Factors in excessive police force, with police captain James Mitchell (part 1)

First of two talks with James Mitchell (here’s second episode), a retired police captain who worked in Prince George’s County, Maryland. We talk about the United States problem of police brutality and excessive use of force, with the goal of understanding some of the factors that can lead to unjustified and too aggressive police responses. Topics discussed include: what he would do if he were put in charge of a federal department charged with solving this issue; the wisdom of “abolish the police” and “defund the police”-type slogans and thoughts; George Floyd’s death and how Chauvin and his fellow cops handled that; 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: