October Thread

First, two follow-ups —

  • After my last post on police legitimacy, I came across this study by Justin Nix. It goes back to Weber and argues that legitimacy is heavily based on “tradition” — i.e. if you culturally or socially have been raised to trust the police, then you will. I think this explains a lot of why legitimacy numbers are so inflexible and makes a lot of sense. However, I also think there is also probably a similar mechanism underlying the view that police are illegitimate — if you were raised to distrust police (and some people are) then you won’t view them as legitimate, no matter what they do.

  • I also saw this story, in which a guy is harassing his neighbors by broadcasting super-racist stuff from a speaker system attached to his house. The police can’t do anything because this is protected by the First Amendment, and that is costing them in the legitimacy department (go read Twitter threads about this story). To me, this again highlights the conceptual problems with legitimacy and shows why it is maybe not such a great thing to focus on.

Second, and in the interest of transparency: After my last post I (for the first time ever) banned some people from commenting and deleted their comments. I won’t ban commenters here just for disagreeing with me, in fact I like disagreement and will try to respond to it. But I did ban someone who did nothing but compare cops to King George using all caps, because that’s just dumb. I also banned someone who posted a comment I vehemently disagreed with after posting a long response to it, partly because they were pushing their own political campaign. I immediately regretted the ban and undid it, but somehow this also deleted the initial comment, leaving only my response. Rather than leave only my response, I deleted it. This person is unbanned and I regret banning them.

Third, other policing news from around the country:

  • Minnesota police and firefighters are filing an armload of PTSD-related disability claims, with the number of such claims tripling last year. Cities are claiming that this is fiscally unsustainable and that the legislature should reverse a law that created a presumption such PTSD is duty-related.

  • COVID-19 is the number one killer of police — please get vaccinated if you are still on the job, I understand the distrust, but it’s not worth your career or life.

  • I won’t pretend to understand the crazy circus of Miami politics, but the bottom line is that Police Chief Art Acevedo is fired. Someone should write in and tell me if this is good or bad.

  • Some cities that defunded the police are already giving up on it and reversing police budget cuts — although it’s probably too late for many of them. By now many of the best cops have probably retired or sought other jobs.

  • Marijuana has been legal in Oregon for a while now, but “legalize and regulate” has turned out to be a disaster and lawbreaking among growers is rampant.

  • New York City’s bail reform law means you can shoplift as much as you want: “There are 77 other thieves right now walking the streets of New York with rap sheets of 20 or more shoplifting charges, NYPD sources say… ” Remarkably, shoplifting is up dramatically in NYC even though it fell nationwide last year.

  • As in other places, the effort to create a police-free mental health response team in Minneapolis is floundering — this time after EMTs were unwilling to go to some calls without police assistance.

  • Relatedly, a cop on Twitter has a good thread about the police role in mental health calls. Most of the calls being offloaded onto these teams are low-acuity calls that never ended in a use of force anyway: “What happens is that these new teams take all the easy, safe, 5-minute calls and leave the cops to handle exclusively the dangerous, emergent calls. Then they wave around spreadsheets of numbers to show how great they're doing.”