Talking about police violence with a liberal police captain (part 1)

First of two talks with James Mitchell, a retired police captain who worked in Prince George’s County, Maryland, and who happens to be politically liberal. We talk about excessive force by police in the United States, with the goal of understanding some of the factors that can lead to unjustified and too-aggressive police responses. (Here’s part 2.)

Topics discussed include: what he would do if he were put in charge of a federal department given the task of solving this issue; the wisdom of “abolish the police” and “defund the police”-type slogans and beliefs; George Floyd’s death and how Chauvin and his fellow cops handled that situation; how our mental health issues relate to police violence issues; how cops can escalate a situation whether they mean to or not, and more (below).

Podcast links:

Other topics discussed include:

  • The problems that cops solve and why there is a demand for them to solve those problems.
  • The reasons behind “qualified immunity.”
  • The adversarial relationship that some police departments have with communities.
  • How some cops are uncomfortable and inflexible, and how this can lead to them escalating things.
  • The reasons James retired, which include anti-cop sentiment and decreases in protections for cops.
  • The mental health issues cops themselves face.

Related resources: