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tv   After Words Rosa Brooks Tangled Up in Blue  CSPAN  May 7, 2021 9:04pm-10:04pm EDT

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vietnam. saturday 8:00 p.m. eastern on elections in history, the american car culture, films of the 1970s at the university of dayton professors, john todd, sunday 2:00 p.m. eastern on oral history, charlotte henry on her expenses as a dog handler with the u.s. air force during the vietnam war sunday 4:00 p.m. eastern on real america, 1972 them, a time for peace documentary presents a trip to china, the first ever and then 6:00 p.m. eastern on american artifacts visiting san francisco to hear the story of the chinese in america during this, watch american history tv this weekend. >> thank you. today i am honored and happy to visit with rosa brooks, the
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other of an interesting book about policing and experience, the american city. thank you for being on and for having me. i look forward too this conversation but i've got to start with this one pressing question. what in theth world made you lee the confines of the classroom, your home go on and hit the streets in washington d.c.? >> if you ask my family thought, they would say insanity, having a midlife crisis but i was just curious, that was probably the driving force. when ior found out d.c. has a reserve officer program for you not just directing traffic the way you can become a sworn armed police officer, i thought no way. that's crazy. you're going to give a gun to a law professor. and i g did so it was probably that, just curiosity and the other thing, as you know very
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well, policing has been in the spotlight for some years now and if you want to change something, i think you need to understand it. doing this seems like a rare opportunity to get more insight into the world of policing. >> so when you say that, my lawyer who handles employee matters, she came from show and i said why do you want to come? she said, the five oh moment so that's your five oh moment. in your book, you account your insights as a frontline police officer going out into tough neighborhoods and seeing firsthand, i think the reality of policing outside 24 hours of news, 30 seconds of fights were
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hollywood which we know is not the most realistic but you recount your expenses and then you say a nation, we need a truly transformative response to policing. how do you find the changes needed and what does it look like to you based on your years of experience? >> that's a big question. let me back i up by saying wheni was working on this book i tell people i was working on a book in expenses and everybody would say what your w argument? is so interesting, what is the one sentence version of your argument and i would say it's complicated and people would say that is the worst elevator pitch i've ever heard and they were right. but i think it is complicated
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and in some ways, the goal of the book is to make things more complicated for people thinking about policing from the outside, not to get simpler you have seen this over and over, there is this kind of whiplash of self sacrificing underappreciated heroes and it can be hard to get into that conversation, more nuanced. there is good, this bad, they mix up together and if we want to transform policing, we need to grapple with that, all of that so in terms of what would make it better, i think part of it, as you know, police can't do the loss by themselves, and i think often police get the lame for enforcing laws they didn't create in social context, they can't do much to change and in a way, i think when we blame police for that, it is a way for
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the rest of us not to look in the mirror and say cops are arresting people for trivial offenses and we think it harms the community. we voted for the lawmakers to vote the laws that led cops to do that. you look at long prison sentences, mass incarceration, a lot of that is prosecutors, judges, lawmakers so that is number one. there is some things cops can't change but we as a society need to change, the massive overcrowded visitation we've seen in the last couple of decades. extensivede sentences and the ct in social services that might make what police do things they don't have to do any more. that said, i do think there are a lot of things police departments need to be doing and again, one ofis the difficulties in policing, we don't have a national police force, we havefo almost 18000 different law enforcement agencies, they don't always talk to each other and
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they ought to so it is very hard even if there is an approach is innovative and promising, it is tough to get everybody to pay attention so being ahead of the game, departments ahead of the game focus on changing training, changing who they recruit and the kind of incentive structures officers have, happy to talk more about any of that and would like to hear more what's going on, i've had the pleasure through a program cosponsored with the new orleans police on police academies, some of your staff were working on your academy and that is discussions that have been very fun. >> one of the things you mentioned in your book is that policing isn't as perfect as our greatest fans would say and it not broken like some would think
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and what is interesting to me, bothth of those mindsets are deeply held beliefs and i don't think there is -- what would you attribute -- how can we be diametrically so different in our perception, maybe critic versus supporter -- people fail to see through the prism of others. you have a very unique perspectivey because you are a law professor, constitutional expert on the w constitution and the law andha what we are suppod to be doing, the intentt of our fathers were versus theory and case law and the realities experienced on the streets. from your perspective, what could you say if you were talking to those who say we need
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to not defund the police, but demolishsh the police. what would you say to those on the policing side, black lives matter, where they whining about? cops are whacking people. we find ourselves in policing very focused, a whole, the department to that standard and mindset and a level of professionalism expected by the public, how would you address those from your evidence informed perspective from having walked our shoes? >> one thing i have learned not so much fromm this but by gettig older, nobody's mind was ever changed byev being told they are stupid or evil, it's not a very ereffective way to do something different and i think we live in a political culture that runsti
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itself to slogans and stereotypes and does not lend itself well to nuanced discussions. that's almost every issue and in this very divided moment, we get people to listen. i think what i do sell, abolish the police proponents, many of my students start with that position is look, violent crime is real. it's not something the far right mate up in order to have an excuse to walk up lock up people. we need to address thatte but be careful what you wish for when you talk to people who live in poor communities of color, most often and those communities are not, you can get widely varying
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perspectives but many will say look, it's not that we don't want cops in our neighborhoods, we just want cops who protect us, who we can trust. we don't want no policing, we want better different policing. more respectful policing and different and better laws. i think that argument, not always obviously but it often does resonate with people and when i hear defund police, they think cops get super defensive when they hear that and the seventh district in washington d.c. has the poorest most decrepit crumbling police station and if you say to a cop we should defund police, they would look at you and say have you seen our station? have you seen the vehicle i drive in my equipment? we don't have enough resources to do what we are doing now. if you take the money, then what?
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okay, that is the polite version of their response. the angry version is well -- >> the public version, not the end station discussion. >> we will not let viewers imagine the other discussion but if you say to cops something different, what are the things that you do that frustrate you that you wish you didn't have to do that you don't think you should be doing? or other things were when you take a mentally ill person to the emergency psychiatric clinic and you are frustrated because you know thatt person will be back out on the street without toication and without a home go to the very next day and they say there are a million things i wish the city provided. it's stunning that we pick up slack because we don't have those programs then i think it's a much different and healthier conversation where you say let's work together. talk about what this community priorities are, how we get to an
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ideal world, how far we are from the now, how do we gradually recalibrately investments so we end up in the place where we all want to be? i think that is where you find a tremendous amount of common ground between police themselves and critics of policing. >> i think you are spot on in terms of there is a way to talk about issues and what people forget is words matter. when president trump talked about wrestling them up, not so kind and gentle, some of the police officers and unfortunately, words matter and it matters in terms of elected officials talking about these issues, in terms of talking about these issues, we talk about abolish eyes, that scares
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the heck out of people because highs, when is focus on bad actors, not necessarily day laborers, has a legitimate function. we should go after people who are a danger to society so how we approach these things are interesting. one of the things i have been frustrated about, i don't know how much -- you talk about warrior mentality versus guardian mentality, i have been telling folks when you look at instances of unjustified uses of force,es especially deadly usesf force, i would argue experience that have to be careful of what we ask for because what we need is people who have the mind of her guardian but there are times, and i'm sure you have witnessed, you better have a heart of a warrior because i would argue some of these over
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the years is because we have people who are obscuring a badge and gun afraid of their own shadow. i could give you examples, like right now in austin texas, they are talking about we need to make police academy a warmer, gently environment, and here is the thing i caution. we can't test your mettle in terms of how you will react to physicalct adversity or psychological adversity in terms of people getting under your skin. i hate to not be able to lead somebody else and goes straight for the gun like david joseph junior, an african-american man in austin, in broad daylight, he' encountered has a gun in his hand. would like to assess that w kind of mindset and fear in a
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training environment, you don't have expense in terms of the guarding cop and how we balance it, how shouldn't we balance that?al >> it's a really hard issue but i don't think it is either or. -- a retired sheriff and county washington state law enforcement academy -- the program there, she's the person who wrote an influential article for our listeners, ten or so years ago, guardian versuss warriors talkig about this in one thing that i thought was very powerful and important, and their law enforcement academy, they beefed up trading on the escalation, verbal skills, how do you just talk to people so you're not shouting at them and just giving order to people? just as nobody ever change their mind when you told them they were stupid, people are less
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likely to dope what you say when you sound like you are a jerk as opposed to being courteous they beefed up training on de-escalation skills and beefed up trading on tactics to slow things down. give yourself time, cover and concealment so you don't create dangers yourself. at the same time, training. a lot of police shootings, if they can pose at threat, they were armed but no threat, they were running away or whatever, it's panic. people pull out weapons sometimes when they panic and they don't have confidence that they can handle a a situation without gun, they are more likely to pull out a gun so her
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area of emphasis to say you know what? you got to be better at those fiscal skills so you will have the confidence to get into a situation and not immediately reach for the gun, you can handle it if somebody punches you but at the same time, you need to get better at all those skills, how do you pull people down and treat them in a way to reduce the likelihood that somebody gets arrested and violent? >> let me ask you this month having gone through this experience and adventure, what was your perception of policing from the outside looking in? after your several years of experience in a challenging environment, how did that perception change how much did and not being reality?
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>> i don't know that my perception changed, i think it got much moreha granular. on the one hand, i grew up in a family of activists, left-wing activists and my mother said police are the enemy but at the same time, i grew up in a blue-collar town where a lot of my friends have cop in their families and i did no caps as just people, some of his dad or brother and all the work i've done all over the world, including in places with horrific conflicts, terrible things, terrible things happen, there are not that many terrible people even worse things are done by ordinary people have come to believe that they have to do what they're doing. there are bullies and psychopaths but most people aren't so i think going in, i am
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immediately suspicious when i hear people say anything that seems to dehumanizing and dehumanizing when police refer to residents in the communities they work in as animals and i have heard that from some officers. it's also dehumanizing and protesters call police a pig. >> and a cab. >> i smell bacon are all kinds of worse things we can't say on this program. you've got human beings, every where i have gone my whole life, you got human, you got better ones and worse once, i don't think it changed t my perception but it gave me much more sense of the ways -- here is what i think is a real tragedy. what i said earlier, a lot of
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what is wrong with police and can't be changed by police because it's outside of policing, it laws, criminal justice system, socioeconomic divisions, the legacy of racism, centuries of racism and cops can't change that. what that means is evenn if you are a good and decent police officer and went into policing for the most idealistic reasons, you may still find yourself making arrests are waffles but when you look at the big picture and do cost-benefit analysis, you say is this making the community better off? maybe not. maybe it is actually making things worse so even good and decent cops can end up making some of the structural economic racial disparities even worse and that is a tragedy but also not something cops can fix by themselves.
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the rest of us have to fix that. >> it is a system and the most visible part is frontline police officers. we are either on cell phones, body worn cameras but our actions and activities are going to be captured. unfortunately, all of this systemic racism, look at sentencing over the years in terms of crack versus powdered cocaine and how they use a different iner which drug of choice was with for which community. do you think a lot of these angers, people send toward police may be a manifestation more of other aspects, prosecutors, i would even say
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the defense, who gets a better defense? i think it's all the way around, a lot of anger and mistrust is placed at the most visible part of the system where maybe allies somewhere else, should be sent somewhere else. >> to be clear, i think police department have a lot of work to do internally and i think the d.c. police department, which is a good police department but still not perfect, still a lot of work to do, so i don't want to let them off the hook but that being said, i think you're right. this is something my colleague steve lopez, who worked at the justice department many years, investigating some of the most abusive police departments in the country like in missouri, one of the points she was makes
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when we teach together, innovating policing, one thing she says is you guys are going to be the legislatures, prosecutors and defense attorneys and even if you're none of us, their citizens who vote for those people, the people who make the laws, don't go saying the problem is the cops. you've got to be part of that change. when you're all grown up and you are a prosecutor or judge or on the city council, you can't just.your fingers at the police because they are going to enforce the laws that you make. they are going to prosecute people you bring, so no question about it, i think it is always easier to have a target and police are an obvious, the visible state coercive power in its simpler, easier to direct the anger at them, people don't
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see behind the scenes so i don't want to let cops off the hook, there's a lot cops could do differently but no question, the rest of us need to take a long and hard look in the mirror. >> i would agree with that. we have been arguing in my role, we testified about police reform in both houses of congress and senate and the house, the owner of testifying and one of the things i talked about, we need transparency. think about the federal government, we talk about everybody else but cops need to be transparent, body worn cameras, put out your data but then you look at the federal government, where are there body worn cameras? when was the last time an agency charged one of the officers with a crime in terms of use of daily
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force were found use of deadly force? i always say reference, we can't fully assess what is inn front f you if you got nothing to compare it to. this is my third department, spent almost a decade there and here in houston, i've got points of reference from the community and you can't fully assess something unless you have something to compare it to so the question i would ask is, where is the transparency in terms of the rest of the justice system? what does it need to be? we demand more transparency because of what's happened with our courts defense attorneys? think that's part of your area of life work is the law. >> i don't know if i would say the problem is lack of transparency as opposed to just
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plain lack of political will. in d.c. when you go through criminal code, d.c. is a weird city because we have federal law enforced by d.c. police and d.c. municipal code but you go through that and there are lots of offenses on the book that are so ridiculous and trivial that they shouldn't be criminal offenses at all in my view. ... sense. that kind of cost-benefit analysis i was talking about where you say we could arrest 500 people for the disorderly conduct >> and those of the
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conversations we need to have like in new york city to be declared unconstitutional because what they were doing it turns out with an era of transparency actually it turns out if you look at the numbers very carefully that police in new york city this on - - new york city were stopping a disproportionate amount of black citizens but african-americans were less likely than white people that they stopped. that was unconstitutional but also fascinating that overestimates the threat from african-american and underestimate the threat from rights one - - from whites pico and that both has to with implicit bias. we can hope that meant one - -
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but mention january 6 at the us capital i think that really showcasedd the juxtaposition is heavily militarized with a seemingly light response to the majority white mob of trump supporters and also allied of officers reacting on the positive side but that implicit biases dangerous to underestimatee some threats almostst entirely racial justice protest and then to have angry upset and hurt people and then you underestimate the real threat so those wearing that
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in blueline. that is bias that they cannot be out to do any harm. but then the police officers that put everything on the line. and with that robust inquiry. and then toe find out some political leadership. we should leave the experts to the assessment hold them accountable. and with those mistakes may just be on those executives
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but what we saw on the senate at the capital was a blueprint based on the open source data we have. because not necessarily to the outcome society has. so we talk about that implicit bias. the difference between those that are successful and just
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so with the back of the call did you ever find yourself that means your human right? did you have that moment to something you didn't even expect? >> out that when i think about
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is specific instances off the top of my head but there are moments with the terrible neighborhood in terms of crime rates and talking with someone he was really smart and educated and i word find myself surprised assuming something that intellectually was wrong. that everybody i meet is poorly educated.
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so i do think i caught myself in making assumptions out of my own bias when i realized how erroneous those assumptions were. >> i think the fact that you are in tune with yourself and your own internal subconscious biases and fears is important. there's something that you talked about you said it's how they may have gone too far and defined the family to broadly. and then i want to get your thoughts on what got you there.
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we have to deal with >> so you have to deal with more facts. >> it seems like a good idea. i don't like that and then we argue i won't get into it right now so as a police chief and have anybody with me. >> are you aware of the four stars so early my career i didn't want to intervene to
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make a long story short. but then to come back and say that there's charges. nobody was killed i want to see how my system worked. so i came to the opinion based on the size of the city because some officers were underreporting facts. but those that wanted to prove the case. to be on the side of the road instead of looking at probable cause. so then to have him or
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herself. so a little bit was going on because in my opinion we will air on to get killed. and then it's to get the family on the right path. having heard all that want to get your reaction to expand your thoughts on on domestic violence calls. >> we have a mandatory arrest rule for domestic violence if there is reasonable suspicion have to make the call yet look at the primary aggressor then you can arrest both parties if you think they are both aggressors. so then you get a male cop so
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if he is beating and abusing his wife or girlfriend and then a cop that says work it out and walk away and don't take it seriously. that was a severe problem. a huge problem so it's intended to say you cannot justhe walk away and say work it out. so the problem over the years so adult siblings that share the same household even former housemates her roommates is defined as having a domestic relationship. there's not the same power imbalance into adult sisters got into a scuffle they were arguing about who left close in the washing machine.
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so then having to arrest she was in a nurse and then mr. hospital shift. it is stupid. those are books that need to be seriously re-examined that maybe do more harm than good. but then it highlights but arresting people doesn't solve every problem it does solve some. just removing them even if they are not prosecuted then everybody cools off maybe not such a hot idea and then there are people who are violent criminals i'm fine with having them being arrested and go to jail and those who are predators to cause tremendous suffering in their community.
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but but those calls that we get in dc and those that can't be solved by cops. some substance they are addicted to they have a family disputes. teenager is not listening to them. the reason cops are blamed that's also the reason they get calls a lot because who can help me? maybe the government can help the government is a cop and you call the cop. it is just tremendously difficult problem. but do we train officers well enough there is also the issue
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of which we had more data. in dc 30 percent of arrest or what we call no papers. let the person go there not going anywhere. you're not doing anything we don't know if that 30 percent if the problem that the officer did not establish probable cause or the prosecutor thought that is the dumbest thing i have ever seen i don't want to waste one penny more of public money prosecuting something for so trivial and stupid. depending on what it is you have to train them better if it's a second maybe have a conversation with the
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community about what w the priority should be so when officers do have discretion should i make the arrest or not or give a warning or direct them to services, and how that conversation if the prosecutor thinks why are you bringing us these cases that are so trivial, caption know that because that could affect what they do when they encounter that situation the next time. >> it's interesting you say that like i said earlier we actually get approval and get them with the charges but now we have judges they don't want anybody to be prosecuted so those probable cause is going through the roof that hear
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what we do if the da rejects we have an agreement they will tell us why once we get the report if it is probable cause ruling then we have supervisors looking at them and making sure it's not a problem in the actual case or the facts of the case. so let me ask you about your experience. how is the way you talked about policing these issues to your students change? has i it changed of what you use to say or talk about as a result with front-line police officer quick. >> i cannot answer that question because i did not talk about policing until i started this i was doing international and national security law until i started
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to do this. that's two keep something. so i stratcom having this experiment and experience. when you think about this situation ask yourself two questions is this something othat cops could change by themselves? and the other question and what the incentives that officers face and if it would make a difference.
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if police officers don't know or care if somebody is convicted t then the court waited the row evidence if obtained illegally doesn't have a great impact on behavior. to think it's not my job to put people away forever than just to arrest them then you don't care. on the other hand, if you think my job performance is evaluated, then you think about it differently. and then to have a more granular understanding of how policing works and then to be very localized.
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and how officers behave on the ground this is most effective with the civilized and industrial world with 18000 police departments with the policies and procedures and levels of accountability i think we would be much better and accountability would be better we want local control to go from one officer to like
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the houston police department where we have 5300 police officers combined. and what impact could it have if weus have talked about in this country? with the local municipality with the fund-raising mechanism? by the way every mile there is a f municipality. >> in every mile there is a police car. and those speed science. so what should we do? >> in terms of consolidation
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that is an interesting way to approach the problem and for the thingsre that we read about and see on tv is typically with police departments and there is a reason that journalist lived in big cities and people in big cities know how to get information together because they are under the constant spotlight. that's not a bad thing knowing we face public scrutiny is appropriate with cops and weapons and badges that is appropriate to expect you will face scrutiny. but that has meant there is a lot more pressure on city departments to clean up their act because they know they are
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under that scrutiny. i very much more of those little things that nobody thinks about we have no idea what is going on because they are below the radar screen for the national media and have a feeling that's really really find bad stuff. i don't want to paint everybody with a broad same brush sure people are all over the country as well. but that lack of scrutiny and transparency is scary. the otherer way to get the problem and something congress could do come a can't control directly the municipal law enforcement but it can use the power of the purse and then go where the money is of congress
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says there are massive grants if you conform to the standards and have a training curriculum that looks like this one of the partners will say okay. that wouldpa be great. all do that. is not a big deal that's a tool we haven't used enough and under president trump that was not the priority at all. >> you try to use it to force immigration. >> that's true. >> you have to be careful because it's like executive orders you don't like and then congress needs to do their job. coming from a family with a
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progressive legal scholar. and aspiring attorneys. i get beat up and hate mail. four years ago and i'm getting hate mail today in my jurisdictionon we have 50000 and mental health crisis it went sideways we ended up killing someone and mental crisis. and in my assessment and then
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day one word asked the viewers to go look at my presentation to the academy of cadets on day number one. i talk about utilizing time, distance, numbers and orbackup. they will be held accountable for those tactical considerations. but that's not what i'm here for that not to keep them happy but so to forget that we are a learning site for the rest of the country. and we can control our own
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hearts so what is the cost doing the right thing? >> i saw very few bad apples and if i saw anybody was doing anything worse than a jerk than what they had to be i saw some comments that disturbed hame that cops made them private away from members of the public. but my experience was mostly working with good people doing their best to help people and solve their problems. from hollywood and tv shows people get the sense that being a cop consists going
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shooting scene to high-speed chase to a suspect and another high-speed chase in the homicide investigation. the reality is it is much more mundane and a lot more positive you get calls because somebody's neighbors party is too noisy you get that kind of stuff over and over or a burglar alarm went off or somebody was shoplifting teddy avery. you to get the shootings in the homicides of violent crimes but at the bulk of any given shift for any given officer are the little things and those people that are upset my neighbors having a wild party. it makes a difference to go next door and say turn the music down the kids can't sleep next-door normally they say sorry about that very
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rarely did i encounter hostility. on the contrary even when you might expect more hostility they were cooperative and polite and would say thank you officer that you are usually ythere because somebody calls you in this does not excuse any of b the bad behavior. and for one single second in my field before this in the marine corps has the strategic
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concept that remember that guy who pedal on the koran who was protesting and he was wanted around the world that he was a low making soldier with his own stupid obnoxious act and that led to chaos for us forces globally. the concept there is no such thing as a purely tactical decision anymore. if they do something particularly bad the whole world will know about it. ten years later somebody will have another cell phone. we cannot say to the low ranking soldiers we need to have them understand the challenges. we need them to be critical
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thinkers we need them to have a nuancedin understanding. because we have to expect and it's totallyuc fair people put them under a microscope if you give them that much power they have to have that level of scrutiny but it is hard and it does create stress for officers that feeling even if i do make an honest mistake people do it all the time but they forget they're not trying to hide something they just forget and cops say oh my god if i make a mistake like that people think i'm a monster and then turn off my camera for my abusive behavior and i cannot handle the pressure. it is hard. but cops have to deal with it because that's the world we live in. >> the book from rosa brooks tangled up in blue.
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thank you for taking the challenge to learn from the inside out to the inside in thank you for the conversation. >> thank you
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interviewed by georgetown university professor author angela stent. >> host: >> hello everyone. the "washington post" two-time pulitzer prize winner one for urgent journalism in general nonfiction to cover terrorism and intelligence and other issues and his book redline tells us about how the united


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