Below we see what has been our US local police department through modern history-----we remember IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE with those police officers -------------as well as our JOE FRIDAY or CSI all selling the idea of police officers acting with RIGOR WITHIN THE US LAW and holding CIVIL RIGHTS AND LIBERTIES as their duty. Our rural counties have their versions of this policing hierarchy---large cities of course more hierarchy.
CLINTON/BUSH/OBAMA literally busted all our US labor unions----first private now public mostly by illegal actions forcing corporations into bankruptcy where it became OK to ignore UNION CONTRACTS. Our local and state government officials have these few decades failed to fund pensions and health benefits per union contracts allowing these union contracted benefits to be used as FODDER BY GLOBAL WALL STREET---so, when our local city council and mayors tells us----WE DON'T HAVE THE POWER TO FIGHT POLICE UNIONS----THEY ARE LYING BECAUSE THEY ARE CHEATING AND STEALING.
San Francisco Police Hierarchy
San Francisco Police Department is the city police department of San Francisco, California. Do not confuse this with San Francisco Sheriff’s Department, as both of these are law enforcement agencies for the city. San Francisco is the second most densely populated city in North America and hence, this police force is indeed efficient. It is the 11th largest Police department in the United States and below given is the hierarchy according to which this police force works.
- Assistant Chief
- Deputy Chief
Here is Malaysian national police acting just as our US CITIES DEEMED FOREIGN ECONOMIC ZONE police----with the same corruption, coverup, and impunity----directed at all sovereign citizens ----MAJOR PROBLEMS---POLICE SHOOTINGS
Here is the national police hierarchy in Malaysia------with that SULTAN OF BRUNEI who is a favorite of global banking 1% far-right wing, authoritarian, militaristic, extreme wealth extreme poverty dictator-----and Malaysia uses its national police force as we see in Mexico, Philippines, Pakistan, or any third world police state government.
All global multi-national corporations operate with GLEE in Malaysia having the worst of global labor pool slave labor conditions with just the right amount of extreme wealth, power, and brutality to make CLINTON/BUSH/OBAMA love this naked capitalist neo-liberal FOREIGN ECONOMIC ZONE model for ONE WORLD ONE GOVERNANCE.
Below we see the structure of most developing nations having this national police model tied to brutal, far-right authoritarianism---and it looks just like US HOMELAND SECURITY.
When our local city councils and mayors ---or our state assembly and governors say they have no power to stop MOVING FORWARD NATIONAL POLICE STATE-----they are lying. We have not gotten to the point in US where our local and state governments do not have the power of local control of our police departments----WE HAVE STATE'S RIGHTS with our US city mayors having all the power they need to ENFORCE US CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS, FEDERAL CIVIL RIGHTS AND LIBERTIES AND CALLING IN THE FEDS TO FIX CORRUPT LOCAL POLICE UNIONS.
Perception and Royal Reality in Malaysia
Posted on January 25, 2010 By Our Correspondent Society
The King is Dead. Long Live the King, so to speak
'April 1, 2014 10:25PM EDT
English Deutsch 日本語 Bahasa Melayu
Malaysia: End Police Abuses
Excessive Use of Force, Shootings, Deaths in Custody ‘A Major Problem’
Police attempt to arrest a protester at the start of the Bersih 3.0 rally in Kuala Lumpur on April 28, 2012. © 2012 Chen Shaua Fui
(Kuala Lumpur) – The Malaysian government should urgently adopt reforms to ensure accountability for deaths in custody and unjustified police shootings, Human Rights Watch said today in a new report. Independent, external oversight of the Royal Malaysia Police is needed to end police cover-ups, excessive secrecy, and obstruction of investigation into abuses'.
UnderArmour----Amazon-----global Johns Hopkins----Michael Jordon Enterprise -----all BFF with Malaysian Foreign Economic Zone and that national police structure.
Police Hierarchy in Malaysia
The police force of Malaysia is a centralized police force which is one of the largest laws enforcing agency of the security forces structure of the country. The Royal Malaysia police is headquartered at Bukit Aman, Kuala Lumpur and is arranged in an hierarchical manner.
The Police hierarchy of Malaysia is arranged in a well-knit format and covers up all the security operations of the country ranging from patrolling to traffic control and intelligence gathering.
The police force of Malaysia is subdivided into many departments, each one specializing in a particular field of security. Two departments of the police force are involved in the administration of the entire force and for managing the entire police activities at all levels of police hierarchy in Malaysia. These are Management and Logistics departments. Apart from these, there are few more departments directly involved in the security based activities. These are:
Police Hierarchy in Malaysia
- Criminal Investigation Department
- Narcotics Criminal Investigation Division
- Internal Security and Public Order Department
- General Operations Force
- Police Counter-Terrorism Unit
- Federal Reserve Unit
- C4-i Implementations System
- Mounted Police Unit
- Marine Operations Force
- Traffic Branch
These are the high ranked officers of police. These officers wear their insignia as a part of their uniform on epaulettes on both of their shoulders. These officers are more involved in planning, heading and leading the critical operations. They are also responsible for extending their assistance in any law & security related issue pertaining to the excise, quarantine, revenue, immigration, registration or any legal marine matter. Another major activity performed by the police officers at this level of police hierarchy in Malaysia is to execute warrants, summons, subpoenas or any other lawfully issued process.
¨ Deputy General of Police
¨ Senior Commissioner of Police
¨ Deputy Commissioner of Police
¨ Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police
¨ Assistant Commissioner of Police
¨ Deputy Superintendent of Police
¨ Assistant Superintendent of Police
¨ Inspector of Police
¨ Probationary Inspector of Police
The officers at this level are majorly responsible for assisting the senior officers in various activities. Also maintaining basic peace and security in the country falls under the duties of this group of police officers. The police officers under this category except Sub-Inspector of Police are required to wear their insignia on their uniform’s right sleeves, while the Sub-inspector wears it on the shoulders like the senior officers. The officers in this category are as follows:
- Sub-Inspector of Police
- Sergeant Major of Police
- Sergeant of Police
- Corporal of Police
- Lance Corporal of Police
- Constable of Police
These few decades of excessive force by US city police departments all have ended in CONSENT DECREES by US Justice Department as city council and mayors reach the point of mass demonstration and riot as occurred here in Baltimore. In each case---the US Justice Department comes in to document the tip of the iceberg of abuse problems identifying open criminal actions of police in that US city ---and then they say they cannot prosecute----cannot force police union contract changes----cannot implement temporary restrictions to these police contract agreements until these police department corruptions are gone. REALLY??????
So, this is what Baltimore City Hall did just recently because of its demonstrations and riot------and those city pols standing by this new Baltimore Police Commissioner are those 5% pols and players knowing nothing will be done as they MOVE FORWARD ONE WORLD ONE GOVERNANCE NATIONAL POLICE STATE...DEEP STATE.
All Baltimore City Hall has to do is tell the US Justice Department to prosecute those officers---and if US Justice refuses because it is indeed captured by global banking pols wanting police to use extreme force---then our local Baltimore City Hall can fund and charge our local Baltimore City Attorney, local FBI in gathering evidence and prosecuting these cases of unjustifiable police homicide, planting of guns and drugs, and RICO.
IT COST TOO MUCH TO PROSECUTE say local and state officials who really do not want to prosecute these police corruptions.
Baltimore, U.S. Justice Department reach agreement on police reforms
Kevin Rector and Luke BroadwaterContact ReportersThe Baltimore Sun
After five months of negotiation, Baltimore and the U.S. Department of Justice have agreed to the terms of a consent decree mandating reform of the city Police Department, both sides said Wednesday. The agreement is expected to be approved by top city officials at a special meeting Thursday.
It must also be approved by a U.S. District Court judge before becoming binding. It has not been made public.
"We're going to get it done," Mayor Catherine Pugh told reporters Wednesday. Aides said she and U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch would jointly announce the agreement at City Hall at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, after the meeting of the Board of Estimates.
Lynch is scheduled to give a speech on "community policing" in Baltimore Thursday afternoon at the University of Baltimore School of Law, and to meet with community groups and law enforcement officials.
The Baltimore consent decree is expected to mandate changes to a range of policing policies, tactics and operations, including how officers conduct street enforcement, respond to sexual assault complaints, and interact with youths, protesters and those with mental illnesses.
It is also expected to require the Police Department to introduce new layers of oversight for officers, new methods of tracking misconduct and other data, new training, and major investments in modern technologies — including mobile computers in patrol vehicles — to streamline operations and enhance data retention and analysis.
Pugh has said the agreement will call for civilians to serve on police trial boards that assess officer wrongdoing, but police union officials say the decree cannot supersede the union's collective bargaining agreement with the city, which bars civilian participation.
The mayor controls three of the five votes on the Board of Estimates. Interim City Solicitor David Ralph and Department of Public Works Director Rudy Chow, both of whom work for Pugh, sit on the board. City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young and Comptroller Joan Pratt are also on the panel.
The board must approve all major city expenditures. In accepting the agreement, city officials will be pledging to spend the money necessary to carry it out — expected to be tens of millions of dollars.
Members of the public will be allowed to comment at the meeting.
The agreement comes little more than a week before the inauguration of President-elect Donald J. Trump on Jan. 20, which Justice Department officials and city leaders had set as a deadline for the deal. They have expressed concern that Trump and his pick for U.S. attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions, might not support the agreement.
During a daylong confirmation hearing Tuesday, Sessions expressed skepticism over the use of consent decrees to address civil rights abuses by police, but declined to speak specifically on the Baltimore agreement.
"I think there is concern that good police officers and good departments can be sued by the Department of Justice when you just have individuals within a department that have done wrong," Sessions said. "These lawsuits undermine the respect for police officers and create an impression that the entire department is not doing their work consistent with fidelity to law and fairness, and we need to be careful before we do that."
The agreement comes at a time of intense scrutiny for law enforcement agencies across the country and particularly in Baltimore, where the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray from injuries suffered in police custody in 2015 prompted unrest, rioting and the unsuccessful prosecution of six police officers.
It follows a lengthy investigation by the Justice Department, partially in response to the unrest, that concluded that the Baltimore Police Department has engaged in unconstitutional and discriminatory policing practices for years, many of which disproportionately affected residents in poor, predominantly black neighborhoods.
In a 163-page report in August, federal investigators said city police often conducted unconstitutional stops and searches of city residents, improperly disregarded sexual assault complaints and violated protesters' free speech rights, among other violations.
In lieu of an immediate lawsuit to resolve the problems, the Justice Department agreed to enter into negotiations with the city to reach a consent decree ensuring that the city Police Department "delivers services in a manner that respects the rights of residents, increases trust between officers and the communities they serve, and promotes public and officer safety."
That "agreement in principle" outlined general areas where both sides agreed improvements were needed — the same areas now expected to be reflected in the consent decree.
Once the consent decree is signed by both sides, it will be filed jointly in U.S. District Court as a proposed settlement within a Justice Department lawsuit related to the summer findings report. A federal judge overseeing the case will then assess the proposal to determine if it is fair, reasonable and adequately serves the public good, experts said. It's unclear how long that will take.
The judge will be randomly assigned when the case is formally filed in court, court officials said.
The judge could approve the agreement through a written order, experts said, or schedule a hearing to gather input from other stakeholders, such as community groups or the local police union. Outside groups could potentially file motions to intervene in the case to register objections.
Once approved by the court, the agreement is expected to take years to implement, all under the oversight of the court and a federal monitor paid by the city. The monitor, also subject to court approval, could be announced as part of the agreement, or the two sides could agree to work through a designated process to appoint the monitor later, experts said.
There's no certainty that the agreement will be approved and become binding before Trump's inauguration.
A review of recent consent decrees around police reform in other cities shows agreements submitted to the courts typically took months to be approved by a judge.
Cleveland's consent agreement was approved by a judge about two weeks after it was filed in May 2015. But in Albuquerque, where a consent decree was reached in October 2014, approval took eight months. In New Orleans, a consent decree was announced in July 2012 and was not approved until the following January. It took about a month for an agreement struck in Seattle in July 2012 to be given provisional approval.
Baltimore City Jails and Police Department are state chartered and therefor our local pols and 5% players are running to Maryland Assembly throwing bones at the 99% of citizens being forced to live in FEAR OF POLICE when these changes to Maryland policing laws have no effect if we do not fundamentally reform Baltimore Police Department which includes temporarily setting aside police union contract protections aiding and abetting criminal activity inside our police department. The bone of POLICE REVIEW BOARDS was seen to hit all US cities nationally so we KNOW that law as with all others came from ASPEN/ROOSEVELT et al ONE WORLD think tanks ----it needs to come from our communities and 99% of citizens-------
Far-right authoritarian militaristic extreme wealth extreme poverty fascism ALWAYS starts by choosing one population group that is weakest---then the next population group and then across -- the ---board policing by fear and corruption takes all sovereign citizens' rights.
Baltimore Police Department has been majority black employees with black leadership---so this is not as much race as it is CLASS----that 5% black, white, and brown global banking player told to keep that 99% down and fearful----came to our 99% brown citizens----came to our 99% black citizens-----coming to 99% of white citizens. Pictures of middle-class protestors being denied their rights to protest are tied to white 99% WAKING UP.
14 more officers indicted in Baltimore jail corruption case
Published November 24, 2013
April 23, 2013: Authorities say a Baltimore gang member ran a corruption ring from behind bars. Tavon White, who was named in the indictment, allegedly impregnated four prison guards (MyFoxDC.com)
Federal prosecutors have indicted 14 more Baltimore corrections officers on charges of drug possession and drug distribution in an ongoing case investigating criminal activity involving guards and inmates at the city's main jail.
The indictments, released this week, allege that officers assisted the Black Guerilla Family prison gang in running a lucrative drug operation behind bars.
But the close relations didn't stop there, at least in some alleged cases. Prosecutors say that the leader of the Black Guerilla Family (BGF, for short), one Tavon White, was having sexual relations with no fewer than four female corrections officers. According to court documents, White impregnated all of the women, and so great was his hold on one of them that she got his first name tattooed on her wrist.
The drug operation, was kept running, prosecutors allege, with the help of contraband cell phones, smuggled in via female officers' female officers' hair, underwear, and body cavities. One officer, the documents allege, smuggled an ounce of marijuana into the jail every day through her private parts.
"If folks are behind bars but still have leadership and authority, they’re able to order things to happen out on the street. They’re able to order drugs and contraband delivered to the facility," Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein told CBS Baltimore.
The latest indictments bring the total number of indicted BGF gang members and their affiliates to 44. Of those, 27 are Baltimore corrections officers.
The Baltimore Police Union is NOT running city hall-----it is morphing away from being that public local police department towards being that global militarized police/security corporation and their training tells them----these are not citizens with rights----your duty is to follow instructions from city leaders even if they are corrupt.
WHEN WE ASK WHY POLICE ARE NOT LISTENING AND PROTECTING CITIZENS' RIGHTS WE ARE TOLD---WE DON'T WORK FOR YOU WE WORK FOR THE MAYOR.
The transition from local police being public employees to being that global police/security corporation is seen when police union contract policies that can be changed----benefits and wages-----shift from being the same as all other public employees to being PERKS TARGETING ONLY THESE POLICE AND MILITARY CITIZENS----that is MOVING FORWARD NATIONAL POLICE FORCE.
'Everyone Is Scared In Malaysia's 'Police State', But Najib Has Most To Fear
3 April 2017
Najib Razak has started running Malaysia through his police force, according to MP Tony Pua, who reflects a growing perception'.
January 10, 2017
Is the Baltimore Police Union Running the City?
The recent snubbing of the mayor and resistance against deployment changes raise questions about who's in charge of the city's largest and most expansive bureaucracy
STEPHEN JANIS: This is Stephen Janis reporting for The Real News Network in Baltimore City, Maryland.
I am standing outside City Hall where a press conference just concluded with newly-elected Mayor Catherine Pugh and Police Commissioner Kevin Davis about the future of crime-fighting in Baltimore City and the police department itself. It has been another violent year for Baltimore City, with over 300 murders. But also on the agenda was the power of the Baltimore City police union, otherwise known as the FOP. Both the Mayor and the Police Commissioner pushed back, saying they've got too much power and too much control over how police officers are deployed.
At the first press conference on policing since her swearing-in, Mayor Catherine Pugh told a story of trying to contact police union president Gene Ryan about staffing problems, and being rebuffed.
CATHERINE PUGH: I said the them, you know, I welcome the opportunity to have a discussion because I know that you've all been in negotiations, but certainly no negotiations have taken place.
(end video clip)
STEPHEN JANIS: In fact, the Mayor made clear the union, which represents some 2,600 employees of the city's most expensive agency, had tied her hands.
CATHERINE PUGH: When I looked at just, for example, the overtime that has occurred as a result of the current contract that is in place, we incur something like $1.6 million every pay period. Overtime has become a matter of fact. And so, when I look at the current schedule that was negotiated, where we have four days on, three days off, I mean, I expect that with the fire department because they actually sleep at the firehouse and we don't know when fires occur and we want to make sure. I believe that the hands(?) of delivering schedules for our police officers should be in the hands of the Police Commissioner. It should not be a negotiation in a contract.
(end video clip)
STEPHEN JANIS: Due to a previous contract negotiation with former Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, current Police Commissioner Kevin Davis has little say in how and when police are deployed, which prompted The Real News so ask both the Mayor and the Commissioner a fundamental question: who is running the city's biggest and most expensive agency?
STEPHEN JANIS: ... like the FOP's running the department? Is that true?
KEVIN DAVIS: No, I'm running the department, Stephen.
CATHERINE PUGH: No. No, no, no, no, no, no, no.
STEPHEN JANIS: It sounds like you're saying yes.
CATHERINE PUGH: No. No. No...
STEPHEN JANIS: ... can't change the shifts and you can't change it without--
CATHERINE PUGH: They're not running the department, though.
KEVIN DAVIS: We're just talking about the schedule.
CATHERINE PUGH: That's why we're standing here.
STEPHEN JANIS: Okay.
CATHERINE PUGH: They're not running the department.
(end video clip)
STEPHEN JANIS: The query has huge implications. Baltimore spends roughly $500 million a year on direct policing costs alone. Add in pensions and post-retirement healthcare and disability, and that number gets closer to $800 million -- a massive slice of a dwindling city budget.
Meanwhile, this growing expenditure has yielded little in terms of crime reduction. In 2016, Baltimore notched over 300 homicides, making the city one of the deadliest in the nation. In fact, over the weekend, seven people were shot, and one killed. These two trends, spending more money for seemingly less public safety, was troubling for City Councilman Brandon Scott, who chairs the Public Safety Committee.
BRANDON SCOTT: The schedule is in the contract, so the leave groups, when people are off, their days off, is in the collectively bargained contract, which means that the commissioner, the local district commanders, do not have the ability to change people's schedules or adjust them when necessary, thus causing the strain when a lot of people are scheduled to be off and having to use overtime to pay people to work – basically, what's wrong.
(end video clip)
STEPHEN JANIS: Meanwhile, the FOP has continued to dominate the media with calls for more spending, arguing in this article that the department is understaffed. But is it true? We asked former Homicide Lieutenant Stephen Tabeling, and he said it's not about staffing, but deployment, with only 37% of city officers on patrol.
STEPHEN TABELING: The problem that I see is they have too many plainclothes squads. And I understand that they just formed another squad -- I don't know how many men -- and it seems that their theory is you solve crime by putting plainclothes on the street. You don't do that. You solve crimes by putting uniforms... we're supposed to be proactive, not reactive. And most of the times your uniformed men are making a lot of arrests and detectives follow stuff up. That's one of the purposes of plainclothes is to do the follow-up work and close a lot of cases. But this department has the idea that you do it with plainclothes officers, and I just don't agree with that.
(end video clip)
STEPHEN JANIS: In fact, Tabeling notes that the city has one of the largest police departments per capita in the country, coming in just shy of Washington, D.C. We reached out to FOP President Gene Ryan for comment, but have yet to hear back. Meanwhile, the mayor says she, too, is waiting for a call.
The question is, does the city's most powerful union have to respond?
CATHERINE PUGH: I don't know what... I haven't had a conversation, other than, "Happy New Year, have a great time, look forward to sitting down with you, looking forward to having a conversation," but just know that when we sit down my main sticking point is going to be civilians on trial boards, that's what the neighborhoods want, that's what the communities want. Looking forward to that phone call. Let's get together. Thumbs up. Let's do it. I'm waiting for it.
(end video clip)
STEPHEN JANIS: This is Stephen Janis and Taya Graham reporting for The Real News Network in Baltimore City, Maryland.
WE THE PEOPLE THE 99% are being led to believe IT'S ALL THE FAULT OF COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AND UNION CONTRACTS----somehow we cannot have US Rule of Law hold these rogue police officers and their actions accountable because of a union contract that global Wall Street has ignored these few decades across the board in all other unions.
If we remember that CLINTON/OBAMA are far-right wing global 1% killing labor unions as fast as far-right Bush neo-cons then we KNOW what national media and our local Baltimore Development 'labor and justice' FAKE ALT LEFT ALT RIGHTS groups are doing is setting the stage for a reason to end COLLECTIVE BARGAINING RIGHTS----that is the next goal of labor union busting by right wing---and making these police union contracts sound as though they cannot be TEMPORARILY SET ASIDE FOR REFORM is the goal of these ridiculous stances.
What we are told over and again by these US Justice consent decree investigations is THERE IS NOT ENOUGH EVIDENCE TO WIN TRIALS. What we hear time and again is ------union contract terms are allowing police officers to hide and destroy that evidence----what do we know about HIDING AND DESTROYING EVIDENCE IN CRIME?
It automatically creates the environment for those individuals to be found guilty of crimes of obstruction.
What have local city council and mayors allowed in police union contracts? They pretend they were forced to negotiate conditions allowing for this hiding and destroying of evidence in the process of simple contract negotiations. What do we call policies openly allowing for corruption with no avenue for prosecution? ILLEGAL PUBLIC MALFEASANCE.
OUR PUBLIC OFFICIALS CANNOT LEGISLATE TERMS PUTTING CITIZENS ABOVE CRIMINAL ACTIONS AND EVIDENCE OF SUCH CRIMES.
Nancy Pelosi and Congressional Clinton/Obama neo-liberals did just that when they were found to be illegally INSIDER TRADING sending millions of dollars to their families. Pelosi simply pushed a law saying CONGRESS CANNOT BE CHARGED WITH INSIDER TRADING----and that was illegal. We are watching as 5% global 1% pols create these CLASS STRUCTURES where only the rich are protected by US Rule of Law---and those pesky militarized national police are always given SPECIAL PRIVILEGE.
Public officials whether Congress, state assemblies, or city halls cannot legislate these kinds of protections from oversight and accountability---they are doing so because they are MORPHING our local police into global police corporations that are not tied to US RULE OF LAW.
How Union Contracts Shield Police Departments from DOJ Reforms
Even when the federal government cracks down on police abuses, collective bargaining agreements often stymie reforms.
By Adeshina Emmanuel
JULY ISSUE | June 21, 2016
Few were surprised on Dec. 7, 2015, when U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced a civil rights investigation of the Chicago Police Department (CPD). The city had recently released a dash cam video of officer Jason Van Dyke killing 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. Graphic footage showed the officer firing a hail of bullets at the black teen as he walked away.
Forty-eight hours after Lynch’s announcement, Chicago Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) President Dean Angelo boarded a plane to Washington, D.C. to meet with the Department of Justice (DOJ). In the wake of McDonald's death, the union has faced growing public scrutiny over its alleged role in shielding his killer. Since 2006, Van Dyke had been the subject of nearly 20 citizen complaints, including accusations of excessive force and use of racial slurs. Critics say the disciplinary process spelled out in the FOP union contract helped ensure he stayed on the force. Angelo shoots back that it's “absolutely untrue” that police officers cannot be disciplined, and he wants to ensure the union has a place at the table when the DOJ investigates this issue. Chicago police-accountability advocates, for their part, point to a host of union rules they hope federal investigators will examine, including those requiring that investigators provide questions ahead of time to police officers accused of misconduct and allow them to amend their statements after viewing video or audio evidence.
Chicago is one of several cities, including Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore, where the DOJ has recently opened investigations in response to high-profile police killings. The Obama administration has relied heavily on a 1994 civil rights law empowering the Justice Department to oversee local law enforcement. If the DOJ is able to document a “pattern or practice” of civil rights abuses, it can compel cities to reform under threat of litigation. The most rigorous outcome, called consent decrees, are settlement agreements that must be approved and monitored by federal courts. So far, Obama’s DOJ has established consent decrees with 11 cities. This represents a more aggressive posture than that of the Bush and Clinton administrations, during which just six consent decrees were reached with local police departments.
It’s unclear, however, how well these measures work. The DOJ does not track the long-term outcomes, but a November 2015 Washington Post investigation reviewed available data from 10 police departments subject to federally mandated reforms during the past two decades. Half of them had seen use of force by officers decline or stay the same during and after the agreements, but the rest had seen it increase.
Stephen Rushin, a law professor at the University of Alabama who specializes in policing, has characterized DOJ enforcement as “inconsistent.” Others say that reforms flounder because the department doesn’t achieve buy-in from police officers.
A less-explored reason for this mixed record is that collective bargaining agreements between cities and police unions can prevent the implementation of reforms. Consent decrees often include caveats that police practices can only be overhauled to the extent allowed by union contracts.
In These Times reviewed the 17 consent decrees reached between local governments, police departments and the Justice Department between 1997 and 2016, as well as news articles and federal monitors’ reports discussing how cities have—and have not—complied with the settlements. In at least seven cases, collective bargaining agreements presented a roadblock to achieving key reforms required by the settlements. Police unions watered down measures that contradicted their contracts, or they launched legal challenges that, even when unsuccessful, delayed implementation.
With the DOJ investigation in Chicago underway and the FOP contract up for renewal in June 2017, should the movement for police accountability turn its eye to the contract renegotiations? This in turn raises a thorny question: Will upholding civil rights require curtailing collective bargaining rights?
In at least seven cities, collective bargaining agreements have presented a roadblock to achieving key reforms required by DOJ settlements
To serve and protect?
In broad strokes, police union contracts are no different from those negotiated by teachers or firefighters unions—they contain guarantees around wages, benefits, discipline and processes for members to air grievances with management.
But when it comes to oversight provisions, police enjoy “a level of insulation … that is greater than other city and state workers,” notes Alex Vitale, a sociology professor at Brooklyn College.
Special protections enjoyed by many police unions include delays in giving statements after a shooting, which may give officers time to confer and “get their story straight,” statutes of limitation on imposing discipline and rules restricting how and when civilians can investigate police. After hackers obtained more than 60 police union contracts from the FOP website earlier this year, a February analysis in The Guardian revealed that more than a third contained provisions allowing or requiring destruction of civilian complaint records. Police-accountability advocates say this kind of provision, which also appears in the Chicago FOP's contract, makes it more difficult to track down police who commit serial abuses.
Police contract protections appear to have weakened or stalled efforts to improve the handling of police misconduct, create or extend civilian oversight, and establish early-warning systems for problem cops.
In April, the Chicago Police Accountability Task Force, convened by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in the wake of McDonald’s death, issued a scathing report that pointed to police union contracts as one of the barriers to meaningful accountability.
“The collective bargaining agreements between the police unions and the City have essentially turned the code of silence into official policy,” wrote the report’s authors. They then ticked off a list of problematic provisions. Among them, the agreements discourage reporting misconduct by requiring affidavits, prohibit citizens from filing anonymous complaints and require that accused officers be given the complainant’s name early in the process.
Chicago advocates say these and other protections have allowed some of the city’s most notorious police officers to commit crimes with impunity. Cmdr. Jon Burge and his so-called “midnight crew” evaded serious charges despite decades torturing confessions out of black men, beginning in the 1970s. Flint Taylor, a founding partner of the People’s Law Office who represented many Burge victims, blames this on what he calls “the Burge rule”—unless a police chief signs off, investigations of civilian complaints are subject to a five-year statute of limitations.
Pat Hill, a retired Chicago police officer who served on the force for 21 years, argues that some of these safeguards are necessary to protect workers doing a difficult job. Requiring investigators to throw out anonymous complaints is important, she says, because criminals who have an axe to grind with certain officers frequently lodge false complaints again them. But Hill, who was head of the African American Police League, a group founded in 1968 to recruit more black cops with community ties, acknowledges that contract protections can also be used to cover up crimes. “Like anything else, if there aren’t checks and balances they get abused,” she says.
The rocky road to reform
That begs the question: In cities like Chicago where powerful police unions have carved out special protections, are DOJ-mandated reforms hamstrung from the outset?
In These Times’ review of the 17 past and ongoing attempts to implement consent decrees show that when unions believe changes encroach on their contract protections, they often fight back—and muck up the reform effort. This problem arose in the wake of DOJ settlements in Newark (2016), Albuquerque (2014), Seattle (2012), Portland (2012), the U.S. Virgin Islands (2009), Los Angeles (2001) and Pittsburgh (1997). In these cities, police contract protections appear to have weakened or stalled efforts to improve the handling of police misconduct, to create or extend civilian oversight, or to establish early-warning systems for problem cops.
Jonathan M. Smith, former chief of the special litigation section of the civil rights division at the DOJ, explains that this effectively limits the remedies that cities and the federal government can pursue. “It forces the parties to take less sufficient reform strategies because the union is standing in the way,” he says.
The DOJ’s first settlement under the “pattern or practice” law, negotiated with the city of Pittsburgh in 1997, includes the following caveat: “Nothing in this Decree is intended to alter the collective bargaining agreement between the City and the Fraternal Order of Police.” Since then, most settlements have contained similar language.
Rushin, who is currently reviewing police contracts in 100 cities to see how they impact police accountability, says these provisions allow the feds to arrive at a settlement without taking on powerful police unions at the outset. But the consent decree is thereby “just kind of kicking the proverbial can down the road,” he says.
Indeed, problems soon emerged in Pittsburgh. One key dictate was for the city to overhaul the civilian complaint process by requiring the agency conducting disciplinary investigations to look into all complaints and assess the potential for criminal charges. But early in the implementation phase, the monitoring team raised concerns that the Office of Municipal Investigations (OMI) wasn’t looking into all complaints, as required, because of a contract rule that limited complaints eligible for investigation to those filed within 90 days of an alleged incident. It also permits officers to refuse to give statements. When the consent decree was lifted in 2002, monitors noted that the OMI still had a sizable backlog of complaints that had never been reviewed.
Sometimes, unions seek to limit reforms before a settlement is even finalized. In 2011, the Justice Department launched an investigation in Portland, Ore., following the death of Brad Morgan, a 21-year-old who had called 911, threatening to commit suicide. Morgan then reportedly continued to make “suicide by cop” statements to the officers who arrived on scene before they fatally shot him, saying he had pulled out a realistic-looking plastic gun. A 15-month probe found that police engaged in a pattern of excessive force against people with mental illness, and the city reached a preliminary agreement with the DOJ in September 2012.
The union sued to intervene, arguing that proposed changes to use-of-force rules, oversight and training encroached on collective bargaining rights. A federal judge granted the Portland Police Association the right to negotiate with the city over what should and shouldn’t go into the reform package. The final consent decree was delayed until August 2014. In the intervening period, Portland police fatally shot a 50-year-old man who had been recently hospitalized for mental illness.
Problems persisted after a settlement was reached. The September 2015 report by federal officials says the city has failed to revise protocols for questioning officers in misconduct investigations. The collective bargaining agreement between the Portland Police Association and the city allows officers involved in serious use-of-force cases to receive 48 hours’ notice before they have to give a statement. Consultants hired by the city reviewed 11 shooting cases and found none of the officers involved gave a statement until at least 48 hours after the incident, per union rules, “and some even later,” according to the report they released in January.
“By agreeing to a contract that requires this delay,” the consultants say, “the City requires the [police bureau] to forfeit the opportunity to obtain pure contemporaneous statements.” Police management has agreed that the city should negotiate with the union to nix the 48-hour rule, but not until the contract expires July 2017.
Police unions aren’t always in the position of opposing reforms, says Newark FOP President James Stewart, Jr. When the DOJ opened an investigation into the city’s policing in 2011, he says the union’s attitude was “come on in,” and that it helped the feds unearth problems at the department. According to investigators’ findings, those included frequent pedestrian stops that violated residents’ civil rights three out of every four times they occurred.
Stewart says the union already opposed quota-based policing directives from police brass, which created pressure on members to conduct baseless stops and strained relations with community members. He approves of DOJ-mandated reforms related to the department’s officer training and community relations.
This rosy consensus does not extend to the city's effort to create a civilian oversight entity “to pursue concerns of its residents” by empowering them to review complaints, impose disciplinary actions and recommend policies to improve policing. The FOP in Newark has threatened to sue to block this move, saying that any changes to the disciplinary process must be negotiated with the union.
Ari Rosmarin, public policy director for the New Jersey ACLU, is encouraged by the union’s lack of vocal opposition to the DOJ process as a whole but concerned by its challenge to one of the most substantial reforms. “The unions aren’t looking for advice from people like us,” he says. “I’ll give it any way... it’s in their interest to get on board and be a good faith partner in changing the system.”
Holding the thin blue line
If police unions do not get on board, could the federal government impose changes unilaterally? Legally, the DOJ can’t use a consent decree to abrogate the contract rights of a union, except under exceptional circumstances. The principle of “constitutional supremacy” does give the federal government the authority to override collective bargaining provisions or state laws that demonstrably violate civil rights, says Lawrence E. Rosenthal, a constitutional and civil rights law professor at Chapman University in Orange, Calif. But that would likely require a full-blown trial, a messy path that could keep settlements tied up in court for years.
That leaves the ball in the court of state and local legislators, who experts say must push to repeal their so-called “police officer bill of rights,” revisit collective bargaining statutes and prepare to play hardball with powerful police unions. “I’m not saying that officers shouldn’t have meaningful due-process protections, but this has gotten out of control,” says Smith, the former DOJ official. “State legislatures have enacted laws that permit officers to over-negotiate these contracts, and cities don’t hold the line when they should.”
Harry S. Stern, a San Francisco-based lawyer who represents police officers in misconduct cases, says that due process protections for cops are essentially the same as those for teachers and firefighters. “We’re just demanding that police cases are not litigated by mob rule or in the court of public opinion,” says Stern. He believes that police are squeezed between the Right, which opposes collective bargaining on principle, and harsh police critics. Whatever their political motivations, Stern says these efforts amount to one thing: “union-busting.”
Brooklyn College’s Vitale disagrees. “What they’re really calling for is for city and state governments to aggressively renegotiate those contracts to put in provisions that allow for more oversight and more discipline for on-the-job misconduct.”
Collective bargaining negotiations happen behind closed doors, which can frustrate community members who don’t know how the reform agenda is being influenced at the bargaining table.
The Seattle Community Police Commission (CPC), a creation of the city’s consent decree, was tasked with proposing measures to improve police accountability systems. But since some of its preferred measures may conflict with collective bargaining agreement, the group cannot finalize them until the city and the police union reach an agreement on a new contract—a process that has been ongoing for 18 months. Seattle CPC co-chair and former public defender Lisa Daugaard says that the group is considering asking the city to disclose its bargaining position, which is currently formulated in secret, potentially limiting what can be accomplished by reformers. “It should be possible to evaluate whether the public’s representatives understand and are effective at achieving police accountability reform,” she says.
Vitale says there's a reason why the same local governments that crush teachers unions and slash public services have often been all-too-willing to accommodate police demands in contract negotiations. He believes this is part and parcel of the logic of austerity: Cities rely on police to suppress the crime and disorder that result when social services are gutted. “To cut or constrain [police] ability to use force threatens to undermine the whole project of shifting responsibility for social order onto the backs of police,” he says.
Members of BYP100's Chicago chapter rally on January 16 at the Fraternal Order of Police credit union demanding that the city divest from the police department.
(Photo by Sara Jane Rhee)
“Remember who you work for”
Back in Chicago, FOP President Angelo is irked by what he says is posturing by city officials suddenly pledging to take on the union to quell public anger.
When Chicago ratified the current FOP contract in October 2014, Angelo says aldermen voted unanimously for the collective bargaining agreement, praised his leadership and gave a standing ovation. No one complained about provisions in the contract, many of them more than 30 years old, that allegedly muck up misconduct investigations and make it hard to discipline cops who misbehave.
Yet in the aftermath of the Laquan McDonald shooting, many elected officials in Chicago began talking tough about making changes to the FOP contract when it expires in June 2017, especially those aldermen representing majority-black wards. Ald. Howard Brookins admits that the political climate has rarely created an opportunity for officials to wrestle with the FOP--but now he and others in city government say there may be political will to do so.
The people most impacted by police misconduct, by contrast, typically lack political power, putting them at a disadvantage when it comes to forcing change in a union contract or state laws that bolster controversial contract rules. Hoping to gain the upper hand, activists in Chicago are already turning their attention to pressuring city and state lawmakers to take a tougher stance when the FOP contract is up for renegotiation in June 2017.
On MLK Day, black activist group BYP100 held a demonstration outside the Chicago FOP credit union. Page May, an organizer with the group Assata’s Daughters, says that recent victories will help force lawmakers to take the contract renegotiations seriously. She helped spearhead the #ByeAnita campaign calling for the resignation of Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, accused by many of botching the cases of McDonald and other police-shooting victims. While Alvarez did not resign, she lost to progressive challenger Kim Foxx this spring in a remarkable upset during the Illinois primary. May says local politicians could face similar consequences if they come off as soft against the police unions.
“We got Anita Alvarez out—that sends a message,” May says. “You are accountable to the people. Not the FOP. And if you do not respect black life, at a minimum, then you’re out. You’re not going to keep your job. Remember who you work for: it’s us.”
Collective bargaining is the next right the far-right CLINTON/BUSH/OBAMA pols are going after ----and making such a ridiculous condition where local citizens cannot hold that police department accountable to open corruption is that step toward ENDING COLLECTIVE BARGAINING---our labor unions are being filled with ONE WORLD ONE GOVERNANCE INTERNATIONAL LABOR LEADERS----working for global banking and ILO----not our US workers----
Remember, our rank and file police officers often do not like these police leader tactics themselves------so another labor union is about to be busted under the guise of protecting member rights in the worst of corruption conditions.
In Indiana, a case study in ending collective bargaining
- DOUG ERICKSON | email@example.com | 608-252-6149
- Mar 10, 2011
As Wisconsin residents contemplate what the landscape might look like now that state workers apparently have lost most of their collective bargaining rights, another Midwestern state can offer six years of experiences.
Indiana state workers lost their collective bargaining rights in 2005. While the value to taxpayers remains debated, some outcomes are clear.
The move ushered in a period of extensive reorganization, consolidation and privatization of government services — efforts Indiana Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels has said could not have happened so quickly under union contracts.
Meanwhile, union membership plummeted. Prior to 2005, 16,408 Indiana state workers paid union dues out of about 25,000 who were eligible, or 66 percent, according to state and union figures. Today, just 1,409 out of 20,000 eligible workers, or 7 percent, pay dues.
Also, raises are now merit-based, and overall total state employment is down about 6,000 workers to 27,400, mostly through attrition.
In Wisconsin, collective bargaining rights were law and required legislative action to be changed. In Indiana, those rights were created by an executive order in 1989 by then-Gov. Evan Bayh, a Democrat.
That's why Daniels, on his first day in office, could simply rescind them with his own executive order.
In Indiana, only state workers were affected, not teachers or local municipal workers. Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker's plan, approved by the state Senate and Assembly, eliminates collective bargaining for most of the 175,000 state and local public sector employees, including teachers, on all issues but cost-of-living wage increases.
In Indiana, taxpayers have saved "hundreds of millions of dollars" because Daniels centralized administrative functions, outsourced operations such as food services in prisons, closed facilities and reorganized work functions, said Jane Jankowski, a Daniels spokeswoman.
"These actions were aided by the fact that there was no collective bargaining to slow the process," she said.
On Greta Van Susteren's Fox News show two weeks ago, Daniels, who has been discussed as a possible 2012 presidential candidate, called the elimination of collective bargaining "a profoundly positive event," saying he was freed from arrangements that "basically said you couldn't move a Xerox machine from one room to the other without, you know, the union's permission."
That's a "bald-faced lie," said David Warrick, executive director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) in Indiana and Kentucky. He contends there were no requirements in union contracts that would have prohibited Daniels from undertaking any of his initiatives, other than providing unions with a 30-day notice of any government restructuring.
His union represented about 9,000 Indiana state workers before 2005, of which about 15 percent continue to pay union dues, even though the union can offer them only state lobbying and limited representation in the state's complaint procedure, he said.
Union supporters dismiss cost-savings claims as ginned-up numbers, and they say the state lost critical input from frontline employees.
"From the moment Daniels walked in the door, he as much as told us we didn't know anything and that he was going to bring in his own people to show us how it should be done," said Indiana state worker Jenny Scalpelli, a systems analyst in information technology.
Employee collaboration is still sought and welcomed, countered Jankowski. And consumers have benefited from outside viewpoints, said Sam Karnick of Indianapolis, research director at The Heartland Institute, which backs free-market solutions to societal problems.
"Privatization is going to increase efficiency by bringing in competition," he said.
Others say Daniels' approach to cost cutting and employee relations has hurt Indiana, especially in comparisons with Wisconsin.
"Our schools are not as good, our services are not as good, our roads are not as good," said Kenneth Dau-Schmidt, a labor and employment law professor at Indiana University and a former UW-Madison faculty member. "This is a lower-taxes, lower-wages, lower-expectations state."
One Daniels misstep trumpeted by unions has been his attempt to privatize Indiana's welfare eligibility system. About 1,400 state workers became employees of private companies under a deal with IBM, which oversaw a network of subcontractors.
By all accounts, the results were disastrous. The system became plagued with big delays and error rates, and the state and IBM are now in court after the state canceled the contract.
"The IBM failure — we've admitted to that," said Marcus Barlow, spokesman for the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration.
He contends the failure is not an indictment of privatization, just IBM's approach. The state continues to privatize the services using other vendors, and initial results are promising, Barlow said.
Critics draw a different conclusion. "Collective bargaining serves as a check on rash decisions," said Kerry Korpi, director of research and collective bargaining for the national AFSCME
The idea that all of our US city police departments have had corrupt INTERNAL REVIEW PROCESSES with no one inside that police agency wanting to keep officers honest is NOT TRUE. There has always been the CODE OF BLUE where officers protected one another back because the job is dangerous and involves covert activities. Most citizens understand this need to protect fellow officers -----it has not been the norm to protect officers openly violating laws with no need.
The level of corruption in our police departments in US mirror the level of corruption in our government. We are ROBBER BARON few decades so our police department becomes openly corrupt as well.
LAW AND ORDER TV series et al others show that legal process-----we know it does work------and we know MOVING FORWARD is what is dismantling that functioning oversight and accountability in our local police departments.
Do we think there are regions of US always having this police corruption? OF COURSE----it was not the national norm.
We are shouting-----if you are tied to RACE AND CLASS thinking this is not going to affect your population group WAKE UP----third world militarized policing brings all of society down.
'the constant stream of news reports of unarmed, mostly black and Latino civilians killed by police demands bigger, bolder approaches. They are the only available paths to getting the police under control'.
IF WE THE PEOPLE THE 99% ALLOW GLOBAL WALL STREET 5% POLS AND PLAYERS TO CONVINCE US THERE IS NO WAY TO REFORM LOCAL POLICE DEPARTMENTS---WE WILL MOVE FORWARD TO GLOBAL POLICE CORPORATIONS.
Why It’s Impossible to Indict a Cop
It’s not just Ferguson—here’s how the system protects police.
By Chase MadarTwitterNovember 25, 2014
How to police the police is a question as old as civilization, now given special urgency by a St. Louis County grand jury’s return of a “no bill” of indictment for Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson in his fatal shooting of an unarmed teenager, Michael Brown. The result is shocking to many, depressingly predictable to more than a few.
Can the cops be controlled? It’s never been easy: according to one old sociological chestnut, the monopoly on the legitimate use of violence is what defines modern government, and this monopoly is jealously protected against the second-guessing of puny civilians. All over the country, the issue of restraining police power is framed around the retribution against individual cops, from Staten Island to Milwaukee to Los Angeles. But is this the best way to impose discipline on law enforcement and roll back what even Republican appellate court appointees are calling rampant criminalization?
Police shootings in America
First, the big picture. Last year, the FBI tallied 461 “justifiable homicides” committed by law enforcement—justifiable because the Bureau assumes so, and the nation’s courts have not found otherwise. This is the highest number in two decades, even as the nation’s overall homicide rate continues to drop. Homicides committed by on-duty law enforcement make up 3 percent of the 14,196 homicides committed in the United States in 2013. A USA Today analysis of the FBI database found an average of about ninety-six police homicides a year in which a white officer kills a black person.
The FBI’s police homicide stats are fuzzy, and they are surely an undercount, given that they come from voluntary reports to the FBI from police departments all over the country. That the federal government does not keep a strict national tally shows just how seriously it takes this problem. A crowdsourced database has sprung up to fill the gap, as has a wiki-tabulation.
Perhaps the most disturbing thing about these police killings, many of them of unarmed victims, is that our courts find them perfectly legal.
SCOTUS and the license to kill
Chapter 563 of the Missouri Revised Statutes grants a lot of discretion to officers of the law to wield deadly force, to the horror of many observers swooping in to the Ferguson story. The statute authorizes deadly force “in effecting an arrest or in preventing an escape from custody” if the officer “reasonably believes” it is necessary in order to “to effect the arrest and also reasonably believes that the person to be arrested has committed or attempted to commit a felony…or may otherwise endanger life or inflict serious physical injury unless arrested without delay.”
But this law is not an outlier, and is fully in sync with Supreme Court jurisprudence. The legal standard authorizing deadly force is something called “objective reasonableness.”
This standard originates in the 1985 case of Tennessee v. Garner, which appeared at first to tighten restrictions on the police use of deadly force. The case involved a Memphis cop, Elton Hymon, who shot dead one Edward Garner: 15 years old, black and unarmed. Garner had just burgled a house, grabbing a ring and ten bucks. The US Supreme Court ruled that a police officer, henceforth, could use deadly force only if he “has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others.” The ruling required that the use of force be “objectively reasonable.” How this reasonableness should be determined was established in a 1989 case, Graham v. Connor: severity of the crime, whether the suspect is resisting or trying to escape and above all, whether the suspect posed an immediate threat to the safety of officers or others. All this appeared to restrict police violence—even if, in the end, Officer Hymon was never criminally charged for fatally shooting Edward Garner.
“Objectively reasonable”—what could be wrong with that? But in actual courtroom practice, “objective reasonableness” has become nearly impossible to tell apart from the subjective snap judgments of panic-fueled police officers. American courts universally defer to the law enforcement officer’s own personal assessment of the threat at the time.
The Graham analysis essentially prohibits any second-guessing of the officer’s decision to use deadly force: no hindsight is permitted, and wide latitude is granted to the officer’s account of the situation, even if scientific evidence proves it to be mistaken. Such was the case of Berkeley, Missouri, police officers Robert Piekutowski and Keith Kierzkowski, who in 2000 fatally shot Earl Murray and Ronald Beasley out of fear that the victims’ car was rolling towards them. Forensic investigations established that the car had not in fact lurched towards the officers at the time of the shooting—but this was still not enough for the St. Louis County grand jury to indict the two cops of anything.
Not surprisingly then, legal experts find that “there is built-in leeway for police, and the very breadth of this leeway is why criminal charges against police are so rare,” says Walter Katz, a police oversight lawyer who served on the Los Angeles County Office of Independent Review until it disbanded in July of this year. According to Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the UC Irvine Law School, recent Supreme Court decisions are not a path towards justice but rather a series of obstacles to holding police accountable for civil rights violations.
An officer’s personal threat assessment is often bolstered by the fact that there are between 270 million and 310 million guns in the United States. Take a grand jury’s failure to indict the police officers who fatally shot John Crawford III, the black man holding a BB gun in a Walmart in Beavercreek, Ohio. In a country where shooting sprees are a regular occurrence, where guns are widely available at Walmart and where fake guns that look very similar to real guns are sold in the same store, the police officers’ fears were deemed reasonable enough for the grand jury to find no probable cause of criminal wrongdoing. That is how the Supreme Court police violence jurisprudence works, and it was firmly on the side of officer Sean Williams, just as it has now been found to be on Darren Wilson’s. Given the deference and latitude hardwired into the law, “there is just an underlying assumption that the officer did not engage in criminal activity,” says Katz.
The first step to controlling the police is to get rid of the fantasy, once and for all, that the law is on our side. The law is firmly on the side of police who open fire on unarmed civilians.
The sick joke of self-regulation
The lethal use of police force typically sets off an internal police investigation to determine if departmental regulations were violated. The regs and the law are not the same thing. Case in point: the chokehold that NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo used to strangle Eric Garner, suspected of selling loose cigarettes, on Staten Island last July. (The grand jury bill on that case has still not been decided.) The chokehold is not prohibited by law, but it is by departmental rules. The violation might earn a departmental censure of some kind, from loss of vacation days to getting fired, but they tend to be radically mild, when not nonexistent.
What about internal affairs investigations? On television they are aggressive, dogged, uncompromising. In real life they tend to insulate the police from serious external sanction. “I stopped cooperating with the IAB ten years ago,” says Jason Leventhal, a former assistant district attorney in Richmond County, Staten Island who now works as a civil rights litigator, often suing the police. “IA will never, ever credit the claim of police abuse. They hide witnesses, they push witnesses around. The only time I cooperate with them is when I know I have their hands tied behind their back.”
Are there any effective civilian oversight systems at any major police department in the US? Nobody I interviewed for this article could name one. New York’s Civilian Complaint Review Board occasionally docks vacation days from police officers but the board has no real teeth. Even staffers at the New York Civil Liberties Union have candidly told me that it’s more or less worthless. “I don’t have any faith in the CCRB or the Internal Affairs Bureau or any other internal mechanism,” says Ron Kuby, a civil rights and criminal defense lawyer in New York. Civilian complaints rarely even get in the way of an individual officer’s career. In New York, CCRB complaints don’t even go in a police officer’s file, says Kuby. “The PBA just says that the more aggressive officers will get excessive force complaints.”
Firing a police officer with a record of abusive behavior (or worse) is often extremely difficult and can carry a heavy political cost. Patrolmen Benevolent Associations, which have escaped the kind of resentment directed at other public-sector unions, tend to be powerful players in local politics able to inflict pain on any politico who would cross them. (Remember when Sarah Palin struggled to fire a state trooper and ex-brother-in-law who had allegedly acted like a thug towards her sister?)
The reality is, it is extremely difficult to get law enforcement to police itself, and self-regulation is here, just as it is in poultry processing or coal mining, a sick joke.
Civil suits for monetary damages require a lower standard of proof than criminal cases, but these suits are not a slam-dunk for victims of cop violence, either. The same jurisprudence that grants wide leeway to law enforcement still holds. Last March, one victim’s family lost a federal civil suit for wrongful death and civil rights violations brought against police officer Nicholas Bennallack for fatally shooting a fleeing and unarmed drug suspect. The jury believed the cop’s claim that he opened fire out of fear for his life.
What about all the times when excessive force suits get settled out of court? It turns out that massive payouts don’t deter police misconduct for one straightforward reason: neither individual officers nor police departments are responsible for coughing up the cash. The union covers the officer’s lawyer, and research from Joanna Schwartz of UCLA Law School found that governments, not individual officers, paid out 99.98 percent of the damages. Settlements and damages aren’t paid by the police department, whose budget will waltz by untouched, but typically out of the general municipal budget.
Kuby maintains that civil remedies will always fall short and thinks only criminal prosecution has a prayer of changing police behavior. “Prosecution works well with people who are not fundamentally criminal and have enough stake in the system to respond! Any response below that is an insult.” But he admits that the political will to make the criminal justice system restrain and regulate its own members and enforcers is consistently lacking—and has been as long as he’s been practicing law.
Don’t make a federal case out of it.
Occasionally the federal Department of Justice intervenes to prosecute individual cops for depriving a victim of his or her civil rights. If a state-level prosecution fails to secure a conviction, this can give the government a second chance to prosecute on different charges. Rodney King’s LAPD assailants were convicted in 1993 in just this way.
But the feds, like other prosecutors, only like to take on cases they can win, says Alan Vinegrad, who was part of the federal attorneys that prosecuted the NYPD officer who in 1997 sexually tortured Abner Louima with a broken-off broom handle. “In the Louima case it was painfully obvious that the use of force was extreme and willful,” says Vinegrad. “But in other cases, if the officer is acting more in the line of duty, a federal civil rights violation is a tougher thing to show.”
Will the Obama DOJ take on the Michael Brown case? It doesn’t look like it. Eyewitness testimony is conflicting, and so far the multiple forensic reports that have come out are not inconsistent with Darren Wilson’s version of the shooting—which would make the federal standard of willful misconduct difficult to prove. The Obama DOJ has signaled with leaks that it is backing away from a federal case against the officer.
Far more useful are the DOJ Civil Rights Division’s root-and-branch interventions into violently dysfunctional police forces, triggered by “patterns and practices” of systematic rights violations rather than any one particular incident. For instance, the DOJ just launched a major effort to reorganize and reshape the police department of Albuquerque, reforming its trainings, protocols and appallingly trigger-happy habits. (The Albuquerque police have shot thirty-seven people in the past four years, twenty-three of them fatally.) This is a well-established tool of the federal government: other police departments under federal supervision include those of Seattle, New Orleans, Puerto Rico and, until recently, Los Angeles and Detroit; the feds also nearly took over wholesale the Oakland police department in 2012. But note that these federal interventions do not entail punishments, civil or criminal, of individual police officers.
In the unusual instances when a law enforcement officer is convicted, the penalties tend to be remarkably light. Johannes Mehserle, the Bay Area Rapid Transit officer who shot the unarmed Oscar Grant III dead on New Year’s Day, 2009, served eleven months of a two-year sentence for involuntary manslaughter. Then there is Jon Burge, the Chicago police detective who led the torture of over 100 (mostly black) suspects, released last month after serving four and a half years in custody. (The statute of limitations had passed for the more serious offenses.) Burge still collects a $54,000 departmental pension.
Such Scandinavian-style lenity is quite different from the mind-numbing severity of sentences inflicted on non-cops. Consider the sixty years that potentially face Marissa Alexander for firing a warning shot at an abusive ex. Or the life sentences without possibility of parole that more than 3,000 Americans are serving for nonviolent crimes.
Some observers see hope for police reform in the ubiquity of smartphone video recorders. It’s true that the ever-growing supply of police misconduct videos fuels the anger needed to sustain reform efforts, and even occasionally leads to police officers being disciplined or prosecuted. Examples include NYPD officers David Afanador and Tyrane Isaac, caught on camera pistol-whipping a teenage suspect last August, or South Carolina state trooper Sean Groubert who in September opened fire on a motorist heading into his truck to retrieve his driver’s license. Jason Leventhal told me he expects an indictment of the Staten Island police officer who strangled Eric Garner because the video evidence, caught on a cellphone, was so brutal. It would certainly be a good thing if police departments invested less in military gear like M-RAP armored vehicles and more in dashcams and GoPro cameras; with the right department protocols and practices, these cameras strengthen police accountability.
But just as often these videos end up illustrating just how much leeway police have in opening fire on a suspect. Take the police shooting of St. Louis resident Kajieme Powell, a mentally ill man allegedly holding a knife, a fatal shooting arguably less defensible than the Michael Brown shooting ten days before, and caught on a cell-phone video. Or, again, John Crawford III, whose slaying by police officers was caught on the Walmart security cameras. Or the July, 2012 video of eight members of the Saginaw, Michigan, police department, six of them firing forty-six shots at Milton Hall, a mentally ill homeless man, hitting him eleven times, after he took out a pocket knife when a police dog started to lunge at him. Although the latter horrific video picked up a fresh wave of publicity when screened at a hearing of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Washington, DC, last month, such videos cannot undo the legally enshrined deference to the subjective feelings of police officers when they reach for their weapons. No criminal charges were even attempted by state prosecutors in any of these cases; the DOJ has announced it is looking into the Crawford shooting, but declined to prosecute in the other two.
(A note on the IACHR and other international forums: bringing these cases of police shootings to them is a canny way to generate publicity and raise consciousness, but no one should ever imagine for even a second that such bodies will ever wield any actual power in American courts.)
There really is no courtroom miracle or lawsuit solution, no matter how clever the litigator, no matter how deep-dish the foundation grant, that is going to discipline the police and break them of their trigger-happy habits.
Police shootings are only one function of living in one of the most heavily policed societies in the world. Any movement to roll back this creeping overcriminalization is going to have to look beyond criminal prosecutions of individual police and take in the big picture.
The militarized police response to the mostly nonviolent demonstrations in Ferguson and elsewhere has appalled not only progressives but many conservatives as well. The army’s provision of of weapons surplus, from MRAPs to tanks, to local police departments under the federal 1033 Program, ought to be easy to end. But departments are reluctant to give back new toys, and majorities of both the congressional Progressive Caucus and the Black Caucus voted against a bill that would have stopped the disbursement of some military goodies to local police departments. Gun control advocates would do well to lobby hard and publicly for arms control measures applied to the police as well—undisciplined but up-armored cops are part of what that drives many otherwise sane private citizens to build private armories.
Wanton overpolicing had poisoned relations between the people and their government well before Darren Wilson shot dead Michael Brown. Less mediagenic than police militarization and far more insidious is law enforcement’s daily harassment of citizens for petty offenses. The local government in Ferguson has been treating its residents and neighbors less like free people with rights than like revenue milk-cows to be exploited to the max. Citations and fines for petty offenses are profligately inflicted on residents, particularly black residents. According to a blockbuster report issued by St. Louis’s ArchCity Defenders advocacy group, over 20 percent of city revenue comes from municipal courts (making them the city’s second-largest source of revenue), which issued enough warrants last year to slap three warrants, $312 worth, on every household in the town.
Not surprisingly, high on the list of demands issues at one Ferguson community forum was an end to the “overpolicing and criminalization of poverty,” an amnesty for old unpaid warrants, new fines proportioned to income and a state law capping municipal revenue from court fees at 10 percent. (Terrified by the Ferguson unrest, the city of St. Louis decided to eliminate 220,000 open arrest warrants for traffic violations last month.) The feeling of being under occupation by an armed force that cares more about meeting revenue quotas than public security corrodes all trust in law enforcement, and is the sort of environment in which police are more likely to open fire.
The state of emergency that Missouri governor Jay Nixon declared on November 17 seems all too likely to encourage the police overkill, both petty and heavily militarized, that shocked the world over the summer, when much of the state’s use of force against demonstrators was of dubious legality.
New policing models like the problem-solving approach developed by David M. Kennedy and others have focused law enforcement and social work resources on a city’s small number of known and likely violent gang members, leaving the rest of the community in relative peace. This approach has won demonstrable results in Boston and Cincinnati without intrusive “broken windows” policing or the wholesale stop-and-frisk harassment of black and Latino youth. Kennedy, director of the Center for Crime Prevention and Control at John Jay College, writes in his memoir, Don’t Shoot, that this type of community policing doesn’t fix the entire economy, but it does reduce homicide—including police homicide—and at least create social peace.
Police demilitarization, the decriminalization of working-class people, new policing models: these are all projects that could work in Ferguson and thousands of other American cities. Although none of these large-scale ideas is explicitly race-conscious, they would most likely tighten the severe racial disparities in policing violence that exist all over the country, more so than pouring more money into racial sensitivity training for cops. (Changing residency requirements of municipal police officers to get a more ethnically representative force might help a little, though research shows that such requirements correlate with less confidence in the police, not more.)
These big-picture reforms are fundamentally political solutions that will require long-term effort, coalition politics that spans race, ethnicity and political affiliation—a challenge, but also a necessity. As police and prosecutors assume more and more power in the United States—regulating immigration (formerly a matter of administrative law), meting out school discipline, and other spheres of everyday life where criminal law was almost unknown even a generation ago—getting law enforcement on a tight leash is a national imperative. In the meantime, the constant stream of news reports of unarmed, mostly black and Latino civilians killed by police demands bigger, bolder approaches. They are the only available paths to getting the police under control.
When we shout our US Justice Department has the resources--both administratively and funding to pursue local cases of police corruption in courts to pressure both those local corrupt political officials and those corrupt police unions to open to oversight and accountability ----this article tells us why it does not happen-----CLINTON/BUSH/OBAMA has moved the US to FAR-RIGHT WING----extreme wealth extreme poverty WANTS a police force that creates FEAR AND DIS-EMPOWERMENT of 99% of citizens.
It is the decision of OBAMA and his pick as Attorney General in Holder to run that US Justice Department from this FAR-RIGHT WING EXTREME WEALTH AND POWER stance regarding policing standards.
We elected Obama running as a REAL left social progressive to stop the Bush-era advancement of DEEP STATE ----HOMELAND SECURITY as national police force ---US CITIES DEEMED FOREIGN ECONOMIC ZONES operating as they do in third world nations-----that was his campaign stance---and of course he served as a third BUSH term MOVING FORWARD ONE WORLD ONE GOVERNANCE ONE GLOBAL POLICE/SECURITY CORPORATION.
These politicians and appointments are still under oath of office to PROTECT AND SERVE THE PEOPLE AND THE US CONSTITUTION-----they are ROBBER BARON POLS wanting to corrupt our strongest in world history government structures of checks and balances charged with WE THE PEOPLE THE 99% AS LEGISLATORS PROTECTED AS CITIZENS BY RULE OF LAW.
At Supreme Court, Eric Holder’s Justice Dept. Routinely Backs Officers’ Use of Force
By MATT APUZZO and ADAM LIPTAKAPRIL 21, 2015
WASHINGTON — Teresa Sheehan was alone in her apartment at a mental health center, clutching what her lawyers said was a small bread knife and demanding to be left alone. San Francisco police officers, responding to a call from a social worker, forced open the door, blinded her with pepper spray and shot her.
It was the kind of violent police confrontation that Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has frequently criticized in Cleveland; Albuquerque; Ferguson, Mo.; and beyond. But last month, when Ms. Sheehan’s civil rights lawsuit reached the Supreme Court, the Justice Department backed the police, saying that a lower court should have given more weight to the risks that the officers faced.
At the Supreme Court, where the limits of police power are established, Mr. Holder’s Justice Department has supported police officers every time an excessive-force case has made its way to arguments. Even as it has opened more than 20 civil rights investigations into local law enforcement practices, the Justice Department has staked out positions that make it harder for people to sue the police and that give officers more discretion about when to fire their guns.
Police groups see Mr. Holder as an ally in that regard, and that pattern has rankled civil rights lawyers, who say the government can have a far greater effect on policing by interpreting law at the Supreme Court than through investigations of individual departments.
“There is an inherent conflict between people at the Justice Department trying to stop police abuses and other people at the Justice Department convincing the Supreme Court that police abuses should be excused,” said Ronald L. Kuby, a Manhattan civil rights lawyer.
To some extent, conflict is built into the system. The Justice Department’s core mission is law enforcement. It oversees the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, among others. In every administration, it is in the government’s interest for federal agents to have as much leeway, and as little liability, as possible.
“It’s natural that the instinctive reaction of the department is to support law enforcement interests, even when a particular case may have compelling facts for the individual defendant,” said Neal K. Katyal, a former acting solicitor general in the Obama administration. He said the Justice Department had a duty to tell the court what effect a ruling could have for federal law enforcement agencies.
When police abuse cases make it to the Supreme Court, even if they have nothing to do with federal agents, the Justice Department often weighs in. Last year, the department sided with police officers in West Memphis, Ark., who shot a driver and passenger 15 times, killing them at the end of a chase.
John F. Bash, a Justice Department lawyer in that case, told the justices that “there is some level of reckless driving in response to a police pursuit that authorizes the use of deadly force.” What was certain, he added, was that the officers were entitled to qualified immunity, which shields them from civil rights lawsuits. The Supreme Court unanimously agreed.
Every such victory makes it harder for citizens to prevail when they believe they have been mistreated by police officers. It also adds obstacles for the Justice Department’s own civil rights investigators when alleging police misconduct. That has led to some tense debates inside the department, current and former officials say, as the government’s civil rights and appellate lawyers discussed when the department should weigh in, and on which side. Those debates have led the Justice Department to take more nuanced positions than government lawyers might have otherwise, the officials said.