“A recent study found that Oakland police officers drew their guns and pointed them at individuals who did not present a threat 28 percent of the time,” mercurynews.com reports. “The analysis came from Robert Warshaw, the federal monitor assigned to oversee the Oakland Police Department in the wake of the Riders federal corruption case, which settled in 2003. When officers draw their guns, they are required to file a use of force report explaining why. Warshaw’s analysis looked at reports of 80 incidents in which 215 officers had drawn their guns between Jan. 1 and March this year.” OK, that’s the media takeaway. Let’s stir it up a bit . . .
Extrapolating the sample period (three months) to a full year, considering the fact that Oakland employs 240 sworn officers, that’s 860 draws per year or 3.58 draws per officer per year.
In terms of IDing the unholster happy amongst them—should such a thing exist—we’d need to see the actual officers’ records. Many cops report they’ve never unholstered their gun in their entire career. There may be a small group of police whose frequent un-holstering pumps-up the overall average.
To know if some, most or all of the Oakland’s finest were guilty of brandishing (in the civilian sense), you’d also need to know the criteria for “proper” un-holstering. Back to mercurynews.com:
Warsaw said he found in 56 percent of the cases, an officer appropriately pointed a gun at someone. In 16 percent of the cases, he said there wasn’t enough information in the use-of-force reports to determine if the officers had acted appropriately.
In the rest of the cases, there was no indication that the officer or anyone else “faced imminent threat of harm” from the person at whom the gun was pointed.
Define “imminent” and “harm.” And then note: the threat could have come from an associate of the person looking down the business end of the cop’s gun. Or it might have been a situational threat (e.g. a potential perp at the scene of a shooting or armed robbery).
Also, a lack of an indication of a threat in a report doesn’t necessarily there wasn’t one in real life. It may simply mean the officer didn’t write the report correctly. The opposite may also be true. A cop in a department with a history of corruption and a bit of a rep for brutality might—gasp!—lie in his incident report and describe a threat that didn’t exist.
Bottom line: Warshaw was crunching numbers from a dubious source–rather than investigating each un-holstering incident, looking for independent corroboration of officers’ accounts.
Given the nature of the source material, the only conclusion I can draw is that Oakland cops are such a law unto themselves (i.e. arrogant) and/or intellectually challenged that 28 percent of them can’t even be bothered to lie—sorry—“spin” their incident reports in accordance with departmental policy.
Enough facts. Or . . . not enough facts. Let’s play the race card!
Warshaw broke down the bad-draw cases by race and found that 78 percent were black, 17 percent were Hispanic, and 5 percent were other ethnicities.
“That’s unacceptable,” [said Jim Chanin, a civil rights attorney who successfully sued the city in the Riders case]. “I realize sometimes that will happen, but it’s so disproportionate to one community that it backfires. Then you want them to be a witness in a crime, or cooperate with police, an all they remember is having a gun pointed at them.”
Oakland’s population is about 27 percent black, according to the 2010 census. In 2010, 74 percent of shooting suspects and 84 percent of armed or strong-arm robbery suspects were identified or described by a witness as being black. Those proportions so far this year are 66 percent and 83 percent, respectively.
Of 656 Oakland police officers, 43 percent of white, 21 percent are black, 20 percent are Latino and 13 percent are Asian, with 3 percent declining to state.
Now there’s a stat I like! Three percent of Oakland’s police force told the politically correct stat whores to piss off, my ethnicity in none of your God damn business. And they still have jobs?
Right. That’s it. If it’s good enough for cops with guns, perhaps U.S. gun buyers would like to leave the ATF ethnic declaration tick boxes un-ticked and write the words “Not applicable” on those federal forms.
Or not. Meanwhile, I’ll let the police union have the last word. In this case, I agree with the sentiment. Because unholstering is not the same as shooting. More to the point, if you get behind a threat, the OODA loop can turn into a noose. If you know what I mean.
“Police officers draw their guns to protect themselves. I’m concerned some might read this report as suggesting they wait until attacked before being allowed to defend themselves,” he said. “One of the nuances that isn’t discussed is that there’s a significant lag time between when a threat is perceived and when an officer is able to draw his or her firearm; in other words, if their gun hasn’t already been drawn when they’re attacked, it’s usually too late for them to return fire. And then we’re all attending yet another police funeral.”