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South Africa can Teach the U.S about Cops

By Arkady in News
Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 05:00:20 AM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)
Freedom

It would appear that South Africa is in a position to teach the U.S. (or at least the cities of New York, Los Angeles and Chicago) how to deal with offences by police officers. According to this story in the London Times, they are now dealing with a recent case where police officers used prisoners to train attack dogs.


For those of you who are tired of a) the U.S. election stories and b) our new discussion of chartering the Virtual State Kuro5hin, this should give sufficient cause for venting in another direction.

As the Times reports, the South African Broadcasting Corporation has come into possession of a video of a dog training exercise at which 6 officers beat a group of black prisoners and, after taunting their dogs, set them on the prisoners to train them to be "vicious and aggressive". Apparantly, this video had been in circulation among South African police for some time and had been "shown at police barbecues for entertainment". The South African government immediately ordered the arrest of the six officers, all of whom were still serving in the police force.

Now, after some of the particularly egregious examples of police activity here in the States (the California case where prison guards organized fights between inmates, the New York case where police shot an unarmed man 40-something times, the Chicago case where an officer shot a driver reaching for her cell phone and pretty much anything done by the L.A.P.D), isn't it nice to see that South Africa, at least, knows how to deal with these things, even if the U.S. can't seem to figure it out?

Feh.

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South Africa can Teach the U.S about Cops | 31 comments (25 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
Bad parallels... (2.46 / 13) (#1)
by Miniluv on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 10:13:08 PM EST

DO your homework on Chicago (dark rainy night, driver had fled and incited a high speed chase), New York (he was wielding a weapon and had threatened several civilian lives along with attacking police and refusing to halt when so ordered) and then report back. I do not have the details of any of the California (LAPD et al) situations. On the other hand...the South African situation, as represented by the sketchy details of this post, represents a deplorable, though not unexpected, situation that I hope they deal with firmly but fairly and with respect for the rule of law.
"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
Do YOUR Homework ;-) (4.08 / 12) (#2)
by Arkady on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 10:24:33 PM EST

I admit I'd have to look up the coverage on the New York one for certainty, though I do not recall any mention of a weapon (and I _thought_ I recalled it saying that there wasn't one; he was reaching for his wallet).

I know the Chicago one; it was quite clear. I was in Chicago at the time. It was neither night nor had there been a chase involved.

The California prison case is well documented, particularly in Mother Jones. The L.A.P.D. are the fine folks who brought us the Rodney King beating, the planted blood sample in the O.J. Sompson case and anal rape with a baton.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.


[ Parent ]
plunger rape (4.40 / 5) (#5)
by ZanThrax on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 11:34:43 PM EST

was the NYPD as I remember it, and I dug around Salon for a while, just to be sure.

The way I see it, LAPD has been progressing towards what it has recently been shown to be since they went para-military a couple decades ago. NYPD has regressed to their current "brutality as s.o.p." since Gulianni decided that he was going to make damned sure that he would be the mayor that cleaned up New York.


Before flying off the handle over the suggestion that your a cocksucker, be sure that you do not, in fact, have a cock in your mouth.
[ Parent ]

Some of the incidents may be undestandable. (2.28 / 7) (#7)
by Pakaran on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 12:02:49 AM EST

While I don't know anything about what the LAPD is accused of, I do know that violence against the LAPD is quite common, and on average an one officer dies per day. The equivalent in a city the size of mine would be one officer killed every month. Given such figures, it's somewhat understandable that the police might become angry.

Granted, though, brutality is never called for.

[ Parent ]

Check your facts, try 3/year, 60 nationwide (4.33 / 3) (#17)
by Narcischizm on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 10:22:39 AM EST

Don't make blanket statements that you haven't checked. The data for LA cops murdered (in or out of the line of duty) is about 3 per year. 3 in 1996 (55 nationwide), 2 in 1997 (65 nationwide), 3 in 1998 (61 nationwide). NOT 1/day. http://www.fbi.gov/ucr.htm is the source. Estimates for 1999 and 2000 are about the same (lost the link [Mozilla Crash] if someone wants it I'll find it again), crime decreasing nationwide.

[ Parent ]
Sorry... (3.00 / 2) (#19)
by Pakaran on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 10:51:54 AM EST

My info comes from something I saw on the discovery channel several years ago, I might have remembered incorrectly.

[ Parent ]
Re: Sorry... (3.33 / 3) (#27)
by CubeDweller on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 10:13:19 PM EST

This is a long shot, but I think I remember the program you might have seen.

If I'm right, the 1/day stat had something to do with police brutality. Either one charge filed per day or one officer disciplined per day. I remember it because I thought the number actually seemed low considering the number of officers on the force in LA. There is a Discovery channel documentary devoted to violence by and against the Police, though. They played it a couple times this year, both the beginning and end of summer I believe.


Seth

[ Parent ]
Cause and effect? (3.40 / 5) (#20)
by winthrop on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 11:38:50 AM EST

While I don't know anything about what the LAPD is accused of, I do know that violence against the LAPD is quite common, and on average an one officer dies per day.

The LAPD are being killed because they use so much violence against the other, poorer-funded street gangs of LA. See the link in the other comment I made in this thread.

But this is really just an extension of what happens in police departments around the world. The police use force (whether you consider it excessive or not, there is always at least the implicit threat of force) to stop people from doing what they want to do (e.g. earning money through the sale of narcotics). A kindergartener's psychology will tell you people will retaliate against them. When you live by the sword, you die by the sword.

What's happening in LA is only exceptional because the police are engaging in the exact same activities they purportedly are trying to stop.

[ Parent ]

You do yours first :) (3.50 / 2) (#26)
by ethereal on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 09:46:02 PM EST

I also was in Chicago, and I don't think you have listed all of the facts. There was a young black man driving the car, and a young black woman as a passenger. The car was stopped for a routine traffic stop but then sped off and led police on a chase. Once the car was finally stopped by police, the female passenger was reaching under her seat for what was described as a "shiny metallic object" and was shot by the officer who made the traffic stop.

Also in the same month (these both occurred earlier this year) a black man was shot at a traffic stop after a chase when he grabbed the officer's gun through the car window and pulled on it, thus yanking the officer's finger against the trigger and causing the driver's untimely demise.

Although both of these cases received a lot of press attention in the Chicagoland area and were rallying events for local civil rights leaders, it seems to me that both cases fall into the situation of "sure, you shouldn't have gotten shot, but you really did some stupid stuff that didn't give the officers any reason to believe that you weren't dangerous". I agree that there may be some racial profiling at work in the area such that black people may be stopped more by the police. I don't think that is right and I would like to see it change as much as the next person. But to endanger many lives by fleeing from the police, and then acting in an unpredictable (and from the police perspective quite possibly hostile) manner once they finally catch you, is not an approach that I would recommend to people of any race. Neither of those people would have been killed, no matter what their race, if they just sat still for a traffic stop, drove home, and filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit alleging racial profiling instead.

--

Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
[ Parent ]

LA cops (4.00 / 7) (#10)
by winthrop on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 01:10:58 AM EST

I was really shocked to read this account of the LAPD, culled from the confession of a police officer.

Among the things the officer reported about his unit:

  • They re-sold confiscated drugs.
  • They regularly planted evidence on suspects.
  • They shot unarmed suspects, then covered it up.

I don't have anything against most police officers, but anytime you concentrate enough power in a small group of people, corruption will happen.

[ Parent ]

Do some research. (3.75 / 4) (#16)
by Narcischizm on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 09:47:20 AM EST

Amadou Diallo did not have a weapon. He was a black man who reached dangerously for his wallet on the front stoop of his own building, for this crime he was shot 41 times by NYC cops. Another detainee was raped in the ass with a mop handle and beaten almost to death by NYC cops. In the DC area, an innocent Howard University student was shot by a Prince Georges county cop more than 20 miles outside his jurisdiction, theoretically on police business (the guy was going to visit his kid). Other PG county cops were investigated for training police dogs to maim, not just hold suspects. How about the brother of the Steelers player who was shot to death in a routine traffic stop outside Pittsburgh? The officer stated that he thought the car might be stolen since he was a young black man driving a Porsche.

This is just a tiny little sampling fo some of the atrocities I can think of in recent memory. Tell me again how US police officers are so much more civilized than those accused South African oficers.

[ Parent ]
Using Names (2.33 / 3) (#30)
by Miniluv on Fri Nov 10, 2000 at 09:23:11 PM EST

Amadou Diallo is a different incident than the one I believed was being referred to. That is a case with which I am not so familiar, and will for the moment defer to the evidence you presented.
The incident I referred to was a mentally unstable man shot in a jewish neighborhood. I don't have links handy, nor do I particularly care to provide them. I'll go look up Mr. Diallo and you can look up the other, there was ample coverage on both.
In relation to other people who so clearly remember the chicago incident through either visiting here or national media, I live here. I see the news every night, this story lived for weeks after the national media dropped it. Interesting facts came to light to support the fact that while the police were not perfect in the situation, it was not a clear cut racial incident, despite Jesse Jackson and his loudmouth media posturing.
I have a serious hate on for Jesse Jackson, as I've yet to see him involve himself in ANYthing he belonged with. He attempted to get sentences lightened, if not DISMISSED, for a group of black youths who incited a violent riot at a high school football game. I saw copious video footage of these youths beating several people, including innocent bystanders, rather violently. The video was so well shot you could identify these people from the courtroom and school board room sketches to the video. The chicago situation, and Mr. Diallo as well, were distorted to at least some extent by the ravings of this man, and that is something EVERYONE chooses to overlook in the media.
"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
[ Parent ]
homework? (4.50 / 4) (#31)
by h2odragon on Sat Nov 11, 2000 at 05:14:37 PM EST

I lived in the Chicago suburbs for a while, and have no problem beleiving this particular incident or pretty much anything else I've heard about Chicago and/or other big city cops. While there's a few exceptional people there, more than I know I'm sure, the majority of law enforcement I came into contact with were all assholes.

I have personally witnessed Chicago cops draw firearms and threaten to shoot someone for backtalk. I wouldn't say its smart to call a cop a pig but having your life credibly threatened is an extreme response. Had the kid not been white he might well have died. I've been drawn on by suburban cops while dumpster diving; not because I was threatening in any way, but because I wasn't quick enough to get out of the dumpster.

The attitude that seem to be held by most non-rural cops in the USA, the "Us-vs-Everybody" and no action is unjustifiable, makes it too easy to believe the worst when you hear these stories of brutality. Cops tend to be bullies.

...I hope there's some real, honest cops read k5 and willing to give an insider's perspective here...

[ Parent ]

Just an obversation (2.16 / 6) (#4)
by General_Corto on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 11:34:26 PM EST

We're meant to be a Global Community(tm) - to me, that means that we should take advantage of opportunities to learn from our, and others, mistakes.

That Is All.


I'm spying on... you!
I saw this on TV last night (3.87 / 8) (#11)
by Dacta on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 01:44:03 AM EST

Here in Australia, they showed it - or at least clips of it on SBS.

It was really shocking - more like something I'd have expected from WW2, the Bosnian War or East Timor. Not only did the set the dogs on the black men, they went after them with their boots when they tried to keep the dogs away from them.

Eventually they pulled them up and filmed their injuries, and then knocked them down to the dogs again. It was really in-human.

In defence of the US police, I've seen the Rodney King video etc, and this was a lot worse. There was no danger or potential danger here. This was just torture - they lined them up and then practiced punching them in the face, for instance.



No defense. (3.60 / 5) (#15)
by Narcischizm on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 09:29:33 AM EST

In defence of the US police, I've seen the Rodney King video etc, and this was a lot worse. There was no danger or potential danger here. This was just torture - they lined them up and then practiced punching them in the face, for instance.
Please do NOT give them defense. I think I know what you are saying, that this was horrific torture, not 'simply' a beating, but they deserve no defense for murdering, beating, profiling, torturing, maiming and raping people, innocent or not.

[ Parent ]
A few examples from the states (4.66 / 6) (#13)
by Chops on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 03:12:23 AM EST

Here are some random resources about police brutality in the states (courtesy of Google):

There's an exhaustive and fairly unbiased summary, organized by city, here.

There's a list of some of the worst corrupt-cop nightmares, with some good links, here.

There's a truly sickening in-depth example of Chiacgo cops torturing confessions out of suspects here. When to powers that be found out that this had been going on for decades, they fired one of the cops involved. Nothing more. How not to build a society, exhibit one. I stopped reading after this one.

Thanks (2.00 / 3) (#21)
by Arkady on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 04:21:46 PM EST

It would have been a better post to start with if I'd provided a good supporting link set like this. Sorry about not doing it myself, but thanks for filling in the gap I left.

Cheers,
-robin

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.


[ Parent ]
Another perspective. (2.75 / 8) (#18)
by darthaya on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 10:51:43 AM EST

I know a lot of people are gonna jump on me for this, but I gonna speak out what is in my mind. :)

Did anyone think from the police perspective? It is a very dangerous job and police officers, especially in those large city with a large black american populations, always have their lifes in risk in everyday's job. Think about the stress. You sit behind a desk and computer and you can rant all you want, do you ever think from their point of views?

There are lot of police misconduct that is based on their stereotypes of the people, such as the an example someone else mentioned in his(her) comment that "A police claims he thinks the car was stolen because a young black guy was driving a porsche". Yes, it was unfortunate, but where do you think this stereotype comes from? Why dont you think about it and try to change this stereotyping rather than rant all about the police officer?

This is only my 2 cents. I just hope I can get some opinions from other people on this interesting issue. And btw, I am asian, so don't blame me as the k5 racist. :)

Police, stress, stereotypes. (4.20 / 5) (#22)
by whatnotever on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 06:42:05 PM EST

"...police officers, especially in those large city with a large black american populations, always have their lifes in risk in everyday's job...."

Interesting that you say this, and then say, using the fact that you are not caucasian, that we should not call you racist. How could that statement not imply that blacks living in large cities are more dangerous/violent than whites? And how could that not be racist? (And not being caucasian doesn't mean you can't be racist... This seems to be a common misconception.)

"... where do you think this stereotype comes from? Why dont you think about it and try to change this stereotyping rather than rant all about the police officer?"

Why not change both the stereotypes *and* the officers' behavior?

You are defending the police officers in your comment. You seem to be saying that they are justified in their actions because they have very stressful jobs and are merely the victims of rampant stereotypes, just like everyone else. I do not want someone to be a police officer if they can't handle the stress and are so suceptible to stereotypes as to consider someone a thief because the color of their skin doesn't match the make of their car. Police officers have a very tough job, yes. That's why many of these people should not be police.

[ Parent ]
Racist or not... (2.50 / 2) (#28)
by darthaya on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 11:31:27 PM EST

Is not the topic we are discussing here.

For my first statement, "...police officers, especially in those large city with a large black american populations, always have their lifes in risk in everyday's job...." is just my opinion. If you could give me an example of a "large urban city with a large black american population" that is a model for nice and safe neighborhood, I would be more than glad to hear about it.

Personally, I dont know any police officers. Never even talked with one. But I would imagine that if you have to always worry about the people you talk to somehow might take out a shotgun out of nowhere and shoot you right in the chest with it, I would be a lot more cautious.

[ Parent ]

I'll take that bait ;-) (4.00 / 4) (#23)
by Arkady on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 08:55:35 PM EST

First, I do agree that police work is neither the safest nor the least stressful occupation; that should be obvious. A also agree that the larger goal has to be changing (or eliminating, to whatever degree it is psychologically feasible) the stereotypes on which these police are said to be acting. But there are smaller, more immediate, issues.

Do you want the only unified armed force in your community to be composed of unaccountable people for whom it is acceptible to act in whatever manner they choose? I know for sure that I'll say "no" to that, and I expect that you would too.

The key point here, and what I wanted to bring into discussion, is that police (or any agent of the State) must be held _personally_ accountible for their actions, even while "on duty". In theory, this principle is already universally accepted in international law formaing, as it does, the basis for the Nuremburg Trial decisions. But it's certainly not common in practice, at least here in the U.S., and I'm pleased that South Africa actually seems to be following it.

As the Salon article another comment linked to pointed out, the L.A. police have historically dealt with these sorts of problems by temporarily suspending officers and occasionaly demoting someone. These people should have been arrested the moment the allegations were made, just as any other citizen would have been.

There's a term reserved for any State in which the police are not held accountable for their on-duty actions. That term is "Police State" and, much as the U.S. likes to throw it around about other, smaller, more melanin-intensive countries, it applies quite well here too.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.


[ Parent ]
Policing isn't dangerous. (3.83 / 6) (#24)
by Eric Henry on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 08:56:39 PM EST

Did anyone think from the police perspective? It is a very dangerous job and police officers, especially in those large city with a large black american populations, always have their lifes in risk in everyday's job.
I'll ignore the racist stuff (and it is), and just mention that this idea that policing is dangerous is totally false. Take a look at the 1998 UCR stats, and you'll find that the number of officers killed is quite low. It's a lot lower than a lot of other occupations. And when you take out all the accidents, and just look at the murders, you find that only a few dozen were killed. That's a relatively small number. And it's certainly not enough to justify the types of actions the police in this country regularly engage in, and which you are apparently defending.
Why dont you think about it and try to change this stereotyping rather than rant all about the police officer?
What, other than being wrong, and racist? If a cop believes, and is acting upon racist sterotypes you actually think it's wrong to criticize him?
And btw, I am asian, so don't blame me as the k5 racist.
I suppose Asians can't be racists?

[ Parent ]
Coming from SA (3.85 / 7) (#25)
by IcI on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 09:19:24 PM EST

Hi, I live in SA and even though I do not know any Police officer personally, this is what I've heard spoken around here.

Suicides amongs Police officers are amongs the highest in the world. Crime in Johannesburg is compareable to NYC durings it's heyday. Anybody heard about the eleven bomb explosions (not only threats) in Cape Town in the last 10 months (A major increase over the last two years. Only four explosions last year)? Police offices being shot at home because they stood up against the local cartels.

And let me remind you that even after six years the elections of the ANC goverment, the Afrikaaner community is still very racialistic and many of them are in the police force or the military where exactly the same actions are carried out.

A popular saying around here is "I'm not a racist, I just hate them all individually."

<pre> oo oo
BIG Brother is watching
\\ \/ /\ //
OO OO OO OO OO OO OO OO cc dd
</pre>
Feel sorry for the South African police! (4.00 / 4) (#29)
by Builder on Fri Nov 10, 2000 at 08:33:29 AM EST

Before getting all irate over what the officers did, remember that they were only a few people from a force of thousands!

The south african police, and the reservists that serve along side them are among the most dedicated people I have ever known. Reservists have to pay for their own equipment (Bulletproof vests, Uniforms, etc.), serve in their own time for no financial recompense, and put their life on the line EVERY time they go on duty

The full time officers have it even worse. 40 cases assigned to a single officer, means that he will never solve more than a fraction of them! The amount of criminals that officers catch and are then let out because the courts don't have time to process them is escalating. The officers who see criminals that they put away released because it is someones birthday, leaves them feeling sick, and scared for their own lives!

South Africa is at war. There are more deaths due to violent crime in the Gauteng area every day, than there are in the whole of England in a week! The right of the average man to defend himself is eroded a little more every year. Every time a new anti theft device is released for vehicles, the would be hijackers get more violent to try and beat the system. And as in every war, there are attrocities. I'm not condoning them, but I know how these people feel! Frustration, anger and knowing that your job is futile is not fun (hell, i'm a sysadmin now, so not much of an improvement ;)) and it leads to one of several things.

  • Suicide - Not a good thing for obvious reasons
  • Abuse of your fellow man - Not condonable ever
  • Career Change - costs the country's crime prevention forces in manpower, training budget, etc

So what should they do? The police are losing the war. The amount of people leaving SA every day is climbing. Those that stay live in fear.


--
Be nice to your daemons
South Africa can Teach the U.S about Cops | 31 comments (25 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
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