Recently in Policing Category

Mary Kissel at the WSJ interviews "Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow George Kelling on his famous theory of policing and how it's fared in practice."

Despite the title and subhead, Kelling's first point is that "Broken Windows" is about more than policing.

Here's the theory in a nutshell.  If a window is broken in a neighborhood and no one fixes it, it's a sign to all that nobody cares.  People prone to vandalism become more bold, while people who would like to keep the neighborhood up become more likely to take a "why bother?" attitude.  Things spiral downward, ultimately increasing major problems, including crime.

Taking care of problems that some people regard as petty actually does matter a lot.

Dr. Kelling, BTW, is a long time friend and advisor of CJLF, as was his co-author, the late James Q. Wilson

About that Police "Militarization"....

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Those who want to lecture us about the "lessons of Ferguson" without waiting to find out what actually happened there have opened a related front calling for disarming demilitarizing the police.

This YouTube film of the London police in full fight from a mob of radical Muslims gives an eye-opening, if appalling, preview of what things will be like if the attack on the police succeeds.

Dealing with the Police

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The recent police shooting of an unarmed 18 year-old African-American in Ferguson, Mo. has the press thundering about the crypto-fascist, and as-ever racist, outlook policemen supposedly wear as the universal chip on the shoulder.

I don't know all the facts of that case, and neither does anyone else, including those in the press, and in libertarian circles, who are calling for the police to be "demilitarized" (which is their word for "disarmed," although they're not about to admit it).

It could be that the teenager, who was huge, attacked the cop without provocation, in which case the cop's response is almost certainly not a crime or any other kind of misconduct.  It could also be that the cop was not in significant danger, knew it, and shot the teenager out of spite or because he was feeling a heavy badge, in which case this episode is murder, and the cop is deserving of stern and unflinching punishment.  Anyone who at this point claims to know it's one or the other is just blowin' smoke.

The case has raised many of the same shopworn issues about the relationship between the police and black teenage boys that we saw in the Trayvon Martin case (even though the shooter there was a would-be, and not an actual, policeman).

It seems to me that there are easy ways to avoid this sort of thing in the future, none of which involves the appearance of Al Sharpton or the eight millionth lecture from Eric Holder.  They involve entirely normal manners on both sides.

De-policing New York

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Incredible as it seems, the people who want to undo the policing reforms that made New York City a much safer and more livable place than it used to be are gaining ground.  The current poster boy for this movement is Eric Garner, who died after being put in a chokehold while resisting arrest.  Heather MacDonald has this article in the City Journal on the dire consequences of undoing New York's very successful policing efforts.  The article concludes:

The biggest threat facing minority New Yorkers now is not "over-policing," and certainly not brutal policing. The NYPD has one of the lowest rates of officer shootings and killings in the country; it is recognized internationally for its professionalism and training standards. Deaths such as Garner's are an aberration, which the department does everything it can to avoid. The biggest threat facing minority New Yorkers today is de-policing. After years of ungrounded criticism from the press and advocates, after highly publicized litigation and the passage of ill-considered laws--such as the one making officers financially liable for alleged "racial profiling"--NYPD officers have radically scaled back their discretionary activity. Pedestrian stops have dropped 80 percent citywide and almost 100 percent in some areas. The department is grappling with how to induce officers to use their lawful authority again to stop crime before it happens. Eric Garner's death was a heartbreaking tragedy, but if the unjustified backlash against misdemeanor enforcement takes root and finds a sympathetic audience in Mayor Bill De Blasio, the consequences for all New Yorkers will be even more dire.

The Training of Federal Agents

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Even though I was at one point Counselor to the Administrator of the DEA, I did not know this until just now:  The DEA, along with the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement,  the Secret Service and the U.S. Marshals, sends its agents-in-training to the Holocaust Museum to give them a close up look at what happens when legitimate law enforcement morphs into a police state.

I wonder how many of those who routinely accuse federal agents of being Nazis have ever even visited the Holocaust Museum.

FBI Agents Also Revolt

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I noted before that hundreds of career prosecutors have revolted against the Justice Department's backing of a Senate bill that would slash mandatory minimum sentences across the board, no matter how dangerous the drug or unrepentant the pusher.

Today, there is another revolt, this one by career FBI agents.  Kent noted, here and here, that the Administration, which for these purposes prominently includes Eric Holder, has nominated, to serve under Holder as the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, Debo Adegbile.  Adegbile won fame primarily for his defense of, and, more flagrantly, his cheerleading for, cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal.  

No one doubts that Abu-Jamal was entitled to a legal defense.  That's not the problem.  The problem is that Adegbile led not just a defense but a street campaign to denounce the policeman Abu-Jamal killed, Officer Daniel Faulkner, and the police in general, as an occupying fascist army.

Today, FBI agents couldn't take it anymore.

Re-breaking the Windows

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Heather MacDonald has this story in the City Journal:

Bill de Blasio won the mayoralty of New York by running a demagogic campaign against the New York Police Department. He has now compounded the injury by dropping the city's appeal of an equally deceitful court opinion that found that the department's stop, question, and frisk practices deliberately violated the rights of blacks and Hispanics. De Blasio may thus have paved the way for a return to the days of sky-high crime rates.

Some Really Good News

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Except for people who have unhinged hatred for the police  --  which unfortunately is quite a few  --  this has to be seen as a wonderful development.

Qualified Immunity and Reasonable Force

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The US Supreme Court today took up a case on qualified immunity for police officers who are sued for using force claimed to be excessive. The case is Plumhoff v. Rickard, No. 12-1117.  The Questions Presented page from the certiorari petition of Officer Plumhoff follows the break.

It's Up to You, New York, New York

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New York had its primary election yesterday.  Policing will be front and center in the general election for mayor.  Mary Kissel interviews New York Post editorial writer Robert George on the election in this video at WSJ.com.
Sean Gardiner has this article in the WSJ.
Heather MacDonald has this article with the above title in the WSJ.  We already know the California method for increasing crime -- ram a flaky, untested idea through the Legislature in a single day and then test it on 38 million people to see if it works.  MacDonald, though, is worried about a New York development that she anticipates might spread nationwide.  Instead of trying a new program that probably will not work, tear down an existing one that has proven effective in reducing crime.

A racial-profiling lawsuit over the New York Police Department's "stop, question and frisk" policies is now in the hands of a judge whose decision is expected within weeks. Many New Yorkers watched the two-and-a-half-month trial nervously, concerned that a ruling against the NYPD by U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin could spell an end to a police practice that helped the city achieve an astonishing drop in violent crime.

But non-New Yorkers would do well to worry about the case too. A decision against the NYPD would almost certainly inspire similar suits by social-justice organizations against police departments elsewhere. The national trend of declining crime could hang in the balance. And the primary victims of such a reversal would be the inner-city minorities whose safety seems not to figure into attempts to undermine successful police tactics.

See also prior posts of March 28, Feb. 13, Jan. 24, and another Jan. 24.

The Commish on Stop and Frisk

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Mary Kissel of the WSJ has this video interview with NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly on the stop and frisk policies of the NYPD.  These policies are part of the reason New York has seen a dramatic plunge in its murder rate and in crime generally, so naturally they are under attack in the courts.

Against the charge of racism made with statistics, Kelly notes what I call the Fallacy of the Irrelevant Denominator.  Comparing the racial statistics of stops to the general population, it would seem that the police are unfairly targeting minorities.  The reality, though, is that the racial statistics are proportional to the perpetrators of violent crime, the correct basis of comparison.

Kelly also explains that the "activists" challenging the policies do not speak for all people of their particular racial groups.  Minorities are disproportionately the victims of crime, and many support the policies.

Crime and What Works

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The parents of Hadiya Pendleton, murdered at the age of 15, were present as President Obama delivered his State of Union speech last night.  Would Hadiya's tragic murder have been prevented by any of the measures Mr. Obama proposed?  Probably not.

Would a ban on assault weapons have prevented this crime?  No, the killer probably used a revolver.  Would background checks have helped?  Probably not, despite what the expert interviewed in the preceding link says.  Extending background checks to gun shows or even to private sales by law-abiding individuals won't stop criminals from getting them through black-market sales or just stealing them.  (I am not against background checks.  I just don't think they will have a large effect on crime rates.)

So what does work?  Mostly measures that are opposed by the same people calling for these ineffective measures.  First, locking criminals up works.  Jason Meisner of the ChiTrib reports:

The reputed gang member accused of gunning down 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton last month was on the street even though he had been arrested three times in connection with break-ins and trespassing while on probation for a weapons conviction in recent months, the Tribune has learned.

In two of those arrests, including one just 2 1/2 months ago, Cook County probation officials failed to notify prosecutors or the judge that Michael Ward had been arrested on the new misdemeanor charges and allegedly violated his probation.

The head of the county's probation department acknowledged Monday that his office fell short in its responsibilities and vowed to find out what went wrong.

If they hadn't "fallen short" in locking up this criminal, Hadiya would be alive.

Another measure that works is the proactive policing of the kind New York City uses over the vehement opposition of the Politically Correct.  Holman Jenkins has this column in the WSJ:

Stop-and-Frisk in NY

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Meanwhile, back in New York, Heather MacDonald has this article in the City Journal on the ACLU's court campaign against effective policing.

Ligon v. New York challenged a decades-long program that authorizes New York police officers to patrol private buildings for trespassers and other lawbreakers. The Trespass Affidavit Program (TAP) tries to give low-income tenants in high-crime areas the same protection against intruders that wealthy residents of doorman-guarded buildings enjoy. According to the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), however, police officers routinely abuse their power under TAP by stopping and arresting minority residents and their guests on suspicion of trespass without any legal justification.

The NYCLU didn't come close to proving its case. But the litigation's most disturbing failure was its blindness to the realities of inner-city crime.

Debbie McBride has nothing but contempt for the ongoing litigation. McBride is a street-hardened building superintendent in the heart of the South Bronx zone targeted by the NYCLU. When asked about TAP, also known as the Clean Halls program, she doesn't mince words. "I love it!" she roars. "I'm serious, I love it. Me being a woman, I feel safe. I can get up at 4 AM and start working."

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