Why I’ve Given Up On An Open Carry Test

August 25, 2014 9:30 am

by George Chidi · 45 comments

Huey Newton Gun Club

I proposed a social experiment to friends a few months ago. Let’s take two groups of guys with guns through a nondescript walk somewhere public. No flashy firearms – leave the ready-slung AR-15 at home – just men at the mall, or on the subway, legally carrying Glocks on their hip, or perhaps shotguns on their backs, as a test of the reaction of local law enforcement and the public.

Now, let’s make the first group white guys and the second black guys. Dress one group in business casual, the second in Five Points formal. A week later, switch clothes and go again.

Yes, I was serious.

In late April, an editor at The Guardian approached me to write a piece after Gov. Nathan Deal signed the Safe Carry Protection Act, dubbed the “Guns Everywhere Bill” by critics. That’s a big-deal paper and a huge byline. It’s also a mortgage payment. We talked.

Rather than make some grand statement about the evils of gun culture, or the merits of the law in its stated intent, I wanted to raise the question about differential application of the law. Perhaps cops wouldn’t automatically find a reason to surround a group of armed black men with a SWAT team. Would five guys who look like Lil’ Jon and his crew walking down Peachtree be more likely to inspire “probable cause” and an “articulatible suspicion” in the local police than five guys who look like Tarentino and the Reservoir Dogs?

I didn’t want to guess. I wanted to test.  

Bobby Seale sat with me about 15 years ago in a campus radio station in Amherst, Mass., describing the early days of the Black Panthers in the ’60s. He and Huey Newton would walk down the streets of Oakland with a loaded shotgun in one hand and the ordinances for open carry in the other, testing cops’ knowledge of the law. Sadly, that’s not all they did, of course. Several shootouts later, the group effectively disbanded.

But compare that response to Cliven Bundy’s interaction with police, still top of mind in late April, and you can see why one might be after empirical evidence of a racially disparate reaction to armed citizens.

The new law states that police officers can’t demand the presentation of a weapons permit without reasonable suspicion of criminal intent. But that was also prior law, said Jerry Henry, president of gun rights group GeorgiaCarry.org. “The only reason that was put in there is that there are an awful lot of law enforcement officers who don’t understand the law.”

GeorgiaCarry.org has been testing law enforcement’s reactions for years, notably Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in areas not covered by security screenings. Even before Guns Everywhere passed, it was legal to carry at the airport … a factor that may contribute to Hartsfield-Jackson leading the nation in the number of guns confiscated during screenings.

Racially-differential enforcement of the law threatens the law. When I talked with Henry in April, he endorsed the experiment in principle.

My friends said I might be putting people in harm’s way. “George, please be careful with this one,” a friend from New Orleans wrote. “It terrifies me to think what Roscoe P Coltrane thinks of any person of color with any weapon.”

Another told me that academics have review boards for experiments involving human subjects. “That’s why I’m not an academic,” I replied.

I had volunteers. We were getting ready.

And then, six days after Deal signed the bill – and a couple of days after my talk with The Guardian and GeorgiaCarry.org – Geddy Kramer walked into the FedEx package sorting center in Kennesaw with a shotgun in hand. Kramer, 19, shot an unarmed security guard and then five other co-workers before killing himself.

A compliance test then would have been both tasteless and likely to run into an elevated immune response by police, or so I thought. We waited.

On July 17, New York police killed an unarmed Eric Garner using an illegal choke-hold after he failed to obey a police command. On August 5, police killed 22-year-old John Crawford in an Ohio Walmart aisle after the African-American inspired enough terror in someone with the toy gun he plucked from a shelf to rationalize a SWAT team response. Ohio, I might note, is an open-carry state. Even if it were real, he wouldn’t have been breaking a law simply by holding it.

Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Mo., rather puts it over the top.

Articulable suspicion rests to some degree on the subjective perceptions of a police officer. So does the term “reasonable fear,” the get-out-of-jail card for police involved in a questionable shooting. I’m no longer sure I can take a chance that a police officer’s improper “suspicion” would not turn into unjustified fear if facing black guys with guns on their hips.

Even these guys.

Black people legally carrying guns in a group may simply be too dangerous to do without warning every cop within 100 miles that you’re planning to do it. But that rather defeats the purpose of examining how police might treat black gun owners differently from white gun owners. This constitutional right appear too dangerous to test.

{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

saltycracker August 25, 2014 at 9:58 am

Quick reaction: as a gun advocate anyone displaying their gun makes me very nervous and alert.
The stats show gun ownership is up some 40% in recent years and violent crime/murders down big too. Crime stats say a lot too when as profiling is not going away.

The militarization of local cops is a bad idea, most would respect a black or white national guard coming in to restore order but a tank driven by Barney……nah.

When Sharpton, Jackson, Holder jump in to anything it is a self serving photo op to cause division. Not that there are not big issues but their primary focus would be better served sounding out about black on black crime and educational failings. Start in Chicago.

One black leader said this weekend that a fair percentage of the police problem is the war in drugs. Interesting point and it has merit. And oft discussed here.

Ed August 25, 2014 at 10:08 am

Good article, George.

In terms of context, I’d imagine if you conducted this in L5P you’d have some different results.

TheEiger August 25, 2014 at 10:30 am

I would very interested to see the results of an experiment like the one you mention, but I do agree that it is probably just too dangerous. I’ve said it before and will say it again. I am one of the most pro-gun people you will ever meet. Against restricting the size of magazines, against gun registries, against restrictions on the amount ammunition, against having to do a back ground check on your 13 year old grandson when you buy him a 22 for his birthday. I think that if you have a concealed carry permit you should be able to carry any where you want. With all of that said. Anyone that wants to open carry their AR-15 (or any firearm really) down the street is looking for confrontation and they make all of us pro second amendment supporters look bad.

Michael Silver August 25, 2014 at 10:49 am

I disagree that its too dangerous to test and in fact I think we need too (for everyone’s safety, we can video tape it). If black Americans are being prevented from exercising their basic human right of self-defense (this is the point of carrying a gun by the way), then we need to expose that institutional racism and purge it. The 4th Amendment should apply to all (that’s the one that says the cops can’t go on fishing expeditions, that they need to have probable cause a crime is being committed).

A couple points, I think you should know.

Did Jerry Henry tell you what the impetus for the cops can’t demand to see a license part of the new law was? The impetus was because two black Americans and members of GeorgiaCarry were rousted for being black and armed. What happened was an outrage and I wish the press would report on it. Its scandalous and it makes me mad! You should interview them (Jerry should be able to help you get in contact with them).

A little note from history and tied to your photo. In the 60’s, the Oakland Police were beating black Americans who the street cops thought needed beating. The Black Panthers formed protection teams and would respond to arrest locations to make sure the guy getting arrested wasn’t beaten. They would carry guns. That upset the Governor at the time and he pushed a bill through that banned the open carrying of loaded firearms. As the bill was progressing, the Black Panthers went to the state capitol, armed, to protest this infringement on our Second Amendment rights. You can imagine how the sight of seeing armed black panthers walking the halls went over. Here is a link to a news article at that time:http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2202&dat=19670503&id=ClcmAAAAIBAJ&sjid=ZP8FAAAAIBAJ&pg=1072,5010951

BTW … that governor was Ronald Reagan.

I have more to write and will add more later. I wanted to start you thinking about running the experiment.

George Chidi August 25, 2014 at 11:24 am

If it were just me, and my own safety were at question, I would do it myself. But one person walking around with a gun provides a questionable test. Hell, I was at the Walmart up the street Saturday, registering voters, when I saw a black guy wearing a piece on his belt. Wife-beater T-shirt, blue jeans, tats. We talked a bit — he’s an off-duty MP.

And no one batted an eye, because OF COURSE he’s an off-duty cop. Who else is going to be walking around a Walmart on Memorial with a properly-holstered Glock on their hip?

But take the same fellow and put him in the Target at Phipps and he might get shot. The chances are small, but when you run the payoff table … nope. Not worth the data.

r_spald01 August 25, 2014 at 12:19 pm

maybe a modified experiment where you let the chiefs of police know whats going on? Target is off limits anyway as they’ve asked for no open carry in their store and respecting that request is important. Also forget about shotguns as well. in a real world situation they really would cause more harm than good. stick to pistols.

George Chidi August 25, 2014 at 12:31 pm

It’s not a blind test if you call the police in advance. At best, you’re testing the public under those conditions.

The test would be to see if the open carry law is applied uniformly, without racial biases. Telling the cops you’re checking compliance is like warning drivers about a DUI checkpoint.

Michael Silver August 25, 2014 at 1:27 pm

Andisheh Nouraee wrote the FUNNIEST gun article ever when he wrote about carrying right after HB89 went into effect in 2008. He should have won a Pulitzer. Toward the bottom he tried a variation of the test.

http://clatl.com/atlanta/gun-toting-in-georgia/Content?oid=1274498

“Hello, police, I’m at the Publix on North Decatur Road and there’s a swarthy bald man here with a gun. He’s headed for the Lean Cuisine.”

George Chidi August 25, 2014 at 2:05 pm

That was a fantastic piece, and it gets at some of what I’m interested in exploring.

But if the photos with the story are any indication of his appearance, Andisheh still looks like an off-duty stock analyst … or an off-duty cop.

I want to see if people who are dressed like extras in a Lil’ Wayne video are treated differently by police when carrying. I think the likelihood of something stupid happening is low … but how low? I can’t tell. One in 100? One in 10? Did Andisheh get lucky?

And again, if it were just me, I’d go for it. But I need teams to do this fairly, and I can’t ask someone to risk that for an experiment. Perhaps I’ll change my mind in a while, but it looks like a bad risk-reward trade right now.

jkc1211 August 25, 2014 at 9:50 pm

I’m a younger black male. I’m 31. A U.S. Marine. A Georgia license holder. A conservative. A member of Georgia Carry and a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment. And I had heard of the story that was the impetus for the part of the new gun law about cops not being able to demand to see your license. I think Georgia Carry like its affiliate in the state that I originally joined in, is true to its word and protects gun rights regardless of race. But despite Georgia Carry’s amazing efforts and despite my choice (I wouldn’t have it any other way) to put on the uniform of the United States and to literally bleed for the protections of the 2nd Amendment, I myself hardly exercise my 2nd Amendment right to carry my personal weapon when I come home (Georgia). Because the fact of the matter is that I am a young black male and the police here are either trained or have come to believe that a black male cannot possibly be in legal possession in a gun, do not deserve to have 2nd Amendment rights, or just reflexively believe that black skin + a handgun = criminal activity. So often time despite my impulse to want to protect my family when I’m home in Georgia and we go out at night, I just can’t bring myself to carry my weapon. Because all it takes is one stop and things can go crazy in a police stop real quick. And though I know organizations like Georgia Carry will always have my back, its just not worth the hassle of being treated like a criminal because I’m black and carrying my weapon.

I didn’t feel that way until I moved to GA and was stopped by a cop. That day I had my weapon in the glove box of my truck. Out of abundance of caution, before going in there to get my insurance card, I handed the officer my drivers license and, at that time, my brand new weapons carry card that had my pic and the exact same info that is on my drivers license. And told the officer that before I retrieve my insurance card, that I do have a weapon in the box as well. And the next thing I know both officers have their hands on their guns as though they are seconds away from drawing them, I was asked to get out of my truck, handcuffed, sat on the ground on the side of the road — I’m sure everybody passing by thought I was a common criminal or something — and they completely searched my truck. 2 more officer cars arrived. And 30 minutes later I was uncuffed and told I was free to go. I asked why was I being detained, and the officer that stopped me said they had to be sure that my card was real. As if you can fake a card with all of those security features on it. And I still got a ticket for an improper lane change on top of that. I’d like to think I’m wrong, but that kind of treatment seems to be only reserved for being black and armed. I can only wish for the day that the 2nd Amendment is applied fairly….but until police change their mindset, I can’t risk the hassle.

Just had to share that. I’ve never written on a blog before. But this issue is personal to me. Great article…thanks so much for writing it. I was very happy to see someone raise the question.

George Chidi August 26, 2014 at 2:02 am

I was an active-duty soldier for five years. I think I understand where you’re coming from. Thank you for writing this. I’m glad to read it.

Harry August 25, 2014 at 11:19 am

“I, Sylvanus Wood, of Woburn, in the county of Middlesex, and commonwealth of Massachusetts, aged seventy-four years, do testify and say that on the morning of the 19th of April, 1775, I was an inhabitant of Woburn, living with Deacon Obadiah Kendall; that about an hour before the break of day on said morning, I heard the Lexington bell ring, and fearing there was difficulty there, I immediately arose, took my gun and, with Robert Douglass, went in haste to Lexington, which was about three miles distant.

When I arrived there, I inquired of Captain Parker, the commander of the Lexington company, what was the news. Parker told me he did not know what to believe, for a man had come up about half an hour before and informed him that the British troops were not on the road. But while we were talking, a messenger came up and told the captain that the British troops were within half a mile. Parker immediately turned to his drummer, William Diman, and ordered him to beat to arms, which was done. Captain Parker then asked me if I would parade with his company. I told him I would. Parker then asked me if the young man with me would parade. I spoke to Douglass, and he said he would follow the captain and me.

By this time many of the company had gathered around the captain at the hearing of the drum, where we stood, which was about half way between the meetinghouse and Buckman’s tavern. Parker says to his men, ‘Every man of you, who is equipped, follow me; and those of you who are not equipped, go into the meeting-house and furnish yourselves from the magazine, and immediately join the company.’ Parker led those of us who were equipped to the north end of Lexington Common, near the Bedford Road, and formed us in single file. I was stationed about in the centre of the company. While we were standing, I left my place and went from one end of the company to the other and counted every man who was paraded, and the whole number was thirty-eight, and no more.

Just as I had finished and got back to my place, I perceived the British troops had arrived on the spot between the meeting-house and Bucknian’s, near where Captain Parker stood when he first led off his men. The British troops immediately wheeled so as to cut off those who had gone into the meeting-house. The British troops approached us rapidly in platoons, with a general officer on horseback at their head. The officer came up to within about two rods of the centre of the company, where I stood, the first platoon being about three rods distant. They there halted. The officer then swung his sword, and said, ‘Lay down your arms, you damned rebels, or you are all dead men. Fire!’ Some guns were fired by the British at us from the first platoon, but no person was killed or hurt, being probably charged only with powder.

Just at this time, Captain Parker ordered every man to take care of himself. The company immediately dispersed; and while the company was dispersing and leaping over the wall, the second platoon of the British fired and killed some of our men. There was not a gun fired by any of Captain Parker’s company, within my knowledge. I was so situated that I must have known it, had any thing of the kind taken place before a total dispersion of our company. I have been intimately acquainted with the inhabitants of Lexington, and particularly with those of Captain Parker’s company, and, with one exception, I have never heard any of them say or pretend that there was any firing at the British from Parker’s company, or any individual in it until within a year or two. One member of the company told me, many years since, that, after Parker’s company had dispersed, and he was at some distance, he gave them ‘the guts of his gun.'”

gcp August 25, 2014 at 1:50 pm

Meanwhile while some continue to criticize police and talk about ” social experiments “, murders in the metro area continue. A 13 year old murdered in Carollton and no one says anything. Just one of several murders in the past few days. Priorities?

TheEiger August 25, 2014 at 2:01 pm

And we have this going on in Chicago.

“It was just one of dozens of shooting scenes across Chicago over the long Fourth of July weekend. In all, at least 82 people were shot, 14 of them fatally, since Thursday afternoon when two woman were shot as they sat outside a two-flat within a block of Garfield Park.

Five of the people were shot by police over 36 hours on Friday and Saturday, including two boys 14 and 16 who were killed when they allegedly refused to drop their guns.

Many of the long weekend’s shootings were on the South Side, clustered in the Englewood, Roseland, Gresham and West Pullman neighborhoods that rank among the most violent in the city.

The victims ranged from the 14-year-boy shot by police in the Old Irving Park neighborhood to a 66-year-old woman grazed in the head as she walked up the steps of her porch on the Far South Side. Most victims were in their late teens and 20s.”

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-07-07/news/chi-fourth-of-july-toll-82-shot-14-of-them-fatally-in-chicago-20140707_1_south-chicago-east-garfield-park-west-englewood

George Chidi August 25, 2014 at 2:20 pm

I’m not freaking out about Chicago because I know cherry-picked statistics when I see them.

Chicago is a city of 2.7 million people. The national murder rate, today, is about 4.5 in 100,000. Chicago has always had a higher rate … but it’s lower today, even after the July 4 weekend, than it has been in about 50 years. Figure Chicago is running about 18 per 100,000, per year — four times the national average. That’s about 490 a year — nine or ten a week — with a spike on holiday weekends because people get drunk and stupid.

Chicago doesn’t make the top 20 most dangerous cities in America.

Crime has been falling nationwide for 23 years. It’s fallen in places with concealed carry. It’s fallen in places with increased gun restrictions. It’s fallen in places with strict sentencing. It’s fallen in places with sentencing reform. It’s fallen despite increases in unemployment, fallen despite increases in income inequality, fallen despite increases in the nonwhite population.

Demonizing communities for perceived crime problems — given these results — disturbs me.

TheEiger August 25, 2014 at 3:38 pm

So Chicago has a problem, but I shouldn’t bring it up is what you are saying? That makes a lot of sense.

George Chidi August 25, 2014 at 4:23 pm

That’s not what I’m saying, and you know it.

Chicago’s murder rate, today, is lower than just about any time since 1960. Violent crime has fallen by about 70 percent over 20 years. You want to call this a problem? Bring it up all day long. But be honest about what we’re seeing.

TheEiger August 25, 2014 at 4:34 pm

I don’t care how much it has come down. 82 people were shot, 14 of them fatally in one weekend. That’s a problem however you want to slice it.

George Chidi August 25, 2014 at 2:34 pm

Yes. Priorities.

The crime rate in Atlanta has been falling since about 1992, and is lower today than it was in the late ’60s. Murders are rare and growing rarer, as is all categories of violent crime. It’s part of a national trend. We’re safer now than at just about any point in your life, assuming you’re under 70 years old.

The city of Atlanta has had 51 murders to date. That’s two more than the same period last year — a 4 percent rise. That also mirrors the 4 percent increase in the city’s population.

Given these conditions, I suggest that a hyper-aggressive response to perceived threats may actually be more dangerous than the threats. The huns are not battering down the gates. This is exactly the moment when we should be criticizing the police.

LoyaltyIsMyHonor August 25, 2014 at 3:27 pm

Is that for the city proper or metro Atlanta? I wonder how many more murders occur in unincorporated Fulton, DeKalb, and the other cities in those 2 counties. I’m excluding the other metro counties simply because Atlanta is only in those 2 counties.

saltycracker August 25, 2014 at 3:42 pm

The trend is down while the rate in Chicago is still high, how much due to messing with definitions and stats ?

Chicago:
http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/May-2014/Chicago-crime-rates/

Atlanta makes the top 10 lists of dangerous cities by various mags regularly.

Priorities:
FBI stats indicate if person is murdered the odds are over 90% it was by a person of the same race. The media cant make a buck on that.

http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2012/crime-in-the-u.s.-2012/offenses-known-to-law-enforcement/expanded-homicide/expanded_homicide_data_table_6_murder_race_and_sex_of_vicitm_by_race_and_sex_of_offender_2012.xls

George Chidi August 25, 2014 at 4:33 pm

The rate in Chicago is about 18 per 100,000. That’s lower than almost any year on record since 1960. If Chicago is so unbearably terrible, today, then what must have it been like in 2001, when it was twice as high?

Crime is low by historical standards. Even in Chicago.

Crime is much higher in Flint, Michigan, and Detroit, and New Orleans, and Jackson, Miss. But the president isn’t from Mississippi now, is he? Thus the focus on Chicago, on every single lurid murder — but let’s ignore the big picture that shows things getting better there. That’s confusing.

Anyone who tell you you’re safe must be lying, of course.

We live in America, right? We’re supposed to be petrified of crime, all the time. Lock your children away, stranger-danger, buy five guns for “home defense,” send kids who bring butter knives with their lunch or draw Star Wars blasters on their homework to jail, stop-and-frisk people we think look like they might be carrying something, fill the 10 minutes of news in a 30-minute newscast with eight minutes of crime coverage … but for reason’s sake, please, ignore the crime statistics.

gcp August 25, 2014 at 3:50 pm

I am talking metro-wide. A few examples from the past ten days: 62 year old murdered in his driveway in Dekalb, father of four murdered at convenience store in south metro, Nigerian cab driver murdered in his cab in Norcross, a man found dead in his vehicle on Collier.

The police caused none of these murders yet your priorities are to criticize police and conduct some kind of gimmick where you get a group of armed individuals to walk around to see the response. Your priorities are quite strange.

George Chidi August 25, 2014 at 4:46 pm

Violent crime is falling almost everywhere. The police response to crime has become disproportionate to the threat.

More to the point, it’s become disproportionate to the threat to themselves. Last year, fewer cops were feloniously killed than any year on record, going back to the 19th century. 27 police officers were killed by an assailant last year.

In comparison, 49 died in on-the-job accidents.

An electrician has a more dangerous job — electrical workers are seven times more likely to die than cops. Garbagemen are more likely to die. Truck drivers are more likely to die.

Statistics vary, but I’ve seen estimates ranging from 300 to 600 people will be killed by a police officer in the line of duty this year. Assume a 90 percent conviction rate — that’s 30 to 60 people killed every year by cops pursuing arrests on charges a jury would acquit on. What that tells me is that we’ve decided that the lives of cops are more valuable than those of innocent citizens.

This is EXACTLY what we should be prioritizing.

gcp August 25, 2014 at 5:48 pm

Well maybe fewer cops are killed today because they have better weaponry or are better trained. And of course the vast majority of police shootings are justified. The county DA reviews all shootings and many are presented to grand juries even when the shooting appears to be justified. If the grand jury indicts the officer is prosecuted (check with Paul Howard and Danny Porter on that).

As for all your stats; well I doubt that does any good for the families of the murder victims I referenced.

George Chidi August 25, 2014 at 6:44 pm

Nor does it do any good for the murder victims I referenced, the people killed without moral justification by police.

The legal system is biased against prosecuting police for misconduct. Prosecutors rely on cops to make their cases in court, and if a prosecutor progressively undermines police credibility with misconduct cases, that prosecutor will find the cooperation he or she receives diminish on other cases. Misconduct investigations rely on internal affairs, which have institutional biases toward maximum leeway for “judgment calls.”

“The vast majority of police shootings are justified.” Rationalized would be a better word.

There are fewer cops being killed because they’re too willing to kill citizens. 600 to 27? Do the math. The goal of policy should be to reduce risk to innocent civilians. What percentage of those 600 people killed have to be guilty for the net benefit of an upgunned police force to be outweighed by the net cost in innocent lives? 95 percent?

Only, it’s not 95 percent. It’s not close. Hell, 40 percent of the time during a SWAT raid, no contraband is found.

It’s all spinning wheels and dust without action. We need cameras on every cop. It needs to be a firing offense for a police officer to remove a camera from a witness, or to evade their own recording equipment. If a camera malfunctions, a legal presumption that evidence has been destroyed should fall onto the police for purposes of prosecuting a suspect who might have otherwise been on tape.

gcp August 25, 2014 at 7:36 pm

In Ga. the DA is elected; if he does not do his job the citizens can vote him out. And grand juries and juries are made up of citizens of the community, not law enforcement officers. Do you trust such a system or not?

“There are fewer cops being killed because they’re too willing to kill citizens.” Most police respond based on the threat presented to them and as you know many of these “citizens” are not nice people such as the individual that murdered the officer in your city of Pine Lake several years ago.

But if you mean that if an individual is armed with a knife, then the police officer should also use a knife; well that’s just silly and unrealistic.

Are all police perfect? Of course not, just as we sometimes get bad, corrupt doctors, teachers, judges…But if you want police perfection well maybe you could hire Robocop.

As for cameras on police, I agree but I go one step further; how about if we get more citizens to carry or wear cameras, maybe we can even get the criminals to wear cameras.

Michael Silver August 25, 2014 at 8:31 pm

Add to the list, the cops must retain the video for 50 years and the video must be formatted in youtube format.

Most folks don’t realize that cops erase their camera footage within days unless someone formally requests it and they use some bizarre format that requires special programs to watch.

gcp August 25, 2014 at 10:24 pm

George Chidi

Police in this country have thousands of citizen encounters every day yet based on your numbers, an extremely small number of these encounters result in a fatality. Not trying to minimize the importance but its a tiny %.

As far as the “institutional biases” in internal affairs investigations you are an official in Pine Lake; how does your PD handle complaints? Is there a bias in your PD investigations of citizen complaints?

George Chidi August 26, 2014 at 1:58 am

All internal reviews are biased. It’s the nature of organizational behavior. I do no additional harm in acknowledging it. We have a very flat organization, so any internal review here goes from cop to chief to the mayor and council in no time.

You’re right, of course — a tiny number of police officers end up involved in a fatal shooting. My thumbnail guess is that fewer than one police officer in 50 will ever kill a suspect over the course of a 40 year career. Perhaps one in 10 will ever shoot someone.

Assuming roughly 900,000 sworn police officers in the United States and 600 fatal police shootings a year, that means roughly one police officer in 1500 will kill someone this year.

I might note though that the national murder rate is one in 22,500 or so — almost exactly one-fifteenth as large as the police homicide rate. Cops are 15 times more likely to kill someone than Joe Citizen is.

Put it another way — about one out of 18 of the 11,000 or so gun homicides last year were police shootings.

Tiny numbers, but qualitatively different because every time a police officer kills someone, it’s on us. We, the public, bear responsibility for taking that life. And I suggest we are being too cavalier about those deaths in the face of mounting evidence that many are unnecessary and that accountability has eroded. Other countries manage to maintain order without resorting to deadly violence as often. We have tools to reduce the likelihood of killing a suspected criminal that we’re not using often enough.

I’m starting with this philosophical question: at what point does the marginal value of reducing risk to the public outweigh the marginal value of reducing risk for a police officer? It’s the double-effect question when examining use of force.

Lea Thrace August 25, 2014 at 3:20 pm

No one says anything except for all the news articles and tv time devoted to exactly this murder. It was front page/headline news for quite sometime yesterday and today.

Sheesh.

gcp August 25, 2014 at 3:57 pm

And the community leaders and the activists; where are they? Where is Fort, Sharpton, Warnock, even Kasim Reed? They of, course say nothing. These murders don’t fit their “agenda.”

saltycracker August 25, 2014 at 4:29 pm

Gcp,

Dr. Alveta King, John McWorter, Rod Wheeler, Jason Riley, and on and on but most prime time media ignores them.

Lea Thrace August 25, 2014 at 4:56 pm

But that’s not who gcp wanted specifically to address this murder I guess.

gcp August 25, 2014 at 5:28 pm

The problem is Alveta King does not get the publicity that Marty and Bernice King, Sharpie, Jackson and the others get.

saltycracker August 25, 2014 at 8:02 pm

Should have mentioned Dr Ben Carson.
He has a few things to say about Fergueson, Mo. , Sharpton and Obama.
Google it if you have an open mind. He is a poor kid done good.

Credentials:….wow !

http://www.biography.com/people/ben-carson-475422#synopsis

gcp August 25, 2014 at 10:10 pm

But why is Carson only on Fox News?

saltycracker August 25, 2014 at 10:23 pm

Guess he is just not making enough BS up to sell – Sharpton has locked up CBS and appears to represent Obama – just incredible…

gcp August 25, 2014 at 10:26 pm
seenbetrdayz August 25, 2014 at 4:22 pm

On the other hand, if you’re a white guy carrying an umbrella on a college campus in California, you get a SWAT team response:

http://fox5sandiego.com/2014/08/20/gunman-reported-at-csu-san-marcos/#axzz3BR9JBhYR

If I were black, white, or green, I wouldn’t openly carry in some areas of this country, because people are one phone call away from getting someone killed by police. So, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that people who openly carry firearms are ‘inviting’ a response. I would say that a large number of people live in a perpetual state of fear—to the extent of being dangerous—and I’m not talking about the gun-owners.

George Chidi August 25, 2014 at 4:52 pm

I’ll buy that.

Will Durant August 26, 2014 at 2:50 pm

I agree that prudence is the best policy here George. Although I could almost guarantee that the police reaction would be stronger than they were on the white open carry protestors that were all the rage in Texas. I also noted in this forum that this was an ongoing fad out there and pressuring police to act with wisdom and wasting their time but none of the people objecting to your protest here seemed to mind. By the way, after several incidents like every car within 20 miles being called in after multiple 911 calls for 4 guys carrying “assault rifles” into Dennys Texas has started issuing citations to these guys for not filing a permit to protest. Don’t know if they have been challenged it court yet.

I thought of one that could be even more fun. Let a group of Latinos carry some long guns beside Buford Highway and see if Doraville breaks out their Bradley Tank.

Michael Silver August 26, 2014 at 3:37 pm

Your assumption that the police won’t roust white guys isn’t accurate. There have been lots of cases where white guys get rousted. A good example is what happened to the Madison 5. http://host.madison.com/news/local/restaurant-incident-reveals-confusion-over-open-carry/article_eacaa046-c571-11df-a52c-001cc4c002e0.html

There was a black guy who would get harassed all the time in Virginia, a couple years ago. He would sue and get big settlements. Eventually, the cities started making sure their officers understood the law and the Constitution.

Speaking of carrying long guns. Do you remember why Occupy Atlanta was shut down by Mayor Reed after WEEKS? Because of one gun-totter who wanted to support the right of the Occupy Atlanta people to protest. He did so by toting an AK47.

http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/morning_call/2011/10/man-with-ak-47-big-reason-reed-ordered.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QKN7r8To1vY
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmIR07wQcPg

Harry August 27, 2014 at 11:36 pm

George you said –
Chicago’s murder rate, today, is lower than just about any time since 1960. Violent crime has fallen by about 70 percent over 20 years. You want to call this a problem? Bring it up all day long. But be honest about what we’re seeing.

But it seems the only thing that really explains the Chicago drop in crime is the huge number of concealed carry permits that have been issued as mandated by federal courts, and which Chicago fought tooth-and-nail, finally having to acquiesce.
http://eaglerising.com/8213/chicago-crime-rate-dropping-concealed-carry-permits-rise/

George Chidi September 17, 2014 at 3:32 pm

I can’t tell if the arrest of the one black guy in an open carry demonstration in Detroit is a coincidence or not.

“This past weekend, an experienced open carrier, Elijah Woody, was arrested while open carrying his handgun only in Detroit, MI. This activity is of course, legal in Michigan and not at all an unheard-of occurrence. You may remember him as the black man who walked through Royal Oak, MI (a predominately white suburb) with an AK-47 variant in July and had no police contact.”