January 2017

16 171819202122

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Wednesday, July 29th, 2015 11:48 pm
I want the whole concept of "juvenile charged as an adult" to be eliminated from the American legal system. (Maybe the US could then stop being the only UN nation other than Somalia not to have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child.)

I want police officers to be trained under the assumption that protecting innocent civilian lives is even more important than their own safety. (And reminded that our society believes in a presumption of innocence.)

I want police officers and departments to consider any death (or injury) at police hands to reflect a failure. Officers should be trained to prioritize deescalation whenever possible. (Among other reasons, many violent or threatening individuals are mentally ill.)

I want black people carrying fake guns to be treated with at least as many rights as white people carrying real ones.

I want law enforcement officers to be legally classified as ordinary civilians under all circumstances unless their actions are recorded by a body camera and successfully uploaded to a public server. (Live wireless backup could be an important part of this.) (Any recording relevant to an actual civil or criminal trial should be publicly viewable, but I could accept restrictions on general access to all recorded footage.)

I want statistics to be kept on every police officer and every police department, including counts of officer-involved deaths, major injuries and minor injuries, as well as percentage of encounters that escalate to violence, all annotated with race and gender. Departmental statistics should be public, and tracked at the state and federal level. Individual officer's statistics should be confidential but regularly reviewed at the local and state levels. (For both individuals and departments, careful statistical analysis is of course necessary: some outliers are statistically inevitable even under normal behaviors and conditions, and careful attention would be necessary to develop proper apples-to-apples comparison groups. Statistics alone should never lead to censure or punishment, but they could prompt a more individual review, including recordings of the incidents in question.)

I want police officers (and society at large) to recognize that one bad apple ruins the bunch, and that their fellow officers must be held to standards at least as high as the general population.

I want a guarantee that the proceeds of civil forfeiture will never be shared with the officers, department, or local government directly responsible for confiscating the property in question. (Proceeds could be given to local community service organizations, or to state or federal governments.)

I want a (low) nationwide cap on the fraction of a municipality's revenue that can come from fines. (Excess could be returned to local citizens as some sort of tax rebate or given to local non-profits.)

I want a ban on military-style equipment for most police officers and departments. The use of such tools should be limited to small, highly trained teams to be deployed only in the most dangerous situations, and whose numbers are subject to strict caps based on local/regional population and violent crime rates. (Note that British police are almost entirely unarmed, and overwhelmingly want it to stay that way. That might not work here, today, but clearly our current model isn't the only way.)

I want the importance of affirmative, active consent to be taught in every school (and discussed as explicitly applying to sexual activity beginning at least by middle school).

I want drug possession to be treated as a public health issue rather than a crime. (Retroactive reductions in prison sentences to match would be a good corollary.)

I want the sale of any drug whose likely harm to the individual and to society is no worse than tobacco's (or maybe even alcohol's) to be legalized, taxed, and carefully regulated for safety. (More nuanced updates of that Lancet study would of course be very welcome.)

I want the US population to collectively decide that convicts deserve humane conditions and that rape and assault are just as important to prevent in prison as they are outside of it. (And that it's worth the investment of money and attention to ensure all that. I'm willing to accept a lot of cameras for this one.)

I (probably) want most of our national social safety net programs to be replaced by a universal basic income (along with some sort of access to Medicare/Medicaid or a similar program), too, but that's a more complex issue than most of these.

There's probably a lot more that should be on this list, but that's a start.
Thursday, July 30th, 2015 05:16 am (UTC)
Obviously we can't have all that without a serious increase in GDP, but if I got to pick the priorities, I'd start with "I want the sale of any drug whose likely harm to the individual and to society is no worse than tobacco's (or maybe even alcohol's) to be legalized, taxed, and carefully regulated for safety."

Thursday, July 30th, 2015 05:28 pm (UTC)
The majority of these look revenue-neutral or even positive to me, at least once you get over an initial reorganization hump. Obviously implementation is nontrivial but I'm not seeing a lot of long term economic drain from almost any of them.

I of course can't include basic income in that category for sure, because I can't say anything about it for sure since its effects would be very complicated and it's never been tried on any significant scale.
Friday, July 31st, 2015 01:48 am (UTC)
[To answer Stu's question in a reply to kirinn] Primarily the ones about training of police officers, i.e. "I want police officers to be trained under the assumption that protecting innocent civilian lives is even more important than their own safety."

Police are very expensive as-is, and asking them to do more is also very expensive because you have to buck union protection. Becoming a police officer in San Jose requires a 2-year degree, and pays $78K/year plus overtime, pension, and benefits, and they can't find enough people willing to take the job because the pay isn't good enough and the benefits/pension aren't sweet enough. (Also, the current San Jose police union has been actively dissuading anyone from taking the job, so that can't help.)

Pensions for older police officers are so generous they were on a path to bankrupt the city, and several cities in California have already gone bankrupt due to inability to change pension promises. Police put their life on the line, and they need to be paid accordingly. People such as yourself generally don't choose to become police officers, so you have to work with the people who want that job, and they generally don't come from the same "enlightened" stock.

While there are many things that can be done, and I don't disagree with any of the things we wish could be done, the list is expensive, as in bankrupting-cities expensive.

Decriminalizing drugs is substantially less expensive, and would allow police to shift the focus of enforcement. Many police don't want to do that though, because it's easy to throw someone you suspect of some other crime in jail for possession or sale of drugs. That's far easier to catch someone doing than breaking and entering, or possession or sale of stolen goods. A bike? Maybe you bought it, maybe you didn't. In America we don't require people to keep their receipts with them for every purchase. A Kilo? Doesn't matter if you bought it with your own money; you're guilty.

Friday, July 31st, 2015 02:28 am (UTC)
I see what you're getting at: additional training would definitely cost money. My hope, at least in the medium to long term, is that this would mostly be a matter of different emphasis in the training we already do. I've seen claims that modern policing shifted emphasis significantly in the past 30 years or so (perhaps in connection with "broken windows" theory, or with the drug war); I'd like to think we could to some degree roll that back. And hey: why not make some room in the training schedule by eliminating most officers' instruction in, say, the use of flash-bangs in no-knock raids, or procedures involving armored personnel carriers, or the paperwork necessary for civil forfeiture?

Honestly, though, for a lot of these (not all of them) I don't care even a little bit how much they cost: I would very nearly prefer not to have a police force at all than continue to support some of the breathtakingly immoral practices that have come to be all too common (or even the norm) today.
Friday, July 31st, 2015 03:34 am (UTC)
"Honestly, though, for a lot of these (not all of them) I don't care even a little bit how much they cost: I would very nearly prefer not to have a police force at all than continue to support some of the breathtakingly immoral practices that have come to be all too common (or even the norm) today."

Agreed. How would you recommend achieving any of this?

Friday, July 31st, 2015 03:38 am (UTC)
I really, really wish I knew. I was honestly tempted to fly to Ferguson to stand behind the protesters there last year, but that wouldn't really have made a difference (and I'm not ready to take that kind of risk right now). I'm open to suggestions, and willing to throw a fair bit of time and money at a promising solution.
Friday, July 31st, 2015 03:27 am (UTC)
A quick second followup, since I happened to see a relevant comment on Twitter. Training police officers to deescalate situations rather than turn immediately to violence or threats of violence would certainly have an up-front cost. But, just for instance, police brutality lawsuits in Chicago alone averaged about $50 million over the ten years leading up to 2014. NYC recently paid over $150 million in a year. So changing police culture could definitely save some serious cash on that end. (And routine use of body cameras could eliminate a large fraction of false brutality claims, too.)
Thursday, July 30th, 2015 05:32 pm (UTC)
Which ones seem likely to be expensive to you? (Let's leave out the basic income item, since it's rather different than the rest. It would probably be very expensive, though I've seen claims that the net effect wouldn't be as bad as one would initially think.)

Are you mainly concerned about the costs of body cameras and statisticians? Or the need to raise taxes to cover lost revenue from law enforcement? (I think of a lot of these as attitude or policy changes rather than new projects.)
Thursday, July 30th, 2015 05:22 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I don't think there's anything in this list that I wouldn't happily second.
Thursday, July 30th, 2015 06:45 pm (UTC)

Boston went to a community engagement model of policing a fair while ago, and the PD isn't perfect, but the police officers I've run across seem committed to non-violent law enforcement tactics, de-escalate wherever possible, and try to avoid violence. Things that some other cities handle with fire hoses and pepper spray, I have sometimes seen BPD handle by having an officer have a low-key conversation with protesters.

Then again, I have only one perspective, and it's that of a relatively high-income white person. It would shock me not at all if my non-white neighbors held a vastly different opinion. And that right there is a giant, neon indication of a problem.
[identity profile] nick carroll (from livejournal.com)
Thursday, July 30th, 2015 08:22 pm (UTC)
I want any instance of a police officer found to file a willfully deceptive police report to be prosecuted as a felony, with mandatory jail time if convicted.

I want any accusations of misconducts on the part of police officers to be investigated by independent third parties not associated with government, not the police themselves.

I want all police officers to be required to carry insurance for judgements of liability stemming from their conduct, and be reimbursed for the average cost of said insurance for a police officer with 5+ years of experience and minimal complaints. Any officer unable to afford such insurance will be unable to retain their position.
Thursday, July 30th, 2015 08:29 pm (UTC)
I like the false report one!

I thought about things along the lines of the second one, but I have absolutely no idea how to implement it, or even what it would mean. (The investigation would be a governmental requirement and funded by public dollars, right? How do you prevent the "independent third party" from being co-opted by the folks who sign the checks? It's tricky.)

The third of these is really intriguing. I worry that even fantastic rookie cops wouldn't be able to afford to get to that 5+ year point, though. Maybe make the reimbursement match the average cost for an officer with the corresponding years of experience (at least until they hit the 5 year mark)?