Commentary: How Many Bad Apples Does It Take?

Sgt. Williams speaks in April 2015 with former Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi and DA George Gascon to her right as Public Defender Jeff Adachi looks on
Sgt. Williams speaks in April 2015 with former Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi and DA George Gascon to her right as Public Defender Jeff Adachi looks on


It seems like whenever we run a story about a police officer or a group of police officers accused of misconduct, that, if there is no defense for the officers’ actions, the defense quickly shifts to an institutional defense – that 95 percent of officers and 95 percent of police encounters are above board.

Leaving aside a few problems with that defense (for one thing, where does that 95 percent figure come from and, even if it is 95, five percent is a huge numerical number of bad cops and bad incidents), I think most police departments understand that things have to change.

Davis has recently joined departments across the country with the implementation of a body camera policy. The California legislature is working on legislation that would open up transparency into investigations of police abuse and violence against members of the public, which currently is shielded from public records disclosure laws through exemptions and court rulings.

Moreover and more encouraging, I recently met with a local department that is in the process of implementing changes – and willing to have frank discussions to figure out how they can do better.

At the same time, I think the problem goes much deeper than just five percent. The shooting in Chicago of Laquan McDonald provides one such case. The action was carried out by a small number of police officers, but a far greater number of police officers conspired to attempt to lie about what occurred and conceal the truth. The problems went up the chain of command.

A few days ago, the Atlantic wrote, “How many police officers are bigots who patrol their beats, guns on their hips, with animus toward blacks, Hispanics, and other disproportionately abused groups, even as prosecutors, judges, and juries assign unusual credibility to their claims?”

Last year, San Francisco officials conducted an investigation revealing that at least five police officers, long-time officers, were texting racist and anti-gay messages to each other.

However, as the Atlantic points out, the defense was rather typical: “Police officials declared that the behavior, while abhorrent, was confined to a very few officers, an ‘old guard’ that did not represent the general culture in the department.”

Not everyone bought into that mindset. Public Defender Jeff Adachi was quoted by the LA Times saying, “A person does not become a racist overnight. These were officers who in some cases had over a decade of service. We need to look at all of them.”

Sure enough, the problem is not nearly as limited as officials or supporters of the police would like.

“San Francisco police officers sent dozens of racist and homophobic text messages in the past several months, even as another group of officers was being investigated by prosecutors for having traded similar messages,” the New York Times reports. The newly disclosed texts include “derogatory references to blacks, Asians, lesbians, gays and transgender people,” and come as the federal government investigates “complaints that some officers routinely behave in a racially biased manner.”

Indeed, the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the newly found texts emerged during a probe of still more police misdeeds. They say, “DA George Gascón” acknowledged “a ‘substantial number of racist and homophobic text messages’ emerged during a recent criminal investigation.”

According to the Chronicle, “The messages, which allegedly included use of the racial slur “n—” and derogatory comments toward the LGBT community, were exchanged among at least four officers, [Police Chief Greg] Suhr said, including Lai and Lt. Curtis Liu, who also worked at Taraval [Police Station] but retired after being accused of obstructing the rape inquiry. Gascón differed with Suhr, saying at least five officers had exchanged the messages. He said the messages were exchanged on the officers’ personal cell phones, but that it had not been determined if the texts were sent and received while the officers were on duty.”

The Times reports that the president of the San Francisco Police Officers Association “condemns the appalling racist behavior committed by a handful of officers.”

However, in the last texting scandal, the department’s effort to dismiss some of the officers were overturned by a superior court judge on a technicality – the statute of limitations had expired.

The Atlantic notes, “The San Francisco Police Officers Association could waive the statute of limitations in future contracts. Or it could come out in favor of a one-year statute of limitations in criminal matters that affect civilians, if it has an earnest, principled belief that punishments after one year are unfair. I strongly suspect that it will do neither.”

San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi issued the following statement following the latest revelation: “In light of revelations that a second group of San Francisco police officers exchanged racist and homophobic text messages, my office will begin a full review of past cases that may have been tainted by these officers. I am also calling for an independent investigation into when the police chief and district attorney learned of the text messages. Every person in San Francisco deserves equal justice. It does them a grave disservice to dismiss every hateful act as an isolated incident. The police department must address the culture that lets racism fester in its ranks.”

This is a comedy of errors, one that undermines the entire system of trust. Once again, are we to give a benefit of the doubt to police officers who use such epithets, that they will not single out people based on their identities and cut corners of the law in an effort to frame them?

The system looks incapable of policing itself. The department failed to be able to terminate the officers. Their terminations were overturned on technicalities and other errors.  The police officer’s union on the one hand condemns their actions, while on the other enables them.

We want to claim that it is just a few cops exercising bad judgment rather than an entire system that fails to protect us from them.

And, as Sgt. Yulanda Williams showed us a year ago, “We know that this is not an isolated incident. This problem is systemic within the San Francisco Police Department and unfortunately there have been some who have chosen to turn a blind eye.”

She said that some members of the Officers for Justice have been on the force for over 30 years and can recall similar incidents, even incidents far more egregious than the text messaging scandal.

She cited a consistent problem with the disciplinary process in the police department. She said, “When a minority officer stands before members of the command staff or the commission, unfortunately when their cases are heard, minority issues are dealt with a little bit more severe – the discipline (given to minority officers) is more severe.”

Sgt. Williams said, “I stand before you as a woman who was called… a NIGGER BITCH… I’m going to tell you something. First of all, it’s offensive to any female that has risked their lives on a daily basis for the citizens of this city. We entered into this position considering it a noble one and that is why we gave our lives and we committed ourselves to serve and protect the citizens of San Francisco.”

“These rogue cops have been disrespectful. They have brought discredit to our uniform. It is outright bigotry and hatredness. And as a victim, the thing that hurts me the most is the outright betrayal of this department,” she said forcefully.

Implicit in Ms. Williams comments is the fact that, if the police cannot protect one of their own, how are they going to protect the public?

The other problem in all of this is that, while we know about the text messages in San Francisco – and, almost by accident, if it is happening in San Francisco, you can rest assured that these attitudes are fairly prevalent across the profession.

The question is why are we giving the profession a benefit of the doubt? Privately, police officers will tell you that the profession is changing, needs to change, but there are still too many holdovers from the cowboy mentality of the past.

We should consider ourselves fortunate if the problem only goes five percent deep, and five percent is tens of thousands of officers.

—David M. Greenwald reporting


About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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71 thoughts on “Commentary: How Many Bad Apples Does It Take?”

  1. zaqzaq

    I just love the fact that the  picture with this story has rouge cop former SF Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi who was convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence crime and remained the sheriff until the next election without being recalled or removed from office sitting with the DA and Williams.  I do not understand why those two would sit at the same table as him for any public gathering.  What a joke.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      That’s easy – Mirkarimi was questioned heavily about what he needed to do to change things at the Sheriff’s office. In a way, it illustrated the power of Adachi to get him to have to answer for himself publicly. You’ll notice Suhr wasn’t there. BTW, I’d call Mirkarimi more ineffective than “rogue”.

  2. The Pugilist

    The key point here is that the 95% number is made up by defenders of the police.  They have no real data to support it.  And the problems go much deeper than a few transgressions.  And even more the system is not self-correcting.

        1. Barack Palin

          Where’s your evidence that the 95% number is false?  I mean you brought it up.  By your comment you’re insinuating that the number is much worse.  Where’s your data or did you pull that comment out of your ……..?

        2. The Pugilist

          To be accurate, the article brought it up – it’s a point I agree with.  Look how deep just two examples go up the ladder – the SF Text and the CPD killing of MacDonald.  You think the problem is 1% and have cited no evidence to back it up.

        3. Frankly

          The bar for the nasty accusatory narrative should be much, much higher than it is for the bar in assumption that the majority are good and reasonable in behavior.

          Innocent until proven guilty is a tenant of our once great country being torn apart by those that should probably live somewhere else.

          It should be a standard we all demand consistently.

          Unfortunately those owning a certain ideological worldview beleive they are righteous in applying a lower bar variable filter in nasty accusation… even as they demand a higher bar for people belonging to certain protected victim groups.

        4. The Pugilist

          You are incorrect.  The burden rests with the maker of the claim.  David at least provided some evidence to support his view – you and BP have simply made assertions with zero supporting evidence.

        5. Frankly

          BS.  To back your claim, you would need to show the statistics of the number of all police encounters over the number that are indicative of bad behavior.  Or the number of cops over the number that have been observed to behave badly.

          Pulling a few occurences out of your _ _ _ does not qualify your claims.

        6. sisterhood

          Pugilist, you asked him 3 times for his evidence.  He refuses to answer the question, as usual. He just tries to turn it back on you, as usual. He has no evidence and is just making this up to push your buttons. Ignore.

        7. The Pugilist

          I am going to use San Francisco as an example since it’s the case at hand and I’m very familiar with it.  There are roughly 2000 sworn police officers in SF.  That means if the number in SF is really just 1%, you would only need to find just 20 people who have committed “bad behavior.”  I could probably name 20 people off the top of my head in SF.  To get to the 5% less, the number would be 100.  100 bad officers would be a lot of bad police officers in San Francisco.

          There are a few problems here.

          First, we would have to have an agreed upon criteria for “bad behavior.”  That is a huge hurdle.  Give you a clear example – four officers were recently acquitted in a civil trial in San Francisco for shooting Nieto.  You would probably side with the jury.  I would definitely not.

          Second, and related, part of the problem I think is not just the bad behavior, but the officers looking the other way at that bad behavior and not turning in law breaking officers.  How many people are involved in just the two text messaging incidents alone.

          Third, we don’t know what we don’t know.  There is a bill going through the legislature that would make complaints much more transparent, I’m not sure we could get accurate information even if we spent a lot of time and money.

          Fourth, we don’t know what we don’t know.  How many incidents involving “bad behavior” simply go unreported?  How do we factor that in.

          Bottom line, I think if I poured through the last few years of the SF Office of Civil Complaints we would get far more than 100 people – getting names and agreeing upon the acts is another story altogether.

          1. Don Shor

            If something is neither provable nor falsifiable, there isn’t much point in debating it. If you don’t have “agreed upon criteria” then no assertion about percentages can be proved or falsified. If you have no actual reliable and mutually accepted data to use for assessing the assertion, then the assertion cannot be proved or falsified.
            So NONE of you can prove your “percentage of bad apples” nor can any of you falsify what the other is asserting. So what’s the point of the debate? Nobody can provide evidence and you all wouldn’t even agree on the premise, much less the veracity of the data or the analysis.

        8. The Pugilist

          I knew you couldn’t do this. You’re really incapable of dispassionately analyzing anything. For a guy in your position, that’s kind of surprising. I hope you’re better at it in your line of work than you are here. I was trying to set up an analytic framework and you couldn’t even do that. Wow.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            Frankly doesn’t want to know the answer – I think it cuts too personally for him. That’s understandable, but if that’s the case, he’s not really an objective voice on this issue.

        9. Frankly

          Nice try to spin it.

          It is you two that are biased beyond any ability to particiapte in a rational discussion about almost anything to do with policing.  You both seem to have a personal axe to grind.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            Ok. I mean you’re not willing to even back up your opinion with evidence, or look deeper. So, I guess that’s all we have.

        10. South of Davis

          The pugilist wrote:

          > You are incorrect.  The burden rests

          > with the maker of the claim. 

          How did you “prove” you were never convicted of felony every time you made that claim on a job application, rental application, or loan application?

          You must be fun at parties when the (20 year sober) guy tells you “I don’t drink” and you say “you made the claim now prove it”…

          P.S. I agree that the number of “bad” cops is probably higher than 5%, but most “bad” cops are bad for different reasons (every “bad” cop is not shooting kids with toy guns), one guy might be “rude” and “by the book” while another is a “nice” and  a “sociopath who likes to plant drugs on people”.  It is also important to remember that (just like every profession) half of all cops are “worse than average”…

        11. The Pugilist

          In that case, you’re not dealing with a logical argument, you’re dealing with a legally defined burden in which you are innocent unless proven guilty.

  3. South of Davis

    the Atlantic wrote:

    > “How many police officers are bigots who patrol their beats,

    > guns on their hips, with animus toward blacks, Hispanics,

    > and other disproportionately abused groups

    While a right wing magazine will write “How many black and Hispanic gang members in housing projects with guns in their pants, with animus toward law enforcement will shoot at these hard working heroes”.

    It is sad how BOTH SIDES try and spin things to defend the people they like and punish the people they don’t like.

    If a gay guy molests a kid in a bathroom the left wing headline will be “a white male has been arrested for molesting young boy” while the right wing headline will be “openly gay Hillary Clinton supporter arrested for molesting young boy”.

    If a priest molests a kid in a bathroom the left wing headline will be “Father O’Malley a Catholic priest who supported Prop 8. was arrested for molesting a young boy” while the right wing headline will be “an arrest was made after a young boy was molested”.

    I’ve been reading the SF Chronicle for over 40 years and it is amazing how things have changed since the 70’s (when the publisher was a Polo playing Republican) Dick Thieriot to today (when the publisher is a left wing Democrat) Jeffrey M. Johnson (who almost always puts the race and photo of a white criminal but who almost never puts the race or photo of a black criminal in the paper)…

    1. The Pugilist

      How about both sides have their own perspective and priorities and see the world accordingly.  What seems strange to me or perhaps strange is the wrong word, what is interesting to me is that there are a core group of conservatives who are just as concerned by police out of control as the left is.  In fact, Radley Balko is one of them.  However, that group doesn’t seem represented on this site.

      1. South of Davis

        The Pugilist wrote:

        > what is interesting to me is that there are a core group of conservatives

        > who are just as concerned by police out of control as the left is

        It warms my heart every time I hear a right wing conservative say “maybe that cop was wrong and should be in jail” just like it warms my heart to hear a left wing liberal say “maybe that gang member was trying to kill the cop and shooting him was the only option”.

        More and more people on the right and left are starting to realize that there is almost no difference between Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush and the media who supports the people in power are just trying to keep everyone focused on “racists cops” or “prayer in school” while they screw regular people over.

        George Carlin sums it up very well on the link below:

    2. Frankly

      You are absolutely on-point here.  But since most of the print and other media leans strongly left, the dominant narrative is to emphasize the liberal worldview and omit any balanced perspective that resonates with conservatives.

      I think this is a large reason why David and wdf1 go off the rails when people like you and me argue against them… they are so used to getting their views validated by the media narrative that they don’t even think they need real data to back their (righteous) position.

      And this is the reason why folks like you and me need to stay on them.

      1. wdf1

        Not speaking for David, but I mostly go off on you when you make unsubstantiated claims.  I enjoy reading a good, solid, well-supported argument whether it be conservative or liberal.  You used to be better at making your points, but I think you’ve lost your edge recently.  These days it’s mostly about categorizing, generalizing, and venting.

        1. Biddlin

          He has become like a scratched vinyl recording,” denigrate, deny, deflect, repeat……”

          His piteous cries of Liberal Bias are grating falsehoods, he and others would repeat ad nauseam in hopes of swaying the near deafened listeners.

          Conservative members of the current Congress appear more often on the network talk shows than their liberal counterparts. Senators and representatives from the conservative end of the ideological spectrum make about 60 percent of the appearances, compared with 40 percent for liberals, according to an Upshot analysis of data collected by American University.

          This lopsided distribution is primarily the result of  Republican senators’ frequent visits to the network shows. Try to find a Sunday news magazine show without Lindsey Graham or Mitch McConnell.  Mainstream media doesn’t want to discuss the fact that there is an institutional bias in their reporting that has been caused by news being turned into a for profit venture, and the fact that conservative corporations advertise and sponsor the Sunday shows. The corporate owned media actively promotes the interests of the corporate owned Republican Party. The bias isn’t slight. The media move towards conservatism is real and pronounced. The United States has been moving more to the left since the economic collapse of 2008, but the media has continued their rightward drift, but still we hear the bleating, hypocritical, victim cries from certain corners. It must be that he is as devoid of real solutions and the capacity for or interest in them as the rest of the neo-con do nothings.

    3. tribeUSA

      SOD–good post; yes its rare to see an even-handed approach to the police misconduct problem.

      I personally would like racial issues to be dealt with separately from police misconduct issues–whether the perception is accurate or not; is seems to me that because the issues of race and police misconduct are often conflated in the mainstream media; most people hear the racial issue and are turned off by it; a bunch of racial activists that are perpetually whining about race (whereas in the case of police misconduct, the limited data available shows that as a percentage of arrests, no one race suffers a statistically significant injury rate from police abuse of force than any other race on a nationwide basis; though there are likely some cities where there is a disparity)

      –because many people are dubious about the racist claims; and because the media has conflated racial issues with police misconduct; then people might also become dubious about instances of abuse of force by police–we do know that there are instances of abuse of force by police and of course ways to reduce such abuse should be sought; however there is considerable ambiguity in the available data as to whether or not there is systemic nationwide racial bias in instances of abuse of force, so why conflate the issue with race?

      Let’s focus on abuse of force and how to reduce it (it seems to me more and better training in de-escalation techniques would be one good thing that can be done); and when clear evidence of racist policing comes to light, then that can be dealt with as well–but don’t turn people off the issue of police abuse of force by always conflating it with racism.

  4. Biddlin

    Ah, Davis. One bad apple carrying a gun and badge under authority of the state would be bad enough. The fact is,the police culture is a culture of deception and violence and could not exist without the collusion of everyone involved. If only 5% of the cops are overtly bad, the other 95% are covering it up.

  5. Alan Miller

    that 95 percent of officers and 95 percent of police encounters are above board.

    If 95% of Bakken oil trains didn’t explode on their way from North Dakota to their destinations . . .

  6. Tia Will

    What percentage of trains explode in Davis?”

    If one carrying Bakken oil does explode in Davis, what percentage will rapidly become irrelevant as the downtown, Old East Davis and Olive Drive turn into a massive fire ball. Sometime percentage risk is much less important than severity of single event. Or as applied to the police example, I would rather deal with 95 rude cops than one who shoots first and asks questions later.

    1. hpierce

      Well Tia… you should never cross a street again if you don’t believe in statistical risk, or that there must be 100% safe (whatever that means) outcomes… do you guarantee “safe” outcomes for all your patients?

      Looking at the total number of trains, carrying Bakken oil, over the total miles travelled by those trains, the chance of an incident occurring within 500 yards of a populated area, total incidents/consequences to date, etc., I have very little fear of the Valero proposal (and I live within 500 yards).

      Maybe we should totally ban rail transport of everything ‘dangerous’… Chlorine, other gases that would even affect folk well beyond 500 yards (depending on wind speeds, etc.), other petroleum products… let’s move that all to the interstate highway system… where populations are even more likely the be impacted.

      Or, maybe, just maybe, Valero and UP should commit to upgrade rails and rolling stock to further diminish the risks… Bakken oil is not the root cause… the tracks and the rolling stock conditions are.  I believe we should focus on those.  Alan (who I generally trust on knowing about the RR system) has identified possible deficiencies in the rails/switches/etc. in our immediate area.  Let’s agitate to get those fixed.  That would reduce risks to citizens and particularly those of us who like to frequent AMTRAK.  Look at the death/injuries/morbidity on AMTRAK crashes in the last 5 years, and compare to Bakken oil incidents [have no cites, but strongly suspect those were due to track and or rolling stock issues, and not the oil itself].

      Oh, and saying all of Olive Drive and Old East is more than a tad “dramatic”…

      1. Tia Will


        do you guarantee “safe” outcomes for all your patients?

        No, but there are certainly some that I would recommend having a procedure done based on their relatively low risk, and others that I would not under good conscience recommend the same procedure because of a high risk of mortality. 

        And please notice, I said nothing about “all” of Old East Davis or Olive Drive. It was you who chose to add that embellishment.

        1. South of Davis

          Tia wrote:

          > I said nothing about “all” of Old East
          > Davis or Olive Drive.

          Unless you name a few specific blocks people will assume it means ALL.

          If I wrote that “the residents of Old East Davis and Olive drive are in the Davis school district” would you assume “ALL” the residents (or just the people next to the railroad tracks)?



  7. Misanthrop

    So some cops wrote some nasty s— to each other on their cell phones. Yawn. Were they on or off duty? Double yawn.

    The real question should be whether they conducted themselves appropriately in the course of their official duties as police officers.

    I think if you started looking at the communications, especially communications thought to be private,  between all sorts of people you would find things that could be described as unflattering.

    Look at the things Nixon said in private. But he didn’t leave office because of his crude rhetoric he left because of obstruction of justice. He left because of what he did not what he said.

    By the way this is another reason why tenure should exist to protect both right and left wing speech from this type of over reaction to boorish or unpopular speech.

    1. Davis Progressive

      no the real question is who is going to trust that a cop that would call his colleague a nigger bitch would treat someone else fairly

      1. Misanthrop

        Maybe the cop would and maybe he wouldn’t but if they didn’t treat someone fairly that is a legitimate complaint. Its a public relations problem for the department and the higher ups must express the indignant outrage that representatives of the entire community should express, but, if we are going to start demanding that everybody must use language that is appropriate in communications they don’t expect will be made public and believe to be private, we are setting the bar awfully high. It is conduct that they should be held accountable for not speech they believe to be private.

        1. Davis Progressive

          there is a practical problem as well.  every time they make an arrest, these texts will be admissible as impeachment material.  any case involving a judgment call is immediately in question.  i don’t see how they can continue from a practical perspective.  they will get mark fuhrman’ed each time.

        2. hpierce

          If a public employee (at least in CA), using their publicly provided e-mail and/or phone, says or writes ANYTHING, they have ‘no reasonable expectation of privacy’… it is a “public record”, except in very limited circumstances… David knows this (PRA)…

          Anyone in the CA public sector, does, or should, know this… anyone texting, e-mailing, v-mailing [on public equipment] who does a “stupid”, is indeed, stupid.

          Too bad we can’t extend that to the private sector… maybe we could have avoided the Enron and/or Lehman Bros. problems…

        3. Misanthrop

          This is why people use private email instead of work email for private conversations. If they used work phones for the texts they are not protected communications and awfully dumb for thinking it would not get out, The article doesn’t say if it was a work account or a private one. Anyone that would write such a thing on a work account should know better.

      2. hpierce

        Well, if he blurted that out to his/her spouse (I note that you appear to believe a woman would never use the term, which tells me something, as I have heard black, female colleagues use that term when extremely frustrated), that’s one thing…  saying it in a more public place (squad room, publicly), a sign of stupidity which is a problem that I am more concerned about than their ability to be ‘fair’… the comment is VERY disturbing, but not might not translate into unfairness, unless the individual is a true idiot… a smart bigot will act as though they were ‘fair’ at all times, to hide their predilection…

    2. hpierce

      Tenure, to protect against questionable speech, I get… tenure to protect against ineffectiveness, I do not.  But, the way it usually goes, ‘tenure’ is tenure… yet, other public employees, at the top of their game, do not have that “protection”… all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others…

      1. Misanthrop

        Tenure shouldn’t protect incompetence and was never meant to do so. The problem is that what tenure does in the school system is give teachers due process rights and the administrators often fail to do the due diligence required to remove people that aren’t getting the job done. Interesting that cops and many other civil servants also have due process rights they just don’t call it tenure. One other point on tenure, most teachers that aren’t up to the job leave. The anti-union people always want to talk about how few cases actually reach  adjudication they don’t like to talk about how most teachers who are under pressure leave on their own before the process gets to court.

        1. hpierce

          Interesting that cops and many other civil servants also have due process rights …

          Actually we all do, but “property rights” (see US Constitution) for private employment has not been tested a lot in the courts…

          … they don’t like to talk about how most teachers who are under pressure leave on their own before the process gets to court.

          Correct, but takes, in many cases, a very long time (unless in a ‘probationary period’)… due in part to the unions… then, they often (not always) get ‘settlements’, and/or early retirement to keep the teachers and their union silent.  Am talking about DJUSD, and personal knowledge…

    3. Tia Will


      you would find things that could be described as unflattering.”

      I think that the term “nigger bitch” is so far beyond “unflattering” as to be incomprehensible to me that you would describe it that way. This is an expression of a mindset so racist and misogynistic as to call in to question whether or not this policewoman could trust this individual if his help was needed, not an “unflattering” comment about her hairstyle or choice of clothing. In a job where life and death might be a stake, could she ever depend upon him ? Could the people he was sworn to protect ?

      1. Misanthrop

        Is it offensive speech, absolutely. Does it hurt morale, without a doubt if it gets around. But people say offensive things in off the record conversations all the time and still perform their professional duties fairly. In America, offensive speech is protected so I would ask two questions. First was it a private conversation or did they use a job related account because as Pierce noted above using a work related account is subject to oversight? Two is there evidence of animus in job performance or have they been able to perform the duties of a police officer in a dispassionate manner?

        Being a cop is hard and in a professional way sort of like being an OBGYN. Both take an oath. Both regularly see people do things that they find shocking. Both must put their personal feelings aside and do their jobs. Both are human and need an outlet for the stress they experience.

        1. Biddlin

          “…people say offensive things in off the record conversations all the time and still perform their professional duties fairly.”

          I doubt that, very much.

          .”First was it a private conversation or did they use a job related account because as Pierce noted above using a work related account is subject to oversight? Two is there evidence of animus in job performance or have they been able to perform the duties of a police officer in a dispassionate manner?”

          It was a threat directed at a colleague.

          “Being a cop is hard and in a professional way sort of like being an OBGYN.”

          No, most OB/GYNs work hard for their living, instead of riding around in a car and visiting new diners. They very seldom chase down and shoot unarmed suspects .

          This typical bs excuse for cops’ abysmal behavior is insulting to all doctors and other professionals who enforce and adhere to strict standards and practices within their professions, instead of creating a culture of deception, secrecy, intimidation and self-protection.

        2. David Greenwald Post author

          Really: “The text messages in the earlier incident contained racist and anti-gay remarks, called African American people “monkeys,” encouraged the killing of “half-breeds,” invoked “White Power” rhetoric and used epithets toward gays, Mexicans, Filipinos and others.” You have confidence that people referring to African Americans as “monkeys”, encouraged the killing of “half-breeds,” invoked “White Power” rhetoric can be professional and do their job? Do you think a jury is going to take the word and trust such a person? You haven’t addressed that point in your inexplicable defense of racist cops.

        3. Frankly

          Those were terrible, aweful things said.  Probably a bit worse than the things said privatley by many Davis liberals about conservatives, Christians, business owners, bankers, CEOs, Republicans and Trump supporters.

        4. Misanthrop

          I haven’t followed this case and don’t know all the facts but I’m trying to stand up for free speech  even the most offensive kind. I raised two concerns about it being private on the job communication or not? Did they show malice in the conduct of their job duties? These are the relevant questions. Perhaps you have never worked in a place where people say or do stupid things but I have and had terrible things said about my own religion among other things so I’m like, big deal. You do raise a good point about getting this stuff in front of juries though and they may be compromised in that regard. Of course there are plenty of police jobs where you never testify and then there are disciplinary actions or referrals for counseling that fall short of firing.

          What I find amazing is that you hide behind the first amendment and let all sorts of people post racist comments both dog whistle and explicit when no first amendment protection exists but if a cop says something privately that is offensive but protected, you immediately call for their head and want to tar all police with the same brush.

          As for doctors not protecting one another just try to get one to say another doctor made a mistake. I’ve never seen it happen. I’m not saying that a person with a history of writing racist comments won’t violate their oath. I’m saying that writing racist remarks in private is not enough to go after someone’s badge. It would however raise a flag and cause an examination of the persons performance to see if they have acted inappropriately on the job.

        5. Barack Palin

          As for doctors not protecting one another just try to get one to say another doctor made a mistake.

          My wife can tell you first hand how doctors will protect other fellow doctors.

        6. South of Davis

          Biddin doubts (very much) that anyone can say offensive tings off the record and still perform their professional duties fairly.

          I have a good friend who is a paramedic (a former president of his union) who said that just about all (the study below found it was 90%) say a lot of really bad stuff to help them deal with the job.

          Making jokes about a dead minority baby is not something “regular” people do but for some reason many paramedics do it to help them deal with the stress of the job.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            Paramedics don’t have to testify in court. They don’t arrest people. I’m not sure that saying a lot of really bad stuff is a good thing anywhere, but there is a difference.

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          And what do most people think of Kanye West? My guess is if you did a poll with Kanye and Trump, Kanye would be competitive with Trump in terms of who was most unpopular. So I think your example proves the point.

        2. South of Davis

          David wrote:

          > if you did a poll with Kanye and Trump, Kanye

          > would be competitive with Trump in terms of who

          > was most unpopular.

          Kanye has sold over 20 million albums (and Trump has received more primary votes (so far) than any Republican in US history).


        3. The Pugilist

          yeah and?  20 million is less than 10 percent of the population. Trump has unfavorables in the 60-70 percent range in every poll and Kanye is a punk.  Do you just post to be provocative and get a rise out of people?  Why is Kanye West relevant to this discussion?

  8. sisterhood

    What is a “bad apple”, anyway?

    When my loved one was on probation and had been 100% cooperative and compliant during his other probation checks, were several members of law enforcement “bad apples’ when they banged on my south Davis home at 6:55 a.m., screaming, “open your door right now, or we’ll kick it down”. They scared me, and my teenaged daughter. Was that un-called for behavior the behavior of “bad apples”? Were they also “bad apples” when they handcuffed me in my home, when I was not on probation and I have never in my life been arrested for anything? When I was not doing anything wrong or disrespectful?

    How far does law enforcement have to go to be considered “bad apples”?

  9. Biddlin

    “How far does law enforcement have to go to be considered ‘bad apples’?”

    The second they put on the badge and pickup their gun, with a false oath on their lips and vengeance in their hearts.

  10. Biddlin

    “Making jokes about a dead minority baby”

    After reading the linked article,I assume the racist(Sorry Don, but I gotta call an a**hole an a**hole, here)crap is all your addition. Having two close EMT friends, I know about the dark humor, but funnily enough I’ve never heard either of them make a racist comment. That is apparently more common in your circles than mine.

  11. tribeUSA

    I’d like to think that the most offensive racist comments made by the police were made only in a heated moment of over-stress; and do not reflect the everyday mindsets of the officers who said them–I think a few racial insults per year is not cause for alarm (among hundreds of other non-racial insults); but it would be disturbing if it does reflect the normal mindsets of these officers, or if any particular officer unloads racial insults on a daily, routine basis.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      I don’t know man, I’ve had a lot of heated moment of over-stress, and have never uttered offensive racist comments as a result.

      I view it as the obnoxious drunk syndrome – drinking doesn’t make people act in ways they wouldn’t ordinarily, it gives them license to act inappropriately. Here it facilitates behavior and thoughts that are clearly present to begin with and that manifest themselves in ways that are vile and inappropriate and unprofessional. Again, are such people the ones we want exercising judgment over others and having to make split second life and death decisions under periods of stress that is equal to the ones you reference?

      1. South of Davis

        David wrote:

        > drinking doesn’t make people act in ways they wouldn’t

        > ordinarily, it gives them license to act inappropriately.

        Let’s see if Tia agrees with you that drunk girls are not doing anything they “wouldn’t ordinarily” do and are just getting drunk so they have a “license to act inappropriately”…


        1. sisterhood

          Not sure Tia is an expert re: binge drinking behavior, simply because she has an M.D.

          Re: “mean drunks”, years ago we had a series of workplace educational presentations. Violence in the workplace, employee safety, etc. One speaker worked with W.E.A.V.E. He explained that most batterers plan their attack when sober, but often get drunk before they attack, so as to somehow justify their behavior.  In my limited experience at bars and parties, I’ve observed that mean drunks are also mean sober people, silly dunks are silly when sober, and I have never once seen a nice happy person turn into a mean drunk. I have never seen a nice person turn into a racist when drinking or high, either. However, I do believe sleep deprivation could make an otherwise caring cop into someone who uses bad judgment and possibly racial slurs.

      2. tribeUSA

        DG–yes, I get your point–as an adult, I don’t think I have ever spoken a racial/ethnic insult, simply because I know this is much too sensitive an area, and will be taken by many to be an indicator of innate racism.

        As a child/teen, I laughed/participated in some ethnic joke telling–don’t remember anything about blacks maybe because there were very few blacks in my hometown–Polish jokes were the big deal when I was in grade school & high school–I also enjoyed some species-ist jokes such as elephant jokes.

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