There I was, contentedly crunching through the information that Facebook’s algorithm has determined I NEED to know about when I was confronted with a short video. Norway cops vs USA cops! I watched it thinking: wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, until the conclusion, which is right!
First, the WRONG:
Point #1: Norweigan police train for 3 years, American cops train for an average of 9 weeks.
First item of note, which will reoccur often during this comparative analysis: Norway is a small, wealthy country. Norway has as many people as the San Francisco Metro area (approximately 5 million). Norway is roughly the same landmass as the Bay Area. It’s also as rich as Saudi Arabia due to its incredible oil wealth.
Similar to Saudi Arabia, a lot of that wealth gets spent on the population and government service. They can afford to stable a proto-police officer for three years until he or she is a perfectly trained law-stallion.
America doesn’t have the same amount of time or money to spend. We make do with blue mustangs and train On The Job. The San Diego Police Department estimates it takes over $150,000 to recruit, investigate, train, and supervise a would-be police officer for this short amount of time.
The initial recruitment and investigation takes six months to a year. A California academy is required to be six months. During the academy period if you fail any of the almost daily tests twice, you fail out of the program.
Finally there is a year long period in which for the first six months, the recruit is directly supervised by an experienced officer and evaluated daily. For the second six he is closely monitored by a sergeant and evaluated weekly. Throughout this year of probation, the recruit can be summarily fired as they are still essentially an at will employee.
I’ll grant it’s not three years of training, but it is closely monitored on the job training. Academy classes routinely lose 30 – 60% of their members during the initial testing period. Probationary officers are let go or resign with appalling regularity.
For those worried about this “lack of training” I have an honest question: how much do you want (as a citizen) to pay a would-be cop to sit in a classroom and run scenarios with their teachers, classmates, and paid actors. You are paying her to do it, when is enough enough? Six months? Three years? It’s your dollars in the end. I agree it’s difficult to identify the exact moment of “enough training” but realize it costs money and time.
Point #2: “if someone has a knife or gun, we bring the guns”
During the clip, a (presumably Norweigan) officer states to the camera soberly “If someone has a knife or gun, we bring the guns.” I believe the girls editors are insinuating American cops are stupidly escalating situations by bringing guns everywhere. Yes. there is a pistol on every officer’s hip, and in the car are even larger guns. The pistol is ever present,and I can also guarantee just as much as the Norweigan officer: If the suspect has a knife or gun, responding officers will bring the guns (and tasers, beanbag guns, and dogs. At least as reported by the video, I really don’t see the difference in policy. Outside of immediate self defense, the ability to use force is a tightly controlled monopoly of the state.
Point #3: no police deaths since 2006.
Firstly, this is impressive, but one should also consider the societal and cultural differences. Norway is a largely wealthy, homogenous population. This makes for a happier, more peaceable society. This is something I experience daily in my shift from Big City PD to The City PD. For a real world comparison, how often do you hear of a shooting in Los Gatos, Palo Alto, or San Rafael versus Oakland, Stockton, or Fresno. Comfortable citizens who feel sympathetic, if not proud, of the “system” really have no incentive to fight “the man.”
Also the lack of deaths attributed to policing does not mean everything is rosy at home. On 7/22/2016, a terrible incident with an active shooter occurred in Norway.
“(The Shooter) gathered the campers together and for some 90 hellish minutes he coolly and methodically shot them, hunting down those who fled. At least 85 people, some as young as 16, were killed.”
“He was equipped, the police said, with an automatic rifle and a handgun; when the police finally got to the island — about 40 minutes after they were called, the police said — (the shooter) surrendered.”
I see the cause of the permissive environment for policing to spring more from local culture, not from significantly different tactics by police.
More Wrong (or at least deceptive): 1 in 13 gun deaths by cop.
IF you get killed by a gun, there is a 7.6% chance a police officer fired the bullet. This circumstance covers active shooter scenarios, suicide by cop, and self defense. The number by itself means very little. Shame on the editors for attempting to make a number without context scream meaning.
Most Wrong: “A police officer should not be able to gun a man down for no reason.”
Not to be pithy, but a police officer ISN’T able to do this. There are specific circumstances that it is legally permissible, fall outside those regulations, and the officer goes to jail. I won’t give this more words than it needs. Thinking like this is juvenile. There are rules and consequences. Just because you might not know them does not mean they do not exist.
Conclusion: The last line shared by the video is: “Share this video if you think police need more training.”
Hey! I agree! Who would have thought, right? The baseline here is training is good, but it COSTS. More training for cops and more training for suspects leads to a more professional permissible environment. But how much is too much? You decide, it’s your money. Norway has a Sovereign Wealth fund thanks to oil reserves, American cities have property taxes.
Note for my one Norwegian reader. I have no idea how you found my blog, but appreciate the reads! This is in no way an attempt to cast aspersions on your incredibly lovely country and well structured society. This is a criticism of a short American video attempting to state “This is what American policing should do” without appropriate context and skewed supporting numbers.
If we had the same funding and peaceable society, I would happily agree. However, our cities are poorer and our society is known for its violence and adoration of weapons. Norway cops vs USA cops. Who would you rather have protect and serve you?
Am I off base on this? Let me know in the comments below!