Police are solving fewer crimes. Why?

“” the murder clearance rate fell from above 60 percent in 2019 to just 52 percent in 2022.””

“Asher also points out that 2020 began an exodus of officers leaving law enforcement. “The majority of big cities had fewer officers in 2022 than they did in 2019,” Asher says. “If you have fewer officers, you have fewer resources to dedicate to solving crime, which means lower clearance rates. And we do have lots of research that shows that.””

https://www.vox.com/2023/12/23/24012514/police-crime-data-solve-rate-eddie-garcia-today-explained

This Innocent Woman Is on the Hook for Thousands After a SWAT Team Destroyed Her Home

“it remains unclear if she will receive compensation after the government acted on its error-prone investigation and left her home a shell of what it once was. But one thing is almost certain: There will be more innocent people like her in the future whose lives are upended by the state, only to be told that’s just their tough luck.”

https://reason.com/2023/12/20/this-innocent-woman-is-on-the-hook-for-thousands-after-a-swat-team-destroyed-her-home/

Trump’s Promise to ‘Indemnify’ Cops ‘Against Any and All Liability’ Is Absurd for 2 Reasons

“Schwartz found that cops were not actually on the hook for damages or settlements in civil rights cases even when their employers decided that their conduct warranted discipline or dismissal. They were not on the hook even when prosecutors decided that their conduct warranted criminal charges. Yet Trump claims that cops “avoid any conflict” and are “afraid to do anything” because they worry that frivolous lawsuits will ruin them financially.

In reality, even meritorious lawsuits often do not get far enough that the defendants need the indemnification they would virtually always receive. Under 42 USC 1983, victims of police abuse theoretically can seek damages for violations of their constitutional rights. But thanks to qualified immunity, a restriction that the Supreme Court grafted onto that statute, such lawsuits cannot proceed unless they allege conduct that violated “clearly established” law. In practice, that means plaintiffs must locate precedents with closely similar facts, a requirement that can block lawsuits when police behave in ways that even Donald Trump might consider beyond the pale.”

https://reason.com/2023/12/22/trumps-promise-to-indemnify-cops-against-any-and-all-liability-is-absurd-for-2-reasons/

Hong Kong Police Targeting Overseas Activists and Speech

“Hong Kong is using its national security law to arrest and prosecute critics residing in the United States. The Hong Kong police recently announced cash bounties of HK$1 million ($128,000) for information leading to the arrest of five young activists. The targets—Frances Hui, Joey

Want To Challenge Your Speed Camera Ticket? That’ll Be $100.

“Motorists caught speeding in Peninsula, Ohio, have options: They can pay with Visa, Mastercard, Discover, or PayPal. But if they want to dispute a ticket, the flexibility ends.
Before vehicle owners can appear in municipal court to defend themselves, they must pay a $100 “filing fee.” No exceptions. No discounts. No deferrals. It’s the cost of admission—roughly the same as a one-day ticket to Disneyland.

Many drivers skip the expense and plead guilty, which works well for Peninsula. In just the first five months after launching a handheld photo radar program in April 2023, this village south of Cleveland generated 8,900 citations and $560,000 in revenue. That’s an average of about 1,800 citations and $110,000 in revenue per month.”

https://reason.com/2023/12/05/want-to-challenge-your-speed-camera-ticket-thatll-be-100/

FBI Seized $86 Million From People Not Suspected of Any Crime. A Federal Court Will Decide if That’s Legal.

“If the Ninth Circuit applies that same reasoning after it hears the case this week, it would deal a serious blow to the Fourth Amendment’s privacy protections in other contexts. In effect, that would say that as long as law enforcement has at least one legitimate reason for cracking open the safe deposit boxes, agents of the state are free to engage in all manner of rights violations without the targets having any legal recourse. It would be equivalent to saying that if the owner of a parking garage is suspected of a crime, all the cars (and the contents of those cars) stored there could be forfeited by the government.
“If the FBI can get away with this here, it’s a green light for the government to try the same ruse again throughout the country,” warns Johnson. “And it’s not just safe deposit boxes. The government could pull the same trick with storage lockers, hotels, even apartment buildings.””

https://reason.com/2023/12/06/the-fbi-seized-their-safe-deposit-boxes-now-a-federal-court-will-hear-the-case/

NYPD Will Spend Nearly $400 Million to Hide its Radio Communications

“The move is part of a growing trend. Over the last decade, other large police departments in Chicago, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Portland have all encrypted their radio communications or are planning to do so. Departments say broadcasting in the clear gives criminals advance warning. Beltran said encryption would also protect the information of crime victims and block pranksters who jam up NYPD frequencies. (The NYPD regularly leaks information on arrestees and even victims for political purposes.)
However, scanner enthusiasts, news organizations, and elected officials complain that encrypted radio is cutting off a longstanding and useful source of information on police activity.”

https://reason.com/2023/11/22/nypd-will-spend-nearly-400-million-to-hide-its-radio-communications/

Texas Troopers Killed 74 People in Vehicle Chases Since Implementing Controversial Border Program

“Texas border enforcement cops killed 74 people and wounded almost 200 more during vehicle chases over a 29-month period, according to a report released yesterday by Human Rights Watch. The chases occurred as part of Operation Lone Star, a controversial program that has spent over $10 billion in taxpayer funds to militarize Texas’ border with Mexico.
Operation Lone Star (OLS), which was launched in March 2021 by Gov. Greg Abbot, has devoted a tremendous amount of taxpayer dollars to increasing Texas’ border security, often using extreme tactics. Recently the program came under fire for using razor wire and blade-topped buoys on the Rio Grande in an attempt to keep out migrants.”

“According to the report, Texas Department of Public Safety troopers working under Operation Lone Star frequently engage in unnecessary vehicle chases and other dangerous driving maneuvers when attempting to make arrests. As a result, unnecessary police chases have increased by as much as 1,000 percent in some Texas counties.”

“In all, from March 2021 to July 2023, 74 drivers, passengers, or bystanders were killed in these chases, and 189 more were wounded. Those killed include seven bystanders, including a 7-year-old girl and her 71-year-old grandmother.”

https://reason.com/2023/11/28/texas-troopers-killed-74-people-in-vehicle-chases-since-implementing-controversial-border-program/

Qualified Immunity May Shield FBI Agents Who Abused the No-Fly List

“”Following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, FBI agents unsuccessfully attempted to pressure a group of innocent Muslims, including Muhammad Tanvir, to become informants for the Bureau,” notes the Institute for Justice (I.J.), which filed an amicus brief in Tanvir v. Tanzin. “Tanvir and the others—who were all either American citizens or lawful permanent residents—declined to become informants, because doing so goes against their sincerely held religious beliefs. FBI agents then harassed the group and placed them all on the No-Fly List.”
The Center for Constitutional Rights acts as co-counsels for the plaintiffs alongside the CUNY School of Law’s CLEAR Clinic. They sued under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) on the grounds that the plaintiffs’ Muslim faith forbids them to inform on coreligionists. The defendants—FBI agents who put Tanvir and the other plaintiffs on the no-fly list—protested that the RFRA doesn’t provide for monetary damages against government officials who violate rights, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled otherwise in an important 2020 decision written by Justice Clarence Thomas.”

“In 2021, The Intercept’s Murtaza Hussain wrote about Aswad Khan’s mistreatment by the FBI when he refused to be an informant. That same year, Ahmad Chebli, a U.S. citizen, described a similar ordeal.

“Agents threatened my family and me,” he wrote. “They said that if I didn’t agree to become an informant, my family would be investigated, my wife and I could be arrested, my children could be taken away, and my wife’s immigration status could be at risk.”

Chebli was finally removed from the No Fly list after the ACLU sued on his behalf.

Watchlists aren’t supposed to be used this way. In 2014, a federal district judge declared the byzantine process for people to challenge their inclusion on the no-fly list unconstitutional and ordered better guarantees of due process. But as Chebli’s case demonstrates, it’s easy for the government to put people on the lists and then pull them off years later only after they’ve gone through the hassle and expense of filing a federal lawsuit—if they ever do. With no further consequences, that leaves administrative tools like the No Fly List available for ongoing abuse.”

Federal Judge Strikes Down Arizona Law Limiting Ability To Record Police

“A federal judge on Friday permanently banned Arizona from enforcing a new law restricting how closely people may film police, finding that the law violates a core First Amendment right to record law enforcement officers.”