Sunday, March 07, 2021

Bootlicking city officials a barrier to police reform

As long as politicians let police dictate the limits of reform, there will be no significant reform and the same problems inevitably will recur. When the El Paso City Council approved its legislative agenda three weeks ago, the police department was given de facto veto power. Reported KTSM-TV:
George Floyd portrait captioned "I Can't Breathe," by Nia Palmer
The El Paso Police Department has proposed the council consider opposing the following:
  • Prohibiting neck or throat restraint, unless allowed in extreme circumstances
  • Removal of qualified immunity
  • Elimination or revision of asset forfeiture
  • Prohibition of no knock entries, unless adopted under TCOLE policy
  • Unfunded mandates
  • Disciplinary matrix
  • Cite and release mandates
The El Paso Police Department supports
  • Policies around the department’s policies
  • Use for force policy promulgated by the TCOLE
  • De-escalation policy promulgated by TCOLE
  • Release of police employment records promulgated by TCOLE
  • Duty to intervene
  • Additional reporting requirements for use of force, no knock entries
  • Consent to motor vehicle search, provided that motor vehicle recording is allowed
  • Additional training, provided that does not result in significant increase in costs, unless state provides resources and funds.
In the end, on every point "the council voted in-line with the El Paso Police Department’s recommendations for issues police support."

Portrait of Jorge Gonzalez, killed by Hidalgo County Sheriffs in 2020. By Nia Palmer.
Other than additional reporting for use of force and no-knock entries, which would be a significant get, the police department's "reform" agenda largely amounts to acquiescing to non-binding policy recommendations while continuing more-of-the-same policing. They oppose even what most people consider the "low hanging fruit" like ending chokeholds or instituting a disciplinary matrix. After episodes like George Floyd's killing in Minneapolis and the horrendous treatment of Jorge Gonzalez in Edinburg, I'm amazed police are still defending neck restraints. But apparently we still have to have that argument.

In addition, bowing to pressure from the department, "The council decided to remain neutral in the deliberation of the proposed George Floyd Act unveiled by the Texas Black Caucus last August."

Pay close attention to local politics in most Texas cities and you'll find civilian control of police departments is an in-name-only arrangement. Cops dictate to city councils, not the other way around. That's clearly what happened with El Paso's legislative agenda. It's likely what's happening in your town, too.


Phelps said...

How many Republicans and MAGA hatters are there on the El Paso city council?

Anonymous said...

Police union extortion is indifferent to party.

JC said...

So unions bad...

Anonymous said...

No, "Police 'Unions'", bad.

M. D. Cohen said...

I would venture to say, less than in most other Texas cities, except for maybe Houston and possibly San Antonio. But I do think that information, unfortunately, is irrelevant in this situation.

Steven Michael Seys said...

No policy is worth the time it takes to read it unless it is applied in an intelligent and consistent manor. I propose teaching some type of ethics that will give all LEOs a basis upon which to rest their policies. The one that comes to mind is the Ethical Warrior Philosophy taught in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP). All Marines have to show some level of accomplishment in MCMAP and the Ethical Warrior has made a difference in reducing the number of actual war crimes committed by Marines in a combat zone. If this type of training works on the battlefield, it ought to work equally well on the streets.