Winston’s Newsletter #1

Jesse Jackson visits as protests continue 1.) Introductions

2.) Wellston Shooting

3.) Defensive Tactics

4.) Morale and the Police Hierarchy

5.) Looming DOJ Report

6.) Racial Profiling Statistics Revisited

7.) State of the Novel


1.) Introductions

Since the unrest in the St. Louis region has calmed to the point that not much is happening on a daily basis, I’m going to try to revise the format of the blog to resemble my topical posts on a slightly larger/longer scale. Hopefully, I’m not jinxing myself by assuming there won’t be much to write about regularly.


 

2.) Wellston Shooting

There was an officer involved shooting in the municipality of Wellston a few days ago. At first there wasn’t any attention paid to the shooting by the Ferguson Twitter Brigade (FTB) which just makes their jump to outrage in other cases like Mike Brown, Antonio Martin, and Vonderitt Myers much more disingenuous. What makes the FTB’s initial lack of outrage even more irrational is that the Wellston story as released to the Post Dispatch by St. Louis County Crimes Against Persons (the division of the county police handling this case) is actually problematic for a variety of reasons such as:

a.) Wellston is the type of municipality that is not widely known for being upstanding.

  • A Wellston Officer concealed shooting at an unarmed suspect in a story that made sense to no one earlier this month.
  • A Wellston officer was convicted of Forcible Sodomy in 2012.
  • The Chief of Police has been fired from a myriad of other north county agencies.
  • A city councilwoman had several officers fired after they arrested her son.

In other words, unlike Ferguson, Wellston Police have traditionally had a burden of reputation to overcome when making allegations of others.

http://www.policeone.com/patrol-issues/articles/8267194-Mo-councilwoman-accused-of-firing-cops-who-arrested-son/

http://www.kmov.com/news/crime/Officer-allegedly-shoots-unarmed-suspect-does-not-report-incident-291785451.html

b.) There are circumstances where an officer could be drug by a car and he would be justified in using deadly force, but I’m hard pressed to argue that this is one of them. Take for example, if I ordered someone out of a car or attempted to make an arrest, they refused, and so I tried to pull them from the vehicle. If they sped off with me in the window, that set of circumstances would justify a deadly force option.

Example of a justified set of these circumstances, see below:

http://www.officer.com/news/11234143/dashcam-video-shows-missouri-trooper-being-dragged

The fact that, per Crimes Against, the Wellston officer was not already attempting to make an arrest, nor reaching into the car when the vehicle started to flee indicates that the officer jumped into the passenger side window after it started to leave. The argument that the driver sped up after this point does work in the officer’s favor but it’s not clear cut by any means.


 

3.) Defensive Tactics

Defensive tactics is a fancy term for what essentially equates to police martial arts or hand-to-hand training.

A friend of mine attended a Defensive Tactics instructor course at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Georgia. During the training, one of the teachers boasted about how former UFC Heavy Weight Champion Randy Couture was brought in to put on a seminar for some of their teachers. Afterward, the teacher doubled down on his boast, bragging that once Couture had left, they disregarded everything he had to say.  The implication is obviously that their instructors are better fighters than Couture which is utterly absurd at face value.  For the record, besides being a highly decorated Mixed Martial Artist, Mr. Couture was also a Division 1 Collegiate Wrestler and Olympic Alternate. The notion that he wouldn’t have anything worth teaching the FLETC instructors is unlikely.

In the St. Louis area, Defensive Tactics training is dominated by a system known as PPCT or Pressure Point Control Techniques. Without hyperbole, the system is garbage when viewed by anyone with real training. One of the selling points for the training is that it is constantly updated supposedly based upon effectiveness. Oh, and there is the little matter of how much each of these classes cost and how much it costs to maintain an instructor certification. To be fair, PPCT isn’t the only Defensive Tactics program to run such a racket successfully.

To give an idea of the quality of training behind PPCT, during the mandatory civil defense training pre-Ferguson Grand Jury, one of the moves demonstrated by a PPCT instructor was to place one’s hand around the face at the mandible and use the edge of the opposite hand to drive that wedge up into the nerve cluster at the top of the teeth and below the nose. Not only would this likely not result in a compliant suspect, but it would also immediately place the officer in danger of getting bit exposing them to injury and potential blood borne pathogens. Furthermore, in a Post-Eric Garner environment where any arm so much as going around the head is considered a “choke” now, negative PR from the FTB would be imminent and completely avoidable.

Not to beat a dead horse on Mixed Martial Arts as it has it’s deficiencies and cops shouldn’t necessarily be MMA fighters, but there is a reason why PPCT techniques or other Hackneyed Acroynym-Fetish Alphabet Soup Systems (HAFASS) don’t appear in any of the hundreds of various martial arts contests of skill.   If these systems worked against real fighters, it would seem that someone somewhere would have taken advantage of the superior training we were receiving for a pretty easy payday and notoriety.

Furthermore, due primarily to officer egos, there is no regular defensive tactics training for all officers. If reductions in suspect injury and death are truly the goal of many of these protesters, mandatory regularly scheduled defensive tactics training (particularly grappling training), should be not only encouraged but demanded. Perhaps a better trained Darren Wilson, regardless of justification to do so, would have opted for another path when faced with an individual who outweighed him by a hundred pounds.  Or perhaps not but with his options limited, the end is a lot more set in stone.


 

4.) Police Morale and Hierarchy

Of the 11 members on the President’s Task Force on “Policing in the 21st Century” only three or four have law enforcement experience. None have been line-level officers since at least 2000 with many ending their patrol experience far earlier than that. Furthermore, not a single individual is an officer from Ferguson or anyone who worked the civil disturbance detail that has consumed the discussion on 21st century Policing.

In a lot of ways, this separation is demonstrative of the gap between those in patrol and what are typically known as the “white shirts,” supervisors (usually lieutenant and higher) who are out of touch with the realities “on the street.” It is insanely insulting and shortsighted to have a group of activists, academics, and administrators far removed from what actually goes on in policing to be informing us of what we deal with on a daily basis.

Going a step further, present blog excluded, how many first hand accounts of the unrest in Ferguson have you read or heard from the perspective of the patrolman?  Unless I’m missing something, I would wager that the answer is not many.  Police chain of command is usually to blame for such a lack of ability for officers to speak out.  Of course, given the political climate, speech needs to be made with care.  However, line-level officers have effectively been muzzled with the only voices being heard the ones who weren’t smart enough to choose their words carefully.

What you probably have heard, beside the few line-level officers who have been sanctioned for saying stupid things, is a fair number of police administrators who have tried to play politics and be overly diplomatic.  For example, Jon Belmar, St. Louis County Chief of Police, has repeatedly tried to reinforce the absurd notion as a badge of honor that there were no fatalities during the protests, which apparently ignores the death of DeAndrea Joshua in Canfield, and is willfully ignorant of the large number of officers, protesters, reporters, and innocent bystanders injured as a result of “peaceful protest.”  When leaders are more worried about the perception of positivity than creating a real positive outcome, the morale of those on the ground facing the life and death reality of their words is likely to suffer.


 

5.) DOJ to Release Ferguson Investigation Findings

It would seem that Eric Holder’s outrage about lopsided leaks prior to the Grand Jury announcement doesn’t apply to his own office.  The latest speculation from supposed inside sources is that the DOJ will force the Ferguson Police Department to enter into a Consent Decree with the DOJ effectively given control of the police department to the federal government (as if this wasn’t a reality already). This is particularly interesting if it is based solely or even largely upon racial profiling data. I expect to review the findings in depth once they are released.

Since all signs point to Darren Wilson walking on any federal charges, hopefully sanctions against the PD will satiate any lingering bloodlust and preemptively quell any potential riots.  I’m not sure how the DOJ would justify charging Wilson with some form of civil rights violation when they’ve already deemed there was insufficient evidence to pursue such a case against George Zimmerman, an individual who there was a far stronger case against.

Former St. Louis County Police Chief, Tim Fitch, was quoted in the paper today as saying that this will likely result in Ferguson disbanding their police department. Then the writer quoted others who claim the opposite. Given the tax situation and the fact that a post-riot Ferguson is hemorrhaging money and potential commercial revenue, the city will be lucky if it doesn’t go bankrupt as is, let alone have enough money to support an independent police department under punitive DOJ rule.  I would speculate that Ferguson is doomed to an existence similar to what remains of Kinloch at this point.


 

6.) Racial Profiling Statistics Revisited.

Racial profiling statistics are a self reported average of traffic stop demographics compared against census data residency of a jurisdiction. I have discussed them at length in my entry, “Lies, Damn Lies, and…”

As a review, racial profiling stats are an invalid measure of actual racist policing or targeted racial profiling because:

  • -Traffic stops are a reflection of mobile traffic and not residency in a jurisdiction though the two are compared anyway.
  • -Racial profiling data includes those unlikely to be traveling at the highest frequency, like the elderly. The more one is on the road, the more one is likely to be stopped by the police just as a matter of chance. If I have a younger working aged minority population and a primarily older retiree population of white people, the minorities are going to get stopped more often.
  • -Census data is an inaccurate measure of rental properties, where turnover is high and thus data collected years ago doesn’t reflect the actual population living there.  Low income rental properties exacerbate this situation.
  • -Chance plays a large role in who is present in a car, as well as other factors likely to result in an arrest/search incidental to race. If I pull over a black man in a stolen car, his arrest has nothing to do with race but his stop is still recorded per racial profiling stats according to that identifier.

In reference to disparity, the state of Missouri has a black occupant, traffic stop disparity rate of 1.59. The City of Ferguson has a black occupant, traffic stop disparity of 1.37.  Since Ferguson’s rate is lower than the state average, and if racial profiling is the source of the DOJ’s supposed findings of racist policing, what does this mean for the rest of law enforcement agencies in Missouri?  Likely nothing since this has nothing to do with policing or racist attitudes, and everything to do with punishing the City of Ferguson specifically.

http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/police-stops-in-ferguson-what-are-the-numbers/article_012cf751-9cec-5733-8025-09e03abb9d86.html

Interestingly, as the DOJ report is getting ready to be released supposedly in reference to racial profiling stats as a evidence of racist policing, the Missouri Attorney General’s website which lists reports on traffic stop racial profiling data compiled by the Highway Patrol is resulting in an “Error 404” for every report. See for yourself:

http://ago.mo.gov/VehicleStops/2013/reports/161.pdf

When this data is inevitably brought back online, I would urge my readers to take a look at the following North County municipalities:

  • 1.) Normandy
  • 2.) Greendale
  • 3.) Bellerive Acres
  • 4.) Cool Valley

Specifically check the rate of disparity between these various municipalities for the simple reason that these municipalities are policed by the same police officers because, all of these towns contract their police out to the Normandy Police Department. Therefore, if the disparity index is different between these groups despite the fact they are patrolled by the same officers, the same people, then the measure is invalid and not demonstrating what it’s supposed to be. If there is a concerted effort to take out racial frustrations on the black community in particular or no effort whatsoever, the disparity index should be close to the same number if it is a compilation of anything other than random chance. It should be uniformly high or uniformly low based upon their supposed bias or lack thereof.


 

7.) The State of the Novel

My Ferguson novel is officially being proofread. It stands now at 100 pages single spaced and approximately 52,000 words. The plan remains to release it episodically in four parts and then to release the entire work together. It will be free to download and attached to a paypal account so that anyone wishing to pay for the book can pay what they like, or not at all. Half of the proceeds will be donated to Backstoppers. Once I have a better idea of the timeframe, I will post release dates.  After each initial release, commentary will follow identifying what is based on fact and what is my invention.

WS

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5 thoughts on “Winston’s Newsletter #1

  1. That “nobody was killed” thing is trivially true, but pales in comparison to the injuries and property damage that was allowed to take place. And as I said before, if someone breaking the law was injured or killed, too bad.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ” I expect to review the findings in depth once they are released.”

    Good. I was hoping you would and am looking forward to it.

    “here was insufficient evidence to pursue such a case against George Zimmerman, an individual who there was a far stronger case against.”

    How so? Zimmerman doesn’t seem to be the brightest bulb in the box, but there was no evidence Zimmerman was a racist; he may have interpreted the instruction to “let me know if he does anything” as meaning he should follow the kid, but when he was told to quit following the kid he did so; and the evidence indicated that Martin had plenty of time to go home after Zimmerman lost him, and probably even before Zimmerman even got off the phone, but instead he doubled back to confront Zimmerman. You’ve brought up other nuances of the law I didn’t know about before, but how does calling the cops on a guy peering into windows, who “looks like he’s up to no good, or he’s on drugs or something,” or shooting someone who is in the process of attacking you, violate their civil rights?

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    • It was my impression that Zimmerman confronted Martin, so that needs some verification. It was also my impression that if Zimmerman had never gotten out of his vehicle, as I understood the 911 dispatchers told him not to do, none of that would have happened. What was wrong with that case, I believe, is that Florida law never envisioned someone starting a confrontation, then ended up in fear of his life because he didn’t realize his opponent was stronger than he was, killed his opponent, and as a result was found not guilty because of a “stand your ground” law. I understood that Zimmerman started the confrontation. In my opinion, he should be in prison. I agree, however, that proving what happened was racially motivated would have been hard to prove.

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      • Zimmerman contends that he lost sight of Martin and got out of his vehicle having given up the search but was attacked by Martin anyway. However, the friend who was supposedly on the phone with Martin at the time of the altercation says that Martin said that he was being followed. Given the following:
        -Zimmerman was instructed to remain in his car by the dispatcher.
        -Comment about these punks always getting away.
        -Past failed attempt at becoming a policeman.
        -Past allegations of domestic violence.
        -Repeated threats of gun violence and allegations of flourishing said weapons in domestic situations since Martin’s death.

        With these concepts taken into account, I think it’s likely that Zimmerman pursued Martin and wound up in over his head while trying to play Batman. Darren Wilson on the other hand had a lawful authority to stop Mike Brown as a suspect in a robbery. In Zimmerman’s case, the only evidence to his benefit, or of wrongdoing on the part of Martin, is his own story which is what makes the argument that it was racially motivated a stronger one than in the case of Darren Wilson where we have:
        -Radio traffic identifying Brown and Johnson by their physical appearance and clothing.
        -Video evidence that a crime was committed, putting Brown in a specific frame of mind.
        -Blood evidence confirming that Brown returned in the direction of Wilson.

        The case for an unlawful death regardless of classification of manslaughter or 2nd degree murder, is admittedly stronger than the argument for a hate crime since so much of that determination plays into what was going on in Zimmerman’s head at the time of the killing. With that said, the evidence of that motivation is what I find to be much stronger in Zimmerman’s case than in Wilson’s case as articulated above.

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  3. Oho. I knew there’d been some ugly stuff since, but did not know there were records of domestic violence prior. I tended to discount the stuff since the trial because a media circus like that can so knock a person off kilter.

    “Zimmerman was instructed to remain in his car by the dispatcher.”

    This, however, I do not get. I didn’t follow the Zimmerman case that closely, but I’ve listened to the entire 911 call, and I don’t see where he was told to stay put. If the dispatcher asked me to keep him updated, and then “which way did he go” kinda stuff, I might have followed Martin at a distance myself. I wouldn’t interpret, “we don’t need you to do that” as “return to your car and stay put,” either. Although admittedly that’s probably what I’d do, but OTOH I don’t volunteer for the block watch. When Zimmerman changes his mind on having the cops meet him at his truck, the dispatcher doesn’t recommend he go back to the car or stay there, either.

    It’s my belief that Zimmerman was hoping to relocate the stranger he’d seen, but that he didn’t intend to confront him. Certainly Martin had plenty of time to go home if he’d wanted to, and in her trial testimony, Rachel Jeantel said that Martin initiated the confrontation with, “What are you following me for?” In Zimmerman’s version of the story, Martin uses different words, but the intent is roughly parallel — Martin is challenging Zimmerman. Jeantel’s also said she believes Martin threw the first punch (although that was a TV interview, not the trial). The fact that Martin did not seek safety while he was free to do so, and his statement as reported by Jeantel, make me think it’s at least equally likely that Martin initiated contact and started the fight.

    I guess I’m going to have to read up on civil rights and how that works in the courts. Seems to me it’s Darren Wilson who has the strongest civil rights case of those people mentioned; his freedom to pursue his chosen career has been destroyed, and there were a lot of government officials involved in that destruction.

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