‘Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; truth isn’t.” – Mark Twain
As stated in previous publications, I do a lot of research and interviews before I scribe these articles. This time is no different as I find myself and law enforcement professionals participating in the discussion(s) talked about in the American media and the consequences of “opinions vs. facts.”
As we watch/listen to social media and the American brainwashing devices (ABD – the television, radio, etc.), you would swear American law enforcement professionals are killing young people by the bushel. You would be under the assumption that law enforcement is traveling in murder squads all over this great country, shooting first and asking questions later. This is not the case and wrong to the highest level!
The real action guys and gals
“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.” – Marcus Aurelius
During recent conversations, one of the participants made an incredible observation followed by a powerful statement. She stated, “The news is reporting irresponsibly and inaccurately, which is causing all this mess!” This declaration is bold and can be perceived as correct, given that we all may or may not have been part of situations that are “media-worthy.” During these circumstances, as first responders or investigators we have the facts as we are responsible for reporting and testifying in criminal/civil court proceeding. This begs the question: How many times have you seen a news report on the above-mentioned situations and said, “What the heck are they talking about?”
This reaction is usually due to the inaccuracy of the media reports of which you have factual knowledge. The information you have cannot be disclosed at that time because it may tarnish the investigation. In this case, we only give the minimum information to the media as to keep “investigative integrity.” People do have the right to know; however, the truth is what they need to know and this can only come through proper investigation.
Now, the media is bound to report stories that are of public interest and concern. The way they report these stories is up to their perspective, which leaves plenty of room for interpretation. The way people interpret things is individual-centric. You may see something in one way and your friends/family see it another. Regardless, law enforcement professionals rely on facts to make their interpretations rather than riding a unicorn, armed with tactical glitter, to meetings under rainbows with leprechauns who are spinning yarns based on their recently obtained social media law degree.
“The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.” ― Joe Klaas
Below are some definitions of words that often come up in my discussions. As a matter of fact, the words “fact” or “facts” came up in five conversations more than 11 times and the words “story” or “stories” came up more than 12. With that information in hand I decided to look up the definitions of these words, at least as defined by Merriam-Webster:
Story – a fictional narrative shorter than a novel; specifically, short story; the intrigue or plot of a narrative or dramatic work. A widely circulated rumor: a lie, falsehood.
Facts – something that truly exists or happens; something that has actual existence. A true piece of information.
It would appear that the word “story” could be perceived as “skewed view” of reality as interpreted by an individual and unfortunately these individuals may not have the vital law enforcement job knowledge required to make important life and death decisions in a matter of seconds.
The word “facts” seems to be the reality of certain situations and often overlooked because, as stated in the above quote, may “piss you off.”
“If you think that statistics has nothing to say about what you do or how you could do it better, then you are either wrong or in need of a more interesting job.” – Stephen Senn
After my conversations I found myself looking for data on police interactions and accusations according to American media. I found a video from MSNBC featuring Chief Legal Correspondent Ari Melber on “Morning Joe” on Jan. 18.
Melber does some numbers in which he states that police officers are NOT accused of any wrongdoing 99.1 percent of the time. That is staggering! You would swear (if you listen to media) that police officers are participating in acts of misconduct on a daily basis throughout America. On the contrary, the video I saw stated that:
“There is a perception that there are a lot of bad cops out there. However, the reality is that 99.1 percent of law enforcement officers are NOT accused of any misconduct of any kind. In 2015, 965 civilians were fatally shot by officers; this kind of situation gets the media’s attention, understandably. However, it is important to realize that the media is reporting on less than 1 percent of all law enforcement interactions in a given year. What about the 99.1percent of law enforcement interactions that take place without incident? We don’t hear about those, so let’s look at some interesting statistics. There are 698,000 law enforcement officers across the country. Those 698,000 officers have approximately 62 million interactions with civilians in a given year. Out of 62 million interactions, less than 1 percent of all civilian interaction with law enforcement has a negative outcome. How many of us can say that we make a mistake or have a negative outcome at work less than 1 percent of the time?”
I guess those facts are not that interesting!
Be safe and God bless!
Dr. Danny McGuire, Jr. is assistant professor of criminal justice at National Louis University in Chicago. If you’d like to join a coffee klatch, discuss material or just need an ear for peer support, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.