It is hard to know exactly what to take from this. However, on one side of the MRAP debate have been those who argue that there is a clear need by the Davis Police to have an MRAP.
This certainly isn’t the definitive word on whether the police feel they need the MRAP (Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle), but former City Manager Steve Pinkerton told the Vanguard that the issue of the MRAP never even came up during his tenure as city manager.
There are clearly cost considerations involved in that, however, the police never even asked for an armored vehicle to be put on the list of potential needs down the line.
That gibes with the comment that Darren Pytel made back in November. When the MRAP became available, he was approached by those in his department and was skeptical that the idea would fly in Davis. However, he ultimately became convinced of the need for the vehicle.
The MRAP or armored vehicle then wasn’t some longtime identified need but rather a target of opportunity that the department had done without.
Poll Shows Whites Far More Likely Than Blacks to Approve Use of Force by Police
The Associated Press reported this weekend on the findings of the 2014 General Social Survey, a long-running measurement of trends in American opinions. They asked respondents, “Are there any situations you can imagine in which you would approve of a policeman striking an adult male citizen?”
The results, showing that whites are far more willing to approve of police officers hitting people than blacks and Hispanics, is hardly surprising. However, it is illustrative of general reactions to recent events.
Seven of 10 whites polled “said they can imagine a situation in which they would approve of a police officer striking an adult male citizen,” compared to only 42 percent of blacks and 38 percent of Hispanics.
These results demonstrate the gulf between whites and people of color on the use of force, and illustrate the overall lack of trust between law enforcement and minority communities in the wake of high-profile incidents such as the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson and the strangulation death of Eric Garner in Staten Island.
These are not surprising results to either casual observers or experts. Experts told the AP that “experiences and history with law enforcement shape opinions about the use of violence by officers.”
They continue, “‘Whites are significantly more likely to give police officers the benefit of the doubt, either because they have never had an altercation with a police officer or because they tend to see the police as allies in the fight against crime,’ said Ronald Weitzer, a George Washington University sociology professor who has studied race and policing in the U.S. and internationally.'”
Weitzer said, “However, blacks and Hispanics ‘are more cautious on this issue because of their personal experiences and/or the historical treatment their groups have experienced at the hands of the police, which is only recapitulated in recent disputed killings.”
The AP noted deep racial divides in other areas as well:
- A larger number of blacks could approve police striking a murder suspect who is being questioned: 24 percent, compared to 18 percent of Hispanics and 12 percent of whites.
- At more than half of whites, 69 percent, and half of Hispanics approve of police hitting suspects trying to escape from custody but only 42 percent of blacks approve.
- Two-thirds, or 66 percent, of whites say they favor the death penalty for convicted murderers, while 44 percent of blacks and 48 percent of Hispanics agree.
- Almost everyone seemed to approve of police officers hitting suspects back when attacked with fists, but whites again outpaced blacks and Hispanics with their approval. Nine in 10 whites approved of police hitting a person when attacked by fists, with 74 percent of blacks and Hispanics agreeing.
University of Kansas Professor Charles Epp said that the majority of whites have the belief they will get ” ‘reasonable and fair’ treatment from officers, and that encounters ending in violence are caused by the suspect.”
Epp said, “My strong sense is that African Americans and Hispanics have too often experienced or have heard of experiences of police officers acting unfairly, so they’re less willing to support the use of force by police officers. They’re not sure it will be used fairly.”
As Radley Balko noted in his book on the rise of the militarization of the police, a woman who worked with preteens at a city community center said in a newspaper interview that the children “have a negative sense of a police officer. They see the television version of a police officer, who is knocking down doors for the bad guys, then they see their friends, innocent people, getting stopped and searched. They see innocent people getting harmed by police for no reason. When I talk to 9- and 10- year- olds, they think all police are bad.”
Seven Officers in San Francisco Face Termination in Text Messaging Scandal
On Friday, San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr told reporters that seven officers have now been suspended and face termination for trading bigoted text messages with a convicted former police sergeant.
“Their conduct is incompatible with that of a police officer and I believe causes them to fall below the minimum qualifications required,” Chief Suhr told reporters on Friday.
The text messages, implicating as many as 14 officers, were recovered from ex-SFPD Sgt. Ian Furminger‘s cellphone during a federal criminal investigation. Mr. Furminger was convicted of fraud and conspiracy charges in December.
Michael Robison resigned last month, or he would have faced termination as well.
“If you read the text messages, it’s not even close,” Chief Suhr said. “The racial sentiment expressed in the others is not as clear, although it appears to be present in the other two, and I think it’s something the commission needs to hear.”
The SFPD is also reviewing the officers’ personal history questionnaires “to see if there’s any common denominator among them all that should have been a red flag, that should have been caught, that should have prevented them from being hired,” Chief Suhr said.
Christine DeBerry, chief of staff in the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, said a 10-year review of cases involving four officers so far identified turned up more than 3,000 arrests, about 1,600 of which resulted in prosecutors filing charges.
“The thing that we do not want is to conduct a look-back, go through 3,000 cases, and then in another year or two years find ourselves with another scandal on our desks and another situation we have to try and unravel,” she said. “There’s too little discipline and too little consequence for misconduct that happens here in San Francisco,” she said. “It’s a very rare situation where somebody is fired for the kinds of misconduct. There are very few cases that are reported to us for misconduct and the discipline that’s meted out is rare, relatively weak and uncertain.”
The key point that has been made over and over again is the lack of consequence for misconduct, and that undermines confidence in the police department.
—David M. Greenwald reporting