Wednesday, June 10, 2015

America's Police Are Trained to Dominate the Public: What do You Make of McKinney, Texas Thug Cop Eric Casebolt's Supposed Training and Resume?

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I am in the process of editing tomorrow's installment of The Chauncey DeVega Show which features guest Ali Abunimah. He is a founding member of The Electronic Intifada, a human rights activist, author, and expert on issues related to Gaza and Palestine. He is a great conversation partner and one of the special guests for this, our fundraising month here at and WARN.

In recent months, we have spent a good amount of time discussing police thuggery and abuse in the United States. Ali reminds us that the global colorline is real, and the times of trouble and tumult along the colorline (and against the poor and marginalized) here in the United States are part of a wider phenomenon.

America's police are highly (and increasingly) militarized. As I discussed with journalist Nick Chiles, another great guest on the podcast, the training and recruitment of America's police is directly related to their thuggish and violent behavior towards black and brown people.

Contemporary police training is certainly part of a broader problem where they see innocent people as enemies to be subjugated:

However, it is not enough to change the operations and incentive structure of these departments— police cultures are also in need of substantial reform. Routine situations have a tendency to escalate in large part because police are indoctrinated with a “warrior” ethos which encourages a forceful and overwhelming response to the slightest sign of non-compliance. The idea is, quite literally, to dominate those they come in contact with in order to maintain control of situations. Officers are told that their very lives, and those of their colleagues, are dependent upon this swift, unrelenting retribution. As a result, as we have seen, police are 28 times more likely to kill a civilian than vice-versa.
The recent and highly discussed pool party white on black thug cop episode in McKinney, Texas is a direct function of police authoritarianism and racism.

But, how do we factor in the individual temperament of a given cop relative to how they will respond to a given scenario?

Eric Casebolt, the officer who assaulted a young black teenage girl and then pointed his gun at her peers is supposedly a tough, bad man with a highly lethal skill set.

Casebolt has worked for Executive Self-defense and Fitness, a private security contracting firm. They list his skill sets as:
Eric Casebolt is an instructor trainee at Executive Self-defense and Fitness, LLC and has been a Police Officer since 2000. During his career in Law Enforcement, he has received in-depth training on impact weapon deployment and expandable baton, firearms, electronic control devices (ECDs), ground fighting, Positive Assertive Control Tactics-Dynamic Threat Response (PACT-DTR), handcuffing, joint locks and pressure point compliance, armed and un-armed self-defense. He has a strong working knowledge of human behavior, indicators of deception, criminal behavior, the development of situational awareness, and experience in the use of all levels of force. 
He is a certified Advanced Texas Police Officer, an Instructor in Police Vehicle Operations, a Field Training Officer, and a certified SWAT operator. He has trained in several different disciplines of martial arts, but now exclusively trains in Krav Maga combat arts, Arnis, and ground fighting.
Eric Casebolt is a wannabe Navy SEAL or Delta operator, but is apparently in fear for his life from young black kids in bathing suits.

We have a nice range of smart and informed readers here at WARN from a range of professional backgrounds.

Casebolt's resume looks bloated and unbelievable to my semi-trained eyes. I do not want to accuse Eric Casebolt of "bovin scatology" in his martial prowess, but his tactical decision-making as demonstrated by his behavior that faithful day raises many questions about his competencies.

First, what do you make of Casebolt's supposed training and ability? Two, Casebolt has resigned under pressure--but keeps his pension and other benefits--are you happy with that outcome? What should come next?

These discussions of police thuggery remind me of a friend of my father who served with the Connecticut State Police for many years before he retired as a senior commander.

I was in elementary school and asked him if he ever shot anyone--don't all young boys ask questions like that? He smiled and explained that a good trooper can get lots done with body language, eye contact, and how they use their voice.

If a trooper has to physically touch someone or use their weapon they have likely done something wrong along the way. In several decades of service he only pulled out his gun on three or four occasions--he had to use it once to kill a man. My father's friend said he regretted having to use his weapon that way.

Makes one wonder where such level-headed and responsible cops have disappeared to.


Gable1111 said...

The police unions are a substantial contributor to the problem of out of control cops. From what little I know of police training, there is an aspect to it that teaches cops to remain calm and not escalate while exerting control, of getting people to do what you want without physical force.

The unions tend to stand by cops no matter what, even when they are clearly wrong, and it sends the message that, no matter what you do as a cop, we are brothers against everyone else, and maintaining that blue wall of silence is paramount.

Casebolt is a perfect example of another problem with policing, and that is that some people simply do not have the temperament to be a cop. And I find it hard to believe that man had the extensive "martial arts" training it said. Looking at the interaction with that girl doesn't look like someone who has had that kind of training, which also teaches restraint.

TenarDarell said...

First, what do you make of Casebolt's supposed training and ability? Two, Casebolt has resigned under pressure--but keeps his pension and other benefits--are you happy with that outcome? What should come next? 

Casebolt, depending on his age, could realistically have training in all the areas listed on his resume. But, anyone who has that level of tactical force training who has not moved on to a big city force probably does fit the suburbs. Really, he probably never wanted to be dealing with run of the mill public nuisance calls at all. Just from that list, he strikes me as a wannabe SWAT trooper; someone who would rather learn how to use another nifty weapon than to learn negotiation and de-escalation techniques to avoid using any of his weapons. It is good that he resigned, even if he had to be bribed with pension and benefits. However, based on his behavior, and that he was forced to resign so quickly, he probably has a record of really problematic behavior. This record must be widely publicized so that he can never work in law enforcement again. 

One small idea for the next thing could be verifying that local police forces don't have any Casebolt's hiding in plain sight. Then encouraging them to resign if any flags are raised. Maybe create a national background check database of officers who were "encouraged" this way, so they don't try to go on to another police force? (Though this is so rough, I have no idea how to incentivize reporting without inadvertently creating incentives to game the system). There are so many steps that have to work just to change how police treat African Americans. I just hope there is a way to create a virtuous spiral, somehow.

chauncey devega said...

"Casebolt is a perfect example of another problem with policing, and that is that some people simply do not have the temperament to be a cop."

There you go! Screening, more psych evals, get rid of the union protections for thug cops, more drug testing, and make them have to reapply for their jobs ever few years. Mandatory personal liability insurance that is paid for based on a group rate works too. This gives an incentive to out the thug cops among you.

chauncey devega said...

You read my mind. If he really is such a bad man why hasn't a more prestigious department scooped him up? Behavior issues? Not as competent as he seems? And if he had such skills why did he look so incompetent in dealing with some teenagers?

TenarDarell said...

With all our systemic problems, it does seem very clear that no police academy or department is adequately screening out the authoritarians who should never have this much power, doesn't it?

Aaron Sacks said...

"He is a certified Advanced Texas Police Officer, an Instructor in Police
Vehicle Operations, a Field Training Officer, and a certified SWAT

I can see how his skill sets would come in handy while dealing with a gaggle of teens.

chauncey devega said...

A very very dangerous man! Like we said above, something about his credentials don't add up.