FRED REED: Thoughts on the Cop’s Trade, by an Old Police Reporter

Crime,FRED REED,Law,Left-Liberalism And Progressivisim,Race,Racism


Police deliberately are not warm and fuzzy … [a cop] becomes granite-faced, with a controlled courtesy with a promise of consequences if disobeyed. He does this because if he treats members of the public as friends, he will lose all authority

By Fred Reed

Much twaddle about the police emanates from adults who sound like adolescents recently acquainted with their hormones and eager to irritate ambient grownups.  Think mentally deficient Red Guards. Anyway, they have annoyed me to the point that I am either going to strangle something, preferably a network anchorman, or point out some things. No anchorman was handy, so thus the following.

From a fascinating survey, “Most Americans are convinced there is an ‘epidemic’ of police shooting unarmed black males in America. This widespread misperception is reinforced with misreportage, sensationalized reportage, missing context, and the lack of reporting on analogous cases.”

I couldn’t have said it better.

Briefly (the link is worth following) the piece describes a survey in which respondents were asked to self-describe as very liberal, very conservative, and points between. Then they were asked how many unarmed blacks they thought were shot to death by police every year.

Results: “Very Liberal respondents were the furthest from reality: 14.29% said ‘about 10,000’ unarmed black males were killed by police, while 31.43% said ‘about 1,000.’”

The actual number, says Mapping Police Violence, is twenty-seven. The Washington Post, as politically correct as you can get without actually being on Thorazine, said that 23 “unarmed” black suspects were fatally shot by the police in 2018, and 12 in 2019.

This says, does it not, that forty-five percent of liberals are too stupid to be allowed outside when not on a leash. (Conservatives some better, see link). People can believe this stuff only because the media are either actually lying or so wildly partisan that there is no discernible difference.

It matters.  Ferguson burned because the media ran with the story that Michael Brown was shot with his hands up and saying, “Don’t shoot!” Telling blacks, already deeply hostile to and mistrustful of whites, over and over and over, that the police, by implication white, are killing unarmed blacks in hundreds or thousands, makes worse our already terrible race relations. It likely encourages an excitable and often unintelligent white population to defund police departments. This leads to higher crime, worse race relations, and the decamping of urban tax bases for friendlier climes. Brilliant.

A few general points:

Cops don’t make laws. They enforce them.  This should be obvious. Yet many people bridle when the police enforce what they regard as a stupid or petty law. The cop also may think it is petty or stupid, but he has no choice. “Why are you giving me a ticket? I was only double-parked for a few minutes.” “Sign here, lady.”

Some cities have a “stop and frisk” policy. This means leaning young men against a wall and patting them down for guns though they have done nothing illegal and have no visible guns. This is typically done to black men in black neighborhoods because that is where people are shot to death. It is humiliating, infuriating, perhaps unconstitutional, and, when done by white policemen, arouses intense racial hostility. Arguably, and arguedly, it is extremely stupid. Why do cops do it? Because they dislike blacks?

No. They do it because the chief ordered them to, and he orders them to because the mayor or city council, who often are black, ordered them to, and the mayor ordered them to because stop-and-frisk keeps the homicide rate way down. That is, it saves black lives.

But laws involve tradeoffs.  In this case between (a) no stop-and-frisk, more dead black men, but less racial anger, and (b) stop-and-frisk, fewer dead black men, and intense racial anger. Take your choice, but expect the inevitable consequences of each.

Beware the much-sought-after assertion of racial disproportionality. If blacks get disproportionately ticketed for traffic violations, are the cops picking on blacks or are blacks committing more violations? What would you propose to do about disproportionality? Order cops to stop ticketing blacks? PR problems solved, which is the important thing, though deaths in accidents would go up. Or order white cops not to ticket blacks, which would also be good PR. Or stop enforcing traffic laws altogether? Take your pick.

Reflect that cops can’t win. Nobody is going to like them. Why? Because nobody likes being told what to do, and some like it less than others. When the bank president or three-star general gets pulled over for driving erratically, a twenty-three-year-old high-school graduate is going to tell him to step out of the car, sir, and take the inebriety test or, nowadays, blow into the breathalyzer. The general thinks he is too important to be ordered around by a mere kid. The cop doesn’t think so, and he has the authority. If the bank president blows high, the kid will arrest him. It’s his job, it’s the law, but is not optimal in interpersonal relations.

Police deliberately are not warm and fuzzy. They need to maintain command on the street. Talking to a reporter doing a ride-along, a cop will laugh and tell war stories about shared time in Bangkok. “Murphy and I were in Linda’s Surprise Bar and this great tall gal says….” Stopping to break up a fracas on the sidewalk, he becomes granite-faced, with a controlled courtesy with a promise of consequences if disobeyed. He does this because if he treats members of the public as friends, he will lose all authority.

Be wary of media accounts of police behavior, especially regarding shootings. The phrase “unarmed black man” is a journalist’s term of art, deliberately employed to imply that the cop from sheer viciousness or, better, racism, shot an innocent black man.

If this actually happens, it is called “murder,” and should be treated as such. But was the unarmed black man sitting on a park bench, eating an ice cream cone and reading War and Peace, or was he beating the cops head against a brick wall? These stories are made juicer by adding, “during a traffic stop,” the impression given being that the cop pulled the man over for a broken tail light and insouciantly killed him for no reason. Usually, but not always, a little research online will reveal that the man shot was resisting arrest or attacking the officer. Find out for yourself what happened. It is usually possible. But don’t trust NPR or CNN. They really, truly, are not honest.

Note that there is no pretty way to arrest someone who does not want to be arrested. I recently saw the body-cam footage of a couple of cops arresting a shoplifter in the parking lot of a commercial center. She was tall, perhaps 150, strongly built, and black. In today’s climate, “black” automatically makes it a racial incident, though shoplifting is illegal for white women too.

She chose to resist. There followed unprepossessing minutes of two white cops struggling with a screaming, furious black woman swinging and kicking, the officers getting her on the ground and trying to force her hands behind her. She was not hurt as they were careful to avoid it, but the average onlooker would not have known this.

The choice: arrest shoplifters, or don’t. The cops will do either, as they are ordered.

Finally, if you want a good force, recruit carefully, train them well, pay them well, and watch them like a hawk. Works like a charm.

Read Fred’s Books! Or else. We know where you sleep.


FRED REED describes himself as [previously] a “Washington police reporter, former Washington editor for Harper’s and staff writer for Soldier of Fortune magazine, Marine combat vet from Viet Nam, and former long-haul hitchhiker, part-time sociopath, who once lived in Arlington, Virginia, across the Potomac River from the Yankee Capital.”
His essays “on the collapse of America” Mr. Reed calls “wildly funny, sometimes wacky, always provocative.”
“Fred is the Hunter Thompson of the right,” seconds Thomas E. Ricks in Foreign Policy magazine. His  commentary is “well-written, pungent political incorrectness mixed with smart military commentary and libertarian impulses, topped off with a splash of Third World sunshine and tequila.”



Killer Kink

Hardboiled is back! (The exclamation point is to arouse wild enthusiasm int the reader, a boiling literary lust.) Gritty crime fiction by longtime police reporter for the Washington Times, who knows the police from nine years of riding with them. Guaranteed free of white wine and cheese, sensitivity, or social justice.

4 thoughts on “FRED REED: Thoughts on the Cop’s Trade, by an Old Police Reporter

  1. Quartermaster

    I was going to tell you how you are an affront to civilization, but I couldn’t think of anything this evening. Give me a couple days and I’ll be back, if I can think of something.

    Buy and read Fred’s books. they cure feminine chest hair!

  2. Hey You, Stop That! (~John)

    Fred, I have no idea whats going on with your text editor program, but it’s not playing nice with normal email–please think about fixing it before the next mailing.
    This is the second or third of your mailings that’s been all flocked up; most of the page blank.

    Text begins way down the page, about where line 70ish should be. At first, I thought ye may be sending in white text, until i copy/pasted into Word, and found it, then went back to email and scrolled way the heck down, then scrolled right a half mile to find this link. I doubt most readers bother searching or playing peekaboo text before moving on, or simply deleting.

    Just figured you’d like to know, if ye didn’t already.

    Fraternally, your friend and loyal reader, Fumducker

  3. Jokem

    OK Fred –

    I have to say your commentary has deviated somewhat from the rational critique you used to put up, to this kind of cynical description of events. I am not sure I can blame you, as the world surely is determined to move further from the realm of reason each year.

    Regarding the media – Keep in mind controversy captures market share and since the media has ‘gone corporate’ (due to the influence of big government, but I will not subject you to one of my rants) then like any corporation, if quarterly earnings can be increased by devaluing the integrity by a bit, then that is what they do.
    We will concern ourselves with the consequences of that next quarter. So, if a news story can be sensationalized and that brings in more income, that is standard operating procedure. Congratulations to the Anchorman and his support staff.

    Michael Brown. The story I got from that is he had a knife and was approaching the police at an oblique angle, not moving directly toward them. If he would have continued on that path, he would not have gotten within striking distance, so the police we not in immediate danger. Maybe I have it wrong as I was not there and the media reports I read, well, they want market share.

    Police will overreach in order to make an arrest or issue a ticket. I have had three burglaries (Felonies) which I could not get a progress report on, but the police continue to give out traffic tickets. parking tickets or citations for jaywalking. I have had the police come into my place of work and take me out in handcuffs in front of everyone due to a ‘suspicious device’ in my vehicle which they knew was benign and have been tricked into being stopped and searched by a drug dog which not properly trained. So, I think the police are a joke.
    I do not think the police can be effective without the co-operation of the public, but when they act like this there will come a time when every police stop will result in the citizen saying, ‘I want a lawyer’, even if they are a witness to a crime, just in case the police get the idea the citizen was involved as a perpetrator. Once that happens, law enforcement will grind to a halt, I think it is already happening.

    I understand that the media tries to give the impression there are more police shootings than there really are.
    I think there are more than there should be. I think when an officer does this, the officer gets off easier than when a private citizen does it. This is the opposite of what should be. A private citizen can argue they did not know better, which does not excuse the act, but mitigates it. Police cannot use that excuse. They are trained and have an obligation to know the law, if not, then they have no business wearing a badge. When you have control of someone’s life and liberty, the power needs to be on a short leash, and harsh penalties apply when abused. At least as harsh as when a private citizen does it. Usually, the officer loses their job, no jail time.

    The unarmed black man. I recall a story about a lady cop in Pennsylvania who shot a fleeing black man in the back, she was dismissed from the force. Maybe the press reported this unreliably, inflated the details, but the facts as reported were, the victim had a history of drug abuse and was shot in the back while unarmed and fleeing.
    Then there is the case of Breonna Taylor, not a man, but still unarmed.
    Then there is Vicki Weaver, not a man or black.
    Kenneth Trentadue, a bank robber died under mysterious circumstances in jail after being questioned by police.

    There is more I can say, but I think I have ranted enough.

  4. DrCiber

    Keep ‘m comin’ Fred. I always enjoy a good read, and for my taste you provide that 98+% of the time. Kudos to Ilana for hosting you.

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