Wow! The #BlackLivesMatter organization has a new website where they are listing all sorts of policy change suggestions. I am going to attempt to offer an analysis of each of their policy suggestions, which they have broken down into 10 different categories. I apologize in advance, as this is going to be lengthy, really lengthy.
As a career cop, I was interested to see what they had to bring to the table so I took a look. Sadly, it appears they are only ready to step up to the kids table though. It is difficult to offer a serious analysis of their policy suggestions when one of the first paragraphs the page visitor encounters is this:
“A decades-long focus on policing minor crimes and activities – a practice called Broken Windows policing – has led to the criminalization and over-policing of communities of color and excessive force in otherwise harmless situations. Police killed at least 287 people last year who were involved in minor offenses and harmless activities like sleeping in parks, possessing drugs, looking ‘suspicious’ or having a mental health crisis.”
If that is the attitude they have, examining police policies with them is going to be like discussing physics with a developmentally delayed 5 year old with ADHD. If they can’t figure out that “Broken Windows” has been around for over 30 years, not 10, and they are suggesting that the cops just roll up on people sleeping in the park or looking “suspicious” and shoot them, it is going to be impossible to have a serious discussion.
With that said, where to start? Well, I guess I can go with my positive comments first. At least they, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement have tried to offer some suggestions instead of just chanting, complaining and burning down another city?
I think that is it. Uh, yup, that’s it, at least for now. If there are areas where I agree in each section, I will specifically note those.
Now on to the part that where I differ, and my examination of each of their 10 categories.
1. End Broken Windows Policing
Before even clicking on that topic, I know I am going to disagree with it. The Broken Windows policing model has historically worked very well when it was employed. While it is no longer the primary policing model used by hardly any agency anywhere, it is a component of the more politically correct, more socially acceptable Community Policing model currently in favor all across the US.
For those unfamiliar with Broken Windows policing, the theory (which has been proven correct) is that when a neighborhood begins encountering an increase in minor crimes, such as vandalisms (ie: broken windows), petty thefts, littering, etcetera, and if left unaddressed by law enforcement, those minor crimes are followed by an increase in more serious crimes, like burglaries, robberies and homicides.
Now with that out of the way, their “Policy Solutions” in this area boil down to law enforcement ignoring “minor” offenses, to stop “profiling” (not racial profiling, profiling altogether) and to “Establish Alternative Approaches to Mental Health Crises.”
Area of Agreement: Of the three subsections, on a cursory level, I can agree with the last suggestion. I do agree that something needs to be done about the mental health crisis issues that are being dumped onto law enforcement, but that is where my agreement ends. Their suggestions are both fiscally and logistically unreasonable. Their suggestion demonstrates just how little BLM grasps the realities of how emergency services, to include law enforcement, fire and EMS, all work.
Their suggestion to ignore minor crimes is totally self-serving. The minor criminal behavior they list is what is often found in ghetto neighborhoods: people hanging out on street corners, in front of businesses, drinking alcohol, smoking weed and listening to loud music. That behavior is common to street gangs who want to demonstrate that the corner/street/neighborhood is their territory. It is extremely damaging to the entire neighborhood, not to mention what it does to the businesses they are hanging out in front of.
Let me see if I can channel their logic for just a moment:
I like to drive fast, always have, and so do many others. Some people who were speeding have been callously murdered by the cops for nothing more than speeding*. Because I like to engage in that sort of minor illegal activity, I think the cops should stop enforcing speed limits. They are “arbitrary laws that really don’t hurt anyone” anyway.
(* I am using the same “logic” that suggests people are killed by cops for sleeping in a park or stealing a cigar.)
I’m not going to spend much time on this part, because suggesting that cops stop profiling is the same idiotic logic that has the TSA patting down 90 year old ladies and 3 year old children as they board airplanes. Like it or not, profiling works. It is a natural process in the human brain. We all do it every single day. To suggest that cops be preventing from doing it is completely asinine.
2. Community Oversight
“Police usually investigate and decide what, if any, consequences their fellow officers should face in cases of police misconduct. Under this system, less than 1 in every 12 complaints of police misconduct nationwide results in some kind of disciplinary action against the officer(s) responsible. Communities need an urgent way to ensure police officers are held accountable for police violence.”
“Establish an all-civilian oversight structure with discipline power that includes a Police Commission and Civilian Complaints Office with the following powers”
Everything I quoted above is completely ridiculous. They are demanding a group of people with no subject matter knowledge or expertise be the group solely responsible for judging whether or not actions taken by someone in that field were reasonable. And they base that demand on the misconception that cops cover for dirty cops. I have written extensively on this topic in the past, so in response to this, I will just say their perception is not remotely accurate. If you want to know why, you can read this.
“Remove barriers to reporting police misconduct. For all stops by a police officer, require officers to give civilians their name, badge number, reason for the stop and a card with instructions for filing a complaint to the civilian oversight structure.”
There are no barriers. Every agency in the US accepts complaints from the public. Demanding that we hand out a card for every contact with the information they are demanding is silly, would take up valuable law enforcement time, would prolong every single law enforcement contact/detention and would cost millions of dollars. Call me crazy, but this seems like a really dumb idea.
3. Limit Use Of Force
You know, because there are no limits right now. We can just use as much force as we want, whenever we want…
How do you have a rational discussion with someone who remotely suggests that there are no limitations on the amount of force cops can use?
Honestly, I really do not know how to approach this, because other than once again suggesting that cops stop doing cop work (“End traffic-related police killings and dangerous high-speed police chases”), everything they demand already exists.
Let me examine just one of their bullet points here:
“ – use minimum force to apprehend a suspect, with specific guidelines for the types of force and tools authorized for a given level of resistance”
The law already provides that officers can only use that level of force which is necessary to overcome the amount of resistance they meet. In fact case law, as ruled on by the Supreme Court in Graham v. Connor, is pretty darn specific in that matter. But hey, if they acknowledge that there already are limitations on the use of force, then that destroys most of their argument…
As for the specific guidelines for what use of force tools to employ and when, every agency in the US has a use of force policy which discusses those specifics. Sadly there are actually some agencies that still use those old “use of force ladders” or “use of force continuums,” which are notorious for getting lots of cops hurt over the years. When someone in an office mandates specific steps that need to be followed on the street, where situations are volatile and unpredictable, they lock officers into following specific those steps before moving to the next, or face punishment. Use of force policies based on the “use of force paradigm” allow officers to choose the proper level of force out of the gate, without having to use lower, inappropriate levels of force before moving to the appropriate level.
As an example, a use of force ladder would mandate that an officer try the lowest level of force (mere presence, followed by verbal commands) first, before moving up the ladder to physical force. If I am confronting an armed subject, call me crazy, but my first level of force is going to be switching to guns.
Area of Agreement: They definitely have a point, one I’m sure every cop out there will agree with too, that officers guilty of use of force violations that are significant enough that they would result in firing, who are actually fired or who resign to avoid being fired, should be prevented from ever working in law enforcement again. I wholeheartedly agree! Bad cops, or even good cops who screw up big time, which in reality make up a fraction of a fraction of a percent of law enforcement, make everything worse for the rest of us.
4. Independent Investigations and Prosecutions
“Local prosecutors rely on local police departments to gather the evidence and testimony they need to successfully prosecute criminals. This makes it hard for them to investigate and prosecute the same police officers in cases of police violence. These cases should not rely on the police to investigate themselves and should not be prosecuted by someone who has an incentive to protect the police officers involved.”
So, the people complaining about the cops are demanding the creation of yet another branch of law enforcement? I’m totally confused.
Logistically speaking, fiscally speaking, logically speaking, suggesting a new state agency that investigates “all cases where police kill or seriously injure civilians” fails to pass any sort of reality check.
For argument sake, I will use a small state as an example, say Maryland. Say the Baltimore PD shoots a suspect in a case, at the end of a pursuit on a busy street in a busy neighborhood. BLM is suggesting that this new state agency is going to respond and handle the entire investigation of that shooting, which not only includes processing of all physical evidence (all CSI stuff), interviewing all witnesses and officers involved, reviewing of the original call for service, any and all video, etc. That takes a significant amount of time and manpower.
Now, imagine that across town, another officer arrests a person and during that scuffle, the person gets face planted into the ground and suffers a broken nose and maybe a fractured orbital socket. Now that same state run agency has to respond to the second scene.
Then say somewhere in Cambridge, MD, a cop arrests a person and that person put up a fight, and got their arm broken while resisting. Now that state agency has to respond to there and handle that investigation.
And that is using a tiny little state as an example. Imagine a densely populated state like New York, or a geographically large state like California, or Texas, and you begin to see how utterly unreasonable this suggestion becomes.
5. Community Representation
Can I just call them racists right now?
“While white men represent less than one third of the U.S. population, they comprise about two thirds of U.S. police officers. The police should reflect and be responsive to the cultural, racial and gender diversity of the communities they are supposed to serve.”
We’ve tried racial quotas in the past. We had a thing called “affirmative action” here in the US for decades. Hell, most agencies are still doing their best to hire as many non-white, non-males as they can. There are no hiring policies, by any agency in the US, that prevent the hiring of cops based on gender or ethnicity. If there were, you can bet your butt that agency would be on the losing end of a huge lawsuit.
You want better “community representation” by your local law enforcement agency?
APPLY FOR A JOB!
It really is just that simple.
Suggesting that law enforcement agencies do anything special to recruit or hire “minority” applicants is not only racist (showing preference to one person over another based on nothing more than ethnicity), but it results in disastrous consequences. Anyone familiar with what happened with LAPD’s Rampart Division?
6. Body Cams / Film the Police
“While they are not a cure-all, body cameras and cell phone video have illuminated cases of police violence and have shown to be important tools for holding officers accountable. Every case where a police officer has been charged with a crime for killing a civilian this year has relied on video evidence showing the officer’s actions.”
Area of Agreement: Absolutely, 100%, Amen, Hallelujah!!!!!
While BLM seems to indicate cops do not want cameras, I would and have argued that the vast majority of us actually do want them. What we do not want is some mouthy jackass with his cellphone camera interfering with us as we do our job. You want to record, that is perfectly fine, but do it from a reasonable distance and do not get involved.
As for body cameras, Hell Yes! Just like in-car cameras, they have actually proven, repeatedly, that the cops are actually justified, and not lying about events, as compared to “committing police brutality” in the realm of 1000:1. Cameras save far more cops butts than they have ever hurt, especially when the entire incident is viewed, just not some carefully edited snippet that both BLM and the media like to show.
Yes! Absolutely Yes! Give us cameras, please!!!!!
“The current training regime for police officers fails to effectively teach them how to interact with our communities in a way that protects and preserves life. For example, police recruits spend 58 hours learning how to shoot firearms and only 8 hours learning how to de-escalate situations. An intensive training regime is needed to help police officers learn the behaviors and skills to interact appropriately with communities.”
Sorry, but all I am hearing in every single one of their bullet points here is “the cops need to be nice and understanding and caring and cuddly and fluffy.”
Cops go through a significant amount of firearms training because their ability to handle a weapon safely is a huge liability. Many academy recruits have never held a gun before. Not many of those same recruits have never spoken to a person of a different cultural view before. Most of us in life have had at least 18 years of “training” of how to interact with other human beings.
Furthermore, suggesting that we “Intentionally consider ‘unconscious’ or ‘implicit’ racial bias” is yet another load of progressive liberal hogwash. This is just more of the “white privilege” that they have been trying to stuff down our throats.
Perhaps, in order to solve these problems, perhaps they could consider training the public that the best way to not become a victim of “police brutality” is comply with officers commands if and when they are contacted by the cops?
Call me crazy, but as a kid who drove too fast and hung out with some really stupid friends, I encountered the cops far more often than the average kid my age. Oddly enough, I never was the victim of any form of “police brutality.” The best training they could receive would be to watch the following two videos (both videos are NSFW due to language).
8. End For-Profit Policing
“Police should be working to keep people safe, not contributing to a system that profits from stopping, searching, ticketing, arresting and incarcerating people.”
What did I miss? Do we get bonuses for tickets? Did I miss out on that free toaster for my 100th arrest? Seriously, does anyone believe this stuff?
First, ticket quotas are already illegal. Agencies that fail to figure that out, end up on the losing end of very expensive lawsuits.
Second, law enforcement agencies neither set the levels of the fines nor do they benefit financially from the money collected from said fines. Suggesting that failure to appearing for traffic citations not incur fines or warrants is once again suggesting that 1) cops stop doing cop work and 2) suggests law breakers be ignored.
Area of Agreement: I do agree that in some states, civil forfeiture has taken a rather bizarre turn for the worse. I do think that civil forfeiture laws need to be reexamined and changes similar to what they suggest should be put in place. Seizing money or property should only be done if criminal charges are accompanying, period.
I hear lots and lots of dog whistles and “trigger words” here.
“The events in Ferguson have introduced the nation to the ways that local police departments can misuse military weaponry to intimidate and repress communities. Last year alone, militarized SWAT teams killed at least 38 people. The following policies limit police departments from obtaining or using these weapons on our streets.”
First, in order to demilitarize something, it has to have been militarized in the first place, and as I have written extensively on this topic, there is no such thing actually taking place. Suggesting that because 38 people were killed by SWAT teams last year is in no way, shape or form any sort of evidence of militarization, nor does it even indicate that any, let alone all, of those deaths were not justified.
What in fact has been going on in law enforcement is modernization, not militarization. Law enforcement is not using tanks, they are not running around in “full battle rattle,” we do not have machine guns, and we are not running around if fire teams. Armored cars are not new and have been employed by law enforcement as early as the 1920’s. An external, load bearing vest is not a plate carrier. A semi-auto AR-15 is not a “machine gun.” Nearly everything that goes into the “militarized cops” argument is just emotionally charged BS.
10. Fair Police Union Contracts
Ah yes, “fairness”… The new rallying cry from the left. The whole “life has to be fair” argument that is so touted by the progressive socialists.
“Police unions have used their influence to establish unfair protections for police officers in their contracts with local, state and federal government and in statewide Law Enforcement Officers’ Bills of Rights. These provisions create one set of rules for police and another for civilians, and make it difficult for Police Chiefs or civilian oversight structures to punish police officers who are unfit to serve.”
Apparently, according to BLM, it is:
- unfair that cops are given certain protections when they are forced to give testimony in a police investigation, you know because the average person cannot be forced to testify (that whole silly 5th Amendment thing), where as we can be…
- unfair that the average citizen is prevented from “having the power to discipline, subpoena or interrogate police officers,” you know, because they currently have the right to do that with other average citizens…
- unfair that cops can appeal their internal departmentally prescribed discipline with their employer, because the average citizen can appeal discipline at their job so some other outside ruling body, or something…
- unfair that cops cannot be forced to take a lie detector test, just like the rest of the country can also not be forced to take one…
- unfair that cops can have unsustained complaints against them removed from their personnel files…
- unfair that cop’s personnel files are not routinely subject to freedom of information act requests (they can be subpoenaed in court, just not released to the public under a FOIA request)
- unfair that an officer be paid while they are forced to be off the job while they are subject of an investigation into a shooting they were involved in (guilty until proven innocent now?)
Yeah, all of those things sound really “fair” to me…
While there may have been a few (4) things that I could find common ground with in this laundry list of “policy suggestions,” most of the items they listed are based on their warped perception of reality, and all really boil down to the fact that they want cops to ignore illegal activity and that when someone gets hurt by the cops, it is all the cops fault no matter what.
Here are some policy suggestions I have for BLM which I can absolutely guarantee will solve 99.9% of their problems:
- Obey the law.
- If you fail to follow #1, and are contacted by the cops, obey their commands.
- If you break the law and are caught, man up and acknowledge your mistakes.
- If you think you can do this job better than us, please, PLEASE join the ranks and show us first hand.