Here’s a Possibility- Maybe We Have a Policing Problem

Fer fuck’s sake:

The call to the police sounded dire: a violent dispute at a house in Wichita, Kan., a person shot to death, an armed man holding hostages and threatening to burn the place down.

Officers raced to the scene and surrounded the house. A man emerged and the police commanded him to put his hands up. Moments later, an officer fired a deadly shot.

The whole encounter on Thursday night had been based on a hoax: There had been no shooting before the police arrived, no hostages, no threat of arson. Instead, it was a fatal incarnation of “swatting,” in which people report fake crimes in hopes of getting a SWAT team to raid a rival’s house.

“If the false police call had not been made, we would not have been there,” Deputy Chief Troy Livingston of the Wichita Police Department said at a news conference on Friday. The police did not say whether they knew who had placed the prank call, but said that it was a key part of their inquiry.

Obviously, this does not excuse the evil behavior of those who called in the hoax, but jesus fucking christ, maybe we have a policing problem when they show up and start shooting before they even know what the hell is going on? What if that had been a hostage coming to the door (as it was, it was already a completely innocent person)? Why bother calling the cops in a hostage crisis if they are just going to open fire, kill ’em all, and let god sort it out.

Just thinking outside the fucking box, here, but maybe decades of pretending the police are infallible and deserve our complete unflinching support and that we bow down at their feet for people who have a job less dangerous than a lumberjack combined with shitty pay, long hours, no chance of punishment for fuckups, and arming them to the teeth with weapons they do not need is also a problem here?

92 replies
  1. 1
    RobertDSC-Mac Mini says:

    White people are scared. That’s why things are they way they are.

  2. 2
    Jay S says:

    Yes, so far the reports on this largely ignore or downplay the police roll in this, making swatting such a deadly activity.

  3. 3
    Jerzy Russian says:

    Hmm, no link, don’t feel like using Google right now.

    Give the police better pay and better training, and hold them accountable for fuckups. Given that this makes sense, it won’t happen any time soon.

  4. 4
    Aleta says:

    “If the false police call had not been made, we would not have been there,” Deputy Chief Troy Livingston of the Wichita Police Department said

    In other words, ‘don’t blame us.’

    Sick of the indoctrination of police and military (and financiers and politicians and pw guns) that tells them they don’t have to, and shouldn’t, take responsibility for harm they cause.

  5. 5
    dr. luba says:

    It’s this attitude among some police personnel that they should never have to take even the tiniest risk; if they feel the least bit threatened they have carte blanche to shoot away. No repercussions, ever. Because ONLY blue lives matter any more.

  6. 6
    Aleta says:

    @Jerzy Russian: At this point I’m thinking that only when civil suits cost local governments and their taxpayers a lot of money will they make the change to better pay, better training, and holding accountable.

  7. 7
    Mary G says:

    What a great rant, John. I am speechless when I get really enraged. I particularly liked the part where you said the police have safer jobs than lumberjacks.

  8. 8
    Lurking Canadian says:

    Nobody will be punished, except possibly the guy who made the call to 9-11. The cop will say he was afraid for his life because the 9-11 call clearly described a dangerous situation, so he had to (preemptively) defend himself from the (fictional) murderer. These cowards have a license to kill.

    You know, one of the things that happens in “bad” places (revolutionary France, cultural revolution China, etc) is that you can get rid of your enemies by denouncing them to the security services. Apparently you can do it in America, now, too.

  9. 9
    tom says:

    Here’s the link. “One of our officers discharged his weapon” is an awfully anodyne way of saying the officer shot someone to death. Like saying “mistakes were made”.

  10. 10
    Mike in NC says:

    Police deaths are the lowest in 50 years, but never mind “Fox and Friends”.

  11. 11
    Mary G says:

    Speaking of corrupt police, here’s a Happy New Year gift from Mueller:

    NEW: According to federal court filing made public today, the FBI has executed a search warrant on an e-mail address associated with Trump surrogate and former sheriff David A. Clarke Jr.— NBC News (@NBCNews) December 29, 2017

  12. 12
    Jager says:

    My old, retired Boston Police Sgt buddy told me, “All this bullshit started when cops started sewing the god damned flag on their uniforms.”

  13. 13
  14. 14
    Ladyraxterinok says:

    OT: the blog hepzibah has a long post on the political situation in Germany. Merkel was going to govern in coalition with the Greens and thr FDP, but the leader of the FDP has decided they would have to compromise too much to be in a coalition with the CDU/CSU. This possibly will lead to a new election, with chance of right-wing AfD getting even higher percentage.(link at blog

    This doesn’t sound good. Maybe Adam could post info on Germany’s political situation.

  15. 15
    Brachiator says:


    At this point I’m thinking that only when civil suits cost local governments and their taxpayers a lot of money will they make the change to better pay, better training, and holding accountable.

    Unfortunately, what seems to happen is that after paying millions in civil suits, cities complain that they don’t have the money to pay for higher wages and better training.

  16. 16
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Jerzy Russian: Here’s the link:

    Warning audio of the swatting call and video of the shooting at the link.

  17. 17
    Eric S. says:

    @Aleta: I don’t know how many millions Chicago had paid out over the years and it would depress me to look it up. Suffice to say, civil suits are not enough.

  18. 18
    Mary G says:

    Ugh, this evil elf:

    SCOOP: The DOJ wants the Census Bureau to check immigration status. No census has asked for this since the 19th Century. @JustinElliott:— Jesse Eisinger (@eisingerj) December 30, 2017

    They are determined to fuck with the Census to retain power.

  19. 19
    rikyrah says:

    Swatting is REAL?
    Da phuq 😠

  20. 20
    Aleta says:

    @Eric S.: Although smaller towns with much less money might care.

  21. 21

    @Lurking Canadian: Being overly fair: The swatter absolutely deserves to go to jail. But the police didn’t take even cursory precautions in making sure the story checked out.

  22. 22
    fuckwit says:

    @dr. luba: it’s not a blue life, it’s a blue suit. Don’t like it? Take off the suit and find another job.

  23. 23
  24. 24
    Adam L Silverman says:

    I’ve just watched the video at the link from the Wichita Eagle’s website:

    It is a long distance video. The police appear to be set up across the street and the video itself is shot from behind vehicles (cover). With the exception of a single cruiser parked next to the house, no police vehicles or personnel can be seen in the video prior to the shooting. One can clearly hear one officer issue the order “show me your hands”. A second or two passed, the same officer repeats the order and then you can hear the single shot. It is unclear from the video, because of the distance, what, if anything, occurred to make whichever officer shot the victim to shoot.

    I have a close friend, we teach martial arts together, who has just stepped down from being both the SWAT sniper and SWAT team leader for his department after being on the team for almost fifteen years and leading it for almost ten. He has made it clear that these swatting calls are the worst ones to respond to, that he and his teammates dread getting them, and often when something goes wrong it is not the result of one single thing, but rather multiple breakdowns. Starting with the bogus information provided by whoever called in the fake report, which is intended to create just these types of results. Dead innocent, unwitting victims at the hands of police who have been turned into murderers so someone can have the lulz.

    But this part of the report from the Whichita Eagle shows just how senseless this was:

    After news began to spread about what happened Thursday night, the people in the gaming community, through Twitter posts, pointed at two gamers.

    “I DIDNT GET ANYONE KILLED BECAUSE I DIDNT DISCHARGE A WEAPON AND BEING A SWAT MEMBER ISNT MY PROFESSION,” said one gamer, who others said made the swatting call. His account was suspended overnight.

    According to posts on Twitter, two gamers were arguing when one threatened to target the other with a swatting call. The person who was the target of the swatting gave the other gamer a false address, which sent police to a nearby home instead of his own, according to Twitter posts.

    The person who was to be the target of the swatting sent a Tweet saying, “Someone tried to swat me and got an innocent man killed.”

    Dexerto, a online news service focused on gaming and the “Call of Duty” game, reported the argument began over a $1 or $2 wager over the game.

    This is, Livingston said, the first time in his memory that Wichita police have dealt with a “swatting” call. If they have happened before, Livingston said, they didn’t rise to this level.

    “This prank phone call, we don’t see it as a prank,” he said. “It only heightened the awareness of the officers, which we think led to this deadly encounter.”

    ETA: As far as I know my friend has never actually had to shoot anyone in the line of duty. Or out of the line of duty either.

  25. 25
    Mike in NC says:

    @Mary G: Hey, let’s deport 100 million Americans who aren’t necissarilty white enough for our standards. What could go wrong?

  26. 26
    Jager says:

    @Eric S.:

    Sheriff Joe Arpaio cost Maricopa County Arizona well north of 200 million and there are still law suits going on.

  27. 27
    gene108 says:

    @Jerzy Russian:

    That would require raising taxes. Better some folks die, than taxes get raised; especially on the rich.

    That way lies communism

  28. 28
    Jay S says:

    @Lurking Canadian: It’s probably safe to say the caller will get at least hit with making a false police report. Beyond that it is anyone’s guess as to what the criminal charges may be, since it requires recognizing the probability of police over reaction. The civil suit side is probably where the action will be against the gamers involved.

  29. 29
    danielx says:

    @dr. luba:

    Pretty much. The concept is “I’m going home at end of shift, and anyone who threatens that is dead”. The whole concept of police as warriors or operatives is flawed, but that’s what serves as a recruiting tool these days. Training is when in doubt, shoot.

  30. 30
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Endless payouts to those victimized by the shitstain Arpaio hasn’t changed attitudes in bigot city, AZ.

  31. 31
    Redshift says:

    In a vaguely related note, local news in DC tonight reported that there was an FBI raid on a house in Sterling, VA, based on a search warrant from the Eastern District of Virginia. No one seems to know yet if it has anything to do with Mueller, but if so, you heard it here first. (I’m actually guessing not at this point, because it doesn’t seem like it would be that hard to look up the address.) They reportedly took away multiple boxes of papers and one or more computers.

  32. 32
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Mary G: Nothing to do with the Special Counsel. This is a Federal civil rights violation case involving Clarke going after someone who was on the same flight he was on:

  33. 33
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I don’t get it. If I get in an argument with somebody online, and he says “what’s your address” I don’t give him some address in my neighborhood, I say “fuck you, Jack.”

  34. 34
    Mary G says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Ignorance was bliss.

  35. 35
    Obvious Russian Troll says:

    @Jay S: That’s assuming they can catch the fucker, which is not a given.

  36. 36
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Gin & Tonic: I’m not a gamer. To much social interaction for me. So I have no idea why one would do something this stupid.

  37. 37
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Perhaps they knew each other in meatspace (implied by the bet) and dipshit the murderer gave the wrong address to the trigger-happy cops?

  38. 38
    Ruckus says:

    A lot of places have already spent a shit ton of money in law suit awards and it hasn’t changed one thing. This isn’t something that money is the cause of, root of or answer to. This is an attitude problem that has been ongoing for decades and very few have stepped up and made any changes in the least. 50 yrs ago cops carried a 6 round revolver and reloading that quickly was not a realistic option. The bad guys weren’t really any different. But that changed with several crimes that the bad guys were using assault weapons and bullet proof vests. One in socal was a bank robbery with just if I recall 3 robbers. It was a blood bath Now motorcycle cops are carrying assault rifles, cops carry 14-15 round semi auto pistols with some having 4 extra clips for a total of around 70-75 rounds. For each cop. Crime is down, there are jobs that are far more dangerous than being a cop and they regularly get away with cold blooded murder. A coworker was given a hard time when he walked into a restaurant to buy lunch and asked a cop eating there if they knew of a old decrepit motor home parked around the block. They asked him why he was asking and he said he hadn’t seen anyone around it for a while and was afraid that the old man might be ill or dead inside. They gave him shit for this. WTF? He has concern for a fellow human and he’s the bad guy? I’m an old white guy and I’m afraid that one of them will shoot me just on spec alone. I can not imagine what a person of color thinks.

  39. 39
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I hear you. Just engaging with people here is about as far as I’m willing to go.

  40. 40
    Gex says:

    @Aleta: They basically have said they can’t do anything if someone calls them in an effort to basically put out a hit on someone. Much like the John Crawford case. They have no responsibility to do anything other than take orders from some rando.

    @Aleta: unfortunately I think they carry insurance for this so it will have to get much, much worse before financial considerations will put the brakes on them.

  41. 41
  42. 42
    Jay S says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Yes, there is some liability for negligence here IMHO, perhaps even some score settling with the neighbors.

  43. 43
    Mayim says:

    @Mary G:

    Actually, the census asked about naturalization status until at least 1940.

    In 1940, all foreign born adults were asked, with three possible answers ~ the three non-native adults in my grandparents had one of each: naturalized (which my grandfather was listed as, since he was naturalized in 1937), alien (my grandmother, who was naturalized in the late 1940s), and pending (initial declaration filed, but not yet naturalized, my great uncle’s status).

    The concept of illegal/undocumented alien didn’t really exist at that point, so nothing about that was asked. The first time the question was asked n a surviving census was 1900; 1850 to 1880 didn’t ask and 1890 no longer exists. Before 1850, only the head of the household is listed, with check marks by age and sex.

  44. 44
    Jay S says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: The intended victim supposedly gave the false address. Why he did will be a factor in charges. ETA should be, not necessarily will be.

  45. 45
    B.B.A. says:

    A radical notion: abolish “police.” There may be people hired by the government to arrest alleged criminals, but they should have no privileges over any other citizen. No guns, no badges, no sirens on their cars, except insofar as I can have them too.

    No idea whether or how this could work. But it’s something to ponder.

  46. 46
    Arclite says:

    A fucking phone call would have prevented this. Jesus Christ.

  47. 47
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Tracking.

  48. 48
    Dog Dawg Damn says:

    @Gex: I’m sorry but in what other line of work is this gross negligence okay? A rando tip leading to a dead innocent because they couldn’t even do basic things like verify occupants, call the house, surveil the situation? If the point is to PROTECT innocents, then why on earth are you shooting the person who answers the door? Unreal.

    I have maintained and will maintain that it isn’t best not to call the cops in 99.999% of criminal situations because they won’t help you and might end up killing either you, your pet, or some other innocent party.

  49. 49
    Jay S says:

    @B.B.A.: No thank you. A hoard of contract cops is an incredible recipe for failure on all counts.

  50. 50
    Millard Filmore says:

    @Jay S:

    The intended victim supposedly gave the false address. Why he did will be a factor in charges.

    I am confused, and your ETA did not help. “I’m going to swat you, what’s your address?”
    Should I give an honest answer?

  51. 51
    Gex says:

    @Gex: Ooops. Maybe settlements aren’t covered by insurance.

  52. 52
    Schlemazel says:

    If the officers had to cary individual insurance it would make it a lot harder on repeat offenders. We know that the majority of the problems are caused by a minority of officers (ignore that the majority are complicit). The ones that started to rack up suits would soon find their insurance rates taking a substantial bite out of their pay & move on or modify their behavior.

  53. 53
    Jay S says:

    @Millard Filmore: Whatever your answer it should not be somebody in the neighborhood. If it was malicious on the part of the guy who gave the address, say to harass a neighbor for some dispute, then the person giving the address has some responsibility for the death. I’d say just say no or go f*** yourself is better than spitting out some random but real sounding address.

  54. 54
    Ruckus says:

    @Millard Filmore:
    He should have given the address of the police dept.

  55. 55
    debbie says:

    Long prison terms for the lot of them.

  56. 56
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    I guess nobody watches The Blues Brothers anymore.

    Either that, or we’re going to find out that gamer had a grudge against his now dead neighbor.

  57. 57
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Ruckus: Or pulled a Blues Brothers thing and gave the address of the local Class A ball field.

  58. 58
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Mnemosyne: Great minds, etc.

  59. 59
    Jay S says:

    @Gex: I’m pretty sure settlements have insured up to a maximum that varies by policy. They may be being priced out of the market these days, but I have no way of knowing.

  60. 60
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mnemosyne: 1060 W Addison?

  61. 61
    Ruckus says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:
    That’s always an option of course but what if the other person was a fan? I like the cop house option better. Then at least if they surround the building and shoot the first guy to come out it will possibly be a fellow cop.
    Something has to change their minds that we are in a war and the only way to win is to kill everything. Because even in a war you don’t do that.

  62. 62
    mike in dc says:

    @Mary G: How the hell will they do that? Ask for green cards or proof of citizenship? Yeah, that’ll go great. Fortunately, if we get control of Congress, the lege will read DOJ the riot act over this bs.

  63. 63
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Mnemosyne: So what exactly did you do the It’s a Small World ride at Disneyland? That wasn’t very nice.

  64. 64
    Bess says:

    @Millard Filmore:

    Should I give an honest answer?

    Honestly? Give them the address of a police station.

  65. 65
    Gex says:

    @Dog Dawg Damn: Hey, that’s not MY view. That was the attitude of Witchita police. I don’t think gross negligence is okay at all.

    Agreed on all counts about calling the cops. I will not call cops over property crimes. I will heavily weigh the odds of calling the cops over other crimes and have to believe the risk of someone dying is present with or without their presence.

  66. 66
    J R in WV says:


    @Bess: Or the VFD fire station…?

  67. 67
    Gravenstone says:

    @Aleta: Target police pensions as sources for settlement funds. They won’t give a fuck until it affects them and their futures personally.

  68. 68
    bago says:

    I always thought that if settlements for misconduct came out of the pension funds, they might self police..

  69. 69
    Gravenstone says:

    @Mary G: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! That gives me great pleasure to read.

  70. 70
    Aleta says:

    @Ruckus: I blame the weapons the police face and the militarization of their training, equipment and attitudes. I blame their attitude toward anyone nonwhite, non English speaking, mentally ill, or not conforming to 1950’s-type US culture. I also think it’s possible that police behavior won’t change unless the people who hire them and pay their salaries require different hiring and training practices. One reason I think this is because of the pressure within a police force to not be accountable, not testify against each other, and not change, and the pressure on politicians to not interfere.

  71. 71
    bago says:

    @Gravenstone: What they said.

  72. 72

    @Adam L Silverman: Not a problem Adam, they play “Deck the Halls” this time of year(at least that’s what Mnemo said).

  73. 73
    Gravenstone says:

    @Adam L Silverman: That fucker who placed the call needs to charged with Manslaughter at minimum. And the other fuck with being an accessory by providing false information that ended up endangering, and ultimately killing an innocent.

  74. 74
    Snarki, child of Loki says:

    At this point I’m thinking that only when civil suits cost local governments and their taxpayers a lot of money will they make the change to better pay, better training, and holding accountable.

    Nah, the GOP will just pass a law limiting civil suits against police departments.

    EXCEPT when big-name GOPers get SWATTED. Hmm…

  75. 75
    Snarki, child of Loki says:

    @Gravenstone: “That fucker who placed the call needs to charged with Manslaughter at minimum. ”

    True, that.

    “And the other fuck with being an accessory by providing false information that ended up endangering, and ultimately killing an innocent.”

    Making “giving false information to an online asshole” a crime could never turn out badly, you say?

  76. 76
  77. 77
    Gravenstone says:

    @Snarki, child of Loki: Asshole the first (caller) tells asshole the second (would be target) that he intends to commit a crime (SWATting). Rather than ignore the bluster by refusing to cooperate – or even better, calling the authorities himself about what asshole #1 intends, asshole #2 decides to now involve an innocent third party by providing their information to asshole #1. Whether he really believed asshole #1 would carry out his threat to SWAT asshole #2, the latter still became a knowing accessory to a crime.

  78. 78
    Gvg says:

    I think some of this story is just too odd. I will wait for more info. I bet some of the story now is wrong. 24 hours…investigate.
    Cops who investigate themselves always seem to clear themselves. We need a more convincing procedure.

  79. 79
    Chris T. says:

    This will stop only after the people who are being murdered-via-SWAT are rich and powerful.

  80. 80
    ema says:

    @Millard Filmore:

    The only way to answer that question is to give the person the address for the local police precinct.

  81. 81
    Arclite says:

    I think this is actually the first time in the USA that someone has actually died due to a SWATting. That’s pretty remarkable, actually.

  82. 82
    lowtechcyclist says:

    This was how they killed Tamir Rice too. Some citizen called the cops, and they didn’t take a moment to check out the situation, just drove up real fast, shouted an order at a startled kid, and shot him dead before he could have gotten beyond the “huh? What?” stage.

    Doesn’t matter whether the call is malicious or well-meaning, the cops have a responsibility to size things up for themselves before jumping into action, otherwise they’re just some rando’s tool.

  83. 83
    lowtechcyclist says:

    @Mike in NC: This. Going by’s stats, this year will have the second-lowest number of cops killed in a year since either 1959 or 1960, depending on how the year finishes up. And the 5-year average is the lowest since either Ike or JFK was President.

    And that’s in absolute numbers, not adjusted for pop growth or anything. It’s really the safest time to be a cop since the 1800s, if ever.

  84. 84

    @danielx: It should be chargeable as criminally negligent homicide.In most states, the standard for CNH is that that a death resulted from illegal act that a reasonable person would know created a risk of death or grievous bodily injury. Making the fake 911 call was the illegal act, and I think a competent prosecutor could convince a jury that a “reasonable person” would recognize the risk of death or grievous bodily injury when you sic a SWAT team on someone.

  85. 85
    Rugosa says:

    @Starfish: How in hell is that “a horrible accident”? The man shot deliberately – bullets go places when discharged from guns and have a tendency to land in people who are in the line of fire. If you don’t understand that, you shouldn’t be allowed to have a gun at all. My legal training (Law and Order re-runs) says this is at least manslaughter.

    eta – I’m reacting to the article, not you.

  86. 86
    Marcia says:


    @Jerzy Russian: At this point I’m thinking that only when civil suits cost local governments and their taxpayers a lot of money will they make the change to better pay, better training, and holding accountable.

    Accountability absolutely has to come first. More pay would amount to awarding police for becoming dangerous to the general public.

    As for training, that doesn’t hurt but — REALLY? You have to “train” presumably sane adults to not just blow someone away?

  87. 87
    Marcia says:

    @Jay S:

    It’s probably safe to say the caller will get at least hit with making a false police report.

    Unless someone can craft a depraved indifference argument. Which might be more on target at that.

  88. 88
    Leem says:

    It seems that police training has adopted the mindset and tactics of military training, but removed the rules of engagement.. way back when I did law enforcement (“safety check”) boardings in the Coast Guard, we were extensively trained that the suspect had to pose a credible threat, make overt moves to threaten me or my team, and actually motion to harm us before we could use deadly force. The Supreme Court allows cops to kill when they merely feel a threatening situation. Hell, every police encounter would be ripe to feel threatened, so it becomes a hair trigger moment with the least controlled, or steroid amped, cop taking a shot.

  89. 89
    Older says:

    I used to live in a town — well, actually a rather large city, where the cops kind of made a practice of shooting the hostage in hostage situations. This was several decades ago, so not part of the current police-malfunction-society. Seems like if anybody has power, they will find a way to misuse it.

  90. 90
    KithKanan says:

    @Marcia: Police are paid comparatively well in California (average base salary around $85K, average total compensation north of $110K). Still doesn’t stop them from shooting people.

  91. 91
    wasabi gasp says:

    hasty takes and tasty cakes. y’already been knowin. howie come to hustle. – andy griffith

  92. 92
    paradoctor says:

    Hmm… so to kill someone, one need only call the police, and they’ll do it themselves? Homicide by cop; how convenient for killers! I see grand possibilities in this for organized crime.

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