Saturday, November 29, 2014

Where are the Cogans?

There's a book called 'Cogan's Trade' that you could read. I never have. It was adapted into a film called 'Killing Them Softly' which I have seen. This post is a question about the state of competence within the American Law Enforcement system, particularly Missouri - I don't know how the heirarchies of Police work anywhere, let alone the US.

Assume though, that somewhere between who Darren Wilson reports to when he gets back to the station, and the District Attorney for St Louis. I would have thought somebody in the Saint Louis sat down with someone else and asked 'What should we do?'

The fact is that an officer shot an unarmed man.

Mike Brown had the last day of his life, Darren Wilson had a bad day on the streets. As an individual, I don't begrudge Darren doing everything possible to avoid the worst repercussions of that day. That's his natural self-preservation. He is also the only person left alive that really knows how it all went down.

Then there's the institution of the police. Enter the relevance of Cogan.

In Killing Them Softly the Mafia faces a similar aftermath decision process, the premises is thus taken from Wikipedia's page:

Markie Trattman (Ray Liotta), the proprietor of a poker ring, is revealed to have previously orchestrated an inside job by paying two men to rob his own illegal poker room. He holds up under rough questioning by the hitman Dillon (Sam Shepard); though later he openly admits his involvement to various criminal figures and suffers no retaliation. Squirrel anticipates that the Mafia will automatically blame Markie for the heist.

Cogan is a hitman brought in to basically deal with the aftermath of the robbery. A driver acts as emissary to the unseen Mafia decision makers. Cogan gives this driver advice.

Cogan's view is that Markie Trattman isn't dumb enough to rob his own game twice. He extends Trattman charitably that he thinks he is innocent. But this 'doesn't make a lick of difference' Cogan recommends that Trattman is whacked as a matter of course.

In the space where I can entertain operating in organised crime, I agree with Cogan. Trattman is simply unfortunate, it is not in this case a question of his guilt or innocence, but of broader perceptions. Perceptions that impact on the Mafia's ability to operate.

The difference between the Mafia and Law Enforcement institutions, is that recognizing the misfortune of Trattman involves killing him off. Recognizing the misfortune of Darren Wilson simply involved having him endure the most open and transparent trial process possible.

But where is the Cogan advising the Police Brass? Who is pointing out that every effort the Police make to help their unfortunate officer (he was unfortunate to have fucked up in this case) helps not just condemn Darren, but also themselves.

I can only think of two things the Saint Louis' Police conduct can suggest about this incident.

1) the obvious, is that it suggests that Darren is guilty.

2) the Police are weighing up two unpleasant repurcussions of their handling of this case and choosing the 'lesser evil'. Which is to say, the damage done to their ability to operate as law enforcement is less if the community of Saint Louis (and nationwide) believe the police are corrupt, racist and complicit in a miscarriage of justice, than if the existent members of the police force were to see the Police not protecting one of their own by obstructing the course of justice.

It's the second one that suggests that Cogan is sitting in a car with an emissary of the top brass explaining that Darren Wilson needs to be thrown under the bus and prosecuted as ruthlessly and as transparently as possible, and probably removed from ever facing the possibility of acting as a law enforcement officer in the African-American community ever again.

And the driver is turning to Cogan and saying, we can't do that, because the majority of the police force identify with Darren Wilson, and if we throw him under the bus they'll think we'll do it to them too.

I got told that in Australia at least, if you are driving a car and you kill someone with it, you will be charged and tried for 'culpable driving' not 'manslaughter' or 'murder' the reason being, jury's identify too strongly with drivers, they will always acquit somebody of manslaughter or murder if they were just driving to the store to get milk, but they can convict somebody of culpable driving.

What I don't like about the police anywhere ignoring a Cogan who thinks of the big picture when dispensing advice, is that it says the culture that produced Darren Wilson identifies with seeing an unarmed black teenager as a threat you can unload your gun into.

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