How do you avoid this kind of nightmare scenario?
The Dallas Police Chiefs only answer was to hire people with common sense and good people skills.
No. The answer is to restore equality of rights between police officers and ordinary people. As long as one group of people has rights another group doesnt, theres no way to ensure reliable safeguards against the first groups abusive treatment of the second.
One step in the right direction would be a return to the original understanding, when professional police forces were first introduced, that the cop is just someone who gets paid to carry out full-time the same functions that are inherent in citizenship (“citizen’s arrest” is a holdover from this understanding).
The Dallas police chief probably sees himself as a hardened realist, but his recommendation to “hire the right people” equals any liberal goo-goo in sheer naivete. Just look at all the behavioral experiments setting up role-playing games in which one group of kids is given unaccountable power over another group, and the privileged group quickly learns to enjoy abusing its power and demonizing its victims to legitimize their victim status.
My own dad was a cop, and as much as one person can truly understand another, I think he was a good man. But 1) I don’t want to give strangers enough power that I have to worry about whether they’re good or not, and 2) I think the nature of the work itself attracts, at the very least, people who really enjoy dressing up in uniforms and giving orders. The “Dim” character in A Clockwork Orange wasn’t much of an exaggeration. All you have to do is follow Balko’s daily links, or Fred Woodworth’s regular “Who the Police Beat” feature in The Match! (or look at the old “Taser Tuesday” feature in Green Lantern blog, if you can find it via Internet Archive), to see that an awful lot of police forces must be doing a REALLY shitty job finding all those sensitive New Age characters to recruit.
Yeah things like those experiments where they tell some kids to act like prisoners and guards for a week get terminated when the researchers are absolutely “horrified” to see the “guards” completely dehumanizing and humiliating the “prisoners”. I don’t remember the original one where this happened, but I was kind of puzzled by their reaction. Are they really so naive they don’t understand what unaccountable power means?
That’s the one, thanks BB.