Will lethal police robots, such as the mobile bomb used in Dallas, be confined to situations where the lives of police or others are in imminent peril? And how much will wind up depending on the judgment of law enforcement on the scene? [Matthew Feeney, Cato and more, Eugene Volokh]
- “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]
I’ve posted previously this year about the growing trend toward disrupting and shouting down political opponents’ rallies and events. It’s worth mentioning that much of the disruption, notably from activists claiming to speak in the name of the group Black Lives Matter, is actually more against political allies than against opponents. On Sunday BLM’s local chapter disrupted Toronto’s annual gay pride celebration — which trustingly had invited BLM to lead the celebration — with a list of demands including no longer allowing law enforcement to have floats in the parade. I’ve compiled a new Storify telling what happened next. More: Jamie Kirchick, L.A. Times.
“A third grader had made a comment about the brownies being served to the class. After another student exclaimed that the remark was ‘racist,’ the school called the Collingswood Police Department, according to the mother of the boy who made the comment.” Police calls seem to be a frequent occurrence in the local schools: “Superintendent Scott Oswald estimated that on some occasions over the last month, officers may have been called to as many as five incidents per day in the district of 1,875 students.” [Philadelphia Inquirer]
“A man who pleaded guilty to reckless driving in a suburban Chicago accident that injured multiple people last year is now pursuing a lawsuit over the crash.” William Kivit contends in his Cook County lawsuit that the city of Park Ridge “is to blame for the accident, because a city police officer distracted him by activating his siren and lights, causing him to run a red light and strike a car that was legally proceeding through the intersection.” The pursuing officer was himself found to have violated city policy on high speed chases and was terminated; a “police investigation had determined that Kivit was traveling between 79 and 90 mph at the time of the crash.” [ABA Journal]
Under a bill that passed the state legislature with little opposition and now heads to the desk of Gov. John Bel Edwards (D), Louisiana “is poised to become the first [state] in the nation where public-safety personnel will be a protected class under hate-crime law.” That will bring us much closer to the end of all principled conservative opposition to hate-crime laws, so thanks for nothing, Louisiana. [New Orleans Times-Picayune, Washington Post] My case against the idea, which has been pushed by the Fraternal Order of Police union, is here.
NYPD threatens immigrant-owned shops with closure using what are sometimes questionable nuisance abatement claims, then uses its leverage to push for warrantless access to information on customers. “Most cases resulted in settlements, 333 of which allow the NYPD to conduct warrantless searches. In 102 cases, the owner agreed to install cameras that the NYPD can access upon request. Another 127 settlements require storeowners to use electronic card readers that store customers’ ID information, also available to the NYPD upon request.” [ProPublica, Radley Balko, TechDirt]
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.
- Teacher killed in the crosswalk, with the light. NYPD: “The victim behaved recklessly by crossing the street.” [StreetsBlog]
- North Carolina not among the 13 states in which legal standards require prosecutors to turn over evidence of innocence that they learn of after a conviction [Radley Balko, AP]
- Fail to stop daughter’s 20 year old boyfriend from raiding beer in fridge, go to jail [Washington Post on Maryland lawmakers’ enactment of criminal penalties following car-crash injuries for parents who tolerated alcohol consumption]
- “First, only terrorists had to hand over their phones. Now it’s people involved in traffic accidents, too” [@reuvenim on the proposed New York law discussed here] “In a bid to get around the Fourth Amendment right to privacy, the textalyzer allegedly would… ” [ArsTechnica] But see Scott Greenfield (law “not a particularly effective one” in helping to fix blame, but “just not that big a deal.”)
- Inmates’ contact with family is revenue source for prison, sky-high phone rates just the start [Scott Greenfield]
- Federal oversight of local departments enables weak, reform-averse local pols: “Washington Can’t Fix Broken Policing” [Tim Lynch, Cato]
To what extent can insurance companies, which seek to minimize payouts for official misconduct, play a constructive role in police reform? “One of the first things I found was this pamphlet from Travelers Insurance about how to do a strip search, and I just thought people in my world have no idea that this stuff is out there and it’s really fascinating,” says University of Chicago assistant law professor John Rappaport, who “says he spent years studying police reform before it dawned on him to ask” what role insurance companies might play. After-the-fact review of use-of-force incidents and training of officers are among existing roles for some insurers. One factor, according to Joanna Schwartz of UCLA: the private companies are relatively free from “the political counterforces that could prevent the city council or mayor from pushing hard on a law enforcement agency to reform.” [NPR] Much more: Radley Balko.