2-hour standoff in middle of Austin after driver pulled over for anti-cop bumper stickers: Some 80 cops and 40 DPS vehicles swarmed the Congress Ave. bridge in Austin to surround a 24-year old headshop employee and her Chihuahua with anti-police bumper stickers on her car, reported the Intercept. Notably this episode - which lasted at least a couple of hours and ended with a bomb-squad robot breaking the window of her car and two Bearcats crushing her bumpers - happened within rock throwing distance of the Austin Statesman newsroom, which didn't report it. Thank heavens the Intercept reporter happened to be jogging by!
#MeToo @ Falls County Sheriff: The elected Falls County Sheriff was arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a City of Marlin employee. Falls County is southeast of Waco, adjacent to McLennan County. Notably Sheriff Ricky Scaman, "was sued twice in the last two years by former employees who claimed he subjected them to unwanted sexual advances and harassment. Both lawsuits have since been settled, court documents state."
TX parole caseloads analyzed: This may get its own blog post soon, but I wanted to record the link for the new TDCJ parole officer caseload study. For more background on related topics, see state auditor reports from 2010 and 2008.
Competing hypotheses on why crime rises after protests: We misunderstood "the Ferguson effect," say researchers. Police weren't pulling back from communities, which some have blamed for the reported, recent crime spike. Rather, communities were pulling back from police. That makes sense, but I'd also add that perceived crime spikes after Ferguson, which some commentators tried to blame on the protesters, turned out to be overblown and overhyped. Grits won't be surprised if that turns out to be true for 2020 as well, with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight. MORE: Regarding the current, perceived crime spike: Murders are up this year; other violent crime as well as property crime are down, reported the New York Times. Moreover, "The F.B.I. on Monday reported a tiny decrease (0.2 percent) in the nation’s murder rate in 2019. The U.S. violent crime rate fell slightly for the fourth straight year in this official report, and the property crime rate fell for the 18th straight year, to the lowest level since 1963." There's your "law and order" crisis.
Trib shows it's possible to accurately describe Austin budget cuts; why can't other media pull it off? So much press coverage of the Austin police budget cuts has misrepresented them, repeating the Governor's spurious claim that they cut $150 million, or one-third of the budget, when the actual cuts were $20 million and the rest are duties being re-organized. In recent coverage of the Dallas City Council's budget vote, the Texas Tribune demonstrated that it's actually possible to describe the cuts accurately:
Now, was that so hard?
The movement gained traction in Austin, where city councilmembers in August voted to immediately cut about $20 million, or 5%, from its police department and redirect those funds to things like violence prevention, housing and mental health services. Another $130 million was put into transitional funds that will allow several of the department's traditional duties to remain funded while officials work out which responsibilities to keep under law enforcement and which to move out from under police oversight.
Deep Policing History from the Windy City: Just to be able to find it again, I wanted to record a link to this remarkable 600+ page report on race riots in Chicago in 1919. Found it while researching historic public opinion on crime and now want to go back and read the whole thing. This is a remarkable document. Drop in anywhere and its findings seem relevant, almost current. Especially interesting to me were Chapter 9 on public opinion around race and crime and Chapter 7 regarding early efforts to analyze policing quantitatively. This document strikes me as impressive and important as the Kerner Commission report 5 decades hence. Certainly its central warnings and recommendations went just as unheeded.
Prof: Americans need 'universal education of the development of American policing'. Grits was pleased to see TSU Prof. Howard Henderson in the Texas Observer endorsing the sort of historical perspective Grits has been seeking in recent research on slave patrols and early Texas policing:
We just didn’t wake up here today and find ourselves in this disarray. This came out of centuries of degradation and oppression. The police are an offshoot of the overseer on the plantation and the slave patrols. The institution of slavery and its control of minorities directly parallels with early American policing. Right after slavery, they arrested Black people for petty crimes and then leased them back out to the plantation. This history of race and policing in America is deep, and we do ourselves a disservice by just glossing over it. A lot of the laws that we have today are derivatives of Jim Crow legislation. Look at the number of white police officers who were members of the Ku Klux Klan. It was just a common relationship at the time.
You’ve seen several policymakers say that they don’t see policing as racist, and yet you can rattle off probably 10 statistical points to prove otherwise. I think we’ve got to start with universal education of the development of American policing. We’ve also got to move beyond the point where the police are infallible. We’re taught from a very young age that they can do no wrong, that they’re the problem solvers of all social ills. And the reality is that they’re not. They’re human. They make mistakes. And they’ve created an institution that does not openly express their errors. It’s a system that is designed to support that misconduct.