Deterrence

on
CW: Open and unapologetic anti-Blackness, racism, police violence
 
This dashcam video is a reminder that some problems are larger than resistance, that our society is more fundamentally broken than the immediate election of any president, that our house has not ever been in order.
 
I, for once, have not much to say. I will merely add two broader points:
-The deterrent effect of criminal laws has been repeatedly shown to hinge almost entirely on the question of how likely an actor thinks any negative consequences are. No statistically significant correlation has been found to the severity of the punishment after extensive research.
Thirteen officers were convicted of either murder or manslaughter charges between 2005 and 2015. Although I can’t find specific numbers, it appears that only about 50–60 officers were even charged with murder or manslaughter during this timeframe. Extrapolating from The Counted (and limiting our sample to unarmed civilians), that means that 99.42% of police killings of unarmed civilians resulted in no murder or manslaughter conviction, and that 97.76% of police killings of unarmed civilians resulted in no murder or manslaughter charges being filed. I don’t have the ability to cross-reference the race of the victim with whether charges were filed, but as a general matter, we know that a killing of a Black person is eight times more likely than average to be found justified.
 
Obviously, those justified shootings exist. And of course, other charges also exist. Michael Slager, for example, pled to “violating the civil rights” of Walter Scott. But even he did so after a mistrial, and finding a jury willing to convict him could have taken several more trials.
 
And what do you think becomes of this officer? With any luck, he’ll be fired, but then what? Criminal or civil suits don’t cover this kind of offhand remark. And Betty Shelby was rehired by the Rogers County police after she was let go by Tulsa’s city police force following her killing of Terence Crutcher. Will this officer be rehired by another police force desperate to add somebody? Even if he isn’t, how many officers do you think hold the same thoughts but have the presence of mind not to mention them in front of a rolling dashcam? (For the eight thousandth time, I’ll note that the George W. Bush–era FBI warned of the growing threat of white supremacist infiltration of local police forces back in 2006.)
 
There is plenty to do to oppose the abhorrent policies of the White House. But to mix some metaphors, we must treat more than the symptoms, or their roots will continue to sit and wait until they can grow back again.

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