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Police Exposé

Date: 10-08-11
Host: Ian Punnett
Guests: Norm Stamper, Robert Scheer

Norm Stamper, former chief of the Seattle Police Department, joined Ian to expose some of the issues affecting the 21st-century police force. "I believe that the vast majority of the problems that are associated with American law enforcement are embedded in the system itself," he said, noting that racism, violence, and deception are pervasive within the field. Deceit is actually incorporated into the job, as cops are allowed to say whatever they want to get a confession, Stamper revealed. The police organization itself produces a culture that compels individual officers to engage in patterned lying in order to protect themselves from possible prosecution, he added.

Prejudice against people of color is an inherent part of the system as well, Stamper continued. In a series of exit interviews conducted by him, Stamper discovered that 30 out of 31 interviewees commonly used racial slurs. In addition, drug sentencing laws disproportionately affect minorities as well, he noted. Stamper, an advocate for the legalization of drugs, railed against the so-called 'war on drugs', pointing out that 40,000 to 50,000 deaths a year are a direct cause of America's drug policy. Prohibition doesn't work and has unwisely pulled law enforcement's focus from predatory crimes, he observed.

Stamper reported on officers involved in seizing, selling, and taking drugs, talked about domestic abuse among the police, and shared stories of cops who manufactured evidence that led to innocent people being put behind bars. He estimated that 5-10% of the force is comprised of bad cops. Others have made honest mistakes and should be treated differently than those who engage in willful misconduct, he said. That vast majority of police officers are fine and upstanding, and contribute to making a difference in public safety, Stamper declared.

Occupy Wall Street Movement

In the first hour, Truthdig editor-in-chief Robert Scheer commented on the Occupy Wall Street movement, which seeks to shine a light on the injustices perpetrated by the U.S. financial sector. According to Scheer, the protests are a response to real pain, with 25 million people unable to find full-time work and 50 million in some state of mortgage foreclosure. Scheer blamed Wall Street lobbyists and compliant politicians for ending the sensible banking regulations that Franklin D. Roosevelt put into place to prevent another depression. The radical deregulation allowed bankers to gamble with credit default swaps and securitized mortgage debt, and, ultimately, caused much of the financial suffering ordinary Americans are now experiencing, Scheer suggested.

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