Letter to the editor: A defund disaster in Seattle — and what it means for Edmonds

Editor:

Seattle Councilmember Dan Strauss recently said in a July 13 Twitter video that “defunding the police does not mean decreasing public safety, in fact it means increasing public safety.” However, all of the data that we have on this issue shows the exact opposite. In Minneapolis where they voted to abolish the police department, there has been a 95% increase in crime with 41 murders already this year, compared to 21 all of last year. Armed robberies in Minneapolis have also skyrocketed. Residents have been warned to “never walk alone,” and to only carry items that they are comfortable being stolen. Other major cities who have also made similar cuts to their police forces have seen increases in crime as well. There is no data or reason to believe that the Seattle Council defund plan will not also result in large increases in crime.

Edmonds should be fully prepared for an increase in crime heading northbound to our community due to the poor planning in Seattle to forgo effective and reasonable social justice reforms in lieu of already proven dangerous cuts. We should expect that the increased immunity in Seattle will result in criminals there expanding operations into the surrounding communities. To prepare for this, we need to make sure our EPD is well supported, and we also need have a full time Chief (ideally Chief Lawless) appointed as soon as possible. While moving forward with a full time social worker recommended by Chief Lawless is an excellent idea, we should ensure that there are no cuts or diversions away from the EPD at a time when they are most critically needed.

Seattle was already listed as one of the most violent cities in the U.S. In fact, people may not have realized that data from the site Neighborhood Scout shows that Seattle has a crime rate higher than 98% of other U.S. cities in the nation with a whopping chance of 1 in 19 of residents being a victim of property crime. Violent crime rates there are also one of the highest in the nation. Many of these problems were identified as being attributed to a lower sized police force size compared to other similarly sized cities, as well as a continued refusal of the prosecutor’s office to pursue cases referred to them. This already undersized police force has resulted in consistent overtime requirements and increased call response times. Many of these issues have been detailed in the documentary “Seattle is Dying,” and the ‘Prolific Offenders’ report. Two of the Seattle Councilmembers (Lisa Herbold and Dan Strauss) who are now supporting a defund plan, had previously campaigned on increasing SPD staffing levels to address these problems.

Even though the cuts announced in the August 3 city council meeting amount to less than the 50% originally threatened for 2020, the members have still promised very large cuts in the 2021 budget that will lead to massive increases in crime. When it comes to policies on SPD funding, a Seattle July 27 poll found that only 32% of Seattle voters support the council’s plan, while 43% support the mayor’s plan, 21% support no cuts, and 4% were undecided. Many Seattle city councilmembers have been accused of not listening or responding to their constituents. In this case, they are willing to risk their constituent’s lives without even listening to their concerns on it.

Councilmember Lisa Herbold in a July 19 West Seattle Blog article discussed her view on what SPD departments she would like to cut or eliminate. Herbold includes cuts or eliminations of many of the core police components that would make it much harder for them to provide essential services to anyone in crisis. In addition, she also lists cuts to many of the programs designated to provide better trained and more community focused policing services.

Partial list of SPD Cuts proposed by Lisa Herbold
• Freeze hiring.
• Remove the Office of Collaborative Policing,
• Eliminate Community Outreach Administration
• Eliminate spending on new equipment
• Eliminate Data-driven policing
• Eliminate Professional Services — Including:
-Photo Enforcement
-Sworn Hiring in HR
-Recruitment and Retention
-Community Outreach
-Implicit Bias Training
-Communications
• Eliminate SWAT Team funding
• Eliminate SPD’s travel and training budget
• Reduce patrol staffing, with corresponding reduction in administrative staffing

Jordan Royer in the Seattle Times opinion article “Cutting SPD’s budget by half is irresponsible,” is correct when he states that “Cutting the department by 50% would eliminate any hope of expanding community policing and the concept of police officers as guardians.” Programs that are responsible for the de-escalation training and community outreach are slated for cuts in addition to the ones that directly impact public safety.

While social services have shown many benefits to addressing issues of mental health, they are not set up to replace many of the core functions of police. Nikkita Oliver in a recent Converge Media interview noted how social service programs could be used in Seattle to address issues of mental health, but she gave no indication and perhaps even recognition of the core public safety functions of police that social services workers would not be able to replace. Many of the major defund narratives and supporters have argued that it is physically possible to replace police funding with social worker funding, but they have surprisingly not addressed the key question of how they would actually make up for the loss in key services from the police.

Having social workers deal with reckless drivers, home invasions, car burglaries, murder investigations, and many other cases would only make the situation much worse. Social service workers have key strengths, and If they are put in more situations than they can handle, they will be set up to fail. As the unnecessary deaths pile up from the unaccounted for loss in police services, Seattle will serve as a model for what not to do in the nation, and the movement to responsibly integrate more social services into our justice system will face a monumental setback.

Here in Edmonds, we just have to be prepared to weather the storm.

Evan Nelson
Edmonds

Publisher’s note: We don’t normally include sources with letters to the editor but since we’ve already received a question about it, we’re listing what the author noted here: 

Survey of Likely November 2021 Voters City of Seattle, WA July 2020 – EMC Research July 2020
https://1y4yclbm79aqghpm1xoezrdw-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/20-7824-Defund-Questions-1.pdf

‘Crime Is Out Of Control’: Minneapolis Officials Address Uptick In Violence: Jennifer Mayerle – July 31 2020
https://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2020/07/31/crime-is-out-of-control-minneapolis-officials-address-uptick-in-violence/

Interview with Katrina Johnson, Spokesperson for the family Charleena Lyles, and Nikkita Oliver – July 20 2020
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ciLUJ41V2TY&list=PLz15SQQytpNoGxl1bWjFR0d9IfPF70oko&index=14&t=0s

Cutting SPD’s budget by half is irresponsible: Jordan Royer – July 28 2020 https://www.seattletimes.com/opinion/cutting-spds-budget-by-half-is-irresponsible/

SEATTLE, WA CRIME ANALYTICS
https://www.neighborhoodscout.com/wa/seattle/crime#description

‘DEFUND’ SPD? Where it stands, what it’s about, and how West Seattle’s city councilmember explains her change on police $: Tracy Record – July 19 2020
https://westseattleblog.com/2020/07/defund-spd-where-it-stands-what-its-about-and-how-west-seattles-city-councilmember-explains-her-change-on-police/

 

28 Replies to “Letter to the editor: A defund disaster in Seattle — and what it means for Edmonds”

  1. Thank you, Teresa. for the various resources. I read Jordan Royer’s article which is very common sense about policing. We lived in Japan where community policing is widespread. Their crime rate is low and trust is part of their success. I hope common sense will return to Seattle.

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  2. What works with people that are willing to comply with law enforcement doesn’t work with society groups that feel justified to resist arrest because of special circumstances.

    A country wide change in attitude about resisting arrest would “fix” most of the police violence issues. Currently we are going in the other direction, thinking if we restrict the cops more the criminals will stop being “forced” to be violent.

    As bad as the Floyd situation is we need to deal with the truth that his resisting arrest led in part to his death. If he had of complied and been booked he would be alive, assuming of course that he got some kind of timely treatment to deal with the lethal level of Fentanyl in his system. The bad cop that killed him might have been the good guy that saved his life by calling for medical assistance.

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    1. Well said Anthony. I can not believe how some people react when stopped by the police in their vehicle. Before the police arrive at your door you have your window open, if dark put your interior lights on. Radio off. Both hands at the top of sterling wheel with your drivers license and registration in hand. Then guess what is next? You say hello, then keep your dam mouth shut. No questions on your part, and no attitude. Just answer the policeman’s questions politely.

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    2. Regarding the George Floyd tragedy~ had that same scenario, same situation played out with a white suspect in a white neighborhood, I’m quite sure officer Chauvin would not have knelt on the suspects neck until he was dead. Race matters in situations like this.

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      1. Seriously do you really think that this is the first time that a cop has used this tactic or that they reserve it for just black suspects?

        It took me literally seconds to find this article…

        https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/minneapolis-police-rendered-44-people-unconscious-neck-restraints-five-years-n1220416

        …that is just Minneapolis and just over the last 5 years.

        If you want to massively reduce the chance of a negative interaction with the cops, first don’t do stuff that makes a cop have to interact with you, second don’t resist arrest. Billions of people of all races understand this, we don’t hear about them BECAUSE they understand this.

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      2. There is ZERO evidence this had anything to do with the color of the suspects skin. There is new video evidence that proves it had EVERYTHING to do with his actions and behavior as a criminal.

        That same scenario has played out several times because that is what officers are taught when confronted with a situation like that. He was a bad dude, high as a kite, committing a crime, resisting arrest, and fighting with police.

        Actual statistics paint a completely different picture but it doesn’t support these whacked out agendas of liberals and their media. The problem lies within the people committing crimes, not the police. The media loves to take these stories and twist them into a race baiting article about how a white police officer did something to a black person, and it was all because they were black. And yet there is never any evidence to prove race even played a part in any of it.

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      3. How many people do you think should be killed to justify the vengeance for that. Across the Nation it is far over 100 already.

        Do you not think that killing black people in George Floyd’s name demeans his memory?

        Across the Nation, legions of ‘Woke’ individuals are dipping their hands in the blood of innocent people by supporting broken policies like ‘defund the police’ just to make them feel better about themselves. Shouldn’t the rest of us be pushing for actually meaningful and positive reforms instead?

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    3. They did call for medical assistance before he was even on the ground. That has been proven. They knew he was super messed up and needed help, they just didn’t know how bad or what he was on.

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    1. Thank you very much Robert. That is nice of you to say. I definitely agree. For many of the supporters of the defund movement, they have shown that they don’t care about the damage they cause. They don’t even care that it won’t improve the problem of Systemic racism. They just want to demonize police to make themselves feel better.

      They are willing to hurt their own community, just for momentary personal satisfaction. Even if across the Nation it creates a hundreds of victims whose families will grieve just like George Floyd’s, they will never march in the streets and “say their names.” Their deaths will be justifiable sacrifices for their self gratification.

      There are already proven solutions, but the defund supporters are not interested because it requires thought, compromise, community involvement, and especially the dreaded cooperation with the police.

      Frankly that is too much work, and many would rather curse at police and break things rather than actually work to fix the problems they are screaming about.

      It really is up to the rest of society to be the guardians of common sense.

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    2. Totally agree. It is now a slum. People calling…amazed at what Seattle is letting happen, to itself. People all over country calling us Communists. No more do I hear oh Seattle such a wonderful pace. I am ashamed to call this area my home. I want Seattle to be a nice city, not a ghetto. I want police too. I want a fair governing city council with some bi-partisan members. This is not a little Socialised Country Seattle. It is one city in a large state. It is the main industrial hub of this state. Many different political and appropriate social behavior opinions. We need diversity…we have diversity. Always have. Now we need Democracy…But, seems like The GROUP of leaders and Seattles WOKE HA. Is infact ASLEEP. I am life long Democrat. Not a lifelong Socialist. STOP it now Seattle…

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  3. In South Africa the country has a police shortage. We are not there yet. Private protection outnumbers the number of police. Hundreds of white farmers and black workers on farms are being murdered. The government is doing nothing. Somehow this certainly feels familiar.

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  4. This is all ideology inspired emotion filled rhetoric and useless in my opinion. The pictures don’t lie. A cop who was white had his knee on the already subdued black man who was begging to be allowed to just breath. That’s why black people are pissed off and it doesn’t take any genius to figure that out. If it had been a black cop with his knee on a white man’s neck you all would be screaming for justice just as loud as black folks and many of us sympathetic white folks are.

    The reason “de-funding the police” won’t work, is because ‘funding the police’ isn’t the problem. The problem is funding the wrong people to be police in the first place and then having no way to get rid of them when they do stupid things like putting their knee on an already subdued man’s neck until he is dead. The simple facts are that the Courts won’t stop this, the Police administrators won’t stop this and the Police Unions sure as hell won’t stop this. Until Justice is truly blind in America and the police are held to the same standards as the people they are policing, this problem will exist. Giving someone a gun and a badge and a license to kill is a big responsibility and we just haven’t figured out how to get that right.

    As to your idea that the people should always just stop and obey the police, I ask you all a simple question. If you thought that there was a good chance you would get beaten up or killed once the cuffs were on, would you meekly submit to being arrested? I suspect not.

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    1. “As to your idea that the people should always just stop and obey the police, I ask you all a simple question. If you thought that there was a good chance you would get beaten up or killed once the cuffs were on, would you meekly submit to being arrested? I suspect not.”

      If I thought that first I would not do criminal stuff, second if I was stopped while being innocent I would be the most compliant person on the face of the earth. At no point would I think that resisting and giving the cop an opening to abuse me was a good idea. If you were stopped tonight high on drugs going to the store would you resist the cop? Would you claim you could not get into his police car because you were claustrophobic? Would you claim to not be able to breathe while you were standing beside your car?

      Clinton you have claimed a number of times that “if this was a white man” people on the other side would then be calling for justice and you would be out there with them protesting. This was the 5th article in the google search I did for Roger.

      https://www.thenewstribune.com/news/state/article243184321.html

      …as this white “protester” found out in Seattle a week after Floyd’s death it does not happen based off of race, it happens based off of resisting arrest. I don’t remember you out at any protest chanting “Cory Cory Cory” did I miss it, are you going to hit the mean streets of Edmonds this weekend to find justice for this victim of police brutality? Are you are least going to stop claiming you would be if it happened to a white guy?

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    2. Thank you for your comment Clinton. I will certainly not deny that there is a problem with systemic racism, but if people are pushing for policies that just kill more people and make the problem worse, than we are not getting anywhere.

      In Minneapolis they voted to abolish the police department, but have not fully followed through with it. However, the message has definitely been received that they do not appreciate or respect the police, and they sent a message to criminals that there will not be as many consequences for their actions. Now homicides are up 100% and car jackings are up 105%, just so far this year. People are committing armed attacks right in the middle of the day. Last week, an attacker broke into the home of a 99 year old lady, and tried to smother her to death. Amazingly she was able to roll him off, and he made off with $40 and an Ipad. He was willing to end her life for such a small amount because the threat of consequences for his actions has dramatically reduced.

      Police have left Minneapolis in large numbers, many are out on medical leave from the riots, and no one wants to join. In Seattle there are also large numbers of police who have left or are preparing to leave because it is clear that the political leadership does appreciate the police service and their willingness to put their lives at risk to protect the lives of the people of Seattle.

      There is a real problem with racism in our justice system, and there are proven solutions to it. Importantly it involves serious efforts on the community, and not just the police. However, the defund crowd has shown that they are not interesting in actual solutions.

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    3. Clinton, why be hypothetical? It did happen to a white guy. See Tony Timpa. The pictures did lie. George Floyd was going insane on drugs. Officer asks him “Why are you foaming at the mouth?” George replied, “I was hooping earlier.”

      https://boards.straightdope.com/t/what-is-hooping-drug-reference/217708

      George was overheating on drugs. This is why he was taking his shoes off, trying to lay on the ground. The store clerk didnt even want to say to 911 he was black. They get fake 20’s all the time. He went out to George to ask him for a real 20 and called 911 because they saw a man speaking gibberish and likely overdosing. George’s friends in the car told officers George was going through some extreme issues and was not right. Read the transcripts, watch the badge cam videos. This was a drug-related medical emergency. If you didnt know about this, if you never heard about Tony Timpa, it is not your fault and this is by design. But now you know. I appreciate you btw.

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    4. Clinton, I wanted a chance to follow up, since I do appreciate your response, and the ability to have a discussion on this matter with a variety of viewpoints.

      I know that it may often feel like no one ever changes their mind, and we all just take turns saying why our viewpoints are infallibly correct. However, there are people who change their minds (though they would not often admit it), and others that learn information from what other people provide.

      It really depends on how open people are to accepting new information from all sides.

      The facts that I provided about the extra people who died is not rhetoric. Those are real life people with families. With brothers, sisters, and parents who love and care about them. When people just casually dismiss those unnecessary deaths as rhetoric, than we really have lost part of our humanity.

      I understand the pain, I understand and acknowledge the systemic racism. My whole point with this op-ed is that the ‘defund the police’ movement has not taken the affects of their actions seriously. They have dismissed hundreds of unnecessary deaths as “rhetoric,” and that is a disservice to both the people that it harms and the people they are doing it in memory of.

      I would agree that the anger against police brutality is justified. However, if we truly care about positively addressing this problem, we cannot turn a blind eye to evil policies that cause more harm like ‘defund the police,’ just because we agree that their motives to make a change is justified.

      It is the duty of everyone who actually wants to make a positive change to honestly review policies with facts and data to see if they actually do that. Rather than rely on rhetoric alone.

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  5. The next tactic is to come to Edmonds to riot. Mr Andy Ngo’s twitter documents this progression of regression in real-time, and is a good source of information the media is covering up.
    https://twitter.com/MrAndyNgo

    The badge-camera transcripts for the officers in Minneapolis have been our there for months. The defense attorneys for the officers have given interviews attesting to what really happened to George Floyd. No one listened. Now the badge-cam video is leaked, there’s definitive proof. He said he couldn’t breath when they took him out of his car, he couldn’t breath when they tried to put him into another car, he couldn’t breath when he put himself on the ground. George Floyd died of Excited Delirium (which causes asphyxiation). He would have died the same way had no police officer been there. An adrenaline shot may have been the only thing that could of saved his life. The officers will be acquitted and the rioters will come here to take it out. I’ve been arrested exactly the same way George Floyd was when in the military (I was in a vehicle that broke a secret checkpoint). I was knelt on like that and could breath just fine. Police kneel on a thousand people a day every day across the country, and they can all breath. When encountered with Excited Delirium, even paramedics and firefighters are trained to physically restrain the *patient*, which includes using their physical weight if that is all they have to hold them down.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rcVDABaMats

    “Chaos is a Ladder”
    ~Petyr Baelish

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  6. Ok. You all win. A police state where everyone just complies is a beautiful thing. I hope you all still enjoy it when they come for you because you don’t “think” or “speak” properly about the Right Wing or Left Wing power that is in place; or if the power deems you to be some how inferior or a threat to their well being. It’s all a slippery slope I’m afraid. The police state certainly worked out well for Nazi Germany. I’m sure it will serve us just as well.

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    1. Police state? US Surgeon General says masks don’t work and can even cause other health-related effects. Denmark has lower infection rates, but has a laissez faire attitude towards masks. Despite there being no science that says they’re effective, let’s assume masks are as effective as condoms – why do both of us need to wear one? Are you in favor of mask-policing considering your anti-police state attitude? Nazi’s? Didn’t Nazi’s make people wear things; not cloth masks, but cloth stars?

      I think everyone agrees that police Qualified Immunity needs to be reformed, police militarization under Bush and Obama needs to be unraveled a bit, and that the public sector unions make it too difficult to get rid of a bad police officer (or bad teacher in the case of the teacher’s unions).

      https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/jun/7/george-floyd-black-lives-matter-martyr-struggled-d/
      ^^^ you practically can’t use google to find this anymore, so I don’t fault people for not knowing these details, and I’m sharing this with love.

      George Floyd died from his own actions, likely something relayed to the “hooping” he was doing earlier that day. We all agree that he was someone who wanted to turn his life around, but the fact remains that he didn’t. This is a man who pistol-whipped a pregnant woman, put the gun up to her belly and threatened to shoot the baby inside. He dressed as a Houston Water Company employee to get entry into her house, then him and his gang bum-rushed her to find and steal drugs. It’s not injustice if you die the same way you lived.

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        1. The US Surgeon General says that mask compliance is a policing issue, not a communicable disease issue. He’s effectively saying that for health reasons we should have universal compliance to reduce the dangers of police engagement and enforcement.

          “Because if we just try to mandate it you have to have an enforcement mechanism and we are in the midst of a moment when over-policing has caused many different individuals to be killed for very minor offenses and that is an important consideration.”

          Denmark too is adopting masks even though they are on the low-end of infection rates. The reasons are travel restrictions and lack of uniformity (policing and policy, not science). Police state is more scary than caronavirus.

          Latest from CDC. The only study conducted says cloth masks don’t work. Respirators work.
          https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/26/10/20-0948_article

          Zooming out, we flattened the curve, which was about not overwhelming the hospitals. Now we need to get sick on purpose. It’s too risky to assume the vaccine will be available and effective. We must accept that CV-19 is a part of us now, just like the flu is. Herd immunity.

          Sweden was right after all, no lockdown, no closed schools (again google search engine suppresses this, use duckduckgo):
          https://off-guardian.org/2020/07/07/second-wave-not-even-close/

          We are scared of the police state, not carnivorous.

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    2. I guess Clinton was using sarcasm to make a point. I support his right to that use that literary technique even if I don’t concur. Lots to think about here.

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  7. Do you want to save lives or just complain? Why is it any different to ask people to be responsible citizens by wearing masks and to be responsible citizens by not resisting arrest?

    Since you didn’t answer before, if you were being arrested would you comply and fight it out in court or would you actively resist making the situation worse?

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  8. If a policeman is never held accountable for his actions because his job is inherently dangerous, we already live in a police state. If someone is beaten up while standing with their hands up and not resisting, we already live in a police state.

    A state police officer recently gave me a ticket for not wearing a seat belt when I was wearing one. I told her on sight that I thought she was “badge happy.” She lied in her statement about seeing my seat belt hanging from a b-pillar in my convertible that doesn’t even have a b-pillar. I took pictures to court and proved she was lying and my case was dismissed because she lied in her statement.

    My point is that bad police persons do bad things and need to be held accountable. We do not have a system that does this unless you are either very smart or have lots of money or both. Our Justice is not blind to poverty or skin color. But the good thing is, we are working on it.

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    1. There has not been a single post in here since May 25th that I have seen that said the police should not be held accountable for their actions when they are in the wrong. When you say “If a policeman is never held accountable” who are you disagreeing with?

      Hopefully she faced negative consequences of her actions. If she did not it is likely the problem of unions being strong enough to shield members from taking responsibility for their actions as when teachers get away with bad behavior. That is where you should focus your energy.

      In the Floyd case the officers were fired, arrested and are being prosecuted. How is that the system shielding them? The problem is going to be that with the information that has come public, the AG choosing to over charge them while at the same time suppressing that information, and the media choosing to manipulate us, that many will feel they “got off” unless there is a public execution.

      As you show in your example with a bad cop, you fought it out in court instead of fleeing the scene or taking a swing at the cop, and proved your innocence. Certainly more than if you had of chosen to increase the tension of the situation to the point that someone stood on your neck and you died. Your race did not harm or shield you from this cop, you had a negative interaction with police but in the end the system WORKED. If you can do it then other people that are equal to you can do it as well, why is it that you think they can’t?

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  9. When these police brutality cases go to the courts the police are almost always found not guilty and they usually end up being re-instated when they are fired by their administrators, who are at the least trying to get rid of the types of over aggressive personalities that cause them most of their problems. That is why A.G.s are loath to prosecute them. We give the police great leeway in this country to decide when, where and how to use potentially lethal force. I stand by my contention that we, as a society, do a very poor job of holding the police accountable for this great power of life and death that we give them.

    In no way do I equate my case that I noted to be construed as police brutality. At the most it was police using bad judgement to get to write a desired ticket (there was a seat belt emphasis patrol in effect at the time). The point I was trying to make is that due to my advantageous white skin color, intelligence and education, past work history and having a little money to spend I was able to get the justice I deserved. I was not bogged down by possible racism; or not understanding what can be an intimidating legal system. Many folks who run into trouble in our legal system are at a disadvantage racially, economically and educationally. They invariably lose whether they are guilty or not. That said, I do think we are making progress as a society to make things better in these regards. I do not advocate de-funding the police. I advocate de-funding and, at times, punishing the wrong police, if dismissal or punishment is deserved.

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