Posts Tagged ‘police’

Some costs of “red flag” laws

My letter to the editor at the Washington Post last Tuesday on red flag gun laws:

August 13, 2019

Red flag’ laws can have deadly consequences

The Aug. 9 front-page article “Results of ‘red flag’ gun laws uneven across 17 states, D.C.” quoted critics of Maryland’s “red flag” gun-confiscation law who find the law lacking on due process grounds. It might also have mentioned another kind of collateral damage done by the law this past November in its second month of operation, namely the death of 61-year-old Gary J. Willis of Glen Burnie, shot dead by Anne Arundel County police who had come to his door at 5 a.m. to present an order to confiscate his guns. Willis answered the door with a gun in his hand. He set it down but then became angry, picked up the gun, and, in an ensuing scuffle with an officer over the weapon, it went off without striking anyone. A second officer then shot Willis dead.

In the aftermath, because of confidentiality rules, neither press nor public could view the red-flag order that had set police on the fatal encounter. Defending the shooting afterward, the county’s police chief described any possible threat from Willis to others in the vaguest of terms, telling the Capital Gazette, “We don’t know what we prevented or could’ve prevented.” Family member Michele Willis, speaking to the Baltimore Sun, took a different view: “I’m just dumbfounded right now,” she said. “My uncle wouldn’t hurt anybody. … They didn’t need to do what they did.”

Walter Olson, New Market

It is true that in principle “red flag” laws can draw on the same respectable historic taproots of judicial power as, e.g., domestic violence restraining orders. [David French, National Review] One problem with that is that it’s not clear the current use of domestic restraining orders inspires confidence, due-process-wise. In two posts last week (first, second) Jacob Sullum, who also cites the work of Dave Kopel, critically examines the shortcomings of the red flag gun laws enacted so far, while California lawyer Donald Kilmer looks at his state’s existing law.

Police union roundup

  • 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]

Discrimination law roundup

  • Can a law ban calls to police by the public that are based on stereotyping or bias? Grand Rapids may find out [Scott Greenfield]
  • Courts and EEOC have held that the federal ban on pregnancy discrimination encompasses a ban on discrimination related to abortion [Jon Hyman] Legislative proposal in Ohio, fortunately given little chance of passage, would make anti-vaxxers a protected group under state employment discrimination law [same]
  • “Finally Some Robust Research Into Whether ‘Diversity Training’ Actually Works – Unfortunately It’s Not Very Promising” [Jesse Singal, British Psychological Society Research Digest, earlier]
  • New EEOC employer reporting requirements represent “an order of magnitude increase in the amount of information the government wants” for one recreation management business [Coyote] How are federal agencies doing on civil rights issues in this administration? Federalist Society panel with Gail Heriot, Kenneth Marcus, Theodore Shaw, Timothy Taylor, moderated by Erik Jaffe;
  • When an outcry arose over its partnership decisions, “Paul, Weiss did what every other mainstream institution does today when accused of racial bias: it fell on its sword.” [Heather Mac Donald, City Journal via Eugene Volokh]
  • “Targeted Advertising and Age Discrimination: An Explainer” [Joe Ruckert, On Labor]

Gorsuch: “almost anyone can be arrested for something”

Dissenting in the recent case of Nieves v. Bartlett, on the First Amendment handling of arrests motivated in part by retaliation for protected speech, Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote that criminal law in U.S. has expanded to a point where “almost anyone can be arrested for something.” And the implications? [Ilya Somin] Earlier on Nieves and the retaliatory-arrest case that preceded it last year, Lozman v. Riviera Beach, and more on the Nieves outcome from Tim Cushing at TechDirt.

Police roundup

  • Review of 70 studies shows police body cameras to be popular with both officers and public, though tangible benefits fall short of what some proponents had hoped [Ronald Bailey, Reason]
  • If law enforcement is allowed to use facial recognition technologies at all, here are some important safeguards for its use [Matthew Feeney, Cato]
  • Do you think of intensive police stops of minority teens on the street as a way to reduce crime rates? Think again [Jonathan Blanks, Cato]
  • When political influentials are in the vehicle, police collision reports can be works of art [Eric Turkewitz]
  • Why juries acquit cops charged with brutality [Phil Fairbanks, Buffalo News]
  • Investigation finds police officers found to have committed serious misconduct not only remain active as police, usually at different departments, but in 32 instances have become police chiefs or sheriffs [James Pilcher, Aaron Hegarty, Eric Litke and Mark Nichols, USA Today]

March 27 roundup

  • U.S. Department of Justice files brief in Kisor v. Wilkie somewhat critical of Auer deference, i.e. of deference to the federal government’s own positions. That’s pretty special, and commendable [William Yeatman, Cato; Jonathan Adler, earlier here and here]
  • Parsonage exemption (i.e., favored treatment of allowance for religious housing) does not violate Establishment Clause, rules Seventh Circuit panel [Gaylor v. Mnuchin; background, Kelsey Dallas, Deseret News; earlier]
  • Showing middle finger to police officer counts as constitutionally protected speech, and Sixth Circuit says every reasonable officer should know that already [Eugene Volokh]
  • Home-share hospitality is here to stay, unless regulators get it very wrong [Federalist Society video with Gwendolyn Smith, Matthew Feeney, and Pete Clarke]
  • “Tens of thousands of people in Missouri cannot drive as a result of their licenses being suspended over child support they are unable to pay.” A newly filed lawsuit challenges that practice [Hans Bader]
  • Only Congress can make new law, and administration can’t reach desired ban on “bump stock” firearms accessories just by reinterpreting existing federal law [Ilya Shapiro and Matthew Larosiere on Cato amicus brief in D.C. Circuit case of Guedes v. BATFE]

California AG: it’s illegal to possess secret list of convicted cops

By filing routine public records requests, reporters obtained a hitherto unreleased list of thousands of California law enforcement officers convicted of crimes over the past decade. “But when [California Attorney General Xavier] Becerra’s office learned about the disclosure, it threatened the reporters with legal action unless they destroyed the records, insisting they are confidential under state law and were released inadvertently. The two journalism organizations have rejected Becerra’s demands.” The list includes “cops who stole money from their departments and even one who robbed a bank wearing a fake beard. Some sexually assaulted suspects. Others took bribes, filed false reports and committed perjury.” [Robert Lewis and Jason Paladino, East Bay Times]

The NYPD’s DNA dragnet

New York City police have employed the equivalent of DNA dragnets, combining voluntary with covert (e.g., grabbing a discarded cup) collection methods. Thus, before identifying a suspect in the Howard Beach jogger case, “the NYPD collected well over 500 DNA profiles from men in the East New York area….But things get worse from there. For those people excluded from the jogger case, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, the city’s crime lab, permanently keeps those profiles in their databank [with more than 64,000 others] and routinely compares profiles to all city crimes.”

In other words, cooperate with police by giving a DNA sample in order to help solve (or clear yourself in) some dreadful crime, and you’re in the database to nail for anything and everything else in future. “In this respect, [you] will be treated just like someone convicted of a crime.” And did you guess this? “Under their labor contract with the city, rank-and-file officers don’t give the lab their DNA, which means the lab can’t easily rule out possible crime-scene contamination.” [Allison Lewis, New York Daily News]