Blue on Blue

This is amusing:

An internal investigation has been launched at the Detroit Police Department after two different precincts got into a turf war as they converged on an east side neighborhood.

Sources say it started when two special ops officers from the 12th Precinct were operating a “push off” on Andover near Seven Mile. That is when two undercover officers pretend to be dope dealers, waiting for eager customers to approach, and then arrest potential buyers and seize their vehicles.

But this time, instead of customers, special ops officers from the 11th Precinct showed up. Not realizing they were fellow officers, they ordered the other undercover officers to the ground.

FOX 2 is told the rest of the special ops team from the 12th Precinct showed up, and officers began raiding a house in the 19300 block of Andover. But instead of fighting crime, officers from both precincts began fighting with each other.

Sources say guns were drawn and punches were thrown while the homeowner stood and watched.

The first question asked by the investigation team ought to be why are police posing as drug dealers? If they have resources to spare capturing people who show an interest in buying dope, Detroit must be in much better shape than I thought. Or is this just an easy way to get arrest numbers and conviction rates up, rather than catching those who have made Detroit the city with the second highest murder rate in America?

Anyway, this reminded me of a story I heard about when I was in Lagos. All expats working in my company were issued with an emergency radio thing, a bit like a walkie-talkie but also with a GPS tracker and a panic button. On this device we’d receive regular text messages warning us of any incidents we ought to avoid, and one day we were notified of a shoot-out at a crossroads near a supermarket popular with expats. The next day I got more details from someone who worked in security.

Apparently the army was doing something – marching, protesting, who knows what? – and had blocked a road. A well-to-do woman in a fancy car decided she wasn’t making a detour and ignored the road block. This enraged one of the army officers who stopped the car, dragged her out by the hair, and pistol-whipped her. Only it turned out her father was an admiral in the Nigerian navy and when she called daddy he dispatched a unit of marines to the scene. From there the whole thing escalated into a shooting match between the Nigerian army and navy, right there in the middle of Lagos. Apparently there were casualties, but as is always the case with these things you’ll never get the full story.

A lot of people make the mistake of thinking Africa is like Europe only less developed and poorer. It isn’t. Africa is…well, different. I expect Detroit is, too.

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20 thoughts on “Blue on Blue

  1. I suppose if you nick people who buy drugs you may be able to lean on them to narc on real dealers. Though whether folk who fall for cops posing as dealers would know any serious players is open for debate.

  2. Looks very much like bent cop on bent cop here.

    And yes the US Cops are very big on entrapment, which is not legal in most Western nations. I think there may be a defense in some parts of the US is you are in doubt you ask your prospective customer first, your not a cop are you? if they are and they don’t say so, they cant arrest you.

  3. I suppose if you nick people who buy drugs you may be able to lean on them to narc on real dealers.

    Yeah, so they’re basically clobbering people who should be left alone because it makes their job easier.

  4. And yes the US Cops are very big on entrapment, which is not legal in most Western nations.

    Indeed, and it’s an absolute travesty.

  5. “Sources say guns were drawn and punches were thrown while the homeowner stood and watched.”

    “Now if you’ll excuse me, officers, I’ve got some packages I need to flush down the toilet. Let me know who’s going to arrest me when you’re done…”

  6. Nigeria has a navy..?

    Oh my dear, sweet, innocent child: Nigeria has a space programme.

    I read a quote in a book from an American businessman who had to deal with the Nigerian navy in relation to the theft of oil from the Niger Delta. He found out it was they who were doing most of the thieving. He said they were not a navy in any meaningful sense, but more like a criminal gang with uniforms.

  7. On on my phone so research is difficult but i think the key here is confiscating cars. In a lot of States the police get to keep a large part of the confiscated wealth for their budgets which gives them a huge incentive to concentrate on crimes that allow confiscation.

    I’ll bet that’s the case in Detroit.

  8. In a lot of States the police get to keep a large part of the confiscated wealth for their budgets which gives them a huge incentive to concentrate on crimes that allow confiscation.

    Yup, asset forfeiture – using fair means or foul – is pretty much how a lot of American police forces fund themselves. Quite similar to how they get by in Nigeria too, now I think about it.

  9. Read an interesting economics paper a while back from a rational crime / rational addiction model POV which concluded it was actually more efficient to target the users than the dealers; think the model suggested that dealers would quit if you shrink the market, whereas going after dealers can keep dealing profitable hence attract new dealers. Can’t find it off-hand though.

  10. MBE,

    This makes sense and I have no doubt it is true. At the same time, I am completely convinced that is not why the Detroit police were nabbing dope users.

  11. It’s a pity that the expression “Fred Karno’s Army” has died: it describes many police forces quite well.

  12. Ah yes, The Nigerian Navy “The reason that we can’t find the missing man is because he was wearing very heavy shoes and body armour and therefore has sunk into the river mud never to be seen again and was in no way part of a ghost worker scam that we’ve clearly just been rumbled upon by our own incompetence in driving a boat.”

  13. The Viennese police are renowned for their stupidity. Usually its just day to day dumbness: nicking people for wearing a scarf too high on a cold day, because one is not allowed to cover the face in public; fining people for not having a motorway toll sticker when in the 1st District, that kind of thing.

    About 25 years ago, I was watching the evening news and the presenter trying not to laugh described a “Panzerangriff” in the Viennese south of the city. Apparently a young soldier had split up with his girlfriend, got drunk and stole a Leopard tank from his garrison, proceeding to drive it around the streets.
    The rozzers, at a loss to how to stop the vehicle, opened up on it with sub machine guns. Of course the bullets just bounced off the tank and wrecked a whole street of cars. The tank stuck under a railway bridge and they nicked the soldier.

  14. @My Burning ears. I agree that is it better to target users, rather then the dealers.

    Suppose you were a dealer supplying 100 addicts with their daily fix. You get caught and jailed. There are still 100 addicts wanting their drugs so another, smarter drug dealer emerges. He in turn gets nicked so rinse and repeat.

    All you are doing by way of Darwinian selection is breeding a more intelligent, better organised and more ruthless dealer and after enough iterations, one who is untouchable.

    if you lock up the addicts and make sure that the regime is something that they don’t want to repeat, then as anyone with enough intelligence to figure out supply and demand will tell you, the dealers will stop supplying drugs as there is no market. However, with the impotency of the judiciary who won’t punish any sort of crime (other than depriving the Government of revenue) then this is wishful thinking only.

  15. if you lock up the addicts

    Tricky; in the US there are around 7m people with a drug problem, more than three times the current prison population. And that’s just people with a habit. Not recreational users.

    The war on drugs is a total failure. Everywhere*. Legalisation, regulation and taxation is the only solution.

    *it’s not hard to get drugs in Singapore for example

  16. “The reason that we can’t find the missing man is because he was wearing very heavy shoes and body armour and therefore has sunk into the river mud never to be seen again and was in no way part of a ghost worker scam that we’ve clearly just been rumbled upon by our own incompetence in driving a boat.”

    Hehehehehehe! Ah, happy memories!

  17. About 25 years ago, I was watching the evening news and the presenter trying not to laugh described a “Panzerangriff” in the Viennese south of the city. Apparently a young soldier had split up with his girlfriend, got drunk and stole a Leopard tank from his garrison, proceeding to drive it around the streets.

    Awesome! 😀

  18. @MC

    I did think myself that the practical difficulties (let alone utter illiberality) of nicking and criminalizing that many people were underplayed in the rather simple model. But it did suggest if you want a War on Drugs, that the current methodology is a crappy way of waging it.

  19. And yes the US Cops are very big on entrapment, which is not legal in most Western nations.

    First of all, posing as a drug dealer isn’t entrapment, and every Western nation’ police forces does that. The police in general in the US have a nationwide corruption problem, but they’re more subtle than that.

    I think there may be a defense in some parts of the US is you are in doubt you ask your prospective customer first, your not a cop are you? if they are and they don’t say so, they cant arrest you.

    No. This is a complete myth.

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