Walter Olson has an interesting roundup of articles related to police accountability, over-policing, and many other related issues.
Archive for the ‘Police and Prosecutorial Abuse’ Category.
Both BLM and the campus rape culture movement have a starting point in real problems.
On campus, and even in a few police precincts, women complaining about sexual assault would get patted on the head and sent on their way, their charges going largely investigated. In part, oddly enough, I think the problem stems from the war on drugs -- for literally decades, campus police have helped to shelter their students from drug investigations and harassment from their local community police force. I know they did so at Princeton when I was there. So campus police forces really had a mission to keep their students out of jail and out of trouble. This is A-OK with me on drugs, but it obviously leads to terrible results when we get to sexual assault. So something needed to be done to have police forces, particularly ones on campus, take sexual assault charges seriously.
With police, officers have been sheltered from any real accountability for years. We give the police the ability to use force and other powers that ordinary citizens don't possess, but instead of giving them more scrutiny and accountability to offset these powers, we give them less. This has really been a bipartisan problem -- Conservatives tend to fetishize the police and want to assume by default that all police actions are justified. The Left is more willing to be skeptical of police behavior, but they refuse to take on any public sector union and police unions have generally locked in their contracts any number of accountability-avoidance mechanisms. So something needed to be done to bring accountability to police forces.
And with these quite justifiable and reasonable goals around which many of us could have coalesced into some sort of consensus, both protest efforts immediately overreached into crazy zones.
On campus, the reasonable demand for serious action in response to a sexual assault charge was abandoned in favor of the demand for immediate conviction without due process based on any sexual assault charge. Oddly mirroring the conservative attitude towards police, activists said that alleged victims had to always believed, and demanded that universities punish anyone accused of sexual transgressions. The result has become a toxic mess, and in some ways is a setback for justice, as activists have made it easier to get a rapist thrown out of school but perhaps harder to actually get thrown in jail.
With police, activists immediately eschewed the reasonable need for more police accountability and jumped to the contention that all police officers are racist and systematically abuse black citizens. Their focus seems to be on police shootings, though I find the pattern of petty police harassment (through the war on drugs and programs like New York's stop and frisk) to be more problematic. Just as in the campus rape debate, a reasonable need for more accountability and investigation of police shootings has morphed into a demand that police officers be treated as guilty by default in all shootings.
Each of these movements have made the problems more visible while simultaneously making these problems less likely to be solved.
I will add that I stick by my evaluation of BLM I wrote a while back. I actually sort of liked a lot of their proposed plan, but I wrote (see particularly part in bold):
There is much that progressive and conservative groups could learn from each other. Conservative groups (outside of anti-abortion folks) are loath to pursue the public demonstration and disruption tactics that can sometimes be helpful in getting one's issues on the public agenda. The flip side is that public disruption seems to be all BLM knows how to do. It can't seem to get beyond disruption, including the unfathomable recent threat to disrupt an upcoming marathon in the Twin Cities. It could learn a lot from Conservative and libertarian groups like ALEC, that focus on creating model legislation and local success stories that can be copied in other places. Many of the steps in BLM's plan cry out of model legislation and successful pilots/examples.
It's not that I think that all police officers are somehow evil and out to kill black people, or whatever. The issue is that we give police special and unique powers, and those special and unique powers should require special and unique accountability. Unfortunately, we tend to do exactly the opposite -- give police less accountability than the average citizen for his or her actions (this lack of accountability can be blamed both on the Left and Right -- the Right tends to fetishize and hero-worship police, seeing them as the last bastion against creeping barbarism, and the Left refuses to take on the powerful public unions that represent police).
This is a great example of exactly why I get angry. It causes us to wonder how many of those police stories from the past were just as full of sh*t as this officer's, but we lacked the ability through modern video to find out. The police officer's actions in trying to cover up his misconduct (e.g. by screwing with the timeline in his dispatcher calls) turns out not to be unique (the most common variation of this is the now-ubiquitous officer yelling drop the gun about five seconds after he has already shot the citizen). In fact, it seems to happen so often that one wonders if there is not an informal grapevine among police that train new officers in these cover-up techniques.
People often ask me in the comments why I don't respect officers for the job they do. Sure I do -- policing is one of the few clear-cut government roles all but the most extreme anarcho-capitalist libertarians support. But I am angry that my and others' respect for officers has been used historically against the public as a tool for evading accountability.
Update: Making this proposed legislation in AZ to outlaw recording of police in public a really bad idea.
Between 1989 and 2010, U.S. attorneys seized an estimated $12.6 billion in asset forfeiture cases. The growth rate during that time averaged +19.4% annually. In 2010 alone, the value of assets seized grew by +52.8% from 2009 and was six times greater than the total for 1989. Then by 2014, that number had ballooned to roughly $4.5 billion for the year, making this 35% of the entire number of assets collected from 1989 to 2010 in a single year. According to the FBI, the total amount of goods stolen by criminals in 2014 burglary offenses suffered an estimated $3.9 billion in property losses. This means that the police are now taking more assets than the criminals.
I will remind folks that civil asset forfeiture is by definition taken from innocent people, ie those not convicted of a crime.
Update: It would be interesting to see the racial/ethnic mix of those whose stuff is seized. Somehow, I don't imagine the victims of theft-by-cop are a bunch of rich white people.
Chicago police's use of a warehouse at Honan Square to detain suspects for secret interrogations just gets worse and worse.
Police “disappeared” more than 7,000 people at an off-the-books interrogation warehouse in Chicago, nearly twice as many detentions as previously disclosed, the Guardian can now reveal....
According to an analysis of data disclosed to the Guardian in late September, police allowed lawyers access to Homan Square for only 0.94% of the 7,185 arrests logged over nearly 11 years. That percentage aligns with Chicago police’s broader practice of providing minimal access to attorneys during the crucial early interrogation stage, when an arrestee’s constitutional rights against self-incrimination are most vulnerable.
But Homan Square is unlike Chicago police precinct houses, according to lawyers who described a “find-your-client game” and experts who reviewed data from the latest tranche of arrestee records obtained by the Guardian.
“Not much shakes me in this business – baby murder, sex assault, I’ve done it all,” said David Gaeger, an attorney whose client was taken to Homan Square in 2011 after being arrested for marijuana. “That place was and is scary. It’s a scary place. There’s nothing about it that resembles a police station. It comes from a Bond movie or something.”
For whatever reason, the story does not seem to be able to generate much national heat, as partially evidenced by the fact that it takes a UK newspapers to show any initiative on the story. The Right fetishizes law enforcement, the Left refuses to take on a powerful public union, and the city is run by a mayor with powerful connections to both the President and Hillary Clinton, so essentially no one is interested.
By the way, most of these folks are being held for hours or days due to drug possession arrests (5386 of the 7000+), yet another indicator of why the war on drugs has become so stupid and counter-productive.
There is much to criticize in how the BLM movement operates, but I can get behind much of the plan they introduced last month. I don't agree with all of it, but I seldom agree with all of any plan I see proposed from any side of the aisle.
In discussing the plan, Kevin Drum fails to address the elephant in the room for the Left in making progress on this, and that is the enormous reluctance of Democrats to challenge a public employee union. And you can bet that police unions will likely be the biggest barrier to getting a lot of this done, even perhaps ahead of Conservative law-and-order groups (you can see the token sop thrown to unions in point 10 of the plan, but it ain't going to be enough).
By the way, there is much that progressive and conservative groups could learn from each other. Conservative groups (outside of anti-abortion folks) are loath to pursue the public demonstration and disruption tactics that can sometimes be helpful in getting one's issues on the public agenda. The flip side is that public disruption seems to be all BLM knows how to do. It can't seem to get beyond disruption, including the unfathomable recent threat to disrupt an upcoming marathon in the Twin Cities. It could learn a lot from Conservative and libertarian groups like ALEC, that focus on creating model legislation and local success stories that can be copied in other places. Many of the steps in BLM's plan cry out of model legislation and successful pilots/examples.
I am hoping this is fake given the joke name of the author. If not, I would point out that we (reluctantly) give TSA employees power to search our luggage solely for seeking out items that might endanger the aircraft or other passengers. We do not give this arguably extra-Constitutional power to TSA employees so they can write titillating articles on the web exposing our private stuff.
In operating campgrounds, I could create a blog with posts every day showing the goofy things that campers bring with them or try to do, or mistakes they make as novice campers. I do not, though, because hosting folks is a kind of trust. I would expect folks empowered to ransack my luggage to show even more discretion.
When you hear that police pulled someone over for the totally BS charge of a "partially obscured license plate with only one light," can't you just assume the driver is probably black or Hispanic?
If I were a Mexican in Phoenix, I would do a full walk-around checking my vehicle before every trip. A visiting friend once asked me if the fact that Hispanics all seem to drive so slow was a cultural thing and I said that more likely, they know they will get busted for going even a hair over the speed limit.
When Kris Kobach says "In four different sections, the law [SB1070] reiterates that a law-enforcement official 'may not consider race, color, or national origin' in making any stops or determining an alien's immigration status," he is ignoring reality. The law asks police to make a determination (e.g. probable cause that one is an illegal immigrant) that is impossible for actual human beings to make without such profiling. It's like passing a law that says "police must drive their cars 30 miles a day but can't drive their cars to do so." The reality on the ground here in Arizona is that, illegal or not, Sheriff Joe Arpaio has been using racial profiling to make arrest sweeps for years, and his officers have become masters at finding some pretext to pull over a Mexican they want to check out (e.g. the broken tail light). Words in this law about racial profiling are not going to change anything.
Update: I forgot this story from 2008, which is a great example of what I am talking about here
Arrest records from crime sweeps conducted by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office add substantial weight to claims that deputies usedracial profiling to pull Latino motorists over to search for illegal immigrants....
even when the patrols were held in mostly White areas such as Fountain Hills and Cave Creek, deputies arrested more Latinos than non-Latinos, the records show. In fact, deputies arrested among the highest percentage of Latinos when patrols were conducted in mostly White areas.
On the arrest records, deputies frequently cited minor traffic violations such as cracked windshields and non-working taillights as the reason to stop drivers.
"These are penny-ante offenses that (police) almost always ignore. This is telling you this is being used to get at something else, and I think that something else is immigration enforcement against Hispanic people," Harris said....
Give up? It's Chicago Police shooting people. Despite the fact that the decisions must be made by folks who likely have no past experience or practice in making such decisions, Chicago claims its police officers have one of the lowest error rates of any known human decision-making process
Chicago's Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) has conducted investigations of close to 400 police shootings of citizens and has found just one to have been unjustified.
Of course, it could be that the process is far more error-prone, but that the people tasked with declaring any shooting in error are the exact same people who have an interest in never admitting an error. Also, it could be because anyone who does label a shooting as an error gets fired:
That little factoid comes from Chicago public radio station WBEZ as some background context for the news that Lorenzo Davis, a supervising investigator for IPRA, had been fired earlier in July.
Davis isn't going out quietly. WBEZ interviewedthe man, a former Chicago police officer himself who retired in 2004. Davis is saying that the reason why he was fired is because he insisted that several recent police shootings were unjustified and would not comply with orders to change his findings. Performance evaluations indicated everybody thought Davis' work was just great until recently.
This Georgetown Law Journal critique of the criminal justice system, and in particular proprietorial abuse, is terrific (though I am only about half way through). If you don't have time to read it all (and it is much shorter than it looks because half or more of each page is footnotes) then you might check out these highlights by Alex Tabarrok. I expect Ken White of Popehat to have something to say here, and look forward to his reactions.
As background, I live in a town called Paradise Valley, Arizona. This town is perhaps most famous recently for installing surveillance cameras all over town hidden in fake cacti. Here is the one on my block. There are at least two others within walking distance of my house.
These cameras apparently have license plate reading ability and perhaps the ability to do facial recognition, and likely are funded by Homeland Security for the purposes of feeding data into a national tracking database. I say "likely" because the town of Paradise Valley under Mayor Michael Collins somehow appropriated these things secretly without any public discussion or debate.
So in this context, it was hilarious to see none other than Mayor Michael Collins piously intoning about the importance of privacy in the town of Paradise Valley:
Paradise Valley is considering an ordinance that would make it illegal to fly drones in town without a permit. Backyard hobbyists and law-enforcement agencies that may need to use drones during emergencies would be excluded from the proposed ban.
"Our residents move to Paradise Valley because they like the privacy," said Mayor Michael Collins, who presides over a community that counts celebrities, sports stars and Discount Tire founder Bruce Halle, the richest person in Arizona, among its residents.
What Mr. Collins apparently means is that he wants the government to maintain a monopoly on surveillance technologies. Libertarians like myself cringe at the notion that a monopoly on privacy-invasion should be granted to the government, the only institution in the country that can legally jail you, take your money, and even shoot you. Conservatives, who dominate this community, tend to be blind to this danger, saying that "if you aren't doing anything illegal, you have nothing to fear from surveillance." I will say, though, that some Conservatives have woken up a bit over the last several years on this with the IRS non-profit harassment and the Wisconsin John Doe investigations.
By the way, extra credit to the Arizona Republic for gratuitously publishing where a wealthy citizen lives in a sentence about privacy.
Arizona has one of the worst asset forfeiture laws in the country, essentially allowing law enforcement to help themselves to any money or real property that takes their fancy, and then spend it on anything they like. For example, one AZ sheriff is spending the
asset forfeiture stolen money** on buffing up his image by providing scholarships, even though such scholarships sure seem to be specifically prohibited as a use for the money. You can think of this as pure PR - give 1% of the stolen money to some worthy cause so no one will question what you do with the other 99%, or more importantly question why they hell you had the right to take it without due process in the first place.
The Cochise County Sheriff's Office is providing nine high school students with college scholarships financed by money and assets seized from people suspected of illegal activity.
The $9,000 for scholarships is paid from the county's anti-racketeering revolving fund. State law specifies that cash in this account is to be used for things like gang and substance-abuse prevention programs and law enforcement equipment.
So, how do the scholarships fit the bill?
Though federal law appears to prohibit such a use of the money, Cochise County says the spending is permissible because it plays a role in substance-abuse prevention....
[The IJ's Paul] Avelar agreed.
The categories that specify how the money should be spent are "incredibly broad," allowing for a gamut of expenditures, he said.
"It's very loosey-goosey on what they spend it on," Avelar said. "They have the ability spend it on a lot of things that we might not think are wise expenditures of public money."
But McIntyre said that it's essential that counties retain broad spending power over this money, because "local elected officials are in a much better position to determine what priorities need to be addressed than people outside of the county."
"And additionally, the reality is that if the local voting populous doesn't agree with the use of those funds or the priorities that have been set by these decision makers, they have the ultimate remedy to vote us out," McIntyre said.
The last is a total joke. First, most sheriff's offices refuse to provide any comprehensive reporting on their seizure and spending activities, so without transparency there can be no accountability. And second, this is a classic redistribution scheme that always seems to get votes in a democracy. Law enforcement steals this money from 1% of the citizens, and spends it in a way that seems to benefit most of the other 99%. It is exactly the kind of corrupt policy that democracy consistently proves itself inadequate to prevent -- only a strict rule of law based on individual rights can stop this sort of abuse.
** While the forfeitures are legal under the law, that does not make them right. The law is frequently used by one group to essentially steal from another. Allowing police to take money at gunpoint from innocent (by any legal definition, since most have not been convicted of a crime) citizens is stealing whether it is enabled by the law or not.
Steve Chapman's article in Reason on police accountability is good throughout, but these stats are amazing:
Consider Cleveland. The ClevelandPlain Dealer reported that the police department looked into 4,427 uses of force by cops over four years and gave its blessing to each one. In Houston, every shooting over six years was found by the internal affairs department to be absolutely necessary. ...
The feds also assume that law enforcement officers are less fallible than the pope. From January 2010 to October 2013, the Los Angeles Times reported, Border Patrol agents shot 67 people, killing 19. Three of the agents are still being investigated. Of the remaining 64, 62 were absolved. The other two got a stern lecture.
It's all part of a national pattern. Bowling Green State University criminologist Philip Stinson has done extensive research on killings by cops. His conclusion? "It's very rare that an officer gets charged with a homicide offense resulting from their on-duty conduct even though people are killed on a fairly regular basis," he told The Wall Street Journal.
I have already given my cynical take on why this problem exists and why it is likely to persist. Specifically, Conservatives fetishize the police and refuse to believe any shooting was unjustified and Liberals are suspicious of the police but refuse to challenge the powerful public employees unions that protect police from accountability.
No, I am not going to have a legal discussion here. But currently a judge is preparing to rule whether Joe Arpaio committed civil or criminal contempt of court when he (admittedly) ignored the judge's order on stopping his immigrant sweeps (and other issues).
Here is the practical difference for you and me: If convicted of civil contempt, we the taxpayer ultimately bear the punishment (in all past Arpaio losses of this sort, the County taxpayers picked up the bill for any fines and awards). If convicted of criminal contempt, Sheriff Joe might actually, for the first time ever, have to pay the price for his own lawlessness.
Postscript: Just so you can get a flavor of how Arpaio conducts his immigrant sweeps, here is an example:
Deputies from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office raided a Mesa landscaping company early Wednesday morning, arresting nearly three dozen people suspected of being in the country illegally.
The raid on offices of Artistic Land Management, on Main Street just west of Dobson Road, happened about 4:30 a.m., according to one worker who was handcuffed and detained before being released when he produced documentation that he was in the country legally....
Juarez estimated about 35 workers were handcuffed with plastic zip-ties while deputies checked for documents. Those who could provide proof they were in the country legally were released, while others were put on buses and taken away.
People think I am exaggerating when I say this, but he literally goes into a business and zip ties everyone with brown skin, releasing them only if some family member can rush over and provide proof of citizenship.
Our local Sheriff Joe Arpaio is quite a story. On the one hand, he shows a casual disrespect for civil liberties, goes on raids where he zip-ties every person with brown skin until their family can produce their birth certificate, and has tried to pin RICO charges on judges who ruled against him. He likes to haul folks off to jail whose only crime is speaking out against the Sheriff . He arrested newspaper reporters and editors who wrote critically of him. This is a man who in his paranoia invented an assassination plot (against himself, of course) and got the city to spend $500,000 protecting him. If his deputies want to see a defense attorney's working papers, they just take them. If he can't get a judge to release computer records, he has his posse storm into the County computer center and take it over at gunpoint. And don't even get me started on the Steven Seagal thing.
On the other hand, despite all this, he has been re-elected by safe margins many times, has actual groupies who fawn over him, and is considered by much of our retiree population as the last bulwark against a Mexican-immigrant-led road-warrior-style apocalypse. At most local art festivals and other public fairs, he has his own booth where he hands out his trademark pink underwear to his many admirers (he makes prisoners wear pink underwear to try to humiliate them).
Several years ago, upon losing some Federal civil rights suits, a judge ordered as part of the settlement a series of defined actions and prohibitions (e.g. Arpaio had to stop certain immigrant roundups). He ignored these orders pretty blatantly, and now is in court again. He has actually essentially admitted to civil contempt of court and is just hoping at this point to avoid criminal charges. And then it gets weirder:
An upper echelon that willfully defies the orders of a federal judge and may have committed perjury on the witness stand.
A county sheriff and chief deputy with enough chutzpah to "investigate" the U.S. Department of Justice, the CIA, and federal judges, all on the word of a Seattle scammer.
A bogus "investigation" into the wife of the aforementioned federal judge for something that's not even a crime.
This is just some of the ground covered during a four-day hearing before U.S. District Court Judge G. Murray Snow in which Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his chief deputy, Jerry Sheridan, tried mightily to save themselves from criminal-contempt charges in the ACLU's big racial profiling case Melendres v. Arpaio.
Sheridan and Arpaio already have conceded that they are guilty of civil contempt, admitting they did not comply with Snow's December 2011 preliminary injunction in the case, which ordered the MCSO not to enforce federal civil immigration law.
The pair also have copped to defying a direct order from Snow in May 2014 concerning the gathering of thousands of videos taken by deputies, which should have been turned over to the plaintiffs before the 2012 trial in Melendres.
All that's left is for Snow to find that there's enough evidence that Sheridan and Arpaio acted willfully, so he can turn over the matter to another judge and the U.S. Attorney's Office for possible prosecution.
Yep, the best way to defend oneself against contempt of court is to... have all the other parties in court investigated. Oh yeah, and the CIA. Nothing says "mental health" like a local sheriff investigating the CIA. And don't forget, this is the same guy who used my tax money to take is cold case team and dedicate them for months to investigating Obama's birth certificate.
Despite near-constant pleas for "bipartisanship" in the media, the worst offenses to liberty often occur when both parties agree. If both parties are stepping on each other to try to beat their chest hardest about an issue, it is time to duck and cover.
This week we have seen how most cities have laws and union contracts that stand in the way of even basic accountability for police. I fear that this is an unfixable problem, because both Republicans and Democrats conspire to block accountability of police, though for different reasons.
Republicans tend to fetishize police in the same way they do the military, and tend to blindly support the police position in any he-said-she-said confrontation (I know, I used to be one of them). While Conservatives bemoan the "women never lie about rape" meme on campus, they take the exact same position vis a vis police.
Democrats have generally been better allies of civil libertarians on these issues (though Democrat politicians will throw that all out if they need to buff up their "law and order" credentials for an election). However, Liberals have a huge blind spot in that they also feel the necessity to be fiercely loyal, even blindly loyal to public unions, which include powerful police unions. Taking on police accountability would require Democrats to take on a very visible public union, which they are loath to do. In the past, when faced with a choice of fixing schools or appeasing teachers unions, Democratic politicians have almost always chosen the latter and I don't think they will do anything differently with police.
If you think I am leading up to a silver lining and a proposal, you are wrong. I don't have one. Sure, after Baltimore, we may have a lot of talk about reform, but when the cameras turn their attention elsewhere, all the reform will die as quick as they did at the VA and any number of other failed government institutions.
Instead, I think I am going to go home and binge watch The Wire again. Seems timely. For fans of that show, everything that has happened this week is entirely familiar.
As a former supporter of the death penalty that has come around strongly in opposition, I enjoyed this piece featuring a former prosecutor trying to apologize for falsely sending a man to death row. I loved this line in particular
No one should be given the ability to impose a sentence of death in any criminal proceeding. We are simply incapable of devising a system that can fairly and impartially impose a sentence of death because we are all fallible human beings.
I consider the notion of whether the death penalty is humane or whether we have the moral right to take the life of someone who is guilty of murder to both be red herrings. The key issue for me is that we can't do it fairly and without errors. The appeals process is useful, but can't ever be perfect because often the appeals occur in the same time and place as the trial. Appeals of a black man in 1965 were not of much use, just as appeals of wrongly-convicted day care workers were not of much use in the 1980s and 1990s day care sex scares (even today, Martha Coakely bends over backwards to keep innocent people in jail). Public choice theory tells us government officials have incentives that are different from mere "public service", and we can see that in spades in this prosecutor's mea culpa.
By the way, we can see similar incentives at work in the Jodi Arias trial, where a lot of public hatred was aimed at the one juror who refused to sentence Arias to death. You read in this and other stories that the other 11 jurors were truly angry that they were not allowed to kill her.
The Arias trial also illustrates another issue -- there is a huge gender bias in death sentences. It doesn't get much press, because it hurts men rather than women, but it is really really really hard for a woman to get sentenced to death.
Eric Holder should get credit for at least taking some baby steps to limit asset forfeiture abuse (steps it does not appear his nominated successor is going to be very enthusiastic about). But there is a long way to go, as evidenced by this horror story of CalFire, the US Forest Service and the Holder Justice Department using everything every dirty trick I have ever heard of to extort money from a private company.
I had forgotten about this story and am surprised the media did not make this connection more often during the Michael Brown brouhaha:
Michael Daly at The Daily Beast has the flabbergasting story of Henry Davis, who was picked up by cops “for an outstanding warrant that proved to actually be for another man of the same surname, but a different middle name and Social Security number,” then beaten by several officers at the station. What happened next was truly surreal: while denying that Davis had been seriously hurt at all, though a CAT scan found he had suffered a concussion and a contemporaneous photo shows him bleeding heavily, four police officers sought to have him charged for property damage for getting blood on their uniforms. ...
The kicker: the police department was that of Ferguson, Missouri.
Scottsdale Police Union Charity: Less than 5 Cents of Each Donated Dollar Actually Getting Used For Charity
These guys hassle me constantly for money and I generally duck them. Which is good, because if I had actually given money, I would be pissed:
The Scottsdale police union known as POSA -- the Police Officers of Scottsdale Association -- stages several events every year to help bring police and the community closer together. Over the next two weeks, 500 Scottsdale children will go holiday shopping with $150 in their pockets in the annual Shop with a Cop event.
But a closer look at POSA's federal tax filings shows just pennies of every dollar you donate reaches the community.
The union's most recent federal tax filings, for 2012, show about a million dollars in donations. For every dollar donated, professional fundraising services kept 81 cents -- about $814,000, records show.
A little more than 6 cents of every dollar went toward the $62,000-a-year salary of POSA director Cindy Hill. Hill is also the wife of union leader Jim Hill.
Less than a nickel of every dollar -- about $45,000 -- was spent on events like Shop with a Cop.
To be fair, this is probably about the same percentage of union dues that gets spent for their stated purpose, so these guys probably don't see anything amiss.
It's as simple as this: Republicans fetishize the police (like they do the military) and will always give them the benefit of the doubt. They have this gauzy teary-eyed love of the police. Just watch Megyn Kelly on Fox to get the idea. Democrats are allied with public unions and will not under any circumstances take on the powerful police unions who fight any attempt at accountability tooth and nail, a behavior Democrats have become habituated to enabling for other unions like the teachers unions.
The issue is mostly about giving police accountability that matches the special powers over the use of force we give them. But it is also about racism. It just burns me up to have folks in power point to the business world constantly for supposed institutional racism, when in fact I witness very little if any day to day. The one institution I see that clearly has elements of institutional racism are many police forces, but no one will touch them.
Every year there are hundreds of police shootings and the number that are determined not to be justifiable rounds to zero. What are the odds there is a process involving humans with this small of a Type I error rate? We are learning form cell phone cameras that the stories we used to believe from police officers about events are often total bullsh*t. And yet still police are not held accountable even when there is horrific video evidence showing them out of control.
At the drop of a hat, at the smallest hint of a single example of a bad outcome, the government will not hesitate to impose enormous new restrictions on private individuals. But even with the most overwhelming evidence the government will not put even the lightest restrictions in itself or its employees.
I have always shied away from my fellow libertarians on the anarcho-capitalist end of things who wanted to privatize the police force. I always thought use of force to be a unique privilege and one dangerous to hand out to private groups. But I am starting to see that I was thinking about it wrong. It is a dangerous power to give to anyone, but at least if you give it to a private party someone might possibly exercise a little accountability over them.
Walter Olson has a good roundup of police and lethal force here.
Postscript: Here is an example of what I mean: The Obama Administration has imposed significant rules on universities to bring greater accountability to sexual assailants when it was perceived that the universities did not impose enough accountability on such predators. I think the Administration has gone overboard in stripping away the accused due process protections and handing justice to people who will not manage the process well, but its the seriousness of this effort I want to point out. While I don't think the Administration's actions were appropriate to colleges, they would represent an entirely appropriate response to police violence. Someone needs to step in and enforce some accountability.
Watching too many TV crime shows will blind you to a stark reality: Witness testimony sucks. Look at the linked comparison of witness testimony in the Michael Brown shooting grand jury. Take any column, like the last one with number of shots fired. Its a total mess!
When videos emerge of police brutality, police defenders often say that video can lie. But I would argue that it is a hell of a lot better witness than the average person. My guess is that police like this kind of variation in witness testimony, because they know that in most, perhaps all, cases, they will be given the benefit of the doubt when the testimony conflicts.