Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Violence In The USA

  1. Apr 5, 2008 #1
    What level of violence is acceptable in our society. It appears that we indeed have become desensitized to rising levels of violence and aggressive behavior.

    I posted earlier this week about the group of third graders who were plotting to kill their teacher. There were no replies.

    Today I learned of another event that I found to be disturbing.

    My son's fiance. Nicola, moved here a six months ago from Northern England. She is a U.S. citizen as her father was career American Air Force. Due to his failing health she came here primarily to help her father.

    She soon found that finding a job was a necessary. She went to work at a new car dealership. I teased her a bit about selling Volkswagens with her almost Scottish accent.

    During her first week on the job she was out on a test drive with a customer. The potential buyer quite apparently violated the speed limit and was pulled over by a Tucson Police Department officer.

    Nicola got out of the passenger side of the car and started walking towards the officer. She had gotten out the words: "I am so sorry to have troubled you" just before the policeman pulled his Glock 9mm and pointed it directly at her head and started screaming: "Get Back in the car, Get back in the car."

    She was terrified, she had never even seen a hand gun before. Police in many areas of England apparently still do not carry weapons. She had to miss several days of work after this event. It was only recently that she finally talked about the incident.

    We have gotten to the point where a young woman dressed in business attire and emerging from a new vehicle with a dealer plate on it is seen as an immediate threat.

    This has come upon us very gradually. I hate to see this type of reaction by police, yet they say it is forced on them by the criminal element. Last year an officer shot an innocent passenger in a car because the man flipped open his cell phone to make a call.

    Nicola can see no rational reason for this type of behavior.

    Just at what point did we totally lose it? What does the future hold in store for us?

    Just venting, edward
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 5, 2008 #2
    1) The third graders plotting a murder was an exaggeration blown out of proportion. Several (at least one that I read) psychologists said there's no way they would have gone through with it.

    2) She came to this country without knowing how to follow the law and procedures properly. That's okay, it happens. Nobody studies from a handbook before they go some place. But from the cop's point of view it was just as surprising to have someone come out of the car during a regular traffic violation. Usually people stay put. Only people who want trouble get out of the car. Moreover, a business suit was supposed to mean she was harmless? Ever hear of the mafia?

    3) You are completely ignorant of history if you think we are getting more violent.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  4. Apr 5, 2008 #3

    I'm sorry that happened to her. It must have been quite traumatic. Unfortunately the circumstance dictated a more than casual response.

    The car was new

    It had dealer plates

    The driver was speeding

    There was more than one person in the car

    From what I've read it fits the criteria of a car jacking or vehicle theft. If he didn't, he should have explained to her why he acted in such a manner after the fact. It probably wouldn't have made the experience any less stressful, though.

    Not to stray too far of the subject.... from what little I know of such things, if the officer was alone in his vehicle he should have called for backup before attempting the stop. That alone makes me think he either lacked good judgment or training if the circumstance is as you've relayed it.

    Far Star
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2008
  5. Apr 5, 2008 #4
    I'm very sorry she had to experience that. Her actions must of alarmed the police, for them to have pulled a gun. Our police force faces crazy men and woman everyday, and I completely understand the "Stay in the car and keep your hands visible" unwritten rules.
    Yes the USA is not North England, someone really should of told her what to do when your pulled over, long befor it happened.
  6. Apr 5, 2008 #5
    I've never heard of anyone being able to get out of a car and walk toward the police when being pulled over. I'd be afraid of getting one of those big flashlights smashed across the back of my head.
  7. Apr 5, 2008 #6


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I'm sorry about your son's fiance's misfortune, Edward.

    While the 'murder' motive is an exaggeration, the plot was not. The plot was to assault the teacher, even stab her, in retaliation for disciplining one of the students. According to accounts, the student planned to bludgeon the teacher, rendering her unconcious, then tie her up and stab her. She very well could have been killed!

    Umm, how many people here know what to do when pulled over by a police officer? It used to be that they would ask the driver to get out, but now apparently the procedure is to have the driver (and passengers) to remain in the car. And don't make sudden movements. Police officers are under a lot of stress, since they people (members of the public) they encounter are strangers, and once in a while someone will assault an officer.

    Violence and crime fluctuates, and there seems to be a steady or persistent level.
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2008
  8. Apr 5, 2008 #7


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Do you have evidence of these "rising levels of violence"? AFAIK, violent crime rates are far lower today than 10 or 20 years ago.
    She needs to learn, then. She needs to follow directions. There is no mystery here.
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2008
  9. Apr 5, 2008 #8


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Read some of the more recent articles on it, you've missed Poop-Loop's point: experts are saying the plot just plain wasn't real.

    Comcast seems to be experiencing some sort of outage right now, or I'd give you a link - PF is the only one of my regular websites I can access!
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2008
  10. Apr 5, 2008 #9
    If violent crimes are so much lower, why have police changed the tactics they use during a normal traffic stops?:rolleyes: Off hand my evidence is 67 years worth of observation. The officer's actions would have been unthinkable 20 years ago.

    I would say she learned the hard way. She had only recently arrived here from England. Follow what directions? The officer was just getting out of his car. She did what was perfectly normal from her background and viewpoint.

    Police in the area where she had previously lived only carried night sticks.
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2008
  11. Apr 5, 2008 #10
    The new car had a magnetic dealer plate on the trunk. There was no plate in the normal liscense plate attachment point. New cars taken for a test drive typically have a magnetic plate and two people in the car. The only issue here was speeding.
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2008
  12. Apr 5, 2008 #11
    Earlier I stated that it appears that over time people have become desensitized to violence. Some of the replies here seem to prove my point.
  13. Apr 5, 2008 #12


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Heck i am glad i do not live there, i would be shot to death in no time, our cops are just fine collectors and pansies.
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2008
  14. Apr 5, 2008 #13
    Last year, a state trooper was killed here in that kind of stop. The passenger came out and shot him. So, not long ago in another stop, I heard a police officer explain pulling his weapon by saying, "I didn't know what he was planning on doing, but I was planning on going home after my shift." You need to know to stay in the car and place your hands in clear sight when stopped.
  15. Apr 5, 2008 #14


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Experts dubious of Ga. 3rd-grader plot
    Certainly some experts doubt the plot, while officials involved are concerned based on evidence. Like the plot would have failed, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it would not have been attempted.

    Based on personal experience, it is possible that the kids might have attempted it. If one looks at child-upon-child violence, then it's conceivable. On the other hand, the anger might have subsided, and anyway, children are usually too concerned about punishment to attempt an assault on an adult - but it does happen.

    We had some situations locally, but the events are kept out of the public eye and media, and are handled within the school itself or possibly within the school district administration depending on severity. Elementary school kids, especially those from troubled families, can and do act out violently.
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2008
  16. Apr 5, 2008 #15


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I didn't see your post about it here, but probably wouldn't have bothered discussing it much anyway...I've just already heard too much about it to want to talk about it more. Most of the follow-up stories I read on it sounded like only one or two of the older kids in the group (by their ages, they should have been fifth graders already) were plotting anything, and the rest of the kids thought they were playing a pretend game (for example, one kid in the group was described by police as commenting that he was supposed to bring in a toy gun, but didn't because he thought he'd get in trouble if he did...does that sound like a criminal to you? It sounds like a kid with a proper sense of right and wrong who when put under peer pressure to bring in a toy gun chose not to do so.)

    Why did she get out of the car in the first place? Someone needs to explain to her the procedure for traffic stops in the US...she better get the driving manual from the DMV and actually study it (what other laws of the road are different in the US than UK that she's neglecting to follow?) You NEVER get out of the car unless instructed to do so. Didn't she notice that the driver was staying put? Police have a dangerous enough job during traffic stops without having the added worry of a passenger getting out and coming toward them when they don't know why.
  17. Apr 5, 2008 #16
    She got out of the car because it was not an unusual thing to do as per her experience in England. She also felt a responsibility to act in a manner that had been instilled by her employer. She had been instructed to be courteous and helpful in any traffic matter.

    The Arizona DMV manual printed in both Spanish and English does not contain any information regarding proper protocol during traffic stops. There is no law of the road regarding this matter.

    The section in bold in your quote is just plain mean spirited and unnecessary. You are making an inference relative to a matter you know nothing about.

    Perhaps the DMV should print a welcome to America version. The dam illegals usually get out and run like hell because that is what they do in Mexico.

    My point in the OP was that this type of police action during routine traffic stops has not always been the norm and that we have gradually accepted it to be normal in a supposedly advanced society.

    Some how this has gone off on a blame placing tangent.
  18. Apr 5, 2008 #17


    User Avatar

    I don't see violence here, I merely see preparation to use violence. There's nothing wrong with that.

    When a police officer pulls you over, you are under suspicion of something. When you get out the car and start running towards him and yelling, no matter how you look, that makes the officer feel like he may be in danger. There is no legally defined way to proceed with yourself if you get pulled over, but sensibly I still believe that sitting in the car and being calm is a good way.
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2008
  19. Apr 5, 2008 #18
    I'd rather live in the US than Haiti. Mind you I'd rather live in France than DC as well. :smile: Americans don't have more violent crime than the UK, what they do have is more violent crime that is likely to leave you dead. In Hampshire last year 5 people were murdered, population about 10 million. In Washington DC 500 people were murdered. And lets bear in mind the majority of Hampshire's population is concentrated in large cities such as Portsmouth, Southampton, Winchester and Chichester. Americas level of gun crime is actually quite scary I think. Well at least to someone who's never seen a gun let alone heard a gun shot, or seen a GSW.
  20. Apr 5, 2008 #19

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor
    2015 Award

    I took driver's ed in the US almost 30 years ago. Back then we were told to stay in the car and to do otherwise would probably be interpreted as threatening by the officer who pulled you over. So while it may not have always been the norm, it has for maybe 1/3 of the time we have had cars.
  21. Apr 5, 2008 #20

    Oh for gods sake this is getting to be ridiculous. Nicola did not run at the officer she walked empty handed. She did not scream at him, he screamed at her. He drew his Glock and pointed it at her head.
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2008
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?

Similar Discussions: Violence In The USA
  1. Violence - a discussion (Replies: 23)

  2. Usa! Usa! Usa! (Replies: 17)

  3. Violence or Nonviolence (Replies: 21)