In the wake of the Starbucks thing (in which two black men were arrested for trespassing after refusing to order something and then refusing to leave the store), and the Nordstrom Rack thing (in which the police briefly spoke with three black teens after someone reported they'd seen them stealing, then let them go without arresting them, because they hadn't stolen anything), some bizarre-o social justice warriors are complaining that people call the police when they think something's up.
They're also demanding that people who do so be charged with "filing a false police report.)
I'll go ahead and state the obvious:
Calling the police because you think something bad is happening/has happened/is about to happen is NOT the same as filing a false police report.
There is a difference between a "false report" and a false alarm.
As per The Law Dictionary,
It isn’t enough for a person to supply the police with misinformation as the result of a simple mistake or error. A false police report always involves the element of knowingly supplying incorrect information. In other words, the person making the false report must be aware of the inaccuracy of their statements at the time they are made. Usually these statements are made in response to legitimate police inquiries. Often, the result of a false report is the obstruction or hindrance of a police investigation.
In other words, calling the police because you think someone is trespassing or stealing isn't the same as calling the police and lying to them about someone trespassing or stealing.
Makes sense, right? Better safe than sorry. And no one magically knows the truth without any sort of investigation.
The police want to keep you safe. That's their job. When I was in college, I even had police tell me, "We don't care if it turns out to be nothing. If you see something suspicious, like a sketchy white van or a prowler looking into windows in the parking lot, you should call us."
It's absolutely stupid to suggest that people should be punished for calling the police when they think they see a crime.
In fact. September 11 might have been prevented if one liberal white lady had done just that.
As per White People Will Do Incredibly Stupid Thinks to Avoid "Seeming Racist":
In One Nation Under Therapy: How the Helping Culture is Eroding Self-Reliance, authors Christina Hoff Sommers and Sally Satel share the story of Johnelle Bryant, a woman who could have stopped September 11... but didn't.
And now regressives are pushing the idea that it's "wrong" to call the police if the person you're reporting is black or brown. "What if the police shoot them?"
Honey. The odds of that are extraordinarily small. If you look at the actual statistics on police shootings, you'll see that you're overreacting. Either that, or stay out of the ocean, because you might get eaten by a shark. And keep your kids off the playground, because they might get hit by a runaway motorcycle! Don't go outside, because lightning!
As Philippe Lemoine wrote in the National Review (say what you will about the National Review, but those citations are from The Washington Post and NOAA):
In reality, a randomly selected black man is overwhelmingly unlikely to be victim of police violence — and though white men experience such violence even less often, the disparity is consistent with the racial gap in violent crime, suggesting that the role of racial bias is small. The media’s acceptance of the false narrative poisons the relations between law enforcement and black communities throughout the country and results in violent protests that destroy property and sometimes even claim lives. Perhaps even more importantly, the narrative distracts from far more serious problems that black Americans face.
And, to repeat an argument I made last week about the Starbucks thing, there is a really good reason to call the police instead of getting directly involved with a suspicious person:
Any employee of any business has the right to ask someone to leave their business. If the person refuses to leave, that is trespassing. Many businesses have an official policy that the police must be called in such an instance, because this reduces the chance of escalation. I don't know the Starbucks policy on that -- but I know that if I owned a business, I would want my employees to use the help of trained professionals, rather than put their own health and safety at risk.
Many stores don't want their employees getting involved with suspected criminals, because they don't want their employees getting hurt (whether for liability reasons or out of genuine concern). They don't want to risk escalation. They may have official policies telling them when and when not to call the police.
In the case of Nordstrom Rack, apparently the guidelines direct employees to call the police "only in emergency situations." Does the employee deserve to be fired for calling the police in this non-emergency situation? I don't know. I've never worked in HR. But my gut response is, "It depends." How much training did the employee receive? Were they specifically told that shoplifting is not an "emergency"? Is shoplifting not an emergency?
If a little old lady tells you she saw three black teenagers stealing things -- especially in "a higher-end retail area... [where] it isn’t uncommon for officers to receive calls about shoplifting" -- should you assume she's a liar and/or a racist? Should you personally confront the three teenagers? Should you call the police or security guards to investigate? (In this case, the whole ordeal took less than 30 minutes. Police questioned the teens, looked at their receipts, and let them go, indicating that nothing about the report seemed "racially motivated.")
If the employees didn't receive the answer to each of these questions during training, then I don't think they deserve to be fired.
But on that note...
I also think police in the US deserve much better training than most police forces are giving them. European police officers are routinely shocked at how undertrained our officers are compared to theirs. And, while I'm no expert on this, my reaction to many of the "police brutality" news stories I've seen in the last few years has been, "That officer looked terrified and/or unprepared for a situation like this one" -- from handling mentally ill suspects to controlling large crowds of protestors.
(There are also instances that have been labeled overreactions or brutality in which I think the police probably responded exactly as they'd been trained. For example, when people complained that Tulsa Police Department officer Betty Shelby “murdered” Terence Crutcher for refusing to follow lawful police commands, returning to his vehicle, and lowering his hands to reach inside it. If you want to know why, and are okay with possibly feeling really sad and shitty for the rest of the day, watch this video, which is often shown at police training academies:
But, of course, if you've never seen this video, you'd probably think shooting someone for ignoring police orders and returning to his vehicle was "murder" or something, because ignorance is bliss. But I digress.)
Long story short, if you think that people should be charged or fined for filing police reports when they see something suspicious, you're silly and don't understand what a "false police report" is.