Recently in Policing Category

Is the Klan Running Baltimore?

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Baltimore is a model liberal city, progressive all the way.  Not a Republican in sight. When a small-time drug dealer, Freddie Gray, died under suspicious circumstances in police custody, the six officers involved were forthwith charged with numerous crimes, up to and including murder (none was convicted of anything, however).

The prosecutor, black radical Marilyn Mosby, held a campaign-style rally when charges were brought to announce that "our time is now," never quite defining who "our" referred to.  She has been quieter since fumbling away the entire case.

The mayor, at the time Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, famously declared that the Freddie Gray rioters and arsonists needed "space to destroy."  Her desires saw more success than Ms. Mosby's, as the rioters took her up and torched a nice chunk of the city.

Then just in January there was the last gasp of Loretta Lynch's DOJ, engineering a stifling police consent decree with a half-clueless and half-complicit city.

So now what do we have?
The U.S. Supreme Court has once again unanimously reversed the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on a criminal justice issue.  This time it was the Notorious Ninth's evasion of Supreme Court jurisprudence on police liability for allegedly excessive force.  In this case, police reasonably fired their weapons when a person in a shack they were searching pointed a gun at them.  It turned out to be a BB gun, but the officers did not know that at the time.

If law enforcement officers make a "seizure" of a person using force that is judged to be reasonable based on a consideration of the circumstances relevant to that determination, may the officers nevertheless be held liable for injuries caused by the seizure on the ground that they committed a separate Fourth Amendment violation that contributed to their need to use force? The Ninth Circuit has adopted a "provocation rule" that imposes liability in such a situation.

We hold that the Fourth Amendment provides no basis for such a rule. A different Fourth Amendment violation cannot transform a later, reasonable use of force into an unreasonable seizure.

A Welcome Change

The Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs has this post with the above title:

As the nation gets ready for Memorial Day, a day to remember the people who died while serving in the nation's armed forces, the past week signaled a welcome change in attitude towards law enforcement from the highest leadership in the nation. From the symbolic act of lighting the White House in blue during that week to an executive action directing a review of federal law that could lead to legislation making it a federal crime to attack law enforcement officers, there has been a sea of change in support for law enforcement.
Under the prior administration, law enforcement was often in the crosshairs of a rush to judgment. The pattern that started from the first days with the knee jerk condemnation of Cambridge Police Sergeant James Crowley for "acting stupidly," and continued non-stop with the invitation to the White House of a rapper who had a song dedicated to a fugitive cop killer, or using a police memorial service to defend anti-police protestors and lecture on criminal justice "reform" and gun control. 
Kent noted that an unrepentant terrorist will be honored in this year's NYC Puerto Rico Day parade (with Mayor de Blasio proudly marching in step).

Along those same lines, and also from the "you-can't-make-this-up" department, it now seems that Sydney plans to honor Black Lives Matter with a "peace" prize.

The Black Lives Matter movement will receive the Sydney Peace Prize, an award given by the Sydney Peace Foundation -- part of the University of Sydney -- and be honored at an event in the city in November, the foundation announced this week.

Black Lives Matter was chosen for allegedly "building a powerful movement for racial equality, courageously reigniting a global conversation around state violence and racism. And for harnessing the potential of new platforms and power of people to inspire a bold movement for change at a time when peace is threatened by growing inequality and injustice," the foundation's website states.

I registered my dissent.

The Life and Death of Comic Books

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I'm happy to report that I know almost nothing about pop culture.  One of the things I was lucky enough to miss out on was a comic book series, now defunct after just two weeks of dismal sales. backed by anti-police activist Ta-Nehsei Coates.  The comic portrayed police as sadistic villains who earn the contempt of virtuous people.

LifeZette has the story, quoting Heather Mac Donald:

Ta-Nehesi Coates may be the darling of the liberal elites in publishing houses and college campuses, but comic book readers have a better BS detector for separating fact from fiction... 

I also took a turn:

It would be a good thing if black lives actually mattered to Black Lives Matter, but apparently this is not to be," Otis told LifeZette. "BLM ought to know that the leading cause of death among young black males is murder. What the movement should be doing, then, instead of the comic book business, is advancing programs that reduce the murder rate."
The Washington Post has this article:  "Trump to light White House blue to support police who face 'unfair defamation and villifiication'."

Trump's predecessor, President Barack Obama, had struggled to balance his rhetorical support for the police with empathy for the protesters. But Trump has more vocally offered backing to the police.

"We must end the reckless words of incitement that give rise to danger and violence, and take the time to work with cops, not against them, not obstruct them -- which is what we're doing," Trump said.

Trump alluded to violence in cities such as Baltimore and Chicago, saying that poorer, more disadvantaged residents often suffer the most. "We cannot stand for such violence; we cannot tolerate such pain," he said. "My administration is totally determined to restore law and order and justice for all Americans, and we're going to do it quickly."

Actually, President Obama made all too clear that his "support" of the police was, indeed, rhetorical only.  And those who oppose police did not limit themselves just to "protest." For the worst of them, the "protest" was mass murder, as in the Dallas massacre,

Heather MacDonald has this article at City Journal:

Whatever FBI director James Comey's alleged failings in regard to the investigation of Hillary Clinton's email server and Russian election interference, his precipitous sacking is a loss for America's police officers and public order.

The man whom President Donald Trump now calls a "showboater" and "grandstander" gave candidate Trump the most powerful message of his campaign: policing matters. Months before Trump decried the media's "false narrative" about policing, Comey had warned that the "chill wind" blowing through American law enforcement was resulting in a rising homicide toll among black people. Comey was virtually the only official within the Obama administration to acknowledge publicly the disastrous impact that the Black Lives Matter movement was having on public safety; Obama contemptuously rebuked him for doing so.

Fabio For Governor?

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Stuart Varney has this interview with actor Fabio Lanzoni.

He also spoke out against California Governor Jerry Brown's Proposition 57, which modifies the state's prison system.

"He is releasing tens of thousands of criminals back in the streets and also he lowered the crime into misdemeanor," he said, and added that "cops are very demoralized."

"You saw it happen to Europe, the politicians in Europe--they neuter the law enforcement and now they have to be shot before they can even return the fire... you don't want this movie coming to a theater near you," he said.
Hmmm.  Should we elect him governor in 2018?  California's record with actor-governors is mixed, but they have been better than some of the non-actors.

BAC test evidence and DUI

In Birchfield v. North Dakota, the Supreme Court held that breath tests, but not blood tests, may be administered without a warrant as a search incident to lawful arrest for drunk driving.  The Court also held that motorists may not be criminally punished for refusing to submit to a blood test on the basis of legally implied consent.  In Missouri v. McNeely, a plurality of the Court held that the natural dissipation of alcohol in a motorist's blood stream alone does not create a per se exigency that would justify a non-consensual blood draw without a warrant.

Criminal Justice Legal Foundation filed a brief in a companion case to Birchfield arguing that a motorist's statutorily implied consent to submit to a search of his or her breath, blood, or urine after lawful arrest for suspicion of DUI falls within the consent exception to the Fourth Amendment's warrant requirement.  We argued that requiring all law enforcement officers to secure a warrant after lawful arrest is impractical due to the vast differences in resources in some jurisdictions.  We also argued that it was reasonable for a state to mandate consent as an alternative to a warrant as a condition of using its public roadways.  The public's interest in protecting innocent people and keeping drunkards off the roads is significant in comparison to the privacy interests of an arrested motorist who made the choice to drink and drive.

Last week, the high Court's jurisprudence tied the hands of law enforcement and hindered prosecutors from obtaining probative evidence of blood alcohol concentration levels in at least two incidences.

Yesterday, the Federalist Society hosted a teleforum discussing federal oversight of local police departments.  The link is here.  The participants were Chuck Canterbury, President of the Fraternal Order of Police, and Vanita Gupta, formerly the top civil rights prosecutor for President Obama's Civil Rights Division at DOJ.

Although the main reason offered for the unprecedented (to my knowledge) push to oversee police departments through federal consent decrees is to keep supposedly cowboy policing within constitutional bounds, that is not the only reason.  An additional but very important reason, seemingly offered to bring over conservative skeptics, is that federal supervision is needed to restore community trust in the police, thus to foster neighborhood cooperation and information sharing.  That, in turn, will produce more effective policing and lower crime.

I called in to ask about this.

How Trump Can Make America Safe Again

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Conservative speakers may get shoved off campus by liberal fascists, but Heather Mac Donald, for one, and her assiduously researched views, are welcome in this space.  I commend her excellent recent article, which notes, among other things:

The most immediate goal of the Trump administration should be to change the elite-driven narrative about the criminal-justice system. That narrative, which holds that policing is lethally racist, has dominated public discourse since the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014. In response, officers are backing off of proactive policing, and violent crime is rising fast: 2015 saw the largest one-year spike in homicides nationwide in nearly 50 years. That violent-crime increase has continued unabated through 2016 and into the early months of 2017. A Trump administration official--perhaps Attorney General Sessions, or the president himself--should publicly address the question of what we expect from police officers: Do we want them to be proactive and to try to stop crime before it happens? Or do we want them to be purely reactive, responding to crime only after someone has been victimized?
The headline of this post is taken from today's excellent Wall Street Journal piece by Jason Riley, with whom I spoke on Monday.  I had known from reading his work that he understands what's actually going on out there, but now, having had the chance to talk to him, I am doubly impressed.

This is what our liberal friends don't get:  The antagonists are not the police and the Constitution.  The antagonists are police and criminals.  When you weaken the former, you strengthen the latter.  If common sense were not enough to make this clear, Baltimore's shocking, and ongoing, murder spree should, 

The attacks on Jeff Sessions as endangering African Americans are inside-out. Blacks are endangered  --  indeed they are in mortal danger  --  because of rising crime, and particularly rising murder rates.  In dozens of our biggest cities, Baltimore included, this is the real Obama "legacy."  It will save lives if Attorney General Sessions is able to make good on his determination to turn this around.
As Kent noted here, a liberal district judge in Baltimore rushed to implement a federal consent degree regulating the Baltimore police department notwithstanding that our newly-constituted Justice Department asked for time to review it.

Few doubt that there are sometimes abuses of police power that require federal intervention.  I was part of such intervention when I joined DOJ, and it wasn't just a consent decree, either.  But the ideological slant of the consent decrees written by Obama's Justice Department is not what the Framers had in mind when they sharply cabined federal authority, and made policing almost entirely (some say 100%) a local matter.

Sheriff David Clarke and I are quoted extensively in this LifeZette article explaining why consent degrees are problematic.  The main reason, as I noted, is that they take root in a distorted, pre-fab view that sees cops as hoodlums and criminals as victims.

Nonconsensual Consent Decree

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Scott Calvert and Aruna Viswanatha report for the WSJ:

BALTIMORE--A federal judge on Friday approved a legally binding overhaul of the Baltimore Police Department to address concerns about racially biased practices, despite repeated Justice Department requests to put the brakes on the Obama-era agreement.
The decision by U.S. District Judge James Bredar means the 227-page consent decree--finalized between the city and Obama administration days before President Donald Trump took office in January--now carries the force of law and is to be implemented under the watch of an independent monitor.
The misuse of consent decrees is a subject Congress should look into.
The desperate need for Jeff Sessions to turn DOJ's Civil Rights Division upside down has never been on more vivid display than in the juxtaposition of the following stories.

In the first, we see that, under DOJ's consent decree with crime-ridden Baltimore, one subject of considerable attention is the need for police to use the correct pronoun when they interact with citizens.  PowerLine repeats the relevant portion of the decree:

Ensure that BPD officers address and in documentation refer to all members of the public, including LGBT individuals, using the names, pronouns, and titles of respect appropriate to the individual's gender identity as expressed or clarified by the individual. Proof of the person's gender identity, such as an identification card, will not be required. 

To the best of my knowledge (readers please correct me if I'm wrong), there has not been a single episode of murder, robbery or mugging in Baltimore's 288 year history because the police used the wrong pronoun in referring to a gay, bi, or transgender person.

The second story provides a different slant on what Baltimore police might attend to instead of pronouns.

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