cops in Miami and racism in East Europe

Mon Jun 12 11:12:59 MDT 1995

To understand how police act, as both a group and as individuals, let
us not forget the "self-selection" process.  For instance, I have
heard that psychologists have indeed analyzed psych-tests of cops and
have found that they are not at all average-looking citizens in terms
of personality traits.  (Sorry, no cite for you.)

I suspect that applicants to enter police academy for initial
training are not average citizens either, and they probably become
less and less average not only because of the training itself, but
also because those who don't fit in keep dropping out along the way.

Of course it's a power trip.  I know an ex-cop who admits as much -
he wanted to be a cop so he could bash the bad guys.  (Problem is, of
course, they have the power to bash anyone.)  The one I know got
booted from the force because he failed a drug test.  See, he didn't
think drugs were the bad guys, or even dealers; just bad dealers.

I guess he didn't fit in, even though he did enjoy the power to
harass those whom he thought appropriate.

Studies of colors and backgrounds of cops and communities have also
been done, in Miami for instance.  After the Miami riots, a big
effort was made to hire cops of colors.  Highly qualified candidates
were far from numerous.  It's likely that social pressure within much
of the community was against joining - "don't sell out!" etc. because
of the view of the police as servants of the rich and inevitably

Extremely stupidly, in a rush to overcome the bad PR generated by  TV
coverage of the riots, Miami hired anybody.  It turned out later that
they had hired quite a few felons, because they did not bother to do
proper background checks.  Some of these were later found to be in
the gangs of cops which were killing and stealing from dealers
without arrests or reports filed.  Which, of course, gave cops and
cops of colors increasinly bad reputations.

I heard from Europeans, when I was in East Europe, that the Miami
riots, triggered by the killing of an unarmed black boy by a white
cop, in which all-white cops were trying to control all-nonwhite,
rioting crowds, made USA look a lot like South Africa at the time.
This of course is the spin that their [pre-89] news put on it, and
many people asked me, the only American they had talked to, about it:
was it true, was it like that everywhere all the time, etc.

I was happy to talk about my views of racism in America.  They were
very surprised to learn that America was only 10% black, but
obviously blacks were not evenly distributed across America.

Just when I thought that they were properly dismayed by racism in
general, however, somebody would say, "I think that America's Black
problem is the same as our Gypsy problem," the problem being that
"they are poor and dirty and won't work."  (See my mouth hanging open
in disbelief.)

Apparently, some of them were against minority rule and police
brutality (both as in Miami example) but they had no clue to a deeper
analysis of racism or the causes of poverty.  They resented
government spending on housing to settle Gypsy people, thought they
should just "act like whites" and would deny them traditional
mobility, ability to live off the land, the craft, trading and
entrepeneurship that went with that traditional life and would also
prevent their begging in the cities.  After all, everyone got some
kind of subsistence guarantee, and that should be enough.

Now that I know a lot more about socialism and capitalism, I am
amazed at how uneducated many people were, mostly young people, that
I met.  They were quite sure that democracy means majority rule,
minority can lump it, and capitalist countries are wealthy and have
more and better consumer goods, which they wanted, period.

When I told them that capitalism has some bad effects and that there
were socialists in US, they thought I was joking.


>>> <glevy at>  6/10/95, 05:55am >>>
...  To understand how police act as a group,  rather than just
individuals, one must consider their social role and the  means with
which police are created and trained.  Police, like soldiers,
undergo an indoctrination and assimilation process which TEACHES
individuals to become cops.  It doesn't matter what their moral and
ethical beliefs were before joining up.  Part of the training process
 involves destroying those older values, substituting new moral
values and  group conduct and behavior, and de-humanizing civilians.
They learn both  to "follow orders" and de-humanize groups, classes
and individuals. (snip)
 Some day I'd like to get a copy  of a police application and
entrance exam and give it to a behavioral  psychologist for analysis.
 I suspect strongly that they get the type of  individuals they are
looking for through this process.  It might also be  useful to
examine which GROUPS and COMMUNITIES cops are, by and large,
recruited from.
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