Building trust with police

SUBHEAD: Cops can get into a state of mind where they're scared to death and they panic and they act out on that panic.

By Steve Inskeep on 5 December 2014 for NPR News -

Image above: A young man kneels before a line of Los Angeles police officers about to charge at protesters reacting to a grand jury’s decision not to indict a white police officer who shot dead an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri. From (

[IB Publisher's note: Listen to this story at (]

As a civil rights attorney, Constance Rice became known in the 1990s for, as she puts it, going to war with the Los Angeles Police Department.

Rice filed lawsuits against the department, mainly over their treatment of minorities in underprivileged communities.

Following the recent decisions not to indict white cops in the deaths of two black men — President Obama has said one of his top priorities is building trust between minority communities and local police.

Rice's time battling the LAPD, and specifically captain Charlie Beck, who is now LA's police chief, eventually led to a place where there could be trust. They worked together to reform the department.
Some of that change included LAPD officers going into projects to set up youth sports programs and health screenings, things that made people's lives better and brought police and predominantly black communities closer together.

Here are some interview highlights:

On use of police force on minorities:
Cops can get into a state of mind where they're scared to death. When they're in that really, really frightened place they panic and they act out on that panic. I have known cops who haven't had a racist bone in their bodies and in fact had adopted black children, they went to black churches on the weekend; and these are white cops. They really weren't overtly racist. They weren't consciously racist.

But you know what they had in their minds that made them act out and beat a black suspect unwarrantedly? They had fear. They were afraid of black men. I know a lot of white cops who have told me.

And I interviewed over 900 police officers in 18 months and they started talking to me, it was almost like a therapy session for them I didn't realize that they needed an outlet to talk.

They would say things like;
"Ms. Rice I'm scared of black men. Black men terrify me. I'm really scared of them. Ms. Rice, you know black men who come out of prison, they've got great hulk strength and I'm afraid they're going to kill me. Ms. Rice, can you teach me how not to be afraid of black men." 
I mean this is cops who are 6'4". You know, the cop in Ferguson was 6'4" talking about he was terrified. But when cops are scared, they kill and they do things that don't make sense to you and me.

On whether or not racism plays a factor in police force:
He doesn't feel like it's racism. The black community experiences it as racism, that's very clear. So what I'm saying is that for people who have to be in the business of solving this dilemma you have to be able to step into the frightened tennis shoes of black kids; black male kids in particular.

You have to be able to step into the combat boots and scared cops, and racist cops, and cruel cops, and good cops. You have to be able to distinguish between all of those human experiences and bring them together. On a single platform of we're going to solve this by empathizing. We're going to solve it with compassion and we're going to solve it with common sense.

On whether improving life in poor neighborhoods causes police to be less fearful:
Not only does it cause cops to be less fearful, it causes the community to embrace them. I have taken a group of 50 cops and the chief (Charlie) Beck let me train them.

I trained them in what I community partnership policing. The first thing I tell these cops is that you are not in the arrest business; you are in the trust business. We are going to train you in Public Trust Policing. It goes beyond community policing.

What it does is it puts police in a position of helping a community solve its problems. These cops come into the black housing projects and they said to these populations who hate them "We know you hate us, but we're here to serve. We're going to win your trust."

Darren Wilson killing Michael Brown

By Juan Wilson on 5 December 2014 for Island Breath - 

There are several eyewitness accounts of how Officer Darren Wilson shot to death Michael Brown. Most of the details I have heard or read isolate detail of accounts to highlight conflicting testimony.

It seems to me the the conduction of the Grand Jury was quite unusual. setup with a deal. Eyewitness testimony was presented as being unreliable. One could only rely on the testimony of Wilson himself.

My opinion is that Wilson’s resignation was baked into the cake if he was not indicted. Anyway,

A good article in the Atlantic on the subject is (
Brown attacked Wilson
Brown ran from Wilson
Brown had his hands in the air
Brown did not have his hands in the air
Brown tried to surrender to Wilson
Brown did not try to surrender to Wilson
What makes sense?

All of it might!

If one does not discredit the eyewitness testimony - and for the sake of attempting to find some clarity - one tries to sew together a narrative that makes sense  - then a whole new characterization of events might emerge.

Here’s one way of looking various details. I am only including actions between Brown and Wilson. Brown was with a friend but I have eliminated him from the action.

Wilson driving his patrol car came upon Michael Brown walking down the middle of the street. There was a police radio report about a nearby store theft by some fitting Brown’s description.

Brown was 19 but huge at 6’-5” and weighing almost 290 pounds. A physically intimidating individual to take on. Wilson was alone in the patrol car. As he neared Brown he made is service revolver available for immediate use if necessary.

Wilson in the patrol car, with is driver window down, stopped Brown walking in the middle of the street. Upon being questioned Brown gave the officer a wise-ass response. Wilson commanded Brown off the road. There was more back talk from Brown. As if to intimidate Brown Wilson showed the gun to Brown.

Brown told Wilson he was too much of a pussy to shoot him. Brown may have reached for the gun. Wilson fired the revolver, hitting Brown in the right shoulder. There was some blood in the car. Brown momentarily pulled back not knowing if he was badly hurt or not.

Brown did not want to be shot again. A struggle for the gun ensued. They wrestled for control. Wilson was punched. Without getting control of the gun Brown made a decision to flee and took off. Wilson makes a radio call that shots have been fired. Brown ran a short distance away as Wilson got out of his car.

Wilson yells at Brown to get on ground. Brown turned to Wilson with the gun pointed at him but did not get on the ground.  Brown may have partially raised is arms to surrender saying “I don’t have a gun.Stop shooting!”

He may not have been able to raise his right arm fully. Brown tucked his wounded right arm in his waist band of his pants. More shots were fired. His right arm was hit more times.

Brown realized he was likely going to be shot to death and decided to make a rush to stop Wilson from killing him. As he ran at Wilson another volley of shots hits Brown from a few few dozen feet away. One shot hit Wilson in the right side of his neck. After that Brown walked toward Wilson without menace.

Brown fell to the ground and onto his face. Wilson shot Brown through the top of his head.

I think Darren Wilson feared Michael Wilson on sight. His fear pulled the trigger...many times.

Michael Brown may have been a small time criminal and a brutish thoughtless kid. Darren Wilson was not the person to deal with that. Darren was playing Grand Theft Auto Five with a real patrol car and real gun. He should have stayed in the basement with his XBox 360.

Darren Wilson should never again have a loaded gun in his hand.

See also:
Island Breath: KPD need bikes not riot gear 4/5/08
Island Breath: The Kauai Police Mission 5/15/08
Island Breath: The future KPD we want 5/28/08
Island Breath: KPD alternatives to patrol cruising 6/7/08
Island Breath: TGI column cancelled by KPD 6/18/08


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