The More We Learn…

It’s a conundrum.

Any civilized society operates by creating and enforcing rules. Social tranquility depends upon choosing wise people to make the rules and fair-minded people to enforce them.Right now, America isn’t doing too well with either of those populations.

This blog spends an inordinate amount of time on the clown show that is the U.S. House of Representatives, but problems with enforcement–with policing–are equally thorny.

From the beating of Rodney King to the murder of George Floyd and the multitude of other unwarranted violent episodes, Americans have been inundated with video evidence of questionable police behavior.

And “questionable” is frequently the correct word. As public safety professionals will tell us, protecting the public often requires split-second decision-making in situations that are a lot more ambiguous than they appear after the fact. Given the difficulties they face, giving police the benefit of reasonable doubt is only fair.

But all doubt isn’t reasonable.

Reporters keep uncovering deeply disturbing evidence of a racist, anti-Semitic and thuggish culture that persists in a troubling number of police departments. A year or so ago, one such culture was exposed in Torrance ,California . Text messages that had circulated among current and former officers of the city’s Police Department “reveal a culture rife with racism, antisemitism, and homophobia going back at least a decade.”

The texts are extremely violent in nature and grotesquely racist, homophobic, and antisemitic.

According to reporting from the LA Times, one text shows a picture of a candy cane, a Christmas tree ornament, a star for the top of the tree, and an “enslaved person.”

“Which one doesn’t belong?” the caption asks.

“You don’t hang the star,” someone replies.

Another message reads “hanging with the homies,” attached was a photo of several Black men who had been lynched.

Another photo asks what someone would do if their girlfriend was having an affair with a Black man. The captioned response was to break “a tail light on his car so the police will stop him and shoot him.”

Prosecutors say the messages go back years and could jeopardize hundreds of criminal cases in which the officers either testified or made arrests.

The LA Times identified 13 current and former police officers and one Long Beach cop who are now under investigation. At least nine of the officers texted images or commentary advocating violence against Black people and LGBTQ community members and ridiculing racial profiling.

There was much more, and all horrific. Discovery of the texts was triggered by an investigation of two former Torrance police officers who had spray-painted a swastika inside a resident’s car.

If Torrance was an isolated instance, it would be troubling enough, but in the last few years, we’ve seen repeated evidence that these White Supremacy attitudes are widespread among both the police and the military.

As the linked article by an FBI agent now with the Brennan Center warns:

For decades, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has routinely warned its agents that the white supremacist and far-right militant groups it investigates often have links to law enforcement. Yet the justice department has no national strategy designed to protect the communities policed by these dangerously compromised law enforcers. As our nation grapples with how to reimagine public safety in the wake of the protests following the police killing of George Floyd, it is time to confront and resolve the persistent problem of explicit racism in law enforcement.

I know about these routine warnings because I received them as a young FBI agent preparing to accept an undercover assignment against neo-Nazi groups in Los Angeles, California, in 1992. But you don’t have to take my word for it. A redacted version of a 2006 FBI intelligence assessment, White Supremacist Infiltration of Law Enforcement, alerted agents to “both strategic infiltration by organized groups and self-initiated infiltration by law enforcement personnel sympathetic to white supremacist causes.”

As the officer who wrote the above article pointed out, If the U.S. government found out that al-Qaida or a similar foreign terrorist organization had infiltrated American law enforcement, it would immediately launch a nationwide effort to identify those individuals and neutralize the threat.

Yet white supremacists and far-right militants have committed far more attacks and killed more people in the U.S. over the last 10 years than any foreign terrorist movement. The FBI regards them as the most lethal domestic terror threat. The need for national action is even more critical.

We the People need the police. But we need the right kind of police. That requires hiring practices capable of weeding out thuggish, bigoted applicants, and training that emphasizes service to all parts of the communities they will be hired to protect.

We have a problem, and public safety requires that we fix it.


  1. We are a divided nation and I have no idea which nation I am living in at this time. I do not recognize what is going on in the spaced-out, cat fighting House and the Catholic Supreme Court. During the adult years of my 86 years I have not always agreed with the party in charge but accepted them as my leaders. I have not always agreed with decisions made by the candidates I did vote for but could look ahead for change in the future. We have but one issue before the entire nation today as the world watches our chaos and that issue is Donald Trump. I watch the news, dazed at his escapades and law-breaking being excused because he was once appointed to the presidency by the MAGA, White Nationalist voters guided by the Electoral College who see him as their Messiah, bringing religion into the government which is not allowed to retaliate by getting into the religious takeover of life as we once knew it as Americans. For 2 1/2 years we have watched him run rough shod over our elected leaders and threaten the lives of the public at large where his future MIGHT be decided by juries if he is ever treated as the criminal he blatantly continues be and to ignore all human and civil rights of others as well as ignoring laws and direct court orders.

    It is Trump who told the police throughout this country NOT to worry about how they treated criminals, don’t worry about them hitting their heads as they are put into patrol cars and recently recommended shooting shoplifters as they leave the store.

    “We the People need the police. But we need the right kind of police.” For the most part, we have the police system Trump ordered on his 2nd or 3rd day in office. As long as he is in control and his Freedom Caucus is ruling the House of Representatives at the federal level; we will see no change in policing. If you doubt his almost total control over all of us; remember that he is the only president to cause this nation to run out of toilet paper. And we still cannot clean up his shit.

  2. Police also prefer Republican mayors…I wonder why? 😉

    What I found odd about the George Floyd community organizers was their avoidance of our local police department. Other measures were taken, but the PD was left alone. It’s pretty ironic but not surprising at all.

    Meanwhile, our PD had federal lawsuits against them for violating citizen’s rights and excessive beatings. We got a Black Chamber and a black Deputy Mayor. SMH

    These are all token gestures to say we’re not racists and embrace diversity—complete bullshit. Maybe one day, we’ll address the issues without a black man or woman being killed. We are entirely reactionary. However, as long as one of our major political parties embraces racism, it will be hard to fix the racism within the PDs.

    And yes to the above — what about all the police cases against minorities? How can they not be biased against minorities?

  3. So well put, JoAnn!
    I had never heard of the “strategic infiltration” before, but it makes sense that it would be a thing.
    I’m sure the white suprematist groups believe that their god-thing is all for it.
    We ought not forget that every group that has ever come to this country, on its own, or by force of slavery, other than the white Protestants, has been attacked, seen as evil in one way or another. I do not need to spell this out.
    The Pilgrims, themselves running from intolerance, brought it here, and it’s never gone away.

  4. So, what is the population pool from which police are recruited? Why does the “sensitivity” training not seem to matter? What is the real percentage of police experiences that are NOT racist, anti-semitic, etc.? Is the media just overblowing the events that are offensive, illegal and stupid? Are these unsavory interventions outside the norm of human interactions in general?

    In my ideal world, these prejudices, bigotry and hate-mongering wouldn’t exist at all. Sigh. My unrequited idealism will never be assuaged, I guess.

    Complex problems require complex studies and complex solutions.

  5. I remember when a drunken idiot IMPD officer by the name of David Bisard was protected by the entire law enforcement and political establishment within Indianapolis. The entire establishment has no credibility.

    I admit, if it wasn’t for an honest cop from Lawrence,there is no doubt he would still be operating as a drunk and killing more people. Fuck the union. I hope Carl Brizzi is spending eternity on his knees in hell; servicing every miscreant on the other side with a vulgar Italian dish of fellatio.

  6. The majority of police probably aren’t participating in these outrageous activities, but they also aren’t standing up to it! Silence is consent.

  7. Unpacking a bit…it is getting harder and harder to recruit for our volunteer armed forces as Gen Z is having too much fun….reports are that recruiting is lowering checking on racist/terrorist social media stuff…it is getting harder and harder to recruit police…might they be checking less?…there is a steady “armed forces to police forces pipeline”….police unions remain strong…internal/external oversight of police misbehavior has not increased….WHY ARE WE SURPRISED?

  8. I served 25 years in public safety (Fire Department) and continue to do Leadership and DEI consulting with Fire and Police organizations, non-profits and churches. Our societal problems persist today because “good” people remain silent while co-workers, friends and neighbors commit atrocities and/or perpetuate negative stereotypes. It takes courage to speak up when discrimination and harassment occurs. In the workplace, that means going against peer pressure to conform to ‘code of silence’ unwritten rules in organizational cultures like Police and Fire. That peer pressure can take many forms such as shunning, not being promoted, being disciplined for insubordination, being beaten, and not being sure if you will be backed up on emergency calls. It takes strategic action in multiple organizational systems to disrupt, and then transform the culture.

    With workplaces other than Fire or Police and in churches, families, and neighborhoods people are often more afraid of being “different” than of speaking up about discrimination. There are fears of losing friends, being labeled, being left out, not being promoted, not being liked and so on. As human beings, these are normal feelings. With that said, we can create groups where it is normal to have the courage to dissent – to offer new ideas and opinions, and still respect and care for each other.

    Speaking truth to power takes practice and is a skill that anyone can develop if they are intentional about learning and practicing that skill. It’s not only an essential leadership skill, it’s and invaluable life skill. I encourage everyone to get busy learning and practicing courageous conversation if you want to end racism in our communities. Courageous conversations build relationships where we can find common ground and create actionable plans to transform communities. Here is a great link to one resource to do that. I hope you have the courage to begin having courageous conversations.

  9. The issues are deeper than just Trump. He was savvy enough to understand what made the Republican Party tick. At one time I thought the Republican Party could be saved but no longer feel this way. It must go the way of the Whig Party and a new conservative party created.

  10. I am surprised by the negative comments just here on this blog!!

    Ian — what happened to make you such a hater!!!

    And Lester, what were you doing at age 11 – 26?!?!?! (Gen Z age range) Shouldn’t 11 year olds be having fun? Brain development isn’t even complete until approx. age 25. Get off your high horse!

    And Trump just gave permission to all of the racists to speak their hate loudly and often once again, as they often did in the pre-civil rights era in the South. We had about 30 years there were it wasn’t cool to state your racism loudly in public in most places.

    I think this racial issue will take a VERY long time to subside — just like religious intolerance in Europe during the latter half of the last millennium. (And even then Irish Catholics and Protestants have managed to keep that smoldering!)

    Humans just seem to have a need to hate each other! 🙁

  11. Kathy,I hate malfeasance from LE and what was then a Republican prosecutors office. David Bisard was a drunken idiot with a badge. He plowed through people stopped at a stoplight. He killed one leaving debilitating injuries to two.

    Hater? Of political malfeasance,absolutely. The entire establishment circled the wagons to protect the drunken idiot.

  12. Ian — it sounds like you have quite a case of resentment against these people. (I looked each of them up and saw they were certainly not humanities brightest points of light, for sure.)
    But I have been taught that “Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” Having such hatred in your heart will only serve to make you less able to cope with all the crap that is still coming at us. Not suggesting that you forgive outright; just take the hate down a notch and see if YOU don’t feel better. This is my experience, strength and hope.

  13. Kathy – WADR – Of course, I was only referring to the 18-26 range….Last time I looked, 11-18 year old’s couldn’t be in the armed forces or police.

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