Recently in Policing Category

Crappy Days Are Here Again

Myron Magnet minces no words in the City Journal:

Twenty-three prior arrests, including menacing someone with a machete five years ago, and this madman is still walking the streets? Seeing a passerby's video of Sook Yeong Im, a pretty young Korean tourist, lying on the 40th Street sidewalk after crazy career criminal Frederick Young, 43, had twice slashed open her arm with his viciously honed weapon--exposing muscle fiber and sending blood spurting everywhere--brought back in an instant the knot of fear New Yorkers carried in their stomachs in the pre-Rudy Giuliani era, when out-of-control crime was killing not just one person every four hours, 365 days a year, but also was killing Gotham itself. That the assault occurred in Bryant Park at 11:30 on a sun-drenched early-summer morning, as the victim was looking for a seat after her yoga class, seemed to unravel just about every gain that the tireless efforts of thousands over 20 years had achieved to make New York once more the capital of the world. Suddenly, it seems we're back to Son of Sam or the Wild Man of West 96th Street.
The subtitle of the piece, BTW, is It's De Blasio Time, and madmen with machetes are on the loose.
As we have noted on this blog, Heather MacDonald has dared to tell the truth about the real-world effect the attacks on policing are having.  Naturally, the forces of Political Correctness have criticized her.  In this op-ed in the WSJ, MacDonald responds to the critics.  Here is the concluding paragraph:

Activists and many criminologists may continue to deny the importance of proactive policing, even as shootings increase, but its effectiveness was central to America's remarkable crime reduction of the past two decades. Police departments must constantly reinforce the message of courtesy and respect, and train officers to minimize the use of force. But when the police back off, crime eventually goes up. If anti-cop vituperation tapers off in the coming months and police start to feel supported in their work, the recent crime increases may also taper off. If the media-saturated agitation continues, however, the new normal may be less policing and more crime.
Heather MacDonald of the Manhattan Institute is as good as it gets in the debate whether the police are actually an occupying racist army (and let's face it, that  -- sometimes in disguised form, and sometimes not so disguised  --  is the accusation on the table).

Her column in the National Review starts this way:

New York Times columnist Charles Blow is angry again. This time he's angry at me, among other "tough on crime, fear-mongering iron fist-ers." Also, of course, at the cops. I had debated Blow last week about a Wall Street Journal op-ed of mine on depolicing and crime. Blow followed up with an online column in the Times entitled "Romanticizing 'Broken Windows' Policing." It exemplifies the confusions of the Left about crime and policing.

My article had proposed that a rise in violent crime in many cities across the country may be the result of officers' backing off from proactive policing. The last nine months have seen non-stop agitation against the police profession. Officers have routinely been called racists, murderers, and scourges of black communities. Arrests in inner-city communities are even more tense than usual, thanks to the media's constant amplification of the "racist cop" meme. Cops are becoming reluctant to engage in discretionary enforcement, according to their own reports, for fear that if an encounter becomes confrontational, they will become the latest YouTube racist-cop sensation -- or, worse, could find themselves indicted for a crime. 

Ms. Mac Donald ends this way:

The puzzle for the police is what critics like Blow want them to do -- police proactively and be accused of racism, or back off and wait for people to get shot and be accused of a dereliction of duty?

The article is chock full of facts and well worth the read.

The Destruction of Baltimore

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Actions have consequences.  So do failures to act.

When rioters smashed their way through Baltimore, supposedly as an exercise of First Amendment "protest," Mayor Rawlings-Blake chirped that they would be given "space to destroy."  They heard her loud and clear, and took advantage.  The police stood down.  

The cynical among us believe, however, that the "protesters" were less interested in the First Amendment than in just looting.  Not being dummies, among the most coveted items for them were the drug supplies of smashed-in pharmacies.

Now those drugs are fueling a turf war among traffickers, much increased drug abuse, and --  guess what  --  a murder spree unlike anything Baltimore has seen in decades.

If you think, however, that this will change the narrative that the whole problem is racism, cops, and thuggish prosecutors using mandatory minimum sentences, you haven't been keeping up with Al Sharpton and his enablers in Congress and academia.

The Bloodiest in 40 Years

Four days ago, as May wound down, I asked what happens when we paint the police as villains, rather than pointing to the thieves, thugs and muggers.  This is a particularly acute question in Baltimore, and a good deal of evidence was already in.

May ended yesterday.  We now have an even clearer idea of what happens when, on account of the Cops-Are-Devils campaign, we exchange enthusiastic, proactive policing for timid, work-to-rule policing.

Those who think the record low crime we've been enjoying just fell out of the sky are in for a rude awakening.  If we are deluded enough to think that we can cut back the things that have produced low crime  --  more police, more proactive policing, and more incarceration  --  and nothing will happen, we'll deserve what we get.  And, in Baltimore, are getting.

The New Nationwide Crime Wave

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Heather MacDonald has this op-ed in the WSJ with the above title.  The subtitle is "The consequences of the 'Ferguson effect' are already appearing. The main victims of growing violence will be the inner-city poor."  Here are the concluding paragraphs:

Contrary to the claims of the "black lives matter" movement, no government policy in the past quarter century has done more for urban reclamation than proactive policing. Data-driven enforcement, in conjunction with stricter penalties for criminals and "broken windows" policing, has saved thousands of black lives, brought lawful commerce and jobs to once drug-infested neighborhoods and allowed millions to go about their daily lives without fear.

To be sure, police officers need to treat everyone they encounter with courtesy and respect. Any fatal police shooting of an innocent person is a horrifying tragedy that police training must work incessantly to prevent. But unless the demonization of law enforcement ends, the liberating gains in urban safety over the past 20 years will be lost.
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

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.

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