An Update

previewOn the Ferguson front, not much is going on.  There have been protests every so often, but all have lacked the size and teeth that the protests from months prior possessed.  This reality gives further credence to the issue oft discussed on this blog that the only reason that anyone really paid attention to Ferguson was because of the violence back in August, as well as the implied or explicit threat by protesters of further violence.  As time goes on without anymore rioting, all that seems to remain is a loose conglomerate of organizations who frequently bark but apparently lack the ability to bite.

With that said, crime continues to be a very serious problem throughout the city and the county.  I have heard the phrase “emboldened criminal element” more times than I would like.  However, I think there is something much more insidious at play in the continued regional rise in violent crime.

I discussed the criminological theory of “strain theory” in an earlier post.  Without recreating another higher-brow academic snore-fest, strain theory basically explains that individuals commit crime due to the sum of stressors in one’s life that eventually lead one to justify various degrees of crime.  Usually strain theory is discussed from a perspective that the stressors are legitimate.

However, that need not be the case.  Perceived stressors can be just as poignant.  For example, if you’re a young black male living in the city of St. Louis and you’re constantly informed that the white racist police are always looking for a way of satiating an omnipresent blood lust, at some point, you might actually start to believe it if you’re told it’s true enough times by enough people and enough different outlets.

Accepting that notion as true, regardless of the objective or statistical reality, would make it easy for anyone to justify crimes committed against the establishment they blame for their perceived terrible situation.  Furthermore, when those crimes are not considered crimes at all but “resistance” there is no crisis of conscience whatsoever.  In other words, in my opinion, the narrative that has been spread since August (though admittedly before that as well to a lesser extent) is directly responsible for the uptick in violent crime.  The fact that officers are holding back for fear of becoming the next Darren Wilson is just the icing on the cake.  It is another symptom of a problem instead of the cancer that lingers beyond our view.


A few topics I intend to discuss in the coming weeks:

1.) Municipal Court reform

2.) Municipal Government / Policing reform

3.) Post-Ferguson Police Training Needs

  • Use of Force Policy
  • Organization Redistribution
  • Defensive Tactics and Police Attitudes

4.) The silly less-lethal pistol attachment apparently being tested by the Ferguson PD.


 

Work continues on the novel.  A rough draft is complete.  All that remains is plot / typo tinkering on my end.  Then it’s off to the editor.

As it stands, the plan is to release the book as an ebook on this blog for free in four chronological segments.  Once the final segment is released, the entire book will be released in one ebook.  The blog will be attached to a paypal account where people can pay what they would like, if anything.  Half of the money raised will be donated to BackStoppers, the St. Louis based charity that donates money to the families of first responders who die in the line of duty.

In case anyone missed my preview a few months ago:
https://dissonantwinstonsmith.wordpress.com/2014/12/17/preview/

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4 thoughts on “An Update

  1. I’m looking forward to your further discussions, as well as your book.
    Also, your “resistance” theory, which I view more as a “revenge” theory, of the crime uptick makes a lot of sense. People don’t realize that two wrongs, or more, don’t make things right, they just make them twice as wrong, or even more wrong than that.

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  2. “Perceived stressors can be just as poignant. For example, if you’re a young black male living in the city of St. Louis and you’re constantly informed that the white racist police are always looking for a way of satiating an omnipresent blood lust, at some point, you might actually start to believe it if you’re told it’s true enough times by enough people and enough different outlets.”

    While I agree with your point that false beliefs are stressful, I think you can take it one step further; not just false beliefs, but ineffective attitudes raise stress. For instance, my dad taught us that there were bad cops and that we could be easily shot by one, but it was very much a, “on the street, that cop is judge, jury, and executioner; you’re a lot less likely to get shot in the courtroom” approach. We didn’t have “the talk” or anything, but when we were teenagers, he’d bring up something like the Eric Scott case, in Las Vegas, and say, “That guy got shot because he reached for his gun while a cop was looking at him. That guy didn’t deserve to die, but he did something stupid, and that’s the sort of thing that happens when you do something stupid around cops.”

    Even when we were little kids, watching TV with him, commercial break commentary would include things like, “That kid is lucky he was dealing with Reed and Malloy; doing something like that with real life cops can get you shot” or “See how Rockford is totally cooperating? That’s because he’s smart enough to wait for his day in court. Although that idiot Angel is doing what he can to get the both of them shot.” When we’d point out that Rockford pretty much never got justice in the courts, dad shrugged that off. “The goal is to get out of the situation alive. You’re a lot more likely to get shot arguing with a cop than you are to get shot arguing with the judge.”

    When I heard about black parents having “The Talk” with their black sons, I didn’t get what the big deal was. Of course black parents told their sons cops could kill them; white parents do the same thing with their sons and daughters! But when I actually read the articles and heard *how* parents talked to their kids, I was shocked first by how DIS-empowering many of those talks were — pretty much, “Son, you have no chance; once a cop singles you out, he’s going to shoot you” — and also by how ineffective the more proactive parent’s advice was.

    I’ve got my own teenage sons of my own now, and I would never tell them to, “take the initiative and insist the cop follow the rules to the letter,” because my teenage boys simply don’t have the people skills to pull that off without annoying even a good cop, let alone one who is likely to be abusive. Nobody likes someone else telling them how to do their job, and someone who has an authoritarian job like policework is *particularly* unlikely to appreciate it. We were taught to respect the cop’s authority in the street, but, if he was out of line, to challenge it in the courts. Our “street attitude” was to be compliant; court, or in the office of the cop’s superior, or letters to the press, were the places to get belligerent and demand our rights.

    So IMHO the problem isn’t just the message that “racist cops are out to kill you” — a big part of the problem is how kids are being taught to cope with that situation. Too many kids are being either disempowered (“bad cops are out to get you and there’s nothing you can do”), or “empowered” with advice that not only won’t get them anywhere, but that might escalate the situation if they’re dealing with a bad cop.

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