Recently in Policing Category

Answer:  You get more murder.

Not that this should, or does, surprise anyone.  The campaign to portray the police as a Nazi (and largely racist) occupying army has been going great guns since its most recent, if later debunked, inception with the "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" hoax in Ferguson, Mo.

The original narrative there was that a crypto-fascist white cop, Darren Wilson, rousted an innocent, if not scholarly (remember the picture with the cap and gown?) black teenager, Michael Brown.  Even though Brown hadn't done anything (except, ummm, rob a store a few minutes earlier), and peacefully complied with Wilson's snarling demands to surrender (hence the "Hands Up" part), Wilson coldly shot him dead. Indeed, one of the hyped stories was that Wilson, after disabling Brown with the first few shots, stood over him pupping round after round into his back.

That this was a pack of lies didn't matter then and  --  tellingly  -- hasn't mattered since.  The new "Civil Rights Movement" was born.  What "civil right" inheres in attempting to deny policemen the chance to do what any of us in that situation would have done, and what Darren Wilson did  --  use force in self-defense  -- remains unclear, at least to me.  I do, however, understand the glittering cultural and political uses of the narrative, its mendacity to one side.

One such use is to bring attention to what has sometimes been abusive police behavior, and that is all to the good.  But there's something bigger, more sinister, and much quieter (so far as the mainstream media would tell you) right behind it.
The makings of a riot had come together Saturday night in light of the acquittal of a Cleveland policeman on charges of voluntary manslaughter.  Some violence had already begun, as I noted here.

But this time, there was a difference.  Because protection of citizens is apparently taken more seriously in Cleveland than in Baltimore, the police did not retreat. Instead, they were at the ready.  Paul Mirengoff has the story:

[T]he Cleveland police declined to tolerate lawlessness. Paula Bolyard of PJ Media reports:

Cleveland police were taking no chances in the wake of the acquittal of police officer Michael Brelo, going to great lengths to ensure that Saturday afternoon's peaceful protests didn't evolve into violent riots like Baltimore and Ferguson have experienced in recent months.

In addition to having the National Guard on standby, police followed protesters through the streets and arrested anyone who acted violently or refused to obey police orders to disperse. A total of 71 people were arrested. . . . 

I asked here, in the aftermath of the Baltimore charges against six police officers, whether the mob  --  the one that had been burning, looting and rioting  --  would tolerate an acquittal.

Of course we don't know yet.  But there was an acquittal yesterday in a case in Cleveland where a white officer was charged with voluntary manslaughter for firing repeatedly into a car containing two unarmed suspects, killing both.

The aftermath of that acquittal does not create grounds for great optimism.  The story is reported in the Toronto Sun.  It's titled, "Cleveland erupts into riots after cop found not guilty in shooting."

As I predicted, the point is not "accountability."  The point is not "visibility"  -- nothing is more visible, and little is better covered, than the homicide trial of a policeman. The point is not "due process for everyone."  

The point is that The Cops Are Satan.  There's not a whole lot more to it than that.

So Long to the False Arrest Charges

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Apparently the Baltimore State's Attorney read Crime and Consequences before she met with the grand jury. Very good. It might have been better, though, if she had read it before her earlier, courthouse steps carnival announcing charges against six city police officers.  

Although she originally made a point of the supposed illegality of Freddie's Gray's arrest, we now see that false arrest (or false imprisonment, as it is put) charges against the arresting officers have disappeared.  The prosecutor gives no explanation. But this Reason article does:

Of the criminal charges proposed by Marilyn Mosby, the state's attorney for Baltimore, in connection with the death of Freddie Gray, three are notably missing from the indictments approved by a grand jury today. The Washington Post reports that "charges of false imprisonment against three of the officers are no longer part of the case." That change presumably reflects the dispute over whether the knife Gray was carrying, which was the official justification for his arrest, qualified as an illegal switchblade.


Judging from the way police described Gray's knife ("a spring-assisted, one-hand-operated knife"), it did not fit the state's definition of a switchblade (as Mosby noted) and probably did not fit the city's definition either. But the latter point--which Mosby did not publicly address, even though Gray was charged with violating the city ordinance--is open to debate, which suggests that the officers who arrested him might reasonably have believed the knife was illegal. If so, they could not be convicted of false imprisonment, since to arrest Gray they needed only probable cause to believe he had broken the law.



The New York Post carries this opinion piece on the nature and benefits of "broken windows" policing in New York City.  It's written by George Kelling, co-author of the original "Broken Windows" strategy and the leading authority in the field. Surprisingly, it has good news for both those of us serious about stanching crime, and those viewing themselves as friends of sentencing "reform:"

[I]ndiscriminately attributing all of the ills displayed in recent events in cities to Broken Windows risks taking us back decades in our attempts to improve public safety and quality of life for all citizens....

There's every reason to believe de-policing high-crime minority neighborhoods would be a disaster. We tried it in the past, and it's taken decades for us to regain control of public spaces, and even now some neighborhoods remain under threat.

No surprise there, but this was eye-opening:

[W]hile some have argued that Broken-Windows policing results in higher incarceration rates, research indicates that police crime-prevention methods, including Broken Windows, have actually reduced mass incarceration.

In New York City, both prison commitments and jailings declined substantially between 1992 and 2013 -- prison by 69 percent; jailing by 45 percent.



A:  You had to ask?

The Daily Beast has the story, direct from Baltimore.  The numbers tell a sorry tale:


Baltimore logged its 100th murder of the year on Thursday morning, hitting the milestone after recording more than a murder per day in the month following Freddie Gray's death.

The massive increase in homicide, shootings, and violent crime comes as arrests have plummeted to their lowest levels all year. In the week before Gray died, 682 people were arrested. In the last week of available data, 339 people were arrested.

The Western District, where Gray was arrested, is the center of the crime boom. Homicides are up 200 percent compared to this time last year; non-fatal shootings have risen 800 percent; robberies of varying types 100 to 300 percent.

Despite more crime, there are far fewer arrests in the district. In fact, at least three days in May saw no arrests.


Forbes ranked Baltimore the seventh most dangerous city in the country. My strong guess is that, this year, it will be moving "up."

Marilyn Mosby, Out of Control

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Marilyn Mosby is the Baltimore State's Attorney who announced charges against six police officers in a courthouse-steps press conference that looked less like a recitation of legal allegations than a pep rally for Louis Farrakhan. This has led to a number of calls, including by the police union, for her to be replaced by an independent prosecutor.

I am a believer that the elected branches of government, being politically accountable, should decide for themselves who will present a criminal case. This is not to say that I would oppose Ms. Mosby's replacement at the instance of, say, the Governor, if a statutory mechanism is in place that allows such a thing. But it is not up to the courts to replace her.  The people voted her in, and it will be both educational and just for them to live with the results.  They can vote her out next time if they be so advised.  The defendants are protected by the requirement that Ms. Mosby prove every element of her case beyond a reasonable doubt to a unanimous jury.

My view of this is, however, weakened by Ms. Mosby's continuing recklessness, most recently exemplified by, no less, appearing on stage at a rock concert.  It was advertised as a "peace rally," but the unmistakable undertow was an anti-police frenzy.

If this were happening in any other context, the ACLU would be up in arms (about prejudicing the jury pool, for starters).  As it is, I can't hear a peep.  Guess some defendants deserve more protection than others.
Answer:  Criminals.

As the Baltimore Sun reports:

As the number of shootings and homicides has surged in Baltimore, some police officers say they feel hesitant on the job under intense public scrutiny and in the wake of criminal charges against six officers in the Freddie Gray case****

"In 29 years, I've gone through some bad times, but I've never seen it this bad," said Lt. Kenneth Butler, president of the Vanguard Justice Society, a group for black Baltimore police officers. Officers "feel as though the state's attorney will hang them out to dry."

Several officers said in interviews they are concerned crime could spike as officers are hesitant to do their jobs, and criminals sense opportunity. Butler, a shift commander in the Southern District, said his officers are expressing reluctance to go after crime.





This morning, speaking from her well-appointed headquarters in Washington, DC, Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced a federal probe of the Baltimore Police Department for what she implied are repeated and serious violations of the constitutional rights of criminal suspects and, apparently, numerous others:

The "pattern or practice" investigation into the Baltimore Police Department will center on police officers' use of force, stops, searches and arrests, as well as allegations of discriminatory policing practices. If the DOJ finds a pattern of civil rights abuses, it will pursue a legally binding settlement to secure systemic reform.

To translate:  DOJ plans to wring a consent decree out of the Baltimore PD in which the feds will henceforth run the Department.

Meanwhile, on Long Island, a different event was taking place.  So far as I have been able to discover, neither Ms. Lynch nor any lower-ranking figure from the Department of Justice took the trouble to attend.

Will the Mob Tolerate an Acquittal?

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The Baltimore State's Attorney today announced charges against six police officers in the death of Freddie Gray.  I have a number of thoughts.

The first is reflected in the title of this entry:  Will the mob tolerate an acquittal? The calls in recent days have been for "justice."  I have considerable doubt whether those doing the loudest calling have much interest in justice.  I think they want to see police officers punished simply because of who they are.  If that is true, then the riots we've seen up to now will pale in comparison to the ones we'll see in the event of an acquittal.  

This is what we need to face:  The evidence will not make any difference to those most inflamed (and I use that word advisedly) about this case.  We've all seen this before  --  most recently with Darren-Wilson-is-Satan-hoax in Ferguson and with the fraternity falsely accused of hosting gang rape at the University of Virginia.

The facts are not the point.  The narrative is the point.

Of course, there is a great deal more to say about this case, only some of which I am able to get to for the moment.
The President had some remarks today about the Baltimore anti-police riots  -- riots that have turned into a festival of destruction, looting and arson.  The Washington Post reports (emphasis added):

President Obama made an impassioned call Tuesday for Americans to do "some soul searching" in the wake of this week's rioting in Baltimore, arguing the U.S. has faced "a slow-rolling crisis" over race and economic opportunity in urban areas....

Obama sharply condemned the rioters for damaging private property and taking items from local stores: "They're not protesting. They're not making a statement. They're stealing."

But he also directed his criticism toward Americans--including the news media and some politicians--for failing to address the chronic problems of men, women and children who live in poverty and find their opportunities limited because of poor schools or long stints in prison.

To start with, it doesn't matter what the schools are like if (a) teachers fake test scores to evade accountability (a la' Atlanta), and (b) the students drop out in the ninth grade because party time with drugs is more fun than math and reading.

But the President laid his biggest egg with his crack about "long stints in prison."

The First Amendment Inside-Out

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According to its initial assessment, the University of Michigan thought that freedom of speech did not include screening the Oscar-nominated movie, "American Sniper," because a group of Muslim students preposterously claimed that the showing would create an "unsafe" environment.  I blogged about it here. After a public outcry  -- and only after  --  did University administrators decide the movie could be shown after all.

But free speech is not entirely moribund.  It lives on in the form of rioting, and, worse, the official invitation to riot.

Harken unto these words from the mayor of Baltimore, whose city, as I type, is becoming engulfed in an anti-police riot.  (I'm taking this story, not from any "right wing" source, but from CBS News in Baltimore):

I made it very clear that I work with the police and instructed them to do everything that they could to make sure that the protesters were able to exercise their right to free speech," [Mayor] Rawlings-Blake said. "It's a very delicate balancing act. Because while we try to make sure that they were protected from the cars and other things that were going on, we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well.

Q:  What happens when a city invites a riot in the name of "free speech"?

A:  It gets a riot.  Whether it gets any speech, I don't know.


The South Carolina Shooting

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On this blog we often choose not to comment on crime-related news stories when essential facts have yet to be established.  The news media are notorious for adopting a narrative that will propel what may be an unfortunate yet unremarkable local incident into an emotionally-charged national story.  This is particularly true with officer-involved shootings where the officer is white and the suspect is black.  In most such cases the media and a fraternity of recognized race-baiters have been proven totally wrong about what happened.  Sometimes, before the truth is known, there are riots, killings, and occasionally murders in retaliation for injustices later found to have not occurred.  There is no need to delay commenting on the April 4th shooting in North Charleston.
As the direct cost of video recording plummets to the insignificant, there is widespread support for more cameras in law enforcement, from interrogation rooms to dashboards to the cops themselves.  From the standpoint of those who generally support law enforcement, we are confident that in the vast majority of cases where police misconduct is alleged, a recording will refute the allegation.  The most powerful example of where a video could have done a world of good, of course, is the recent Ferguson, Missouri debacle.  We now know that "hands up" was a lie and this was a fully justified use of force, but that would have been known from the beginning and the story would never have been more than a local incident if there had been a video recording.

Where the video does indeed show that the cop is a bad apple, it will be valuable in weeding him out, leaving us with a better police force.

But what about other people inevitably captured on police video?  By the nature of police work, the videos will very often record people in the worst moments of their lives.  Should those videos be public?  Might a video of a college student being arrested while sloppy drunk be used in an attack ad 20 years later when the now-mature upstanding citizen runs for public office?  Could videos be used in extortion schemes similar to those we saw with "revenge porn," except that unlike the revenge porn the person shown had no choice in the making of the video in the first place?
Accusing the police of racially-motivated abuse has become a favorite indoor sport. As the title of this entry suggests, the most prominent recent episode by far was the malicious and fake accusation that white police officer Darren Wilson murdered a peaceful and compliant Michael Brown simply because Brown was a teenage African American.  It turns out that the accusation was concocted, but it got plenty of currency, including from the Attorney General (until his own Justice Department, months later, quietly debunked it).

As ever undeterred by the truth, the Cops-Are-Klansmen industry keeps right on going. The latest episode I've learned about was this case, in which a rich Hollywood actress accused the cops of  --  you'll never guess  --  racially profiling her son.

As it turns out, the son is a small-time druggie and made up the story.  The actress at least had the decency promptly to apologize to the police.  Would that some MSNBC hosts had the same scruples.

 

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