By Jerome H Skolnick
The now-famous videotape of the thrashing of Rodney King caused a countrywide outcry opposed to police violence. Skolnick and Fyfe, of the nation's most sensible specialists on legislations enforcement, use the incident to introduce a revealing ancient research of such violence and the level of its survival in legislations enforcement this present day.
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Extra resources for Above the Law. Police and the Excessive Use of Force
We find a causal connection in the traditional culture of policing, that is, in the sorts of values and understandings street cops learn as they assume the job in many police departments. This is not to suggest that all cops have the same ideas. But just as bankers develop a special outlook on the world they inhabit, so do cops. The cultural world of the police is explored in Chapter Five, while Chapters Six and Seven develop two aspects of that world especially vital to encouraging excessive force: the idea that cops are like soldiers in wars on crime and drugs (Chapter Six); and the insularity, authoritarianism, and narrow-mindedness of some police administrators and, consequently, the parochialism of some police departments (Chapter Seven).
Over the years he had made a number of highly publicized remarks, famous among Los Angeles reporters, suggestive of racial insensitivity, if not bias. ” Many Jews were angered when, in 1982, the press obtained an in-house report suggesting that the Soviets were sending criminals disguised as Jewish immigrants to disrupt the 1984 Olympics. ”20 Nine years earlier, in his most widely publicized intemperate remark, he had said that “some blacks” may be more susceptible than “normal people” to police officers’ use of a potentially fatal chokehold (which has since been banned).
Hardly. Two or three cops can go berserk. Maybe the cops who administered the beating were especially aggressive and insensitive. But when twenty-three others are watching and not interfering, the incident cannot be considered “aberrant,” as Chief Gates initially suggested. The incident and its cover-up must be seen in light of the overall philosophy of aggressive policing that began to dominate the LAPD when William Parker became its chief more than forty years earlier. In testimony before the Christopher Commission, Assistant Chief David Dotson said that LAPD clung to a 1950s version of tough policing: We reward our people—our field people, the people that got us here to this [Commission] meeting—we reward them for what we call hardnosed, proactive police work.