Fixing police brutality

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Diemo
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Fixing police brutality

Postby Diemo » Thu Apr 30, 2015 12:40 pm UTC

Ok, so I was considering this, based on a comment that I made in the police brutality case, and the response to that. I thought that this was interesting enough that it should have it's own thread.

So, I doubt that it is possible to stop police brutality, so we should focus on methods to minimise it. There have been suggestions on how to do this (the obvious one is to use body cameras, which has been shown to work1). However, as pointed out, police often get away with brutality despite video evidence, e.g. the Eric Garner case. In order to stop this my suggestion was that the police should have to go to court everytime they use violence, with the case decided by a randomly selected jury.

In terms of the jury, I was thinking about the Irish system, where an employer is forced to keep paying someone on jury duty as though they were in work, and you can get an exception to juror duty if you are self-employed. I understand that this is not the case in other jurisdictions.

The jury being randomly selected from the population is important (in Ireland, they are randomly selected from the registrar of voters) as this means that the people of the city will be represented (on the whole). Otherwise you can have the case where the people picking the jurors and the police collude to insure that the police are not given a proper trial.

In the same manner, to prevent someone from being on all of the cases I suggested that there should be a period after serving on a case that you were ineligible for service. In the same way, you should be ineligible for service if you are suspected of not being impartial (i.e. judge, a cop's partner, etc).

There would need to be a prosecutor service set up. If you pay the prosecutors a bonus every time they successfully prosecute, then they are going to treat the police badly. However, if there is no incentive to prosecute the officers (from the point of view of the prosecutor) then it is possible to get a situation such where the prosecutor doesn't present all the evidence, or skews the evidence, in order to get the cop off the charge.

Another discussion point is whether these courts should have a judge, or should have a set punishment upon being found guilty. I do favour having a set punishment (in order to reduce corruption), but then you get into the arguments over what the actual punishments should be.

I also suggested that the courts shouldn't be anble to have criminal or civil charges, with the worst that could happen to the officer being that he loses his job. The case can then be brought into the actual courts for prosecution. So this is an over view board rather than a court, and possible the words used should be changed to reflect this.

Thoughts?
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leady
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Re: Fixing police brutality

Postby leady » Thu Apr 30, 2015 3:16 pm UTC

To start with your question is incomplete I think. At the very least you need to add provisos of "without a material increase in crime" & "without a material increase in costs"

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Diemo
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Re: Fixing police brutality

Postby Diemo » Thu Apr 30, 2015 3:24 pm UTC

No, you don't.

I mean, there are arguments for trying to minimise crime and cost. But expecting there to be no increase in cost is unrealistic.

I am not convinced that the police do a good job of preventing crime, so much as finding criminals and punishing crime.
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Re: Fixing police brutality

Postby leady » Thu Apr 30, 2015 3:45 pm UTC

Without those restrictions the obvious answer is to not have police :). You need sensible parameters to generate sensible solutions.

You also need a view of the tolerable level of "brutality" because it can never be zero (from both a legally sanctioned and extra legal perspective) & you need to include risk to the police (one of the reasons being police is fairly safe is the overkill nature of policing)

Basically what are your trade offs?

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Diemo
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Re: Fixing police brutality

Postby Diemo » Thu Apr 30, 2015 4:15 pm UTC

Yes, yes, not having police is a trivial, and hence uninteresting, answer.

And you do need a view of the tolerable level of brutality - which in my case would be that the police never escalate violence (i.e. they never pull a gun until a gun has been pulled on them, they only talk until someone tries to punch, etc.). Now obviously this is not going to work 100% of the time, especially if they are arresting someone. So what is the level that you would accept?

This also moves into the idea of what punishments should be given out for police brutality, and how they should scale? Should someone be fired whenever they kill someone, regardless of the circumstances? Should a policeman never be fired? What should the punishment be for beating up a suspect?

I disagree that policemen are safer due to the overkill nature of the police. Ireland has approximately 6 million people and approximately 15, 000 policemen. Missouri also has approximately 6 million people, and has a much higher rate of overkill where police are concerned. The number of policemen in Missouri is unknown (mainly because there are a large number of different departments and I don't want to count them all).

The rate of deaths in Ireland is small. The rate of deaths in Missouri is high. As such, I think that overkill in policing is an active hindrance, though I will concede that point if someone challenges me on it (this is nowhere near enough to prove it). But I do think that it proves that overkill in the course of policing is not helpful.
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Re: Fixing police brutality

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Apr 30, 2015 5:07 pm UTC

leady wrote:Without those restrictions the obvious answer is to not have police :). You need sensible parameters to generate sensible solutions.

You also need a view of the tolerable level of "brutality" because it can never be zero (from both a legally sanctioned and extra legal perspective) & you need to include risk to the police (one of the reasons being police is fairly safe is the overkill nature of policing)

Basically what are your trade offs?


I'm actually entirely okay with considering that.

Keeping in mind that professional police forces are a fairly recent invention, and the modern militarized police force is very recent indeed, I think that considering other models entirely is within the bounds of reason.

Diemo wrote:Yes, yes, not having police is a trivial, and hence uninteresting, answer.


I quite disagree. The question then becomes how to you fulfill police duties without a permanent police force. Or, which duties do not need to be filled after all? That latter one could be illuminating even if you decide police are needed.

Diemo wrote:The rate of deaths in Ireland is small. The rate of deaths in Missouri is high. As such, I think that overkill in policing is an active hindrance, though I will concede that point if someone challenges me on it (this is nowhere near enough to prove it). But I do think that it proves that overkill in the course of policing is not helpful.


Even if it helps, which, as you noted, is far from proven, even if proving the negative is difficult....the point of police is not to maximize safety for police.

Police exist to protect society. Which, yes, does include police, but not JUST them. So, I'm not overly fond of justifying half a dozen illegitimate killings on the basis of saving one police officer's life, even if that IS true. So, in order to justify a practice on the grounds of safety, I would want to see evidence of an improvement in net safety, not merely police safety. Does that seem fair?

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Re: Fixing police brutality

Postby leady » Thu Apr 30, 2015 5:12 pm UTC

I'm a bad person to ask because I have a high tolerance to legal police violence for legitimate crime categories, but low tolerance to the trivial nonsense that society insists on policing that the police in practice focus on (because its easier) and use the same escalations on.

That said the police to actually police will always need to escalate force before the suspect - to the innocent party it should be a triviality, but to criminals the idea is to make resistance look futile. Make it look like a criminal is on a level field with the police and order collapses. Still pulling out an M16 during a traffic violation needs resistance.

Ireland vs Missouri is an unfair comparison as you might imagine.

guns laws and ownership rates...
Rural population vs urban (I suspect just comparing urban rates will shift them)
the interesting guardia tie up to organised nationalist crime (always a good way to way to restrict crime, monopolise it and outsource miscreant control :))

Tyndmyr
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Re: Fixing police brutality

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Apr 30, 2015 5:18 pm UTC

leady wrote:I'm a bad person to ask because I have a high tolerance to legal police violence for legitimate crime categories, but low tolerance to the trivial nonsense that society insists on policing that the police in practice focus on (because its easier) and use the same escalations on.


This is interesting, because it highlights a categorization difference. What makes crime categories legitimate?

I *suspect* that violent crimes are among those, regardless of edge cases, and that you would rank them as particularly important. IE, police exist to stop murderers, etc more than they do to give out traffic tickets*. Which...seems to mesh fairly close to a net reduction in violence. Using violence to stop/prevent violence seems fairly justifiable, but using violence in other cases seems much less so.



*In a moral justification sense, not in terms of time spent.

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Diemo
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Re: Fixing police brutality

Postby Diemo » Thu Apr 30, 2015 5:54 pm UTC

Yeah, my idea of police is the same as yours, Tyndmyr (which is hard to remember :) ). In fact, I would go a step further, their job should be to maximise the safety of the public, not the police. I am willing to pay police more for doing a dangerous job, but in a choice between the police safety and public safety I think that the public safety should get preference.

I think that in actuality, the number of times that a police officer should use violence is very small. Can you give me an example of when a police officer should you violence? At the moment, I can think of a few
1) In order to protect themselves or a member of the public from harm due to the aggressive actions of others. Here, I am thinking something like using violence in order to stop someone who is abusing their partner, etc.
2) During an active crime scene. I would imagine that this is very very rare.

Now, topically, there are also situations where riots develop. In this case I don't think that violence is the answer. I think that the police shouldn't use violence in this type of confrontation. This is mainly because if there is riots happening, this indicates that there are serious social issues occurring, and using violence against the victims of those social issues seems like it would only exacerbate them.

That said the police to actually police will always need to escalate force before the suspect - to the innocent party it should be a triviality, but to criminals the idea is to make resistance look futile. Make it look like a criminal is on a level field with the police and order collapses. Still pulling out an M16 during a traffic violation needs resistance.


The police should never escalate. Do you agree that escalation is bad for police public relationships? Do you still think that escalation makes the police work safer? If so, could you provide some proof please?
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Qaanol
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Re: Fixing police brutality

Postby Qaanol » Thu Apr 30, 2015 6:05 pm UTC

One potential approach is that instead of having a small number of people dedicated to policing, there could be a societal expectation that in a sense “We are all police”. As in, we can all make arrests, we can all investigate things, we can all take evidence to the DA and try to start a prosecution, and in general we can all work to keep each other safe.

However it is quite readily foreseeable that in such a society—while it may work quite well most of the time—there would still be some investigations that “ordinary people” don’t have the time, resources, or inclination to carry out. So there is still a role for the police profession, though it may be reduced from what we have now.

What sorts of things would the police in that society do? Well, presumably most civilians would not spend much time doing police-work, so the police would have many of the responsibilities they do now. Other people would be allowed to do most of those things, it’s just that police-work would be the primary focus for the police—the thing they get paid for.

So what powers would these police have beyond those of ordinary citizens? Well…perhaps none. Perhaps any time that anyone wants to exercise enhanced powers, whether they are police or civilian, they have to go to a judge and get a warrant. Need to search somewhere? Get a warrant. Need to arrest someone? Get a warrant.

Now the obvious question arises, “What about spur-of-the-moment, unforeseen situations, where a police officer has to act immediately and there’s no time to get a warrant?”

And that, in fact, is one of the greatest strengths of this system: Anything that is legal for a police officer to do without a warrant, must also be legal for a civilian in the same situation. See someone robbing a store? Great, you are allowed to stop them just like a police officer could.

This works both ways, and defines a bright-line test for police power: would an action have been acceptable if done by a civilian? If not, then the officer needs a valid warrant to do it.

The premise that we are all police also does away with the myth that the professional police need to have overwhelming force to crush criminals. In fact, since we are all police, we vastly outnumber criminals and can crush them by sheer numbers.
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Tyndmyr
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Re: Fixing police brutality

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Apr 30, 2015 6:44 pm UTC

Qaanol wrote:One potential approach is that instead of having a small number of people dedicated to policing, there could be a societal expectation that in a sense “We are all police”. As in, we can all make arrests, we can all investigate things, we can all take evidence to the DA and try to start a prosecution, and in general we can all work to keep each other safe.

However it is quite readily foreseeable that in such a society—while it may work quite well most of the time—there would still be some investigations that “ordinary people” don’t have the time, resources, or inclination to carry out. So there is still a role for the police profession, though it may be reduced from what we have now.

What sorts of things would the police in that society do? Well, presumably most civilians would not spend much time doing police-work, so the police would have many of the responsibilities they do now. Other people would be allowed to do most of those things, it’s just that police-work would be the primary focus for the police—the thing they get paid for.

So what powers would these police have beyond those of ordinary citizens? Well…perhaps none. Perhaps any time that anyone wants to exercise enhanced powers, whether they are police or civilian, they have to go to a judge and get a warrant. Need to search somewhere? Get a warrant. Need to arrest someone? Get a warrant.


So, a return to Peelian principles, essentially? I can see that working. In fact, it does exist in some places. It's not *quite* no police, but it's certainly a very reduced role.

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Re: Fixing police brutality

Postby Cradarc » Fri May 01, 2015 12:10 am UTC

Some thoughts that may help you understand my response:
Spoiler:
Why just police? They are nothing more than people with guns who are given legal authority to use them in certain circumstances. They are not some alien species who are given power over the "common people". They are your neighbors, your friends, your associates, just like the people who are being killed and discriminated against.
The real problem is that certain people, who happen to carry fire arms for their jobs, are too trigger-happy. In order to address this problem we have to really understand why. It's easy to say "because they're racist", but that doesn't move us forward. It's like saying "because people are cruel" when asked why torture exists. There is something about American culture that is conditioning people to associate negative thoughts with African American males. To truly fix the problem, we must fix this aspect of our culture.

In my experience, this prejudice does not come from the color of a person's skin, but from the way the way they dress, the way they talk, the way they carry themselves. This prejudice is actually more severe in the "educated" population than the "uneducated". This is because formal education instills in people a sense of what is proper and professional. Hoodies are not professional, sagging pants are not professional, mumbling is not professional, slang is not professional, walking with a shuffle with your hands in your pockets is not professional. Because we have come to associate this professionalism with education, we naturally assume those who don't have it are less educated and less sophisticated. Because the lack of education is often associated with poverty and crime is often associated with poverty, it doesn't take much for these prejudices to solidify.

The problem is aggravated when a person you have prejudice towards acts in a way that affirms your impressions. For example, when someone who looks "shady" on the street comes up to you and asks "Hey man, can I borrow your phone so I can call mine? I lost it." what would you think?
My thoughts were: "It's 9 pm and barely anyone around. Where in the world could he have misplaced his phone such that he needs to call it to find it? I call bullshit."
Even though I had a legitimate reason to be suspicious, I also had prejudice feelings to how the guy looked. This experience could very well have reinforced my subconscious bias against people who looked like that.
(For the record, the guy was Caucasian, but he could have easily been African American)

The police are no more racist or brutal than the rest of the population. The only difference is that they have stressful jobs and are given the power to cause physical harm. Their prejudice can make larger ripples and attract more attention. The reality is, everyone, of all backgrounds, cultures, and physical appearance, are prejudice. It is not something we can solve. When people are calling for an end to police brutality, they are actually for an end to a symptom, not the condition.

Ending police brutality involves teaching people to be more understanding and less afraid to confront someone who is doing something illegal or unjust. It involves teaching people to be optimistic about human nature and empathetic toward those whom one finds repulsive. It involves teaching people how to approach a person who is obnoxious and potentially threatening in a calm, yet persuasive manner. It involves teaching people how to see every person as an individual with their own fears, their own anger, and their own pain, while still being committed to deliver justice.
Laws and requirements don't really change behavior, they merely punish misbehavior. While fear of punishment can be effective at changing a person's behavior, it is never the best way. It's one thing for a person to not commit murder because they fear social repercussion, and another thing for them to know that a person's life should be treasured.
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Re: Fixing police brutality

Postby BattleMoose » Fri May 01, 2015 2:03 am UTC

Body cameras on, all the time, back and front.

Its not necessary to have a formal investigation every time police violence is used. Verily with deaths and hospitalisations, sure.

Otherwise it should just be handled by the mechanism that any crime gets charged with. The police are not above the law and do not deserve "special" processes. Any citizen can lay charges of assault against anyone else, the Police need to not be different from this. The real problem is, that those charges aren't taken seriously. And they need to be. That's where the problem is. Figure out why that's the case and fix it.

EDIT:
As for the discussion of do we need Police. Yes, yes we do. Well I do. I will not live in a country where I cannot call the police to protect me and my family from a home invasion. Not going to happen.

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Re: Fixing police brutality

Postby Qaanol » Fri May 01, 2015 2:16 am UTC

BattleMoose wrote:The police are not above the law and do not deserve "special" processes. Any citizen can lay charges of assault against anyone else, the Police need to not be different from this. The real problem is, that those charges aren't taken seriously. And they need to be. That's where the problem is. Figure out why that's the case and fix it.

Very much this.

BattleMoose wrote:As for the discussion of do we need Police. Yes, yes we do. Well I do. I will not live in a country where I cannot call the police to protect me and my family from a home invasion. Not going to happen.

Do you also refuse to live in a country where, although you can call the police, they have no duty to protect you?

In any event, I’m pretty sure no one here is actually advocating to eliminate police.
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Re: Fixing police brutality

Postby morriswalters » Fri May 01, 2015 3:05 am UTC

He believes that he system is there to protect him as an individual. When in fact it isn't, at least not in most cases. A city of 700,000 citizens will be lucky to have 1200 officers to cover three shifts a day seven days a week. If you do the arithmetic and give consideration to all the other things that police do when they are not out beating and killing people you might see why.

Cameras are kind of seductive as one avenue to go down. But you would have to come up with coherent policies which limit the damage to the public at large and the police when that many cameras are involved. For instance when you get busted while frequenting your favorite prostitute do you want the arrest on YouTube? Or when that cop sees you urinating on a tree. Given that those events are going to happen with greater frequency then brutality you have to give it thought. The British seem to be into ubiquitous surveillance. Cameras everywhere. That might be helpful. Consistent standards nationwide along with mandatory reporting might also be helpful. Then you could use statistics to track problems earlier.

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Re: Fixing police brutality

Postby BattleMoose » Fri May 01, 2015 3:13 am UTC

morriswalters wrote:He believes that he system is there to protect him as an individual. When in fact it isn't, at least not in most cases. A city of 700,000 citizens will be lucky to have 1200 officers to cover three shifts a day seven days a week. If you do the arithmetic and give consideration to all the other things that police do when they are not out beating and killing people you might see why.


When I call the police, they come. That's what I demand and that's what I have. I have no idea what you are on about.

But you would have to come up with coherent policies which limit the damage to the public at large and the police when that many cameras are involved. For instance when you get busted while frequenting your favorite prostitute do you want the arrest on YouTube?


Firstly, how would it get on youtube? It would be trivial to make that like, not a police policy. Also, lawfulness of that? Secondly, the testimony of police has always been good enough in the past to carry a conviction. Thirdly, someone getting busted doing something illegal, couldn't care less.

Or when that cop sees you urinating on a tree. Given that those events are going to happen with greater frequency then brutality you have to give it thought.


Maybe don't urinate on trees? Or don't bitch if you get caught doing it?

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Re: Fixing police brutality

Postby leady » Fri May 01, 2015 8:59 am UTC

there is no police force in the world that stops home invasions. Deter yes, catch after the fact yes - but never stop in progress :)

One other problem with cameras is the same reason why you don't have cameras in abattoirs. People understand what has to happen (even if too frequent) but there are far fewer that can see it without an emotional reaction.

The police should never escalate. Do you agree that escalation is bad for police public relationships? Do you still think that escalation makes the police work safer? If so, could you provide some proof please?


They have too because almost by definition arrest is involuntary. If there is no threat of force, there is no policing (or they are more guidance councillors - "robbery is bad mmmkay"

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Re: Fixing police brutality

Postby BattleMoose » Fri May 01, 2015 9:58 am UTC

Sometimes when people invade your home, they linger, search, rape or even toture. There is ample scope to intterupt such situations. A great example featured on a rescent ted recently, lady called 911, cops had the day off and could not send help, she was raped and stuff.

And i totally agree with the point that we shouldnt have body cameras on cops because then we might have to see cops do awful things. Seeing cops do awful things is ofcourse worse than experiencing cops do awful things to you....

There are some situations where escalation isnt always in the public interest, like pursuing someone driving recklessly on a highway, maybe dont chase him?

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Re: Fixing police brutality

Postby leady » Fri May 01, 2015 10:14 am UTC

Sure you might get the occasional good fortune of a cop just driving past on your 911 call, but 99% of the time police exist to deter crime via arrest after the fact.

I'm not saying that we shouldn't film cops just that there are dangers in doing so. This thread for example is based around the concept of "brutality" and yet the vast majority of brutality is legally sanctioned. Normal people recoil from violence in a very knee jerk emotional manner in the same way that the abstraction of meat production is easy to gloss over, whereas watching a steady stream of screaming lambs get slaughtered is extremely difficult for most people to watch (hmmm Lamb). So you really need the public to understand and accept what they have asked the police to do before allowing millions of lay folk to pass judgement. Its easy to moralise from a nice comfy armchair with a laptop and especially so if you can take the 5th on the acceptance of reality of todays standards.

Even the driving example is a very grey one. I'm largely on the side of its not worth it either (risk vs reward), but the counter argument (and its a fair one) is that anyone that is willing to be that aggressive / reckless with the police is likely far more dangerous to the public. Whether this is proveable.... but I guarantee that as soon as one suspect is allowed to flee like this and then does something horrible, then the rabble will get all rabbley in the other direction. I'd suggest again that it needs better context, armed robbers = chase down, idiot kids joyriding at 12am is a track and contain situation (then give the little turds a good tazing after the fact)

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Re: Fixing police brutality

Postby morriswalters » Fri May 01, 2015 10:21 am UTC

BattleMoose wrote:When I call the police, they come. That's what I demand and that's what I have. I have no idea what you are on about.
Average police response times are around 10 to 12 minutes in the US. If you believe it is that simple I suggest you read the links provided in the post responding to you prior to mine. Trigger warning.
Spoiler:
In the early morning hours of Sunday, March 16, 1975, Carolyn Warren and Joan Taliaferro, who shared a room on the third floor of their rooming house at 1112 Lamont Street Northwest in the District of Columbia, and Miriam Douglas, who shared a room on the second floor with her four-year-old daughter, were asleep. The women were awakened by the sound of the back door being broken down by two men later identified as Marvin Kent and James Morse. The men entered Douglas' second floor room, where Kent forced Douglas to perform oral sex on him and Morse raped her.

Warren and Taliaferro heard Douglas' screams from the floor below. Warren telephoned the police, told the officer on duty that the house was being burglarized, and requested immediate assistance. The department employee told her to remain quiet and assured her that police assistance would be dispatched promptly.

Warren's call was received at Metropolitan Police Department Headquarters at 0623 hours, and was recorded as a burglary-in-progress. At 0626, a call was dispatched to officers on the street as a "Code 2" assignment, although calls of a crime in progress should be given priority and designated as "Code 1." Four police cruisers responded to the broadcast; three to the Lamont Street address and one to another address to investigate a possible suspect.

Meanwhile, Warren and Taliaferro crawled from their window onto an adjoining roof and waited for the police to arrive. While there, they observed one policeman drive through the alley behind their house and proceed to the front of the residence without stopping, leaning out the window, or getting out of the car to check the back entrance of the house. A second officer apparently knocked on the door in front of the residence, but left when he received no answer. The three officers departed the scene at 0633, five minutes after they arrived.

Warren and Taliaferro crawled back inside their room. They again heard Douglas' continuing screams; again called the police; told the officer that the intruders had entered the home, and requested immediate assistance. Once again, a police officer assured them that help was on the way. This second call was received at 0642 and recorded merely as "investigate the trouble;" it was never dispatched to any police officers.

Believing the police might be in the house, Warren and Taliaferro called down to Douglas, thereby alerting Kent to their presence. At knife point, Kent and Morse then forced all three women to accompany them to Kent's apartment. For the next fourteen hours the captive women were raped, robbed, beaten, forced to commit sexual acts upon one another, and made to submit to the sexual demands of Kent and Morse.

Warren, Taliaferro, and Douglas brought the following claims of negligence against the District of Columbia and the Metropolitan Police Department: (1) the dispatcher's failure to forward the 6:23 a. m. call with the proper degree of urgency; (2) the responding officers' failure to follow standard police investigative procedures, specifically their failure to check the rear entrance and position themselves properly near the doors and windows to ascertain whether there was any activity inside; and (3) the dispatcher's failure to dispatch the 6:42 a. m. call.
BattleMoose wrote:Firstly, how would it get on youtube?
Well now I don't know. But it would, perhaps through a Freedom Of Information request. In point of fact the issue has already arisen.
BattleMoose wrote:Maybe don't urinate on trees? Or don't bitch if you get caught doing it?
The point that eludes you is that cameras catch everything, intended or not. But if you put cameras on police than you should give consideration to what happens to the footage.

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Re: Fixing police brutality

Postby BattleMoose » Fri May 01, 2015 10:27 am UTC

morriswalters wrote:
BattleMoose wrote:When I call the police, they come. That's what I demand and that's what I have. I have no idea what you are on about.
Average police response times are around 10 to 12 minutes in the US. If you believe it is that simple I suggest you read the links provided in the post responding to you prior to mine. Trigger warning.
Spoiler:
In the early morning hours of Sunday, March 16, 1975, Carolyn Warren and Joan Taliaferro, who shared a room on the third floor of their rooming house at 1112 Lamont Street Northwest in the District of Columbia, and Miriam Douglas, who shared a room on the second floor with her four-year-old daughter, were asleep. The women were awakened by the sound of the back door being broken down by two men later identified as Marvin Kent and James Morse. The men entered Douglas' second floor room, where Kent forced Douglas to perform oral sex on him and Morse raped her.

Warren and Taliaferro heard Douglas' screams from the floor below. Warren telephoned the police, told the officer on duty that the house was being burglarized, and requested immediate assistance. The department employee told her to remain quiet and assured her that police assistance would be dispatched promptly.

Warren's call was received at Metropolitan Police Department Headquarters at 0623 hours, and was recorded as a burglary-in-progress. At 0626, a call was dispatched to officers on the street as a "Code 2" assignment, although calls of a crime in progress should be given priority and designated as "Code 1." Four police cruisers responded to the broadcast; three to the Lamont Street address and one to another address to investigate a possible suspect.

Meanwhile, Warren and Taliaferro crawled from their window onto an adjoining roof and waited for the police to arrive. While there, they observed one policeman drive through the alley behind their house and proceed to the front of the residence without stopping, leaning out the window, or getting out of the car to check the back entrance of the house. A second officer apparently knocked on the door in front of the residence, but left when he received no answer. The three officers departed the scene at 0633, five minutes after they arrived.

Warren and Taliaferro crawled back inside their room. They again heard Douglas' continuing screams; again called the police; told the officer that the intruders had entered the home, and requested immediate assistance. Once again, a police officer assured them that help was on the way. This second call was received at 0642 and recorded merely as "investigate the trouble;" it was never dispatched to any police officers.

Believing the police might be in the house, Warren and Taliaferro called down to Douglas, thereby alerting Kent to their presence. At knife point, Kent and Morse then forced all three women to accompany them to Kent's apartment. For the next fourteen hours the captive women were raped, robbed, beaten, forced to commit sexual acts upon one another, and made to submit to the sexual demands of Kent and Morse.

Warren, Taliaferro, and Douglas brought the following claims of negligence against the District of Columbia and the Metropolitan Police Department: (1) the dispatcher's failure to forward the 6:23 a. m. call with the proper degree of urgency; (2) the responding officers' failure to follow standard police investigative procedures, specifically their failure to check the rear entrance and position themselves properly near the doors and windows to ascertain whether there was any activity inside; and (3) the dispatcher's failure to dispatch the 6:42 a. m. call.


Again, I have no idea what you are on about or what your point is. Where I live, when I call the police, they come. You can list cases of police failures all you like, the point stands, when I call them they will come to protect me, unless I am extremely unfortunate to be one of those police failures.


The point that eludes you is that cameras catch everything, intended or not. But if you put cameras on police than you should give consideration to what happens to the footage.


The point doesn't elude me, I just don't care.

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Re: Fixing police brutality

Postby leady » Fri May 01, 2015 10:33 am UTC

The police come after the fact, not during and is essentially a feature of the system.

the average person commits several law infractions every day, if everything is filmed then you can be screwed at whim - that is a problem. Its the same reason police will tail someone they want to pull over, sooner or later a driver is guaranteed to violate a law.

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Re: Fixing police brutality

Postby morriswalters » Fri May 01, 2015 10:52 am UTC

BattleMoose wrote:The point doesn't elude me, I just don't care.
Yeah I get that you don't care. You call, they come. Got it. The point was that the police have no obligation to protect you as an individual. That isn't what they do.

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Re: Fixing police brutality

Postby Zamfir » Fri May 01, 2015 11:00 am UTC

leady wrote:I'm not saying that we shouldn't film cops just that there are dangers in doing so. This thread for example is based around the concept of "brutality" and yet the vast majority of brutality is legally sanctioned. Normal people recoil from violence in a very knee jerk emotional manner in the same way that the abstraction of meat production is easy to gloss over, whereas watching a steady stream of screaming lambs get slaughtered is extremely difficult for most people to watch (hmmm Lamb). So you really need the public to understand and accept what they have asked the police to do before allowing millions of lay folk to pass judgement. Its easy to moralise from a nice comfy armchair with a laptop and especially so if you can take the 5th on the acceptance of reality of todays standards.

So, knee jerk emotional people see the polcie beating up people on camera. They recoil and pass judgement from their comfy chairs. Where's the danger? Worst comes to worst, nothing changes. Hopefully, the police gets pressured to beat up less people. The police beats up less people. Still sounds good to me.

Are you arguing that the police needs to be brutal without leaving evidence, to do their expected job?

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Re: Fixing police brutality

Postby leady » Fri May 01, 2015 11:26 am UTC

I'm saying that the police by definition is a state sanctioned entity that is instructed to inflict violence as part of activities

I'm saying that the lay person is not in a particularly good position to derive the correct level of violence to police certain situations

I'm saying that the lay person will naturally tend to recoil from the sanctioned level agreed by experts across the entire legal framework

I'm saying that emotional reactions are not the best way to determine the correctness of an action


note this is not the same as police doing extra judicial stuff, but the standard stuff like elbowing and punching people that are resisting during being restrained that looks brutal but I can well believe is necessary

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Re: Fixing police brutality

Postby BattleMoose » Fri May 01, 2015 11:48 am UTC

morriswalters wrote:
BattleMoose wrote:The point doesn't elude me, I just don't care.
Yeah I get that you don't care. You call, they come. Got it. The point was that the police have no obligation to protect you as an individual. That isn't what they do.


Whether or not they have an obligation to protect me as an individual, the point is moot, they do.

The police come after the fact, not during and is essentially a feature of the system.


This isn't always true. And if the police don't come at all, things will get much, much worse.

the average person commits several law infractions every day, if everything is filmed then you can be screwed at whim - that is a problem.


You paint it as if we have no capacity to change the laws. Besides, cops see heaps of infractions everyday that they don't enforce. And the idea that there will be a bureaucracy that will sift through these videos to pick out every case, its just nonsense. Or if they were to just pick on individuals, that would fall under harassment.

Its the same reason police will tail someone they want to pull over, sooner or later a driver is guaranteed to violate a law.


You are talking to every much the wrong person on this account. I would be *very happy* if all motorists got pulled over every time they committed a violation. Except the picking on specific people part, that's not cool, but again, harassment laws.

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Re: Fixing police brutality

Postby morriswalters » Fri May 01, 2015 12:14 pm UTC

Beating up suspects isn't all that police do. And having the camera on at all times is going to catch a lot of things that the people involved don't want to share. If you are going to use cameras than all well and good. But you have to have the discussion about what you are going to do with the video after it exists. And how you are going to pay to maintain the video that you capture. And how long you are going to maintain it.

The camera sees what the police do. But the police see a lot. And some of it doesn't need to be seen by everybody. A first encounter with a rape victim comes to mind. Or a dead child after a parent beats him to death. Or a dead body shot multiple times in an alley. If the camera is elective than it won't solve anything. And if it isn't, than it captures everything. the worst response I can think of, is one were you do something without understanding the nature of what you want to do. Who is he gatekeeper? Who makes the choice about what the public can see and what they can't?

BattleMoose wrote:Whether or not they have an obligation to protect me as an individual, the point is moot, they do.
I'm happy that they have. However in my world police exert presence. Everyone knows that they are there. But if someone comes up behind me on the street that won't save me, but it is less likely to happen because they exist.

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Re: Fixing police brutality

Postby BattleMoose » Fri May 01, 2015 12:41 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:Beating up suspects isn't all that police do. And having the camera on at all times is going to catch a lot of things that the people involved don't want to share. If you are going to use cameras than all well and good. But you have to have the discussion about what you are going to do with the video after it exists. And how you are going to pay to maintain the video that you capture. And how long you are going to maintain it.

The camera sees what the police do. But the police see a lot. And some of it doesn't need to be seen by everybody. A first encounter with a rape victim comes to mind. Or a dead child after a parent beats him to death. Or a dead body shot multiple times in an alley. If the camera is elective than it won't solve anything. And if it isn't, than it captures everything. the worst response I can think of, is one were you do something without understanding the nature of what you want to do. Who is he gatekeeper? Who makes the choice about what the public can see and what they can't?


This really isn't a hard problem to manage, I am surprised its getting so much of your attention. Need a system to protect civilians from police violence, generate video that can aid in convictions and protect police from false accusations and the need to protect the people being filmed.

Restricting access to people who have an interest in the video in regards to a court case would be an obvious place to start, lawyers, DA office, et cetera. Making it unlawful to make the video public unless approved by a judge or some such. I imagine there are many acceptable variations in managing this that would work acceptably.

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Re: Fixing police brutality

Postby Zamfir » Fri May 01, 2015 12:46 pm UTC

I'm saying that the lay person is not in a particularly good position to derive the correct level of violence to police certain situations

I'm saying that the lay person will naturally tend to recoil from the sanctioned level agreed by experts across the entire legal framework

I'm saying that emotional reactions are not the best way to determine the correctness of an action

That's hardly an argument against cameras. The absence of hard evidence does not give people a better position to judge the correctness of an action.

People want cameras because they do not believe that the police is always acting at the "sanctioned level agreed by experts across the entire legal framework".
Beating up suspects isn't all that police do. And having the camera on at all times is going to catch a lot of things that the people involved don't want to share. If you are going to use cameras than all well and good. But you have to have the discussion about what you are going to do with the video after it exists. And how you are going to pay to maintain the video that you capture. And how long you are going to maintain it.

There can be discussion about the details, but the main concept seems fairly clear to me. The cameras images are not made public by default. They are stored for a fixed amount of time, unless an incident has happened or a complaint has been made. The storage time is determined by the limits of an affordable budget, but should be long enough that most incidents and complaints can be registered in time, or the system is not useful. If images are repeatedly found to be absent in disputed cases, the responsible organization comes under outside review.

Once an incident is registered, the images are made available to the investigating body of the incident. A court of law if that's where the process goes to. If the investigating body itself is under dispute, the images will be available to a higher body. People can request for images to made public, through a formal legal procedure. There should be a public interest in the release. This procedure takes the interests of others into account. Faces might have to be blurred, or the material is not published.

EDIT: Or, what BattleMoose said

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Re: Fixing police brutality

Postby leady » Fri May 01, 2015 1:03 pm UTC

Oh I recognise that its far from a clincher, but is one counter point.

I assume you'd generally agree that partial information is often more dangerous than complete ignorance? The population at large is generally in complete ignorance of what and how policing is done and its not unreasonable to think that raw access to arrest footage maybe rather damaging to policing. Of course this just means that legal frameworks need to established such that the two key purposes of recording (extra legal brutality & officer exoneration) are satisfied, but the publics voyeurism less so

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Re: Fixing police brutality

Postby Zamfir » Fri May 01, 2015 1:45 pm UTC


I assume you'd generally agree that partial information is often more dangerous than complete ignorance?

Not quite. I agree that it can be, but not often. I would take as general case that partial information is better than complete ignorance, unless there is a very good reason to assume the opposite.

In this, I am highly skeptical. If there is missing information required, the police can supply that. They can explain why certain violent procedures are necessary, or unavoidable. And footage plus justification is pretty much the full case.

I've always worked in potentially dangerous and polluting industries. I know the sausage factory feeling. Outsiders who complain without understanding, and who use the products produced by the processes they complain about. But at the same time, I also know how inside experts can easily come to ignore very reasonable issues, exactly by shutting out partially informed outsiders. As a rule, it better if the insiders have to defend their compromises to a skeptical outside, than if they can ignore them and go their own way.

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Re: Fixing police brutality

Postby mathmannix » Fri May 01, 2015 2:12 pm UTC

"Fixing police brutality"??? Even a worse thread title than "Police misbehavior thread".

Why are there so many people who are anti-police around this forum? Me, I support police officers. They are the ones that have to be out there on the street, protecting us from ourselves. They deserve more respect, just like soldiers and firefighters. Brave men and women who make a difference, even just by being there.

Yes, I know they aren't all perfect. There are bad cops out there. But there is already a system in place to control this. An internal system. Internal affairs, and an Inspector General's office. And a police chief or commissioner who is ultimately answerable to the public, as he or she is appointed by a directly elected mayor or city council, or even directly elected as in the case of a county sheriff.

Normal citizens like I don't (and shouldn't) have the right to question the actions of individual officers; it can keep them from doing their jobs effectively. (Just like we shouldn't question government officials after we elect them to fixed terms. You want change, go vote.)

There, I've said my two cents.
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Re: Fixing police brutality

Postby Diemo » Fri May 01, 2015 2:25 pm UTC

You two cents sound very much like you would like to live in a dictatorship.

If individual people are unable to question the acts of policemen, then a police state is very easy to set up. Are you setting up a police state? Arrest him, he can't ask questions of individual officers.

As for not questioning elected officials, now your talking about an actual dictatorship. Putin is "elected", I suppose you think that you shouldn't be able to question his decisions either?

leady wrote:I assume you'd generally agree that partial information is often more dangerous than complete ignorance?


I'm with Zamfir here. While I will accept that there are times that partial information is more dangerous than complete ignorance, my default assumption is that more information is always better. So you will have to show me that partial information is more dangerous here before I will accept it as a premise.

And I do think that it is unreasonable to think that access to the raw footage from police cams will be damaging to policing. If it is damaging to policing, then the police are clearly not keeping within the law, and their police work should be damaged (I mean, it should be stopped altogether). There are plenty of different psychology experiments that show that if you give people power, they become corrupt/use that power for their own personal gain. I think that expecting police officers to be different from the average person in this case is wrong. That is why I think that the police need to be watched. And internal affairs in a police department don't seem to be doing a great job, though they could be doing a great job in which case the problem with police in America is much much worse than it seems.

In terms of escalations, as I have at this point said several times, I don't think the police should escalate. However, if someone does decide to resist arrest, then I think that the police should be able to use non-lethal weaponry to incapacitate the suspect.
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Re: Fixing police brutality

Postby ucim » Fri May 01, 2015 2:43 pm UTC

BattleMoose wrote:You paint it as if we have no capacity to change the laws. Besides, cops see heaps of infractions everyday that they don't enforce. And the idea that there will be a bureaucracy that will sift through these videos to pick out every case, its just nonsense. Or if they were to just pick on individuals, that would fall under harassment.
Google facial recognition to the rescue. It's only going to get better and more intrusive. Do you not see what the next few steps are?

My issue with police cameras is that the police control the footage. The police are filming the citizens. It should be the other way around.

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Re: Fixing police brutality

Postby leady » Fri May 01, 2015 3:02 pm UTC

Diemo wrote:I'm with Zamfir here. While I will accept that there are times that partial information is more dangerous than complete ignorance, my default assumption is that more information is always better. So you will have to show me that partial information is more dangerous here before I will accept it as a premise.


No I get it & agree, but I think we should shoot for a full discussion and understanding rather than expecting cameras to be a panacea without an informed framework.

And I do think that it is unreasonable to think that access to the raw footage from police cams will be damaging to policing. If it is damaging to policing, then the police are clearly not keeping within the law, and their police work should be damaged (I mean, it should be stopped altogether).


I think you are providing a particularly good example right now. I'd be willing to bet that there are 1000s of arrests across the US that if on camera you would have the reaction that you are leaping to above, that are fully in accordance with policing guidelines both national and internationally. The problem is that a lot of criminals are pretty ornery. So absolutely consider filming everything, but copies will need restricting, but an open restriction (in the societal sense) so that they don't end up on bad shows on TLC.


In terms of escalations, as I have at this point said several times, I don't think the police should escalate. However, if someone does decide to resist arrest, then I think that the police should be able to use non-lethal weaponry to incapacitate the suspect.


One of us has a different definition of escalation :) Tazing someone is escalation in my view - anything above talking is. After that its just a matter of degree. I'm more a keep two stages ahead person, i.e. control non resistant unarmed with threat of non-lethal, unarmed resistance with threat of damaging force (battons etc), threatening resistance with lethal force etc. I think that puts me a step nastier than most people.

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Re: Fixing police brutality

Postby ShadE » Fri May 01, 2015 4:28 pm UTC

The only way to 'fix' it totally is to end police, then it just becomes brutality, which will still happen. The problem is that police are given extra trust/responsibility, but in reality they are very similar to normal citizens. http://www.policemisconduct.net/ has specific examples you can read about till your heart's content. The 2010 annual report in the statistics tab is especially enlightening and includes a pretty graph comparing violent offenses by police to the population at large:
Image

Cameras seem to be a good idea... but as we have seen even seemingly indisputable video evidence does not always lead to conviction. What cameras do is make it plain to the public exactly what goes on. In 'we said, they said' scenarios police are typically given the benefit of the doubt. Perusing the specific examples on the aforementioned site gives a glaring example (from the 04/22/15) of one officer with 18 prior excessive force complaints only being investigated when caught on video.

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Re: Fixing police brutality

Postby morriswalters » Fri May 01, 2015 4:43 pm UTC

BattleMoose wrote:Restricting access to people who have an interest in the video in regards to a court case would be an obvious place to start, lawyers, DA office, et cetera. Making it unlawful to make the video public unless approved by a judge or some such. I imagine there are many acceptable variations in managing this that would work acceptably.
Good idea. What are they? Legislation is being written as we speak. And it may not represent what you think might happen or should happen. FOI requests for the data has already caused at least one department to stop using cameras on police. In the US this is going to be an issue. Here is a source describing some of the issues.

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Re: Fixing police brutality

Postby Qaanol » Fri May 01, 2015 6:07 pm UTC

It sounds like we have two intertwined discussions here. One is, “Should police use body cameras, and if so what should the rules surrounding them be?” while the other is something like, “What is the proper role for police?”

The first question is probably more likely to have real-world impacts in the immediate future, but the second question is more fundamental. So far we’ve had several things put forth as “What police should do”. The ones I can recall are:

• Investigate crimes that have already occurred
• Arrest suspects
• Stop crimes in progress
• Issue traffic tickets
• De-escalate dangerous situations
• Have a “presence” that deters crime
• Inflict violence

That last one, I hasten to mention, is a direct quote from a post in this thread. Are there other things that should be included in the discussion of what police are there for, meaning what they ought to do?
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Re: Fixing police brutality

Postby Lazar » Fri May 01, 2015 11:46 pm UTC

mathmannix wrote:Why are there so many people who are anti-police around this forum?

It might just be because of the constant stream of repugnant abuses perpetrated by police in this country. If you pay any attention to this issue, you'll see that it's not just a few hyped-up incidents, but rather a disturbingly regular feature of our society. Some highlights:

[Edit: See here.]

I don't consider myself anti-police, but I am strongly critical of them, and stories like these are a major reason why.

They are the ones that have to be out there on the street, protecting us from ourselves.

You're confusing what they ought to be doing with what they are doing. I don't deny that police do some good, but too often they're concerned with protecting themselves, with protecting their institutions, with prosecuting a drug war which is just as quixotic and destructive as the Prohibition of the 1920s, and – sometimes – with simple power tripping.

They deserve more respect, just like soldiers and firefighters. Brave men and women who make a difference, even just by being there.

No, they don't. Policing isn't a particularly dangerous job (take a look at fishing), and it can be quite a lucrative one, with great job security. Police have been placed in a position of overblown authority among the population, and in practice they have the freedom to harass people and ruin their lives on a mere whim, with only the most egregious and well-publicized cases receving any punishment. Police have become increasingly militarized in terms of both equipment and tactics, and all too often they fall into warlike patterns of thinking – viewing the surrounding population as the enemy, and focusing more on the use of overwhelming force than on peaceful conflict resolution. Though what I've regularly heard from soldiers is that the behavior of today's police would never meet the careful rules of engagement and force escalation that the military adheres to. In story after story, we hear of cops "fearing for their safety" on the flimsiest of pretexts, of cops who interpret even the slightest hesitancy or confusion on the part of a suspect as resistance worthy of violent retaliation. And while wrongdoing by a servant of the people, under the color of law, should be considered especially heinous, the situation with police seems to be the reverse: blatant cases of assault and attempted murder are reduced to mere disciplinary infractions, violations not of law but of "policy". Respect is earned, and the behavior of American police on a systematic level has done nothing to earn mine.

Yes, I know they aren't all perfect. There are bad cops out there. But there is already a system in place to control this. An internal system. Internal affairs, and an Inspector General's office. And a police chief or commissioner who is ultimately answerable to the public, as he or she is appointed by a directly elected mayor or city council, or even directly elected as in the case of a county sheriff.

To claim that it's only a few bad apples is to divert attention from the substance of the problem. There are a few actively bad cops who perpetrate the abuses, but there are far more passively bad cops who stand by and protect them. You'd have to be hopelessly naive not to recognize that the blue wall of silence is a real and troublesome thing – many cops speak of it openly. The police force cannot be trusted to police itself, and in that respect it's no different from any other public institution or sector of industry. And local prosecutors often have cozy relationships with the police that compromise their zeal for justice. The solution is to set up a public advocate, independent from other institutions, whose sole duty is to investigate abuse by police and other public officials.

And as for elections? Elections are not the same thing as accountability, and they're particularly ill-suited to offices – for example, in the judiciary or law enforcement – which ought to remain apolitical, professional and meritocratic. Such elections breed demagoguery and corruption, and they're as likely to produce a lunatic like Joe Arpaio as anything else. I challenge you to find a shred of evidence that jurisdictions with elected sheriffs and judges have lower rates of abuse than those without.

Normal citizens like I don't (and shouldn't) have the right to question the actions of individual officers; it can keep them from doing their jobs effectively. (Just like we shouldn't question government officials after we elect them to fixed terms. You want change, go vote.)

At this point I'm sincerely not sure whether you're joking or not. I may disagree with many aspects of how this country is run, but I think the right to freely express oneself and petition for a redress of grievances is a pretty good thing.
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Re: Fixing police brutality

Postby Eomund » Sat May 02, 2015 12:40 am UTC

I am not from USA so maybe my view isn't accurate. But I see the Police Shooting Problem (or whatever it should be called) as just a result of the gun culture. The US has an incredibly high number of gun related deaths by civilians so it is no surprise that you see the same thing for the police. I don't have a solution, but I don't think it can be found by just looking at the police.


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