Briefing on a need-to-know basis

In November 2017, officers of the 11th precinct were preparing for a drug raid.

They had information that there were two suspicious men selling drugs, in front of a house in Detroit.

They’d just been told that a lot of big, tough, armed men had gone into the house.

So the house was obviously a drug den and they needed to bust it.

So the officers were hyped up when they saw the two men selling drugs in the street.

They approached the men.

They yelled: "Police, you’re under arrest".

The men yelled back: "Get the fuck outta here, you’ll ruin everything."

The police yelled: "Get on the ground motherfuckers."

The men yelled: "Back the fuck off."

One of the officers pulled out his gun, grabbed the men and slammed them to the ground.

The men yelled: "Are you fucking crazy?"

The officer yelled: "Shut the fuck up."

The men started fighting, more men rushed out of the house.

As the police were fighting with the suspects outside, more police from the 11th precinct rushed up and began fighting with the men from inside the house.

Suddenly dozens of big, strong men were trading punches and yelling.

Because the men inside weren’t drug dealers at all, they were police from the 12th precinct.

Two dozen huge, well-armed cops from the 11th and 12th precincts began beating the hell out of each other.

Inside the house, on the porch, on the path, in the street, the neighbours stood and watched with their mouths open.

They knew that the police from the 12th precinct (inside the house) were conducting a drug-sting operation to catch people buying drugs.

That’s why they were in plain clothes, dressed as drug dealers.

Everyone, 12th precinct and neighbours, wondered what the hell the 11th precinct were doing, suddenly showing up and starting a fight.

Even after it became apparent that they were all cops, the fighting carried on.

The 12th precinct yelling that the 11th precinct had no business conducting a sting three blocks inside their territory.

The 11th precinct yelling that the 12th precinct had no business raiding the house without a search warrant.

By the time the fighting died down, several cops had to be taken to hospital.

Guns were drawn and night-sticks were used, but luckily no-one was killed.

Detroit chief of police James Craig said it was the most embarrassing incident in his 40-year career: "Like the Keystone Cops".

Internal Affairs are investigating to find exactly what went wrong.

But it’s pretty obvious what went wrong.

Neither side was talking to the other, because each side thought it was in charge.

That’s what happens when one side doesn’t talk to the other.

When media books the space before talking to creative.

When planning writes the brief before talking to creative.

Because they’ve decided they’re the most important part and don’t need to discuss it with anyone else.

Everyone else will just have to fit in with whatever they’ve decided.

No surprise it doesn’t work out very well then.

When one bunch of people decide they’re the ones that are important, and they don’t need to discuss their part with anyone else, guess what happens.

Dave Trott is the author of Creative Blindness and How to Cure It, Creative Mischief, Predatory Thinking and One Plus One Equals Three


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