Police Problems and Policy
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Police Problems and Policy
Examining the possibilities of abuse of power without the constraint of New Public Administration.
Curated by Rob Duke
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When Facts Don't Matter, Neither Can Justice - Calibre Press

When a crime is allegedly committed, an investigation ensues. That’s how it’s supposed to work. And when that crime is of a serious nature, details are of the essence. Emotion, from an investigator’s point of view, doesn’t matter. Facts matter. When a police officer shoots and kills someone it’s an incredibly serious issue and of …
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Here's a pro and con between the Huffington Post and Caliber Press (pro cop).
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Minn. cop fatally shoots black man during traffic stop, aftermath broadcast on Facebook

Minn. cop fatally shoots black man during traffic stop, aftermath broadcast on Facebook | Police Problems and Policy | Scoop.it
"He killed my boyfriend,” a woman said on camera moments after Philando Castile was fatally shot during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Minn., near St. Paul.
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Chicago on the Brink

Chicago on the Brink | Police Problems and Policy | Scoop.it
The growing mayhem is the result of Chicago police officers’ withdrawal from proactive enforcement, making the city a dramatic example of what I have called the “Ferguson effect.” Since the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014, the conceit that American policing is lethally racist has dominated the national airwaves and political discourse, from the White House on down. In response, cops in minority neighborhoods in Chicago and other cities around the country are backing off pedestrian stops and public-order policing; criminals are flourishing in the resulting vacuum. (An early and influential Ferguson-effect denier has now changed his mind: in a June 2016 study for the National Institute of Justice, Richard Rosenfeld of the University of Missouri–St. Louis concedes that the 2015 homicide increase in the nation’s large cities was “real and nearly unprecedented.” “The only explanation that gets the timing right is a version of the Ferguson effect,” he told the Guardian.)
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Something similar to this happened after Rodney King. Cops said "I'm not going to Federal prison for citizens" and very little proactive policing was done. However, the paradox of proximity means that you talk to victims and they talk to the mayor and poo rolls down hill so that the retreat from proactive policing isn't a long-term policy option--heads will roll if you try. We were soon asking citizens for help and sharing with them out limitations. What came next was an era of community policing that, frankly, got derailed by the militarization that came after 9-11...maybe the same thing will happen again.
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James Comey’s abuse of power

James Comey’s abuse of power | Police Problems and Policy | Scoop.it
Comey made assertions that are outside the authority of the FBI. He inserted himself into a long-standing bureaucratic battle between the State Department and the FBI and intelligence agencies, making claims about classification practices at the State Department that do not fall under his jurisdiction. He raised the possibility of administrative sanctions that could be taken, another decision that is not his to make — any such sanctions, if appropriate, would be decided by the State Department, not the director of the FBI.
Rob Duke's insight:
Oh, I see: when it's the police, then we want an outside set of eyes, but when it's state dept., then the cops should just keep their opinions to themselves...?  The system is built upon checks and balances.  As Madison said in Federalist #51, if "men were angels" we wouldn't need to check power, but unfortunately that is not the case, thus, he set up an elaborate set of checks and balances.  Much debated by the likes of Dwight Waldo and H. George Fredrickson (not to mention in the Fredericks/Finer debate) is what role the public administration has in being the conscious of government.  I happen to think QUITE A LOT.  Who else could have stopped Jim Crow.  One Sheriff's Deputy in the South could have prevented many a night of abuse and terror had he/she just been told that that was Job #1= Ensure Equity.  If not the public administrator, then who will be the guardians of human dignity?  When we don't stand up to protect these rights, we abdicate our principal responsibility.
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LAPD officer was unjustified in killing a man who zapped his partner with a Taser, panel finds

LAPD officer was unjustified in killing a man who zapped his partner with a Taser, panel finds | Police Problems and Policy | Scoop.it
The L.A. Police Commission faulted an officer who fatally shot a man last year. The man had grabbed another cop's Taser during a struggle and used it against her, prompting her partner to open fire.
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I don't agree, but the season for sharpening the knives for officers has begun and will continue for some time.
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This Video Doesn't Look Good - Calibre Press

A man explains to arriving Lubbock (Texas) police officers that his request is both simple and reasonable. “All I want is my money back, bro,” he tells them. “My son couldn’t enjoy his meal because somebody else was trying to insult us.” Seconds later the man is screaming, “Police brutality bro!” As he struggles with …
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Yup. Some people are cons.  They give you hell and demand the Sergeant and then the guy who was calling you every name in the book suddenly has the proverbial English accent and is the very image of politeness when the sergeant arrives: "I say, dear sir, this officer is harassing me for no good reason.  I do say that I'd be bloody well within my rights to take this matter up with the queen!"  New media and video just adds a whole new dimension to the con game.
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Off-Duty Cop Stops Hate-Fueled Murder Attempt

Off-Duty Cop Stops Hate-Fueled Murder Attempt | Police Problems and Policy | Scoop.it
Francisco Diego, 40, Accused Of Racially Motivated Hate Crime Against S.B. Homeless Man.
Rob Duke's insight:
Look at a bell curve of police incidents and you never hear about the stuff that happens in the first 3 sigmas (95%).  These are the easy to solve calls for service.  Scouts could handle most of those calls.  It's the last 5% that you hear about and these are the calls that revolve around emotion and psychotic events after which we are judged on a reasonableness standard--hah! There's very little reason going on at those calls in the first place and we're somehow supposed to arrive and impose order and reason?
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Report: Connecticut Police Use Stun Guns On Minorities At Higher Rate

Report: Connecticut Police Use Stun Guns On Minorities At Higher Rate | Police Problems and Policy | Scoop.it
In cases where police pull stun guns, the report says officers also were more likely to fire them in confrontations involving minorities, as The Associated Press first reported in January after obtaining preliminary data collected from police departments around the state. Officers fired the weapons, as opposed to merely brandishing them, 60 percent of the time in confrontations involving whites, 81 percent of the time in those involving blacks and 66 percent of the time in those involving Hispanics.
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DASHCAM: Officer Shoots Suspect in Car - Calibre Press

DASHCAM: Officer Shoots Suspect in Car - Calibre Press | Police Problems and Policy | Scoop.it
Dramatic dash-cam video footage released by South Carolina authorities last week shows a police officer shouting at a teenage motorist — then firing seven times at the driver behind the wheel. The incident occurred in May after Antwon Gallmon, 17, allegedly fled from police after a late-night 911 caller described loud music coming from a …
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BOOK REVIEW: ‘The War on Cops: How the New Attack on Law and Order Makes Everyone Less Safe’

BOOK REVIEW: ‘The War on Cops: How the New Attack on Law and Order Makes Everyone Less Safe’ | Police Problems and Policy | Scoop.it
In "The War on Cops," Heather Mac Donald provides overwhelming and compelling data to discount the misguided, misplaced and too often malice-based attacks on the law enforcement profession taking place in our country every day.
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Inside Police Psychology | Police Psychology | Crash and Burn

Inside Police Psychology | Police Psychology | Crash and Burn | Police Problems and Policy | Scoop.it
When you have PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), it is very much like being the driver in one of those simulators.  You can usually control the directions, but the magnitude of the response is often not connected to the action you thought you made.  Your emotions and feeling seem almost not linked to the events that are happening.  It weird when you go from calm to angry in a matter of seconds or you go from smiling to crying because someone got a “A” on their report card in a kid’s movie that your child was watching on the Disney channel.  There’s a name for all this, of course, us doctors give names for anything and everything.  But the name is not as important to understand as the problems this can cause, the fact that it is normal and how to get rid of it!
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The last days of the polymath

The last days of the polymath | Police Problems and Policy | Scoop.it
Carl Djerassi can remember the moment when he became a writer. It was 1993, he was a professor of chemistry at Stanford University in California and he had already written books about science and about his life as one of the inventors of the Pill. Now he wanted to write a literary novel about writers’ insecurities, with a central character loosely modelled on Norman Mailer, Philip Roth and Gore Vidal.
His wife, Diane Middlebrook, thought it was a ridiculous idea. She was also a professor—of literature. “She admired the fact that I was a scientist who also wrote,” Djerassi says. He remembers her telling him, “‘You’ve been writing about a world that writers know little about. You’re writing the real truth inside of almost a closed tribe. But there are tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people who know more about writing than you do. I advise you not to do this.’”
Even at 85, slight and snowy-haired, Djerassi is a det­ermined man. You sense his need to prove that he can, he will prevail. Sitting in his London flat, he leans forward to fix me with his hazel eyes. “I said, ‘ok. I’m not going to show it to you till I finish. And if I find a publisher then I’ll give it to you.’ ”
Eventually Djerassi got the bound galleys of his book. “We were leaving San Francisco for London for our usual summer and I said ‘Look, would you read this now?’ She said, ‘Sure, on the plane.’ So my wife sits next to me and of course I sit and look over. And I still remember, I had a Trollope, 700 pages long, and I couldn’t read anything because I wanted to see her expression.”
Diane Middlebrook died of cancer in 2007 and, as Djerassi speaks, her presence grows stronger. By the end it is as if there are three of us in the room. “She was always a fantastic reader,” he says. “She read fast and continuously. And suddenly you hear the snap of the book closing, like a thunder clap. And I looked at her, and she then looked at me.  She always used to call me, not ‘Carl’ or ‘Darling’, she used to call me ‘Chemist’ in a dear, affectionate sort of way. It was always ‘Chemist’. And she said, ‘Chemist, this is good’.”
Carl Djerassi is a polymath. Strictly speaking that means he is someone who knows a lot about a lot. But Djerassi also passes a sterner test: he can do a lot, too. As a chemist (synthesising cortisone and helping invent the Pill); an art collector (he assembled one of the world’s largest collections of works by Paul Klee); and an author (19 books and plays), he has accomplished more than enough for one lifetime.
His latest book, “Four Jews on Parnassus”, is an ima­gined series of debates between Theodor Adorno, Arnold Schönberg, Walter Benjamin and Gershom Scholem, which touches on art, music, philosophy and Jewish identity. In itself, the book is an exercise in polymathy. At a reading in the Austrian Cultural Forum in London this summer, complete with Schönberg’s songs and four actors, including Djerassi himself, it drew a good crowd and bewitched them for an hour and a half. Sitting down with the book the next day, I found it sharp, funny, mannered and dazzlingly erudite—sometimes, like a bumptious student, too erudite for its own good. I enjoy Djerassi’s writing, though not everyone will. But even his critics would admit that he really is more than “a scientist who writes”.

The word “polymath” teeters somewhere between Leo­nardo da Vinci and Stephen Fry. Embracing both one of history’s great intellects and a brainy actor, writer, director and TV personality, it is at once presumptuous and banal. Djerassi doesn’t want much to do with it. “Nowadays people that are called polymaths are dabblers—are dabblers in many different areas,” he says. “I aspire to be an intellectual polygamist. And I deliberately use that metaphor to provoke with its sexual allusion and to point out the real difference to me between polygamy and promiscuity."
“To me, promiscuity is a way of flitting around. Polygamy, serious polygamy, is where you have various marriages and each of them is important. And in the ideal polygamy I suspect there’s no number one wife and no number six wife. You have a deep connection with each person.”
Djerassi is right to be suspicious of flitting. We all know a gifted person who cannot stick at anything. In his book “Casanova: A Study in Self-Portraiture” Stefan Zweig describes an extreme case:
[Casanova] excelled in mathematics no less than in philosophy. He was a competent theologian, preaching his first sermon in a Venetian church when he was not yet 16 years old. As a violinist, he earned his daily bread for a whole year in the San Samuele theatre. When he was 18 he became doctor of laws at the University of Padua—though down to the present day the Casanovists are still disputing whether the degree was genuine or spurious...He was well informed in chemistry, medicine, history, philosophy, literature, and, above all, in the more lucrative (because perplexing) sciences of astrology and alchemy...As universal dilettante, indeed, he was perfect, knowing an incredible amount of all the arts and all the sciences; but he lacked one thing, and this lack made it impossible for him to become truly productive. He lacked will, resolution, patience.
Mindful of that sort of promiscuity, I asked my colleagues to suggest living polymaths of the polygamous sort—doers, not dabblers. One test I imposed was breadth. A scientist who composes operas and writes novels is more of a polymath than a novelist who can turn out a play or a painter who can sculpt. For Djerassi, influence is essential too. “It means that your polymath activities have passed a certain quality control that is exerted within each field by the competition. If they accept you at their level, then I think you have reached that state rather than just dabbling.” They mentioned a score of names—Djerassi was prominent among them. Others included Jared Diamond, Noam Chomsky, Umberto Eco, Brian Eno, Michael Frayn and Oliver Sacks.
It is an impressive list, by anyone’s standards. You can find scientists, writers, actors, artists—the whole range of human creativity. Even so, what struck me most strongly was how poorly today’s polymaths compare with the polymaths of the past.
In the first half of 1802 a physician and scientist called Thomas Young gave a series of 50 lectures at London’s new Royal Institution, arranged into subjects like “Mechanics” and “Hydro­dynamics”. By the end, says Young’s biographer Andrew Robinson, he had pretty much laid out the sum of scientific knowledge. Robinson called his book “The Last Man Who Knew Everything".
Young’s achievements are staggering. He smashed Newtonian orthodoxy by showing that light is a wave, not just a particle; he described how the eye can vary its focus; and he proposed the three-colour theory of vision. In materials science, engineers dealing with elasticity still talk about Young’s modulus; in linguistics, Young studied the grammar and voc­abulary of 400 or so languages and coined the term “Indo-European”; in Egyptology, Jean-François Champollion drew on his work to decode the Rosetta stone. Young even tinkered around with life insurance.
When Young was alive the world contained about a billion people. Few of them were literate and fewer still had the chance to experiment on the nature of light or to examine the Rosetta stone. Today the planet teems with 6.7 billion minds. Never have so many been taught to read and write and think, and then been free to choose what they would do with their lives. The electronic age has broken the shackles of knowledge. Never has it been easier to find something out, or to get someone to explain it to you.
Yet as human learning has flowered, the man or woman who does great things in many fields has become a rare species. Young was hardly Aristotle, but his capacity to do important work in such a range of fields startled his contemporaries and today seems quite bewildering. The dead cast a large shadow but, even allowing for that, the 21st century has no one to match Michelangelo, who was a poet as well as a sculptor, an architect and a painter. It has no Alexander von Humboldt, who towered over early-19th-century geography and science. And no Leibniz, who invented calculus at the same time as Newton and also wrote on technology, philosophy, biology, politics and just about everything else.
Although you may be able to think of a few living polymaths who rival the breadth of Young’s knowledge, not one of them beg­ins to rival the breadth of his achievements. Over the past 200 years the nature of intellectual endeavour has changed profoundly. The polymaths of old were one-brain universities. These days you count as a polymath if you excel at one thing and go on to write a decent book about another.
Young was just 29 when he gave his lectures at the Royal Institution. Back in the early 19th century you could grasp a field with a little reading and a ready wit. But the distinction between the dabbling and doing is more demanding these days, because breaking new ground is so much harder. There is so much further to trek through other researchers’ territory before you can find a patch of unploughed earth of your own.
Even the best scientists have to make that journey. Benjamin Jones, of the Kellogg School of Management near Chicago, looked at the careers of Nobel laureates. Slightly under half of them did their path-breaking work in their 30s, a smattering in their 20s—Einstein, at 26, was unusually precocious. Yet when the laureates of 1998 did their seminal research, they were typically six years older than the laureates of 1873 had been. It was the same with great inventors.
Once you have reached the vanguard, you have to work harder to stay there, especially in the sciences. So many scientists are publishing research in each specialism that merely to keep up with the reading is a full-time job. “The frontier of knowledge is getting longer,” says Professor Martin Rees, the president of the Royal Society, where Young was a leading light for over three decades. “It is impossible now for anyone to focus on more than one part at a time.”
Specialisation is hard on polymaths. Every moment devoted to one area is a moment less to give over to something else. Researchers are focused on narrower areas of work. In the sciences this means that you often need to put together a team to do anything useful. Most scientific papers have more than one author; papers in some disciplines have 20 or 30. Only a fool sets out to cure cancer, Rees says. You need to concentrate on some detail—while remembering the big question you are ultimately trying to answer. “These days”, he says, “no scientist makes a unique contribution.”
It is not only the explosion of knowledge that puts polymaths at a disadvantage, but also the vast increase in the number of specialists and experts in every field. This is because the learning that creates would-be polymaths creates monomaths too and in overwhelming numbers. If you have a multitude who give their lives to a specialism, their combined knowledge will drown out even a gifted generalist. And while the polymath tries to take possession of a second expertise in some distant discipline, his or her first expertise is being colonised by someone else.
The arts are more forgiving than the sciences. Rees is reminded of a remark by Peter Medawar, the zoologist, who pointed out that, after finishing a draft of “Siegfried” in 1857, Wagner was able to put the opera aside for 12 years before setting out to complete his Ring Cycle with “Götterdämmerung”. A scientist would have had to worry about a rival stealing his thunder. But nobody else was about to compose the destruction of Valhalla.
Perhaps that explains why would-be polymaths these days so often turn to writing books. Yet, as Richard Posner has discovered, even that is often enemy territory.
Unlike France, America and Britain don’t tend to encourage public intellectuals. But if they did, Richard Posner would be their standard-bearer. Posner’s day job is as an appeals-court judge in Chicago—a career founded upon his reputation as America’s pre-eminent thinker on anti-trust law. But Posner is not just a lawyer. In his spare time he has written on sex, security, politics, Hegel, Homeric society, medieval Iceland and a whole lot more. The Wall Street Journal once called him a “one-man think-tank”.
Posner thinks like a polymath. “I’m impatient and I’m restless,” he says, in a matter-of-fact way. “After I graduated from law school, I worked first in government for six years. I enjoyed it but I didn’t really want to make a career of that. I went into teaching without any great sense of commitment, but I couldn’t think of anything else. But gradually I lost int­erest, as the 1970s wore on, I became involved in consulting. So when the judgeship came along in 1981—quite out of the blue—I was happy to take that. I just kind of slid into law. It is sort of the default career choice in the United States.”
Posner first made his name as a monomath. “I had a very big intellectual commitment for many years to anti-trust law. I wrote a lot about that.” Eventually, though, the polymath rose to the surface and he put anti-trust behind him. “I just got bored with it, I think the field slowed down—it happens with fields,” he says. These days most people cling to their expertise; Posner talks about it as if he were trading in an old car.
After he became immersed in the intellectual life of the University of Chicago, Posner started to apply insights from economics to a broad range of subjects. In his book “Sex and Reason”, written in 1990, he used economics to explain a part of life that specialist lawyers and economists had tended to think was beyond their reach. To take a simple example, the AIDS epidemic made gay sex unavoidably more costly, either because of the risk of disease or of switching to safe sex. It therefore reduced the amount of gay sex—and, by the same mechanism, cut the number of illegitimate births and inc­reased the number of legitimate ones.
The book was a success because Posner had the field pretty much to himself. “Sometimes one goes into a new area and there hasn’t been much done in it and then you are a little ahead of the curve,” he says. Even then, the monomaths were in hot pursuit. “After a while there is so much in it that you don’t know what you’re going to do. Since 1990 the field has become extremely crowded because of specialisation and not very attractive.” Time to move on.
The monomaths do not only swarm over a specialism, they also play dirty. In each new area that Posner picks—policy or science—the experts start to erect barricades. “Even in relatively soft fields, specialists tend to develop a specialised vocabulary which creates barriers to entry,” Posner says with his economic hat pulled down over his head. “Specialists want to fend off the generalists. They may also want to convince themselves that what they are doing is really very difficult and challenging. One of the ways they do that is to develop what they regard a rigorous methodology—often mathematical.
“The specialist will always be able to nail the generalists by pointing out that they don’t use the vocabulary quite right and they make mistakes that an insider would never make. It’s a defence mechanism. They don’t like people invading their turf, especially outsiders criticising insiders. So if I make mistakes about this economic situation, it doesn’t really bother me tremendously. It’s not my field. I can make mistakes. On the other hand for me to be criticising someone whose whole career is committed to a particular outlook and method and so on, that is very painful.”
For a polymath, the charge of dabbling never lies far below the surface. “With the amount of information that’s around, if you really want to understand your topic thoroughly then, yes, you have to specialise,” says Chris Leek, the chairman of British Mensa, a club for people who score well on IQ tests. “And if you want to speak with authority, then it’s important to be seen to specialise.”
That is why modern institutions tend to exclude polymaths, he says. “It’s very hard to show yourself as a polymath in the current academic climate. If you’ve got someone interested in going across departments, spending part of the time in physics and part of the time elsewhere, their colleagues are going to kick them out. They’re not contributing fully to any single department. OK, every so often you’re going to get a huge benefit, but from day to day, where the universities are making appointments, they want the focus in one field.”
Britain goes out of its way to create monomaths, by asking students aged 15 to choose just three or four subjects to study at A-level. Djerassi thinks this is a mistake. “There’ll be students here at age 16 or 17 who are much better than many Americans at French or maths or something, but abysmally ignorant in another area,” he says. “We really preach intellectual monogamy more and more in this day and age. That’s by necessity, but we’re overdoing it. And what we really ought to do is start with intellectual polygamy.”
Djerassi has also suffered in his own work because of monomaths’ hostility, especially as a playwright. “They always keep crying out ‘the co-inventor, father, the mother of the Pill’,” he growls. “Without having any knowledge about the play, they start with it. As if it’s got anything to do with it.” Djerassi thinks that this means he has to work harder to promote his work. “No agent has ever been interested in me. They want 29-year-old Irish playwrights, not 86-year-old expatriates.” A trace of bitterness creeps into his voice, but he concedes: “If I were an agent I’d feel the same way.”
Overwhelmed by specialists and attacked by experts as dilettantes, it is amazing that there are any polymaths at all. How do they manage?
Alexander McCall Smith is a natural writer. “I just have to do it,” he says. “I suppose I write four novels a year now, which I don’t have to do. In one sense, that is breaking all the rules in publishing: you’re only meant to write one, but I write four, sometimes five. But I just feel that I have got to do it and I enjoy it greatly. I suppose I am very fortunate. The way I work is I go into a trance and write. I don’t have to sit there and think: it happens. It just comes, so I am very, very lucky.”
These days McCall Smith is best-known as the man behind “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency”. But his first career, as a university professor, was eminent in its own right. “My interest was medical law. That, I suppose, was cross-disciplinary. You had to be able to understand the scientific issues and the medical issues, but you just had to have a sound lay understanding of them. So, for example, I worked as a member of the Human Genetics Commission for a while. And that meant I had to go off and make sure that I understood what the issues in genetics were.”
He is also musical—though in a dabbling way. “I play wind instruments, but I don’t play them very well,” he says. “My wife and I set up an orchestra, which is called the Really Terrible Orchestra, and indeed that is absolutely accurate. Virtually everybody I know is better at music than I am.”
McCall Smith is a polymath by necessity. He wrote while he was an academic, producing fiction, about 30 children’s books, short stories and plays for radio. He paid a price. “I probably would have made more of my academic career had I not had another interest, I think, yes. Academia requires a lot of commitment, so I suppose I could have done more.” But, speaking to him, I don’t think he had a choice.
Circumstance also played its part. McCall Smith was able to write because university life allowed it. “It would have been different had I been somebody who practised commercial law in a law firm, for instance. That wouldn’t be compatible with doing anything else. If you were a futures trader or something like that—there are some jobs where the pressure is so intense that it must be very difficult to have any energy by the time you come home at night.”
Posner could become a polymath because he has a unifying set of ideas. “A lot of this work is economic theory in new areas. So applying a method to a new field is not the same thing as mastering multiple fields. To achieve mastery in unrelated areas in an age of specialisation is exceedingly difficult. On the other hand, to take a technique that can be applied to a variety of substantive fields is not as difficult. So if I write about the economics of old age and the economics of sex and the economics of the national security and intelligence services, I am not mastering the field. I am not becoming a sociologist, or a psychiatrist or what have you.”
Djerassi could become a polymath because he has had two careers, one after the other—he did his science and, having made a fortune, he concentrated on his writing. He was helped by his wife. “She was a very sophisticated writer and an extremely tough critic and she managed to divorce affection from criticism. She thought ‘this is terrible’ or ‘this is clichéd’.” He also has ambition and the willpower of someone on borrowed time. At 62 he was diagnosed with cancer. “Suddenly, from one day to another, I didn’t even know what my life expectancy would be before I got the pathology back after the operation. And I remember being very depressed and afterwards I didn’t want to talk to anyone.” He said to himself, “‘Gee, now if I’d known five years earlier it would come out that I’d have cancer and be told I’d live for another few years, would I live a different life?’ And I said, ‘Absolutely’.”
Not all polymaths find their way. Andrew Robinson, Young’s biographer, gives the example of Michael Ventris, who died aged 34, having tried to satisfy both his urge to be an architect and also his fascination with codes. Ventris was the first to make sense of Linear B, an early Greek script, but he could not apply himself as successfully to architecture.
“With Michael Ventris, the polymathy gradually des­troyed him,” Robinson says. “He was famous for cracking Linear B, but I believe he was depressed. Architecture was not enough. He was a logician. Linear B took him over. He couldn’t reach the standard he had set in another field, he couldn’t do justice to his own gifts, he couldn’t let it all go and give it up.”
Robinson thinks that Young also ran up against his limits. “Young understood after 1814 that he couldn’t carry on with serious medicine. He could have pursued it but even then it was clear that he wouldn’t be taken seriously. People love a sole genius with tunnel vision—a focus,” Robinson says. Darwin spent several years thinking about barnacles. But because Young’s work was in so many different fields, he was accused of being a dilettante. “Polymaths are disconcerting,” Robinson says. “People feel they are trespassing.”
Even Leonardo warned against being spread thin. The other day Robinson came across one of his late notebooks, in which he had written, “Like a kingdom divided, which rushes to its doom, the mind that engages in subjects of too great variety becomes confused and weakened.”
In an age of specialists, does it matter that generalists no longer thrive? The world is hardly short of knowledge. Countless books are written, canvases painted and songs recorded. A torrent of research is pouring out. A new orthodoxy, popularised by Malcolm Gladwell, sees obsessive focus as the key that unlocks genius.
Just knowing about a lot of things has never been easier. Never before have dabblers been so free to paddle along the shore and dip into the first rock pool that catches the eye. If you have an urge to take off your shoes and test the water, countless specialists are ready to hold your hand.
And yet you will never get very deep. Depth is for monomaths—which is why experts so often seem to miss what really matters. Specialisation has made the study of English so sterile that students lose much of the joy in reading great literature for its own sake. A generation of mathematically inclined economists neglected many of  Keynes’s insights about the Depression because he put them into words. For decades economists sweated over fiendish mathematical equations, only to be brought down to earth by the credit crunch: Keynes’s well-turned phrases had come back to life.
Part of my regret at the scarcity of polymaths is sentimental. Polymaths were the product of a particular time, when great learning was a mark of distinction and few people had money and leisure. Their moment has passed, like great houses or the horse-drawn carriage. The world may well be a better place for the specialisation that has come along instead. The pity is that progress has to come at a price. Civilisation has put up fences that people can no longer leap across; a certain type of mind is worth less. The choices modern life imposes are duller, more cramped.
The question is whether their loss has affected the course of human thought. Polymaths possess something that monomaths do not. Time and again, innovations come from a fresh eye or from another discipline. Most scientists devote their careers to solving the everyday problems in their specialism. Everyone knows what they are and it takes ingenuity and perseverance to crack them. But breakthroughs—the sort of idea that opens up whole sets of new problems—often come from other fields. The work in the early 20th century that showed how nerves work and, later, how DNA is structured originally came from a marriage of physics and biology. Today, Einstein’s old employer, the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, is laid out especially so that different disciplines rub shoulders. I suspect that it is a poor substitute.
Isaiah Berlin once divided thinkers into two types. Foxes, he wrote, know many things; whereas hedgehogs know one big thing. The foxes used to roam free across the hills. Today the hedgehogs rule. 
Rob Duke's insight:
In Justice we must also be Polymaths.  This article was very interesting to me.  I hope you find it so....
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North Dakota drug informant's family sues for wrongful death

North Dakota drug informant's family sues for wrongful death | Police Problems and Policy | Scoop.it
FARGO, N.D. (AP) — The family of a North Dakota college student who was a confidential informant for a drug task force filed a wrongful death lawsuit Monday accusing a sheriff's department, a deputy and the county of failing to ensure the 20-year-old's safety. The body of Andrew Sadek was found exactly two years ago in the Red River, which separates North Dakota from Minnesota, not far from where he attended college in Wahpeton. An autopsy concluded Sadek died of a gunshot wound to the head but the manner of death was "undetermined," according to the complaint brought by John and Tammy Sadek. Their suit names as defendants Richland County Sheriff's deputy Jason Weber, who was part of the task force, as well as the county. It says the defendants failed to train Andrew Sadek to perform undercover operations and failed to "reasonably supervise" him. "We filed the lawsuit today, two years from the day Andrew's body was discovered, hoping to achieve accountability for those who put Andrew in harm's way," said Tim O'Keeffe, one of two Fargo attorneys for the Sadek family. A spokeswoman for the North Dakota attorney general's office did not return email messages Monday seeking comment. The Sadeks are asking for unspecified economic damages, including the cost of the memorial, and non-economic damages related to mental anguish, emotional distress, grief and loss of companionship. A report by the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation said Sadek got in trouble with the law in April 2013, when he twice sold marijuana to a confidential informant. Both transactions were small — $20 and $60 worth of drugs — but they took place in a school zone, making the potential charges against him serious felonies. Later that year, drug task force agents searched Sadek's dorm room and said they found a grinder containing marijuana residue. The next day, Sadek completed paperwork to become a confidential informant, making three drug buys for the regional task force over the next three months. The task force didn't hear from Sadek after that. The family does not believe Sadek killed himself. A backpack full of rocks was tied around Sadek's body and he was wearing different clothes from the time he was last seen, the suit said. Lawyers for the family sent a letter to federal authorities in April asking the U.S. Department of Justice and FBI to investigate the case. The Justice Department said it was reviewing the case. There was no response from the FBI, the family's lawyers said.
Rob Duke's insight:
It will be interesting to see what "duty of care" the courts assign to the police in using informants.  In my experience, they're either young, naive, or have their own agenda.  Having said that when we protect private spaces (as we should), we must use informants to go after the crimes committed there....
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Alton Sterling shooting may be "authorized killing," Baton Rouge DA says

Alton Sterling shooting may be "authorized killing," Baton Rouge DA says | Police Problems and Policy | Scoop.it
District Attorney Hillar Moore said Lake and Salamoni may have acted within their rights.

"This is potentially a state authorized killing," Moore said. "It gives law enforcement officers the authority and mandates them to kill when in defense of themselves or others."
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Fatal force: A Washington Post investigation of people shot and killed by police in 2016

Fatal force: A Washington Post investigation of people shot and killed by police in 2016 | Police Problems and Policy | Scoop.it
Since 2015, The Post has created a database cataloging every fatal shooting nationwide by a police officer in the line of duty.
Rob Duke's insight:
In my 3 shootings, I was called to the scene by someone else where I met an irrational and emotional person/persons (two also involved alcohol).  I had another half dozen similar situations that were a hair's breadth away from becoming a shooting incident.  On the other hand, I was also called to or interrupted 20 or so felons committing crimes, including burglaries and bank robberies where a standoff occurred at or near the time of apprehension.  I found that most of these offenders were actually much more rational and recognized immediately when my partners and I had employed superior tactics, etc. and had them in a "check-mate" situation.  Those individuals all surrendered immediately.  
It's the situations involving mental illness, alcohol, and intense emotion that are most fraught with danger--at least that's been my experience.
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Alton Sterling shooting: Second video emerges

Alton Sterling shooting: Second video emerges | Police Problems and Policy | Scoop.it
A video showing a deadly encounter outside a convenience store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, has sparked outrage. Police officers pin down Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old black man, then one shoots him as he lies on the ground.
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Assuming they had probable cause to detain him, it appears that he fails to follow orders....
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Hiring a diverse police force: It's easier said than done

Hiring a diverse police force: It's easier said than done | Police Problems and Policy | Scoop.it
"Why work for the MPD?" — a video by the Minneapolis Police Department
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Police detective says misleading narrative presented to grand jury in Freddie Gray case, records show

Police detective says misleading narrative presented to grand jury in Freddie Gray case, records show | Police Problems and Policy | Scoop.it
When the jurors asked questions, including whether Gray's arrest was legal, Taylor wrote that prosecutors intervened before she could give an answer that would conflict with their assessment.

The claims in her account underscore a rift between prosecutors and police that began in the spring of last year, when the two agencies worked together on parallel tracks to investigate Gray's death.
Rob Duke's insight:
Mounting evidence to support disbarment of the State Attorney....
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Muslim Cop Who Refused to Shave Wins Case Against NYPD

Muslim Cop Who Refused to Shave Wins Case Against NYPD | Police Problems and Policy | Scoop.it
The NYPD Thursday reinstated a Muslim police officer who was suspended for not shaving his beard, according to court documents filed by the city.
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Come to AK where beards are the norm even for cops...
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LAPD commander alleges retaliation after leak of agency's purchase of horse owned by chief's daughter

LAPD commander alleges retaliation after leak of agency's purchase of horse owned by chief's daughter | Police Problems and Policy | Scoop.it
lapd commander sues dept claims chief out to get him over horse purchase leak
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Time to ensure police are trained to talk first

Time to ensure police are trained to talk first | Police Problems and Policy | Scoop.it
“From the time the (police officer’s) car door opened ... it was less than eight seconds and Michael was shot twice and he never said a word to Michael and Michael never spoke,” Joanne told reporters.

Bill Yatim, Sammy’s father, said the report doesn’t give him a sense of closure or of justice.

“Not quite,” he said, but it’s a start.

“There are a lot of other things that need to change. It’s the culture that has to be changed.”

Dube’s report said cops too often use guns instead of words to calm situations where people in crisis, especially those who suffer from mental illness, are involved.

“Our investigation found that Ontario officers have plenty of training on how to use their guns, but not enough on how to use their mouths,” the report says.
Rob Duke's insight:
An ombudsman who never worked the street as a cop is not an advocate for all sides. Anyone who has worked the street as police officer would know that sometimes despite all you do, things go south quickly (not to mention that you rarely arrive on scene with all the facts--I've had the bad guy be on the other side of the street than where I was told--suddenly the guy is coming up from an unexpected area, which is pretty darn disconcerting!). Newsflash! some people want to die by the cops' hands (or guns). To teach cops to always talk first is to sacrifice cops needlessly. Teach cops to be ethical and reasonable.
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An Alternative to the Madness of Proving Police Injustice

An Alternative to the Madness of Proving Police Injustice | Police Problems and Policy | Scoop.it
The Freddie Gray trials illustrate the inability of criminal prosecutions to halt police brutality.
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Here’s a better way to punish the police: Sue them for money

Here’s a better way to punish the police: Sue them for money | Police Problems and Policy | Scoop.it
Federal law makes it more difficult to hold an officer accountable for denying constitutional rights than for injuring by negligent conduct.
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Where are the alarm bells?

Where are the alarm bells? | Police Problems and Policy | Scoop.it
My simple questions: Why are Fairbanks’ police officers currently so demoralized that they are choosing to pack up and leave city service? Where is the sense of alarm? Why is this not the leading topic of conversation amongst City Council representatives as we approach an upcoming mayoral election? The trend of active-duty, mid-career officers choosing to leave city service has been mirrored by an unprecedented wave of city department heads and staffers also choosing to leave under the current administration — six department heads at last count, along with a chief of staff, city clerk and executive assistant.
Rob Duke's insight:
It's not an easy balance to strike between a strong mayor and professional and independent police.  We went through an entire era where the Tammany Halls of the world controlled the police--and we had to have an entire Progressive Movement to stamp it out.  In this modern era of increase scrutiny of our police, how far do we intend to slide back?  The rumblings in the police business are that we are nearly there where you keep your job only if you toe the company line.  This isn't the way to control corruption!  You can't have some special interest supporting candidates and then the candidate gets to tell the entire government what to do.  It's a team sport that requires the participation of everyone from the ground up.  Even then, the public spirit can run amok and there is a place for the constraints placed on a profession by the wider civil society.  That's what we risk losing every time we slide back to rule by local politics....
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Rob Duke's curator insight, June 28, 2016 8:19 PM
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Police K-9 Fatally Shot, Man Killed in Standoff

Police K-9 Fatally Shot, Man Killed in Standoff | Police Problems and Policy | Scoop.it
A police K-9 was fatally shot and a man was killed during a standoff in Long Beach on Tuesday, police said.
Rob Duke's insight:
...but for the dog, there goes a human officer.  We owe these animals a great debt.
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