Response to a Pro-Police video

Edit: I often try to use reason and persuasion to make my point, but I may come across quite sarcastic and frustrated here. I acknowledge that that is not the best way to debate a point. I also beg you to take this post in context with my other posts. I’m not foolishly claiming that all police are bad people, or that we don’t need brave individual’s to protect us. This post is just analyzing a single video that has been making the rounds.

The following is a video put out by the “Freeway Patrol Media Relations Office”. They’re a pro police group in the US. The video is on the topic of police brutality in that country.

They begin by posing several questions that are likely to cross the minds of most citizens.

“Why so much police brutality?”
“What’s with all the police violence?”
“Are the police out of control?”
“Are there any honest cops left?”

Unfortunately, that’s as far as the video goes. Instead of answering any of them, the video seems to point out that, since more non-police are doing bad things, their own use of violence is fine.

Check out what police brutality is:

Police brutality is a civil rights violation that occurs when a police officer acts with excessive force […] Excessive force is not subject to a precise definition, but it is generally beyond the force a reasonable and prudent law enforcement officer would use under the circumstances. – Source: USLegal.com

The legal definition of excessive force is, whatever the law/police consider to be excessive force. Unfortunately, that means that we lowly mortals have no way of knowing when excessive force is actually being used.

A recurring point here is going to be the fact that the source of the data is the police officers themselves. I don’t know about you, but if I was committing police brutality, I’d lie like crazy on any report. There are also independently collected stats that conflict dramatically with those in this video.

Right away they bring up that there are only 2.5 police officers for every 1000 people. I was, and still am curious about the relevance of this statistic. Maybe they’ll address it later? Let’s forget the invalidity of their numbers for now, and try to find how they intend to address the concerns they’ve brought up.

0.12% of the US population are “peace officers”. It’s unclear to me whether this number includes all law enforcement, or just police. The video opens addressing the concerns about police officers, so let’s assume that’s what they mean. They arrest 3.89% of the population annually. Keep in mind, those arrests don’t mean anyone did anything actually wrong. Out of those, over 12 million arrests each year (again, their numbers) how many do you think actually should have been arrested? Those numbers include people like an elderly gentleman who was trying to feed the homeless, or someone voluntarily buying or selling marijuana, or several individuals who were arrested for “resisting arrest” (explain that to me).

Sorry, that’s off topic. We’re trying to prove that cops are doing good. Let’s continue.

Side note: I am very curious about how they measure when an officer “comes into contact” with someone. Do they actually report on who “observed” them? The count “motorists”? What’s a “consensual encounter”? Did they all make a note of encountering this guy?

In any case, they go on to proudly claim that only 26,000 (0.049%) of the citizens actually made official complaints of police brutality specifically. This is actually incredible. Those are 26,000, either unbelievably brave, or unbelievably stupid individuals. Did you know that, in many jurisdictions, you actually cannot file a complaint anonymously? On top of that, many places actually require you to disclose the nature of the complaint to a police officer in person first, so that they can decide whether your complaint is valid or not. If I was accused of police brutality, I’d probably make sure those complaints didn’t make it through. Of course, those 26,000 complaints referred to in the video are pertaining to excessive force, which really makes me wonder how many go, either unsuccessfully reported, or keep silent out of fear.

Here’s a video of some people trying to file a complaint with police:

Sorry, off topic again. We’re trying to figure out how this video proves police are helping people.

Of those complaints only 8% were sustained for a total of 2080 complaints per year. So obviously, 92% of the people who file police brutality complaints are liars. That makes sense right? Of course, it’s law enforcement who decide which complaints to allow, and it’s law enforcement who decides which complaints were actually sustained. At this point, because of the enormous conflict of interest, how could any open minded person not see the enormous bias here?

In the data used for this video, the narrator claims there were 14,827 murders. That, of course, doesn’t include the 400 annual deaths at the hand of police officers. That 400 is the FBI’s numbers, however there are certain deaths the FBI doesn’t count. Private estimates put it closer to 1000, but since we’re trying to make these numbers look better, we’ll use the FBI’s 400. So ~3% of all murders were by police. Weird that they left that out of the video. It’s a good stat. Also, if you’re using his numbers, then only 2080 people are physically abused by police officers each year.

Oh… the video ended.

At least it had the comforting big bold words “RESIST NOT, WORRY NOT”. Of course, the “if you’ve done nothing wrong, then you have nothing to fear” sentiment doesn’t work. You have broken a law. It’s extremely likely that something you have done in the last 24 hours is likely illegal. According to the law, you are a criminal, and the police simply need to figure out which law you broke. It’s not a matter of guilty or not guilty. It’s just a matter of what you’re guilty of.

It’s also slightly terrifying that the same people promoting this video are the ones promoting an online police apparel company with a t-shirt on the front page, showing the following Hemingway quote on it:

“There is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter.”

My take away from this is that, police only make up 3% of all murders, and there’s a lot more crime going on then just what police are doing, so stop complaining, stop resisting, and let the police do whatever they want to you! If you’d just do everything they tell you, nobody would get hurt!

…Isn’t that what every villain in every movie says to their hostages?

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