Want to Know Why People Don’t Respect Police? Read the Comments in This Cop Forum on the Oscar Grant Shooting

I have a number of friends who are cops, good friends and even family members. I respect the police mostly. I respect how hard their job is and that they sacrifice a great deal to serve and protect the public. But there are always bad apples out there and I was extremely disappointed to read comments in a police officer internet forum today on the Oscar Grant shooting.

Here are some choice posts:

“Any number of reasons that he may have shot…..you can see from the video that there is a struggle before the shot is fired (even before the officer pulls his weapon)…..the suspect may have reached underneath him, leading the shooter to believe that he was attempting to retrieve a weapon….. There isnt enough info to call it a bad shoot…….not by a long shot….. btw….saying ‘liberal media’ is redundant…….esp. in SF area…….” by Forum Member LA DEP who says he’s an officer for the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.

Forum member Brenden then adds:

“I don’t know why people worry themselves with such things. The people that get shot are the people who put lives at risk. That cop probably saved the taxpayers over 200K in Courtfee’s and other convictions anyways. Maybe he even saved someone from getting killed.”

jb5722, who describes himself as a sworn police officer from North Carolina writes: “I would say that I’m sure the officer had his reasons for firing his weapon,” after adding earlier that if a reporter’s mouth is open they are lying.

Tex4720
, who describes himself as 23 year veteran patrol sergeant from Texas, speculates that: “the guy may have repeatedly told the officers he was going to shoot them and then reached under his body. Or a million different things that would prove in the end that this was a righteous shoot.”

One member, scratched 13, who describes himself as a police officer from the South goes so far as to suggest that the video of the incident may have been faked.

People wonder why some people hate the police. They wonder why people don’t respect the police. They wonder why protesters around the Bay Area have been protesting with chants of “F*** the police,” for the past week. All I can say is that asinine cops making comments like the ones above in a public forum are as big a part of the problem as anything. How a cop behaves in online forums and the words they choose can be amplified and magnified.

As much as many of these comments made by cops are offensive, just the overall tone of a forum like this troubles me. Referring to shootings as “righteous,” claiming that taxpayers are saved court fees when someone is killed, even the signatures that many of these cops choose to use as their taglines (Fear not the night. Fear that which walks the night. And *I* am that which walks the night.) just goes to show me that much of the hatred towards the police is due at least in part to the attitudes that comes from the cops themselves.

You can read more comments in this thread but the overall tone is that the news media and reporters (especially in the Bay Area) suck and mostly people trying to somehow defend the actions of Johannes Mehserle, the cop who shot Oscar Grant (and the cop who was arrested for the murder of Oscar Grant yesterday).

Interesting to read what this shooting looks like from a police perspective.

By the way, this same police forum has been discussing my recent stop by the Long Beach Harbor Patrol while shooting last month here. It’s unfortunate for me to read comments like this one: “Point is, if they ask you to move, then move. Why do people have to be so annoying about minor stuff. I am sure there are tons of other things you can take pictures of. If they say it’s against the law, then say ok and move along.”

Update: It seems that forums.officer.com has now deleted in it’s entirety the post about my recent run in with the Long Beach Harbor Patrol. Why does it not surprise me that a site like this one would so easily censor the threads in their forums?

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26 comments on “Want to Know Why People Don’t Respect Police? Read the Comments in This Cop Forum on the Oscar Grant Shooting
  1. Rob-L says:

    Those cops that are saying things like “maybe he was going for a weapon under his body” are reaching for straw. If there were any verbal threats, and a movement for a weapon, wouldn’t the other cops have seen and perceived this same threat? Why didn’t they draw their weapons?

    I don’t know why the cop drew his weapon. From the video it looks like he had no cause, the suspect was in cuffs. There also is a pause between him drawing and then firing. Personally, I think it was accidental – the cop looks shocked (but the video is so bad, who knows.) I’m not saying that an accidental shooting is an excuse, the guy drew when he had no business drawing so in my opinion at the very least it’s manslaughter. If you draw it, you’ve got to be responsible for what happens afterward.

  2. Anonymous says:

    certainly some police shootings are justified but having viewed this video a number of times I have a hard time believing it was… regardless, why not taser the guy if they thought there was a threat?

    no, i look at that video and see an execution.

    -sc

  3. I cannot believe the attitude..
    Now I know exactly why people dont respect the police. Not that its right, but hey, these guys sound like little more then hired thugs who make up policy and law as they go.

    This coupled with the other weird stuff I read lately like that guy who got shot in his own driveway in his SUV (black also) cause they thought he stole it.

  4. Nate Jacobs says:

    As a sworn member of the law enforcement community I too am saddened by the public forum threads you have referenced. As in every organization and life there are “bad apples” who cause harm to the image of the group as a whole.

    The advent of YouTube, Flickr, Facebook, etc has drastically changed the playing field for controlling information. This is especially true for law enforcement. As a profession, policing is reactionary in nature – as such it trends conservative. Police agencies often try to control the amount and type of information released about certain incidents. Many times this is completely appropriate and necessary for public safety or the integrity of a criminal investigation. That said there is a reluctance to release information simply because “the media is the enemy” and “the public just doesn’t understand.” I believe law enforcement in general have not done a good job recently in explaining what the job actually entails – the stress and hard-work that is required to be successful.

    It is critically important as a public servant to remember that we are simply citizens who “are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent upon every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.” (Robert Peel) It is important to remain impartial and act in accordance to the wishes of the public, i.e., codified laws.

    In respect to this specific incident, the act of rioting after something like this only acts to further harden the image of “the public” as the enemy in the minds of many police officers. The fact that the community no longer trusts the police to be impartial in their internal investigation is a shame and very difficult to correct.

    I wish members of the community would stop and take a minute to think about the situation and communicate with those in power through words and/or peaceful demonstrations and not violence. It is impossible to fully understand the whole incident after only hearing from one side.

  5. PamalaLauren says:

    I find the comment that if a cop says to do so just do it to be more disturbing than people giving possible alternative versions to the story. I mean seriously should we let a cop walk over our rights because he’s a cop? We have rights in this nation and no matter how much a cop wants to, they can’t take them away. I never understand why cops believe they have a right to just do what they want because they are in some authority position.

  6. Hey Thomas,
    I’ve made an effort to remain quiet, on purpose, during this most recent horrible incident. I will not even try to hypothesize what “could have” happened, or what “may have happened”.

    I’m commenting today simply in response to your own post.

    In the past, I’ve seen a much stronger effort on your part, to research and/or understand an issue from a more balanced point of view. Maybe you felt you were doing this, by visiting the “Officer.com Forum”.

    Without excusing, or even trying to understand, the intent behind any one “officer’s” comments on said forum, I’d like to help you understand a couple of things.

    First, righteous, in describing a use of force, of any kind, is quite normal. This isn’t a characterization or any effort to place oneself in a high position. Historically, the term is used to describe a use of force that has been deemed (allegedly) a proper and good use of force.

    During the course of my duties as a uniformed law enforcement officer, a person attempts to strike me. I properly deploy my taser, halting their assault. Then I am able to detain, and ultimately arrest said person.

    The evidence is gathered and the reports written. Once all of this is reviewed and deemed proper use of force, it can be referred to as “righteous”.

    That was a righteous use of the taser.

    Questioning the possibility that the shooting could have been a proper use of force, or righteous, is the natural course of thought for someone on your own team. Luckily, the determination is made by someone else, with more information, and closer to the incident.

    I don’t wonder why some people hate the police. Some people are just evil. Their hatred for the police should be expected. Some hate the police because that is the easy place to put their own anger and frustration for their life sucking so bad. Others hate the police because they are too much of a coward to be honest about their own life-choices.

    At the end of the day, those who raise their hand to run towards the gun fire, instead of away from it, get my respect first. They have to do something to loose it.

    I can say from personal experience that the majority of our population will run from the gun fire. Those people are grateful when men like me save their butt. They’ll applaud on that day. Then sue me the next, because they tripped whilst running, and I told them to run.

  7. Thomas Hawk says:

    Trevor, that’s good to know about the term “righteous” in relation to the shooting. As an outsider, the use of the term to describe justifiable now makes more sense to me. For someone not in the know, “righteous” sounded a bit more almost like some sort of God like theological justification, something that I’d find hard to accept.

    As mentioned before, I do respect the police. And I find that there are many cops (yourself included) who I think are the good guys out there.

    What troubled me about this forum is that there seemed to be a significant lack of compassion for the victim in this case. Some of the over the top comments like his killing saves court fees were just loathsome to me. Even if someone thought that or felt that way, to post it publicly in a police forum makes the police look bad to the general public.

    I’d hope that the police would realize that comments made in forums like this are indeed very public and that all cops have a responsibility to help assure people that they are in fact there to serve and protect. Showing a little compassion towards a community that feels victimized would seem to be in order here from my perspective.

    I originally came across this forum when a friend of mine sent me an email link to the post (that subsequently has been deleted by the forum) about my own run in with the Long Beach Harbor Patrol. The attitude in the thread largely was one of, hey, the cops tell you to do something you do it dickhead, how dare you question their authority. As a photographer and as a law abiding citizen I do have a problem with that attitude.

    While at their forum though I was dismayed reading so many comments coming from a police perspective that seemed to lack understanding, compassion and basic decency with how the general public ought to be treated.

  8. Anonymous says:

    From living in a major city all my life, having first-hand experience dealing with cops and knowing many personally I have learned a very important, unfortunate lesson: stay away from cops.

    Sure, just as in any other profession there are bad apples as well as many good ones, but when it comes to police it only takes one bad apple to ruin or end an innocent person’s life.

    I wonder how many amongst a population that “trends conservative” as Nate Jacobs says are likely to use the “fighting our rights/defending our freedoms” argument to support Bush-era U.S. foreign policy while at the same time using “liberal” as a derogatory word and classify those of use who would stand up for our own civil rights as trouble-makers?

  9. I’m still trying to process the “I’ve seen the hi res video” and claim that the “BG” had an “AK” – first, I don’t know any cell phone that does hi res video. The video was clearly taken from the opposite platform – and attributed to a cell phone.

    If someone saw the “hi res” video – why don’t they produce a link so we can see what BS he’s perpetrating?

  10. E says:

    Mr Hawk-
    Edmund Burke said that ‘All it takes for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing.’ How much worse, then, is it when people without knowledge or understanding add to the fray? I’m not referring simply to your misunderstanding the word ‘righteous’ or to the law enforcement officials on that site, but also to people who see the story, turn to their kids, and say ‘f-ing cops’, or ‘that guy probably deserved it’. As Mr Jacobs says, winning back trust and understanding from the community at large is going to be even more difficult for the police now, and maybe they should have to work hard for it; more transparency never hurts. But that already difficult road is going to be harder to travel with the Fourth Estate, often themselves disdainful of authority, lambasting the police at every turn.

    What do you think can be done to help repair this rift in the community? Police-People-Press?

  11. Anonymous says:

    “I don’t wonder why some people hate the police. Some people are just evil. Their hatred for the police should be expected. Some hate the police because that is the easy place to put their own anger and frustration for their life sucking so bad. Others hate the police because they are too much of a coward to be honest about their own life-choices.”

    Sure. There are many criminals who have no compassion for others or our world, who hate the police because the job is a symbol of law and order.

    At the same time there are many people who hate the police because they have had first hand experience being falsely, knowingly arrested and accused of crimes or worse, intimidated and assaulted by people unfit to wear the badge.

  12. Anonymous says:

    “What do you think can be done to help repair this rift in the community? Police-People-Press?”

    I think the Internet and technology in general will repair this rift over time. We live in an age where the public’s ability to constantly surveil the police with digital technology is already forcing more honesty upon the bad apples.

    Many of those bad apples are having a hard time recognizing and adapting to this new reality, but as it continues to spread it cannot be ignored. They will have no choice but to execute their duties with increased honesty and compassion.

  13. 2 things going on in that forum,

    1. The thread that was deleted(suspicious) I have copied 80% of it into a word document and might post a link to it later if we need it, ;
    in that thread I brought up the issues of shooting art from public sidewalk in an effort to help educate through awareness to that photogs and PD can coexist more peacefully. The response I got was namecalling adhin
    Attacks I would expect from a 5th grader. Besides that 8/10 of them said that our rights to photograph in public were Not covered by the constitution and that they could arbitrarily stop them based on a whim or their opinion of photography. That is flat out wrong and baseless, they also mentioned 911 which has NOTHING to do with photography as we all know. I said that they should e force the law and not their opinion. Then they started more namecalling which included explecitives and attacks on my art. I asked if this was the way they did their dilligence on the street and was subsequently deleted.

    2. The larger issue is the thread of the Bart shooting which shows the same attitude in a different way. Priority and Emphasis is not given to the law or saftey , but rather it’s a back seat to how he’s justified in the shooting and anyone who thinks differently is just a liberal nut. It’s sad.

    Their way of thinking is that your guilty until proven innocent sadly this mirrors how our government treats us with it’s wiretapping, torture, CCTV cameras and the “UN-patriot act”

  14. Daniel S says:

    Look, Martha, a group of Americans who still believe that their government cares about them beyond their individual ability to produce tax revenue! How quaint.

    The video is horrible and the officers’ comments disgustingly callous. But why should this be a surprise? Our nation was established by a group of wealthy individuals who were tired of paying taxes and exploiting the workers. They wanted to rid themselves of the former, and the exploitation continues to this day. The police, the FBI, the CIA, and the five branches of the military exist to protect the interests of the wealthiest people and corporations of the world (the U.S. and abroad). They only care about the middle class while we are in the prime of our tax dollar-producing, discretionary income-spending lives. A person who is too old, ill, or poor to work is a financial burden on the system and, hence, forgotten. This is why the establishment does not care when an Oscar Grant is murdered. To them, black = poor = a burden in the liability column.

    It’s not that the police are the problem; our system needs a cleaning from top to bottom. The whole thing is corrupt and has been for many a decade. Police officers take the brunt of the people’s frustration because they are the front line for keeping the popuation in check. The Internet may cause law enforcement to “clean up,” but it will just be a facade. The misdeeds will be better hidden, that’s all.

    I don’t distrust police, I distrust all authority. Not because I have something to hide (every human being commits some minor infraction here or there), but because I see where the trend is heading. I hope I’m wrong.

    Thomas Jefferson said, “every generation needs a new revolution.” It appears we’re long overdue. Asking for change will not result in change; this type of change must be forced.

  15. Daniel S says:

    I’m tired of hearing of a “few bad apples” whenever I see stories like this.

    a) It’s more than a few.
    b) One bad apple spoils the barrel.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Dear, Trevor Carpenter

    Look with all due respect your choice in language simply DISTURBS me! “Righteous?” Wow where do YOU get off? Do I respect most cops? No. Why should I? Most of ones I’ve dealt with were complete jerks and suffer from a “god complex”.

    A God complex is a state of mind in which a person believes that they have supernatural powers or god-like abilities. The person generally believes they are above the rules of society and should be given special consideration.-Wikipedia

    All the ones that I’ve ever known used to be the bullies/a$$h0les in high school and decided at one point, “hey I could do this for a living and get to carry a gun!” Are there good cops out there? I’m sure that there are some but I distrust ALL authority, sorry that’s the way of the game.

    “I don’t wonder why some people hate the police. Some people are just evil. Their hatred for the police should be expected. Some hate the police because that is the easy place to put their own anger and frustration for their life sucking so bad. Others hate the police because they are too much of a coward to be honest about their own life-choices.”

    This section strikes me in a certain why, you don’t wonder why people hate the police but it’s clear that you already formed ideas to why they do? Guess you did this brainstorming without even trying to listen to the community and their concerns. Or you simply given up and don’t care. Which-ever the case may be If you walked a mile in the shoes of the people your “protecting and serving” and they walked a mile in yours..prehaps you BOTH might grasp a broader understanding of one another. For you, what its like when the normal citizen runs into police authority on the street. And them, dealing with police on a regular basis. Am I saying your job is easy? No. But that’s what you signed on for, that’s what I the tax payer PAY you to do…your paid to help the community not be a thug to the general populace.

  17. Calis says:

    It would be easy for a person to say that these people are not a good representation of the entire police force….and I believe that is a true statement. However, I believe that is an accurate representation of the majority of the force. In my duties I have worked quite closely with law enforcement officers enough to see that most of them are of this mindset. I have seen lethal force used by the police, but never justifiable under force continuum. I have known some good cops that truly wanted to help people, would cut you a break on speeding if they thought you had a good reason, and would give a drunk person a ride home instead of arresting them for public intoxication. These particular officers are approaching retirement. I haven’t seen the same values in any of the new generation. It’s a catch an punish mindset, because they can.

  18. crankytech says:

    It’s good to see some cops posting here in response to this. While I do indeed applaud your willingness to step into the line of fire and stop evildoers, the problem we face with the police these days is not rooted cowardice or envy; it is rooted in respect (in this case, lack of it).

    Everyone needs respect. Without respect we soon descend to the level of beasts, where might makes right and everyone else can die.

    The police need respect from those they protect. They need to feel that their work is appreciated. They need to know that the good citizens will back them up when the chips are down.

    Conversely, the citizens also need respect. They need to know that those who are afforded a position of authority by virtue of their station will not abuse that authority. They expect a certain level of courtesy so that they can rest assured that they’re not going to be bullied by those who are supposed to protect them.

    Now, there have ALWAYS been bad cops. Every population has a percentage of bad apples, and cops are no different. The problem comes when this steps into the area of abused authority. Once authority is abused, trust is lost, and it’s VERY hard to get it back.

    This is basically what has happened to the police force. There have been a great number of abuses of authority in recent times, and it has all but destroyed the citizens’ trust in their police. The police, in turn, feel that distrust (and resulting lack of respect), and become belligerent (why the hell should I respect, let alone protect someone who’s just gonna stab me in the back later?).

    So here we are, in a downward spiral, where the people don’t trust the authorities, and the authorities feel betrayed, and things just get worse and worse.

    So what do you do? Well, people are people, and the citizens are simply behaving in response to what they see happening around them. Most are stupid. Many more don’t care. The rest are too busy with their hectic lives. There is nobody who can successfully demand their respectful behavior, except those that lead through example. The police, on the other hand, are an organized force, with clear chains of command. This means that their behavior can be mandated by those in charge. And so, it is only the police themselves who fix this problem, as the citizens cannot. The ones in charge of the police force can implement policies designed to gain the public trust, and enforce those policies. They will need to demonstrate clear accountability to the citizens they serve, and will need to educate the actual cops who pound the pavement in how to extend the olive branch. And above all else, they need to educate the cops in where their authority starts, and where it ends.

    And this won’t fix itself overnight. You cops will find yourself in the uncomfortable position of being in a thankless job for quite some time as you give respect but get none in return. But unless it starts with YOU, it will not start at all. You and I will be enemies forever, and that will be a great shame.

  19. Catherine says:

    DO YOU REALLY WANT TO KNOW WHY MOST PEOPLE (INCLUDING MYSELF) DO NOT RESPECT COPS? IT’S BECAUSE THEY DON’T RESPECT US! THEY FLAUNT THEIR AUTHORITY IN YOUR FACE! THEY QUESTION YOU AS IF YOU WERE THE WORLD’S WORST CRIMINAL. HERE IN NEW YORK CITY, A FEW YEARS AGO, A NYPD OFFICER WAS INVOLVED IN A SERIOUS AUTO ACCIDENT ON -87 IN YONKERS. HE WAS SO DRUNK, HE COULDN’T STAND UP. AND DO YOU KNOW WHAT HIS FELLOW OFFICERS DID? THEY TOOK HIM HOME AND COVERED UP THE WHOLE MESS! FORTUNATELY, HIS SUPERIORS DIDN’T TAKE THE SAME APPROACH. STILL, HE GOT OFF CLEAN! RECENTLY I HAD WITNESSED AN ACCIDENT IN YONKERS, AND WHEN I TRIED TO TELL THE YONKERS COP DIRECTING TRAFFIC, HE OPENED MY CAR DOOR AND TOLD ME I WAS “UNDER ARREST” FOR FAILING TO MOVE ALONG! I WAS SO ANGRY, I SPIT! FORTUNATELY? (I SHOULD BE ETERNALLY GRATEFUL) A SGT. CAME ALONG AND GUESS WHAT? INSTEAD OF ARRESTING ME, THEY GAVE ME A TICKET? AND WHAT ABOUT THE YONKERS COP WHO BODY-SLAMMED A YOUNG HISPANIC WOMAN TO THE FLOOR, BREAKING JUST ABOUT EVERY BONE IN HER FACE BECAUSE SHE ARUGED WITH HIM ABOUT A MINOR INCIDENT. DO YOU KNOW WHAT THEY DID? THEY PROMOTED HIM TO DETECTIVE! THEY CAN ALL GO TO HELL! I’LL SHOW THEM THE SAME RESPECT THEY SHOW THE PUBLIC!!

  20. Paul says:

    I respect police officers but they, at times, do act is they are the law. If a citizen is doing nothing and there is no emergency, why must he move on? Citizens have rights too. Police need to respect the citizens, we are not dogs and not every person on the streets is a criminal. When a cop says “the people who get shot are the ones who people at risk,” he’s justifying a lynching mentality especially when innocent people are being shot for holding a wallet, candy bar or something that no one should die for. I truly respect police officers but there’s something wrong when people ask me ‘why should I?’

  21. PorkChopper says:

    There are well meaning good people who have chosen to become cops because they wanted to do something good for their community. But we must not forget that the institution itself is to blame. It is an institution which is designed to pacify the incomplete people and ensure they stay incomplete, consumers, pliable, and ready to follow whatever the media and the police tell them to do.

    The institution takes good people and makes them bad. They are the soldiers of the corporate elite, who do everything in their power to crush independent thinking, and independent people. Should we disrespect the cops? YES WE SHOULD! But not on an individual level, but by virtue of the evil institution to which they belong. Individually they are just well meaning individuals, collectively they are evil.

  22. PorkChopper says:

    This message is a response to Trevor Carpenter.

    Many of those “evil” people who have made life choices which do not include wearing a badge, have run toward more gunfire (in the military) than you will ever see in your life. But Mr. Carpenter, I doubt that you would run toward gunfire unarmed or outnumbered. NO, you like to think youre brave because you and 20 other armed officers in bullet proof vests are running toward some drunk middleaged mand with a .22 caliber pistol. Big tough guy that you are.

  23. Shut up says:

    This topic silly. Some of those comments I would have replied in the same manner. Some of you have never been in a dangerous situation that risks your own life. YES there are bad apples in police departments…as in EVERY OTHER JOB AS WELL! Sometimes a police officer’s job gets stressful…leading him/her to take it out on somone else. Which is wrong. BUT if you have never done their job…you shouldnt say anything. Idiots. Do you not even think about catastrophes they respond to such as 9/11.

  24. stephanie says:

    I COMPLETELY AGREE WITH CAROLINE. COPS ARE INDIVIDUALS STUPID ENOUGH TO BELIEVE THAT MAKING A LIVING OUT OF TELLING OTHERS WHAT TO DO AND CARRYING A GUN IS ACTUALLY A GOOD AND ADMIRABLE THING. THEY HAVE NO RESPECT FOR THE POPULACE, ENCOURAGE LAW BREAKING AND CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR IN THEIR OWN RANKS, AND IN GENERAL PROVIDE JUSTIFICATION FOR HAVING ANY KIND OF GOVERNMENT AT ALL. PEOPLE ARE MUCH MORE CAPABLE OF SELF-GOVERNMENT THAN ANY LAW MAKING OR LAW ENFORCING INSTITUTION WANTS THEM TO REALIZE.

  25. marthafines says:

    Merry Christmas to all… and to all a good night.

  26. missy says:

    Hahahahaha … If cops are so scared for their lives then why become cops? … I think those types of cops need to find a new profession. I blame the system. Cops should be voted out just as political entities are voted out. That way, they will respect people more than they do now. They know their fellow cops will cover up their negligent acts. Also, they know it would be extremely difficult to for a private citizen to get them out of their jobs. Hence, they will continue to act like they’re above the law and act like every civilian out there are criminals. I think it’s fair to say that if cops treat everyone as criminals then it is fair for civilians to treat every cop as “dicks” -even though their are good ones in the bunch just as their are good civilians in the bunch..