Vallejo cops celebrated killings with BBQs and bent badges

Cops in Vallejo, California, involved in officer-involved shootings were initiated into a secret clique whose members celebrated the killings with backyard barbecues and by bending the tips of their star-shaped badges, a practice similar to notching a gun stock, according to a 19-year veteran of the department. (Read this story here.)

The revelation comes at a time of nationwide protests against police killings of black people.

The Vallejo Police Department had already been under fire for fatal police shootings. In September 2019, the Guardian newspaper called the department “out of control.” (Read that story here.) Vallejo replaced its police chief with an African-American last November, and suspended the leader of its police union last week for allegedly destroying evidence in a police shooting case. (Read that story here.) In 2015, Vallejo police officers came under fire for labeling an actual kidnapping as a “hoax” orchestrated by the victim’s boyfriend, complicating prosecutors’ efforts to charge the perpetrators. (Read that story here.)

Comment: Cops are human, and we shouldn’t put them on a pedestal just because they’re cops. But police work is a vital function of society, and I can’t visualize social services workers keeping us safe from crime. We need better cops, not no cops. W need to give them the resources to hire the right people, train them properly, and adequately supervise them. We can’t let police unions veto discipline. We must demand a high degree of professionalism, get rid of racist cops and violent cops, and reform toxic police cultures. Educational standards should be raised; today, in many communities, a person can become a police officer with less formal training and credentials than required to be a barber or cosmetologist. That needs to change. It’s evident that some people who shouldn’t be police officers are, and toxic cultures exist in some of America’s 18,000+ police agencies. In the words of Vallejo’s new police chief, American policing needs a “rebirth.” (Read that story here.)

Photo: “Today is a day of rebirth,” Vallejo’s new chief said when he was sworn in.

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