Friday, July 01, 2016

Roundup: Policing the police

Here are a number of police accountability topics which merit Grits readers' attention:

Austin had one of the worst police union contracts in the nation when it comes to protecting bad cops who engage in misconduct, according to a new analysis from Campaign Zero, a spinoff project of the national Black Lives Matter movement. See Campaign Zero's comprehensive policy agenda.

Body cameras have been touted as a cutting-edge police accountability strategy, and Grits broadly supports their implementation. However the Daily Dot outlined the main concerns regarding this development - particularly hidden biases generated from the cameras' unique perspective - which have not been fully taken into account. See Debbie Russell's critique of Austin's new contract for body cameras, in which the city overpaid for equipment and failed to sufficiently respect the need for transparency when it comes to securing the public trust. Texas' law needs to be upgraded to allow for greater openness if the public is going to perceive cameras as a real reform effort.

Meanwhile, PBS Frontline had an excellent documentary this week on efforts to instill police accountability in Newark which has implications for every jurisdiction confronting these issues, particularly its focus on the challenge of changing internal police culture and officer attitudes. Really good stuff. 

This item at The Atlantic suggested that, "The criminal justice system just doesn’t possess the will, tools, or objectivity to consistently deliver justice for victims of police violence. ... But the idea of restorative justice provides a sorely-needed alternative."

Finally, Fusion has launched a series titled Arresting America, analyzing arrest records from 16,000 jurisdictions nationwide. Among their findings: Arrests for violent crimes such as murder, manslaughter, rape, and robbery made up only one percent of the total (~85,000 out of 8.5 million total arrests)


miketrials said...

Well, Grits, shouldn't be much of a surprise to those of us with any familiarity with "the system" now to learn that most of what the cops do is hassle the citizenry, aided and abetted by legislatures which criminalize too many things (open container, failure to obey, disorderly conduct), permitting a huge proportion of arrests, especially in urban America, to be what a friend of mine (crim def atty, cop for 12 years) describes as "abuse of cop." Have you ever mouthed off to a cop?

Cops do it because they can, like the dog in the joke, leading us now to a "police-industrial complex," to paraphrase Ike, with police locking up too many people, judges not setting reasonable or makeable bails (forget "no need for bail"), leading to more cops hired than necessary to make up for those in court making overtime for crap arrests. This leads to a full-employment plan for correctional officers and bail bondsmen, as well.

Laid over all this is the governmentally-created concept of immunity for "public servants," so COs brutalize inmates, who cannot manage relief through the courts against them or the cops. Exactly how is it that if I shoot someone under the very same but mistaken or negligent circumstances as a cop, he gets promoted and I get indicted? Orwell understood that -- some are more equal than others. I do not accept the notion, so why does the legislature?

The only place the system is prepared to skimp is on criminal defense.

Anonymous said...

Our local police are almost on par with local police in any Mexican city. This is the elephant in the room.