Recently in Policing Category

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.


Donald Trump and Improving Police Morale

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Police are public officials with a tremendous amount of power.  They warrant at least as much scrutiny as any other public official, if not more.  But scrutiny is one thing, while a cascade of reflexive, unbalanced and often vitriolic criticism is something else.  Or to put it more bluntly, criticism is criticism but hate is hate.

There is a widespread suspicion among those who follow the subject that growing police caution in the wake of escalating condemnation (caution known as the "Ferguson effect" and noted by, among others, Jim Comey of the FBI and Chuck Rosenberg of the DEA) has contributed to increased aggressiveness by criminals over at least the last two years.  That, in turn, is thought to be one of the reasons violent crime in our major cities surged in 2015 and 2016.  Sharply increased crime is one the "legacies" from President Obama that the press tends to be less than eager to cover  --  or, when it is covered, to identify as rooted in Obama's Justice Department and its kindred spirits such as, for example, Black Lives Matter and the ACLU.

Increased crime and related low police morale are, nonetheless, facts the new Administration has no choice but to confront.  Fortunately, it appears from this illuminating LifeZette article by Edmund Kozak that President Trump is off to a good start.
For the last two years, violent crime has been on a tear in our major cities.  This is as incomprehensible as it is tragic, because we know full well how to reduce crime. We did it dramatically  --  crime fell by half  --  in the years between 1991 and the end of 2014.  In those years, the murder rate specifically fell by more than half.

We used commonsense tools:  More police, more aggressive and proactive policing, longer terms of incarceration for more felons, and increased determination to cabin naive or partisan judges through statutory minimum sentencing.

The Obama Administration refused to say "yes" to success.  Instead, viewing the criminal as the victim and law-abiding people as racist cretins, the successful, bi-partisan policies of the Clinton and Bush years were reversed. The carnage along the road back to failure has not taken long to show up.  Chicago and Baltimore are on their way to world-wide notoriety.  

In the Trump Administration, conservatives hope to role back the antic release of dangerous drug traffickers who were falsely palmed off to the public "non-violent" (the name of multiple child killer Wendell Callahan comes immediately to mind).  But even before we are able fully to act on that issue, Trump's DOJ seems already to be providing help on another, quite important front, as reported today by the Baltimore Sun.

What Happens When We Step Back the Police?

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Murderers have a field day.

This is perhaps the single most important lesson from Chicago, an ongoing tragedy of violence.  The city had a mind-numbing increase in murder  --  over 50%  --  in 2016.

The usual suspects cannot be blamed:  Poverty, class structure, racism, gangs, callousness in the powers that be, lax gun laws.  Assuming arguendo that all those things exist and cause crime, there's no evidence that any of them got worse last year, and still less that they got 50% worse.  (As to gun laws in particular, Chicago has among the strictest in the country, and there is no evidence that more guns came into the city in 2016 from outside jurisdictions than in 2015).

So what gives?

By far the biggest change in Chicago was the shackling of its police, through consent decree, by the supposedly compassionate ACLU.

Hatred of Police Becomes More Brazen

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Fatal shootings of police officers increased in 2016 to the highest level since 2011. I don't know all the reasons for this.  Certainly the overall murder increase and the surge in the deadly heroin trade are part of the mix.

But there's another part:  Hate.  It's just that simple.  When you breed hate, as the Black Lives Matter movement does, arm-in-arm with Obama's Justice Department and its allies in Congress, you get the outcroppings of hate.

When Donald Trump won the election, 20 year-old's at prestigious colleges demanded "safe spaces," as if their whining consternation at the results amounted to a loss of "safety."  When dozens of policemen get gunned down in the street, the problem we hear trumpeted is not a lack of safety, but  --  ready now?  --  that cops are pigs and have it coming.

This kind of poisonous thinking gets displayed and honored in the Capitol building.

Think that exaggerates things?  Keep reading.

What's the Purpose of Fake News about Cops?

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National Review has this story by the inimitable Heather MacDonald.  It starts:

CNN is making a desperate pitch to further inflame the ideological war on cops while it still has a sympathetic ear in the White House. The CNN website is promoting a laughably incomplete study of police use of fatal force under the headline "Black men nearly 3 times as likely to die from police use of force, study says." Utterly ignored in the study and in CNN's write-up is any mention of violent-crime rates, which vary enormously by race and which predict officer use of force. Absent such a crime benchmark, analysis of police actions using population data alone, as this latest study has done, is worse than useless; wielded as a bludgeon in the current anti-cop crusade, it is dangerously irresponsible. 

Question:  Why do networks publish defamatory stories about the police knowing, or having good reason to know, that they're false?

Answer:  If I were more dark-minded, I would say they do it to increase the likelihood that cops will get injured or killed.  But I'm not that dark-minded.  Yet. Check back after the next Dallas-style massacre. 
LifeZette, a new on-line magazine, is a breath of fresh air in Washington, DC. Instead of the weary, threadbare cliches from the liberal Establishment that have been driving the conversation inside the Beltway for decades, it presents a frankly conservative perspective.  

I was grateful to be able to contribute mine this morning, "Trump Can Reverse the Deadly Spike in Violent Crime."

White Cop Guns Down Another Young Man of Color

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The story is here.  It's everywhere else tonight, as well.

Remember this the next time you see a statistic about how many "white cops gun down young men of color."  If the source isn't telling you the circumstances of the shooting, then it's telling you nothing.  It is, however, engineering a smear.

Should the Police Seek Community Trust?

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One theme of the Black Lives Matter movement is that rampant police brutality has cost the police the "community's" supposed "trust," and that the police need to earn it back by genuflecting to BLM's (and the Administration's) sneering cops-should-sit-in-the-corner attitude.

BLM is exactly correct that police should earn the trust of normal, law-abiding members of the community.  Of course, they already have that trust in record numbers, as this week's Gallup poll makes clear.  Police are vastly more trusted than, to take one example, lawyers (76% to 21%).

But we should not want thugs and punks like these  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/10/26/flash-mob-of-150-teens-attacks-temple-university-students-cops-in-philly/  to trust the police.  We should want them to fear the police, the more the better.

I will welcome comments to make the case otherwise

Slain Officers' Families Oppose Prop. 57

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The family members of slain Los Angeles County sheriff's Sgt. Steve Owen and Palm Springs Officer Lesley Zerebny spoke out this week against Prop. 57, calling it a lie, a farce and a "criminal's bill of rights."

Read their remarks here.
Justin McCarthy reports for Gallup:

Three in four Americans (76%) say they have "a great deal" of respect for the police in their area, up 12 percentage points from last year.

In addition to the large majority of Americans expressing "a great deal" of respect for their local police, 17% say they have "some" respect while 7% say they have "hardly any."

Gallup has asked this question nine times since 1965. The percentage who say they respect the police is significantly higher now than in any measurement taken since the 1990s and is just one point below the high of 77% recorded in 1967. Solid majorities of Americans have said they respect their local law enforcement in all polls conducted since 1965.

Mac Donald v. Solomon

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In a written debate regarding what the next presidential administration's policing and criminal justice policies should be, published on on Real Clear Policy, Manhattan Institute scholar Heather Mac Donald and Danyelle Solomon from the Center for American Progress face off.  This is the third part of a series on major policy ideas, from left to right.  It is worth reading.

Here is Mac Donald's piece, here is Solomon's and here are their responses to each other.

A Cop's Perspective on CopCams

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Sean Van Leeuwen has this post in the blog of the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs (ALADS):

ALADS has long supported issuing BWC [Body Worn Cameras] to all patrol and jail deputies. We believe this equipment will serve to protect them from frivolous complaints and help prosecute criminals who gas or attack deputies while they work in the jail or on patrol.

Despite their usefulness, BWC have limitations.  Recordings are two-dimensional, potentially hindered by frame count, limited to a single perspective and other technical limitations.  They are a useful addendum to the observations and recollections of deputies and other witnesses and are not by themselves a complete documentation of an incident. The Sheriff's Department completed a two-year body camera pilot program last year and is still reviewing the data collected.  While the test was promising, it was only limited to a few deputies at a few stations. Before such a program is implemented department wide, there will have to be a commitment for proper training and funding in order to ensure the success of a future BWC program.
Earlier this month, the Justice Department released a report accusing the Baltimore Police Department of racism, making particular note of the police practice of clearing corners of loiterers and trespassers in high-crimes areas.  This practice of enforcement, said federal lawyers, is oppressive to minority communities, a stance echoed by Black Livers Matter activists, academics and the press.  But what about the law-abiding people that actually live in such areas?  What do they want police to do in their communities?  As a matter of fact, they are begging the police to enforce trespassing and loitering laws.  In this article in the National Review, Heather Mac Donald writes

This critique of public-order enforcement ignores a fundamental truth: It's the people who live in high-crime areas who petition for "corner-clearing." The police are simply obeying their will. And when the police back off of such order-maintenance strategies under the accusation of racism, it is the law-abiding poor who pay the price.

Community members are not only frustrated, they are scared.  A gas station owner in West Baltimore, whose business became overrun by loiterers following the release of the DOJ report, begged the police to "[p]lease help me."  A grandmother worries about groups of teens hanging out around her steps because she wants her "grandkids to be in a safe environment."  A copy store owner, who noticed a worsening of loiterers following the Freddie Gray riots in April 2015, says he calls the police whenever people gather in front of his store because their presence "scares people away.  Legitimate people, honest people," which affects his ability to make money and pay his bills.  Another woman wonders, "What ever happened to loitering laws?"

Trump, His Critics, and Law and Order

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Donald Trump's recent comments on law and order have been a mixed bag.  He has said some things that are obviously wrong.  No, violence in our cities is not record levels.  Surely a New Yorker of Mr. Trump's age remembers how bad things were back in the day when the subway was so crime-infested and so dangerous that people felt they were taking their lives in their hands just to get to work.  Today is not that bad, not even close.

Even so, Trump is more right than his critics on the major issues.  Heather MacDonald has this article in the WSJ.  She quotes the usual suspects spewing the usual garbage, such as a historian reciting the very old and very wrong line that "the term law and order" is "racially tinged."  The fact that the anti-law enforcement side chooses to view "law and order" through a tinted glass does not tinge the object itself.

As over-the-top as Trump can be at times, his opponent and his critics comparing him to the likes of Adolf Hitler and the Ku Klux Klan are even more so.  See also this article by William McGurn, also in the WSJ.  MacDonald offers this explanation:

Why this frenzied effort to demonize Mr. Trump for addressing the heightened violence in inner cities? Because the Republican nominee has also correctly identified its cause: the false "narrative of cops as a racist force in our society," as he put it in Wisconsin.

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