What Police Officers Are Saying About Eric Garner When They Think No One's Listening

On Wednesday, a grand jury in Staten Island, New York, decided not to file charges against the New York Police Department officer accused of killing Eric Garner, a 43-year-old black man caught selling loose cigarettes on a sidewalk whose death was caught on camera. Thousands of New Yorkers stormed the streets to protest the decision, and the mayor struck a deeply sympathetic tone for Garner and his family in a response speech. The non-indictment has added yet another dose of fuel to a national firestorm around racial trends in police brutality across the United States.

One under-explored element of the debate has been how ordinary police officers are perceiving the public's battle over their practices. PoliceOne.com, an online hub that bills itself as the "No. 1 Resource for Cops," provides some interesting insight into their dissatisfaction with popular media narratives.

Users on the site are anonymous, and therefore their status as police officers can't be independently verified. But Police One does require users to verify their status as law enforcement professionals before being allowed to comment. Mic requested clarification from Police One about how it verifies users, but received no response. The site previously gained attention for the community's reaction to the death of Garner in July.

Many of the comments on Police One's post of an article about the Garner decision are disturbing. They range from wrathfully racist denunciations of Garner to technical complaints about misappraisals of the maneuver used to subdue him (most argue that "choke hold" isn't an accurate term to describe how Garner was taken down). Other users offer sighs of resignation that the public will never understand what it's like to be in their shoes.

While the website's commenters are just a partial reflection of the large and diverse law enforcement community, they do provide a useful window into the thought process of some officers who feel vilified for doing what they've been trained to do. Here's a sample of what they're saying. Some of the comments below are excerpted but none of them are modified. Sic throughout:

DPSCanton:

Most officers don't live in the neighborhood they patrol in, so if the citizens don't care about the neighborhod, why should the police? Answer calls, take reports, TAKE YOUR PAYCHECK and go home. Don't be proactive, let the neighborhood destroy itself. It's not worth our lives or our career. If people want to live among criminals, thats their choice. I hope all the businesses that burned in Ferguson relocate and do not open shop in that town again. Police can't serve people who cant serve and take care of themselves, their neighborhoods, so don't even try.

BRONXGHETTOCOP

THE MAYOR HIMSELF IS A COP HATING LIBERAL JACK@$$ WHO COWERS TO LOOSER SHARPTON AND CERTAIN MINORITY GROUPS WHILE THROWING HIS COPS UNDER A BUS!!VERY NICE MR MAYOR!!

rbpd1176:

Back in the early 80's we learned of positional asphyxiation. Nothing like a dead duster hog tied face down in the back seat when you get to the station of MLK to make for a long shift. 

SAPDMAS:

People are sick and tired of thugs. Certain people better wake the hell up and stop supporting the thugs. 2 years 1 month before the head thug gets thrown out and hopefully a real POTUS gets elected.

 haziz:

President just does NOT understand - it is NOT police who need modify or change their approach to public encounters with blacks, BUT blacks who must not turn almost every encounter with police into a racial incident. 

JackC:

The liberal progressives in this country elected to office did so by catering to the anti-police and siding with them. So with that said you cannot expect any understanding of police tactics to keep the officer safe. They are not realists. 

Jevoc:

I am an asthmatic and am also overweight. I have watched the video several times. It appears that through the exertion, fear and stress of the incident caused by the suspect, he simply had an asthma attack from which he was unable to recover. The hold the officer used which momentarily appeared (stressing the word "appeared") to choke the suspect would not have caused permanent injury, nor did it contribute to the immediate death. Every member of our society needs educated on their rights and the authority of the police to serve, protect and arrest. One major problem is that courses that taught this material such as civics to include citizenship have been deleted from most if not all High School and college curricula. The immediate controversy will eventually cool. Please continue showing morality, integrity and courage! We are judged by our actions in adversity and turmoil. Stand strong with heads high Brothers and Sisters!!! Be safe!!

VON1: 

Ok ladies and gentleman we all agree this a good day for cops in use of force incidents. 

SURVIVAL:

What choke hold? You mean the attempted "Carotid Restraint Hold" that lasted for several seconds on "Fatso" the walking heart attack? He killed himself by getting so worked up over refusing to follow simple and lawful commands. Shame on NYPD for prohibiting such an effective control hold in the first place. The carotid has saved many of my arrestees and me further injury plenty of times. 

rick445:

Okay this is bad, right. People are protesting the POLICE and honoring CRIMINALS. And now for the multiplier: "Federal Authorities will conduct their own investigation." i.e. the first one was somehow flawed. ERIC HOLDER you are HELPING tear this country apart and attempting to tarnish my profession. Look in the mirror, do the right thing and RESIGN NOW! President Obama, if he does not do the right thing, do it for him.

rbpd1176:

Damn glad I'm retired.

h/t Ryan Reilly