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Solving Nothing

The Arizona Republic recently reported about a Chandler police sergeant who was demoted and agreed to leave the department by the end of next year for ordering her subordinates to single out Native American shoplifters for being booked into jail instead of cited and released. She wasn’t fired, obviously, and it seems she will still be able to enjoy her pension. That’ll teach other officers not to do stuff like that in the future!

Kidding aside, the article explains the sergeant’s patrol district borders the Gila River Indian Community and has a chronic shoplifting problem. This passage in the article forecasts what’s sure to be the Chandler Police Department’s new response to the problem:

No one would have objected if Freeman had ordered all shoplifting suspects booked as a strong statement that the crime would not be tolerated.

Although the countless Native Americans who will still be discriminated against and booked through jail by Chandler officers are likely to disagree, the problem wasn’t that police were targeting shoplifters with arrest or even people in a certain patrol district. The problem was that they were told to target a specific ethnic group. That’s something that unnecessarily upsets people, as police have simple work around that accomplishes the same exact thing while being universally adored by the voting public.

Want to stick it to Native Americans? Just order all shoplifters in the patrol district be booked, something the Chandler police have already said would be just peachy. If the fired sergeant’s racist guess is right, the effect will be exactly as planned without offending anyone. If not, the effect will probably be exactly as planned anyway. Do you really think the cops are going to arrest and book every teenage white girl they catch? There may have been “multiple complaints” about what the sergeant said, but what percentage of officers do you think actually spoke up? How many happily complied or thought to themselves, “duh, I already do that.” I wouldn’t be surprised if the complaints came from people who did it already and want to continue doing it, but didn’t want to get in trouble for doing it because some other idiot actually said out loud that which should always remain understood but unspoken.

Our law-and-order, punishment-enamored, police-state culture gives us seemingly race neutral reasons to do all of the awful things the racist assholes among us want to do, and all while making us think we’re free. Don’t want black people to vote? Disproportionately charge and imprison them, stripping them of their voting rights. Tired of Latinos? “Crack down” on illegal immigration, and when ordered by the feds to stop, either refuse or just start overcharging people for things and in places strategically but subtly chosen to target Latinos. Want to teach a lesson to a bunch of college kids? A “crack down” near ASU is just what the doctor ordered. When everything is illegal and nothing is capable of exceeding the lawful scope of government power, the only thing the government has to do is pick a race-neutral reason to do whatever they want to whatever demographic they want.

The other telling part of the article feels strangely buried:

The internal investigation also sustained a second charge that Freeman manipulated a computer system to take longer lunch hours than allowed.

Freeman’s discipline was more severe because she had two prior sustained offenses on her record in 2012, according to the investigation. She was suspended 10 hours without pay in September 2012 for pointing a Taser at an officer and was suspended for 40 hours without pay in December 2012 for surreptitiously recording department employees inside a police facility, a policy violation.

Too much lunch, got it. I’m actually shocked that the good sergeant wasn’t canned for that alone. She’s stealing from the public! And frightening an officer with a Taser? A citizen will get shot to death for pulling even one cop’s ineffective Taser on some cops. She got off easy. And the fact that a police facility seems to be maybe the only place where recording everyone all the time seems like a good idea doesn’t justify the butthurt she caused her fellow officers who had to beat up suspects, steal drug money, and lie about confessions elsewhere. She violated the privacy of our society’s very private, supreme privacy-violators, and it doesn’t take more alarming videos than I can watch to show me that they really hate that.

Expect nothing to change. They will screw over just as many Native Americans. One cop may not indulge in any more luxurious lunches, and other officers will never see the scary end of the Tasers they use on others with reckless abandon or be recorded as they do things they’d arrest book other people for doing. The public, however, will swell with pride knowing that the Chandler police police their own and do not tolerate discrimination. It’s brilliant public relations, really.

Score another win for democracy. And score another for the police state.

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