- New research finds Florida extension of collective bargaining rights to sheriff’s deputies correlated with increase in violent incidents when compared with municipal forces, for which law did not change [Dhammika Dharmapala, Richard H. McAdams, and John Rappaport, Cato Research Briefs in Economic Policy #171]
- “This Cop Is Getting $2,500 a Month Because Killing an Unarmed Man in a Hotel Hallway Gave Him PTSD” [Scott Shackford; Mesa, Arizona] “A Portland police sergeant was fired last year for suggesting to his fellow officers that they should shoot black people for no reason. More than a year later, he’s in line to receive a $100,000 settlement from the city.” [Joe Setyon]
- “Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner drew up a list of cops he wouldn’t put on the stand because of their history of misconduct, and the local Fraternal Order of Police union sued.” [Scott Greenfield]
- California police groups fight to stop new law making misconduct records public [Scott Shackford, and more, and yet more]
- “Police Officer Claims He Feared For His Life After Shooting Family’s Roomba To Death” [humor/satire, Babylon Bee]
- Camden, N.J.’s start-over-from-scratch approach to police employment seems to be producing some favorable results [Alex Tabarrok with charts from Daniel Bier]
A coordinated national campaign promotes enactment of Marsy’s Law, a set of victim’s rights enactments that have been added to state constitutions in many states. (Marsy’s Law amendments were on six state ballots this fall, and did well.) My colleague Roger Pilon testified in 1997 against a proposed federal constitutional amendment.
Now a South Dakota version of such a law is being used by police officers to conceal their identities from the public after a shooting by a police officer of a civilian who was subsequently charged with assaulting the trooper. Similar claims of confidentiality have been made under other states’ Marsy’s Laws to prevent disclosure of names of officers who have carried out shootings. [Scott Shackford, Reason]
More on the problems with victims’ rights laws from Scott Greenfield (“a right has been created for the ‘victim,’ which is curious since there is no victim until there’s a crime, and there is no crime until a jury says there is….many of these ‘rights’ are in direct conflict with some other guy’s rights in the well. Can you guess who that might be?”), Steve Chapman, Jill Lepore, and Sophie Quinton at StateLine, and my opinions against victim impact statements.
While we’re at it: Rules barring the interviewing of police soon after an officer-involved shooting (“cooling-off period”) impair, not advance, accurate investigation [Tom Jackman, Washington Post via Radley Balko] And via Justin Fenton of the Baltimore Sun, although the general rule in Maryland is that police officers on probationary status can be fired without internal due process, that rule applies except in instances of brutality allegations. Thanks a million, Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights (LEOBR)!
- “Law Enforcement Officer Bill of Rights” laws give police officers interrrogated over suspected misconduct a wide range of rights not enjoyed by general citizenry under like circumstances [Alex Tabarrok, earlier] Followup: “A new paper, The Effect of Collective Bargaining Rights on Law Enforcement: Evidence from Florida, suggests that police union privileges significantly increase the rate of officer misconduct” [same]
- Courts should retain power to scrutinize arrests motivated by First Amendment retaliation even when probable cause is also present [Ilya Shapiro and Matthew Larosiere on SCOTUS case of Lozman v. Riviera Beach, Florida]
- “Aurora police union: City should let cop fired over hidden cameras used to spy on ex-wife go back to work” [Hannah Leone, Aurora, Ill., Beacon-News]
- “Even if consent decrees don’t do squat to fix police impropriety,” the appointed monitors make out well [Scott Greenfield]
- “Hancock County, W.V. officer is convicted, sentenced to 18 months in prison for beating up drunk motorist who displayed insufficient respect. Officer: The trial court erred by letting the jury know about those other times I beat up people who failed to respect my authority. Fourth Circuit: We’re OK with it.” [John K. Ross, Short Circuit, on U.S. v. Cowden]
- “Internal NYPD files show that hundreds of officers who committed the most serious offenses — from lying to grand juries to physically attacking innocent people — got to keep their jobs, their pensions, and their tremendous power over New Yorkers’ lives” [Kendall Taggart and Mike Hayes, BuzzFeed]
From Chicago to Baltimore and beyond, don’t assume that consent decrees with higher levels of government (the U.S. Department of Justice included) are the best route to police reform. John McGinnis, Liberty and Law:
Rahm Emanuel, the mayor of Chicago, has welcomed the lawsuit [by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan] and is looking to acquiesce in a consent decree which will create a new set of rules for the police department and a monitor to enforce them.
This collusive suit is a bad idea. To be sure, the Chicago Police Department needs reform, but this method reduces democratic accountability, imposes unnecessary costs, and most of all runs the risk of letting more people die from uncontrolled crime. And it is very unlikely to do what is most needed: eliminating or reducing the protections against discipline that police enjoy in union contracts or under civil service laws.
For an example of the kind of consent decree that is likely to be agreed upon, look at similar litigation in Baltimore….
…the greatest problem for lawful policing is that police departments have difficulty firing the few bad actors disproportionately responsible for civil rights violations because departments face constraints imposed by union contracts and civil service laws. The Baltimore consent decree does not rewrite these contracts or laws nor it is clear that it would have the power to do so. And I expect no different result in Chicago. Thus, the consent decree may retard the most important kind of police reform by giving a false sense of progress.
- Investigation of problems with no-knock “dynamic entry” police raids [Kevin Sack, New York Times; cf. Radley Balko’s work] But her living room furniture was just sitting there! Why shouldn’t we take it? [C.J. Ciaramella on Mississippi case]
- Minnesota judge approves (which doesn’t mean Google will go along with) police demand for all search records on a certain name from any and all users in town of Edina [Mike Mullen, City Pages]
- “The L.A. County sheriff wants to release names of 300 deputies with histories of misconduct. He can’t.” [Jessica Pishko, Slate; Tim Cushing, TechDirt (list is of cops considered highly impeachable in court testimony)]
- Just catching up with this still-relevant Joshua Muravchik critique of Black Lives Matter [Commentary]
- Feds indict seven members of elite Baltimore police gun trace task force on racketeering charges; underlying predicates include robbery, swearing out false search warrants, false overtime claims (“one hour can be eight hours.”) [U.S. Department of Justice, Baltimore Sun, Washington Post]
- “New Orleans Police Chief Says He Needs to Hire and Fire Commanders at Will to Protect Reforms” [Ed Krayewski]
“Over the last 40 years, cities have bargained away the power to discipline police officers, often in closed negotiation meetings with local unions.” Contracts frequently call for discipline records to be erased at short intervals, allow officers accused of misconduct to see the opposing evidence before having to commit to a story, and require dismissal of citizen complaints not filed within a very short window, such as 30 days, or with signed affidavit. Those are among things Reuters found in its investigation, which doesn’t even get into the effect of “police bill of rights laws” enacting some of the same measures legislatively.
- “Eliminating the biases of all police officers would do little to materially reduce the total number of African-American killings”; that goal will require other reforms to police practice [Sendhil Mullainathan, New York Times; Peter Moskos and Nick Selby; Washington Post analysis of 2015 police shooting deaths; Heather Mac Donald, WSJ]
- “End Needless Interactions With Police Officers During Traffic Stops” [Conor Friedersdorf] “Thin Blue Lies: How Pretextual Stops Undermine Police Legitimacy” [Jonathan Blanks, Case Western Reserve Law Review]
- Dallas police department has lately enjoyed some of the best community relations in the country. Will murder of officers change that? [Radley Balko, his previous] Bonus: extraordinary story of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s leadership through personal crisis after the massacre [Austin American-Statesman]
- A failure of body cameras? Matthew Feeney on Baton Rouge shooting of Alton Sterling [Cato Daily Podcast] People who aren’t cops don’t get a day off before a shooting investigation [Jonathan Blanks, PoliceMisconduct.net] LEOBRs aside, “Police union contracts in 72 of 81 cities reviewed make it harder to hold police accountable” [Anthony Fisher, Reason]
- Missouri judge strikes down post-Ferguson state law limiting how much municipalities can keep from fines and fees [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]
- Elected Florida public defender, endorsed by police union, vowed not to oppose cuts to own office funds [Radley Balko]
- “Proposed Minneapolis ballot item would require police to carry insurance” [Minneapolis Star Tribune]
Cato’s Jonathan Blanks in the Philadelphia Inquirer on the problems with a Pennsylvania bill that would shield the identities of police officers who shoot civilians. More, Police Transparency; related Virginia proposal.
Following a series of episodes including the death of Freddie Gray in a Baltimore police van, sentiment seemed to run high for reconsidering at least some of Maryland’s “Law Enforcement Bill of Rights” law, which erects tenure-like obstacles to firing or disciplining police over suspected misconduct. But critics say by the time a commission’s recommendations made it to legislative consideration, they had been watered down to accomplish relatively little and even give the state’s police unions more power than before [WBAL, Jim Giza/Baltimore Sun]
- Case of Lt. Joe Gliniewicz, suspended 5 times before faking his suicide as death in the line of duty, also illustrates how hard it is to fire a public employee [Scott Reeder/Chicago Sun-Times, reprint at Reboot Illinois]
- More on campaign to extend hate crime laws to cover assaults on police [Tim Cushing/TechDirt, earlier here]
- If cops in bad shootings can’t be prosecuted, is it too much to ask at least that they be fired? [Jonathan Blanks, Washington Post] Or at least that we get to find out their names? “Bill shielding identities of police who use force passes Pennsylvania House” [Watchdog]
- Speaking of privacy: “Three Minneapolis officers sue after their names are revealed in prostitution sting” [Star Tribune]
- Also, how Law Enforcement Officer Bill of Rights (LEOBR) laws fit in: “How bloated pensions contribute to police brutality” [Radley Balko]
- “Reducing the Power of Paramilitary Unions is a Civil Rights Issue” [John McGinnis, Law and Liberty; related, Campaign Zero, Coyote, Michael Wear/USA Today]
- Albuquerque cop, fired after having his lapel cam turned off during a shooting, wins reinstatement to force [David Kravets, ArsTechnica via Matthew Feeney, Cato]