Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

August 26, 2014

In a democracy, the public’s responsibility is to challenge the police when they see misconduct (Part 2)

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by David Gomez on August 26, 2014

[David Gomez is a retired FBI agent and current Homeland Security Consultant. This is part 2 of a 2 part post. You can read part 1 at this link.]

As a young police officer I was taught that the most important thing in police work was to go home to your family every night. That meant learning to use the training, tactics, and command presence that we all learned in the academy to remain safe. It didn’t mean shooting every person we came across that posed a threat. Rather we were required to memorize the 10 Management Principles of the LAPD.

Based on the Nine Principles of Policing developed by Sir Robert Peel in the 1800s, the one I remember most vividly to this day is the one that says:

“Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.”

Meaning that all police are all inherently part of the community they serve, even though they may live dozens of miles away. New York Police Commissioner and former LAPD Chief-of-Police William Bratton in this New York Times article recounted those management principles, first espoused by Sir Robert Peel in the early 1800s.

Those were the guidelines I followed early in my career until a certain level of cynicism overtook me. That police cynicism was hard to overcome, and didn’t leave until I had spent a significant amount of time in the FBI. Interestingly, the cynicism returned for a time after 9/11, when I saw all terrorists as personifications of evil, rather than merely as criminals to be investigated. The situation in Ferguson, MO., has once again brought that cynicism back to the forefront. But this time it is local police that are the object of my focus.

The images and conduct of police reported out of Ferguson are disheartening at best. First, there was an absence of any semblance of police strategy in dealing with both lawful and violent protestors. The police treated both equally badly, showing up in camouflaged combat gear and automatic weapons more suitable for jungle warfare than an urban environment, and arresting citizens, reporters, politicians, and criminals equally without regards to motive or intent. Tear gas was used indiscriminately to disperse crowds that were not attacking police, but merely protesting the death of one of their own at the hands of police. The right to peacefully assemble took a vacation from Ferguson for a few days last week.

Second, the manner in which the police chief, the mayor, and even the governor fumbled the narrative regarding what was happening in Ferguson was appalling. There were dueling press conferences, leaks of information, conflicting reports, and a total lack of comprehension about the role of the media during a homeland security crisis. As of this writing over two million tweets have been posted about the events in Ferguson, the majority of them negative recitations of police misconduct.  Whether about perceived or actual misconduct, these tweets drove the narrative of police conduct in Ferguson. In the 21st century, a comprehensive media strategy is an essential requirement of every homeland security professional’s compendium of tools.

Finally, the actions of a few rogue officers negatively influenced the perceptions of millions of viewers on television. Followers of social media who read and watched St. Louis area police officers posting racist comments on Facebook, or pointing loaded automatic weapons at lawful protesters and threatening to “f*cking kill” them if they didn’t move back was a public relations and policy nightmare.

In discussions about the police response in Ferguson, retired NYPD Lieutenant John Comiskey pointedly reminded me, “Police work is more like a humanitarian or peace keeping mission than a combat mission. It’s not about simply arresting people.” Or as another former police officer, Andrew Priest, put it, “Police work is 97% being a priest, 3% being a warrior.” Police work has also been described as ninety-nine percent boredom and one percent sheer terror.

In the city of Ferguson, however, for a time we saw no priests, no peacekeeping, and no humanitarians, only warriors. Sheer terror among the police officers seemed to have replaced common sense and effective police work.

Working as a rookie cop in Los Angeles, I may have felt closer to the South Central community where I worked than other cops, because I grew up just outside the city line. My sister—a nun—taught school in Watts, and my mother was a cafeteria worker at a public school there as well. I participated in the Basic Car Plan, which was that era’s community-based policing. For all the criminals I dealt with daily, I learned that there were plenty of families just like mine—only African American—living in Watts. Good people, fair, hard working, law–abiding people. People who supported the police, but were always wary of the rogue cop element that exists in every police department. While the LAPD developed in me an “us against them” survival instinct, the people I met in South Central helped me overcome the negative aspects of that instinct.

Ferguson, Missouri is not Mayberry, North Carolina. Neither is it South Central Los Angeles in the 1970s or even today. It is a town obviously polarized by race, politics and poverty. As events unfold over the shooting death of Michael Brown, Ferguson became a lightning rod and protest platform for political and social activists including anarchists, communists, the Ku Klux Klan and others. In a direct affront to Constitutional values, even members of the mainstream media have been harassed and arrested by police under the guise of maintaining civil order.

We can never return to Sheriff Andy Taylor and the Mayberry of television. But we—as law enforcement and homeland security professionals—can aspire to be Andy-like in our approach to lawful citizens protesting the questionable death of a young black man in their own town. That type of emotional-led police training and experience is what differentiates good, community-based policing from oppressive, us against them policing that has permeated the airwaves of late. Empathetic policing and emotional intelligence seem to be what are missing from the police department of Ferguson, Missouri and surrounding communities.

Sunnil Dutta is wrong. In a democracy, it is the public’s responsibility to challenge the police in the face of what they perceive as police misconduct. The police’s responsibility in turn is not to respond in kind. After all, an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind, even as it restores peace. I hope that is a lesson professor Dutta will now convey to his homeland security student’s at Colorado Technical University.

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2 Comments »

Comment by Christopher Tingus

August 26, 2014 @ 9:27 pm

Let’s first begin by stating that it is reported that there are some 598,000 police officers injured in some way during arrests and while that seems like a substantial number, also do know that national stats suggest that 99% of arrests are without conflict.

Surely we must expect anyone willing to serve the community from Barry Obama and Nancy Pelosi to the AG as the “top cop” down through the ranks and to responsible elected and “entrusted” officials and the community itself to adhere to the law and follow procedure. In Ferguson, very little dispute has been reported by the predominantly Black community towards its White police force. Also, where is the Black community in Ferguson taking responsibility for itself in making sure well trained and capable Black officers make up the police force and as well, where is the Ferguson Black community with an almost all White elected local government. When will the Black community get involved in the business at Ferguson so tyat despite Barry Obama’s broken promises to the Black community and the continued high unemployment and drop out rates with only 65% of Blacks graduating from high schools versus 85% of Whites and 88% of Asians -

Get involved! take responsibility for yourselves, your schools, your community and neighbors. Become active in affairs and if anyone is conducting themselves in any questionable way, your right to make inquiry, however to allow one to provide evidence before jury as all are innocent until proven guilty!

While no one is above the law and any police officer who does wrong should be held accountable, yet my concern more or less prefers focis on let’s say Harvard Law professor Charles Ogletree says that Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson murdered 18-year-old Michael Brown but does he have his facts right? Really, forensics and investigation and now breaking news of audi evidence to now better assess just what took place….and the officer’s statements to corroborate what really took place, yet from the once prestigious Harvard Law School, such accusations w/o fact…really.

…and further, our eight year WH resident and our illustrious AG taking the law again in their own hands and bypassing Congress and returning five operational terrorists intentionally circumventing the law….Also, the U.S. Government Accountability Office says the prisoner swap for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was illegal.

To challenge our esteemed police officer is certainly acceptable if done without bias and in an objective manner, yet the run to convict even some say without trial, well folks, like most cops on the beat who have to deal with the charade on the street, sure a bad cop maybe here and there, however in no other place in this world, whether Black or White, Blue or Green, are we treated in such a civilized way and if a police officer is challenged, well an impartial investigation is expected as well as the WH and the AG keeping their nose out of a local (Cambridge (MA) Police Dept local arrest unless it is appropriate that the AG and other requested. It is interesting tha this AG and his 50 FBI agents run to Ferguson, but never to Chicago and New York wknd after wknd with so many Black on Black murders.

..and to make matters even worse and more distrust among the populace, not in our first responders who we support with all our loyalty and encouragement in their willingness to serve and protect, but a new Federal Government agency to watch dog twitter and google in another attempt to control the populace – reminiscent of the 1930’s under that tyrant:

From the Washington Free Beacon:

The federal government is spending nearly $1 million to create an online database that will track “misinformation” and hate speech on Twitter.

The National Science Foundation is financing the creation of a web service that will monitor “suspicious memes” and what it considers “false and misleading ideas,” with a major focus on political activity online.

The “Truthy” database, created by researchers at Indiana University, is designed to “detect political smears, astroturfing, misinformation, and other social pollution.”

The university has received $919,917 so far for the project.

“The project stands to benefit both the research community and the public significantly,” the grant states. “Our data will be made available via [application programming interfaces] APIs and include information on meme propagation networks, statistical data, and relevant user and content features.”

“The open-source platform we develop will be made publicly available and will be extensible to ever more research areas as a greater preponderance of human activities are replicated online,” it continues. “Additionally, we will create a web service open to the public for monitoring trends, bursts, and suspicious memes.”

“This service could mitigate the diffusion of false and misleading ideas, detect hate speech and subversive propaganda, and assist in the preservation of open debate,” the grant said.

…and by the way, if I choose to call “Barry Obama an eight year resident of the WH and nothing more” or a “Chicago city street slicker and nothing more” or refer to Pelosi as “Smug-smailed Pelosi” it is no business of the Federal government to monitor and compile such in some intimidating tactic that the government is monitoring what we say….

It is time that Barry Obama, no matter your loyalty in party designation, that he be held under House arrest for suspicion in breach of trust, treason!

Whether it was in Cambridge (MA) where I stood in silent protest in front of the Cambridge (MA) Police Department against Barry Obama and his rush to make comment from the WH pulpit on behalf of his Martha’s Vineyard Har’vd professor pal or his continued usage of divisive language a week ago towards the Ferguson case, facts are facts, investigations must be concluded and then if necessary after local and state police and FBI do their job, maybe then Barry Obama or his illustrious top cop can step forward, however We here on “Main Street USA” support our police and first responders and certainly if there is a question and possible wrong doing, we have the right to make inquiry and the experts to conduct investigation, but heck, the issue at Ferguson is not a civil rights issue, yet rather about a criminal, yes, an eighteen year old w/arrogant gait not only stealing from a local store and intimidating a store clerk, but choosing with accomplice to disrupt traffic flow and disobey a police officer’s order. Wether this individual attacked the police officer with his pal reaching for gun or not, we cannot speak to the facts because like many including Barry Obama and Eric Holder, your rush to speak, well, do not interfere with an investigation as you have done in the past! Let the facts peak for themselves and if this young man did attack the police officer in his cruiser or the police officer murdered this youth, then whoever is to blame should be held accountable. Facts are facts – to reiterate, when we dial 911, it is the police officer(s) who comes to the door whether we are Black or White ready to serve and protect!

This is the 21st century so let’s thwart Barry Obama’s continued attempts to be so divisive and let’s continue to clasp hands and make the progress we have made together and as evidenced by a majority white America voting (twice) this eight year resident of the WH, though so utterly disappointed not necessarily by his continuous golfing, but rather, his empty rhetoric and so many broken promises and a “Chicago-Hollywood-Washington” charade w/Putin, shirt off or on, looking much better than our once strong arsenal in Democracy willing to stop the plague we see in outright barbaric practices by these thugs marching through the Middle East and an America with a perverse and limited executive WH allowing the enemy so much gain!

God Bless America!

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 28, 2014 @ 7:53 am

David Gomez! As a retired FBI agent [Gold Badge] are there any critical assessments of the success or failure of Director Robert Mueller’s 2002 Reorganization?

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