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What is the Objectivist Answer to Police Brutality?

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59 minutes ago, Nicky said:

If you decide to be a gun owner, it's your responsibility to handle it, and yourself, properly. If you're not prepared to handle a routine encounter with a cop calmly, without creating the impression that you're about to pull your gun on him, don't be a gun owner.

Which he was, that's the point. He did what the cop said and did what people do when they have a gun: say they have a gun, narrate what they do, and do what the cop says. He was interrupted mid-sentence before he could say "driver's license", said some more, said then got shot 7 times. There wasn't a pause, this all happened in 7 seconds, the actual talking even less.  The cop didn't listen to the narration it seems.

What else is one supposed to do? 

But to cover more ground here:

What reason is there to think Yanez's response was appropriate in his situation? It's more on a cop I think to demonstrate his response is appropriate, so will you cite a law enforcement official who can speak of what is a threat or not? We can and should expect a cop to be more responsible and effective with firearms than the average person.

What is or is not an impression of danger - what standard are you using? I would say a traffic stop where someone admits to carrying is enough to eliminate danger. If this is wrong, well, who agrees with you that the situation was strongly dangerous in this context?

 

 

Edited by Eiuol

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Philando Castile Case

Reasonable doubt.

Actions speak louder than words.

Castile hears Yanez announce he has a gun while he is seeing him move his hand. This crux of this occurs in 10 seconds, and only 10 seconds after having been asked for his drivers license and proof of insurance. It took the first 10 seconds just to process the proof of insurance transaction. Of the later 10 seconds, 3 of them announced the presence of an unseen gun leaving 7 seconds to assess the situation.  Part of those 7 seconds, the officer is telling him not to reach for it, meanwhile the hand continued to move.

Edited by dream_weaver

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1 hour ago, dream_weaver said:

meanwhile the hand continue to move.

To the driver's license he was told to get.

This makes sense. After insurance was taken care of, he needed the license. He had to reach after that, so he announced " Sir, I have to tell you that I do have a firearm on me ", then went to say "I am reaching--" but that is where it stops making sense. For one, people who announce "I have a gun" in a polite way aren't planning to shoot a cop. Now, regular people may freak out, but a cop should be sufficiently trained that they will react properly. Of course we want to know the standard, and Yanez may have followed the legal standard, which may explain how he was deemed not guilty.

But if this is the legal standard of a sufficiently trained cop, this standard is no good.

EDIT: retroactively fixed pronouns

 

Edited by Eiuol

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So the response here is, "What was the cop supposed to do? Not shoot him!?"

Yes, the cop was not supposed to shoot the law-abiding citizen reaching for his driver's license (as instructed). If there's a problem with that -- a problem brought on by the citizen having a permitted weapon (which is supposedly one of our fundamental, Constitutional rights) -- then the entire system needs review. It should not be on citizens, acting wholly within their rights and complying with law-enforcement officers' commands, to stop from accidentally tripping across officers' apparently over-developed zeal for shooting first and asking questions later.

Edited by DonAthos

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3 hours ago, Eiuol said:

I would say a traffic stop where someone admits to carrying is enough to eliminate danger.

Not even "admits" -- he volunteered the information.

I suppose that's one lesson to take from this: if you're carrying a gun, even lawfully, don't tell the police. Who knows what will set them off?

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12 hours ago, Eiuol said:

To the driver's license he was told to get.

This makes sense. After insurance was taken care of, he needed the license. He had to reach after that, so he announced " Sir, I have to tell you that I do have a firearm on me ", then went to say "I am reaching--" but that is where it stops making sense. For one, people who announce "I have a gun" in a polite way aren't planning to shoot a cop. Now, regular people may freak out, but a cop should be sufficiently trained that they will react properly. Of course we want to know the standard, and Yanez may have followed the legal standard, which may explain how he was deemed not guilty.

But if this is the legal standard of a sufficiently trained cop, this standard is no good.

EDIT: retroactively fixed pronouns

 

If you say you have a gun and keep reaching for your license, the cop has a reason to suspect you are reaching for your gun.  If it was me, I would keep my hands on the steering wheel and tell the cop to reach in my pocket for the license.  Everyone is 100% safer that way.  

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1 hour ago, Craig24 said:

If you say you have a gun and keep reaching for your license, the cop has a reason to suspect you are reaching for your gun. 

Why would it mean that? Plus he said he wasn't, but the cop didn't listen. He was asked to reach for the license, and the cop decided to shoot rather than say "I'll reach for it for you".

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We've seen so many of these kinds of episodes over the last several years. And I know that, in every particular case, there are bound to be details worthy of discussion or debate -- but I think that the totality is also worth considering. Is there a cultural problem within modern American policing that needs to be addressed? Or a training problem? Or both?

It seems to me that we have occasional terrorist incidents by Muslims, and taking them together, we can rightly conclude that there is a cultural problem with Islam (at the least). Yet with all of the cases of either police brutality, or error, which result in people being unjustly killed, we don't seem to want to connect those dots.

Personally, I think it's easy to understand why there might be a cultural problem. The police have been put in an impossible situation, especially via the drug war, in having to enforce laws which oughtn't even exist. They are thus set against people who are essentially innocent of any true crime (though often these people are led into genuine criminality, too, which is another horrid byproduct of the present system). The police are set against entire communities. This would not be the case if the police were charged with what they ought actually do: stop murderers, robbers and the like. Then the police and communities could work hand-in-hand to preserve the actual peace. But presently, the police are the enemies of true peace, because they work to uphold immoral law, which (as a reminder to my fellow Objectivists) entails the initiation of the use of force.

This has led to an increase in militarization on both sides, and a concomitant increase in fear, anger, mistrust, etc., etc. (All of this is not only a problem culturally, but as I say, even with the best of intentions it is bound to put training to the test. Are we equipping the police properly for the reality of what we're asking them to do?)

Psychologically, a police officer must be willing to initiate force against innocents, not just once in a while, but as a routine practice. I've argued this point several times elsewhere on this board -- I don't know whether I've convinced anyone else of anything, but I am, myself, convinced, that this must wreak devastation on a person's psyche or soul. It is something that I could never personally do -- be willing to initiate force in that way, doing evil daily as a means of earning my paycheck. And those officers who are initially sincere in wanting to do good -- because stopping murderers and the like certainly is good -- what is more pitiable than such a goodhearted person being "forced" to become the agent of wrongdoing, and the tool of state coercion? I'd imagine that police officers of truly noble soul either quit early on or suffer extreme psychological damage over time, if such concepts as "mind" and "identity" and etc. have any real meaning.

Finally, I think it right to consider that all of this does take place within a historical context, and racism is historically a significant factor in American society. Though I'm sick to death of discussing racism in 2017, American society has struggled with it -- that's a fact. Perhaps all of that ended in the 1960s or something, but I doubt it. I've been privy to conversations among even my own extended family in middle America which have established to me that racism is alive and well in certain communities, and I've heard sufficient anecdotes from elsewhere in the country that lead me to believe that racism continues to exist elsewhere, too. Are the police free and clear from these sorts of problems? It would seem naive to think so, and yet this would be one area where we, as a society, would need to strive to ensure an absolute lack of bias (to the greatest extent possible), given the unique role the police play in enforcing law, and their power to arrest, their power to kill, especially in dynamic and uncertain situations.

Taking all of this together, it would surprise me if the police did not have cultural issues that need to be addressed. (It is just like how I am not surprised when there are issues, say, among the Catholic priesthood. Yes, if you ask a number of people to take on that role -- a role no one should play -- you are bound to have problems.) The ultimate solution will entail fundamental changes in society, and culture, and nothing that can happen quickly or easily, but in the interim I believe that there are bound to be shorter-term fixes, including revising tactics and training to avoid or ameliorate these sorts of situations. I believe that there has to be a way for an officer to stop someone like Castile without such tragic results, and that the needful solution is not for all 300+ million Americans to prepare themselves to walk the tightrope of not triggering officers' too-large panic buttons, but for officers to be trained such that they do not panic or react so poorly.

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7 minutes ago, DonAthos said:

I believe that there has to be a way for an officer to stop someone like Castile without such tragic results, and that the needful solution is not for all 300+ million Americans to prepare themselves to walk the tightrope of not triggering officers' too-large panic buttons, but for officers to be trained such that they do not panic or react so poorly.

Selection is the key.  I know such a thing is impossible now, but imagine in a society with a proper government with Military, Police, and Justice systems only... even at a fraction of the taxes paid now, these institutions could select for hire only excellent people, and train them well.

Every police officer could be as well trained and as educated as an astronaut or fighter pilot of today.  Strict education requirements, psychological as well as physical testing... high pay... only the best kinds of people should be entrusted with instruments of force and its proper use.

 

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22 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Selection is the key.  I know such a thing is impossible now, but imagine in a society with a proper government with Military, Police, and Justice systems only... even at a fraction of the taxes paid now, these institutions could select for hire only excellent people, and train them well.

Every police officer could be as well trained and as educated as an astronaut or fighter pilot of today.  Strict education requirements, psychological as well as physical testing... high pay... only the best kinds of people should be entrusted with instruments of force and its proper use.

I certainly agree with this.

But even while we're waiting for what you suggest to be possible (or actively fighting for it, as the case may be), I think there are changes we can make -- and must make -- now, given present society and all of its ills.

It's like... I know there have been so many of these sorts of incidents, and who can keep track anymore, but one that really stood out to me at the time was John Crawford, who got shot in a Walmart because he was carrying a BB gun (that he had picked up in that Walmart, being, you know, for sale).

Maybe others will see the details of that incident differently, but to me it appears as though police were under the (mistaken) assumption that they were dealing with an "active shooter" situation -- or at least one that had the potential to become one -- so they considered themselves justified in opening fire almost immediately upon confronting Crawford. Per Wikipedia (linked above), "Special Prosecutor Mark Piepmeier presented the fact that the police officer shot Crawford on sight, as was consistent with their recent training."

Well, okay, I get it. But perhaps there's a problem with the paradigm here, then, because the grand result of this was that an innocent man who picked up a toy gun in a Walmart was gunned down with (what seems to me, at least) no real opportunity to prevent his own death -- AND the police argued that this was consistent with their training, AND a grand jury agreed.

Wiki further notes that Ohio (the state where this took place) was/is "open carry," which should mean that a guy like Crawford ought to have been able to have carried a real gun anyways (pursuant to Walmart policy) without being executed for it.

This is a problem.

Edited by DonAthos

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1 hour ago, DonAthos said:

Well, okay, I get it. But perhaps there's a problem with the paradigm here, then, because the grand result of this was that an innocent man who picked up a toy gun in a Walmart was gunned down with (what seems to me, at least) no real opportunity to prevent his own death -- AND the police argued that this was consistent with their training, AND a grand jury agreed.

This is inconsistent with justice.  You are correct in identifying the problem is more than merely with the front line idiot.

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3 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Why would it mean that? Plus he said he wasn't, but the cop didn't listen. He was asked to reach for the license, and the cop decided to shoot rather than say "I'll reach for it for you".

Did Castile keep his hands on the wheel and ask the cop to reach for his license or ask the cop what to do next after informing him of the gun?  That's what I suggested he should have done to be 100% safe.  

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1 hour ago, Craig24 said:

Did Castile keep his hands on the wheel and ask the cop to reach for his license or ask the cop what to do next after informing him of the gun?  That's what I suggested he should have done to be 100% safe.  

It doesn't seem so, but he was communicating clearly, so it shouldn't matter.

I mean, I agree with you that to be safe, he should have stayed still as a statue and not do anything. But there's a major issue here if a traffic stop is a life and death scenario.

I agree with Don about concerns for training. The only way to combat police brutality is to alter the way a cop wields force. That may be training, or only giving guns to special dispatch units.

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1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

But there's a major issue here if a traffic stop is a life and death scenario.

The life and death scenario was obviously caused by the presence of the gun, not the traffic stop. If you don't even understand that, there's really no explaining anything to you.

Being a safe gun owner requires a certain degree of competence. If you aren't competent, you are risking your life and that of people around you. This man clearly failed to be a competent gun owner. A competent gun owner would not have done what he did.

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6 minutes ago, Nicky said:

The life and death scenario was obviously caused by the presence of the gun, not the traffic stop. If you don't even understand that, there's really no explaining anything to you.

Being a safe gun owner requires a certain degree of competence. If you aren't competent, you are risking your life and that of people around you. This man clearly failed to be a competent gun owner. A competent gun owner would not have done what he did.

For once I have to say it: you're right on all counts, Nicky.

Wait...

You are talking about the police officer, right?

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20 hours ago, DonAthos said:

So the response here is, "What was the cop supposed to do? Not shoot him!?"

Obviously, the cop wasn't supposed to shoot him. At least not without seeing a gun first. He's clearly bad at being a cop. He should've read the situation and realized that the guy isn't a killer, he's just an idiot. That's why he was fired.

But being bad at your job isn't what it takes to be convicted of a serious crime. The notion that a cop should be perfect at his job, or he's going to prison for 10+ years is ridiculous, and incompatible with American legal principles.

4 hours ago, DonAthos said:

Wiki further notes that Ohio (the state where this took place) was/is "open carry," which should mean that a guy like Crawford ought to have been able to have carried a real gun anyways (pursuant to Walmart policy) without being executed for it.

Open carry means that you can point your gun at people?

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Just now, DonAthos said:

For once I have to say it: you're right on all counts, Nicky.

Wait...

You are talking about the police officer, right?

What happened to the feature where I was able to put mods on ignore? Who decided to get rid of that one?

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13 minutes ago, Nicky said:

What happened to the feature where I was able to put mods on ignore? Who decided to get rid of that one?

Nicky, we still have that feature. In your browser it might look like a small 'x' in the upper right corner of your window.

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36 minutes ago, Nicky said:

The life and death scenario was obviously caused by the presence of the gun, not the traffic stop.

But announcing it politely when the cop didn't suspect a gun anyway would mean there was no known danger before, i.e. it was a normal stop. Would anyone say "I have a gun, sir" if they intend to shoot? I say no, so there was no danger after. Besides, what should he have done differently?

37 minutes ago, Nicky said:

The notion that a cop should be perfect at his job,

Perfect, no. But we'd want a cop to be damn good, such that "being an idiot" (in a force-wielding role in law enforcement) is a serious crime. Law enforcement uses force routinely, as is their job, but this demands high standards. Very high. How would 10+ years in jail, or similar punishment, be unjust?

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An acquaintance of mine replied on the circulating video used as part of the case:

As I've always said, if your' going to carry or just own a gun, you're obligated to train and practice. One thing you have to consider in carrying is encounters with law enforcement. In states where I don't have to I don't inform the officer I have a gun unless asked.(like AZ) I don't. In states where I'm required to do so (like MI) I do. In either case when I'm pulled over, before the officer is out of his car, I have my license, registration and proof of insurance out and ready. Then if I do have to inform I'm not reaching for my wallet, making the cop uncomfortable. I can tell him I'm reaching for my ID but why should he believe me? I keep both hands in sight at all times. One MI officer requested I keep both hands out the window and visible to him while he went back to the car to run me.. If you didn't get your ID out ahead of time, and have to tell him you have a gun, both hands on the wheel and ask him how he wants you to proceed. That way no one gets carried away. Yes the cop needed better training. Personally when the driver started reaching I'd have warned him while drawing my weapon and aiming at him. I still would have had time to shoot were he to start to bring up a weapon. Mistakes were made by both. Plan ahead folks.

 

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He was a legal owner of a registered gun he likely kept in his glovebox.

He had to get his paperwork.

Do you think it would have been smarter NOT to warn the cop (who clearly was obviously racially biased... I scared for no good reason... skin color not being a good reason)?

Black people and white people should not expect to have to act differently when a cop pulls them over for a traffic stop...

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25 minutes ago, dream_weaver said:

I can tell him I'm reaching for my ID but why should he believe me?

Why shouldn't he?

If people want to shoot a cop, they don't say sir, they don't speak nice, or they say nothing.

Both people made a mistake, I guess, but the cop made a bigger mistake that deserves harsh punishment of -some- sort. I don't know arguments as to how it is justice here if he only loses his job. I'm open to arguments as to severity of punishment, but it seems clear to me that standards are way too low here and fail to consider just how easy it is to make mistakes with lethal force.

Ideally, what standards should exist?

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Eiuol,

Please keep in mind the context of the era that this is being applied in. If the standards of law enforcement requirements were up to Objectivist's standards, then deploy them across the board. If not—what are the existing conditions to which apply the scope of Objectivist principles in a pragmatic/subjectivist vacuum?

I dropped the ball by saying "carte blanch" reasonable doubt. Per my immersion in the times, it is the conclusion. If a different conclusion is desired . . . many things have yet to occur to bring such conditions about.

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47 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

Both people made a mistake, I guess, but the cop made a bigger mistake that deserves harsh punishment of -some- sort.

I don't think the idea "both people made a mistake" is appropriate here at all. That can describe how certain romantic relationships end, perhaps, or similar, but in this sort of situation there is a gross difference between the role of a police officer and a citizen. The police officer has a responsibility to remain disciplined and act in a procedural fashion in a way that may ideally be true of a given citizen, but cannot rightly be expected.

It falls upon the police officer's shoulders to remain calm in trying situations and act appropriately, even when the citizens they deal with do not (and I am not convinced that Castile fell short of reasonable expectations in this case, even if the African American community has otherwise taken to extreme measures of compliance in order to prevent zealous police officers from murdering them). That's what the training is for.

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