Samuel DuBose died from a gunshot to the head at point-blank range, but the real victim in the Cincinnati shooting is the shooter – campus police officer Ray Tensing. Thus asserts nationally known “criminal profiler” Pat Brown, offering an assessment that is shared by people across the United States whose contributions made it possible for the accused murderer to pay his $100,000 bail bond. Brown, who provides training for police and prosecutors, is an all-but-inescapable presence on crime-related cable TV programs.
“Here we go again,” complained Brown in an essay published after Hamilton County prosecutor Joe Deters announced the indictment. “A young white police officer, Ray Tensing, is charged with murder, for just attempting to do his job. What did he do wrong? Well, discharging his weapon when the citizen he stopped was attempting to flee; he panicked when he thought he was being dragged with the car.”
Unlike Deters, who described the “purposeful killing” of DuBose as “senseless,” “totally unwarranted,” and “the most asinine act I’ve ever seen a police officer make,” Brown assumes that the use of lethal force was self-evidently appropriate based on the respective identities of the killer and his victim.
“The citizen, Samuel DuBose, a black male, had been arrested and charged seventy-five times in the last twenty years,” Brown recites. “He is a lawbreaker, a drug user, a drug dealer, an irresponsible man who fathered 13 or more children with various women, none of which he married.” Tensing, by way of contrast, was a “young officer [with] a stellar record and was polite when he approached the car…. I feel damned sorry for Tensing because he may pay with his life for an accidental shooting provoked by the deceased.”
Brown applies the familiar formula followed by police apologists in cases of this kind, dismissing the indictment as “garbage” and assails Deters – whose record betrays not a hint of sympathy for street criminals – as “a very politically motivated prosecutor.” She ends her jeremiad by condemning “ungrateful” citizens who treat police as publicly accountable officials whose actions should be viewed skeptically, rather than as quasi-divine beings who must be trusted implicitly:
“I am at the point where I don’t even think I can recommend anyone join the police force. It is one thing to put your life on the line against criminals FOR the community, but to put your life on the line for ungrateful citizens is another. When we end up with the criminals running totally amok in our communities, we only have ourselves to blame for situation.”
Brown’s lament is a riff on Kipling’s famous reproach against those who can be found “making mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep.” As someone who studies the pathology of criminal violence – and who has actually acknowledged that those who wear government-issued uniforms exhibit many of the same traits as terrorists and serial killers – Brown should understand that people in ever-increasing numbers find the thought of being “guarded” by such pathologically violent people enough to banish sleep permanently.
“Everyone can recognize one, right?” begins an essay entitled “How to Profile a Terrorist,” prominently displayed on the website of the Pat Brown Criminal Profiling Agency. “He is the man who is fighting for a cause; the man who will go where his leader sends him; a man who will kill for an ideal; a man who will die for that ideal.”
Yet this description “is not that of a terrorist… [but] that of a soldier,” she continues. “Every war that America has fought has involved men of just this profile. Young men, donning army uniforms, leaving their loved ones far behind, to do service to their leader, to kill in the name of freedom, to be willing to die for the country they love. We cheer these men and call them heroes. Put an Arab face on the men and we call them terrorists. Why? Because we are the targets and the battle is fought on our ground and in sneak attacks that have caught us sleeping.”
This invocation of the omnipresent and implacable terrorist threat was intended to summon memories of 9/11, but this theme has been woven into police propaganda since the late 19th century.
In Anarchy and Anarchists: A History of the Red Terror, an overwrought “expose” of the 1886 Haymarket Riot in Chicago Police Captain Michael J. Shaack depicted the police as stalwart defenders of decency against a surging tide of terrorist violence engineered by devious foreign enemies. Shaack and his colleagues, he wrote, “are bound by our oaths and by our loyalty to the State and to society to meet force with force, and cunning with cunning… We have a government worth fighting for, and even worth dying for….”
Shaack’s melodramatic and largely ghostwritten account detailed claims made by Inspector John “Black Jack” Bonfield, who in defiance of orders from his superiors led a large contingent of police to break up what had been a peaceful demonstration by left-leaning activists in Haymarket Square. Shortly after Bonfield ordered the protesters to disperse, a dynamite bomb was hurled into square. Eight police officers and an unknown number of protesters were killed as a result of the explosion and ensuing violence.
Bonfield had earned a reputation for brutality during a previous incident in which he led a phalanx of police officers who broke up a transit strike. Scores of strikers, including a 70-year-old man, were beaten by Bonfield’s billy club-wielding troops. The Inspector was a pioneer of the modern doctrine of “pain compliance.”
“A club today to make them scatter may save the use of a pistol tomorrow,” Bonfield gloatingly explained in the wake of the transit strike. Following the bloody Haymarket episode, Bonfield – with the help of Shaack – filed numerous cases against suspected “Reds” and “anarchists,” most of which relied on perjury by police and informants, and jury-rigging by the prosecutor.
Shaack’s book was published at about the same time he was dismissed from the police force after being charged with manufacturing evidence in the Haymarket trial. Bonfield was forced to resign shortly thereafter amid accusations of corruption and collusion with thieves. He remained an immensely popular figure among “law and order” conservatives of his era, who perceived him as a victim of perfidious politicians and “ungrateful” citizens whose foolishness abets the enemy in the “war on crime.” This continues to be the template for every public defense of a police officer whose career is tragically ruined when he kills or mutilates a citizen without justification.