Obama: let’s step up federal cop subsidies

It’s like a parody of one’s worst expectations: President Obama refuses to curtail the federal police militarization program, instead calling for a big hike in federal spending on aid to local departments with the usual micromanaging strings attached. [The Guardian] The administration has now gathered some useful information on the Pentagon’s 1033 surplus-gear program, but still has no plans to improve data gathering on police use of lethal force [Washington Post editorial] More from USA Today: “The Fraternal Order of Police, the nation’s largest police union, has waged an intense lobbying campaign to keep the surplus equipment flowing,” and its executive director specifically speaks up in favor of the transfer of armored vehicles and personnel carriers. More: Trevor Timm.

Related: Conor Friedersdorf gathers stories of cops reinstated in union arbitration from Oakland, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Miami, Sarasota, and other cities. He concludes:

I’d rather see 10 wrongful terminations than one person wrongfully shot and killed. Because good police officers and bad police officers pay the same union dues and are equally entitled to labor representation, police unions have pushed for arbitration procedures that skew in the opposite direction. Why have we let them? If at-will employment, the standard that would best protect the public, is not currently possible, arbitration proceedings should at a minimum be transparent and fully reviewable so that miscarriages of justice are known when they happen. With full facts, the public would favor at-will employment eventually.

You can’t tackle the excessive force problem credibly unless you tackle the power of the police unions. Period.


  • It is actually worse… the 260M is not required to be spent on body cameras, they can spend on anything they want.

  • “Obama is also separately calling for a $263m, three-year spending package to reform police departments across the country which, if approved by Congress, could lead to the purchase of an additional 50,000 lapel-mounted cameras to record police officers on the job.”

    So, if I have the math right, that’s $526 per camera. By contrast, various Gopro cameras can be had on Amazon for between $300-$400. (Not to mention that many camera-equipped smartphones are FREE with a data plan at the major carriers.) And of course, buying anything in the kind of bulk referenced in the article would be expected to yield significant per-unit savings . . . unless the government is the buyer, apparently.

  • Ironically, keeping bad cops on the force, over the long run, will intensify the adversarial relationship between many people and the police, reduce cooperation and put more police officers in difficult and at times dangerous positions.

  • The cameras probably cost around $150. The rest is going to the bureaucracy that buys, distributes and monitors them. Every police department is going to have to hire people to monitor and store the videos, maintain the cameras and administer the system. Just think of all of the government union jobs that this is going to create.

  • “The rest is going to the bureaucracy that buys, distributes and monitors them.”

    Undoubtedly. It’s almost as if every crisis demands the “solution” of greasing the pockets of Democratic constituencies. Almost . . .

  • In Seattle, Washington it is difficult to comply without increasing costs or face penalties and attorney fees for failing to timely disclose body camera videos under the state public disclosure laws. Right now, it’s much easier to go without such devices–that protect officers and the public–than to create records which are potentially subject to public disclosure.


  • I suspect a lot more disadvantaged people will be prosecuted if everything’s on video.

    That said, I don’t think it’s an awful idea. I’d like to see police cruisers have 360 degree cams.

    What would be an awful idea is calling it the “Mike Brown” law.

  • A “go pro” camera will not work. You need something that can run all day, doesn’t need operator intervention, date and location stamps the video with GPS, and can easily be docked each night and the video stored and made easily indexed and searched. GoPros will only run an hour or so on their battery, have no GPS, etc.

    I think the cars should have 360 degree cameras. That’s much more feasible, and allows for more robust technology.