Are Advocates For Reforming Police Practices Anti-Police?

Police Blue
Share:

Police Blue

Tim Lynch, writing on the Cato Institute’s “At Liberty” site, notes, “If you are an advocate for school choice, you must risk being called ‘anti-teacher’ by the political left.  But did you know there is a similar phenomenon on the right side of the political spectrum?  If you are an advocate for reforming police practices, you must risk being called ‘anti-police.’”

Here are his thoughts when he was at the National Convention of the Federalist Society:

I was invited to speak on a panel titled, “Ferguson, Baltimore, and Criminal Justice Reform.”  By way of background, I have spoken at Federalist Society events many times and the Fed Soc folks have always been professional and courteous.  The panels typically consist of speakers with a variety of viewpoints.  Last week, when it was my turn to speak, my goal was to highlight many reforms that I thought were worthwhile and to explain why.  Among the topics were civil asset forfeiture reform, municipal court reform, getting an accurate annual tally of persons who die in police custody, and a tally of persons shot by the police. 

Robert Woodson, President of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, was the final speaker on our panel.  He was mad.  He immediately complained about what we had “heard so far.”  That was a weird complaint.  Four panelists had just delivered their presentations.  Two defended the police against what they said were unfair criticisms.  And two offered ideas for police and criminal justice reform.  Woodson seemed upset that all of the of the preceding talks were not to his liking.

Instead of simply offering his own thoughts on Ferguson and Baltimore, Woodson made it clear that something was amiss with the panel itself.  His main point was that crime levels in black city neighborhoods are at atrocious levels–“we are experiencing a 9/11 every few months,” he said.  Few would disagree that that’s a very serious problem.  Yet, the tenor of Woodson’s remarks were not to say something like, “In my opinion, the most pressing issue today is black-on-black violence.”  He seemed angry the other panelists were not focused on that.  Again, that’s just odd.  Ferguson and Baltimore raise many issues, but they’re primarily about police power and whether it has been abusive to minority persons–especially young men.  In that regard, Woodson could have denounced any of the other panel discussions going on at the conference (e.g. “Why are you academic types talking about administrative law and separation powers?  I wonder what the folks in poor neighborhoods would think about that–when they’re experiencing a 9/11 every few months!!  This panel’s priorities are messed up!”). 

Woodson is not alone.  Many on the right do not want to talk about reforming police departments and addressing the problem of police misconduct.  So they change the subject: ‘Why talk about that? The bigger problem is black-on-black violence!’  Another common response, as noted above, is to denounce any discussion of police misconduct as “anti-police.” Woodson repeatedly says that my remarks “vilified” police.  Not true. And I’m glad C-Span was there to record what I said.  Watch my 12 minute talk and decide for yourself. 

Whether you agree or disagree with my arguments, it is worrisome that many on the right cannot (or will not) distinguish between constructive criticism of police and vilification.  I say that because the Federalist audience cheered Woodson’s fiery rhetoric.  The entire panel discussion can be viewed here.

For related Cato work, go here and here.

Share:

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

Related posts

41 thoughts on “Are Advocates For Reforming Police Practices Anti-Police?”

  1. Biddlin

    Ferguson and Baltimore raise many issues, but they’re primarily about police power and whether it has been abusive to minority persons–especially young men. “

    Change the word “power” to “deadly force” and he’s closer to right.

    ;>)/

  2. Tia Will

    My question is a much broader one. Why is it that we feel the need to pit one societal problem against another ?  Why is one person’s death more important to address than that of another ? Why can we not see that gang shootings, individual shootings, excessive use of police force, domestic terrorist actions, foreign terrorist actions , DUIs and all the havoc they wreak on both perpetrator and victims , domestic violence are all worthy of being addressed. Why do we need to downplay someone else’s concern while elevating our own as though addressing both is mutually exclusive ?

    1. Frankly

      Victim mentality is the antithesis of the practice of introspection.

      A person aflicted with victim mentality has practically lost the ability to practice introspection.  They have fallen into a hole of crappy circumstances – either caused by bad luck or their own poor choices in life – and blame others at the same time they demand to be pulled out and propped up by others.

      Then there are the enablers and exploiters of victim mentality.  These people collect and amplify grievances of whole groups of victims to exploit for feeling relevant and useful, and for political power.

      But victim mentality is a phycological sickness.  The people afflicted with it will have impaired development.  They have problems that only they can solve, but they cannot.

      They cannot get over it.

      They can not move on.

      They become stuck.

      And then they become angry that they are stuck and nobody is saving them.  And they act out and dig themselves deeper into that hole of crappy circumstances.

      Black on black violence is a problem orders of magnitude grreater than is the problem of blacks being over-represented in law enforcement transactions.  But black on black violence is not a problem that fits nicely into a victim mentality narrative.   It is one that absolutely cannot be solved without introspection within the black community.  And it is also a problem that sheds light on the history of our failed liberal policies.

      So Democrats and their media puppets deflect and ignore that problem while ginning up victim mentality within the black community by over-playing the episodes of law enforcement transactions with black suspects.

      But the hole just keeps getting deeper and wider.

    2. Miwok

      Why is one person’s death more important to address than that of another ?

      Because, Tia, this is why Chicago is experiencing their “protests”. They are really protesting their lack of control and fear that no one seems to be solving, regardless of the election rhetoric. What is the mystery to me is why the protesters aren’t taking the hooligans by the ear and marching them out of town? Oh, they are related to them? They benefit from the spoils? hmm It is an excuse to loot – I am waiting for the town to up in flames…

      1. Tia Will

        Miwok

        Because, Tia, this is why Chicago is experiencing their “protests”. They are really protesting their lack of control and fear that no one seems to be solving”

        Perhaps you over looked the part of my post in which I said that I had a broader question. That question was about violent death in our society. It was not limited, as Mr. Lynch’s comments were not limited to Chicago, or race related killings, or seemingly random mass shootings, or police use of excessive force, but rather about our cultures seeming willingness to use violence as a solution to life’s problems. It was not about “feeling like a victim” as in Frankly’s usual position about “victim mentality” but about actually being a victim whether or another member of your community, or a domestic partner, or the police, or a complicity judicial system.

  3. Paul Thober

    I am pro law enforcement, but I strongly believe that something has to be done about law enforcement culture. As evidenced by the shooting of Mr. McDonald in Chicago last year. I will just repeat what I wrote in response to the recent article in the Vanguard concerning that incident:

    “What does it take to get police officers with integrity? There were at least three other officers on the scene none of whom saw fit to intervene much less speak out about the perpetrator’s conduct, but rather chose to remain silent and cover up as did their superiors. Until this is somehow addressed I and a significant segment of the population will remain distrustful of any law enforcement officer. I am willing to accept that there will always be LEO’s who are criminals, but not the systemic acceptance of that behavior.” 

    This kind of behavior affects all segments of society, but affects the poor, the mentally ill, and blacks disproportionately.

    1. zaqzaq

      Where was the criminal cover up?  There was at least one video of the incident and an investigation that eventually led to the DA filing charges against the officer.  The larger question is why did it take so long?  The DA indicated she was waiting for the Feds to complete their investigation.  When will the Feds make a decision?  Will they even make a decision before the state case is completed?

      The other issue that I see was why wasn’t a tazor available for the officers.  I read one report that the officers were waiting for a tazor to arrive.  Why aren’t all Chicago police officers equipped with tazors.  This is also not a situation where the deceased was “unarmed”.  He had a knife and had used it already during the incident.  Was this an attempt by the deceased to commit suicide by cop?

      I see many of the incidents where the police use lethal force as failures in training.  How often are these officers put through realistic scenario training where they have to make these split second decisions?  If you want to look at reform you need to take a look at how these officers are being trained.  Good training also costs money that the tax payers must be willing to finance.  I see this incident and the Rice incident as failures in training that should not end up with criminal charges against the officers.  We do not charge doctors with crimes when the make judgment errors that result in death or injury.  Why do so with police?

  4. Biddlin

    Cops killed 624 citizens last year vs. 51 police officers feloniously killed in the line of duty.

    Better than a 10 to 1 kill ratio. When a death is caused by a police officer, the officer responsible is rarely charged with a crime. In an unusually tough on cops year, 14 have been charged. Even when they are charged, they are unlikely to be convicted, especially of something like second-degree murder. One reason is that a jury of 12 people needs to agree, beyond reasonable doubt, that the officer used excessive force or did something illegal that caused the death. Also, everyone knows that police work can be fast-paced and highly stressful; people tend to give officers the benefit of the doubt when it comes to those life-and-death moments. Therefore, it is very difficult to convict police officers for killing someone in the line of duty. When they are convicted they get joke sentences.                      Officer Jason Blackwelder, convicted of the second degree murder of Russell Rios,  got probation from a Texas judge.

    NYPD officer Bryan Conroy was convicted of negligent homicide in the killing of an unarmed and not criminally involved art dealer, Ousame Zongo and was sentenced to five years probation and 500hrs. community service.

    Bart cop/murderer Johannes Meserle,  got 2 years but served only 11 months.

     

    1. Frankly

      Meaningless twaddle.

      The kill ratio of the US military is much, much higher.  The kill ratio for musicians is much, much lower.

      Do you actually understand what the job of law enforcement is?

      1. Tia Will

        Frankly

        In response to your question, I did a quick Google search under “what is the job of law enforcement. I put in the top three, but opened a number of others. What was uniform was that within the first paragraph on every site was “protect life and property”. No site had the use of lethal force in their opening statement.

        The duties of a police officer, also known as a law enforcement officer, focus on protecting people and property. They patrol the areas they are assigned, which sometimes include entire jurisdictions, respond to calls, enforce laws, make arrests, issue citations, and occasionally testify in court cases.”

        Sworn officers play a vital role in maintaining safety and welfare at all levels of government and across the country, but law enforcement is a service career at its core. Policing is as much about helping people and maintaining community quality of life as it is about enforcing laws and apprehending criminals – See more at: http://discoverpolicing.org/why_policing/?fa=call_serve#sthash.HnV1T574.dpuf

        Law enforcement agents protect life and property, and uphold the law within a jurisdiction.”

        What I think is too often missing from this discussion is that while sometimes force is needed to accomplish their mission of protection, the mission itself is protection, not the use of force.

         

        1. Frankly

          The use of deadly force is part of the job for protecting life and property.  It isn’t cops against humanity.  It is cops against those that break laws and present a danger to humanity.

          I was responding to Biddlin’s absurd comment about the ratio of cops killed in the line of duty to those that cops had killed in the line of duty.  That comparison is meaningless by itself.

          It is only the ratio of unjustified killings that are indicative of a need for law enforcement reforms.

        2. hpierce

          Frankly… what “property” protection (where no ‘life’ is involved) justifies use of lethal force?  You wrote:  “The use of deadly force is part of the job for protecting life and property.”

  5. sisterhood

    “Are Advocates For Reforming Police Practices Anti-Police?”

    Absolutely not.

    What kind of psychological profile is done on police applicants?

    There should be a minimum age requirement of 25. Because the impulsive part of the brain is still developing until approximately 25

    There should be a serious and lengthy psychological profile.

    Officers should not be allowed to work more than fifty hours per week.

    Cops must live in the community where they work, without exception.

    Random drug/alcohol tests done at the start of their shift.

    Sleep hygiene class required at the academy.

    Free marriage/relationship counselng offered. No limit for the number of sessions.. Free financial counseling.

    Maybe some of these suggestions will result in less cops. But maybe they will also prevent unnecessary deaths and lawsuits.

    1. PhilColeman

      Psychological tests for prospective peace officers have been the law in California since the mid-1950’s. Anyone, feel free to enumerate any other public or private agency that has a similar condition of employment. Or consider expanding this requirement for any person posting on a blog.

      The California Government Code and the California Constitution prohibits any requirement that government employees must live in the community they work — no exceptions.

      Counseling/therapy sessions for peace officers are available in most agencies. For any that are not, it’s a funding issue, not an administrative neglect or oversight issue.

      A 50-hour maximum work-week is wholly impractical and offers great risk to the public’s safety. Homicide investigators in the middle of a critical interrogation of a suspect suspending the effort at the 50th hour, a major natural disaster or public disorder requiring all available officers to be called to duty for indefinite periods of time, court testimony by police officer ceases in mid-trial because of time constraint, and so on. It will never happen.

      A minimum-age entry of 25 was a wide-held requirement many years ago in numerous law enforcement agencies. Declining success in recruitment efforts and public pressures to increase ethnic and gender diversity in police ranks forced abandonment of this requirement. Indeed, there has been efforts to further reduce the minimum age requirements, for the same reasons.

      I have no idea what sleep-hygiene training actually means.

      1. sisterhood

        Mr. Coleman, thank you for your detailed response.

        Re: definition of sleep hygiene:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleep_hygiene

        Re: counseling, I believe they only get six sessions, if they have benefits similar to state workers’ unions. Six is not enough.

        Re: age. I stand by my suggestion of minimum age of 25 but I agree with Tia, perhaps they could start training before then or have internships.  Just because something is difficult, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it.

        I also stand by my suggestion to keep the work week to a maximum of 50 hours.

        If you cannot mandate the residency requirement, it should be very strongly recommended.

         

      2. TrueBlueDevil

        I’ve had a question for several weeks that I really don’t know where to post, so this is the closest topic I can think of. I hope that Mr. Coleman can respond.

        I understand that we once had height and size requirements that women and some ethnic communities couldn’t meet to be a police of fire professional, so many of these requirements were changed or eliminated. But I wonder if we have gone too far.

        One public case were women trying out to be US Marines who couldn’t even do three pull ups, yet there is still this huge push to admit them despite their inability to achieve this basic level of strength in a job which requires such.

        The second example was that I was in a Bay Area city recently, and a young woman was behind me who appeared to be a security personnel. When I looked closer, I saw she was an officer. She was maybe 5’2″ and 110-120 pounds. She was engaging (we spoke), but I have to conclude she will be at a severe disadvantage due to her small stature. Does this really make any sense?

        1. Don Shor

          One public case were women trying out to be US Marines who couldn’t even do three pull ups, yet there is still this huge push to admit them despite their inability to achieve this basic level of strength in a job which requires such.

          Here are the USMC requirements: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Marine_Corps_Physical_Fitness_Test

          Women are less able to do pull-ups than men. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t suitable to be Marines.

        2. Anon

          To TrueBlueDevil: Female officers can be a huge advantage in a domestic violence dispute, because they seem better able to diffuse the situation.  Obviously if a male perpetrator of violence turns violent against police, whole different story, and is why female officer needs male backup.  Female officer is often much better at handling rape victims and children who have been abused.

          I’m not a fan of having females in military combat positions, however.

  6. Tia Will

    sisterhood

    I think that you have posted some very good suggestions. I would like to elaborate on one of them, namely the age requirement. I would suggest that younger officers be recruited as “interns” or “trainees” in paid positions at an earlier age. They would not be armed but would be in “non use of force” positions within the department perhaps as school liaisons or learning and practicing deescalation techniques so that they have a deeper service mentality going into their actual job rather than being solely focused on enforcement. This would also allow time to assess which candidates were actually temperamentally suited to the service component of the police function and perhaps weed out those for whom the attraction is power and use of force.

  7. Tia Will

    Phil

    Anyone, feel free to enumerate any other public or private agency that has a similar condition of employment. Or consider expanding this requirement for any person posting on a blog.”

    There are very few others than the police who are empowered to use lethal force against their fellow citizens. This is certainly not true of bloggers. This alone would be enough for me to believe that this should be necessary for police while not for others public or private agencies.

  8. Anon

    Tia: “but rather about our cultures seeming willingness to use violence as a solution to life’s problems…” 

    And other cultures don’t?  LOL  Look at all the internecine warfare going on in other countries.  Some countries take care of their criminal element by doling out severe punishment/executing them for minor infractions, e.g. stoning for adultery, cutting off hands for theft.  Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try and improve things here in this country, but unfortunately violence is a part of human nature.  And as long as it is, law enforcement will be necessary.  We just want to make sure law enforcement is not part of the problem of deterring violence as a solution to problems, by being overzealous in use of force.  Community policing is an example of good law enforcement tactics – see: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/humankind/2015/09/18/humankind-officer-norman/72409364/

    1. Tia Will

      zaqzaq

       We do not charge doctors with crimes when the make judgment errors that result in death or injury.”

      While it is true that we do not charge doctors with crimes when they make “judgement errors” that result in death or injury, we no longer stand behind them when their “errors” are repetitive or appear to be deliberate. For instance we would no longer allow a surgeon who used racial epithets and then operated on minorities and had consistently bad results to continue operating. This would appear to be the situation in the most recent case of the teen shot 16 times by an officer who already had multiple complaints filed against him.

      1. hpierce

        Actually, if you had a surgeon who had repetitive complaints complaints for using racial epithets, why would you wait until they had “consistently bad results” to get them the hell out of Dodge?  Or at least ban them from operating on minorities?  “A thin scrub line”?  That makes me nervous about my surgery scheduled for next week, @ Kaiser!

        This case, is a bit weird… what weapon did the officer (NOT a question for you, Tia) have that allowed him to fire 16 rounds without re-loading?  Were other officers firing?  A “double tap” is one thing, but sixteen rounds?  If the officer had a clip of 16 rounds, I believe he was over-armed for the situation.  If he reloaded, because his clip had less than 16, he is insane, perverted, and guilty of murder.  And, if he re-loaded, why didn’t the other officers intervene?

        Am thinking we don’t have the full story here, there maybe more than one rogue cop, was he actually hit with sixteen rounds, and there is no way (it appears) that the death of the young man was anything less than second-degree MURDER.  No matter how many officers were involved, or how many rounds entered his body.

         

        1. Tia Will

          hpierce

          if you had a surgeon who had repetitive complaints complaints for using racial epithets, why would you wait until they had “consistently bad results” to get them the hell out of Dodge?  Or at least ban them from operating on minorities?  “A thin scrub line”?  That makes me nervous about my surgery scheduled for next week, @ Kaiser!”

          Oh, for heaven’s sake hp, I clearly said “we no longer stand behind them when their “errors” are repetitive or appear to be deliberate. For instance we would no longer allow a surgeon who used racial epithets and then operated on minorities and had consistently bad results to continue operating” not that we would tolerate it …..but that we would not. I was contrasting this with the past when not only would this behavior have likely been tolerated, but per Tuskegee…not even frowned upon. It is exactly this kind of commenting on your part that sometimes leads me to believe that perhaps you are “game playing” or just “jerking my chain”.

      2. zaqzaq

        Tia,

        Why should we treat police officers differently.  We issue them guns and then expect them to use them when needed otherwise we as a society would not have armed police officers.  When they use them and we as a society do not like their judgement on the use of the gun why would we want to charge them with a crime.  Most officers never discharge their firearms.  When the do I suspect that the adrenaline is pumping and they have only seconds to decide if they should fire.  Most doctors on the other hand have more time to conduct a diagnosis and make a treatment decision.  Many can seek a consultation with a peer.  This may be different in an ER room when a patient comes into the hospital in serious distress.  That would be more like what the police officers are dealing with in their decision making process.  If we charge police with crimes for using the guns why not also charge doctors for making similarly bad decisions that result in death?  If doctors get a bye the first time and only are limited for “repetitive” or deliberate errors why not police officers?  Most treatment decisions are deliberate unless you are indicating that doctors deliberately harm patients.

        1. Tia Will

          zaqzaq

          You are missing a very important distinction between the actions of doctors and those of police. When a doctor has to make a decision with seconds to minutes as is sometimes the case in ER, L&D and surgical situations, the life at stake is that of the patient. I have never yet seen the situation in which it is the doctors life…or that of the patient. The doctor may make the decision to operate or not, to administer the drug or not, but she will never make the decision to kill to save her own life. This is the power we invest in our police. Perhaps we should not provide them with such a facile excuse as “I feared for my life” when they clearly could have retreated to await more support in a safe location.

        2. hpierce

          Are you listening to yourself Tia?

          “I have never yet seen the situation in which it is the doctors life…or that of the patient.”  yet you say, “but she will never make the decision to kill to save her own life.”  Analogy fails… big time, as the officer also has to make a decision to use lethal force to save the life of him/herself, of his fellow officers, bystanders, etc.  Your logic fails, in my opinion, but in this specific situation, sure looks like at least second-degree murder to me.

    2. Tia Will

      Anon

      And other cultures don’t? “

      We are not responsible for the actions of others, either other individuals or other countries. It is our own actions that we are responsible for. Citing greater barbarity of others does nothing to excuse our own barbarity.

      Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try and improve things here in this country, but unfortunately violence is a part of human nature”

      And we have the power of reason. We do not have to give in to our tendencies towards violence. We have an obligation to reject violence in every instance except immediate and imminent threat, which certainly did not apply to the officers in the teen’s shooting. He was out numbered with no one in close proximity. These officers had many other options as was also the case in the Rice shooting. The fact that they choose lethal force when they could choose patience, time and awaiting further reinforcement is something that we should never tolerate.

      1. Frankly

        This cop shooting appears to be unjustified and the cop will be tried and convicted if guilty.

        But…

        In 2012, white males were 38 percent of the population and committed 4,582 murders. That same year, black males were just 6.6 percent of the population but committed a staggering 5,531 murders.

        According to FBI data, 4,906 black people murdered other blacks in 2010 and 2011.

        The left and left media attention given to the few sensational cop killings in consideration of the absolute silence for the astronomically high numbers of black on black murders and other black on black violent crimes is clear evidence that we are seeing a coordinated political movement by the left and left media to deflect from the inconvenient truth of the devastation of the black community from decades of failed liberal policies.

        1. Don Shor

          People have good reason to expect that people who work for them as public safety employees will not be acting against their interests, and they have good reason to expect the public officials who oversee those employees to hold them accountable and to be, themselves, held accountable for their behavior.
          The protests in Chicago and elsewhere are against the violent behavior of some cops and the failure to deal with that at the municipal level. I have seen protesters carrying signs calling for the resignations of Rahm Emanuel and the city’s police chief, for example.
          “the absolute silence for the astronomically high numbers of black on black murders and other black on black violent crimes…”
          I believe you will find urban leaders and black leaders speaking out about this issue as well. But protesting crime by criminals doesn’t really make much sense. Protesting violent actions by public employees does. I really don’t get why you can’t seem to see the difference.

  9. Tia Will

    Frankly

    Is it any surprise that criminal activity on the part of criminals is perhaps less newsworthy than criminal behavior on the part of those who we pay specifically  is to protect us and to uphold our laws?  Does this really meet your criteria for a “left wing conspiracy” ?

  10. Tia Will

    hpierce

    Actually, today, doctors/physicians take no such oath.”

    It is true that we take no such oath. It remains the principle by which most of us measure our actions and frequently refer to in training and conversation with other docs.

    1. hpierce

      Acknowledged… was responding to a specific comment that stated/implied there is such an “oath”.

      The concept is shared in almost every profession, by the way (except perhaps stockbrokers, insurance folk, lenders, etc.)

  11. Tia Will

    hpierce

    “I have never yet seen the situation in which it is the doctors life…or that of the patient.”  yet you say, “but she will never make the decision to kill to save her own life.”  Analogy fails… big time, as the officer also has to make a decision to use lethal force to save the life of him/herself, of his fellow officers, bystanders, etc”

    It was not my analogy. I was pointing out what I perceived as the fault in the analogy of zaqzaq when he/she compared the position of physician with police officer. You seem to agree that the analogy is not strong.

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
$ USD
Sign up for