I'm a police officer and a swat team member, ask me anything?

White Lightning2

Anarchist
799
729
PNW
I don't know about his take, but mine is that every LE Officer should be wearing a body cam. Every. One.
The media is quick to jump on any footage of misconduct, and they should be. It would be nice if they gave as much airtime to all the video of cops doing it right and especially when allegations of misconduct are refuted by video evidence.

Personnel files are a tricky thing. As public servants, they are held to a higher standard. But you are also recruiting people who are willing to step up and into the line of fire. Those are not always the most soft spoken and understanding types. They can be trained to be good officers, but you are dealing with aggressive personalities that don't like to back down.

I've been fortunate that all my dealings with LE, personally and professionally have been mostly positive. The few times I have come across a more "assertive" officer, I was polite and respectful. I appreciate that they have to do a job that I wouldn't last a day in.

WL
 

Vgree

Super Anarchist
4,468
248
OKC, Oklahoma
Wondering what your thoughts are on public access to police misconduct files?

New York Repealed Its Police Secrecy Law Two Years Ago. Departments Are Still Trying To Hide Misconduct Files.



Particularly the part about unsubstantiated complaints.
I fully believe that any violation of the law should be easily accessible to the public, just as it would be if any person committed the crime. There should also be a record system for agencies to access officer misconduct in the past if an officer attempts to leave one agency and go to another.

As for unsubstantiated complaints, I don't believe the public should have access to those. Now days with body cameras complaints are easy to investigate and you wouldn't believe how many we deal with. I investigated one of my guys the other day because a citizen called in and said he was "talking aggressively" to someone on a traffic stop. The person who filed the complaint stated they had witnessed him yelling at the person and heard him use profanity.
When I watched the body camera the person stopped and the officer were talking and the person had just told the officer a joke. There was zero profanity used but the officer did laugh loudly and gestured with his hands. When I called the person who complained with that information they called me a liar and wanted to speak to my supervisor, so I sent them on up the chain where they then complained that I was covering for the officer even though I offered to let them see the body camera.

Some records should be protected but I'm also fine with some being accessible. If an officer makes a mistake such as bad tactics in a pursuit and gets disciplined for that then that should just be a job related issue and isn't something that needs to be shown to the public. Now if in two years he does that four or five times and doesn't learn from it then that bad tactic results in an injury that should be used during the investigation but there is no reason that the general public should be seeing every time an officer is diciplined.
 

Mrleft8

Super Anarchist
27,422
4,051
Suwanee River
I fully believe that any violation of the law should be easily accessible to the public, just as it would be if any person committed the crime. There should also be a record system for agencies to access officer misconduct in the past if an officer attempts to leave one agency and go to another.

As for unsubstantiated complaints, I don't believe the public should have access to those. Now days with body cameras complaints are easy to investigate and you wouldn't believe how many we deal with. I investigated one of my guys the other day because a citizen called in and said he was "talking aggressively" to someone on a traffic stop. The person who filed the complaint stated they had witnessed him yelling at the person and heard him use profanity.
When I watched the body camera the person stopped and the officer were talking and the person had just told the officer a joke. There was zero profanity used but the officer did laugh loudly and gestured with his hands. When I called the person who complained with that information they called me a liar and wanted to speak to my supervisor, so I sent them on up the chain where they then complained that I was covering for the officer even though I offered to let them see the body camera.

Some records should be protected but I'm also fine with some being accessible. If an officer makes a mistake such as bad tactics in a pursuit and gets disciplined for that then that should just be a job related issue and isn't something that needs to be shown to the public. Now if in two years he does that four or five times and doesn't learn from it then that bad tactic results in an injury that should be used during the investigation but there is no reason that the general public should be seeing every time an officer is diciplined.
Well! I'll be dipped in dawg doo! Nice to see you back Vernon!
It's good to hear a voice of reason with some experience behind it!
 

Pertinacious Tom

Importunate Member
62,881
2,012
Punta Gorda FL
I fully believe that any violation of the law should be easily accessible to the public, just as it would be if any person committed the crime. There should also be a record system for agencies to access officer misconduct in the past if an officer attempts to leave one agency and go to another.

As for unsubstantiated complaints, I don't believe the public should have access to those. Now days with body cameras complaints are easy to investigate and you wouldn't believe how many we deal with. I investigated one of my guys the other day because a citizen called in and said he was "talking aggressively" to someone on a traffic stop. The person who filed the complaint stated they had witnessed him yelling at the person and heard him use profanity.
When I watched the body camera the person stopped and the officer were talking and the person had just told the officer a joke. There was zero profanity used but the officer did laugh loudly and gestured with his hands. When I called the person who complained with that information they called me a liar and wanted to speak to my supervisor, so I sent them on up the chain where they then complained that I was covering for the officer even though I offered to let them see the body camera.

Some records should be protected but I'm also fine with some being accessible. If an officer makes a mistake such as bad tactics in a pursuit and gets disciplined for that then that should just be a job related issue and isn't something that needs to be shown to the public. Now if in two years he does that four or five times and doesn't learn from it then that bad tactic results in an injury that should be used during the investigation but there is no reason that the general public should be seeing every time an officer is diciplined.

I figured you might have a story like that one but I'm still sorry that you do.

I hope things go well with your supervisor's investigation. Good grief.

Your sensitivity to unsubstantiated complaints seems completely understandable to me.

I don't want people like that one interfering with cops like you. At the same time, a cop might do something really bad and there's really no evidence other than what a person says. And if you get a cop who seems to attract an unusually large pile of these unsubstantiated allegations, maybe there's a problem that the public should know about?
 

Vgree

Super Anarchist
4,468
248
OKC, Oklahoma
I figured you might have a story like that one but I'm still sorry that you do.

I hope things go well with your supervisor's investigation. Good grief.

Your sensitivity to unsubstantiated complaints seems completely understandable to me.

I don't want people like that one interfering with cops like you. At the same time, a cop might do something really bad and there's really no evidence other than what a person says. And if you get a cop who seems to attract an unusually large pile of these unsubstantiated allegations, maybe there's a problem that the public should know about?
To play the devils advocate,

Take two cops, one is very proactive, out daily making arrests and protecting the community he serves. He leads the department in arrest numbers, which in turn means more people run from him overall, he has more uses of force, pisses off more people (people don't like to go to jail and their families get mad). This officer also works "traffic complaints" that citizens call in about and writes tickets when he catches violations in the area that a citizens had concerns about.

Officer #2 parks in empty parking lots daily and plays on his phone, only takes his assigned calls and shows up late to "ongoing" calls so the bad guys are gone. He writes his reports and goes back to his parking lot.

Which one do you think will have more complaints in their file? Which one will have more use of force reports in their file? Which one is the better cop doing what they are sworn to do? Which one would you rather have serving you?

I got hired with another officer who is a slug. He's Lazy and does the bare minimum. Not a bad guy, and not a "bad cop" but I bet he hasn't made an arrest that he initiated in 7 or 8 years. While I have spent my career being very proactive, last month I seized two stolen cars and four stolen guns and put a total of 10 people in jail for multiple reasons, plus I'm a supervisor responsible for 6 other officers. My shift is the shift you come to if you want to work, so my name appears in many of their reports as a backing officer.

If you pulled both our files right now I have many times over his number of use of force reports and have many more unsubstantiated complaints. It's easy to avoid complaints when you don't do anything. So am I the worse cop because I've made more bad guys mad at me?
 

Vgree

Super Anarchist
4,468
248
OKC, Oklahoma
The general public has no idea how many complaints people call in on police officers.

When I started complaints were stressful because we didn't have body cameras. When you heard you had a complaint against you, you had to complete a formal statement about what occurred. It was your word vs the complainants. With the use of body cameras most of that stress has gone away. We still complete the statement but now my statements are usually a brief summary then something about "other details are available from the video of the incident". I don't do anything I am worried about so I know that the video will clear me every time. That makes life much easier. I know that if I used force to arrest someone it will be within what is allowable based on the circumstances, and if I said something to someone it will be as professional as the situation allowed.
 

Steam Flyer

Sophisticated Yet Humble
45,453
10,221
Eastern NC
There are people with grudges who would pursue all sorts of actions against police officers individually and departments, using any and all material available. I think keeping a lid on what is available to the public is a good idea, within limits.
 

bowman81

Super Anarchist
1,412
227
Australia
@Vgree ypu may have touched on this elsewhere but I've been curious about the videos I see of these "auditors".

What strikes me the most is that they've been doing this shit for years and posting the videos across the internet with some even getting significant payouts from lawsuits.

So, why are there still cops that are so unaware of the laws surrounding stop, search, detainment? Is it a lack of training or an unwillingness to learn.

I would have thought that after the first handful of lawsuits every cop would sat down and made to watch ten of these videos, learn how to identify these auditor types and the dos and don't of the interaction.
 

00seven

James "Grumpy" Bond
3,218
927
Blue marble
@Vgree ypu may have touched on this elsewhere but I've been curious about the videos I see of these "auditors".

What strikes me the most is that they've been doing this shit for years and posting the videos across the internet with some even getting significant payouts from lawsuits.

So, why are there still cops that are so unaware of the laws surrounding stop, search, detainment? Is it a lack of training or an unwillingness to learn.

I would have thought that after the first handful of lawsuits every cop would sat down and made to watch ten of these videos, learn how to identify these auditor types and the dos and don't of the interaction.

Just the auditor types? Having a camera shouldn't be an upgrade of your civil rights.
 

bowman81

Super Anarchist
1,412
227
Australia
Just the auditor types? Having a camera shouldn't be an upgrade of your civil rights.
My question, yes, just the auditor types. The question isn't about if they're right or wrong, or entitled or douchbags.

It's a question of, there is a group of people with a predictable pattern of behaviour, point a camera at a place that will get attention, then goude the cops into a response that they can use for a viral video or lawsuit. It seems to me that sime very simple training on how to identify and interact with these guys and the situation would just go away because they'd no longer get the outcome they "want".
 

Vgree

Super Anarchist
4,468
248
OKC, Oklahoma
@Vgree ypu may have touched on this elsewhere but I've been curious about the videos I see of these "auditors".

What strikes me the most is that they've been doing this shit for years and posting the videos across the internet with some even getting significant payouts from lawsuits.

So, why are there still cops that are so unaware of the laws surrounding stop, search, detainment? Is it a lack of training or an unwillingness to learn.

I would have thought that after the first handful of lawsuits every cop would sat down and made to watch ten of these videos, learn how to identify these auditor types and the dos and don't of the interaction.
So most cops are taught this, we do a pretty good job at my department of keeping our officers informed of these type of issues.
I think they just do it enough that they eventually find that guy having a bad day or that guy who is uneducated and get under their skin.
What you have to keep in mind is that guy probably has 100 interactions that aren't youtube worthy before he gets the one he wants.
We are a small department and deal with 5-6 of these type of "auditors" a month.
When one comes by our PD or is out and about texts go out between agencies warning people. But many of them cause enough of a problem we have to go make contact.

When they show up at the PD my go to move is to invite them in for a tour of the PD, that usually catches them off guard, they never agree to it. But they also never upload those videos.

As I stated above sometimes they get lucky. About 6 months ago the Sergeant that works under me got served with divorce papers while at work. We were at shift minimum so he couldn't leave until I got someone else to come in. In that 45 minutes one of those auditors started filming officers personal cars out back while live on Facebook. Dispatch sent the Sgt to speak to the guy because he was at the station while the rest of us were tied up on a overdose death.
Well he was having a pretty bad day already and the auditor was less than friendly. Words got said and it ended up in some disciplinary action for the Sgt.

That auditor caught the right guy at the right time and of course the video made youtube. What my coworker said wasn't appropriate, but this guy is one of the best cops I know and has been in the job for 22 years. He called me right after and reported it himself. We are all humans, we aren't robots. You treat people bad enough during the right times and you will get reactions.
 

bowman81

Super Anarchist
1,412
227
Australia
So most cops are taught this, we do a pretty good job at my department of keeping our officers informed of these type of issues.
I think they just do it enough that they eventually find that guy having a bad day or that guy who is uneducated and get under their skin.
What you have to keep in mind is that guy probably has 100 interactions that aren't youtube worthy before he gets the one he wants.
We are a small department and deal with 5-6 of these type of "auditors" a month.
When one comes by our PD or is out and about texts go out between agencies warning people. But many of them cause enough of a problem we have to go make contact.

When they show up at the PD my go to move is to invite them in for a tour of the PD, that usually catches them off guard, they never agree to it. But they also never upload those videos.

As I stated above sometimes they get lucky. About 6 months ago the Sergeant that works under me got served with divorce papers while at work. We were at shift minimum so he couldn't leave until I got someone else to come in. In that 45 minutes one of those auditors started filming officers personal cars out back while live on Facebook. Dispatch sent the Sgt to speak to the guy because he was at the station while the rest of us were tied up on a overdose death.
Well he was having a pretty bad day already and the auditor was less than friendly. Words got said and it ended up in some disciplinary action for the Sgt.

That auditor caught the right guy at the right time and of course the video made youtube. What my coworker said wasn't appropriate, but this guy is one of the best cops I know and has been in the job for 22 years. He called me right after and reported it himself. We are all humans, we aren't robots. You treat people bad enough during the right times and you will get reactions.
Thanks for your time responding, you've made a few points I hadn't considered.

I understand what these auditors "think" they're doing, but generally, I feel they're just wasting everyone's time. Which made me wonder, if they weren't successful would they simply go away. I didn't understand the sheer volume of these people doing this stuff which puts into perspective the number of videos I see.
 

Vgree

Super Anarchist
4,468
248
OKC, Oklahoma
Thanks for your time responding, you've made a few points I hadn't considered.

I understand what these auditors "think" they're doing, but generally, I feel they're just wasting everyone's time. Which made me wonder, if they weren't successful would they simply go away. I didn't understand the sheer volume of these people doing this stuff which puts into perspective the number of videos I see.
Appreciate it, giving a few people perspective is why I comment in here.

Take that same perspective and use it as a lense to look at all police interactions.

My small department took about 15k calls for service last year. We are set to hit 16k this year. Over 2000 of those generated reports. About 200 of those are arrest reports. That's spread between 15 "patrol" officers (department is 25 total) and the reality is the arrests are spread between about 5 or 6 of us with some people having zero or 1 arrest. About 10 percent of our arrests require some type of force, but it rarely results in injury. We manage to keep our rate of injuries requiring any treatment around 1%. That doesn't include someone who runs and we have medically checked or similar actions to cover our asses.

Okc surrounds our little city and they have about 1000 officers will take over 1,000,000 calls this year and I have no idea on their arrest numbers. Their averages are close to ours.

Take the whole country into account now and you have about 300k officers taking millions of calls yearly and making hundreds of thousands of arrests. The staggering majority of arrests are made with no more force used then verbal commands. Overall officers average right around 1000 shootings yearly, the overwhelming majority are justified shootings of someone who is armed and actively assaulting someone.

Yes there are mistakes made, and unjustified shootings happen. But I'm honestly amazed at how well law enforcement does overall. With the limited training many receive and the vast number of tasks given to us.

Today I investigated elder abuse at a nursing home, stopped 2 people doing 25mph over the speed limit in a 35mph zone, forced a door open so the fire department could get to an elderly woman who had fallen, then removed the screen door from the hinges at the request of her family so the elderly woman couldn't lock it anymore. (No key to the screen door, but family has the key to the deadbolt).
I then stopped a car and the passenger bailed out and ran, he got away but the driver was an armed felon who was arrested he kept placing his hand near his firearm while I had him at gunpoint waiting on back up.
Then I came home, told my wife some asshole had a gun and almost forced me to shoot him, she doesnt even flinch, then i had a beer, and will get up tomorrow to go back to work and do it all over again.
The job sucks some days, but it's a front row seat to the world and the world needs cops.
 
Last edited:

Recidivist

Super Anarchist
Thanks V for the insights. I yearn for the "old days" when the local copper was a member of the community - you could ask him to "have a word" if you had concerns about the company your son was keeping, and a "word" would be had, usually very effectively. I had mates who were coppers like that. But times changed, and coppers were suddenly not part of the community - they were apart, and it seemed they were against the community. There were no mates any more, just offenders or people who were suspected of doing something. Coppers became isolated from the community and mixed only with their colleagues, reinforcing stereotypes.

I reckon it's too late to return to the "old days", but I regret the new model where a copper doesn't have mates in the community who can tip him off to something awry, and vice versa. The modern approach is for a citizen to have no voluntary relations with a copper, and for a copper to reach for the handcuffs (or worse in the USA - a gun) for a burnt out tail light. This is not IMHO an improvement for society.

Your situation in the USA is different - guns everywhere and you have to assume that every interaction can be deadly. In Australia we have none of that bullshit - if a cop pulls you over for speeding, you can get out of your car and go to speak with him/her at his vehicle - and no one will pull a gun.

My last interaction:
Cop: Do you know why I pulled you over?
Me: Probably because I was driving to the Northern Territory speed limit (130 kph)and not the Queensland one (110 kph).
Cop: That's right - do you know what speed you were doing?
Me: Well, it wouldn't have been the full 130 kph because I was still accelerating
Cop: Yeah, well it was 127kph, but I'll write you down to the minimum degree - you're just not allowed to do that speed in Qld.
Me: OK, thanks mate.
 

Pertinacious Tom

Importunate Member
62,881
2,012
Punta Gorda FL
In that 45 minutes one of those auditors started filming officers personal cars out back while live on Facebook. Dispatch sent the Sgt to speak to the guy

Why would he do that?

And why would anyone care, much less send someone to talk to him?

Your reaction of inviting him inside seems the only really appropriate response. Too bad you were out on the meth call.

Sorry this happened to your friend. Hope he still likes cameras.
 

Vgree

Super Anarchist
4,468
248
OKC, Oklahoma
Why would he do that?

And why would anyone care, much less send someone to talk to him?

Your reaction of inviting him inside seems the only really appropriate response. Too bad you were out on the meth call.

Sorry this happened to your friend. Hope he still likes cameras.
We have to send someone out there for a few reasons. Number one is we have had people vandalize our personal vehicles a few times over the years.
Secondly having random people hanging out in the area he was isn't normal because it is a secure parking lot. Obviously some personal vehicles are there, but there are also multiple patrol cars, sheds that contain city property, and other somewhat sensitive areas.
Lastly, while rare there have been people ambush officers near their station across the country, so at least making contact with him let's us have an idea of his intentions.

As for why they do it, they generally know that anything involving our personal lives will get under our skin. They try and film the interior of our personal cars, comment on what they can see, such as car seats, bills laying out on a seat, a piece of mail with our home address. They will also look for an empty beer can in the bed of a truck. Basically anything they can post on their YouTube/social media to get a rise from their followers.
 

Latest posts




Top