Police / Driver Confrontations - What To Do?

Surveillance / body cameras are now frequently capturing confrontations between police and drivers.

One of the fascinating things is that even though their is often clear video of the event, reasonable people are interpreting what happen and who is in the right differently.

Is there any way to improve the use of video? Or is this simply a political / cultural issue?


Political partisans interpret evidence based on their preconceived notions rather than on objective truth, news at 11.

Is there objective truth in such confrontations?

Probably not, but we can get pretty close by deciding what a reasonable person would do in such a situation, and then decide to what extent the actions that actually occured where reasonable or not. Or you can go the other route, in which everything "my guy" did was pure and noble and good and everything "the other guy" did was evil and violent and horrible.

The 'reasonable person' metric is difficult here because people have different takes on what is reasonable here.

One theme is that the police need to show more constraint and tact in 'de-escalating' these situations.

Another theme is that the public need to show more respect for the law.

Which one is right / more important / more applicable? It seems reasonable people disagree.

One theme is that the police need to show more constraint and tact in 'de-escalating' these situations.

Who do the police need to "de-escalate"? Themselves or the suspect?

edit: I misread your first theme. You are stating that the officer needs to be better at calming the situation.

Yes, that's the theme, e.g., police taught de-escalation techniques.

It's the millenials, aka trophy generation, can't take orders from anyone.

You only have to obey "lawful orders". Unfortunately, there's not a lot of guidance available anywhere as to what, exactly, constitutes a "lawful order". For example, in the Bland case, did the officer have the right to order her to put her cigarette out? Well, maybe, if the officer could make the case that he was telling her to put her cigarette out for his safety, and not to assert his authority because she was giving him attitude. But anyone who's ever worked a customer service job before could have deescalated this situation, and it's a little disconserting to see cops speak to people in a way that would get anyone else fired if they spoke to customers that way.

But that's what I meant by my earlier comment. Some people will always support the civilian because they have a bone to pick with the police, no matter what the video shows, and some people will always side with the police because they believe respect should be shown to authority, no matter what the video shows. Having video of the incident in question will only reinforce these peoples' opinion.

Hopefully, enough reasonable people will judge each case on it's merits and will view each incidents' video with an open mind.

"it's a little disconserting to see cops speak to people in a way that would get anyone else fired if they spoke to customers that way."

This may surprise you, but the police's responsibility is different than the kid at Carvel getting you an ice cream cone.

And, likewise, if Sandra Bland came into a store and barked at the server / waitress / etc. like she did the cop, everybody would think she is a jerk.

So you just paint 80 million people as a group that "can't take orders"?

"Another theme is that the public need to show more respect for the law."

For me it is this, with the expectation that the law returns the same respect given but it should start with the public.

Taking lessons from "The Don" with this question? As Ari said, most people judge based on their experience and those that have been shared before seeing frame one. I reviewed video from what was to become an attempted homocide case from view #1. I would have agreed with that decision. I saw what looked like an assault from camera #2. When you played both next to each other what you saw was a friend struggling with an intoxicated buddy who had decided to jump overboard for laughs. The villain became the hero. I am prejudiced towards law enforcement. I have too many friends and family in that line of work not to be. These are people I trust and although I have had a couple of questionable interactions they have not escalated because I just wasn't going there. I'm sure others have a different point of view.

Each advancement of technology that is embraced, most times, provide more new questions than definitive answers. The observer makes a judgement, real or perceived, based on their background and experiences. Lack of respect by either side is the serious issue. But the end game is accepting responsibility for the act of putting yourself in a position for bad things to happen, be that either party. Technology can not solve that, only record for interpetation.

My Father-In-Law....started 65 years ago and retired over 30 years "Stop or I'll shoot, they stop". My brother today "Stop, or I'll shoot!" They turn, flip you off, laugh and keep running while trying to keep their pants up ;). Ok, just a little humor added.

Is there any way to improve the use of video?

Yes, more and better quality video as well as audio and whatever other conditions of the environment we can sense and correlate to the event.

The only thing we can do is shed more light on whatever is happening or happened.

What if your local PD had a web page where the public could sit there and watch every single police officer's body camera live and in real time?

That being said the existence (or absence) of facts will not necessarily lead people to reasonable conclusions. Look at the debate on vaccines, or anthropomorphic climate change.

Here is a video that is well worth watching. It is high-quality production and relates valuable information to be considered when stopped by the police. I think EVERYONE should be exposed to the lessons that are contained here:

Thanks for sharing that video.

I thought it was going to be anti-police, but here are the first lessons:

"A police encounter is absolutely the worst time and place to vent your frustrations about the police."

"Being hostile with police is stupid and dangerous."

I totally agree with that, though many people obviously feel that is there right and the police should let them vent or be hostile.

"I totally agree with that, though many people obviously feel that is there right and the police should let them vent or be hostile."

I think this is perspective projection.

Just because people feel that DEATH should not be the outcome in any situation where the civilian does not immediately comply with police orders does not mean that these same people are anti-cop.

Police are humans, just like all the civilians they encounter - they are going to have good days and bad days. But police are in the position of authority (complete with badges and guns that they can shoot people with) and because of this position they are - and should be - held to a higher standard when it comes to interacting with civilians.

When a cop pulls you over for a missing front license tag or some other similar minor infraction (as in Sandra Bland's case), can they really expect the person being pulled over to be in a calm and peaceful mood? NO. As such, the police should then EXPECT at least a little bit of annoyance and petulence would ensue from the driver....

GOOD cops do anyway - and they deal with the person professionally and issue the citation and move on....

BULLY cops use this an excuse to abuse their position of authority... with DEATH being a viable option for any resistance - as long as the officer in question can state that 'they were in fear for their lives'.

That threshhold is a golden ticket for abuse.

The thought I find most amusing (in my own warped way) is that probably 95% of the "anti-cop" brigade in these things, are going to go straight to the police for help if they themselves are ever violated (either their persons, or their property). Cops are wonderful targets to hate on... right up until you need them, at which point no lengths are too extreme if it helps you get your stuff back.

that is a strawman argument Matt...

Sure there are the anarchist types that simply hate all authority - but I think most people are pro-cop... even those that think that police shouldn't have license to kill people for non-compliance.

"I think most people are pro-cop..."

How about:

(1) Poll: Majority of Americans Doubt That Police Treat People Fairly

(2) About seven-in-ten whites (71%) expressed a great deal or fair amount of confidence in local police to treat blacks and whites equally, compared with just 36% of blacks.

(3) Urban Blacks in U.S. Have Little Confidence in Police

Do not confuse anti-authoritarianism with anti-abuse-of-authority'ism' (if that was a word).

Expressing an opinion on the 'imperfect' tactical use of statute-granted authority is not the same as being anti-cop.

Yes, very rarely are people opposed to the idea or concept of policing.

However, very obvious, a significant portion of the US population is 'anti' the 'policing' they currently receive.

My point is that, that attitude, right or wrong, exacerbates the confrontations.

It wasn't meant to be an "argument" for or against anything... just an observation. Don't make it something it's not.

An interesting observation that gives you an idea of what can happen on the street. Worth reading. Video would have been a supporting factor in documenting the incident in 2000 for the officer.

"Early one December morning in East Baltimore in 2000, I saw a car drive by with its headlights off. For minor traffic violations, for honest mistakes – if the driver was sober, polite and carrying a valid license and registration – I would usually just issue a warning.

I stopped the car. But before I could get on the police radio to call in the stop, the driver – a very agitated middle-aged African-American woman, and seemingly middle-class – exited the car while shouting into her cellphone. She ended one call and made another. The “routine” went out of this 1 a.m. stop."

Police Brutality & Use Of Force: Regaining the Public's Trust (12:01)

If the police tell you to put your hands up, put your hands up. If the police are telling you to put your hands up, don't run.

The police are in the business of dealing with violent people regularly. Having them assume everyone is not a threat until proven otherwise is a recipe for getting themselves and innocent bystanders killed.

If the police tell you to put your hands up, put your hands up. If the police are telling you to put your hands up, don't run.
Cue Chris Rock...
I mean, this is the thing: even you're 100% in the right and the cops are 100% wrong, the more you push it, the more trouble you cause youself... ESPECIALLY if they're "bad cops". Being calm and compliant will go a lot farther to helping your case down the road; being aggressive is far more likely to get you shot... and if you're dead, it really won't matter if you were right.

For Matt: How Not To Get Your Ass Kicked By The Pollice

I looked up this old post to share a video I just ran across today from a Detroit-area judge who was recently sentencing a cop for beating up on some 57 yr old black dude for sport.

The video is kind of long - almost 15 minutes - and the judge talks mainly about the case in front of her for the first 5 minutes.

Forward to just before the 5 minute mark and listen to the rest of the judges speech in regards to how training of police officers is the primary catalyst that promotes (or at least allows) brutality to occur - even amongst those that come to policing with purely altruistic goals.