How does it start as “to serve and protect” and become “Us versus You”?
It’s baked in with the training, of course.
January 12, 1998: near the end of his shift, Deputy Kyle Dinkheller initiates a stop with a speeder. A verbal altercation occurs and then shots are fired. Deputy Dinkheller does not survive. He had installed a video camera on his dashboard and activated it prior to exiting his vehicle. The entire incident was recorded. I do not recommend watching the video if you’re sensitive to very violent content. I will not link to it here.
The “Dinkheller video” is shown to police trainees around the country (possibly the world, I cannot say), including my academy class. It is one of several that instructors deem important enough to get their safety points across. Deputy Dinkheller isn’t given reverence or respect. His actions are treated with disdain. He didn’t shoot to kill from the start and that’s why he’s dead, the trainers imply. Trainers made sure we understood that no one wants to be Kyle Dinkheller.
Every stop needs to be treated as potentially lethal. Anyone and everyone that is not in law enforcement is a potential threat and should be approached that way. It is drilled into your mind that the only people you can trust and that will have your back are your fellow LEO’s.
I am certain that Kyle had no intention of becoming a training video about what not to do. I feel confident in saying that almost all officers, after watching that video, think the same thing: “I won’t let that happen to me”.
Us versus You.
However, the You isn’t always ALL of you…
The perpetrator of Kyle Dinkheller’s death was a white Vietnam veteran suffering from PTSD. I did not know Deputy Dinkheller personally nor do I know what kind of person he was, but I feel strongly that if that man had been Black, Dinkheller might still be here.
Excerpt from the Wikipedia description of the video:
“The traffic stop at first appeared to be routine, with both the deputy and Andrew Brannan exiting their vehicles and exchanging greetings. Brannan, however, placed both hands into his pockets, at which point Dinkheller instructed him to remove his hands and keep them in plain view.
At this point, Brannan became belligerent and yelled at the deputy to shoot him. He then began to dance and wave his arms in the middle of the road. Dinkheller radioed the dispatcher for assistance and issued commands for Brannan to cease his behavior and approach the cruiser. When Brannan saw that Dinkheller was calling for other units, he ran toward the deputy in an aggressive manner. Dinkheller retreated while issuing commands and utilized his baton to keep Brannan at bay…”
The murderer got A LOT of leeway whereas many Black people have gotten none and for less. I think about Mr. Orange Shorts from last week and why he was so scared. I also think about Philando Castile, Charleena Lyles, Atatiana Jefferson, Aaron Campbell, Breonna Taylor, Jonathan Price, the list goes on and on and on and on. White people also get killed by police, yet it occurs disproportionately to Black people.
Us versus You.
As I have previously stated, cops are human beings too. They bring their personal prejudices to the job and then get some of them affirmed and some new ones instilled. I spent 12 years and 19 days on the force. I arrested nearly 2K people, mostly for DUI’s and warrants, and never had to pull my gun. Not once. I’m proud of that.
The video did give me fear though. That was the point. There was another video of an officer attempting a stop with an aggressive subject and he didn’t deploy ANY tactics. No taser, no gun, just hesitated in every aspect. He got his patrol car stolen by that subject and lived to be embarrassed by the video recording. No one wanted to be that guy either.
I was not and am not perfect, but I tried to be better. I took it upon myself to learn how to approach people having mental and emotional breakdowns. As most of you know; the lights, siren, and uniform can make people apprehensive. I wanted to appear safe, just like I have always wanted.
The training attempts, usually indirectly, to make enemies of everyone out there. Harm is right around the corner if you are not diligent or a sentinel. Doom, Doom, DOOM! So dramatic.
I feel that cognitive bias, overt aggression, and especially racism are the real dangers in policing. I don’t have the answers to bring this to an end. Defunding the police and redistributing those funds to mental health professionals and social workers that can assist the unhoused would be a good start.
According to the US Census Bureau, in 2017, state and local governments spent $114 billion (with a B!) on police forces. Bad policing only adds to the financial strain on governments. The taxpayers pay the actual price.
Since 2004, Chicago has spent half a billion on police misconduct cases and $200+ million on lawyers’ fees. New York City topped $300 million and LA spent $91.5 million. No city can afford these sorts of costs. That’s in the best of times and Covid-19 is not the best of times.
Putting people first would provide social and economic benefits. And this may lead to a very important outcome:
McSquirrel yada, yada, yada.