State-Sanctioned Riots

Thursday, November 27th, 2014

Henry Dampier calls them state-sanctioned riots:

The police and the national guard aren’t there to protect the townspeople. They’re there to protect the rioters from people who would defend their property with lethal force.

America has ceded what used to be the prerogative of militia to professional standing armies and police forces. The result is that public defense gets left to parties who have a limited direct stake in the town itself. The soldiers don’t care because they are not from the town, are not culturally linked to the town, and could arguably care less about whether everyone there lived or died. This is the same for the democratically elected civilian governors who are in and out of office in a matter of years rather than lifetimes.

Out of the many businesses burned to the ground in Ferguson, MO over the last two days, it seems that the official military organizations have been both unwilling and unable to retaliate or act pre-emptively in such a way as to discourage future destruction.

Republican government is a joke-concept if there is no militia made up of citizens, if the rights of citizenry aren’t directly connected with the people who actually need to enforce the law directly. To the extent that citizens cede law enforcement to standing armies, they cede their governing ability. To say that citizens ‘govern’ and are ‘sovereign’ when outside parties actually implement governance without any authority higher than they are is to say something false, or at the very least to water down the word ‘citizen’ to the point to which it is meaningless.

It’s certain that, given that the most influential national press organs are supporting riots, excusing the destruction of property, that those riots will continue to spread until they are met with real physical resistance. Given that the law is an insufficient tool for progressives to achieve their goals, they are using their influence to suppress the state’s own fighting-forces, and instead relying on mobs of thugs to intimidate what remains of their scattered opposition into submission.

It’s a demonstration of power, to be able to destroy a town with impunity, at any time, using nothing but incitement to the mob, and entangling competing security forces with absurd rules of engagement which prevent them from providing an effective defense.

This is likely to continue and become worse, because to the extent that looting goes unpunished with the appropriately lethal severity, it begins a positive feedback loop. Even an auto parts shop like the one in your home town might be holding hundreds of thousands of dollars in inventory that can be easily re-sold on the internet to buyers indifferent to where they came from. There’s real plunder to be had from the American middle class, and not all of it can be seized directly from a 401(k) account at the press of a button.

Riots

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

I’m reminded that Col. Jeff Cooper once suggested a system that “would make sure, first, that a riot would stop; and second, that only the leaders would feel the weight of social disapproval.”

Also, reading someone the Riot Act used to have a literal meaning that seems apropos.

What happened in Ferguson

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

The Washington Post goes over what happened in Ferguson, according to the Grand Jury testimony:

The narrative begins at 11:45 a.m., when Wilson was dispatched to another call. Minutes later, he heard two radio dispatches describing a person who stole cigarillos from a nearby market, a black male wearing a red hat, khaki shorts and yellow socks and accompanied by another male.

Wilson-Brown 01

Swedish Exclusion Areas

Monday, November 24th, 2014

The Swedish police have released a map of 55 areas where they have surrendered control to criminal gangs:

These areas have long had problems with mailmen, fire trucks and ambulances being attacked when trying to enter, which has led to them routinely requesting police escort. Now it’s the police being attacked outright.

These no-go zones are primarily so-called “exclusion areas” which is the politically correct term for the 186 ghettos that have sprung up around Sweden in the past two decades. These areas are predominantly populated by immigrants from muslim countries with low education and even lower employment rates. The exception being the enthusiastic entrepreneurs in the fields of drug dealing, protection rackets and robberies.

Since the real law doesn’t apply, the function of justice has largely been taken over by the gangs themselves, not unlike how the mafia is seen as the go-to place in rural Italy when the local police is too corrupt to serve its purpose. Unofficial courts are held and punishments are meted out based on the cultural norms of the dominant gangs. Some no-go areas even have vehicle checkpoints at the border. Not police checkpoints, but the gangs protecting their turf from law enforcement and rival gangs.

This development would have been inconceivable only 20 years ago, and one would think this official surrender by the police would have made big headlines. This is not the case; the most attention it seems to have received in mainstream media is an opinion piece in national paper Svenska Dagbladet.

It can be speculated that this is due to the fact that any reporting on this could be seen as “support” for nationalist party SD that wants to restrict the vast inflow to these ghettos, which is an absolute no-no amongst the journalists and could cost them their jobs. The world’s most extreme immigration from the MENA-region must continue unchallenged, and another 100 000+ must be added annually to the ghetto gangs’ recruitment base.

He fired all six!

Friday, November 21st, 2014

For a long time, almost all cops carried revolvers. This is what happened when Illinois State Trooper Ken Kaas got into a shootout with a gunman armed with a semi-automatic shotgun:

Each was using his vehicle, successfully, for cover. Midway through the firefight, the gunman suddenly stood up and left his cover, rushing toward trooper Kaas with his shotgun up and a wolfish grin on his face. Ken shot him in the midriff and the criminal fell. It was over.

The suspect survived. In the “prison ward” of the hospital, guards overheard him talking with his appointed attorney. The exasperated lawyer asked him why he had left a position of safety to practically walk into the muzzle of the trooper’s waiting gun. “He fired six shots!” the recovering would-be cop-killer exclaimed. “I swear to God! He fired all six!”

As carefully as he kept count, the criminal didn’t know that Illinois troopers carried Smith & Wesson 9mm semi-automatics. Ken had shot him down with the seventh round in his Model 39, most certainly averting his own death, since the trooper could never have reloaded an empty six-shot revolver fast enough to stop the deadly charge.

In the late 1970s, Mas Ayoob did a study of shootings during the first decade in which Illinois troopers had semi-autos instead of revolvers:

I was able to identify 13 who had survived with those guns,when they probably would have died if they’d had the old six-guns. Most involved gun grabs where the troopers were saved because the bad guy couldn’t find the safety catch when he got control of the gun, or the trooper had pressed the magazine release during the struggle and deactivated the round in the chamber via the S&W Model 39’s magazine disconnector safety. But four of those saves were absolutely firepower based.

The Canadian Parliament Active Killer

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

When the active killer in Canada turned active, events happened quickly:

Look at the surveillance video again.  Do you see how fast the killer is running?  The entire event including the assassination of Cpl. Cirillo, the carjacking of a government minister, the struggle with an unarmed security guard and exchanging shots with armed security staff and police likely took less than five minutes.  If your only plan is “wait for the police,” you won’t be a player in a scenario like this.  It is likely to be over by the time the cops arrive.

The RCMP witnessed the car jacking and were in pursuit of the killer as he entered the Parliament Building.  They still didn’t get there in time to protect the legislators!  You will be on your own for some time if you find yourself in the middle of something like this.

One other comment I should make is that the killer was running FAST.  If you are thinking “I’ll just run away,” you should probably rethink that plan as well.  Make an honest assessment of your abilities.  Could you outrun the killer?  I know I couldn’t.

Sandworm

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

The Russians have been spying on foreign powers — shocking, I know — using software that researchers have dubbed Sandworm:

Although iSight only has a small view of the number of victims targeted in the campaign, the victims include among others, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Ukrainian and European Union governments, energy and telecommunications firms, defense companies, as well as at least one academic in the US who was singled out for his focus on Ukrainian issues. The attackers also targeted attendees of this year’s GlobSec conference, a high-level national security gathering that attracts foreign ministers and other top leaders from Europe and elsewhere each year.

It appears Sandworm is focused on nabbing documents and emails containing intelligence and diplomatic information about Ukraine, Russia and other topics of importance in the region. But it also attempts to steal SSL keys and code-signing certificates, which iSight says the attackers probably use to further their campaign and breach other systems.

The researchers dubbed the operation “Sandworm” because the attackers make multiple references to the science fiction series Dune in their code. [...] It was encoded references to Dune — which appear in URLs for the attackers’ command-and-control servers — that helped tie some of the attacks together. The URLs include base64 strings that when decoded translate to “arrakis02,” “houseatreides94,” and “epsiloneridani0,” among others.

“Some of the references were very obscure so whoever was writing the malware was a big Dune geek,” says John Hultquist, senior manager for iSight’s Cyber Espionage Threat Intelligence team.

“Once men turned their thinking over to machines in the hope that this would set them free. But that only permitted other men with machines to enslave them.”

Cameras. Lotsa cameras.

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

To restore faith in the police, Chris Hernandez recommends cameras — lotsa cameras:

Many cops don’t like having cameras in their car or on their body. I understand why. Even in cases where we do everything right, police work can still be ugly. There is no nice, gentle, eye-pleasing way to take down a violent suspect. And the language of the street ain’t too pretty either. Cops are human, and there are cases (lots of cases) where we use bad language during a high-stress incident. Some police actions just look bad on video, no matter how right we might be. And it’s a bit unreasonable for someone to watch a video of a violent struggle between a cop and criminal and say, “Just because that PCP addict attacked an officer with a tire iron, there’s no reason for the officer to curse. The officer should have called him ‘sir’.”

Video doesn’t always tell the whole story, either. An officer in the middle of a critical incident may miss something that’s readily apparent on video. There are good reasons for this: an officer may have been stunned by a blow, or had a brief visual obstruction, or may be suffering from physiological responses to stress such as tunnel vision. People watching video of an event might say, “Why didn’t the officer see that? It’s totally obvious!” And maybe it is obvious – to the camera. To the guy fighting for his life, it may not have been.

I hate comparing any real-life activity to sports, but consider how often players, refs and fans see something in an instant replay that they missed during the actual play. If someone never played sports and only watched instant replays, “what should have been done” might seem real obvious. It’s not so obvious to the guy playing the game. Video doesn’t capture everything, and even when it does it may not show what the officer saw.

Here’s an interesting example. A dash cam captured part of a fight between an officer and suspect, but didn’t capture the suspect hitting the officer. If the officer hadn’t been wearing a body camera, he would have been stuck trying to convince the public that he was assaulted.

Without question, video has its limitations. But even if it doesn’t tell the whole story, it still provides the public with critical information.

Consider this shooting, which superficially compares to the Ferguson shooting. An unarmed black male was killed by a white police officer. The officer claimed he was attacked and had no choice but to shoot. Without video, and absent any significant injuries, that officer would be hard-pressed to explain why a grown man with a Taser and maybe baton and pepper spray couldn’t defend himself against one unarmed guy.

The video shows just how big and aggressive that suspect was. It clearly shows the officer did not provoke the fight. It shows his Taser fail. It shows the first punch that floored him. In short, it removes the “he said/she said” atmosphere swirling around the Ferguson shooting.

Here’s another one. Officers kill a suspect trying to stab his girlfriend.

Two major points from this incident: officers accidentally shot the girlfriend in the arm when they killed her boyfriend, and the girlfriend says repeatedly “Y’all didn’t have to do that.” In many domestic violence cases, the victim will claim she wasn’t in any danger and the officers didn’t have to take the action they did. This woman insisted the officers didn’t have to shoot; however, in the video (at around 00:57) we see the suspect trying so hard to stab her that the knife blade actually bends from the downward pressure.

The officers were obviously justified. The video proves it. But imagine how it would have been reported without that video.

“White officers shoot black woman while allegedly trying to save her from her black boyfriend. ‘They didn’t even have to shoot him,’ woman says. ‘He wasn’t really trying to hurt me.’”

Cameras may not be perfect, but they give us a better option than expecting everyone to believe us just because we’re cops. The public doesn’t give us that much benefit of the doubt anymore. But if we all have car and body cameras, and the public hears us testify to facts that are backed up by video, we’ll start getting that benefit of the doubt when there is no video. We cops should start demanding that our departments provide cameras. They’ll save a lot of officers who might otherwise be going through the same thing Darren Wilson is.

Lose the Military Gear

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

The police are losing public support, Chris Hernandez notes, and the first step toward getting it back is to lose the military gear:

Even though I’m a minority and police allegedly want to murder me because of my skin tone, for some odd reason I’ve never been afraid of a police officer in America. And in another strange twist, neither I nor any of my dark-skinned friends or family members have ever been shot by a cop. I grew up lower middle class, obviously Hispanic, but never felt oppressed.

But I was scared of cops once. In another country. During a war.

In 2001, while I was working as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo, I had to stay overnight in neighboring Macedonia to catch a flight early the next morning. Macedonia was at that time embroiled in a civil war between the Slavic Macedonians and ethnic Albanians. The Macedonian military and police were run by Slavs, and they believed Americans were backing their Albanian enemies. Despite the war, borders were open and the capital’s airport was still running. One of my Albanian translators in Kosovo lived in Macedonia and invited me to stay with his family before the flight.

I had a very nice dinner with his family. Then the translator, his brother and I walked to the town square. Before we left the house they warned me: “If we get stopped by the police, don’t talk. Most of the police are drunk, and they hate Americans. You look Albanian, so if you don’t talk they won’t know.”

The town square was nearly empty because of recent fighting. We only spent a short time there before heading back. And as we walked back through a darkened neighborhood, we turned a corner and ran right into the police.

There were maybe four or five of them. The “police officers”, if you could call them that, looked exactly like soldiers. They were dressed in camouflage fatigues and black combat boots, wore chest rigs and carried AK-47s. They were closer to a fire team than a police patrol.

When they saw us they almost stopped, and glared hard at us. My heart rate quickened. One officer in particular, a small dark guy, focused on me. Crap, I thought, and looked away. I was unarmed, had no idea where exactly I was and had no realistic expectation of either fighting or escaping. If one of those guys decided it would be fun to throw an American in jail, into jail I’d go. And jails in semi-third world, former communist countries aren’t known for being pleasant.

My Albanian hosts gave the officers a friendly greeting in Serbo-Croatian. The officers mumbled back a reply. We turned toward the house, which actually put us in front of the police. I didn’t look back, but I expected to hear “Stop!” in Serbian any second. My friends whispered, “Just act like everything’s normal. I don’t think they figured out you’re American.” Eventually, several minutes later, one of them looked behind us. The coast was clear.

I relaxed, but it had been an odd feeling. I had never been scared of a cop before. I guess when police are geared up like soldiers in a war, and look like they hate you, they can be intimidating.

Anyone else ever seen a cop wearing so much military gear you literally couldn’t tell whether he was a cop or soldier?

I’ve been a Marine and Soldier longer than I’ve been a cop, and I served in Iraq and Afghanistan. I understand that military gear can be useful to cops. If some wacko with an AK is dumping rounds out his bedroom window, I want an MRAP there. If ISIS is attacking a school, I want SWAT teams to be fully geared out like I was overseas. Other than those extreme situations, why do we need to look and act military?

This is a fine line. We soldiers have learned a lot of hard lessons in the past 13 years of war, and anything we learn that can help make police safer, which then makes the public safer, is a good thing. But there has to be a balance. Yes, officers should carry tourniquets and pressure bandages, because those items save lives. No, officers don’t need to wear desert boots or camouflage uniforms on the street. And good God, someone please explain to me why a cop on duty in America would ever need to wear a shamagh (Arab head scarf).

Do desert boots, camo and shamaghs make us safer or help us do our jobs? No, but they do accomplish two other things: making us look like wannabe soldiers, and gradually eroding public respect for police. The cool gear some of us wear isn’t worth the bad feelings it generates.

People get why we cops do what we do. Most of them respect what we do. But they don’t respect us if we look like we’re trying to be someone else. A cop in all camo with desert boots, a shamagh, chest rig and carbine looks like he’s trying to be a soldier instead of a cop.

Americans don’t want soldiers patrolling the streets looking for combat. They want officers there to help people who need help and keep the community safe. They understand we need to fight sometimes, they understand we need to shoot sometimes. But they don’t want us all geared out unless the crap hits the fan. And that’s not unreasonable.

We’re not at war here in America. We don’t need to look (or act) like those “cops” I encountered in Macedonia. I’m not saying we shouldn’t have any military-type gear; on patrol I carried a carbine, plate carrier and helmet in my trunk for special occasions, and I broke it out several times. We should put that gear on when circumstances demand it. But we shouldn’t break it out simply because circumstances “permit” it.

Raids

Friday, September 19th, 2014

This early 1970s Federal law enforcement training film, Raids, seems positively quaint:

I couldn’t help but notice a few tactical details. First, everyone keeps their finger on the trigger. They don’t seem comfortable drawing or handling their revolvers, either. I love the way the raid leader switches his revolver to his left hand so he can knock on the door with his right.

I wouldn’t want my cover team armed with revolvers, by the way, twenty yards back, sitting in a catcher’s squat behind the car, either.

Ebola Education

Friday, September 19th, 2014

Eight bodies belonging to an Ebola education team have been found in the village latrine in Wome, a village close to the town of Nzerekore, in Guinea’s southeast, where Ebola was first identified in March:

[Guinea's Prime Minister Mohamed Saïd ] Fofana said the team that included local administrators, two medical officers, a preacher and three accompanying journalists, was attacked by a hostile stone-throwing crowd from the village when they tried to inform people about Ebola.

Three of them had their throats slit.

How Gangs Took Over Prisons

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

California had prisons for nearly a century before the first documented gang — or security threat group — appeared, but now gangs run prisons — and the street, too:

Another common misconception about prison gangs is that they are simply street gangs that have been locked up. The story of their origins, however, is closer to the opposite: the Mexican Mafia, for example, was born at Deuel Vocational Institution, in Tracy, California, in 1956, and only later did that group, and others, become a presence on the streets. Today, the relation of the street to the cellblock is symbiotic. “The young guys on the street look to the gang members inside as role models,” says Charles Dangerfield, a former prison guard who now heads California’s Gang Task Force, in Sacramento. “Getting sentenced to prison is like being called up to the majors.”

But Skarbek says the prison gangs serve another function for street criminals. In a 2011 paper in American Political Science Review, he proposed that prison is a necessary enforcement mechanism for drug crime on the outside. If everyone in the criminal underworld will go to prison eventually, or has a close relationship with someone who will, and if everybody knows that gangs control the fate of all inmates, then criminals on the street will be afraid to cross gang members there, because at some point they, or someone they know, will have to pay on the inside. Under this model, prison gangs are the courts and sheriffs for people whose business is too shady to be able to count on justice from the usual sources. Using data from federal indictments of members of the Mexican Mafia, and other legal documents, Skarbek found that the control of prisons by gangs leads to smoother transactions in the outside criminal world.

Gangs effect this justice on the inside in part by circulating a “bad-news list,” or BNL. If your name is on a BNL, gang members are to attack you on sight — perhaps because you stole from an affiliate on the outside, or because you failed to repay a drug debt, or because you’re suspected of ratting someone out. Skarbek says one sign that the BNL is a rationally deployed tool, rather than just a haphazard vengeance mechanism, is that gangs are fastidious about removing names from the list when debts are paid.

Neighborhood Deprivation

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

Do bad neighborhoods cause crime? Nope:

Background A number of studies suggest associations between neighbourhood characteristics and criminality during adolescence and young adulthood. However, the causality of such neighbourhood effects remains uncertain.

Methods We followed all children born in Sweden from 1975–1989 who lived in its three largest cities by the age of 15 years and for whom complete information was available about individual and contextual factors (N = 303 465). All biological siblings were identified in the sample (N = 179 099). Generalized linear mixed-effects models were used to assess the effect of neighbourhood deprivation on violent criminality and substance misuse between the ages of 15 and 20 years, while taking into account the cross-classified data structure (i.e. siblings in the same families attending different schools and living in different neighbourhoods at age 15).

Results In the crude model, an increase of 1 SD in neighbourhood deprivation was associated with a 57% increase in the odds of being convicted of a violent crime (95% CI 52%–63%). The effect was greatly attenuated when adjustment was made for a number of observed confounders (OR 1.09, 95% CI 1.06–1.11). When we additionally adjusted for unobserved familial confounders, the effect
was no longer present (OR 0.96, 95% CI 0.84–1.10). Similar results were observed for substance misuse. The results were not due to poor variability either between neighbourhoods or within families.

Conclusions We found that the adverse effect of neighbourhood deprivation on adolescent violent criminality and substance misuse in Sweden was not consistent with a causal inference. Instead, our findings highlight the need to control for familial confounding in multilevel studies of criminality and substance misuse.

Adolescents Attacking Artists

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

“Adolescents” are savagely beating “artists” in New Orleans:

As he approached an interstate overpass, the division between St. Roch and his Marigny neighborhood, Martin heard laughter from a group of children, no older than 13 he believed. It was summer after all, and while dark, he didn’t think much of the roving group of middle schoolers, until he was struck from behind.

He was then thrown to the ground as the children kicked and slammed fists into Martin’s head and chest. Eventually, he was straddled by one of the kids and choked out until he fell unconscious.

While Martin is wary of calling the assault a hate crime, he does feel the rapid gentrification happening, in both the St. Roch and Marigny neighborhoods, could have something to do with his beating.

It was gentrification’s fault.

Bill Murphy, a local installation artist, was the second victim assaulted. He, too, was walking home when he was struck from behind, and knocked down. Murphy was then kicked and stomped on, similar to what happened to Martin, by a group of eight children.

“I don’t remember much,” Murphy said. “But when I woke up the next day I had a bunch of sneaker prints on my forehead.”

Another “adolescent” attack:

Coincidentally, he was on his way to support a Roots of Music Fundraiser, a local charity that helps at risk youth through mentorship programs and music education. And for years Brumfield himself had worked with elementary and high school students around that area as an art and ceramics instructor with, the now defunct Recovery School District.

Similar to the other two cases, it was completely dark when Brumfield heard a group of kids laughing, though he didn’t realize how much trouble he was in until he saw the dozen or so middle schoolers were armed with bats and large wooden sticks.

“Luckily I was paying attention and could run,” Brumfield said. “Once they caught me though, I had to crawl into the street to get away. They were hitting me the whole time.”

Brumfield’s pants were ripped down, in an attempt to emasculate him, and his feet and head were stomped on by the dozen or so teenagers, while others hit him with clubs. Before being knocked out, Brumfield even recognized some of his former students, from an elementary school he had taught at, perpetrating the beating. He was forced to crawl into oncoming traffic to get away, and the children only fled once they were confronted by the headlights of a passing car.

Weeks after the assault, Brumfield was still experiencing severe headaches and trauma and had moved to Baton Rouge to stay with family. He isn’t willing to write these children off as lost causes though and feels that poverty and systematic neglect have led to this escalation in violence.

“The real problem is that we’re failing the kids all over New Orleans. We’re failing them socially, educationally, in every way.” Brumfield said. “I’m watching kids in this city not get what they need again. It’s about poverty and it’s about kids and families that don’t have resources.”

We‘re failing them. They don’t have the resources to leave “artists” alone.

People Faster to Shoot White Suspects than Black Suspects

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

People are faster to shoot white suspects than black, a new study has found:

When confronted by an armed white person, participants took an average of 1.37 seconds to fire back. Confronted by an armed black person, they took 1.61 seconds to fire and were less likely to fire in error. The 24-millisecond difference may seem small, but it’s enough to be fatal in a shooting.

[...]

This behavioral ‘counter-bias’ might be rooted in people’s concerns about the social and legal consequences of shooting a member of a historically oppressed racial or ethnic group.