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The Underpolicing of Black America

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Jill Leovy has this essay in the WSJ:

In predominantly African-American neighborhoods of U.S. cities, far too many killers have gotten away with far too many crimes for far too long, fueling a disastrous murder epidemic. Solving these murders and other serious crimes of violence in black communities should be a top goal for law enforcement--and it deserves to take priority over much more widely discussed issues such as racial profiling and the excessive use of force by police in black neighborhoods, from Ferguson to Staten Island.
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But instead of checking this wave of urban violence, America threw up its hands. Prison terms per unit of crime in the U.S. hit rock bottom in the 1960s and '70s, making the U.S. one of the world's most lenient countries, as William J. Stuntz of Harvard Law School and others have shown. Reformers focused on the rights of defendants, remaining blind to the ravages of under-enforcement.

In the 1980s, a get-tough backlash hit, ushering in the current era of mass incarceration and long sentences. But unsolved homicides still piled up in black neighborhoods. Even as convicts grew old in prison, detectives remained overwhelmed by exploding street violence.

The "Hands up, don't shoot" narrative that fueled the rioting in Ferguson and elsewhere, and the murders of two policemen in New York City, was fake.  Forensic evidence and reliable eyewitness testimony showed that Michael Brown's hands were not up, and he was not attempting to surrender, when he was shot.

Today, however, we saw on film a true version of "Hands up, don't shoot."  It is shown in a picture of a policeman in Paris, who was shot with a machine gun at pointblank range by an Islamic terrorist.  Eleven others (so far) were murdered in this incident. The story of the attack is carried by the Wall Street Journal.  Even those who are usually complacent and dismissive about terrorism, and who have less than no use for the police, are likely to be shocked by barbarity this grotesque.

The terror attack was on the staff or a weekly satirical magazine that had ridiculed the Prophet Mohammed.  The policeman pictured had apparently already been shot once, and was on the ground with his hands up.  

The Police and the NY Mayor

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Michael Howard Saul reports in the WSJ:

Hundreds of police officers again turned their backs as Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke Sunday at a funeral for a slain officer, demonstrating the challenge the mayor faces in healing a rift with the nation's largest police force.
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The officers' action reflected growing anger with a mayor who said he has counseled his biracial son to be careful during encounters with police, has allied himself with a police critic, the Rev. Al Sharpton, and has backed protesters rallying against grand-jury decisions not to indict officers in the 2014 deaths of Eric Garner in New York and Michael Brown in Missouri.

"Police officers feel like they were turned upon by City Hall, and we have a right to express our opinion as well, as they did respectfully," said Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, the city's largest police union.

He said the back-turning was "an organic gesture that started on the streets of New York."
Commissioner Bratton asked but did not order the police officers to refrain this time, and an overwhelming majority ignored the request, as a picture in the article shows.

The War on the Police

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To read the NYT, Eric Holder's latest musings, or practically any libertarian blog (Radley Balko's coming first to mind, although most anything in Reason magazine will do), one would think that there is no "war on the police," but only concerned citizens mindful of America's stained, racist past and yearning for less thuggish law enforcement and fairer treatment for minorities, particularly young black men.

Only there is a war on police.  It doesn't look like Obama's "Ferguson meeting" at the White House.  An article in the Alaska Dispatch News shows what it looks like, as pictured on the next page.

Mayor de Blasio and the NYPD

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The New York Times's temper tantrum masquerading as an editorial  --  the one attacking police officers' right to dissent  --  is balanced by this more thoughtful view in Commentary.  One may see the officers' turning their backs to Mayor de Blasio as "inappropriate," as Rudy Giuliani and Commissioner William Bratton have said, and still think the First Amendment lives on, even, amazingly, for the police.  Liberals once understood that the right to speak freely is most essential when what gets said is least popular (or "appropriate").  Well, that was then.

I deconstructed the NYT editorial here.  The Commentary article elaborates a similar view, and fleshes out the context of the tension between de Blasio and his police force thusly:

After only a year in office, de Blasio finds himself in a crisis largely of his own making...Having antagonized the police by campaigning against stop and frisk policies, he went a bridge too far when he joined in the chorus of those treating law enforcement as the enemy after Ferguson and then the non-indictment of the officer accused of choking Garner. That rhetoric created the impression that de Blasio agreed with those who have come to view police officers as guilty until proven innocent when it comes to accusations of racism or violence against minorities.

The police are not perfect and can, like politicians, make terrible mistakes. But the problem with the post-Ferguson/Garner critique that was relentlessly plugged by racial inciters, the liberal media and prominent political leaders such as Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder is that it cherry picked two extraordinary and very different incidents and wove it seamlessly into a highly misleading narrative about racism that might have been applicable in Selma, Alabama in 1965 but doesn't reflect the reality of America in 2014. 


The entire article, which isn't that long, is worth the read.

 

Those Self-Pitying Cops

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The New York Times outdoes itself in this editorial.   While trying manfully not to snicker at the assassination of two policemen, it can't quite get there:

Mr. de Blasio isn't going to say it, but somebody has to: With [their] acts of passive-aggressive contempt and self-pity, many New York police officers, led by their union, are squandering the department's credibility, defacing its reputation, shredding its hard-earned respect.

This from the same NYT that's done everything in its power to destroy the department's credibility, sully its reputation and shred any respect a normal person might feel for it.

But wait!  There's more!

[N]one of [the officers'] grievances can justify the snarling sense of victimhood that seems to be motivating the anti-de Blasio campaign -- the belief that the department is never wrong, that it never needs redirection or reform, only reverence. This is the view peddled by union officials like Patrick Lynch... -- that cops are an ethically impeccable force with their own priorities and codes of behavior, accountable only to themselves, and whose reflexive defiance in the face of valid criticism is somehow normal.

You gotta love it when the grievance-mongering NYT, with no discernible sense of irony, writes about a "snarling sense of victimhood."  Talk about living in a bubble! And here I thought academia was bad.

 

The Number One News Story of 2014

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My friend John Hinderaker has a fascinating post up showing the most tweeted-about news stories of 2014.  In second place is the August 9 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO.  First place is held by the December decision of the grand jury not to indict the shooter, Officer Darren Wilson.  It's reasonably clear that the grand jury declined to bring charges because it believed Wilson acted in self-defense, an account supported by both forensic and eye-witness testimony.

What's unusual is that a crime story gets ranked first when crime is relatively low, as it is now.  Crime barely got a mention as an issue when pollsters were asking, in the run-up to the midterm elections, what the public was most concerned about. Indeed, crime, violence, drugs, law and the judicial system together barely scratched the surface, as Gallup reports

So why is a crime story Number One in a year that saw a partisan wave in the elections, the outbreak of Ebola, the (still) mysterious and spooky disappearance of a commercial airliner, the horrifying beheading of a captive journalist, Russian military aggression in Europe, and a cyberattack within the United States sponsored by a foreign country?

Wars Have Casualties

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On August 9 this last summer, police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown, a 6'4" 292 pound unarmed 18 year-old who had just forcibly robbed a convenience store of some trivial items.

From that day to this, there has been a media and cultural war on the police. They are, we are variously told, racist, thuggish, unaccountable and over-militarized. You will have missed it only if you've been living in a cave.  C&C has covered it extensively.

Wars have casualties.  Today we heard about some in the Washington Examiner.  Its story is headlined, "Police deaths soar 24% in 2014 with ambush attacks leading cause."  It starts:

Law enforcement fatalities in the United States rose 24 percent in 2014 to 126 and ambush-style attacks were the No. 1 cause of felonious officer deaths for the fifth straight year, according to preliminary data from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

The NLEOMF report said 126 federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial officers were killed in the line of duty this year, compared to 102 in 2013. The number of officers killed by firearms in 2014 -- 50 -- is up 56 percent from the 32 killed last year.

Fifteen officers nationwide were killed in ambush assaults in 2014, and the recent shooting deaths of New York City Police Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos have attracted national attention and contributed to tension between police and the city's elected leaders.

The total of 15 ambush assaults matched 2012 for the highest total since 1995.

The hate war against the police is not directly responsible for most, or perhaps any, of this.  At the same time, those insisting that hate has no consequences are lying to themselves and to us.

Broken Windows Policing, Part II

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About five minutes before I read Kent's post about broken windows policing, I received the following message from a Facebook friend who lived it:

Some of you may have noticed a pattern in our "national conversation about race" in which the focus of attention has shifted from racist cops to institutional racism of police departments and now, is focused squarely on the "broken windows" theory of policing, so-named for an article in the Atlantic Monthly by Harvard Prof. James Q. Wilson, based on his research of many years on the tolerance of petty crime in urban areas. There has been a blizzard of articles like this one over the last two weeks, executed on cue. Be prepared to hear [these] arguments in Derrick Jackson's piece over and over, in the media and on FB.

Having lived in Boston and later in NYC during both the late Koch years through Giuliani's first term, I saw this proactive method of policing introduced, and it produced results within one year. Most people, however, have no memory or knowledge of what it was like to live in a place where every public park, train, wall was defaced with graffiti and gang markers, where tot lots were used for drug deals in the open daylight, where muggings were a routine occurrence and the victim was blamed for "being there at that hour of night" or for "what she was wearing," etc. People don't remember putting the "NO RADIO" sign in your windshield after you'd lost several of them already and had given up replacing them.

Why We Need Broken Windows Policing

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NYPD Commissioner William Bratton and Professor George Kelling have this article with the above title in the City Journal.

Critics have posed a variety of arguments against Broken Windows. Some assert that it is synonymous with the controversial patrol tactic known as "stop, question, and frisk." Others allege that Broken Windows is discriminatory, used as a tool to target minorities. Some academics claim that Broken Windows has no effect on serious crime and that demographic and economic causes better explain the reductions in crime in New York and across the United States. Still other critics suggest that order-maintenance policing leads to over-incarceration or tries to impose a white middle-class morality on urban populations. It is rare to have the opportunity and space to correct all the misconceptions and misrepresentations embedded in such charges. We will counter them here, one by one.

Officer Liu's Widow Speaks

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Kent posted a short tribute to New York City police officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, who were assassinated last weekend.

The widow of Officer Liu spoke to the press.  She starts at the 0:47 mark of this tape.

I am not a particularly emotional person, but unless you're made of stone, this is hard to watch.  They had been married for two months.

Officers Ramos and Liu, R.I.P.

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Michael Wilson and Michael Schwirtz report in the NYT:

Bin Fin Liang, 56, said Officer [Wenjian] Liu would drop by his restaurant supply shop on the way home from the Police Academy. Mr. Liang asked him why he wanted to be an officer.

"I know that being a cop is dangerous but I must do it," Officer Liu replied, his friend said. "If I don't do it and you don't do it, then who is going to do it?"

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On Sunday, those same neighbors were mourning the loss of Officer [Rafael] Ramos, who joined the Police Department three years ago. While residents of his working-class neighborhood described the pride he took in being an officer, they remembered him more as the man who shoveled sidewalks after snowstorms, or who took his two boys to nearby Highland Park to play basketball, always with a smile on his face.

"He was a wonderful man," said Alexander Justi, 72, who wiped away tears. "He's good people."

What's Different About Today's Police Bashing?

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Howard Safir, Commissioner of the New York City Police Department from 1996-2000, gives the answer in his short Time magazine essay:

When Ismaaiyl Abdulah Brinsley brutally executed Officers Ramos and Liu he did so in an atmosphere of permissiveness and anti-police rhetoric unlike any that I have seen in 45 years in law enforcement. The rhetoric this time is not from the usual suspects, but from the Mayor of New York City, the Attorney General of the United States, and even the President. It emboldens criminals and sends a message that every encounter a black person has with a police officer is one to be feared. Nothing could be further from the truth. We will never know what was in the mind of Brinsley when he shot officers Ramos and Liu. However we do know that he has seen nothing but police bashing from some of the highest officials in the land.

I disagree with Mr. Safir in only one respect.  We do know what was in Brinsley's mind.  He told us shortly before the murders when he wrote on his Instagram page, "I'm putting wings on pigs today...They Take 1 Of Ours ... Let's Take 2 of Theirs."
Did some quick checking.  Apparently not.  Looks like you folks in NYC are stuck with the huge mistake made by a majority of your fellow citizens for the balance of his term.

Race Relations Tank

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An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll published four days ago showed that, as our "national conversation" about race gets pumped by Eric Holder, Al Sharpton and like-minded opinion leaders, Americans view race relations as having hit their lowest point since the last century.

The reason for this seems evident to me.  The "national conversation" is not designed to promote understanding, cooperation or "healing"  --  the usual goals we get lectured about.  It's designed to promote anger, resentment and grievance. The poll suggests it's succeeding.

It was taken, of course, before the yesterday's avowedly racist police assassinations. 

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