The St. Louis area has had its share of killings of unarmed black men by white cops. However, we rarely hear about an unarmed white man being killed, especially by a black cop.
Norm Stamper is a retired, white, 34 year veteran police officer; serving his first 28 years in San Diego and his last six (1994-2000) as Seattle’s Chief of Police where he led a process of major organizational restructuring and created new bureaus of Professional Responsibility, Community Policing, and Family and Youth Protection.
Norm Stamper is the author, “Breaking Rank: A Top Cop’s Expose of the Dark Side of American Policing,” a book which was published in 2005, nine years before the Ferguson Protest. He currently writes for the Huffington Post.
Chapter 1 of the book is titled, “An Open Letter to a Bad Cop.” The title of this post, “Why white cops kill black men,” is borrowed from the title of chapter 8, where Norm Stamper explains that white cops kill black men because society, media and their police training teach them to fear black men.
Norm Stamper holds a Ph.D. in leadership and human behavior and undergraduate degrees in criminal justice administration. He was a founding member of the Advisory Council of the Clinton administration’s Violence Against Women Act. He remains active in efforts to reform the nation’s drug laws, abolish the death penalty, end family violence, and strengthen police accountability.
Chapter 2 of “Breaking Rank,” is titled, “Wage War on Crime, Not Drugs.” Norm Stamper discusses the war on drugs below.
Excerpts from Chapter 8, “Why white cops kill black men”
“White cops are afraid of black men… We say that officers treat black men the same way they treat white men. But that’s a lie. In fact, the bigger, the darker the black man the greater the fear”.
“So why am I so certain that white cops are afraid of black men Because I was a white cop. In a world of white cops. For thirty-four years.”
“From the earliest day of academy training it was made clear that black men and white cops don’t mix, that of all the people we’d encounter on the streets, those most dangerous to our safety, to our survival, were black men.
White cops hassled white women when they were in the company of black men. But the saddest revelation was that the only black cop under Norm Stamper’s command admitted he also used the language of white bigots all the time as a kind of defense. The black cop stated, “he went along to get along.” Norm Stamper described how that black cop while sobbing, stated he was ashamed of himself.
Norm Stamper stated that although he never called anyone a nigger, that he had in the past laughed heartily at the slurs and jokes made by others and how he had made his share of questionable arrest in the black community and used force sometimes when it wasn’t necessary.
Norm Stamper mentioned how he knew just as many white police chiefs that were either overt or closet racists as white chiefs who were authentic, effective leaders trying to combat racism in their departments.
“Racism in the Ranks”
The title of chapter 9 of “Breaking Rank,” is “Racism in the Ranks,” and Norm Stamper discusses how pervasive racism is among white cops.
While conducting interviews concerning racist allegations, while Norm Stamper was a captain with the San Diego Police Department, he reported that 30 of his 31 officers, including a lieutenant and two sergeants, admitted using racial and ethnic slurs. “African-Americans were niggers, boys, splibs, toads, coons, garboons, groids (from “negroid”), Sambos, Buckwheats, Rastuses, Remuses, jigaboos, jungle bunnies, and spooks.”
White cops made dehumanizing reference to blacks, such as “No humans involved” on radio calls, “just an 11-13 – nigger”, “11-13” being the code for an injured animal, usually follow by the descriptor, “dog,” “cat,” “skunk,” or whatever animal was involved.
One officer admitted he witnessed and made several “BBN” arrest. BBN? “Busy Being a nigger.” 71% of the officers admitted using or witnessing excessive force, sometimes two or three times a week.
Blue Wall of Silence
“Cops lie. Most of them lie a couple of times per shift at least,” – so begins chapter 12. Norm Stamper mentioned how cops lie on reports, to Internal Affairs (IA) investigators, and on the court stand.
Stamper describes the first time he was asked to lie after his partner and senior officer choked a suspect until he passed out. “Senior officers and peers were always making sure we got our stories straight.”
Demilitarizing The Police
In chapter 16, Norm Stamper discusses the differences between a soldier in Baghdad and an American police officer. He stated, “a soldier follows orders for a living, a police officer makes decisions for a living,” and mentioned how many people view their local police department as an occupational force. Police departments, he said, operates within a framework of a paramilitary bureaucracy, and that starting in the police academy, officers are molded into a soldier bureaucrat.
Policing the Police
Chapters 20-24 of Norm Stampers, “Breaking Rank,” addresses police discipline, financial liability, police unions and citizen oversight.
Social media has made it easier to police the police. Posting video and information makes it harder for police to bury reports and complaints against an officer or the department in general.
A great example is, “Andrew Henderson, who frequently videotapes officers at work because he says he wants them to be held accountable, noticed the comment from ‘JM Roth’ about 1 a.m. Saturday and immediately reported it to St. Paul police,” the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported. “He filed an internal affairs complaint Sunday, naming Sgt. Jeffrey M. Rothecker.”
Mr. Henderson posted the video above on YouTube on January 18, 2016, and the very next day, January 19th the officer was suspended.