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pipoman's Journal
pipoman's Journal
January 5, 2015

What reform of police policy/authority could be demanded and accomplished?

The reality is that police/law enforcement are needed and here to stay, few people would deny this. With that comes a necessity for acceptable policy and limitations of authority which falls outside of constitutional limitations (or the interpretations that have formed precedent). For most of the 20th century there has been a public campaign to indoctrinate children to trust police, to portray police as friends, and to empower them from the grassroots...all good things as long as police actually are friends of the public, trustworthy, and not constantly pushing the limitations of the authority or will of the public. Where we find ourselves now is in a place of overreaching authority in the name of safety, abuse of authority, actions contrary to the will of the public, and a reputation for lying and corruption with an expectation to receive the benefit of the doubt in every scenario. All of this is further exacerbated by the labor union contracts which have gone beyond protection against unfair labor practices to protection of corruption and publicly unacceptable police policies and practices.

In the wake of perception of sanctioned abuse of power and authority all kinds of demands and proclamations have been thrown around. Many....perhaps most of these demands aren't congruent with the charge to effectively police our communities. Some demands would eliminate protections from prosecution stemming from human error and/or immediate response.

What can't be done. ..

We cannot remove immunities given police for the result of human error. Since all police are human, errors will occur. Without some protection police officers will become impossible to find, nobody is willing to allow their future and their livelihood to hinge on the reality of human error.

We cannot place unrealistic racial quotas on hiring. If qualified candidates cannot be found or aren't interested in police jobs, we must hire those willing and qualified.

What we can do through the legislative process and public demands...

360 degree cameras with sound on all police officers and police vehicles. This seems like a nobrainer considering the availability of tiny camera and storage technology. Police are adverse to this because they really don't want to be second guessed and they believe the footage may lead to acquittal on technicalities.

Demanding that all police policy be public. Police policy, pparticularly local and state policy, has long been a big secret. Defense attorneys have been issuing subpoenas for production of policy and procedure manuals for generations. These requests have been fought and ignored in favor of release of only those parts of policies procedures manuals germane to the case at hand then often heavily redacted.

Eliminating asset forfeiture resulting in enrichment of the department or officer involved. A requirement for a human criminal conviction (as opposed to the practice of charging the assets) before assets can be liquidated and not returned. Then requiring legitimately seized assets to enrich some other government agency unrelated to law enforcement. ..schools, infrastructure, public health services, etc. ..

Eliminating bulk data collection by law enforcement.

Eliminating traffic cameras used for issuing traffic violation citations. This is overwhelmingly despised by the public and protestations have been largely ignored by police.

Revision/review of use of force policy

Eliminate authority to use military vehicles, weapons and tactics against the public.

All of these tactics and policies have been challenged and upheld as constitutional. This doesn't mean they can't be legislated out of existence.

I am sure there are other ideas which would be effective and feasible to improve relations and reduce abuse of authority. Change is never easy, if we can eliminate unrealistic demands and concentrate on the possible, change can be forced..the best place to start is in our cities and states.

Any other ideas for reform?

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