Perils of Policing

Thanks to the ubiquity of cellphone cameras, Americans these days get treated to a lot of stories about police misconduct–so much so that we sometimes forget that–troubling as they are– misbehaving officers represent a small percentage of the men in blue.

We’ve all recently seen the graphic and unsettling evidence of cops mistreating black teenagers at a pool party. But Juanita Jean–proprietor of the World’s Most Dangerous Beauty Salon, Inc.–has provided us a glimpse of the other side of the equation, namely, what happens when a perfectly reasonable police officer confronts a self-important “Sovereign Citizen” spouting bizarre legal theories about why the state of Texas lacks the authority to ticket him.

The video shows the May 2 arrest of 49-year-old Scott Richardson after being pulled over for allegedly driving 50 mph in a 40 mph zone. Recorded by Richardson on his cell phone, it shows him arguing with the Addison officer for over four minutes before the policeman gets out his baton and breaks the driver’s side window and pulls the man from the car. …

During the course of the interchange, the officer requests the man show him his driver’s license and proof of insurance a total of 15 times before he gets out his baton, makes the same request a final time, and begins breaking the window.

I think my favorite part of the exchange was Richardson demanding of the officer “As a man, what right do you have to stop another man?” (I guess it would be okay to stop a woman??)

You really need to click through and see the entire confrontation.

A day in the life…..



    Addison is a northern suburb of Dallas. Dallas is the San Andreas fault line of American politics.

    It’s where two plates converge: the East Texas plate with its history of lynchings and the West Texas plate with its history of the wild, wild west.

    Certain things have a problem of never changing.

  2. I almost thought this video was some kind of satire. Listening to the driver espouse his “outhouse lawyer” recitation of the Law as he understood it, I wondered how he could convince himself of the righteousness of his belief. The driver sounds like one of these people that believes the whole world is wrong and I am right.

    Anyway, it understandable the Police today need to be hyper-alert. The number of firearms in America is mind boggling. The next traffic stop could be your last. Recently here we had the Beech Grove Walmart brawl between two woman and a child on video. Can you imagine being a Police Officer and having to deal with these two woman???

    You may not like it but you are probably better off complying when the Police ask you do something instead of being confrontational. That said we have more than enough videos where Police shoot first or beat first and walk away with no repercussions.

  3. Misbehaving officers would be more tolerable if any of them – ANY – were ever properly disciplined for their misbehavior. The culture of impunity has a long history in police departments everywhere, but as a result of the increasing militarization of both equipment and training, extreme behavior is more frequent & more harmful, and just as unlikely to result in anything other than “retraining” classes where the attendees play with their phones during the powerpoint presentation.

    Insane “sovereign citizens” are so few that they function as a straw-man argument. Most police are reasonable and professional, but when a critical mass of cops in a department converts it to a frat with guns and delusions of warriorhood, we get Fergusons, Baltimores, and McKinneys.

  4. “misbehaving officers represent a small percentage of the men in blue.”

    Is this conclusion from the field of religion, politics or Statistics, Sheila? Do you have any data supporting this argument, or are you entering the discussion with a point already in hand that you’re trying to prove?

    With so much police abuse occurring that needs exposure, and with so much reform of police needed to be done to reduce the harm police inflict on citizens, the populist Left doesn’t have time to pen paeans to the royal guards or to introduce statements of faith into social science examinations.

    I don’t know just what you do in SPEA, but with that statement, you’ve just excluded yourself from researching any paper examining the incidence of police abuse.

    Are you on the populist Left, Sheila, or are you more of the Meridian Hills flavor of Democrat? The sort of Liberal who believes things like this: “I so deeply support the plight of the underprivileged, but of course we need to keep them South of 38th Street.”

  5. “after being pulled over for allegedly driving 50 mph in a 40 mph zone.”

    Don’t police have any real work to do?

    Unless driving is so outrageous to constitute a breach of the peace, cops should direct their attentions elsewhere.

    This man driving 50 in an arbitrary and treasury-serving 40 mph zone poses no threat to my property. The cops enforcing such silly “laws” does steal my property and liberty.

    When police are acting as tax agents, instead of protecting the public, they are engaging in misconduct, and they deserve every bit of scorn the public wants to hurl at them.

  6. Gopper: 50+ years worth of criminological research backs that up. Sherman in 79 wrote a book examining police corruption that talked about it.

    Police are drawn from society. In society we find that very few people do criminal things, and when you look at repeat offenders the number gets even smaller. I think her statement that a small number of officers are out of line is completely reasonable

  7. Gopper had the driver doing 50 mph in a 40 mph zone ran into your car and the officer let him off with a stern warning that the speed laws are arbitraty and treasury serving, but never-the-less he should be more careful in the future in case someone else be in his way. Your rant would take a different turn.


    The fact is you are just looking for something to rant about and you sound as though you just might be a fool trying to draw attention to him (or her) self.

    I have, throughout the course of my life received several speeding tickets–all well deserved–and have on occasion been merely lectured and warned and let go without incident. In each case I have simply honored the officer’s request to supply license and registration w/o acting like a jackass as the man in the video did.

    In my opinion the cop showed remarkable restraint. You, Gopper have not–nor have you written anything here that would lead one to believe that you have anything at all constructive to the issue at hand..

  8. One of the most virile of the toxic viral strains that we call conservatism is libertarianism, a thought process that the rest of humanity abandoned as unworkable when we gave up on hunting/gathering, about 12,000 years ago. It is the hippie culture of our youth (zero obligation) on steroids.

    It spawned the nonsense in Sheila’s video of “you’re not the boss of me” popular among infants and children.

    Oh well, easy to dismiss as people out of touch with reality.

    But, like with so many other current issues of living in fantasyland, these are real people who, for whatever the reason, hold their beliefs firmly and believe them to be advanced rational thinking. So we have to deal both with the causes of this diversion and the reality of people already at that station.

    They have been exposed to media brain washing that posits libertarianism as advanced thinking for freedom lovers.

    What’s not to like about freedom? It’s certainly high on my like list. Maybe near the top even.

    But freedom is not no obligations. We are stuck with increasingly more of us more entangled in each other’s lives. That won’t away.

    So we need better government amongst us (including policemen) that might be viewed as more government. Government up to the challenge.

  9. Part of the proble is that many in this country have been brought up on movies; “cowboys vs Indians”, cops vs robbers, and the mafia romanticized. Police seem to have been trained to believe that supporting their “brothers in blue” includes those they know are abusive, committing criminal acts and disobeying the very laws they have sworn to uphold. They seem to overlook the fact that when anyone commits a criminal act – they are a criminal no matter what their paid employement may be. We also have to question the quality of training all officers are receiving.

    I do believe the problem officers are the minority even though I am still personally dealing with being victimized by the legal system here after my attacker and his getaway driver had been identified and were being followed by undercover police here for the four previous days. I asked a uniformed IMPD officer as I was still laying in the grass bleeding, why would anyone come into this neighborhood to rob someone. He told me I had been followed; didn’t mention the earlier identification or ongoing undercover surveilance, I wondered how he knew I had been followed. There is only one way in and out of this small neighborhood. The following week these same officers sat in a small MCL parking lot, still watching the vehicle carefully and didn’t see the man get out and attack and rob his 4th elderly female victim in a two week period in a small east side area of Indianapolis. They did follow the car when it left MCL, watched them buy gas and cigarettes when they got a call on their police radio that there had been another old woman attacked and robbed in the MCL parking lot they just left. Exactly what kind of training did they receive.

    To show another side of IMPD; a few years ago patrol cars were in this small area looking for a burglary suspect who lived in here off and on. Neighbors had dealt with him before, knew who he was and we had a copy of his prison record and knew he was on parole for armed robbery. When the first patrolman stopped me on my walk to tell me to report him if I saw him come back made no mention of this so I asked if he had been told the man was on parole for armed robbery and might be armed. NO; the patrolmen had not been given this information, only that he was a burglary suspect. He thanked me and passed on to other officers for their safety. The bad cops we are seeing would be “bad guys” whatever job they hold; they just wouldn’t have a badge, a gun and the power to be in total contol of criminals and victims alike.

  10. I’m sure most policemen are doing a good, professional, often dangerous, job. So are most doctors, lawyers, teachers, salesmen, etc. The problem is that the bad ones give the rest a bad name, and no one seems to call them on it. They either ignore it or cover up for them. For their own reputations, the bad ones need to be held accountable.

  11. Having watched the video referenced in Sheila’s blog I would like to commend the officer for his restraint. The driver on the other hand is a first class example of a person who feels entitled to reality being favorable to him, not as it is.

    Where did our culture learn that we don’t exist in reality but can individually create it?


  12. Of course the video also demonstrates the risk to the entire country of the cancer that Texas has become.

  13. @Pete

    Texas has long been infected with a virus of the mind that is much like the cancer virus. Under a microscope you would be able to see the similarity. It has a shield surrounding the core which doesn’t allow the immune system to kick in.

  14. “Your rant would take a different turn.”

    Don’t presume you’re my scriptwriter.

    “I have, throughout the course of my life received several speeding tickets–all well deserved”

    Why? Because some white sign on the side of the road had a silly number on it? Be a man. Think for yourself.

    All drivers have this self-preservation skill: We’re driving along at a speed that feels safe and comfortable, but we’re always checking to see what the speed limit is. When every driver knows that the speed limit has no connection to a safe and comfortable speed, the speed limit only receives obedience at the barrel of a gun, but never respect.

    Nobody on 465 drives 55. Do they all merit a “well deserved speeding ticket?” Don’t be ridiculous. Be a man. Think for yourself. Stop looking to everything the government says as worthy of respect.

  15. “One of the most virile of the toxic viral strains that we call conservatism is libertarianism, a thought process that the rest of humanity abandoned as unworkable when we gave up on hunting/gathering, about 12,000 years ago. ”

    You’re always so silly, Pete.

    “The non-aggression axiom is the lynchpin of the philosophy of libertarianism. It states, simply, that it shall be legal for anyone to do anything he wants, provided only that he not initiate (or threaten) violence against the person or legitimately owned property of another. ” – Walter Block

    Leave it to wackos to disagree with this.

  16. Gopper. I do think for myself, and myself thinks you are a hare-brained wingnut. It is not so much the government as it is human life that I respect. A thought that I am relatively certain occurs to you seldom if at all. You may continue or end your rant as you please, but I must bow out. I have grown-ups to talk with.

  17. Gopper; Sheila has banned from her blog what I am thinking regarding your latest comments. I will say that you qualify to run on the presidential ticket with “The Donald” and let it go at that.

  18. Methinks that if we left government up to libertarians we’d soon be back to hunting/gathering. Of course that would solve our over population problem.

  19. “and myself thinks you are a hare-brained wingnut.”

    That’s fine, Wray. I think you’re a coward, an ignoramus and a wimp.

    See Bill Maher, last night? Maher and his guest Goss were bragging about dealing weed in prior days. Everyone laughed, because they know dealing weed is harmless, despite there being a stupid law against it. Nobody gets hurt, except Maher’s customers who lost a little in his light ounces.

    Same with 50 in a 40. It’s a ridiculous waste of government resources to violate liberty by messing with peaceable citizens over this nothing and stupid “law.” Sheila takes the cop’s side, because she ultimately prefers suppression of the individual to the desires of the state. The specific subject doesn’t get too deep a look, as long as it comes out that the government wins, and the citizen loses. If Sheila would have taken a longer look at this incident, she might not have chosen to plant her flag on a 50 in a 40 allowing the government to goo full martial law.

    Think about it. Is a beef with a cop over 50 in a 40 really all that is keeping martial law at bay? If so, folks, we’re right up against that line, all the time, and only your unhesitating submission keeps the jackboot off your throat. Think about how close you are to the martial law line. If the government won’t walk away or act peaceably when rebuffed over a low-level civil infraction, what challenge to their authority will they not meet with arms and violence?

    You claim to “respect human life?” What a joke. You advocate its delimiting and joylessness. I suppose you think Maher and his guest should have had their lives ruined over dealing weed in some “well deserved” jail sentences.

    Run along, mental midget. I’m sure you and your shallow company will celebrate and congratulate each other’s unreflective and shallow examination of subjects that you lack the capacity to apprehend, let alone examine.

  20. Of course the real issue is does liberty arise as a natural gift from 100% of humans because they are completely and naturally empathetic and altruistic or because those who are not are forced to be by enforcement of the laws that we agree to live under by our allegiance to the country and Constitution.

    If Libertarianism were viable than there would be no crime in our world as everyone, 100% of us, would naturally behave as the laws today require us to.

    I think that the world would be a grand place if libertarianism could work but there is not a snowballs chance in hell that it will. That’s why no civilization has ever tried it.

  21. Most ignorant thing I’ve read lately is –

    “The non-aggression axiom is the lynchpin of the philosophy of libertarianism. It states, simply, that it shall be legal for anyone to do anything he wants, provided only that he not initiate (or threaten) violence against the person or legitimately owned property of another. ” – Walter Block–

    as if you may easily step off the chain of causality or suffer not the dilemma of conflicting claims.

  22. Pingback: Perils of Policing
  23. Regrettably, it seems Gopper is more interested in ad hominem attacks on Sheila and others who disagree with him. It’s inappropriate in a civilized setting.

    I have sued police officers on behalf of people who were subject to excessive force or other civil rights violations. I tend to view police behavior with a critical eye. The officer in this video showed incredible restraint. I am not sure I would have been that patient. Even after the officer took out his baton–when he was clearly frustrated as hell–he did not immediately use it. The officer was also wise in not engaging the “sovereign citizen” in the debate.

    Kudos to this officer–and to the sovereign citizen who made the video available. It is a good item for everyone to study and learn from.

Comments are closed.