Give Thanks For The Rogue Police Chief of Brixton

Give Thanks For The Rogue Police Chief of Brixton
Posted by FoM on February 20, 2002 at 15:15:44 PT
By Deborah Orr
Source: Independent UK
Heavens! We all thought we knew what a rogue cop was, didn't we? All the best sources of dystopian angst, from alternative comics to mainstream Hollywood, have conjured a vision of a dehumanised vigilante ripped by dark criminal forces from the bosom of his family, crazily authoritarian, out to slaughter in the most frenzied manner possible without stopping to ask any questions at all.At last though, as Judge Dredd himself is in no position to refute, the future is getting behind us. And a real rogue cop has been exposed in the ebbing tide of modernism. 
Naturally, this rogue cop has blossomed on the internet  the nature of mass computer link-up being another piece of former future-shock that the visionaries never got quite right.For weeks, Commander Brian Paddick, the chief of the Metropolitan Police's Lambeth division, has been engaged in frank and liberal debate about life, the universe and everything on a Brixton-edited street-culture magazine website, urban75. By yesterday afternoon though, the inevitable had happened, and his exchanges had hit the media.Commander Paddick was on the front page of the London Evening Standard: "Anarchy is attractive says Yard Commander: astonishing beliefs of Brixton chief." Inside, the headline was less combative: "I am either brave or stupid says Paddick." Maybe the Commander is both. But he's also quite, quite magnificent.Mr Paddick has been bobbing about in the national consciousness since last July. He's the man who won the right to give cautions to people found with cannabis for personal use, instead of arresting them. He's the chap who told MPs that he was not interested in criminalising recreational drug users who took E and cocaine on a purely social basis.He's also the highest-ranking gay policeman in Britain, an advocate of the legalisation of cannabis, a lover of Brixton streetlife and, it now turns out, a regular visitor to his local community's most radical talkboards.The latter has been done, and admitted to the media, without the say-so of his superiors. For that, they cannot be thanking him. This sort of, admittedly rather headstrong, behaviour proves that Commander Paddick is certainly a maverick. But since it is those same superiors who must have appointed him, this cannot be news to them.Perhaps Mr Paddick is destined to become the Ivan Massow of the police force, asked to fall on his sword for telling the truth as he saw it, when under the strict terms of his contract he should have buttoned his lip. We shall see. But wouldn't it be something if the Metropolitan Police were to prove more liberal, experimental and open to insider criticism than the Metropolitan art establishment?One thing is for sure. Commander Paddick's engagement with urban75 is particularly bold at the moment. It comes at a hugely sensitive time for the police. A leap in gun crime in London  and a leap in our awareness of it  has arrived just as Rudolph Giuliani has become an international hero. Some argue that the two occurrences are intimately connected because the jump in violence is the result of police, post-11 September, being diverted to terrorism duties.Maybe that's true, in as far as it goes. But the truth is that guns have been proliferating in London for some years now, almost exclusively among the black community, which provides the vast majority of victims as well as perpetrators. Few people argue with the fact that drugs and drug-dealing are behind many of the crimes.But what people do argue about is the way in which this problem can be tackled. And this is where Sir Rudi's deserved elevation becomes particularly significant. In the light of his instinctive understanding, bravery and compassion as events unfolded on 11 September, the entirety of Sir Rudi's time as mayor of New York has been reassessed and found perfect.So while his undeniably successful clean-up of New York was once viewed with suspicion as somewhat authoritarian, it is now beyond criticism. British politicians have been lining up in the last few weeks to gain kudos by association with Sir Rudi, while the British police have been listening hard to speeches about the efficacy of Zero Tolerance.Sir Rudi pulls no punches in his assessment of Commander Paddick's Brixton experiment. He says it is wrong, and that those found in possession of cannabis should be jailed.In Brixton, the proportion of the community this would apply to is massive. I know good lawyers, good doctors and good teachers who smoke dope. Genuine Zero Tolerance would mean prison for those people, and a ruined community. No wonder Commander Paddick is talking to his community, and speaking out against such measures.He does, however, defend the initiative that the Met has been pursuing for some while now, Operation Trident. Many critics, including some of the other people posting on urban75 yesterday, say that the operation is fighting a losing battle.That, in large part, is due to the fact that there are just not enough police to deal with the deluge of crime. Commander Paddick's prioritisation of cocaine over cannabis was in pragmatic terms a way of dealing with that problem. The change of emphasis is estimated to have saved 2,500 police hours in its first six months. Arrests for class A drugs rose by 19 per cent.Sir Rudi  whose New York streets have almost double the police per capita that London does  says police numbers do not matter very much. What nobody appears willing to point out to him is that numbers do matter quite a lot, and quite a lot more when the police force is unarmed.This alone makes New York-style Zero Tolerance impossible, even if it were desirable. Anyway, Commander Paddick has his limits. He just has very different ideas to Sir Rudi's about what should be tolerated and what should not. Something akin to a mission statement, quoted from the urban75 site, states uncompromisingly: "Bottom line  screw the dealers, help the addicts."If he doesn't sound like a police officer but a social worker instead, then here's another snippet from Mr Paddick's urban75 postings. This one is in response to a questioner who asks why dealers can still be seen nightly in the same spot on Atlantic Road."We do patrol the centre, and I have some of the bravest unarmed cops, who care enough to tackle gun-carrying drug dealers, who get attacked by the dealers and their cronies when they do, and still go back for more. These are boys and girls in uniform who put their lives on the line for us."Quite right. Commander Paddick is every inch an old-fashioned policeman in demanding that this should be acknowledged and respected. The police must have the support of the communities they are protecting. For too long they have had to manage without that. Police officers such as Commander Paddick are needed in areas like Brixton, because such officers do share the values of their communities.He wouldn't be right for much of Britain, but Commander Paddick is right for Lambeth. His experiments must be allowed to continue, and his voice should be heard. He is meeting his community halfway. If his community returns the favour, then order wins, chaos loses and those rogue cops of the dystopian nightmare will never get a look in.Note: 'In Brixton I know doctors and teachers who smoke dope. Zero tolerance would mean prison for these and a ruined community'Source: Independent (UK)Author: Deborah OrrPublished: February 20, 2002Copyright: 2002 Independent Newspapers (UK) Ltd.Contact: letters Articles & Web Site:Urban 75 Police Chief Faces Music Over Outburst on Website Criticises London's Stance on Cannabis
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Comment #6 posted by Jose Melendez on February 21, 2002 at 06:25:39 PT:
one wonders...
The law, O'Connor said, "does seem to operate in a rather Draconian fashion. One wonders why the government wants to take such an extreme position, even though it lawfully could." 
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Comment #5 posted by goneposthole on February 21, 2002 at 05:34:25 PT
rogue police
Fact is they are just plain thievin' murderers. 
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Comment #4 posted by Jose Melendez on February 21, 2002 at 05:24:57 PT:
rogue Governor changes tune: slightly
''To not talk about it kind of would be, maybe, a little strange,'' he said. 
(SNIP)But advisors to the governor have said his daughter's arrest would not change his administration's positions on issues. 
After Monday's meeting, Bush said that his family's recent troubles have made him more sensitive as governor in dealing with drug policy. Hundreds of e-mails have poured into his office in the weeks following the arrest. 
Arrest Prohibition - Drug War is TREASON
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Comment #3 posted by CorvallisEric on February 21, 2002 at 00:00:29 PT
Better than the rogue police in Miami!
Thirteen Miami police officers have been charged with planting guns and concocting lies to cover up dubious police shootings that left three dead and one wounded, U.S. prosecutors announced Friday.
Records unsealed Friday portray a corrupt band of officers too quick to shoot at unarmed suspects, ready with a stash of ``throwdown guns'' and steadfast when it came to lying for each other.
Just had to get a word in for my grotesque home town.
Two Ex-Officers Plead Guilty, Help Prosecutors
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Comment #2 posted by Jose Melendez on February 20, 2002 at 19:38:42 PT:
Powell for Peace
Arianna Huffington on Colin Powell:
 this isn't the first time Powell has provoked the wrath of conservatives by venturing off the reservation. They were just as ticked off when he supported affirmative action, attacked corporate welfare, sounded the alarm about the 2 million Americans living behind bars, and suggested it was time to rethink the drug war. 
Instead of being excoriated, Powell deserves to be celebrated for abandoning the double talk that is the lingua franca of those in power, and confronting this life-and-death issue head on. With AIDS claiming 3 million victims last year, and another 42 million people currently infected with HIV, Powell's message is one that can't be repeated often enough -- especially on MTV. 
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Comment #1 posted by E_Johnson on February 20, 2002 at 19:29:53 PT
Better than the rogue police in Los Angeles!
How nice to read about a "rogue cop" where he's just engaging in free social discourse, not stealing cocaine from drug dealers and shooting people in cold blood and planting guns on them and lying under oath to get them convicted and sent to prison for supposedly trying to kill him.
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