure).

But all this said, and for all the good work certain officers do with their powers of coercion and arrest, the people who are police officers share one important quality.

And that is this: ultimately, police officers are the people who want to put on uniforms so as to coerce members of the public.

It is right to be wary of such people - however much they loathe and evade and obstruct being scruitnised and their motives being questioned.

This is not to deny that certain good works can only be achieved by uniformed individuals exercising coercive powers.

But, it must be remembered that police officers only exercise their coercive powers, and wear their uniforms, on our behalf - even if many officers (especially the ones who anonymously blog, comment, and tweet) seem to forget this.


No purely anonymous comments will be published; always use a name for ease of reference by other commenters.


Richard said...

Some of the police behaviour during these protests has been fucking horrible (another e.g. here: ) and there is absolutely no excuse for it. There need to be some serious changes in the way police deal with protests and riots.

Pam Nash said...

I joined the police force in the 1970s. I did NOT join because I wanted to 'coerce members of the public'.

Sweeping generalisations are dangerous and, in this case, totally unjustified. I'm very disappointed in you.

Peter Kirkham said...

Stereotypical, prejudiced bollocks.

As a former police officer, I too did not join because of some power trip. Nor did most of the officers I know and knew. I joined to help people being victimised by others and yes, that meant using coercive powers on those victimising them. Using them properly (i.e. In accordance with the law) was part of my job, not the reason I joined.

There ARE genuine issues about the use of force by some police officers, and by the police generally in some circumstances, particularly in policing public protest. This does sort of prejudiced nonsense does absolutely nothing to further discussion of them.

In fact, it's pathetic.

Jimmy said...

For most of my childhood me and my family suffered the most horrible harassment from my father. The police stood by and watched because he was a Crown prosecution witness and therefore, one of them. He would get away with serious acts of violence, would stay at a house five doors away or sleep outside despite several restraining orders and would sell drugs. All with the blessing of our local bobbies. All this has done is created a deep hatred for anyone who puts on the uniform.I can't separate in my head the good from the bad. Whenever I see an act of complicit immorality coming from the police It reinforces my belief that most are scared little boys who will never stand up to the bullies on their side. The force may have come a long way but it is still far from professional.

Ben said...

It has become clear in recent times that many politicians are willing to use their power and influence to help their friends and line their own pockets. Perhaps that is just human nature.

However, I doubt many young people starting out in politics, whether a councillor, an MP's researcher or someone who works at a think tank, do so because they want, one day, to be corrupt. Perhaps they imagine great reforms and progress. Perhaps they imagine fame and high office. I doubt many dream of corruption.

Similarly, I very much doubt many young people join the police because they seek opportunities to coerce, bully, prepress of beat the public. Many will want (naively, perhaps) to help and protect people. Some will have glamorous notions of solving crimes. Some, yes, may be seeking respect and authority. Many more will just want an interesting job.

Steve Jones said...

Leaving aside the obvious truisms that policing (and for that matter law or armed services) are coercive State functions carried out (in a democracy) on behalf of the population, I'd like to know where your evidence comes from for the sweeping generalisation that "police officers are the people who want to put on uniforms so as to coerce members of the public". I've no doubt there are some who are drawn to the career because of this power, but to claim that all, or even a majority are primarily so motivated is a long stretch, and really needs to be supported by proper research.

I assume that police recruitment procedures take into account that some people with inappropriate motivations will be attracted to the career, and will have at least some policies to filter most of these out applicants. Perhaps somebody who deals with police recruitment can comment.

Of course if you had replaced "want to" with "are prepared to", then this would be not so contentious. As it is I suspect you aren't going to gain a lot of respect from some perfectly decent coppers who will object to being vilified this way.

I also suspect that policing in the real world is a considerably more unpleasant proposition than the somewhat abstracted world of civil law.

tomasz. said...

^^ well, you obviously didn't join so as *not* to coerce members of the public, since that is literally the raison d'etre of the job.

Tim Barrow said...

Rather an unfair generalisation isn’t it? Using an equivalent amount of reliable evidence (which is to say, not very much) I could surmise that social workers enjoy splitting up families; that sewerage workers enjoy wading through shit; and that lawyers enjoy profiting from others’ wrongdoing or misfortune. I mean, their jobs require them to do that, so that must be the reason they do them, right? The other way of looking at it is that they all find their jobs challenging and worthwhile and, though they entail some unpleasantness, that’s outweighed by the social usefulness of the work. You’d have to be pretty mean-spirited to choose the former interpretation over the latter.

Tim Trent said...

As an ordinary man in the street, a reasonable person, I suggest that the Police have only themselves to blame for your perception of them. It feels as if there has been a descent to the jackboot method of policing rather than a reasoned and proportionate approach.

I'm not at all interested in the motives folk have for joining. I am certain that many start with laudable objectives, though I agree that some like being obnoxious and ordering folk around a lot. What interests me more is the management of the police, a force to whom we delegate the power to seek to enforce public order, and which is our servant, not our master.

I do not see that management as being wholly appropriate. I agree that videos reveal the thugs, not the kind members of the force whose genuine attitude is one of caring. But, when we see these thugs, we often see their being exonerated from all possible blame from their less than lawful actions.

I watched aghast at the UK police's incompetent handling or lawful demonstrations leading to 'kettling' and other vile and degrading things, and I watched aghast again at their inability to handle a few good for nothing rioters who seized upon a core legitimate expression grievance as an excuse to go on a rampage of destruction.

Richard Cox said...

In my experience most Police Officers in the UK joined to try to make our society a better place for all - and many of them do exactly that, both by deed and example, day after day.

A small number however have the attitude you described, and the sad fact is that their conduct by its very nature comes to attention much more than that of the majority. When that happens, the response of society needs to be exceptionally robust - as to do any less brings dishonour on the thousands of officers who act honourably.

At least our Police service is accountable to an independant body, unlike other arms of government "enforcement" such as HMRC

Simon Carne said...

It's always disturbing to see videos of police hitting an unarmed person (and doubtless even more disturbing to see it live). But take a moment to reflect and one realises that this video is clearly not as simple as all that.

• It seems unlikely that dozens (literally) of police officers donned riot gear and turned up in a randomly selected street to see who might be around to beat. What was going on out of camera range which brought the riot-dressed police to this place?

• Why was one individual standing in front of the police? What was he hoping to achieve? Why didn’t he move when the police called on him, repeatedly, to do so? What was his purpose? And did it have anything to do with what the events out of shot which had brought the police here?

• Could the police ranks have simply walked past the individual? He appears to be passive and unarmed, but is he? Is it safe for riot police to allow individuals to get behind their ranks?

The answers to these questions may point to the conclusion that the police action was exactly the piece of unjustified brutality that Jack of Kent implies. Or they may point to a different conclusion.

themasterbrewer said...

"Sadly, one can quite imagine an English police officer doing just the same thuggery, whilst their colleagues - usually so very quick to arrest for "public order offences" and "breaches of the peace" - happily look on."

People can imagine anything they want, such is the way in which the imagination works. You could imagine a footballer racially abusing a fellow footballer if you wanted to, but this would not necessarily mean that football was collectively racist, nor that all footballers are individually racist.

Police officers put their lives on the line every day to protect the public. What do they get in return? Spat at, verbally and physically attacked, and often implicated in collective criticism of the massive organisation of which they are individual members every time another such individual member does something wrong - criticism that tends to come from people with no experience of being a police officer. The statement that "police officers are the people who want to put on uniforms so as to coerce members of the public" is astoundingly ignorant. Let me leave you with a quote from Pat Condell on the police:

"Whatever they do, they're criticised and vilified for it by people who are not in their situation and who couldn't cope if they were."

Sandrine Lopez said...

Sorry David, I have to disagree with you even if I personally am wary of the police too. I'm certain a lot of people have a mistrust of the law, lawyers and solicitors and I doubt you would not like to be tarred with the same brush as those who do a/ an appalling job or b/ defend those who really do not deserve defense but get it because we are (hopefully) a moral society & yes it is innocent until proven guilty even when the guilt is plastered all over them re: News International & phone hacking etc.

I think the question that should be asked & I *keep* asking but no-one seems to have an answer is 'What is the respective Governments' (both US & UK) stance on the Occupy scenarios arounf their respective countries and why are *they* not saying what the police should or should not be doing in these cases.

More moral cowardice in the face of the big money that supports them?

Jack of Kent said...


"Sadly, one can quite imagine an English police officer doing just the same thuggery, whilst their colleagues - usually so very quick to arrest for "public order offences" and "breaches of the peace" - happily look on."

People can imagine anything they want, such is the way in which the imagination works.


Pam Nash said...

JoK - your comment in reply to themasterbrewer was 'Tomlinson'. This merely emphasises the nonsensical nature of your article - the Tomlinson incident was *so* newsworthy because it was so rare.

Are you worried about all solicitors being thieves? By your rationale they must be, because this one is

Charon QC said...

I am not sure that provocative generalisations are helpful to rational intelligent debate. The Tomlinson case was shocking - but, I would argue, hardly representative of the behaviour of most Police in their daily lives- thankfully.

It is right that all Police - and lawyers / judges - who behave badly be called out. It is not riught to make sweeping generalisations about any group in society.

Such a technique - perhaps deliberately to provoke ? - is not a rational response to the problems caused by a very small minority.

To take the central point: I find it difficult to believe that those who join the Police or any other uniformed service - do so to coerce. I have a feeling that most do so because they want to do an important and worthwhile job.

That is my view - which, of course, you are free to disagree with - largely because we have a 'rule of law' at the foundation of our society - imperfect, I accept - but at least a start.

loopedstranger said...

"ultimately, police officers are the people who want to put on uniforms so as to coerce members of the public."

Er, isn't this blog supposed to be about skepticism and evidence rather than sweeping generalizations?

Why single out that aspect of the job? You could pick out a different aspect of their job (say, protecting people from violence, theft, etc) and say they are the people who want to do that, so we should trust them more. Not a very convincing argument, I'll admit - however, it's no less convincing (on logical grounds) than yours.

It's clear that the police do need oversight, and that they are probably not accountable enough in the UK or in the US. But to basically ignore or minimise all of the good work that they do - at considerable personal risk to themselves - seems to me to unbalanced.

Andreas said...

Right, so you've got ONE example of unwarranted police brutality that's undeniably wrong in the last half decade or so, in this day and age where every single police act is caught on a dozen different mobile phones and uploaded to youtube.

Also, the idea that any officer is "quick" to arrest for anything is farcical when you consider how much paperwork is involved.

Youtube and the mobile phone are the greatest tools for police accountability, but they also make it rather hard to accuse everybody without evidence.

Jack of Kent said...

As I expected, almost every comment above is more annoyed at what I said than at the footage to which I linked.

Indeed, I suspect few of the angry commenters even looked at the footage before rushing to comment.


Charon QC said...

While I am not an angry commenter.... rest assured - I did see the footage. I have also followed the US pepper spray incident

Have you any evidence for your assertuion? Suspicion does not prove a case in law - any more than it does in science.

ipso facto, not QED !


Scott Greenfield - a US defense lawyer - usually get to and makes the point

mikeholcombejones said...

Unless the footage is of all police officers, everywhere, putting on uniforms for the purpose of coercing the public, then no - not QED.

Simon Carne said...

JoK, in support of your comment above, you wrote on Twitter: I wondered this morning if I complained of police with footage of police brutality, what commenters would focus on. And I was right...

It would have been a much more interesting experiment if you had picked some footage in which the police action was plainly unprovoked and inapproriate, for example, Tomlinson (as mentioned above by Charon QC) or the events in recent days at UC Davis - see

Methinks your Q has yet to be EDed ... but it could be if you try again some time.

pirate said...

I have quite a bit of experience of cops being aggressive and violent. Some may join to have authority but a lot just join to be in control.
The 2nd to last time the police visited me. I immediately went for a video camera and started videoing what was going on. They stopped me, as they are quiet happy to take journalists on raid and allow them to video why where they so up tight about me videoing what went on.
The next time I asked them to leave, when they didn't I went to phone my solicitor, I was jumped with a should of "no you don't".
I commented on twitter that "cuffing as a matter of routine is assault" a Sargent replied that "everyone presents a risk some great other small, unless you psychic you cannot tell with". I pointed out this applied to everyone and that I could no more tell whether an office walk down the street was about to assault me or not and that I should therefore act to protect myself. He did reply.
The Police do not view battering down a door or cuffing someone, or grabbing someone who is a bit sweary or doesn't do as they say as violence.
Surprise surprise they haven't read Max Webber or any philosophical work on what they do, especially Max Webber.
The reason they did not want to be videoed in my flat is because they did not want what they were ceasing to be documented. I still haven't got some of it back.
As for Officer Pam who said earlier that Tomlinson was news because it was rare, that is wrong. Tomilinson was news because it was caught on video that wasn't "lost".

FOr more on Webber see.

loopedstranger said...

Bollocks. I looked at the footage. It's disturbing, but it doesn't affect what I said. And you haven't engaged with the comments, angry or otherwise.

EX said...

Well I think the footage is outrageous, the american cops look more like Terminators (such is the paramilitarisation of so much of the country) and you're bang on with the coercion point.

Police coerce. If a person willingly applies to be a cop, this is what s/he wants to do, not all the time, but at least occasionally. Quite an uncontroversial and fairly obvious point really.

Perhaps the word coercion is taken pejoratively, to be implying or denoting bullying or ill-will, in the minds of some, when used in connection with footage of police brutality.

Ben said...

What exactly do you feel the response has demonstrated?

The incident you linked to wasn't commented on because it wasn't the focus of your post. Rather, it served as background to the point you made. If the post had been about the ins and outs of the incident then you would have had replies about it.

In truth, the video is irrelevant to discussion of the provocative (and I'm sure quite deliberately so) assertion you make. The video confirms that police brutality exists, a fact that is surely beyond any possible debate. But your assertion touched on why it exists, and seemed to claim that that the occupation attracts people who wish to use force against the public. It was that assertion that the vast majority of respondents disagreed with, myself included.

Andreas said...

For a very good reason - footage, taken out of context, tells you very little. Anybody trying to make any sort statement from the video is going to be talking out of their ass.

Are police officers going to be less shocked by violence than the majority of the public? Of course they will. That's the nature of the blue cocoon.

That doesn't change the fact that your article is a vast generalisation that hasn't demonstrated anything.

If I posted a blog that linked to the Guardian headline about the NotW scandal, and therefore deduced that all journalists were out there simply to pry into people's personal lives, I suspect you'd find that journalists would be justifiably aggrieved, but that doesn't justify me sitting around throwing QED at people.

dukest said...

I wrote another comment but Google lost it when asking me to sign in. Simply put, you trolled, as wilfully as the police brutality you reported. If called out for it by everyone including your friend CharonQC then perhaps you should look at yourself and the thinly veiled self-promotion you attempted rather than criticising people for reacting to it. It was below you.

A Brit Abroad said...

I'm afraid I'm with most of the comments on this one. There are many reason people join the police force - you:
get a well-paid job with a good pension; do work that is for the good of society; get to catch bad people when they do bad things, or prevent them from doing bad things; get to drive a powerful car fast legally; the glamour of CSI or Silent Witness; the smart uniform; get to coerce people into behaving legally; get to wield a telescopic baton or even a firearm; use powerful computers to access information normal people don't have; get easy access to cocaine or vulnerable women; were bullied at school and get a chance to bully other people roughly within the confines of the law; get to work with people with similar attitudes.

I'm sure every policeman had one or two reasons from this list. But to stereotype every policeman with your prejudice should be anathema to a rational liberal like yourself.

Oh, and I watched the video. Couldn't help but feel that if the video camera wasn't there, the "victim" wouldn't have been behaving the way he was - he was simply trying to provoke a response, which he did.

As Simon Carne has correctly pointed out, context is very important and will affect the ability of officers to remain calm and their action proportionate.

It's not a job that I'd like to do, or, I suspect, you. So therein lies the problem - the pool of people we can choose from to don riot gear and restore order in a stressful situation will necessarily exclude a lot of people able to control their emotions and deal with confrontation deliberately intended to provoke them. Most officers will keep under control. But a few will crack and let their emotions control them, even with the best training in the world. Fortunately, the ubiquity of video cameras and phones, and the presence of calmer officers should be enough to stop it getting out of hand. Most of the time.

But if you expect every police officer to always behave like Ghandhi in the face of provocation, and never lose it in front of a video camera, you're living in cloud cuckoo land. And to then stereotype every police officer as a bully is, quite frankly, not worthy of this blog.

Lewis said...

I'm sorry David, I'm not sure this proves what you think it does.
I would speculate it's a fair possibility that some commenters both abhor the actions in the video and also disagree with your article.
The fact the focus is more on your article could, I suggest, be because this is your blog where people come to read your comments, and can engage directly with you.

Sam Saunders said...

I read the blog, watched the video (twice), read the comments and read your added comment ending "QED" and I feel puzzled. What was the "Q" that you think has been demonstrated? The video seems to show a line of police officers using a coercive strategy for moving a person (and others?) along a street. One of the officers seems to lose his self-control in a way that will do harm to the victim and undermine his colleagues' ugly but probably legal effort. The way he behaves is disproportionately violent and counter productive and all the comments seem to accept this. Some of the comments challenge your surprising statement about the motivation of police recruits. You say this proves something, but I don't see what. Sorry to be so muddled. Did you expect the other officers to attack the miscreant policeman? My reading was that they continued to be restrained and continue with the procedure in what could have become a much worse situation. But either way, none of this is strong evidence of anything beyond one officer's shocking indicipline. We have all seen a depressingly large number of videos as bad as, and much worse than, this one. Why would we queue up to comment on it? Your statement about motivation is the obvious novelty and was bound to get comments. The ones you have accepted seem honestly written and reasonable.

Pam Nash said...

If the other commenters were like me, JoK, they'd seen the video hours before you posted it. So I freely admit I was commenting on your sweeping generalisations.....

Or is it that, expecting approbation and not getting it, you're attempting a weak justification of your piece?

Richard P said...

As I expected, almost every comment above is more annoyed at what I said than at the footage to which I linked.

Indeed, I suspect few of the angry commenters even looked at the footage before rushing to comment.

That's hardly surprising! Most people come here to read what you write. The fact you linked to a piece of video, having stated what it showed, is neither here nor there. The video seemed to be just for illustration.

Your article, however, seems designed to provoke a strong reaction due to its sweeping generalisation. I'm actually surprised how measured most of the replies are - puzzled rather than angry!

Vidster said...

I did watch the video and it is sickening. However, I am not sure his colleagues were happy to witness this.

I know a lot of police officers in and outside the USA and most wanted to join to make a difference. Those people I knew who were too happy to coerce (or trigger happy) never made it past the academy.

Negative generalizations serve nobody however, the role of the media contributes to exactly those comments you refer to in your last remark. Maybe this discussion should go hand in hand with some media scrutiny.

guthrie said...

A lot of the commentators will be British, and suffering from "It can't happen here" syndrome. And actually I agree with them to some extent. The USA is infamous for its fear driven society, its 'wars' on criminal acts, deliberate and accidental shootings of innocent people, overuse of tasers etc etc. (The dangerous thing is the authoritarian minded people who don't care about such things)
So posting a video about an american police beating on a british website with lots of brits reading is perhaps best done in order to discuss why we in the UK don't want to go down that path, which topic you almost manage to cover in your post, but not quite. Maybe you need to go away and think about it some more?

(An example of american fear - if stopped by the cops it is generally regarded as a good thing to keep your hands on the steering wheel and not make any sudden movements, basically act as if they'll shoot you if you given them any reason to suspect you might be reaching for a weapon. And I've seen what appear to be normal enough people in other respects online saying "This is a good thing, we want criminals to be afraid and if you aren't a criminal you've nothing to fear")

Ewan said...

"the Tomlinson incident was *so* newsworthy because it was so rare"

What was rare about the Tomlinson incident was that the victim was particularly vulnerable and died from a baton strike; it's hardly the only case of a police officer attacking someone in an entirely unreasonable and unprovoked manner. The ones where the victim lives don't get the same attention, but the police action is no different.

What is particularly instructive about the Tomlinson case though, isn't the attack itself by the 'one bad apple', it's the response of the rest of the police, both the officers on the scene, who did nothing, and senior officers afterwards who lied about what had happened.

That seems to be the pattern every time there's any serious criticism of the police, and it's much wider than 'a few bad apples'.

Sandrine Lopez said...

Jack of Kent said...
"As I expected, almost every comment above is more annoyed at what I said than at the footage to which I linked.
Indeed, I suspect few of the angry commenters even looked at the footage before rushing to comment. QED"

I *did* watch the footage David, and yes it is sickening to watch in a supposedly democratic society that trumpets personal freedoms above all else. But you precede it with a comment which, as most have pointed out, is a quite illiberal and possibly even offensive generalisation. Are you saying we should not be *wary* of all *your* blog posts, and above any level of criticism yourself, when we feel you are not 100% in the right?


Kev said...

The comments are in response to you taking one incident and generalising unwisely from it. If the blogpost was about the police brutality in the video, it would have been different.

It is no different to you posting a video of a single negligent paramedic and claiming that all paramedics merely want to the ability to drive through red lights with impunity.

Sandrine Lopez said...

Kev said...
"The comments are in response to you taking one incident and generalising unwisely from it. If the blogpost was about the police brutality in the video, it would have been different.

It is no different to you posting a video of a single negligent paramedic and claiming that all paramedics merely want to the ability to drive through red lights with impunity."

Well said, and I agree. Now do a post about police brutality, both here and in the US, and link to the same footage and see what kind of response you get about *that*.

Adzcliff said...

"As I expected, almost every comment above is more annoyed at what I said than at the footage to which I linked.

Indeed, I suspect few of the angry commenters even looked at the footage before rushing to comment."

This is a curious response (and I was aghast at the footage first). Is it suggesting the footage is so severe as to render any criticism of your comments unwarranted and misplaced?


Jules said...

What people are objecting to is the lazy and offensive generalisation. I have posted a longer response at my blog here.

Fiona Hanley said...

26 million people died of AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa before pharmaceutical companies - no thanks to any public outcry or boycott, there was nothing significant - released the patent on anti-retroviral medicine for developing countries. But the bog-standard liberal response to AIDS in Africa is to attack the Vatican's stance on condoms.

22 thousand children die of preventable causes every day. To die of poverty unequivocally means suffering and anguish, yet this does not ignite anything like the public debate on the suffering of a terminated foetus.

A tyrant who brutalised and oppressed his citizens for four decades with impunity as far as the rest of the world was concerned was finally killed. And what was the hot topic on twitter? What was the cause of angry, impassioned debate? Whether or not his final minutes should have been shown on mainstream media.

I've been a year on twitter and seen more impassioned argument on the rights and wrongs of the fashion for cupcakes as a fetishisation of fifties woman than I've seen on female genital mutilation.

It's easier to focus on the minor detail than it is to look at the bigger picture isn't it? (Indeed that came up two JoK posts ago.) Looking at the big picture demands a response, or at least forces us to acknowledge our own apathy about injustice and human rights abuses.

An under-regulated financial services industry stole the world's money and when there is finally a popular uprising about it the police response is focussed on the protesters. And yes, they have in several instances been wrongfully brutal. The officer in the above video behaved as if the baton was a pillow. An officer spraying tear gas in another video might have been spraying weed-killer at his lavender for all the concern he showed. But where is the anger and disappointment directed? At the semantics of David's tweets.

And yes, I know I've made a bunch of sweeping generalisations here. Bite me.

Jabba the Cat said...

The individual in the video was instructed a number of times to leave the area by the riot police. He failed to do so whilst maintaining a confrontational attitude and eventually got whacked a few times with a riot stick around the legs. Serves the idiot right.

George Wright said...

I think a lot of these comments are indeed sweeping generalisations based on ignorance.
It is worth remembering that these are predominantly young men in adrenalin fuelled situations. I remember a friend of mine telling how, when at Sandhurst, he took part in N. Ireland riot exercises. The rioters were other soldiers. He described how, in the 'heat of battle' he felt himself on the edge of losing all self control and laying into the 'rioters' with total violence.
The point I think is that many, perhaps most, of us are capable of losing self control in this manner given the right circumstances. These situations can only be avoided by rigorous training and discipline. It is far better to focus on the training that police receive rather than any individual officer

George Wright said...

BTW My Friend refered to above is now a very senior and distinguished lawyer

Adzcliff said...

Not sure if Jabba The Cat is a wind-up, but if moving quietly and slowly - if disobediently - with hands in pockets is 'confrontational', he/she must live in permanent fear of his\her fellow human-beings...

pirate said...

"disobediently" is 'confrontational' in Plod speak.


"angry" is "aggressive"
"abusive" is "asked questions"
"aggressive" is "acts like me".

One for the psychologists here doe s shouting very loudly in someone ear "calm down", while pinning them to the floor actually work?

morungos said...

I had to think long and hard about this, and I on reflection, I still think you're wrong, but in an interesting way.

The core statement that I think is wrong is: "police officers are the people who want to put on uniforms so as to coerce members of the public".

This implies it is somehow intrinsic to the person, and I don't think you have any evidence for that. On the contrary, there is good evidence that this behaviour is not an inherent trait but a situational one, through Zimbardo's Stanford prison experiment.

Unfortunately, because this experiment showed that the situation was a significant factor in the behaviour, any of us - even you, @JackOfKent, could easily go beyond the normal boundaries on our behaviour. We might not all go these extremes, but the situation may bring out aspects which would never normally be apparent.

Yes, the actions at Davis were truly horrifying, and intolerable. But we cannot simply use a naive "rotten apple" defence. The truth is that this dark side may be latent in most, if not all of us - whether we are police officers or not - and we need to be vigilant to prevent these kinds of events.

A Demon said...

You obviously have issues, shouldn't you be getting help from mental health services.

Phil said...

You might also wish to peruse the following exhibit:

CrinethInc's Seven Myths about the Police

Ben Murphy said...

"...ultimately, police officers are the people who want to put on uniforms so as to coerce members of the public."

The logic is flawed. You are taking something that distinguishes being a police-officer from other professions, a task that anyone who joins the police is likely to perform, and implying that this is the motive for becoming a police-officer. I can want to perform a job that is likely to require my doing P, even if I do not want to do P.

"Ultimately, all barristers are people who want to put on wigs in order to argue with people."
"Ultimately, all nurses are people who want to ask people to remove their clothes in order to prick them with a needle."

If you become a train driver, you might very well drive a train over a suicide victim, if you become a police-officer, you might very well be beaten up, if you become a teacher, you might have to face an unruly class. You knowingly choose to perform these actions (or run the risk of performing them), but you do not necessarily want to do those things.

Ben Murphy said...

"As I expected, almost every comment above is more annoyed at what I said than at the footage to which I linked."

Sadly, any expression of anger on my part at the footage is unlikely to have the slightest effect on the police. I might feel better for venting my rage, but they would not feel worse. (You have achieved something worthwhile by posting the footage, but expressions of shock on my part would not add to this).

Happily, I know that if I point out what I perceive to be errors in your logic, there is a chance that you will reconsider - not reconsider your attitude to police violence, but reconsider the particular argument that is advanced here.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree. This month I have coerced a small child to tell me about how he was repeatedly sexually abused by his "uncle".

I have coerced that uncle to come into my (plain) police car, ensuring that maximum discretion was used to avoid him being subject to "coercion" should his family and neighbours find out what he was accused him.

I then spent some considerable time coercing him to go no comment during interview.

Hopefully I can now rest easy knowing that I have perpetuated the thuggery that typifies those who wear my uniform.


Henry Brubaker said...

Sweeping Generalisations: The very best kind! You post a video of police in another country doing stuff you find objectional and then say you can imagine an English Police officer doing the same.

We can all use our imaginations, its what separates us from the animals.

If you wanted to too you could imagine a left wing led regime that murders its opponents (real and imagined) in vast death camps. By the same simple extension of JackofKent logic its perfectly plausible that it could happen here. As such its logical anyone with a left leaning political outlook is very likely to support such a thing. Are you going to sign up for the Einsatzgruppen Jack, or just claim the Nuremburg defense?

No, I dont think you will either Jack, but its just soooo easy and intellectually lazy to jump to a sweeping generalisation about those whose outlook you dont share.

If that individual officer has offended your delicate sensibilities why not direct your ire at him? Instead you turn it on police in a different country. Very tiresome.

An award winning blog? Really? said...

All doctors put on a white coat and torture their patients. It’s fun to make false generalisations.

kris said...

With one post, you've managed to lose any credibility you once had.

No links, no reference to any peer reviewed materials, no substance. Nothing but an over-emotional rant based on the false premise that a because a member of an overseas police force has indulged in reprehensible conduct, that all police forces and officers world wide are equally reprehensible.

Right up there with the logic of "all men are rapists"


tom said...

Although I think that JoK's hanging of the article on an icident of brutality is wrong, he has a very good point.
Why is it that whenever a new power is granted to the police they abuse it? Why is it that recording the race of the people they stop and search is necessary to highlight their collective abuse of their power to futher their racial prejudice.

Yes police are important for a civilised society, but Jack's point that they are people who dress in a uniform to push people around is borne out by the experience of living in Britain and seeing police abuse their powers at every opportuinty.
However, what I don't think you've shown, is that they want to do that, rather than they fall into the institutional way of behaving. It's perfectly possible that they all join up wanting to catch villains & only become bullies with a badge when they realise their powerlessness to actually do anything about actual crime.

RR said...

Perhaps there could be more to it - but that still does not excuse the violence. Why not just arrest him? There were enough of them to do it!

The pepper spray incident was something else again - a police officer deliberately spraying pepper directly into the faces of demonstrators who were not resisting is disgraceful. If anybody else did it, (in this country)it could amount to causing grievous bodily harm with intent - at the very least it would be an assault occasioning actual bodily harm. I don't think there was any other interpretationor or any justification in that case.

The police were very lucky that nobody had an allergic reaction to the spray.

The University VC must be a very nice person to authorise the police to do such things to her own students!

Unknown said...

I have great sympathy with these police men and women.
The individual who was arrested had every opertunaty to avoid arrest but seem determined to cause trouble.

Look what happen in London this year. my business was effected by the riots. Sometime police need to take such action in order to avoid anaky spreading as it did in London this year.

How ever I do thing this please man was heave handed.

Thanks for the interesting articular