7 June 2020

Chris Dillow argues “Chris Rock is dead right” in this viral comedy clip. “Policemen are like airline pilots: being relaxed about about a few ‘bad apples’ is horribly complacent. It’s committing a basic error — the neglect of tail risk. Here, Mr Rock’s analogy with pilots is illuminating. The thing is that … the airline industry goes to great lengths to minimize tail risk: ‘When there is a crash, [black] boxes are recovered and analysed so that … the same mistake never happens again. It is this constant willingness to learn from failure that means aviation has become one of the world’s safest forms of transportation.’ Why doesn’t a similar thing happen in policing? Why do we shrug off acts of brutality as the acts of bad apples? It isn’t just because the costs of such brutality are smaller and — being borne by blacks and working class people — more tolerable. … There’s more. David Correia and Tyler Wall say: ‘Encroachment on private property is a threat to capitalist order, and it is police who manage this threat… The elite fear the destruction of their property, yes, but even more they fear the destruction of the social relations that make private property possible. And so they fear a world without police.’ They are also loath to rock the boat by rooting out bad coppers: you don’t bite the hand that feeds you. The role of the police is not merely to uphold the law, but to uphold law and order. This earns them the gratitude of the ruling class, and hence its tolerance.”