Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Baker's dozen advocacy groups detail post-Sandra Bland reform agenda

Check out a letter from the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition and a dozen allied groups to DPS Col. Steve McCraw and the Waller County Sheriff calling on them to:
  • Ensure use of force is only applied as a last resort
  • End racial profiling
  • Implement pre-booking diversion
  • End arrests for non-jailable offenses
  • Reform the bail system
  • Provide sufficient defendants attorneys at magistration
  • Improve mental health training for law enforcement and jailers to prevent suicide
  • Better fund the Texas Commission on Jail Standards to inspect more jails more often
Obviously, different suggestions apply to one or the other of those two recipients. See the full letter for more detail.


Anonymous said...

DPS has no authority (nor desire) to implement anything beyond item one. The priorities are border security. The average Trooper spends at least half their time working the border and this is likely to increase. As stressed as they are there is a wonder that more incidents haven't occurred involving heavy-handed tactics. Deployed is a workforce of ticking time bombs and occasionally they will show up on video. The makeup of this agency is completely political in nature as opposed to previous administrations who have historically shielded their personnel from taskings that would produce this outcome. The political aspirations of the current administration are common knowledge internally, so it wouldn't be surprising if DPS attempted to spearhead these changes to the angst of other organizational administrators. This is an opportunity to tactically withdraw from ongoing wasteful commitments to a more publicly acceptable (and cheaper) purpose.

Anonymous said...

Deescalation should be attempted when/where possible by law enforcement. To that same tune, classes also need to be taught in elementary, junior high, and high school directed towards respecting/interacting with your elders those in authority (teachers, coaches, judges, law enforcement, etc) as well as common courtesy in public. Even future teachers, law enforcement, etc would benefit.

While training of jailers and law enforcement on mental health issues is desired; it is also unreasonable for them to be mental health experts at any level when many practitioners (i.e. Medical doctors and PHDs) can't get it right.

Ending racial profiling is another issue that would make assumptions that ALL officers are white. I have several friends that are officers and my minority officer friend has told me that he can get away with more during a traffic stop on a fellow minority than that of a white officer. Conversely my white officer friend tells me that he can't tell the race of a driver when he is working traffic enforcement using a laser and checking the speed of a car at 92/70 at 974.1' away.

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Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, I don't think trying to teach things like respect for others in school works. That's like so many other social engineering things being tried in public schools. These things must be taught and modeled at home. If they are not taught at home, trying to teach them elsewhere isn't likely to work. Now, in many cases, we have parents who are either so busy working they spend very little time with their kids. In other cases, the parents are so worthless themselves you can't expect the kids to be any different.

This is just another symptom of the devaluing of the family structure in our society. If a child doesn't grow up respecting his parents, he won't respect any other adult or authority figure either.

Now, on the other side of this issue, cops also need to treat people with a certain level of respect an courtesy. They need to learn to use people skills to deal with difficult situations. We have too many Barneys out there and not enough Andys.

Anonymous said...

@6:11 PM
Let me make sure I understand your post. You think that respect for authority should be ingrained in common daily activities such as education, etc among youth, etc? A little secret here, I've worked amongst LE personnel of all favors for over 22 years and I can readily admit that there are those who inherently earn respect from those they deal with and those that command respect with a very poor outcome. Why should respect be programmed into people? Seems that the "programming" should be done on the "authority" side and not on the subjects of that authority [even the use of this word is wrong and it should be replaced with 'responsibility']. This isn't 1950 and accountability has seen vast improvements since then. Today you have officers out there with a skewed vision of what their job should be like which includes armored vehicles, tactical gear, and crippling fear-based authority from their envisioned gunfights (yes, there are many that are seeking that career-heightening gunfight believe it or not) when it should be the intrinsic characteristics of service and protection. As far as I'm concerned, respect is still earned regardless of the employment or public position of any individual and if this is abandoned we might as well go back to tribal rule and sectarian ingnorance. A badge does not authority make. The person behind it does.

Anonymous said...

Part 1.
It should have been addressed to the Governor, Lt. Governor, all D.A's & Sheriff's Offices, all Police Departments, completely devoid of any form of race-baiting. Try this version on for size.

Introduction -
We the people of Texas, call upon those charged with overseeing & supervising our valuable public servant community at large, re: the dangerous roles and duties of Protecting & Serving all of Texas's 254 counties to agree or, disagree in writing in response to our collective prayers listed below. Any agency that fails to respond in a timely manner will continue to receive friendly follow up reminders in the form of copies of this correspondence from various friends of the state. Any/All replies received will be published & made public.

Let it be known that, we the people of Texas, are not your enemies, we are taxpayers & citizens & fully appreciate / expect the good-works performed by the honest & dedicated public servants of Texas. It should be made very clear that we fully oppose Any/All dishonest & rogue actions committed by public servants & condoned by supervisors, therefore, since it's ultimately all of our taxes that fund the good actions (salaries, etc...) & the bad (lawsuits, out of court settlements, etc...) we ask that you pledge to be good stewards of the funds & the profession as a whole. May you consider our prayers as a simple request to do the right thing & see the value of mandatory re-training on an annual basis as a positive benefit for all. The use of the word 'Mandatory' is in hopes that 'you' implement the following as mandatory to ensure 'you' continue to employ the best of the best & avoid employing those that live out-side of the laws of the state & nation. We will also attempt to engage the Department of Education & After School Programs to consider implementing programs to teach the state’s children proper methods & conduct when confronted by Any/All adults & law enforcement personnel. Your assistance & participation in this endeavor would be greatly appreciated.

Prayer List -
#1. *Mandatory (to be conducted at an off-site campus, attended by all department-wide personnel with no exceptions & tested upon completion, retesting until passed) - Certified CLE Re-Training Courses regarding interacting with citizens of all age groups, pets, animals in public. Not limited to: Traffic Stops, De-Escalation, Detaining, Arresting, Use of Force, Documentation of Suspect(s) Physical Condition (before transporting & at Booking), Booking, and Police Incident Reports.

#2. *Mandatory 'Felony' criminal charges for Any/All that can be shown to have either: created and/or participated in the creation of a falsified, erroneous, deceptive Police Incident Reports. Included are the Supervisors that sign off on falsified P.I.R(s).

#3. *Mandatory 'Felony' charges for Any/All that can be shown to have either; conducted and/or participated in erroneous & deceptive Photo Array presentations & Live Show-Ups procedures including those listed as crime victims. Digital documentation of all Photo Array presentations & Live Show-Ups procedures performed to become part of the P.I.R. accessible to Suspects turned Defendants.

#4. Mandatory 'Felony' charges for Any/All that can be shown to have either; conducted and/or participated in a rogue Use of Force incident resulting in needless physical harm of a citizen, their pets and/or animals.

#5. Mandatory Jail and/or Prison sentences for Any/All Public Servants found to have broken the law(s) of Texas & the nation while on or off duty with absolutely no opportunity to participate in any type of plea-bargain deals.

Anonymous said...

Part 2.
Closing -
Thank you for your consideration in this pressing matter as it is a reflection & action in direct response to the sole actions & conduct of those individuals allowed to be deemed above-the-law in sincere hopes & prayers that 'you' do the right thing. As of today - There is no longer an Us vs. Them in Texas, there is only Right vs. Wrong (crime fighters vs. criminals). When it becomes very clear that the public-at-large fears 'all' crime fighters because they all wear uniforms, badges & have weapons & the bad ones get no-billed for committing violent & non-violent crimes, the public's trust will continue to fade & support will follow. Now, please consider reading this out loud at your kitchen table, out of uniform & consider if it will positively benefit all of Texas & restore the public's faith & trust in a much-needed criminal justice system. Have a good day.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:56 PM,
most big city/big agency officers receive the training from #1, are warned not to engage in #2, state law changed years back regarding mandatory training to deal with #3 (that few police ever have the ability to do), are closely scrutinized for #4, and #5 would almost certainly result in fewer officers convicted since those plea deals are the result of the state possessing a weak case or knowing the chances of conviction in front of a jury are sketchy. Further, they are all required to take an oath as part of their license, though those proverbial few bad apples slip by just as they do for every other field.

Keep in mind that even the changed grand jury process works in their favor, those who serve on grand juries do not no bill officers out of fear but out of understanding the nearly impossible task of being a cop these days, so elevating all charges against them will result in more no bills as well, the hand wringing crowd sure to get upset as a result. Most of the changes realistically needed to prevent mentally ill people like Sandra Bland from killing themselves while in custody are going to cost money, big money. Most suggestions regarding bail reform that involve widespread use of PR bonds will fail when vast numbers of defendants never show up, and most attempts to use a sledge hammer on all cops for the indiscretions of a few of them will backfire or blow up in our collective faces.

Contrary to media accounts, especially cop hating blog accounts, most cops in Texas do a good job. They are appreciated and respected by the public at large, only those with traditionally adversarial roles (criminals, defense lawyers and their employees, liberals, and those who are so sheltered from reality that they put too much stock in television or movie versions of police) seem to find wholesale levels of bad policing. You can point out how many engaged in committing felonies are killed by police each year versus how many contacts there are or how relatively few mistakes take place but it will never satisfy soon.

By all means make jail facilities more secure to prevent suicides like Bland, reduce the number of laws you are willing to attach the use of force to enforce, and pay enough to get better candidates & train them enough to place the right officer in the right role but keep in mind all the changes in the world won't change public perceptions with a hostile media making mountains out of molehills or showing a willingness to embellish every negative police contact as a sign of them being out of control as a group.

Anonymous said...

Sorry 1:56, but the evidence shows you are way off on the bail issue. There are no money bonds in the federal system and very few federal prisoners are detained for very long before trial. Can you show me where the federal system has a problem with people showing up? I'm not aware of any major issues with that system. In fact, it seems to work well.

But, this is like some other issues (such as the war on drugs). We want to use fear and hype instead of looking at what works and what doesn't.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, that last comment was directed at 9:10, not 1:56.

Anonymous said...

I will also add, at 9:10, yes, you are correct most cops do a good job. However, the culture in too many agencies leads to covering up for and supporting the bad apples instead of kicking them out. While I agree, most do a good job, there are significant issues that need to be addressed and changes made. As long as the law enforcement community refuses to acknowledge that and continues to put up defensive walls and bury their heads in the sand, the problems with the relationship between law enforcement and the citizens will continue to deteriorate.

Anonymous said...

9:54 - 9:59, take the rest of the day off, you earned it for slapping the shit otta the troll leaving such a weird-ass reply. I hope he or she takes time to read the new version all the way in his or her P-Js vs stopping at the part that would make all law enforcement accountable for any & all crimes they commit. Seems like he or she is living in a constant gotta reply with cop hater, liberals, criminals crapola.

Now, you'll notice that he / she has thrown the media in the pile as one of Them. That shit don't fly with folks that are fully aware of the verifiable fact that the Media has embedded Reporters aka: the friggin media in every police department. I found this out when I called the media about a rogue cop in our city and they directed me to the Reporter "assigned" to the Department. When she saw that it was not news worthy (hint - all things white), it was clear that the media was in bed with the PD. (Rogue is on track to be Chief).

Anonymous said...

I think most of the previous responses were heavily flawed based on stereotypes of media and police as well as all the usual suspects (pun intended). The whole cover up angle is so overplayed it belongs in a box with the proverbial race card, the bulk of police misconduct uncovered and acted upon by their own departments, most cops too busy with their assigned duties to know anything about what some officer in a different division or part of town is doing. I know that doesn't fit the narrative but Anon 9:10 did hit on a few truisms in between the trolling so I'll give her credit for that, the fact being that as we advance in expectations of transparency and what we want from police in general, they will need to step up their game from the days of old. That means more education, more empathy, and a better understanding of the cultures they come in contact with than the beat cop of old who worked more or less as an independent agent of the state.

Anonymous said...

Sorry again 1:47, but the cover up angle is probably downplayed. Many times it is successful so there are a lot of things the public never knows about. I'm not just someone spouting off on the internet, I've worked in law enforcement and seen this type of thing personally. It occurs much more often than most people realize. And, no, it is not often uncovered or acted upon by their own departments. That is simply a false statement. Yes, some departments do a good job of that, but many don't - again, I've seen it. Maybe you've only worked for a department that does the right thing but there are many that don't.

But, just go ahead and keep that head buried in the sand. That attitude will result in more hostility towards law enforcement and will continue to make your job more dangerous. It it were me, I think I'd take the criticisms seriously and start doing something about the problem. But, if you prefer to continue to anger a large section of the population - well, that may come back to bite you one of these days.

Karl Pendergast said...

Anonymous 9/25/2015 02:32:00 PM, how offensive a reply can you make to him? You've seen it in a limited number of places so it has to be prevalent? The ground troops do not often engage in such shenanigans, perhaps those in county or city headquarters might around budget time, but in cities such as Austin, Houston, San Antonio and the like, you may find a rare example of limited scope but hardly enough to justify such a snobbish answer.

Anonymous said...

Oh 2:57, how truly sad when people try to deny what is as plain as the nose on their face. Yes, I've seen it personally in some circumstances and, there are also well documented accounts in many, many other instances. So, I may not use the word "prevalent" but I would say that the problems occur far too often and burying one's head in the sand and holding on to one's denial is not helpful.

Karl Pendergast said...

I've read study after study that used comparative statistics as a means of getting to the heart of these matters Anonymous 9/26/2015 02:27:00 PM. The interesting thing is, anecdotal accounts, while compelling when provided by an impacted party, do not tell the whole story. So while some of us may intellectually concur that even one bad event is too many, given the sheer number of total contacts, those anecdotes are very, very few and far between which is probably why you feel compelled to continually proclaim anyone that disagrees with you to "have their head in the sand", a debate tactic appropriate for second grade students if ever.