Tuesday, May 12, 2015

"that time is mostly gone"

Next:  citizen review of law enforcement

The New York Times story titled "Police Struggle With Loss of Privileged Position" (May 5, 2015), written by Noam Scheiber noted:

[excerpt] -- Amid a rash of high-profile encounters involving allegations of police overreach in New York, Baltimore, Cleveland, Ferguson, Mo., and North Charleston, S.C., the political context in which the police unions have enjoyed a privileged position is rapidly changing.  And the unions are struggling to adapt.

"There was a time in this country when elected officials -- legislators, chief executives -- were willing to contextualize what police do," said Eugene O'Donell, a former New York City police officer and prosecutor who now teaches at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.  "And that time is mostly gone."

[excerpt] -- Early this year, Megan E. Green, a St. Louis alderwoman, met with officials of a local police union to discuss a proposal for a civilian oversight board that would look into accusations of police misconduct.  After Ms. Green refused to soften her support for the proposal, the union backed an aggressive mailing campaign against her.

But Ms. Green won her primary with over 70 percent of the vote, and the Board of Aldermen approved the oversight board by a large margin.

[excerpt] -- According to a Quinnipiac University poll in January -- Sixty-nine percent [of New Yorkers] disapproved of police officers turning their backs on Mr. de Blasio at funerals for the two slain officers, a protest seen as orchestrated by the union.

In Baltimore, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3 has responded with open resistance to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's proposals to make it easier to remove misbehaving police officers, and to give the city's police civilian review board a "more impactful" role in disciplining officers.

The union also opposed the decision by Ms. Rawlings-Blake and Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts to invite the Justice Department in to help overhaul the city's Police Department after an investigation by The Baltimore Sun produced numerous allegations of police brutality.

NYT Reader Comment from Julie in Seattle
---------------- Just like how innocent black men should have nothing to fear from a cop (haha), good cops should have nothing to fear from massive amounts of civilian oversight.


If a justice system is manipulated into a position where its function becomes to

cynically and systematically



and squoosh Money out of

the people who work,

then that is a system in need of sweeping reform.


One NYT Reader made this point:

A peace officer works within the community, with calm strength, as a friendly ally to the public.

Persecution and harassment are the tactics of criminals, not peace officers


(The thought crosses my mind -- Those policemen [peace officers, I  mean] in East Coast urban areas should maybe learn from peace officers in smaller towns in the Midwest -- but they probably think those are "just the people they fly over"...)


As a democracy and a civilized society, surely we would strenuously oppose institutionalized abuse of the non-rich (most citizens), right?

This causes a person to reflect on how:

Sometimes, in modern life, you hear conflicting messages and attitudes about "work"

Do we have respect for the working people (i.e., the non-rich)?
Or do we disdain the people who do the work?

How do we as a society truly feel about work?
Do we revere work?
Or do we have contempt for work, and for those who do it?

Reader Comment    Minneapolis
____________________  I think the turning point is more subtle than merely Ferguson, et al.

I think the change in police status requires the majority white population to internalize their sense of police abuse and I don't think that yet another minority shot by the police is what's doing this.

I think the internalization by whites is as much a function of their own sense of persecution even if it pales in comparison to the minority experience. 

More or less since 9/11, America seems to be more and more of a security state -- airports, public buildings, public places have at minimum a paramilitary police presence and many have invasive and impersonal screenings and pat-downs to do ordinary daily behaviors.  In large parts of the Southwest you have to stop at Border Patrol checkpoints when you've not even crossed the border and are miles from it.

Police stops for traffic enforcement turn into enforced detention and drug searches with a heavy punitive focus on marijuana, something many Americans believe shouldn't be illegal.

Yet when your house is broken into or your car stolen, you get a shrug from the police and advice to call your insurance company.

If America has reached a turning point on the police, it's (sadly, perhaps) not a reflection of police brutality towards minorities,

it's a reflection that even white people feel put upon by an intrusive police presence that treats everyone as suspect and doesn't really help anyone when they need it.


-- A NOTE:
some countries where police don't carry firearms --

U.K. (except for Northern Ireland)



New Zealand

With American Exceptionalism, we can do it this way, too.
(Isn't there a song,

"Anything New Zealand can do,
we can do better..."  ?)


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