If you don't want to be tased . . . .

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60 Responses

  1. Michael K. says:

    Chief Orosa, meet Ken's taint. Now, on the count of 3…

  2. perlhaqr says:

    I believe the better advice is: "Don't be visible to cops."

    Anything else is just asking for trouble.

  3. Shane says:

    As we descend into the police state we are accompanied by our old friend … fear. Do people not know that they can protect themselves? It seems that that either frightens them or takes away from other activities that they find to be of higher importance. People want the police to protect them because they won't protect themselves hell they won't even recognize that this is important to their freedom.

    "Free"dom is when you don't have to pay to go to school, it is when you are "down" on your luck then someone will help you get back on your feet. Essentially it is the removal of the pain that would otherwise motivate you to either reconsider what you are doing or at the very least encourage you to not do it again.

    We have seen the enemy and it is us.

  4. Bill says:

    This post makes me want to cry, but simultaneously its why I don't feel the country is doomed. We have morons with power and weapons on the one side, we have snarky Harvard attys with a popular blog on the other. If I had the choice of taking a taze or being the subject of Ken's ridicule (particularly over something I deeply deserved the ridicule for) , zap away. As long as there's the internet and a 1st amendment, there's still hope for this country.

  5. Lizard says:

    I believe the better advice is: "Don't be visible to cops."

    And how possible is that?

  6. Dion starfire says:

    Brings to m ind the old joke about a guy with pepper spray being more dangerous than that same guy with a gun. "At least with a gun, I'd think about it."

    I'm sure cops think quite a bit before using their tasers, but the fact that they're advertised as less-lethal means they're more likely to be used. More usage means more people dying because less-lethal doesn't mean NON-lethal.

  7. Bill says:

    Also, how in the h3ll does any Miami official, let alone LAW enforcement official get off talking about breaking the law. Sure, there were more corrupt cities, I think New Orleans had us beat for a year or two (at least or cops weren't stupid enough to get caught on tape ordering gang hits), but we've had more office holders and cops than the rest of the world combined indicted and arrested.

  8. Bill says:

    @Dion – not that there'd ever be a person admitted to the force with sadistic tendencies, b/c psychological testing is perfect and filters out all the problems, but shooting someone doesn't give the same satisfaction of watching them hit the ground and scream in pain. It's supposedly 'non-lethal' force right? How many cops could I Taze while resisting arrests and still live to tell about it? 0.

  9. Eric Mesa says:

    HOLY SH*T! Why didn't I think of that? My mind has been dulled since leaving warm Miami. Don't do anything wrong and you won't be tased!

  10. Bob Higgins says:

    If you ARE about to be tased, grab the cop by the arm and share the ride.

  11. Anonymous Coward says:

    I wish more people read stories like these. Read and empathized with them, like I do. My God, we have so many problems that need fixing.

  12. nlp says:

    You also shouldn't go out and celebrate your baseball team's victory in the American League pennant race. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Victoria_Snelgrove

  13. Clark says:

    @Bob Higgins

    If you ARE about to be tased, grab the cop by the arm and share the ride.

    I'm pretty sure that after a little trick like that, you will not have ANY company in the back of the ambulance after the now-recovered cop anally rapes you with a broken broom handle.

  14. NE Patriot says:

    In fairness to the police chief, he's right in principle: if you don't want to catch the attention of the local constabulary, don't misbehave. This follows the logic of "if you don't want to get busted for DUI, don't tie on a few more and then get behind the wheel", as well as the slightly more amusing "if you don't want to snort Ken's taint, don't engage in asshattery."

  15. perlhaqr says:

    *waves at Lizard from the other side of the sar-chasm*

  16. Tom says:

    You're such a striped-shirt, man-fendant, Ken. Always white-knighting for the thugs.

  17. perlhaqr says:

    nlp: I'm not sure characterising a riot as "celebrating your team's victory" is quite accurate.

  18. Bill says:

    @Clark – best comment ever (and that's a high bar for you).

    At the same time, why is contempt of cop even remotely something you can be physically hurt for? They can grab you by the arm if you aren't under arrest with impunity, why can't we do it to them?

  19. Brian S. says:

    O yes that is the best way to avoid being tased! How many people would actually follow this advice? My guess: no one.

  20. James Pollock says:

    I suppose you'll just have to take comfort in the fact that there ARE cases of cops tasing other cops by mistake.

  21. Ryan says:

    I wish I lived in a world where some absolute morons in uniform didn't make the public hate all the rest of us. Alas, Ken's criticism is entirely justified. The problem is considerably worse in the United States than my country of residence, but still… these people should be fired. Immediately.

  22. En Passant says:

    NE Patriot wrote Jul 12, 2013 @2:07 pm:

    In fairness to the police chief, he's right in principle: if you don't want to catch the attention of the local constabulary, don't misbehave.

    That simply isn't so, as many of Ken's links above amply demonstrate.

  23. Jose Fish Taco says:

    I was thinking this article had a certain Twitter-dejavu to it

    http://ftw.usatoday.com/2013/07/brandon-mccarthy-head-injury-mitch-williams/

  24. James Pollock says:

    If they're tasing somebody for harassing someone at a con, which side are we on?

  25. ChrisTS says:

    @James Pollock :

    Oh, give it a rest.

  26. James Pollock says:

    It's called a "joke", Chris. You didn't get, didn't like it, or both. Moving on.

  27. Manatee says:

    I happened to click on one of the old posts (the one about the third grade teacher) and noticed an angry cop with a chip on his shoulder named Frank posting, and I realized that I've seen him before. Every so often some bit of police misconduct pisses me off, and I run off to the internet to see what people are saying about it, and pretty much every time, one of the random places I go to has that guy Frank. Same condescending, thin blue line attitude, same tired narrative about "back in the good ol' days, nobody badmouthed police, crime didn't actually happen, and if you used the hoses instead of the dogs, negros responded with a police, 'Thank you, officer, sir.'"

    Makes me think that one retired bad cop has nothing better to do than to troll the internet all day, waiting for someone to appreciate his bravery.

    That, or it's really a bunch of different guys, and cops named Frank are just disproportionately thuggish.

  28. Justin Kittredge says:

    I feel like everything I have to say is so obvious yet somehow it is not getting said by anyone else. I am not at all impressed by this article. You did some digging and you found a bunch of morons and abuses of power and horrid shit done by police. Wow. Maybe that is because police are people? And some people are morons, or racist, or horrid piles of shit? That might be it. And wait, why do we have police? Because some people are morons, or racist, or horrid piles of shit, among other things?

    When people fuck up they should be fired, whether they are the police or if it is Jerry Sandusky raping little boys. The majority of Police are doing the best they can protecting and serving. The majority of University employees are not raping little boys. You pile a bunch of misconducts together into an article and suddenly it looks like "something." It is just a few morons. If all I watched all day were montages of real crime shows/world dumbest criminal shows, I would think it's the fucking apocalypse out there. It's not. It is also not a "Rodney King apocalypse" out there.

    There are some morons. There is some racism. Perfect police willing to sacrifice themselves for you and get paid whatever, waiting for that pension, is not happening. Why not just wish for people to be perfect. That is what yer article shoulda been. Wishing everyone was perfect, and no one ever hurt anyone else. Wouldn't need police.

    In your next article make a link list of every shitty thing non-police have done over the last 4 years or whatever length timeline you pulled the police fuck-ups from. It would look like the damn library of congress in blue hyperlink smushed together. Get the 12,996 murders from 2010 in there, 14,600 murders from 2011, every beating, theft of $50 or more, hit and runs, rapes, arsons, all them pesky "attempted" this and thats. Throw that all in an article and compare and contrast it to the dirt you can dig up on cops.
    What will you find? That it is just that some people are shit. Shit people should be fired. Majority of police are doing good. And some HUGE percentage of the crime that is not anywhere in your article is done by those not in the police force. But that is to be expected because only an idiot would think mankind is perfect right?

    Please don't taze me bro . . .

  29. Dictatortot says:

    I'm a little torn here. On the one hand, abuses of police power piss me off profoundly … Until the moment one suspects that their hands have been tied just where they shouldn't have been. To the ordinary layman, policemen so often appear to be lawless Praetorians abusing their power … Except where they appear to be law-bound functionaries unwilling to exert their power where it might actually be worth exerting.

    The hell of it is, Ken's analysis of police misadventures is 100% right. But so too are the law-abiding citizens who intuit that the police aren't interested enough in order or protecting the law-abiding.

  30. Anonymous Coward says:

    1. If you don't want the SWAT team to invade your home in the middle of the night, don't live in the wrong house. 2. There is no safe shock.

  31. Ken White says:

    @Justin:

    You completely miss the point, which is this: the proposition "if you don't want to be tased, don't commit crimes" is bullshit. Citizens are routinely abused by police for no reason.

  32. Clark says:

    @Justin Kittredge:

    And wait, why do we have police?

    Because the police unions lie about the prevalence of crime, create crime, work with legislatures to outlaw self help, and generally make the rationally ignorant voter think that the only way he can stay safe is with a paramilitary occupation force.

    The majority of Police are doing the best they can

    I fear that you are right; the maximum IQ caps that many departments have suggests so.

    protecting and serving.

    This, on the other hand, is asserted with out evidence.

    Why not just wish for people to be perfect.

    I know human nature, and know that people will never be perfect.

    I also know a bit of history and sociology and realize that police departments have more or less power in various places and times. So I have no hope that I can alter the crooked timber from which mankind is made, but I do have hope that we can change the powers that police wield.

    Get the 12,996 murders from 2010 in there, 14,600 murders from 2011, every beating, theft of $50 or more, hit and runs, rapes, arsons

    So your argument is that it's OK that there are large numbers of thugs and crooks among the police, and the culture not only tolerates this but actively protects the thugs, because …what? There are thugs and rapists among non-cops too?

    I'd think that a police supporter could do better than "my guys are no more criminal than the criminals."

    Shit people should be fired.

    And yet they are not. Your system is failing. Ken proposes a different solution. I propose a different one yet.

    Majority of police are doing good.

    Asserted with out evidence. The majority of police that it has been my misfortune to meet are lying thugs who care far far more about their own pensions than about the law, the constitution, or any abstract concept like "justice".

  33. a_random_guy says:

    "Do people not know that they can protect themselves?"

    In almost all of those cases, protecting ourselves (or stepping in to protect an innocent third party) would mean attacking the police. That is most definitely not allowed! And, of course, we can hardly expect the police to (pardon) police themselves, since they would then have to arrest themselves and throw themselves in jail.

    @Justin Kittredge: You are missing the point, even though you said it yourself: "When people fuck up they should be fired…" This is not happening. Typically (as in the case of Victoria Snelgrove linked in the comments above), the officer is placed on paid administrative leave until things blow over, and then life continues on as before. Police officers are almost never fired, and certainly never prosecuted even for the most egregious misuses of power.

    If the police were ridding themselves of their bad apples, there would be no problem. Again, this is not happening, which is why Ken writes articles like this.

  34. Captain Kangaroo says:

    @clark,
    Please help me understand your intent. I understand that you don't like police and at the very least want to minimize what harm they can do. However, you vacillate from discounting Justin's points because they are made without evidence to doing the very same thing. I can't tell if you're trying to make valid points, relieve the tension of the work day by making comments about other's posts, or generate interest by being contrary?
    I'm sorry that you encounter so few non-thug law enforcement officers. I know people that work as lawyers and other people that work as law enforcement officers. If I were to compare the number of people that I know in each occupation that I would entrust with the care of my child, there is both a larger number and a higher percentage of police officers than lawyers to whom I would place the most precious thing in my life to. Does that mean you would say that I am a poor judge of character? Would you accuse me of lying about this? Would you say that I must be a statistical outlier in regard to the individuals that I happen to know in each of those two occupations? Does my experience with these two groups allow me to say that you are wrong in your conclusions about the people in these two groups?
    Help me understand please because I think that Justin made good and valid points.

  35. Captain Kangaroo says:

    And if it matters, I am not now, nor have I ever worked in either occupation.

  36. James Pollock says:

    "Police officers are almost never fired, and certainly never prosecuted even for the most egregious misuses of power."

    Well, when they ARE prosecuted, the jury won't convict. If the prosecutor is correctly reading the citizenry, failing to prosecute where the people won't convict isn't evil, it's just saving taxpayers' money.

  37. Bill says:

    @James Pollock – iwas just thinking back to Dexter. Imagine if a Serial killer was also in LE and effectively a cop with tons of friends. I'm thinking, in 2013, Dex could damn near video tape each kill and send it to the news and the union would protect, cops would cover it up and blame the victims (These people were scum, murderers that beat the system and would have killed again) for a while his best friend was Deputy DA so charges would never get filed, if they did, good luck finding a jury that would convict a cop that only killed murderers who were going to kill again. If they wanted to make Dexter more real,the only thing they'd need to do is make him unconcerned about getting caught.

  38. Bill says:

    @Captain Kangaroo – Using your own sample for reference, picture say two different people. The first Bill is a vile cold-hearted killer wh's smart enough to present well and lay low and even totally kiss a55 if needed, but would sooner slice your throat then look at you (and in this case, has two dead bodies in his trunk). The second Bill is completely harmless, never put his hands on anyone and but is a little quick to let a chip on his shoulder from say childhood, cause him to pop off to authority figures, cops in particular. Cops, at a pullover should be, being the professionals they are, 'should' especially if you read their press releases, trust both equally. But I'm convinced Bill#1 unless as stated, goes free, Bill#2 gets seriously hassled and likely physically harmed by at least 60% of the police out there. As far as trusting the care of my kids, it would totally depend on the profession but child rearing and caring ability has so little relation to morals, ethics or anything else it's almost irrelevant. I don't know any cops I'd trust anything I cared about with, but I'm sure some existed and I'd meet a few if I hung in such circles. Of the cops I *do* know, they all have kids, tragically broken and miserable as they may be, but their kids at least physically healthy. TV Preacher or Cop? I'm not sure. Priest or cop, not sure. Lawyer or cop, not sure. now, let's change it – let's say would you rather be involved in litigation with, Cop or Non-Cop? Who's ex-wife woudl you rather bang, Cop or any other profession (although with the low pay I know the hott factor there is biased downward)? Who would be more scared to date the estranged wife of just about any random cop in the US, or say some big powerful person like Bill Gates? If you're talking randomness and it's neutral, I'm guessing cops are like anyone else although biased to the left of the bell curve in many regards. But any interaction that involves anything negative, forget it. Evidence is hard to procure to prove my point, but since PD's have so much control over what is released, I think that bolsters it a little (self-incentive to keep bad news suppressed which has been shown to be true quite a bit).

  39. wolfefan says:

    The Chief of Police quoted in the OP and a few of the comments remind me of King's Letter from a Birmingham Jail – "In your statement you assert that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence. But is this a logical assertion? Isn't this like condemning a robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery? Isn't this like condemning Socrates because his unswerving commitment to truth and his philosophical inquiries precipitated the act by the misguided populace in which they made him drink hemlock? Isn't this like condemning Jesus because his unique God consciousness and never ceasing devotion to God's will precipitated the evil act of crucifixion?"

  40. James Pollock says:

    When I was a younger man, I had poor interactions with authority figures in general, not just LE. Then I grew up, and nothing but positive interactions. (Perhaps later I'll share the details of the time we had to have the Sheriff's deputies come and pull the naked guy out of our attic.)
    I worked in a job for a while that had me interacting occasionally with the transit police, and for a long time in a vocational school that offered a CJ program, so it's not like just because I live in the suburbs, abide a lot more laws than I used to, and am no longer subject to curfew I fell off their radar. Yes, it would be better for everyone if they, collectively, were more willing to do something about the less- (what's the word I want here? Skilled? Ethical? non-dicks?) among them. I think what keeps them from doing that is the most of them are just one bad day away from landing in hot water.
    I think what happens is that if you spend all day, everyday, interacting with criminals, you start to see everyone as a criminal. Obviously, CO's have the problem. Do defense lawyers?

  41. Lampie says:

    The notion that LE should be judged by the same standard as the rest of society is folly. They are given power and privilege beyond the populations they serve, and should be held to a higher standard because of it. Sadly, they are held to a lower one.

  42. Andrew Timson says:

    As long as there's the internet and a 1st amendment, there's still hope for this country.

    Well, we've got one out of two…

  43. Anony Mouse says:

    "…don't smoke pot near a DEA facility that is understaffed."

    Well, that's probably good advice in general.

  44. Dave says:

    The annoying thing is this. I agree with you. But a taser saved my friends life (cop). Now TECHNICALLY, a taser wasn't required. A piece of lead travelling at close to super-sonic speeds could have done the same job. But the officer in question used the taser against an armed assailant. As such this person saw court and got a sentance.

    I feel the big issue is training. The police need to be taught that these are not 'subdual' devices, but "Less lethal". Whenever you pull a taser, you need to know and accept that the person on the receiving end might die.

    My ideal world: That street cops don't have to carry guns (But have them accessible. Say, in the boot of the car), but get given these "Less lethal" devices, but be taught to only use/pull them in a situation that would normally require a gun.

    It's not ideal. Many cops will die because of that 'ideal'.

    Innocents will die because of tasers.

    Where do we draw this line amongst the grey. Would you rather be shot by a taser or a pistol if you were an innocent that got targeted by police?

    I'm asking these questions because I don't know. I would love to know. I hate the idea of tasers, but I love my friend (in a purely heterosexual way) who is still alive because of a taser, and further, doesn't have to go through the trauma of having killed someone.

    Perhaps we need to have a better, and possibly periodic screening process of the police that randomly changes so they can't just "learn the answers". Are police so jaded that they feel that they can just reach for whatever force they have available to deal with the situation without using reason and logic first? If so, out you go.

  45. jackn says:

    its DEVOlution

  46. Manatee says:

    @Bill,

    There are two key difference between Dexter and the bad cops we see in the news: Dexter is careful about only killing the guilty, and despite being a self-described sociopath, Dexter actually seems to have a moral compass (albeit one very different than the average guy's) and tries hard to follow it.

    @Justin,

    There's a difference between the examples Ken listed and the numbers you pulled out without any references or citations: Ken's examples were perpetrated by government agents, trained by a the government, paid with our tax dollars, and ultimately unpunished by our legal system. Of the thousands of murders you cite, most weren't committed by government agents. Most weren't committed in the name of doing a job that I'm partly paying to have done. Most weren't committed using training that I paid for. Most importantly, most of these murderers get caught and imprisoned, get caught and executed, get killed while getting caught, or if they're really lucky, they get away with it long enough to spend the rest of their lives looking over their shoulders for the law.

    You say Jerry Sandusky should be fired as an analogy for bad police work: That's half of the problem right there. If, I dunno, I were rich and had a personal chef, and he cooked my omelet wrong, every morning, despite repeated complaints, he should be fired. If Jerry Sandusky abuses his job to have sex with children, he should be fired AND sent to prison. If a bad cop commits assault on a citizen who was doing nothing wrong, he should be fired AND sent to prison. The reason Ken's examples are so egregious is that this pretty much never happens. In a few departments led by good officers who don't fear the police unions, bad officers get fired. In 90% of the cases I read about, the punishment is somewhere between a reprimand and a suspension without pay. Criminal charges pretty much never happen, because the prosecutors are cowards and they think that many officers are selfish hypocrites who will punish prosecutors who punish bad ops by refusing to cooperate with those prosecutors in prosecuting other criminals.

  47. Manatee says:

    @Dave,

    Honestly, I don't care too much for your ideal world. Your friend sounds like a good officer, and your ideal world is expecting far too much from officers like him.

    I'd be more than happy if we hit a few benchmarks that would make things better than they are now.

    First, like you said, officers need to learn that a taser isn't a phaser set on stun–it's a possibly lethal weapon that should only be used in situations where you would have at least considered the use of a firearm in pre-taser days.

    Second, most officers should be required to stay in good shape and keep up some basic grappling training. Since I do believe in the power of specialization of labor, I am okay with exempting certain officers (those who are primarily investigators, forensics experts, and administrators, for example) so long as they go about their duties in such a way that minimizes their chances of being first responder in any sort of confrontation. In quite a few tasing stories, I can't help but notice how out of shape the officers looked. As an amateur who does MMA as a hobby (and works a lot less hard at it than most guys), I'm pretty sure I can grapple a 57 year old woman into submission without hurting her and without having to pull out a taser AND call for backup. A law enforcement professional who is paid for his time spent training can do better. He or she SHOULD do better.

    Third, we need to change the way we investigate and prosecute police misconduct. I've known quite a few people who have gone into the prosecutorial career track. Most of them are decent people with some amount of courage. This seems entirely inconsistent with the sort of prosecutor who abuses their discretion to protect egregious police misconduct. My only conclusion is that the system itself is horribly broken. Though this probably won't be a popular idea here, my solution would be to kick things up to the state level, with a dedicated agency of investigators and prosecutors solely responsible for preventing police misconduct. I would want this as a state agency for two reasons. On the investigators' side, I feel like internal affairs branches within local agencies (those big enough to have them) have too many conflicts of interests and are subjected to too much pressure to do nothing. On the prosecutors side, I want dedicated attorneys who do not in any way depend on local police cooperation to make a living. However, I sincerely hope that there wouldn't be enough work to give a single lawyer a full time job prosecuting nothing but police misconduct within a single police department.

  48. AlphaCentauri says:

    A male cop subduing a female using hand-to-hand combat creates other issues, such as, "where do you grab her that isn't potentially lethal but won't potentially be interpreted as a sexual assault, especially since a lot of female perps may have PTSD and react unpredictably?"

  49. bill says:

    @Manatee – Yup. Having Dexter on the force wouldn't scare me an iota, but the current crop of Dade county's finest is terrifying

  50. Nate says:

    To be fair on the 'cell phone gun'

    http://www.snopes.com/crime/warnings/cellgun.asp

    However that doesn't change anything, there was still zero cause.

  51. mcinsand says:

    As for visibility to the cops, I may have a partial answer regarding the highway; get a 'grandmother green' car. Look at the GM paint colors from the mid-late '60's, get the spec for the light metalllic mint greenish color, and then have your car repainted (is Earl Scheib still in business?). I had a grandmother green '67 Pontiac back in the days of the 55 MPH speed limit, and not one cop stopped me though I regularly ran 80+ MPH. Sure, if the car had been the classic perylene red sportscar color, they'd have nailed me at 57. With black, maybe I could have gotten away with 62. However, that ugly light green was like driving with a cloaking device.

  52. Sarah says:

    @AlphaCentauri:

    "A male cop subduing a female using hand-to-hand combat creates other issues, such as, "where do you grab her that isn't potentially lethal but won't potentially be interpreted as a sexual assault, especially since a lot of female perps may have PTSD and react unpredictably?"

    I can hardly believe you said that. And being Tased is less likely to bring on PTSD? And there are only two or three places you can grab a female and have it interpreted sexually. I … I just can't credit what you say in the least. Epecially in the case of over-50-year-old women. How unpredictable would the big bad woman have to be to force the poor cop to use a taser????

  53. DataShade says:

    Be sure not to do these things near a plain-clothed, un-identified, concealed-carry permit bearing neighborhood watch member, either.

  54. Ed C says:

    In the UK police Taser use (as the BBC would say "other electric weapons are available) is held on the same kind of standard as police gun use. In many forces only firearms units (remember most British police are not routinely armed, only specialist units) carry them, in every force only specially trained units and, just like with guns, a senior officer (in English law that normally means an inspector or above – probably equivalent to a Lt) has to authorize it's use unless there was an immediate – read sudden – threat to life/serious injury. Obviously in the US only routinely armed units means all officers, but as Dave and Manatee noted in the list of police tools Taser goes with guns not pepper spray and batons.

    I watch Cops a lot, and also British Australian and New Zealand equivalents, the latter 3 almost never use Taser, even when they carry it, US cops, even the ones who talk the right talk, seem to use it as a restraint tool. in an episode I watched tonight it was used on a man who was already handcuffed and face down.

  55. Mark says:

    "The policeman isn't there to create disorder; the policeman is there to preserve disorder." – Richard J. Daley

  1. July 14, 2013

    [...] Miami police chief says those who don’t want to be tased should leave the United States; Ken shares some more helpful hints on how to avoid the senseless brutality of police. [...]