Who are you?

I’m a former police officer, and I won’t say any more than that.

Sometimes my writing includes anecdotes and stories about specific people or incidents. Names and immaterial details have, in many cases, been omitted or changed to protect the anonymity of myself and others.

You can reach me at: grahamfactor@substack.com

I won’t voluntarily share the personal information or email addresses of subscribers, commenters, or others who write emails to me without permission.

The opinions here are solely my own and do not represent those of any employer or government agency.

What is this blog about?

This blog is about policing, and the spike in violent crime that started in 2014. Despite the enormous human toll of increasing violence, the prevailing sentiment among those who push for police reform and de-policing has been: “Don’t overreact!” This blog aims to question the narratives those people tell about crime, cops, policing, and police reform in the United States.

I also want this blog to be educational for both police officers and members of the public who don’t know much about policing. We are now at a point where the legal and political environment for police is rapidly shifting, while public knowledge about the practical nature of police work is (in my opinion) still very low.

I was a cop and I support police, but this blog is not a “back the blue” circlejerk. If you’re a cop, I welcome your feedback and appreciate what you do. But we all know a guy who needs to stop drinking, hit the gym, delete his Facebook or cut back on the overtime and off-duty work. I reject the general narrative that police are “the problem” in the American city, but I write about real problems as well.

What is a Graham Factor?

In 1989 the Supreme Court issued a landmark case on police use of force called Graham v. Connor. Now taught at every police academy, the court’s ruling outlines how a police officer’s use of force should be evaluated by a court:

The "reasonableness" of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight… With respect to a claim of excessive force, the same standard of reasonableness at the moment applies: Not every push or shove, even if it may later seem unnecessary in the peace of a judge's chambers, violates the Fourth Amendment. The calculus of reasonableness must embody allowance for the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second judgments -- in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving -- about the amount of force that is necessary in a particular situation.

The Supreme Court held that when determining whether an officer’s use of force was reasonable, a court should look at three factors - which in police training are often called Graham factors:

Because the test of reasonableness under the Fourth Amendment is not capable of precise definition or mechanical application, however, its proper application requires careful attention to the facts and circumstances of each particular case, including the severity of the crime at issue, whether the suspect poses an immediate threat to the safety of the officers or others, and whether he is actively resisting arrest or attempting to evade arrest by flight.

If your primary interaction with police has been being stopped for speeding, I would suggest starting off by reading this excellent post by Nick Selby.

Can I republish your work?

I do not own the rights to any pieces entitled “Guest Factor” as those are submitted by third parties. I also do not own the copyright to comments posted here, except the ones posted by me. Accordingly, I cannot authorize anybody to copy them.

I do own the copyright to the original works I have posted here. You are free to republish that work in whole or part so long as you comply with the terms of the Creative Commons Share-Alike License and link back to this blog.

Why subscribe?

Unlike some Substack blogs, the Graham Factor is entirely free. Subscribe to get full access to the newsletter and website. You won’t have to worry about missing anything, and every new edition of the newsletter goes directly to your inbox.

Subscribing also means you’ll get a chance to post comments on the website. I will do my best to respond to all good-faith comments or questions. No promises will be made or kept to trolls, however, I will tend to err on the side of presuming all comments and questions are submitted in good faith.

To find out more about the company that provides the tech for this newsletter, visit Substack.com.