Masculinity And Policing, Breaking News About One of Our Oldest Ancestors Died, Wisconsin Veterans Care Investigation

Air Date:
Heard On Central Time

In the wake of several high profile police-involved shootings, many have raised concerns about the culture of law enforcement. Our guest thinks there is a problem with masculinity in police departments. We also discuss recent advancements in paleopathology, and learn about allegations of neglect at one Wisconsin veterans home.

Featured in this Show

  • Investigation Finds Neglect, Poor Conditions At Wisconsin Veterans Care Facility

    An investigation into the Wisconsin Veterans Home at King in Central Wisconsin finds numerous allegations of neglect, poor conditions, and more…all while surplus money being made there is transferred away. The reporter behind the investigation shares the details.

  • Researchers Now Know How One Of Our Oldest Ancestors Died

    On Monday morning, researchers announced they now know the cause of death of Lucy, one of our distant ancestors. Lucy’s over three-million-year-old remains were found in Ethiopia in 1974, at the time the oldest hominin fossil ever found. We talk to Gemma Tarlach from Discover Magazine about this and other paleopathology news.

  • Does Police Culture In America Have A Masculinity Problem?

    Criticism of police in America seems to have reached a critical mass in recent months, following the deaths of several African-American men at the hands of police, including Philandro Castile of Falcon Heights, Minnesota and Alton Sterling of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. While the recent controversies over policing have often been pinned on racial bias…there may be more at play, says one law professor, including the idea of gender and masculinity…and that a hyper-masculine police culture may be exacerbating the more commonly noticed problem of racial profiling.

  • Law Professor Advocates For Law Enforcement Training To Include De-Escalation Techniques

    A criminal law professor is calling on law enforcement departments across the country to change officer training to focus more on de-escalation techniques and understanding the hyper-masculinity the professor says is often present in the policing culture.

    While the recent controversies over policing have often been pinned on racial bias, Frank Rudy Cooper, a law professor at Suffolk University in Boston, believes there may be more at play.

    “I think police offices have long had a tendency to racial profile, and that’s been documented in New York City and many other places,” Cooper said. “But I think that tendency to racial profile is aggravated by (a) simultaneous tendency towards machismo.”

    Masculinity is leading law enforcement, both male and female, to act in an aggressive way when confronting suspects and civilians, Cooper said. Part of the issue is where law enforcement academies are doing their recruiting, Cooper said.

    “In police culture we know that we pull police officers from parts of our culture that are more masculine, or certainly more aggressive than other parts of our culture, like the military,” he said. “That’s great, in certain ways. We do want to prioritize people who have served our country. But that is a culture that is more aggressive, and if that’s brought into the police culture, you’re going to see a police culture that’s more aggressive than the rest of our culture is.”

    The confrontations between law enforcement and civilians, particularly African-Americans, may quickly escalate as both parties fail to show respect for the other, Cooper said. It’s important for law enforcement officials to maintain control of situations when disrespected, he said. However, that need too often leads some police officers to have a quick trigger. He hopes officers will be able to de-escalate confrontations with a tool they won’t find around their belt.

    “Verbal-judo is that you train the police officer to sort of spar with the suspect verbally. So the suspect is some young kid who’s in front of his or her friends and wants to mouth off to the cop. The cop could sort of jaw back at the civilian, but in a way that takes the situation down,” Cooper said, adding that he wasn’t necessarily advocating for that exact method, but perhaps one similar.

    Cooper said he doesn’t believe both parties are always equally to blame when things go wrong. While it takes two to tango, police officers are leading the dance and hold more of the power in their hands.

    “Police officers are sworn to protect and given the power to kill people, and they need to be more responsible than the typical civilian,” Cooper said. “I expect them to have a higher threshold for their temper. I expect them to be better behaved than I am. That’s what they’re paid for.

Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Veronica Rueckert Host
  • Chris Malina Producer
  • Amanda Magnus Producer
  • Katelyn Ferral Guest
  • Gemma Tarlach Guest
  • Frank Rudy Cooper Guest

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