San Francisco Police Were Ordered To Turn Off Body Cameras in Raid on Journalist’s Home

“When San Francisco police raided journalist Bryan Carmody’s home last year, in a misguided (and illegal) search attempting to track down a leaker, none of the event was captured on police body camera.

This turns out to be by design. A newly released memo reveals that a lieutenant with the investigative services detail specifically told police at the scene, following a captain’s orders, that officers were not to use their body cameras for the operation. The only explanation provided in the two-paragraph memo was that the “footage could compromise the investigation.””

” Body cameras, when properly and carefully implemented, are helpful tools for police transparency and accountability. But they’re used inconsistently. Sometimes officers individually decide to turn them off, but here we see leaders purposefully ordering police not to record an investigation. That’s a problem.”

Armed Agents of the State Shouldn’t Be Enforcing Traffic Laws

“Cops pull over 20 million motorists a year—by far the most common form of police interactions with the American people. Those encounters occasionally end violently and tragically. Consider the cases of Darrius Stewart, Samuel DuBose, Philando Castile, and Maurice Gordon, all of whom were shot during routine traffic stops. Gordon was killed by a New Jersey state trooper just last month.

Those traffic stops often evolve into drug searches, which carry serious Fourth Amendment concerns. They also disproportionately impact black and Hispanic people. (Blacks are four times more likely to be arrested for drug offenses and 2.5 times more likely to be arrested for drug possession, though whites use drugs at comparable rates.) Those with fewer means are more likely to be fined, arrested, and shuffled through the legal system, notwithstanding the fact that they’re less able to afford getting trapped in that cycle.

In Colorado and Washington, where marijuana has been legalized, search rates at traffic stops have dramatically declined, a testament to how often those arbitrary searches are tied to drug laws that have no impact on traffic safety.”

“traffic safety doesn’t necessarily need to be enforced by the police. “Don’t use a hammer if you don’t need to pound a nail,” writes economist Alex Tabarrok at Marginal Revolution. “The responsibility for handing out speeding tickets and citations should be handled by an unarmed agency. Put the safety patrol in bright yellow cars and have them carry a bit of extra gasoline and jumper cables to help stranded motorists as part of their job—make road safety nice.”

It’s a worthy idea. But it’ll be tough to get state and local governments to accept it. Police departments, many of them furnished with weapons fit for a battlefield, often act as revenue raisers for the cities in which they serve.

“A Police Executive Research Forum report on St. Louis law enforcement found that local governments within the county were using police to ‘plug revenue gaps’ by running up the number of traffic citations, which coincided with many low-level arrests,” writes Derek Thompson in The Atlantic. “As one St. Louis County resident told the report’s authors: ‘It’s no secret that a lot of these municipal police officers are only supposed to be revenue drivers for their cities.'””

“We could minimize such encounters just by having fewer laws. “Things like the war on drugs, they’ve given police officers multiple reasons to be present in [minority] communities,” Reason’s Zuri Davis recently told the Washington Examiner’s Siraj Hashmi. That “gives rise to a lot more interaction—and negative interaction.” If we want fewer innocent people to die at police officers’ hands, we need to cut back on the encounters that keep spiralling into such deaths.”

Trump’s executive order on police reform, explained

“discretionary DOJ grants to state and local law enforcement agencies will now be conditioned on whether police departments have obtained (or are in the process of obtaining) credentials certifying that they meet certain training standards. The credentialing process will emphasize use-of-force and deescalation trainings, and department policy must prohibit chokeholds — unless an officer’s life is at risk — in order to meet certification standards.”

“The second major provision of the order states that the Justice Department will create a national database to track misconduct by police officers, and that discretionary funding will be available only to those law enforcement agencies that provide the requested information. Additionally, the DOJ will “regularly and periodically make available to the public aggregated and anonymized data from the database.””

Police killings can be captured in data. The terror police create cannot.

“police killings are not the whole story. The protests, and all the policy recommendations that have come with them, are pushing back against other systemic problems too.

Some of those injustices are specific and quantifiable: shootings, unfair traffic stops, arbitrary arrests. Others are vague but no less concerning: feeling you have no recourse for complaints about police, the calculus that can go into the decision to call 911, the sense that an investigation into a reported crime won’t be prioritized, the nervousness and fear that must be tamped down as one works to stay calm and keep an officer calm — all while wondering if you are living your final moments.

Not all of these problems can be measured. The number of police killings per year is a statistic that can be tabulated and broken down into easily digested parts: killings per region, per department, per time of day, per ethnicity. But how police make people feel is not quite as easily captured in data. There are ways to try — surveys asking whether officers make one tense or whether one trusts law enforcement — but such questions offer limited insight into what is causing those results or what effect they have.

Meanwhile, the issues behind the answers to those surveys do have a clear effect: They leave many black Americans frustrated with and fearful of police.”

Dems sink GOP police bill, leaving Senate deadlocked as country reckons with racism

“The GOP bill requires additional disclosures about the use of force, codifies reporting requirements on the use of “no knock warrants,” provides incentives for chokehold bans and makes lynching a federal crime.

The Democratic proposal, led in the Senate by Booker and Harris, would ban chokeholds and no knock warrants in federal drug cases. It would also limit qualified immunity for police officers to make it easier to sue police — something Democrats argue is key to holding police officers accountable for misconduct, but which most Republicans won’t consider.”

The End of Policing left me convinced we still need policing

“while there is a strong research base for believing that having police on the beat reduces crime, these same studies find that the aggressive “suspicious behavior” stops and stop-and-frisk tactics that have poisoned police-community relations have no real crime-fighting value.”

“there’s a substantial literature in economics and sociology arguing that more police on the beat equals less violent crime. One effort to quantify this precisely is a 2018 Review of Economics and Statistics article by Aaron Chalfin and Justin McCrary. It estimates, based on a big set of police and crime data from large and midsize cities between 1960 and 2010, that every $1 spent on extra police generates about $1.63 in social benefits, primarily by reducing murders. One needn’t take this literature as gospel truth, but one of the go-to scholars on the abolitionist position should be able to — and want to — counter the prevailing academic claim that investments in policing pay off in reduced violent crime.”

“American policing needs to change. And there’s at least some reason to think that reducing the scope of policing can and should be a big part of that change. Fairly mild policy changes undertaken over the past few years have delivered results in terms of fewer police killings of unarmed people, and there’s reason to believe that plenty of opportunity exists for further reform.

But policing is important. There’s evidence that the number of police has an effect on crime, especially violent crime. And when crime soars, not only do the direct victims suffer but we run the risk that economically diverse cities will unravel as people with means flee to the suburbs.”

“Patrick Sharkey, a Princeton sociologist who is clearly sympathetic to the goals of the defunding movement, writes in a Washington Post piece arguing for a greater role for local leaders and communities in containing violence that “those who argue that the police have no role in maintaining safe streets are arguing against lots of strong evidence. One of the most robust, most uncomfortable findings in criminology is that putting more officers on the street leads to less violent crime.””

“the importance and efficacy of what police officers do doesn’t hinge on believing they’re angels. The number of officers patrolling the street has an effect on the murder rate.”

“European countries have higher rates of problematic teen drinking, as well as a higher rate of cirrhosis deaths. What’s true is that drunkenness is less problematic in Europe because there is more mass transit and fewer guns, so the range of possible alcohol-related harms is narrower.”

“laxer pot rules mean more pot consumption. Laxer alcohol rules mean more alcohol consumption. And laxer heroin rules would likely mean more heroin consumption. One can certainly make a case for this (criminalization has not been a rousing success story), but it requires some real argument.”

“Many faddish implicit bias trainings don’t really seem to work. But there are promising results from several different procedural justice trainings. More to the point, Vitale himself says that “in some ways training is actually part of the problem” because “in recent decades, the emphasis has shifted heavily toward officer safety training.” Instead of receiving training that creates an exaggerated sense of threat (police work is dangerous, but officers’ death rates are lower than for fishers or roofers), police should be provided with deescalation training (which has been found to be at least somewhat effective) and, more importantly, required to use it with real consequences for officers who don’t.”

“collective bargaining agreements make it extremely difficult to fire police with records of misconduct. Those who are dismissed are often ordered to be rehired. And police officers who are permanently fired — which, to be clear, means they have passed a high bar for badness — often get hired at other jurisdictions. Meanwhile, the “qualified immunity” doctrine immunizes police for civil penalties for misconduct.
Per what records are available, a relatively small number of officers are committing most of the misconduct, but studies show that bad behavior can spread like a virus to peer officers. Getting rid of the worst 5 percent of officers could eliminate an enormous share of the misconduct, halt the spread of bad norms throughout departments, and open up new hiring opportunities to create more diverse forces.”

“As the defund debate has played out in the public sphere, an idea has taken hold that not only should America spend more on social services but that the police are the reason we can’t or won’t do that.”

“police spending is a relative drop in the bucket of state and local government budgets; at the federal level, it’s even smaller.”

“It’s true that the government should be spending more on housing and mental health programs and that doing so would probably reduce crime. But it would probably reduce crime by freeing up officers to do more police work. And there’s no particular reason the money for it has to come out of police departments. If you compare the United States to Europe, the reason Europe has a more generous welfare state is a much higher overall level of spending — not that the US has overfunded the police.”

“The problem with America’s police officers is that they’re too unaccountable and lawless, operating with too much job security and a sense of impunity, not that there are too many of them.”

Growing calls to “defund the police,” explained

“A three-word slogan is not a detailed policy agenda, and not everyone using the slogan agrees on the details. The basic idea, though, is less that policing budgets should be literally zeroed out than that there should be a massive restructuring of public spending priorities.”

“there are people, like Brooklyn College sociologist Alex Vitale, who favor police abolition. In practice, however, while Vitale supports legalizing a wide range of currently illegal activity, he still envisions things like “sex work that’s regulated just like any other business.” At some level, the way business regulation works is that if you’re sufficiently defiant of the rules, the police will lock you up. And under questioning from Mother Jones’s Madison Pauly, Vitale is cagey about questions like how we are going to handle murders in a zero-police society.”

“The “defund” slogan dances ambiguously between abolition-type schemes and just saying officials should spend less money on policing at the margins. The Black Lives Matters #DefundThePolice explainer page argues that “law enforcement doesn’t protect or save our lives. They often threaten and take them.” By contrast, a Justin Brooks op-ed at the Appeal titled “Defund the Police Now” is an extended argument for spending somewhat less money on crime control and somewhat more on social services, as a win-win resulting in less crime, less punishment, and less police violence against civilians.”

“The protesters had to deescalate the police”: Demonstrators are the ones defusing violence at protests

“At demonstration after demonstration, officers have met peaceful protesters, who are condemning the police killing of George Floyd — and police violence more broadly — with disproportionate and brutal force, often for no reason but to “disperse” a crowd. It’s an approach that’s only illustrated how quick police can be to use violent tactics, particularly against black individuals.”

“Vox spoke with 10 protesters in seven different cities — and nearly all of them had either directly witnessed or been subject to police violence while participating in marches and rallies in recent weeks.”

“During a peaceful protest in Toledo, Ohio, 29-year-old attorney Matthew Ahn saw police shooting wooden bullets directly at people’s bodies, severely injuring at least two individuals.”

“In Los Angeles, Abdullah described watching a state highway patrol car plow into a crowd of protesters and knock a man out in the process.”

“Such acts of police violence have contributed to a number of injuries — rubber bullets have blinded multiple individuals, while beatings have resulted in broken bones — and one death. In Louisville, Kentucky, where officers still haven’t been charged in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor, police shot and killed David McAtee near his business when he was out past curfew in early June.”

“At the marches where law enforcement has taken a more aggressive approach, the escalation by police often came with little warning, protesters say. It can be chaotic, frightening, and overwhelming.”

“There is legal recourse for protesters who have suffered injuries at the hands of police, but there have historically been some pretty big obstacles to getting accountability.
Such barriers are largely due to the protections that police have in the case of civil lawsuits because of a legal doctrine known as qualified immunity: In order to even go to trial with an allegation of police misconduct, an individual needs to show not only that it was a violation of their civil rights, but also that there’s precedent for that same action being considered unlawful in prior cases.

This shield has enabled police officers to avoid liability on many acts of misconduct in the past, including shootings, theft and property damage.

Still, experts tell Vox that protesters have plenty of grounds to pursue legal action — and already, there’s been multiple cases in the last month where the officer involved faces criminal charges.”

“Protesters have three avenues they can take, Futterman notes: They can file a civil lawsuit against a specific officer for violating their constitutional rights, they can register a complaint with the city or police station involved, or they can report the incident to a district attorney, who could then file a criminal lawsuit.”

Here Are 4 Policing Reforms Cities and States Are Considering Right Now

“1. In San Diego: No more “carotid restraints.” Police in San Diego are permitted to use a type of neck hold that cuts off blood to the brain and quickly renders people unconscious. Officers used these holds 70 times in 2019, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Yesterday, San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit ordered a stop to their use, given the potential for harm.”

“2. In New York City: Standardize police discipline and ban police chokeholds. In New York City, where police unions are powerful and Mayor Bill de Blasio is so weak that it took five years just to fire the NYPD officer who killed Eric Garner, it will likely take the city council to actually force changes.

After Garner’s death from a chokehold in 2014, a New York City council member introduced a measure that would criminalize the use of choke holds by police. De Blasio responded by threatening a veto. Now de Blasio says he’d approve the measure so long as it provides an exception if the officer is in a “life or death situation.”

In addition, another council member is proposing a “disciplinary matrix” to create a standard of discipline when officers engage in misconduct. Council Member Donavan Richards told NY1, “There is no written instruction on what a disciplinary action should be if an officer commits an infraction. This will set an example.””

“3. In Colorado: Require police to intervene when fellow officers act out. Police unions are often quick to run to the defense of officers when they’re accused of misconduct. But when Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin was caught on video kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes, many unions made it clear they found Chauvin’s conduct indefensible.

In Colorado, three law enforcement groups—the County Sheriffs of Colorado, the Colorado Fraternal Order of Police, and the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police—put out a joint statement Tuesday calling for state lawmakers to require that other officers intervene when they see something like what happened to Floyd.

The groups note that it’s already a duty for officers to intervene when he or she witnesses a fellow officer engaged in unreasonable force. They’re asking for state lawmakers to make it a statutory requirement, leaving officers who don’t intervene (like the three cops who stood by while Chauvin slowly suffocated Floyd) possibly facing criminal charges.”

“4. In New Jersey: Launch a statewide use-of-force database. One of the challenges when fighting for reform is the general lack of data about how frequently police use force, under what circumstances, and what the justifications were. Heck, simply tracking who police officers kill in the line of duty is not easy, and efforts by the FBI to track that information nationally have been woefully inadequate.

In New Jersey, data journalists at NJ Advance Media put together their own database of use-of-force incidents within the state covering five years and collating more than 70,000 documents. There was no other statewide collection of use-of-force data and little analysis. After the NJ Advance Media “Force Report” database was released in 2018, state officials started a pilot project to launch an official government database to track the use of force in selected police departments. On Tuesday, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said that starting on July 1, all police departments in the state will be able to participate.”