People who want to do anything except confront evil men

Tuesday, March 6th, 2018

A law-enforcement veteran with 20 years’ experience shares his thoughts on contemporary policing:

This really is a matter of chickens coming home to roost. There has been a tension since the 60’s about what we want police to do. We no longer have fit men with a strong capacity for violence occupying the majority of patrol cars in this country. What we have been slipping towards for decades are a mass of armed social workers with a small force of violent proficient SWAT guys who are supposed to save the day when bad things really, really need to happen but are never there when you really need them.

Two forces seem to be driving this. First, the massive expansion of the police’s job in this country. Cops no longer just enforce the law and arrest bad guys — we expect them to do everything from run after-school athletic leagues to treat drug overdoses. When a group’s mission is this broad and diverse something, or a lot of things, are not going to be done well. Also, when a mission is this broad, you will bring people into the organization who are better suited for these non-enforcement jobs but they all end up wearing the same uniform and vested with the same trust. Many people familiar with the field would go so far as to argue that for decades we have been deliberately recruiting people for police jobs who want to do anything except confront evil men.

Second, we as a nation have become increasingly uncomfortable with violence, regardless of who does it or why. There is no use of force by police, no matter how legally and morally right that looks “pretty.” For those raised on movies and TV, violence is sanitary and sterile with none of the realities, such as reaction time, that are dealt with in the real world. The simple, ugly, unpopular truth is that one of the jobs police do is to shoot and beat people into submission. Now, we want them to shoot and beat the right people within a well-defined legal context but the reality remains that the effective police officer is an applied violence specialist — or should be.

Recently, there has been a tremendous focus placed on police use of force. We have been told that the police deliberately target minorities and seem to take perverse pleasure in shooting unarmed ethnic minorities. We are asked to ignore the fact that on average 15% of officers murdered are murdered with “personal weapons” (aka hands and feet) and we are supposed to be shocked when the police perceive a threat from someone who doesn’t have a weapon.


Second, we need to recruit people for their ability to control themselves under stress and their mental fitness to do necessary harm to others. A lot of agencies deliberately hire folks with no capacity for violence in hopes it will solve their use of force problems. This never works as these folks end up overreacting since they are scared. Police officers should have an immense capacity for violence — a capacity exceeded only by their ability to control it and apply it in a lawful and moral context. (There are agencies which refuse to hire anyone with an interest in firearms — this is the exact wrong approach)


Finally, our society needs to adjust its attitudes towards violence. There is the recently coined term “pro-social violence” which is used to describe “lawful, moral violence in the service of good.” We need to restore the idea that when violent things happen to bad people, it’s OK and society is better as a whole.


  1. Graham says:


    No personal experience of policing at all. No personal capacity for violence either although, unlike many, not for having any moral objections to it.

    This touches on a couple of points of interest to me, noticeable even in Canada since at least the 1980s.

    1. I think the influence of TV has been a factor in a lot of thinking. One is this assumption that a suspect/felon with a gun is a mortal threat, one without a gun is not. So no scenario short of aiming a gun at the officer or a third-party justified use of lethal force. No amount of video showing how quickly a knife-wielder can close with the officer seems to dent this.

    On one level, I get it. Cops are trained and equipped to deal with high-threat situations and should be held to a higher standard of behavior than me or any other random person. OTOH, I’m not that gives random me sufficient basis for questioning the training they get on the details of how long it takes or how difficult it is to subdue a suspect armed with something other than a gun. I wouldn’t want the law to just let them make things easy on themselves, but I wouldn’t want it to make unreasonable demands either.

    Also, there’s been a major shift in societal attitudes to personal conduct. On one hand, we are quite a straight-laced society, frowning on anything much outside of middle class norms unless engaged in solely for pleasurable indulgence. On the other, there is less willingness to pre-judge the conduct that gets one into a violent situation with police or other offenders. It’s almost as though a higher level of overall personal safety has removed our understanding of consequences and willingness to just let them apply. So now you get some modern variant of the old “but he was such a good boy” routine. I grew up in a very mild city, Toronto in the 1970s-80s, and even as a teen got pretty tired of that sort of thing on the evening news.

    2. The societal attitude toward “violence” has been an interesting thing to track over time.

    When I was a kid, we were at the tail end of the time when everybody understood violence as a morally neutral instrument being controlled by its user [even if the user was "out of control" in an emotional sense he was responsible; save perhaps in a medical situation], and defined by the end toward which it was being put and the context in which applied. Sometimes the user could be an out of control maniac, but it was still him using violence and his actions that defined it as bad.

    I’ve also lived through the emergence of the doctrine that “violence” is a distinct “thing” or force, something somehow vaguely independent that perhaps seizes control of a person, but certainly something that floats free of motive, instrumentality or context, and always and everywhere to be avoided as though it is the dark side of the force. In retrospect, the schoolrooms and children’s media of the 70s and 80s had started to present this idea but hadn’t quite shaped the mindset of kids, teachers or parents.

    It is quite curious and it shapes a good deal of discourse.

    I like the phrase “pro-social violence”. Though I pity the fact that we now need to coin a phrase for what once could have been understood implicitly.

  2. Graham says:


    That change in the idea of “violence”, such that I think it always needs quotes or something to indicate its totemic status, has nagged at me for a while.

    There’s an early Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, not a good one, in which the crew stumbles across a malevolent alien being in the form of a shapeshifting, sentient oil slick on a planet surface. He eventually explains he is the manifestation of all the malevolence cast off by a long-gone superior alien race in their evolution beyond such negative feelings. And now he is even more malevolent because he is angry at being left behind.

    I have never been able to make up my mind if this was the writers’ sincere attempt to put the postmodern idea about “violence” [and "hate", "greed", "anger" and so on] onto the screen as an indication of a hopeful future, or a cynical parody of just such thinking. It could go either way. On the plus side, one of the original major characters was killed in the episode.

    I long ago put “violence” on my list of words that don’t mean exactly what they meant 35 years ago.

  3. Kirk says:

    There’s a dichotomy that runs through the entire question, and it is the same one that had the Greeks dividing war between Ares and Athena. Ares was the god of mindless violence, the sort that leads to atrocity and destruction of non-combatants, while Athena personified the other side of the coin, just war in the defense of others. It isn’t a coincidence that Athena is also the Goddess of Wisdom, either.

    The Greeks were on to something, and that something is that violence in and of itself is neutral; you can wield it for good or evil, depending on your intent and your results.

    Much of our problem with this is that we’ve conflated both sorts of violence together into some nebulous “We shouldn’t do that…”, and then inculcated it into generations of children and adults. As a result, even when the SS or NKVD come knocking on your door, the odds are that you’ll go along quietly, because violence=evil. This mentality has roots going back to the beginnings of the Christian faith, and has had a long-term pernicious effect on a lot of thinking. The translations we’ve chosen to make of the Bible are telling–The original version of the Ten Commandments didn’t say “Thou shalt not kill”, it said something a lot closer to “Thou shalt not murder“. I don’t know if the choice of phrasing was intentional, due to a failure to understand the original, or just because that was the cast of mind that the original translator had.

    Like the gun, violence isn’t automatically evil. It’s what use you put it to, your intent, and the actual effect of it all. Use violence to deter the raiders from your village? Good; use it to enslave the neighboring cluster of huts, killing their men and taking their women? Evil.

    Biggest problem is, we don’t teach this, and frank discussion of the morality of violence simply doesn’t happen. Can you imagine the modern SJW-indoctrinated teacher trying to explain the intricacies of Augustine’s Just War theories…? Or, trying to provide actual useful advice, for dealing with bullies?

    We’ve really screwed things up in this regard, with how we’ve feminized the schools, and separated the men from influencing the next generations. Is it any wonder that most modern kids think that the verbal realm of intra-female conflict is the only one that counts? It’s all they’ve ever seen, or experienced.

  4. Gaikokumaniakku says:

    Recall that before Bobbie Peel invented policing by consent, the rich people hated thieves, and the rich people had private gangs of assassins called “Thief-takers.” The thief-taker did not believe in any rights other than the right of his master to keep property. The thief-taker and his gang sought out alleged thieves and inflicted violence. In the best case, stolen property was recovered also. Soldiers sometimes performed a similar function but with more discipline. However, getting policed by an occupying army is not pleasant.

    Bobbie Peel changed that because he recognized that police didn’t have to act like thief-takers or occupying armies. Peel invented the idea of policing by consent — and he noted that policing is easier when the populace see the police as allies rather than as occupiers.

    Peel’s ideals got discarded around the same time Clint Eastwood started making “Dirty Harry” movies. Police devolved first into a occupying army, and then (with civil forfeiture) they devolved further into thief-takers.

    “Police officers should have an immense capacity for violence — a capacity exceeded only by their ability to control it and apply it in a lawful and moral context.”

    Yes, it would be nice if the police could behave morally and keep their jobs. There are a few moral policemen — they usually get fired and they sometimes get assassinated. See also Serpico.

  5. Graham says:

    Funny- I always thought of Harry Callahan as the last gap of the older model of community policing. He was a stickler for cops knowing their beat and spending time walking around on the street, and he managed a fair bit of that even though a detective.

    More seriously, there’s a lot to be said against the militarization of police method and equipment, increase of things like no-knock entries [among the more constitutionally appalling [even in the wider British tradition] if obviously practical tactics]. Civil forfeiture is arguably the greatest abuse of civil rights currently extant, certainly the most pervasive and least publicly criticized.

    It’s odd to me that this has paralleled the rise of the more touchy-feely form of community policing, but then I guess that’s why we have the bifurcation of personnel and skills the original author was talking about.

    We we perhaps better off when there were more generalist cops on the beat who were perhaps optimized for neither SWAT missions or social work, but could both handle a fight and talk to the people on their beat. I’ll bet that was a hard mix to train for, but it’s better than what we apparently have. [I'd actually like to think we still do have that older model to some extent.]

    There are already far more dedicated social and health workers than there were in former days, so not sure why cops need to be optimized for that any more than a generalist approach.

    It was never perfect- even those cops were perhaps seen as an occupying army in minority communities, more for demographic than tactical/procedural reasons. So the media of the times would imply.

    Still, we went through a long era when what seem to me reasonable methods would not be accepted in those communities regardless. I get it on some level- who wants to lose their young men in gang shootouts or stabbings because the police don’t show on time, or lose them to the cops themselves in a police shooting? I’m still not prepared to accept the “he was such a good boy” version of events.

  6. Graham says:

    Or to put it more bluntly, I [as a civilian...] don’t think it ideal to use lethal force against a fleeing suspect, and as far as I can tell this is against law and or policy in my country, and I endorse the judicial principle of presumption of innocence.

    Still, the practical realities of an officer having done so to a person demonstrably having just committed a violent felony and in some cases posing a threat to civilians or the officer need to be considered. It may well be a policy violation or felony by the officer in his/her jurisdiction too, in which case proper hearings should take place openly. What it isn’t is a moral outrage on the level of the execution of an innocent.

    That emphatically does not address every incident reported in the past 5-7 years. but it does eliminate quite a few.

  7. Kirk says:

    Gaikokumaniakku and Graham, I don’t think Peel’s principles ever really took hold, here in the US. Sure, people looked at them and thought “Yeah, great ideals…”, but as far as organically adopting them? Nope.

    Much of the US model of policing comes out of a different origin, and has evolved into the mess we have today. You go back and look at it, and the majority of US policing culture doesn’t arise out of some happy-dappy noblesse oblige idealism like Peel’s, but out of the bourgeoisie arming up and paying some member of the lower class to enforce order, and beat the crap out of anyone disrupting things. That’s why most Western law enforcement grew out of the businessmen of a given town deciding they’d had quite enough of the hoi polloi acting out, and hired some of them to keep order. For examples, see Wyatt Earp and the shootout at the OK Corral. The US Marshal’s service started out similarly.

    So, here in the US, it wasn’t the oh-so-civilized Peel replacing the thief-takers, it was the self-governing bourgeoisie hiring and creating those thief-takers themselves. The process was a hell of a lot more organic, and lent legitimacy by the self-organizing features of US society at the time, which the British lacked entirely. In Britain, you hoped the lords and masters would do something, and petitioned them to do so; in the US, you did it your damn self.

    Which has meant a certain… ah… lack of restraint? Would that be how to describe it? Well, in any event, the whole thing starts out as less restrained and idealistic, and ends in a different place entirely.

    My own opinion on the matter is that our “law enforcement community” here in the US is edging ever so much closer, day by day, to losing its “Mandate of Heaven”, and we’re going to find another model for performing this social function. The most dangerous thing they’ve come up with, so far, is this whole idea of “sovereign immunity” that attaches to the police and prosecutors. That’s their own creation, and when the public tires of them using it to hide and enable their malfeasance, the whole thing is going to go away.

    I’m looking for some police departments to find themselves waking up one morning, and discovering that they’ve had their operations budgets and pensions zeroed out, and someone like Pinkerton or Blackwater brought in to do their job, fully accountable to the electorate and courts. One way or another, the US electorate isn’t going to put up with a lot of the ongoing bullshit, and when the curves of misbehavior start reaching the point of intolerability, well, it’s gonna get ugly. Especially for the cops. It will begin with them not being able to get convictions at jury trials, and then the cop-killers will stop being convicted, followed shortly thereafter by the election of people who won’t put up with unaccountable police agencies, and the end of those agencies.

    As I’ve told a few of my friends who are in law enforcement, there’s nothing out there that says we have to do policing and law enforcement the way we do. The police are a voluntary thing; nothing establishes them in the Constitution at the Federal level, and most state constitutions don’t do that, either. You could erase their existence tomorrow, and replace them all with private security contracted for by the various government levels, should you so desire.

  8. Gaikokumaniakku says:

    Graham, thanks for raising some valid points. I don’t disagree.

    Kirk, ouch, you have dropped some wisdom, but the implications are sad.

    “here in the US, it wasn’t the oh-so-civilized Peel replacing the thief-takers, it was the self-governing bourgeoisie hiring and creating those thief-takers themselves. The process was a hell of a lot more organic, and lent legitimacy by the self-organizing features of US society at the time, which the British lacked entirely. In Britain, you hoped the lords and masters would do something, and petitioned them to do so; in the US, you did it your damn self.

    Which has meant a certain… ah… lack of restraint?”

    [cue Metallica's "Sad but True"]

    “there’s nothing out there that says we have to do policing and law enforcement the way we do. The police are a voluntary thing; nothing establishes them in the Constitution at the Federal level, and most state constitutions don’t do that, either. You could erase their existence tomorrow, and replace them all with private security contracted for by the various government levels,”

    I suppose that holds out a bit of hope, assuming that the private replacements can be trained to behave with more ethics than the state-sponsored thieftakers.

  9. Sam J. says:

    I really wish I had the link. It may be wrong but I read that the reason that there is a decline is…testing. The example they gave was a multiple choice test Police take. The question were that there was a fire and your shift was over should you 1. leave it for the next shift. 2. Work over to save people from the fire.

    The correct answer is #2 if you answer different they will disqualify you. The test are given because of court decrees and they are graded by a private company.

    If this is true then you could easily turn over the whole police force in a decade or so.

    The same applies to Judges. CIA 9-11 Whistleblower Susan Lindauer who jailed after 9-11 with no legal representation in solitary for all of Bush Jr.’s term testified that she was told that the FBI had files on Judges and before they were confirmed the ones with spotless records would be removed for consideration.

    I bet the firm that grades the Police test is owned or controlled by Jews. Now I know that I’m a evil vile person for saying these things, supposedly, about the harmless, loving, save the world Jews but every time I look at a LOT of these trends, philosophies and societal views pushed that on a second look seem to be harmful to society the Jews will always be there in the background. Not all of course but a LOT. Simple examples will be Feminism(most of the major players Jews), Gay acceptance,(I don’t care if people are Gay but I’m against Gay celebration as normal), Transgender(same), Civil Rights(but with no accountability), Mass immigration into White countries, Miscegenation where Whites will eventually be browned out, it goes on and on and I can see that there are probably a lot of these “trends” that are below public perception like the police test and Judges being rejected if they are normal and decent. If you pay attention you can see a lot of these.

    Mencius Moldbug’s whole push for Kings is one of these. If you read his post you see he even tells you he’s misleading you and lying to you. Let’s not even mention that we can have a very decently run society by just qualifying voters so that the Democrat mob will not take over. Instead the whole system is derided and we are supposedly only allowed to throw away Democracy all together and have Kings. It’s all farcical nonsense. One last deception he’s fomented is the “Cathedral” when a much more accurate word is the “Synagogue”. No matter how I accurately this fits people have a fit when I point it out. We’re a brainwashed bunch of illiterate villagers, lead by people that want us to fail.

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