Analysis: Trumps Take On Police Reform
The President’s executive order voices clear support for law enforcement, avoids punitive actions and promises a reasonable review of policing practices
President Donald Trumps Safe Policing for Safe Communities executive order is one of the few government efforts that voices clear support for law enforcement, avoids punitive actions and promises a reasonable review of law enforcement practice.
What Defunding The Police Means
In 2011, Alma Chavez called 911 because she was afraid her 23-year-old sonRafael Olivas was going to take his own life. Southern Nevada has struggled with funding mental health resources, so interventions can often fall on Metro.
Police and are the biggest mental health providers in the valley, said Emily Driscoll, a law student at UNLV Boyd School of Law. Its very clear police are not equipped to handle those kinds of calls.
As protesters have taken to the streets to demand reforms, many have called for defunding the police reducing police budgets in order to direct money into communities of color and more appropriate prevention and treatment programs, including mental health and homelessness services.
Defunding the police is not removing all the money from the police department and having no police, Turner explained. It is a reprioritization of the budget and money. Its reprioritizing how we spend money on the front end in communities and investing in things that help us thrive as opposed to investing more in punishment and reacting to crime in our community.
According to PLAN, Nevada spends $1.93 billion on law enforcement. The largest budget is Metros at $650 million.
The City of Las Vegas and Clark County together contribute about $435 million to Metro with 36 percent from the city and 64 percent from the county, a formula determined by state law.
Even Metro Sheriff Joe Lombardo isnt automatically opposed to the idea of reallocating funding.
What Would A Defunded Police Agency Look Like
That is unclear at this point. Although the initial demands for change included abolishing the police entirely, most believe that there needs to be a shifting of funding to other social service agencies to assist the homeless and underserved populations in local cities.
Police departments, and their budgets, are overseen by local governments there are about 800,000 police in the U.S. in varied roles from city street patrol officers to specialized units like school police.
Dozens of police departments have spoken out against defunding, with some police chiefs saying that reducing their budgets would be reckless.
Many reform advocates argue police departments are overburdened, and those other agencies would be better equipped to deal with civil matters like mental health and homelessness.
With public pressure on them, mayors and city councils responded. In 2020 budget votes, advocacy groups won over $840m indirect cuts from US police departments and at least $160m investments in community services, according to an analysis by Interrupting Criminalization, an initiative at the Barnard Center for Research on Women. In 25 cities, such as Denver and Oakland, officials moved to remove police from schools, saving an additional $34m.
For years, activists have pushed US cities and states to cut law enforcement budgets amid a dramatic rise in spending on police and prisons while funding for vital social services has shrunk or disappeared altogether.
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A Look At Where Nevada Has Been Where It Is And Where It Might Be Going
By: Michael Lyle– June 26, 2020 6:36 am
Officers walk by a crowd of Black Lives Matter demonstrators during a protest in Downtown Las Vegas on Wednesday, June 3, 2020.
Last summer, a six-year-old video of an unarmed Black man choked and arrested by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officers surfaced and began to circulate around social media.
Later identified by theForced Trajectory Project as James Williams, he was approached by officers for selling water on the Strip in a public right-of-way, which is illegal according to Clark County municipal code, and eventually placed in a chokehold, which was legal at the time. As media outlets began reporting on the video, Metro responded thatinternal affairs investigated the video and found no violations in its policies.
Just a black teen being choked by two white cops for selling water in Vegas without a license.
“Help, help, help, help, I’m gonna die.”
And did the cop doing the choking tape over his badge?#BlackLivesMatter
Morgan J. Freeman
Metro has since restricted its use of neck restraints, which they argue is different from a chokehold, and made changes to its use of force policies, while the state passed legislation to enhance accountability such as in 2017 mandating all law enforcement wear body cameras.
Leslie Turner, an organizer for the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevadas Mass Liberation Project, says there is a difference between changing policies and reforming policing.
Congress Fails On Police Reform Now What
Police officers look on as demonstrators march for racial justice and police reforms in Washington, U.S., April 23, 2021. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein
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– The promising effort to reform American policing that was trumpeted as an all-out endeavor in Congress following the largest racial-justice protests in a generation has culminated into nothingness.
So where do things go from here?
Democratic Senator Corey Booker on September 22 figuratively threw his hands up, saying efforts to craft legislation to address our national crisis of abusive and racist policing had failed. Negotiations toward a bipartisan compromise hadnt just stalled they effectively moved backward, said Booker, who led negotiations for Democrats.
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His counterpart, Republican Senator Tim Scott, said he was deeply disappointed and pointed to a call to “defund the police” as the problem.
Democrats said ‘no’ because they could not let go of their push to defund our law enforcement, Scott said on September 22, referring to activists push to redirect police funds to other community needs.
None of Democrats proposals during the months-long negotiation actually sought to defund police, by the way.
And yet, here we are.
The latest negotiations, too, never made much apparent progress, despite lawmakers idealistic tone.
“That was always the way this was going to happen,” she said.
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For Next Time: Getting Officers To Stop Causing Suspects To Attack Them
For those who have been struggling to imagine how progressive reform proposals will improve public safety or reduce crime, it may be helpful to realize that those traditional law enforcement priorities were never intended as the near-term goals of progressive reform activists.
In the next issue of Force Science News, well continue to look at progressive police-reform.
Well discuss officer accountability and consider how elevated use of force guidelines have left officers struggling to understand necessary, proportional and minimum force standards.
Finally, well look at expanded officer-created jeopardy and other efforts to get officers to stop causing suspects to attack them.
About the author
With nearly 30 years in the criminal justice profession, Lewis Von Kliem, MCJ, JD, LLM, worked as a civilian police officer, attorney, educator and author. Von is the executive editor of Force Science News and co-owner of Von Kliem Consulting, LLC, where he trains and consults on constitutional policing, use of force analysis, crisis communications and trauma-informed interviewing.
Firings And Resignations Of Police Chiefs
Police chiefs of Chicago, San Francisco, Baltimore, and Oakland were fired or resigned in 2015 and 2016 after various controversies, often involving issues of race and allegations of use of excessive force by officers. Chicago’s chief, Garry F. McCarthy, was fired after a judge ordered the city to make a video public that showed the shooting of an individual by a police officer, and after public criticism of the city’s handling of the video. Baltimore’s chief was fired after a citizen died in police custody in controversial circumstances, riots after the death, and amidst a crime surge.
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What Does Reforming The Police Mean
Police reform is about more accountability for authority figures and building better relationships between police services and the community. It can come alongside partial defunding, or it can be about changing how police budgets are spent.
In the U.S., activist group Campaign Zero recently released its 8 Cant Wait initiative, which lists eight policy changes aimed at police departments. The list includes bans on chokeholds and shooting at moving vehicles, among other changes.
Police Reform Legislation Has More Momentum Post Chauvin Verdict
Lawmakers are looking to push forward with police reform after Derek Chauvin was convicted Tuesday of murdering George Floyd, with representatives and senators holding bipartisan discussions about next steps.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Wednesday that the guilty verdict in the Chauvin trial does not mean that the problem of police misconduct and brutality has been solved.
“The Senate will continue to work that work as we strive that George Floyd’s tragic death will not be in vain. We will not rest until the Senate passes strong legislation to end the systemic bias in law enforcement,” Schumer said in a speech on the Senate floor.
One of the co-sponsors of the House police reform bill said Tuesday that the police reform bill passed earlier this year that stalled in the Senate has “absolutely more momentum.” And a key Republican senator said Tuesday that police reform is a “is a topic ripe for discussion.”
The House passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which bans chokeholds and no-knock warrants in drug cases and reforms qualified immunity, making it easier to pursue claims against police officers in civil court, in March. But it hasn’t moved in the Senate since then.
“This is a very positive catalyst,” Bass said about the guilty verdict on Tuesday. “We picked up the momentum right after it passed on March, discussions started again,” Bass said.
Jack Turman contributed reporting.
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Police Reform In The United States
The history of law enforcement in the United States includes many efforts at police reform. Early efforts at police reform often involved external commissions, such as the Wickersham Commission, that spelled out reforms but left to the police to implement them, often with limited success.
A series of U.S. Supreme Court decisions under the Warren Court led to important changes in policing, with respect to civil rights and constitutional law. Mapp v. Ohio in 1961 and Miranda v. Arizona in 1966 were two highly influential court decisions.:29Mapp v. Ohio found that evidence obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment protection against “unreasonable searches and seizures” may not be used in criminal prosecutions. Miranda v. Arizona required that criminal suspects must be informed of their right to consult with an attorney and of their right against self-incrimination prior to questioning by police. These decisions began to set national standards for policing.:30
Special commissions, such as the Knapp Commission in New York City during the 1970s, have been used to bring about changes in law enforcement agencies.:20Civilian review boards have also been used as a means for improving police accountability. Civilian review boards tend to focus on individual complaints, rather than broader organizational issues that may result in long-term improvements.:37
Police Reform And Personal Responsibility
It is indeed rare, if not unprecedented, to see a highly diverse group of organizations such as the conservative Alliance Defending Freedom, the liberal American Civil Liberties Union, the libertarian Cato Institute, and the Reason Foundation on the same page as the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund on the same issue.
But it is happening as the U.S. Senate takes up police reform. The issue is a legal doctrine known as qualified immunity.
These diverse organizations all agree that qualified immunity is bad law and should end.
The discussion is particularly high-powered today because it stands at the center of police reform that many see is needed in the wake of incidents such as the murder of George Floyd by former police officer Derek Chauvin.
The nation’s first major civil rights law, the Civil Rights Act of 1871, passed shortly after the Civil War, contains a provision known as Section 1983 that protects citizens from violation of their civil rights by government officials. It says that a government official who violates a citizen’s civil rights is liable and can be sued by the injured party.
Thus stood the law, until a series of Supreme Court decisions from 1967 to 1982 reinterpreted its application.
A new standard, qualified immunity, was added saying that it must be shown that rights were violated per “clearly established law.” That is, there must be a previous case in which rights were violated the exact same way.
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Praise Of The Dallas Texas Police Department
After the 2016 shooting of multiple officers in Dallas, Texas during what had been a peaceful protest, there were reports in the media that Dallas had one of the most progressive police departments in the nation. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said, “We did community policing before anybody, we had de-escalation training before anyone. We had this year the lowest number of police involved shootings than any major city in the country, and so it’s very ironic that our police were protecting those that were exercising their freedom of speech and they lost their lives doing their jobs.” Police Chief David Brown received widespread praise for his leadership in the aftermath of the shooting of his officers, although in the past he has faced criticism for the low pay of Dallas officers compared to neighboring jurisdictions. Brown addressed protesters in a speech, saying “Become a part of the solution. Serve your community, don’t be a part of the problem. We’re hiring. Get off that protest line and put an application in. And we’ll put you in your neighborhood and we will help you resolve some of the problems you’re protesting about.” Job applications for the police department rose significantly in the days following the officers’ shootings and Brown’s statement, and the department received demonstrations of public appreciation.
The Big Switch: Police As Oppressors
Flowing from the systemic racism theory is the belief that racial disparity is largely the result of undisciplined, untrained and racist police. Through this lens, the police are viewed as the oppressors against whom reform measures must be enacted if we are to hold them accountable.
To those who believe that the police are oppressors, and therefore illegitimate, any use of force may be characterized as police brutality. Even lawful force might be condemned as a result of officers too eager to resort to force, unwilling to respect the dignity of the individual, and unwilling to value the sanctity of life.
Recasting the police as oppressors transforms criminals into the victims of this oppression. As victims, criminals are more easily excused for their crimes. They have reduced agency, meaning they have little control over their thoughts, feelings, or actions.
Under this progressive view, criminals do not simply choose to commit crimes. Rather, the legacy of slavery, enduring systemic racism, and racist officers have trapped them in a cycle of oppression that impedes legitimate economic and educational opportunities.
Under these conditions, some believe that crime is inevitable. In response, it makes sense that progressive prosecutors, civic leaders, and judges might prioritize rehabilitation, education, and social services over-incarceration, restitution, and punishment.
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What Does American Police Reform Actually Look Like
For decades, American communities have been portrayed in television and film as having affable and understanding sheriffs . Weve been presented with images of neighborhoods so safe that friendly local policing is simply rescuing kittens from trees. Or perhaps youre familiar with the narrative that has a bunch of meddling kids unmask all of the monsters that lurk in the shadows officers only show up in the last moments and snap on handcuffs.
But fiction is not reality, and as our screens are filled with police officers who kill unarmed civilians and assault elderly protestors, it seems like many of our countrys monsters are hiding in plain sight, hidden by systemic bias and institutions invested in maintaining a white-centered status quo. And, though some Americans still believe in friendly neighborhood police officers, as calls to defund and abolish the police grow in volume, it seems like more concerned citizens are beginning to believe we are better off enlisting mental health professionals, counselors, and social workersa different sort of group of meddling kids.
Advocates with the New York State Senate tell Clever that the failures of the police department amount to a lack of transparency, accountability, and training. For them, police reform looks like legislation that has been pushed in the state, as a response to George Floyds murder: the repeal of a law that sealed police disciplinary records and police reform, which includes some measure of defunding.
There Has To Be A Solution We Cannot Go Without One
Just recently, a young man suspected of stealing pizza in New York City was assaulted by police as he was surrendering. He was defenseless and holding his hands up, which is when one of New Yorks finest thought it would be a good time to punch him thrice in the head. It is again entirely probable that the violent, hair-trigger policeman in this case will suffer no meaningful consequences whatsoever, outside of perhaps being put on a weeks desk duty inside an air-conditioned precinct.
In Virginia, an Iraq War veteran was sleeping in a model unit of his apartment building due to a plumbing problem in his own unit a neighbor thought he was breaking and entering and called the police on him. The police inexplicably responded by conducting a no-knock raid. The veteran awoke surrounded by three officers with their guns drawn and aimed at him he was handcuffed and searched before they discovered his identity. A shift commander described this inept, terroristic response as on point.
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