We arrived at a terrible auto accident. We did our preliminary checks of the injured and rushed back to our patrol cars. One officer had trauma bandages (that he paid for himself) and while retrieving supplies, we joked about getting a spaghetti dinner afterward; a metaphor for the amount of blood we encountered. Someone nearby accused us of insensitivity.

This was the kind of encounter that would stay in our psyches. This was an event that would cause nightmares. The degree of injuries and the smell of open flesh and crumpled vehicles and the fact that children were involved would scare the living daylights out of most people… yet we were there to try to save lives. The joke may have seemed inappropriate to some, but we were merely gathering the courage to do what had to be done.

There is a gallows humor among cops that allows them to deal with the harsh realities of their job.

Sometimes dark humor is the way that officers find relief. (Flickr)

 

There is a considerable amount of PTSD, trauma, suicides, depression and drug and alcohol use by officers. Exaggeration and seemingly over-the-top comments help cops cope. I see similar comments on Facebook daily. It doesn’t bother me.

BuzzFeed

The article (summation below) below from Buzzfeed documents similar observations but goes on to say that some of these comments were saying “bigoted and racist things online.”

Disgusting

Cops know they are held to a higher standard. Any bigot or racist or homophobic or sexist comments bring shame on all officers. It hurts the profession. They and the people making them are disgusting. Grow the hell up and get out of law enforcement.

But Facebook suspends or shuts down sites daily for similar offenses and I’m vastly unaware of any police-related groups being suspended.

I review and post to police and criminal justice sites frequently. I have never seen bigoted or racist or homophobic or sexist comments. If I did, I would report them to Facebook and the page administrator.

All Cops?

But what continues to trouble me is the extrapolation to “all” cops. “This blows up the myth of bad apples.” “This is the kind of behavior that confirms the worst suspicions on the part of communities about the police,” per BuzzFeed.

There is a firm belief within law enforcement that there is a continuous war on cops.

As I have said previously, if you are going to condemn over a million people (sworn and unsworn) based on the actions of a few, you are capable of any “ism.”

Cops are leaving the profession and recruitment is becoming very difficult partially because of negative media (some deserved). Many cities where violence is exploding are begging for officers to return to proactive policing. Families are insisting that loved ones get out of law enforcement.

Words without context have meaning.

USA Today

I just went through a similar exercise when USA Today stated that 85,000 officers were investigated for misconduct over several years; ten percent of cops, Crime in America.

Allegations without context are worthless.

Some of my points include:

“To me, that’s astounding. I’m unaware of any profession that can claim that over 90 percent of their employees are misconduct free.

How many priests, ministers, and other clergy members have been implicated in sexual or emotional misconduct?  How many executives have been charged with less than honest business dealings?

How many homophobic or racist or sexist bosses exist? Want examples? Look at CBS News or the entertainment industry.

Why are so many news people white? Where are the African American reporters? Where are the women? Where are the gays? How many reporters have made up quotes or misrepresented sources?

How many athletes have used performance-enhancing drugs? How many NFL players have been arrested?

If you Google some categories, the infractions can exceed ten percent for almost any profession.”

Has the rise in social media led to a bigger divide between police and the public? (Flickr)

 

But Let’s Turn The Tables–Facebook Comments From Journalists

I did my own thirty-minute review of Facebook quotes from journalism websites. I found many violations of journalism ethics as to impartiality and fairness, attacks on religion, outlandishly inappropriate and vulgar language, sexist comments and many other postings that would make one cringe.

But one was of special interest after people criticized a network of preferring commentators espousing a “progressive point of view, “ABC giving preference to progressive voices–This is “media content analysis” which would get a well taught media studies student failed in a late first year first semester media analysis subject, after they’ve studied the basics of credible media analysis methodologies, and ignored them to produce this kind of ideologically loaded rubbish.”

Isn’t that what Buzzfeed is doing?

More comments from journalists on Facebook: [EXPLICIT LANGUAGE WARNING]

‘Thru history men like to rape women in foreign lands’

‘In today’s world you cannot be a Jew and proud of it. Just say goodbye to the “Jewish State” and start calling yourself “a human” only. And act like one.’

‘London mayor–Khan is a little man at heart, a traitor to all, a shariah law lover because he is a little man at heart’

‘Bill Gates–I hope he pays for his crimes against humanity’

‘Kushner–Beyond belief that even a hopeless idiot like Trump would appoint this gormless twat to run a chook raffle, let alone run the Middle East peace process’

‘Kushner–This smarmy, wet behind the ears twerp has no business sticking his racist nose into this difficult and delicate negotiation. Yet again the arrogance of US foreign policy is on full display.’

‘China–The fucking bullies. I think we’ll be at war with them in our lifetimes’

‘United States–The world should boycott the fucking country’

‘Anyway in a general sense, based upon my reading of reports from all over, the Catholic Church is deeply corrupted’

‘No surprise there. Not even to Republicans. They didn’t do it for ordinary people, they did it for their rich donors’

‘Mitch McConnell–Be a shame if he got cancer before going to hell’

‘Trump–What a dick. Tiny dick. Minuscule dick. In fact, dickless.’

‘Truth in Journalism? I don’t think so, that’s why I don’t post here anymore, it’s been taken over by globalist morons, pink pussy hatted marching morons, the zombie foot soldiers for the powers that be.’

Baltimore Police

Two men throw glass bottles during the 2015 Baltimore riots (US Department of Defense)

 

All Journalists?

No. I respect the vast majority of reporters. They are overwhelmingly good and decent people who, like cops, simply want to do the best job they can with the least amount of resistance.

But there are endless news accounts of sexism and sexual abuse at the highest levels of journalism.

I won’t be like those who extrapolate to all within the profession. While the Facebook comments above indicate political bias, sexism, attacks on religion and an endless array of profane sophomoric behavior, the vast majority of reporters are dedicated to accuracy and fair play.

But I have socialized with hundreds of members of the press and they are just as “inappropriate” as anyone else. I’m not going to go as far as BuzzFeed and suggest race bias, but some statements by journalists bordered on it.

Like officers, reporters also have a gallows humor because they daily witness man’s inhumanity to man. I won’t condemn them. I understand the humor. I understand the coping mechanism.

It’s context that makes any story credible.

Public Confidence in Law Enforcement is High-Much Higher Than The Media

The data states that policing is one of the most respected professions in the US and the world, and research documents that the overwhelming number of people stopped by law enforcement felt that they acted responsibly, Confidence in Police.

Eighty-five percent of Americans either have a great deal or some confidence in law enforcement.

The media and Congress are at the bottom of the ratings.

An estimated 40 million U.S. residents age 16 or older, or about 17 percent of the population, had a face-to-face contact with a police officer in one year. Among people who had face-to-face contacts, about nine out of 10 residents felt the police were respectful or acted properly, Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Having said this, it’s inevitable that out of 40 million yearly encounters, some will go bad. It’s a statistical reality. Per the Bureau of Justice Statistics study, police used or threatened to use force in less than two percent of contacts.

The data dovetails with the USA Today article. Ninety percent of all people stopped by law enforcement thought the officers acted professionally. Less than 10% of officers in most police forces get investigated for misconduct per USA Today.

implied consent test

Do people trust the police more than the media? (Flicker)

 

Even in fragile communities (i.e., high unemployment), a study finds that 74% of fragile-community residents vs. 87% of Americans overall think people like themselves are treated “very fairly” or “fairly” by their local police. The results vary by racial group: Black (65%) and Hispanic (72%) residents of fragile communities are considerably less likely than white residents (87%) to say people like themselves are treated fairly by police, Gallup.

My point is that if officers were as bad as Buzzfeed makes them out to be, we wouldn’t have the results above.

Conclusion

Reporters engage in inappropriate comments publically on Facebook and other social media sites all the time. Rampant sexual abuse in journalism is well documented. But to suggest that this is indicative of all journalists would be wrong.

If polls say that policing is one of the most respected professions in America and the world, and if data states that 90 percent of police interactions with the public were deemed just and proper, then I would call that a success story. Even in fragile communities, there is support.

Polls indicate widespread appreciation for law enforcement. They suggest that trust in journalists is hovering around those for car salespeople.

I’m not quite sure that the average reader of the BuzzFeed article would come to that conclusion.

Yes, there are cops who are horses-asses. If you hold racist or any other prejudice views: leave policing now.

But reporters have similar crosses to bear.

BuzzFeed

A review of the Facebook accounts of thousands of officers around the US — the largest database of its kind — found officers endorsing violence against Muslims, women, and criminal defendants.

Police officers saying bigoted and racist things online has been an issue since the beginning of social media. The behavior was especially scrutinized after the Black Lives Matter movement blasted into the national conversation — and that scrutiny has continued even after that movement began grappling with its future. What was never really captured was the scope of problematic online posts from police officers.

But a new review of police behavior on Facebook documents the systemic nature of the conduct across several departments. The Plain View Project, launched by Philadelphia lawyer Emily Baker-White, examined the accounts of about 2,900 officers from eight departments across the country and an additional 600 retired officers from those same departments. She compiled posts that represented troubling conduct in a database that is replete with racist imagery and memes, and in some cases long, vitriolic exchanges involving multiple officers.

social media

A deeper investigation into online posts showed reporters saying some pretty unreasonable things…(Pixabay)

 

The project sought to compile posts, comments, and other public activity that could undermine public trust in the police and reinforce the views of critics, especially in minority communities, that the police are not there to protect them.

“This blows up the myth of bad apples, by the sheer number of images and numbers of individuals who are implicated,” said Nikki Jones, an associate professor of African American studies at the University of California, Berkeley.

David Kennedy, a criminology professor at John Jay College, said he considered the results “dire.”

“This is the kind of behavior that confirms the worst suspicions on the part of communities about the police,” Kennedy said, adding that it “fuels and cements” the convictions of people in distressed communities have that the “police are not to be trusted,” BuzzFeed.

More commentary from The Marshall Project:

Your friendly neighborhood racist cop. A comprehensive review of social media accounts of about 2,900 police officers in eight departments around the country show “about 1 in 5 of the current officers, and 2 in 5 of the retired officers, made public posts or comments … displaying bias, applauding violence, scoffing at due process, or using dehumanizing language. The officers mocked Mexicans, women, and black people, celebrated the Confederate flag, and showed a man wearing a kaffiyeh scarf in the crosshairs of a gun.” BUZZFEED NEWS TMP Context: When police go rogue on Facebook. THE MARSHALL PROJECT

Sources

See Cops for a recent overview of police research. More at Crime In America.

Contact

Contact us at [email protected]

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