On Butthurt & Contribution
Oct. 28, 2015 (Mimesis Law0 — My mediation mentor taught me two important concepts in resolving disputes: “naming and blaming” and “contribution.” Naming and blaming is something we do all the time; you identify someone or something as the cause of a problem and act accordingly.
Contribution is different in that it requires a person to take a long hard look in the mirror about what they’re doing to be a part of the problem. FBI Director James Comey has a strong handle on the naming and blaming, but needs to look at the “contribution” concept very hard before opening his mouth again.
At a University of Chicago Law School forum Friday night, Comey asked, “In today’s YouTube world, are officers reluctant to get out of their cars and do the work that controls violent crime?”
He added, “I spoke to officers privately in one big city precinct who described being surrounded by young people with mobile phone cameras held high, taunting them the moment they get out of their cars. They told me, ‘We feel like we’re under siege and we don’t feel much like getting out of our cars.’”
To clarify this for those following along at home, Director Comey is attempting to tell the public that because police are more accountable for their on-the-job conduct than ever before due to the prevalence of video and photo evidence documenting police misconduct, the cops have hurt feelz and don’t want to play anymore.
“I do have a strong sense,” he said, “that some part of the explanation is a chill wind blowing through American law enforcement over the last year. And that wind is surely changing behavior.”
Some have dubbed this the “Ferguson effect,” in reference to the protests that erupted last year in Ferguson, Missouri in response to the police killing of Michael Brown, a young unarmed African-American. The vitriol of Comey is directed as much toward the protesters against police violence as toward its victims.
Comey is not alone. New York City Police Chief Bill Bratton prefers to call the supposedly baneful impact on police the “YouTube effect.”
The reference to the “chill wind” of the alleged “Ferguson Effect” so many people in law enforcement love to reference as the alleged catalyst for the rise in police violence that’s got as much basis in reality as a unicorn sighting is a touching one. It’s completely plausible to everyone who doesn’t have their head grounded in reality, which shows that being a police officer is one of the safest jobs out there.
I like the name Bill Bratton gives it better. “The YouTube Effect” makes far more sense as it explains the point of continually exposing law enforcement thuggery. We want to see people held accountable for their actions, even if they have a badge, and will continue to keep it in the public eye until fundamental change occurs. You get no more free passes just because you wear a shield, at least not in the eyes of the general public.
In all fairness to Bill Bratton, he’s got a good understanding of the effects video has on law enforcement accountability, given that his department is under fire right now for two high profile incidents of police misconduct caught on video and his willingness to double down on supporting those officers who overstepped significant boundaries.
But it’s not just about the Bill Brattons’ and the Jim Comeys’ reactions to how the increase of video accountability affects law enforcement’s duty to perform the highest standards. Our President has weighed in on the matter as well, and he’s dutifully toeing the line between keeping the police accountable and making sure a voting bloc stays with the Democrats.
In remarks replete with platitudes about the necessity for “communities of color” to bond with the police forces sent to repress them—and the necessity to “restore trust between law enforcement and the citizens they protect”—the president declared that police officers often “get scapegoated for the failings of society and our criminal justice system.”
Addressing the police chiefs, Obama said: “The media focuses on the sensational and controversial. And with today’s technology, if just one of your officers does something irresponsible, the whole world knows about it moments later.”
Mr. President, the police are not “scapegoated.” They’re called out because they contribute to the problem. When a officer does something irresponsible and the world knows about it moments later, it’s not because people in our country hate the police or want to make them a scapegoat. It’s because the people are tired of the continued culture of irrational violence, the terrible decisions made by badged people who have the ability to take a life with the full blessing of a government, and the ability to protect their own welfare when questioned in regards to accountability.
Everyone in the police misconduct world, from those who document it to those who commit it, has the ability to “name and blame” the problems that are faced by the people adversely affected by such nonsense as “Broken Windows” policing or the racist profiling of law enforcement. That’s the easy job, and people involved at the highest corridors of law enforcement have shown nothing less than a complete mastery of the subject.
Here’s my question: When will the police take that hard look in the mirror and start to address how they’ve contributed to this?