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It seems like there is a smoking gun in this case (though I didn't review the evidence thoroughly). Widespread availability of video recording and distribution has provided many more smoking guns. Certainly, there are many more incidents where no smoking gun evidence is available.

For a long time, black Americans have been claiming that such things happen and were widely ignored or disbelieved. It was and is a grave error - I can't imagine how many victims there are. This raises critical questions:

1) Why did our society make this error?

2) How do we prevent making the same mistake in the future, regarding other issues?

3) About what issues are we making the same mistake right now?

Also: What do we do about the legions of victims? Ignoring them yet again would be a crime.




Opinion:

1) Police are corrupt. Maybe not all of them, but enough of them that "police are corrupt" is true. This will always be the case.

Police don't fight crime, nor prevent it. They create it. If you think this isn't so you haven't had enough exposure to them.

Maybe my opinion is coloured by my experience: illegal search of person, car, and house. They ransacked my house, stole money and property from me. It took 27 months to have the case dismissed nolle prosequi and my money returned to me.

If you see the police, cross the street.


I'm so sorry that happened to you. I think some police officers don't even realize the extent to which they can totally fuck up your life. Then there are the ones that know it well and enjoy it. Or the ones that think they are planting that evidence in order to get the bad guy and the ends justify the means. Since there's historically been no check and balance behind the Blue Wall absolute power has corrupted absolutely.

Police are like the proverbial bull in a china shop. There may be a need one day to call on that bull, but they'll probably leave one hell of a mess, and hope you don't get trampled in the process.

There was a great post a couple weeks on the front page about a guy traveling through Germany I think it was, for a contracting software gig. He got detained on the bus because a cop "smelled pot" and you can imagine how the story went from there. His biggest personal takeaway was exactly as you say, treating people like this must be creating an awful lot of criminals.

There may be cops out there who still believe they are civil servants, and stewards of our constitutional rights. Who understand the terrible power they wield, and insist on always operating within the law. Who arrest civilians as a last resort. Eh, who am I kidding? 'Protect and Serve' changed to 'Shoot to Kill' a long time ago.

BTW, if that's your #1, I'm almost afraid to read your #2 and #3!


I usually say police have moved from Serve and Protect to Seek and Destroy. But shoot to kill sounds reasonably like police too.


A lot of police are corrupt, and there is an absolute ton of racism in this country so we believe it when the cop tells a lie that implicates a black guy.

Not racist like we're out in klan hoods on the weekend, and it's definitely not like we're consciously choosing to be racist--this is just lifetimes of unexamined biases, media information, etc. We have these little biases that tell us not to trust the black guy's word and that adds up over time.

Overcoming that shit is hard.


Personally, I don't believe a single damn word out of a police officer's mouth. Particularly so if they are under oath. It has nothing to do with race, I don't care who the defendant is.

They say the least reliable form of testimony is eyewitness accounts. Actually, I think the police have the eyewitness beat on this account. Too bad I've never had jury duty, and even if I did I'd probably be dismissed, so unfortunately I'll never get my chance as one of the 12 angry jurists to apply this in practice.

It seems like there are more and more like-minded people who will outright dismiss the grand-standing Detective and insist on just the facts please. Show me actual proof because your word is truly worthless.


Did you read the articles? Police officers were the first ones to report on their fellow officers for their misconduct (i.e. planting evidence) triggering the investigations of Internal Affairs. I suppose the irony here is under your logic you would not believe the whistle blowing officers because they only had eyewitness accounts - and you don't believe a single damn word out of a police officer's mouth - rather you would have sided with the defending officers as you don't care who the defendant is.


I'm sorry, I forgot the most important part, which is why I don't believe a word... it's because it's self-serving. Any time a witness is testifying, the job on cross-examination is to expose the bias or self-serving interest that the witness may have in offering their testimony. When arresting officers testify against a defendant, they are of course just backing up their prior actions. Pretty damn rare is the officer who will admit on the stand that they bungled XYZ component of the arrest, or that they didn't actually have probable cause, etc. Because it's their arrest, it's their own record on the line, they have too great a self-interest in supporting their own arrest, and therefore their testimony should be discounted.

When an IA officer testifies against one of their own fabricating evidence, I can be sure it is testimony that they are thoroughly unhappy about giving and not particularly self-serving. Therefore, more trustworthy. Somehow I doubt, for example, that the IA department operates under quotas and driven by officer-arrest stats.


>Did you read the articles? Police officers were the first ones to report on their fellow officers for their misconduct

In those cases. Not in tons of others, where it took a lawsuit or some investigation started from an independent organization (NGO etc), or even pure chance, to bring misconducts to light. "Internal Affairs" people are notoriously not popular with regular police.


I'm sure that's true, but responding to an article in which honest cops bring to book their dishonest colleagues by saying all cops are bad and can't be trusted is hard to swallow.


Yes, and the honest officers were driven out of the police force while the ones involved in planting evidence got promotions. That seems like a pretty good additional reason not to trust police officers most of the time - anyone who's honest probably isn't police anymore.


>anyone who's honest probably isn't police anymore.

The only reason anyone is aware of this story is because it was officers who took it upon themselves to leak the record and are agreeing to testify.


I guess you are correct that there is a lot of racism here and there. However, there is also a lot of rabid anti-racism. For example, you'll never read an article in the mainstream press about how blacks, on average, have lower IQs than white people, although this clearly is relevant in the whole crime debate. Why are blacks more likely to commit crimes than whites? The IQ explains a lot, but mentioning it is taboo, it seems. What happened here in Alabama is of course horrible, but it seems unlikely that corrupt and racist cops is the whole explanation for the high crime rate among blacks elsewhere in the US.

This shouldn't be necessary, but I probably need to point out that not every single black person has a lower intelligence than every single white person. It's just the average. Some black individuals have higher IQs than some white individuals, of course. Which means that solutions like segregation/apartheid are ham-fisted and totally unfair to these high IQ blacks.

For more info on the IQ and race thing, I recommend the book IQ and the Wealth of Nations by Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen.


I have noticed a lot of this "scientific racism" junk creeping into HN lately. It's a little worrying to see it on a tech forum like this.


It used to be that extreme groups kept to themselves and were pretty quickly ostracized because of their extremism. Most people in San Diego wouldn't join Heaven's Gate, and the group wouldn't be able to spread very far because the further it reached, the more pushback it would see.

On the Internet, that isn't really true. There are always enough people who can be convinced of the merit of an idea, and so extreme groups continue to grow in size. As they do this, the overlap between any given extreme group and other groups grows, because the extreme group is growing. This means that their ideas metastasize out into the population as a whole.

Scientific racism, neo-reactionaryism, monarchism, even just defiant "political incorrectness" and "I'm no SWJ"-ness. The heightened availability of all of these ideas produces the same, as group polarization (a technical term in social psychology) happens on a scale never before seen. This is hardly limited to the right wing; liberal-identified Tumblr users are more behaviourally restrictive than most of the anarchist-communists I knew in college, even though the "safe-space" rhetoric of the current liberal milieu originates from more radical activist circles.

Expect to see more scientific racism on hacker news; hacker news is a fundamentally more friendly platform for racist and misogynistic viewpoints because women and people of color are so underrepresented and the focus on "objectivity" and "data" mean that a shoddy study that is the very essence of scientific racism can beat out the stories of however many women or PoC dare to speak out, only to be shouted down.

Most of the people making these comments would probably be fairly reasonable had you both been born 20 years earlier (or possibly later, if the world grows more sane) and met at a party. Few people set out to become a scientific racist, they just see an article linked (possibly by a Stormfront member, who knows) that "just makes sense to them"; they believe it and internalize it; when they see future statements they are more likely to remember those they agree with and forget those that disagree with their existing outlook; gradually, they become more and more "awakened" to the "racial reality" of the world until finally they're posting on Neoreactionary News about how they've finally realized democracy is degenerate and women should never have been allowed to vote.

And those people write your software.

Worried is the least you should be.


Wow. Well said.


I think there is another good book like that. It's called Mein Kampf or something. Can't remember who wrote it.

Another fun factoid. IQ isn't static and is a fairly useless measure of intelligence.


The lack of any conceivable confounding factors is what really makes this explanation so intuitively compelling.


  > Not racist like we're out in klan hoods on the weekend,
Don't worry, police have that covered too https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2015/09/01/police-chief-...


> Maybe not all of them, but enough of them that "police are corrupt" is true.

Usually I would never generalize the actions of a subset to the entire group, but in this case there is a key difference that justifies "(all/most) police are corrupt": the failure to clean their own house of the "bad apples". When a supposedly "good" policeman gives cover and protection to a criminal in their department instead of reporting the crime, they become an accomplice. in many cases, protecting the guilty may even be a crime in itself (misprision of felony[1]).

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misprision_of_felony#United_St...


It's worth noting that it's not enough for police to passively not cover for each other's crimes. It's the job of police to actively investigate crimes. When corruption is so rampant, any police department which doesn't have a well-funded internal affairs bureau with extensive prosecutorial support is not doing its job.


> It's the job of police to actively investigate crimes.

In the US, this is not true. The police, at large, are there to control a situation and assign blame. Investigation is to those ends.


I've experienced this before at the federal level. They're corrupt. All of them either are themselves corrupt, or complicit in the knowledge of it.


The police also stole more from people via asset forfeiture than actual burglars did last year. They are criminals.


While I agree that the police have a history of horrific abuse of asset forfeiture laws, this oft-quoted event doesn't tell the whole story. The 2104 numbers were skewed greatly based on a proper $1.7 Billion forfeiture from Bernie Madoff. Most of this money went back to his victims:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/11/23/cops-...


So the numbers for police and burglars are "really" about the same, rather than the police exceeding the burglars by over a billion? Whew! What a weight off the mind! TIL there's nothing to worry about with forfeiture...


The $1.7 billion was a settlement between the government and JP Morgan Chase, in relation to the Madoff scheme (apparently they ignored things that they should not have).


just curious, what race are you and what country do you live in?


That's one of the beautiful things about the Internet. You don't need to know (or even think about) the answer to those questions in order to have a civil discussion.


Country is pretty relevant. Experiences with French police mean little with regard to US police.


Maybe, but when we're discussing the real world and especially lived experiences, these details can help to provide context.


"Opinion: Blacks are corrupt. Maybe not all of them, but enough of them that "blacks are corrupt" is true. This will always be the case. Blacks don't fight crime, nor prevent it. They create it. If you think this isn't so you haven't had enough exposure to them. Maybe my opinion is coloured by my experience: they {put bad thing here}. If you see a black, cross the street."

Do you honestly think that this is a fair statement?


Being a cop is an optional choice people undertake as an adult.

Your analogy falls down when you apply that to race.


yes, downvote instead of answering the question.


While there are dozens of answers to your strawman, here is a simple one:

Black people are not responsible for the safety of the citizenry, black people are not defined by the need to protect and serve us, black people are in fact, just people.

Cops on the other hand are responsible for the safety of the citizenry, are given special powers due to the additional trust and responsibility we (all the other people) grant them.

The comparison is ridiculous.


>The comparison is ridiculous.

Indeed. It's very rare for people to call local gang/NCAAP/#BLM/ACORN/other black orgs when police breaks into their house. The opposite, though, happens all the time.


The NCAAP, BLM, ACORN, and "other black orgs" break into houses "all the time"? WTF.


BLM certainly does so do gangs. The point is though that police provides services that Blacks don't. Nobody has been comparing them and the GGP pointed out the bigotry of the statement "the police perpetuates crime".


Do you have evidence or are you just smearing people and groups for the sake of your argument?

"Gangs commit crime" is sort of a truism, but for the others... that's going to take some evidence.


Others represent Blacks in general or black criminals in case of #BLM. Do you require evidence to find that black criminals commit home invasions or you are just trolling?


I am asking you to provide evidence that "#BLM", if it can even really be considered a cohesive movement with a defined purpose, supports or performs home invasions. And, evidence that the NAACP openly supports or harbors criminals would be welcome, too.

I'll be waiting, but not holding my breath. At a minimum, your statement lacks nuance. At worst, and more likely, it is factually incorrect and smears groups with legitimate goals.


I don't think you are arguing in good faith judging by the size of strawman you have to build.


There is no strawman. This is the claim that you've made:

"The opposite, though, happens all the time."

The original claim is 'police break into houses and no one calls local gang/NCAAP/#BLM/ACORN/other black orgs.' The opposite claim is therefore that '"local gang/NCAAP/#BLM/ACORN/other black orgs" break into houses and people call the police'. I've conceded that local gangs may break into houses, and now I'm asking you to justify the assertion that "NCAAP/#BLM/ACORN/other black orgs" (it's NAACP, BTW) break into houses. Do you have sources that show that people operating under the NCAAP/#BLM banner actually break into houses? If you don't have information that suggests that, why do you make such an offhanded claim?

How is this trolling? How is this not a good faith argument? My distillation of your claims is that "blacks commit crimes, so black special interest groups must also be bastions of criminality." If that's not your point, then what is?


No, the opposite claim is "Blacks are breaking into houses and people are calling police". The organizations listed are ones that represent Blacks and since there is no number similar to 911 to call generic Blacks you'd need to call one of those to have an experience similar to calling police if we want to compare Blacks and police like the message I replied did.


I propose that if an officer is caught planting evidence or government official is caught covering up such acts and found guilty that the officer or official will serve twice and amount of time and twice any monetary amount the wronged served. And follow the drug war policy of mandatory sentences so no judge can reduce the sentence. For examole if these guys planted evidence that resulted in 10 guys behind bars, each for 5 years try then these offices and officials should be mandatorilly sentenced to 100 years behind bars (10 victims * 5 years * 2). These scumbags were not scared of the consequences of what they were doing.


> I propose that...

We're not in short supply of proposals, so what's the point? Everyone has ideas like this, they're meaningless because they don't address the problem, cops don't police themselves and never will.


Really? I thought the leaked documents revealed:

>As early as 1998, other police officers lodged complaints regarding their beliefs that police officers were planting evidence.

In other words officers were policing themselves to the point of triggering Internal Investigations. Nevertheless, if the parents proposal has no point, and you have identified the problem, what is your proposed solution?


> As early as 1998

It's 2015, lodging complaint's that go nowhere for nearly two decades isn't "policing" themselves; arresting their fellow police officers for breaking the law is policing themselves and that's extremely rare. The thin blue line is a real thing, cops shun cops who rat on cops and since cops tend to only hang out with other cops, or fireman, being shunned matters. Civilians in general don't like hanging around with cops so it's a very segregated little culture.

> In other words officers were policing themselves to the point of triggering Internal Investigations.

Meaningless ploys to cover their asses that nearly always end in nothing being found.

I used to be a cop, I've known hundreds of cops because of this, in general (meaning yes there are exceptions) they're idiots and jocks who take the job because they get paid to be bullies and they like the power. They don't give a shit about your rights or you at all, they care about their stats and how they rank in comparison with each other.. who got more busts, it's like a sport to them. They compete. It wasn't for me, I switched to IT.

> if the parents proposal has no point, and you have identified the problem, what is your proposed solution?

As I said, identifying the problem isn't the issue, never has been. There is no solution to police corruption other than the public getting fed up with them and firing them all; they will not police themselves, internal affairs is a joke, and even the good cops generally keep quite in order to not be ostracized. Time and again cops are caught doing bad things, suspended for "investigation", and the investigation finds no wrongdoing after the media storm has died down and the cop is put back on the streets.

Police are corrupt; that's simply life.


It's 2015. If they've been doing it since 1998 those complaints really weren't that many or that effective, were they?

One could serve 17 years in jail in that time.


Obviously the complaints were not effective - there were at least 3 officers who independently reported the concern of possible evidence planting - except the part about IA recommending immediate termination and prosecution of the officer, and the reopening/investigation into his cases.

My point is parent stated that officers are the problem because they won't police one another, not that officer complaints are ineffective (seemly a fair distinction). So I asked parent what his proposed solution was, and he explained the solution is to fire all police because they are inherently corrupt. I'm not taking a position, I am curious about the thought process. Do you believe as a society we are better off without police too?



> These scumbags were not scared of the consequences of what they were doing.

That's because they knew there would be no consequences to be scared of.


Any policy changes will be opposed by an army of well-paid lobbyists and advocacy groups that are incredibly good at spreading fear uncertainty and doubt, and in the end justice will not likely come for those already effected or in jail, unless there is hard smoking gun evidence. Its not in any cops's interest to have all their actions even in the heat of the moment put under a microscope. The good is that this could precipitate more body-cams and have it eventually have it put reasonable doubt back in the hands of the defendant rather than the officer - if you have a body-cam, why was it off during this altercation where questionable things occurred?


> Its not in any cops's interest to have all their actions even in the heat of the moment put under a microscope.

Honest police may feel it's in their interest. It protects them from false accusations, and from leal and reputational consequences of being associated with dishonest associates. Being honest, they might also want to see dishonest, criminal actions stopped and punished.


To play devil's advocate: if I were the most decent nicest cop in the world I could see why I wouldn't want my every word and action on camera. It'd severely limit things I could say in confidence to anyone, and if I were say speaking to a victim of a crime its difficult to comfort people with a camera in their face. I'd be worried to being reduced to essentially the role of a call-center employee with every interaction graded not only for not screwing up, but also adherence to rigid policy.

Its dehumanizing and eats away at the core of any intelligent person wanting to ever be a cop.


These concerns are spurious. You describe situations in which most cops, "nice" or not, would simply turn the camera off. Other situations include using the restroom or making personal phone calls. No one ever said the camera had to be on all the time; how would that even be enforced?

The camera should be on in any situation that might later be a subject of dispute. If it's off in such a situation, the courts should consider that a reason to disbelieve the cop who turned it off. A cop who doesn't possess the judgement to operate a camera, probably doesn't possess the judgement to carry a firearm either.


Well, given the mandate by some police departments to only hire the less intelligent...

I subscribe to the notion that cops absolutely need to be held to a higher standard, esp. given their potential for exponentially causing harm (because guns and LE powers).


Not clear why I'm getting the downvote here. Is it because I didn't cite a source for the line around hiring practices?

[1] http://thefreethoughtproject.com/court-police-departments-re...


  > Honest police may feel it's in their interest.
Yes. I choose to have a dashcam in my car; it has once proved me not at fault, but if I screw up, it could equally prove me at fault. I think it is in my interest because I think it is overwhelmingly likely that the truth will be in my favour.


As a private citizen there is no expectation that one will have a dashcam, so with discretion it would be possible to benefit from good driving without being penalized for bad driving.


> Why did our society make this error?

> How do we prevent making the same mistake in the future, regarding other issues?

> About what issues are we making the same mistake right now?

- Drugs are a classic victimless crime; prosecutions tend not to be motivated by someone filing a complaint. Rather, it is the responsibility of the police to detect the crime and mete out punishment as they see fit.

- Society has reward processes in place for police who identify and punish drug offenders.

Those two are sufficient for a lot of abuse. There are some aggravating circumstances:

- It's easy for the cops to prey on low social classes, because they don't report to them. The higher social classes aren't really interested in what's going on elsewhere. A doctor's kid is unlikely to be the victim of planted drugs, and so is the doctor. That's not because doctors' kids aren't using so many drugs, it's because the police aren't really supposed to deal with the higher classes at all.

I see some other commenters saying that, e.g., society is always driven (at least in significant part) by racial tensions. While I don't actually disagree, I think this is at root an issue of social class rather than race directly. Police preying on a community of white-collar professionals will be reformed.

Since these communities don't have the political power to get rid of predatory police, the police are acting without supervision. It shouldn't be surprising that they do what they feel like.


...at root an issue of social class rather than race directly.

I agree with much of the rest of your comment, and in the past I would have agreed with this as well. However, police are not inherent to the human condition. (We haven't always had police, and with luck we'll be rid of them soonish.) When police were created, it was largely for basically racist purposes, even if the "races" under consideration in many locales were "Irish" and "Italian". (Further south, however...) People would have objected to a police force imposed on everyone, so the trick was to impose it mostly on those who didn't control the public purse or the courts.

A society that relies on relentless, capricious violence to compel large swathes of the population to accept their assigned roles is not pareto-optimal. We will improve when we change our laws with the goal of reducing the necessity of policing.


> When police were created, it was largely for basically racist purposes, even if the "races" under consideration in many locales were "Irish" and "Italian".

Ok, but I think this is a reflection of different races falling en masse into different social classes. If you're in Italy and your city has natives, gypsies, african laborers, jews, and persian merchants (note: stylized example, not necessarily reflective of any historical events), I'd expect the police might be called into being as a defense (or, depending on your perspective, offense) against the gypsies and africans, while at the same time people largely didn't care about the jews and persians (from a policing perspective). They'd be dealt with more by the taxing authorities.

If the police were an expression of racism, I'd expect something different.


Umm, "treating different races differently" is kind of the definition of racism.

But think it through further, please. Why do different races fall into different classes? There is more than one reason! For your average racist fuck, the answer is "because race". But TPTB are not all, nor even primarily, average racist fucks. Like "race", "class" is an invention that allows elites to control and extract rent from the rest of us. Classes seem to the average person to be more contingent categories than races, so the concept of race is used to bolster that of class. It's easier to convince a poor white dude to oppress poor black dudes than it would be to convince him to oppress poor dudes in general.

Also, don't expect policing to conform to reasoned expectations. It is more effective for its real purpose of controlling and extracting rent from the rest of society, because it is capricious and unpredictable.


At this point, you've defended the existence of racism, but you've abandoned the idea that there's something wrong with it.


I'm probably missing something essential about your argument, but does this thread require a proof that racism is bad? Observing that various parties benefit from it is not an admission that it is of general benefit.


Let's go back to the beginning. I argued that what's going on with the police is that they're used by the higher classes as a tool of defense/oppression against the lower ones. I don't think race is of any direct relevance to this phenomenon.

You argued (as I understand things) that the motivation for forming the police was usually "racist", and that it made more sense to view the depredations of police as race issue than a class issue.

I counter that in a society of several racial groups, some poor and some wealthy, I think the police would be expected to spend their energies on the poor groups while leaving the wealthy ones alone. To me, this is evidence that the police are a social-class based instrument rather than a race-based instrument, because if they were an expression of racism they'd be expected to spend their energies on aliens while leaving natives alone (in this analysis, Jews who have been resident for centuries but maintain their own separate culture are "aliens", not "natives").

You say that the different treatment of racial groups according to what social class they belong to is just more racism. You can call it that, but the label stops being useful -- if the police are a "racist" institution, by this definition, you can't predict anything about how they'll treat someone even knowing the race of that person, or knowing whether their race differs from the race of the police they're interacting with, or whether it differs from the race of the group running the police, or any such thing. You have to know their race and the position their race occupies in society. But the social position is doing all the work -- your predictions will be nearly as good if all you know is the personal social standing of the person interacting with the police. Race is a sideshow.

Why is treating different races differently because they have very different social standing primarily an issue of race rather than social standing?


Sorry for the hiatus in discussion; I have broken two fingers. I don't think I have the typing stamina to get to all of that, but to react to your last question: when a social arrangement has racist effects, that social arrangement is racist, and will improve by becoming less so. Although you haven't really defined "class" here, one couldn't make the same statement about any sense of "class" without some caveats.

Your example seems to be a largely static one, which is neither realistic nor particularly illuminating. Policing like any "modern" phenomenon is relatively recent, so we should examine the entire narrative of effects rather than taking a snapshot and presuming it to encompass the whole range of possible experience.

Race admits to much less mobility than most other pretexts for oppression. That is bad because it makes society less agile, and because it kills hope and confidence. Both of those emotions are entirely beneficial, so their loss in any subgroup is harmful.


1) Societies (all around the world) tend to be more racially driven than we like to admit. It's really easy to ignore the suffering of a group of people if you are readily able to distance yourself from them. Race plays a significant role in this in many places.

2) Develop systems that are structurally uncorruptable and uninfluencable as best as they can be, by having significant separations of power by design. There must be no incentive for those with the power to audit to be influenced by those they're auditing.

3) Probably many, scarily enough. Corruption runs deep in many societies that tend not to be considered corrupt.

In this case, I like the idea that the officers should be sentenced to prison at some level proportionate to the amount of corruption they were responsible for. The wrongly imprisoned should be released, and the State responsible for implementing the auditing controls against these officers should be forced to provide the wrongly imprisoned the average (for a given value of average) wage, or a multiple thereof to account for additional damages, for the entirety of the time they were wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for. That way, there's a personal incentive not to be corrupt in that if you get caught you are heavily personally punished for said corruption, and there's a strucutral incentive to implement effective anti-corruption controls as the state is then responsible for those that represent it.


> Develop systems that are structurally uncorruptable and uninfluencable as best as they can be, by having significant separations of power by design

Oh kind of like The Constitution, for example? Obviously that hasn't worked out too well in the long term, what with the US being a burgeoning police state and all.

But if "we" write a new and more sternly worded piece of paper that says "rulers can't mistreat their subjects", that should work, right?


Try again without the facetiousness. I don't mean like a piece of paper saying 'thou shalt'. I mean by implementing systems where, by design, the decisionmakers over roles that police each other have no way to influence one another. For example, those who are in charge of policing the police shouldn't also be in charge of working with the police on policing other people. I don't mean auditors, I mean those who then receive the information from internal audits and are responsible for making judgements based on it.


Sorry but what you're suggesting basically just amounts to rearranging the chairs on the Titanic's deck.

Besides, it's been "tried" already, in this form: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Separation_of_powers - and by now it's clear how much that helped, right?

In reality, "the separation of powers" was just a bullshit PR-distraction, meant to give us a false sense of security, to alleviate the nagging subconscious awareness that the idea that we live in a system that benefits us just makes no sense whatsoever.

Regardless of how parts of the government are ostensibly "separated" or "firewalled", they're still all part of the same overall organization: the government.

There's no way to arrange an all-encompassing "authority of coercion" in a way that benefits the people being coerced. Another way to look at it is that forcefully taking people's money does not benefit whoever's money is taken. It benefits the takers.

The exploiters need the masses of the exploited to be blind to the exploitation, because otherwise it would come to an end, and that's why we find the idea of "the separation of powers" floating around, along with "the social contract" and "consent of the governed" and so on.


So, you are proposing ancap? Or, just the an part I guess.


I'd like to suggest voluntary co-operation instead of exploitation by rulers. It's really not that complicated.


For 1), even modern liberal people still have racist-like prejudices which are not intrinsically different. We're led to believe it's wrong to discriminate based on race so we just transfer our discrimination to some other classification. Blacks are OK, but not if they're from Africa. Indians are OK but not if they're from India. Whites are OK but not if they're from Syria, Irish are OK but not if they're from Ireland. That is, racism has morphed into nationalism, which is widely acceptable so we feel it's OK.

Similarly, homophobia has morphed into "pedophobia". We can't hate gays anymore but we're plenty virulent at hating pedophiles. Just the same emotions transferred to another group.

Inside, most of us are still basically the same bigoted people, but we've restructured our bigotry to fit the popular modern values.


None of that is ok, and I don't know anybody who feels any of that is (openly enough for me to know about it) ok.


1) People don't value critical thinking and instead value things like political careers and crafting narratives.

2) Throw out corrupt leadership and anyone who evades auditing.


When we try things like #2, we run into politics. There's no shortage of such scandals from any sufficiently large political party.


I'm Anglo-Saxon, and about as WASPy as it gets. When I was a teenager and got my driver's license, my Dad warned me that there were "bad cops" and that I should be careful to avoid getting stopped by police. If I did get stopped, he warned me to be on my guard and gave me tips on how to handle the situation (most of it was about saying as little as possible and not talking to police).

But the main thing I wanted to share was that he told me that bad cops sometimes plant evidence (usually drugs) in order to incriminate innocent people, and that I should be on my guard during these encounters and aware of everything that happens. And guess what? I didn't believe him! I honestly and naively could not believe that an officer of the law would do something like that. I had bought into the "protect and serve" nonsense.

Later, when I got a little older and more experienced, I figured out on my own that he was right and I told him that I had been wrong all along. Not because I got drugs planted in my car during a stop, but because I had seen it happen over and over again to other people, usually black or hispanic men.

When cops are found to be engaging in criminal activity and racism like this, they ought to be run out of law enforcement and never allowed to get another cop or security job. They should also be punished to the fullest extent of the law.


>For a long time, black Americans have been claiming that such things happen and were widely ignored or disbelieved.

I can't understand this "surely this doesn't happen" mentality of a lot of Americans in general in such cases. I mean, I can understand wanting to see hard proof for a particular case (and to name names), but to think that these things do not happen or are not widespread seems delusional to me, like believing we live in Sesame Street kind of society.

Maybe because in other parts of the world the general culture doesn't include "trusting authority" as some default -- which used to be the case in the US too, for blacks, 60s students etc, but somehow got lost for the middle class. For a place with the biggest incarceration rate in the world, that seems bizarre.

This goes beyond police abuse too. While they would still condemn it, nobody would bat an eye in disbelief for something like "watergate" for example in other parts of the world. Of course those things happen -- in a place like Italy or France for example, they've seen the same things going on tons of times. But even when remember people like Hoover, they tend to think it was some isolated incident, due to a bad person, etc (the "few bad apples" theory as opposed to systemic issues).


>I can't understand this "surely this doesn't happen" mentality of a lot of Americans in general in such cases.

"It can't happen here." It's very disruptive to some people's worldview to suggest that there's still any sort of racial inequality problem.


If there isn't enough evidence to prove someone is guilty, they go scot-free. This is true to protect people who are innocent.

But these people were not innocent. This is the evidence. And justice will be served.

As long as discoveries like this are made and we have freedom of the press, justice will continue to be served.

edit: I do not make a claim to the sufficiency of the system, but am happy to see democratic ideals in action; there appears to have been a misunderstanding


It's not nearly sufficient. People in this one town have been suffering for decades. It's probably happening in many more towns where nobody leaked the Internal Affairs investigation. We are failing as a society if we don't see our obvious, critical error and do better.


I never said it was sufficient. (If this is what you understood, I'd like to better understand how I could better write my statement so as not to be misunderstood in the future.) I am only remarking that people in power are not safe from the press or from guilt.

Besides, what would you have them do? You speak of the failures we encounter in society, but not a way to solve them.

I am just happy to see democratic ideals in action. I do not make a claim to the sufficiency of the system in place, but to the ideals that the system stands for. I advocate for replacing the system. (and not the ideals.)


People in power are very safe, people in power torture and commit war crimes, how foolish to say otherwise.


Regarding #2, "trust, but verify".

I think we need a (i) strong and (ii) independent audit system. We have the technology to make it strong, just borrow it from other federal agencies who specialize in intelligence. And with enforcement relying more and more on data gathering and extraction, audits would help ensure these are not misused, and help validate how well due process is followed.

The independent part would have to mean it is run by an agency that it not part of enforcement and in a way that is hard to influence. Who exactly it would report to, I'm not sure. Maybe a peer agency of the FBI & CIA?

That audit system would data-mine all enforcement activities and keep the data locked up in a vault. That data could then be requested via subpoena (for investigations like these) or FOIA requests (after a "reasonable" time to prevent interference with actual investigations).


>1) Why did our society make this error?

Because America was, and is, racist.


I wish it wasn't necessary to need to point out the simplest explanation to a crowd as smart and analytical as HN.

And even as it is necessary, I wish HN didn't downvote you for it.

But reality.


> About what issues are we making the same mistake right now?

Military and Intelligence affairs.


1) Why did our society make this error?

Racism. Victims are most available in the disenfranchised of our society and black people have always been disenfranchised in our society.

2) How do we prevent making the same mistake in the future, regarding other issues?

Stop being racist. Stop disenfranchising entire segments of the population. Start investigating those in positions of power and stop the cover-ups.


The solution is dead simple. Put cameras and mics on every cop in the country. Release the recordings to the public after a certain amount of time (leave this up to the states and local govt). Put a cap on how long these recordings can be withheld from the public regardless of special circumstances (maybe 10 years?). Problem solved.


There's another question that should be asked: How do we find and punish those that were complicit?


The theory that African Americans are being shot by police because they are black is not supported by data. About 50% of deaths at the hand of police are white and 30% black. Of course that means blacks are overrepresented compared to their percentage in the population. However, adjusting to blacks' higher crime rate shows that in fact whites are 1.7 times more likely to be shot by police. Policemen are well aware of potential political fallout when dealing with potentially dangerous African American subjects and think twice before shooting.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/apr/21/police-kill-...


1) The analysis here is conducted by a pretty biased source: a former cop 2) his data is fed by news reports which may not evenly cover actual incidents 3) 25% of the data lacks racial info at all 4) The likelihood of biased policing being a factor in higher reported African American crime rates completely undercuts the conclusion he reaches

Put another way: there are at least 2 layers of biases that occured before Mr. Moskos even touched the data.


> 1) The analysis here is conducted by a pretty biased source: a former cop

OK

> 2) his data is fed by news reports which may not evenly cover actual incidents

OK, although I doubt white deaths are reported LESS than black deaths (nothing to support it)

> 3) 25% of the data lacks racial info at all

OK, but this won't affect conclusion that much. Even if all those incidents involve black subject, it won't affect the conclusion.

> 4) the likelihood of biased policing being a factor in higher reported African American crime rates completely undercuts the conclusion he reaches

https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/...

Of the 12,664 murders 4,077 were cases where offender's race was unknown leaving 8,587. Males were responsible for about 90%. 90% of 8,587= 7,728 US murders we know to be committed by males. White males committed 45.2% of 7,728 murders which = 3,143 murders. Black males committed 52.4% of 7,728 murders which = 4,049 murders. Black males make up 7% of this nation's population with about 19m individuals. White males make up about 28% of this nation's population with about 112m individuals.

Odds of a white man being a murderer: 1 in 35,634. Odds of a black man being a murderer: 1 in 4,693.

African American male is 9 times more likely to commit homicide. It's very unlikely that biased policing is the cause of 9x homicide conviction rate.


This Times article makes a mistake by acknowledging that the data are not trustworthy, but then relying on the data to make its point.

For example it concludes:

> “Yes, more whites than blacks die as a result of an encounter with police, but whites also represent a much bigger chunk of the total population,” PolitiFact said in its Aug. 21 post.

> But PolitiFact did not take into account the percentage of those by race involved in violent crime or shootings of police, as Mr. Moskos did.

The data of who is involved in violent crime or shootings of police are themselves in question, because they are self-reported by the very officers and departments who are under consideration. Saying that police can't be biased, because their self-reported data does not show bias, is begging the question.

Until very recently, with only a few exceptions, the only data on police activity was provided by police themselves. The ubiquity of camera phones is now providing a growing body of independently gathered--and contradictory--evidence. I think this represents a fundamental shift that is taking place in policing today.


> About what issues are we making the same mistake right now?

Wasn't there an article on HN about the government trying to rebrand Islamic State as Da'esh just a couple weeks ago?


> 1) Why did our society make this error?

Society doesn't act, individuals act. The error lies entirely with the corrupt police who did this.


1) Most of society doesn't care, isn't aware, or approves of what the police are doing (similar story to mass surveillance)

2) Nothing since no one cares etc. You can vote to express your opinion but have fun losing every time to the majority who make their voting decisions based mostly on TV ads.

3) A lot of things, but again nothing can really be done since most people don't hold those in power accountable

I don't think stuff like this is going to change any time soon. Society is too busy looking at their phone.


Well put, but I suspect large swaths of people will still be in denial since any criticism about the police (or military) is off limits. In any case, if this keeps on going the police force would be the first to be "roboticized". I even have a simple algorithm:

1. Investigate reported crime (race/gender/economic parameters are ignored) OR catch criminal red handed.

2. Create a police report and submit evidence.

3. Testify if required, go to step 1.


I suspect physical security will be robotized before policing is. Robots could get very good at recognizing firearms held in human hands (i.e. rather than stored in a holster) and then incapacitating the owner of those hands. Once enough such robots are installed in crowded public areas, the current mass-murder-mania (and one hopes, the hysteria that has arisen in reaction) would be eliminated.


False positives would be scandalous. We would also need an unspoofable way for the AI to distinguish intent of the weapon drawing, because law-enforcement et cetera. The bot can't always already be at the scene when something happens.

Anyway I know at least one company working towards this goal as we speak, but I bet they aren't anywhere near that yet: http://gimltd.fi/ (Generic Intelligent Machines)


False positives...

The only valid reason to draw a firearm is defense of life. If there are security robots around, one doesn't need to defend oneself or one's companions. (It's true that life may be threatened by tools of violence other than firearms, but robots might be trained to look for those as well.) Besides, by "incapacitate" I don't mean double-tap, rather something reversible like an enveloping foam etc.

...intent...

This is unnecessary scope creep. Firearms have one legitimate use, killing. They are not props to use to bolster one's argument, even though the current state of jurisprudence allows police to use them as such. Keep it in your pants until it's time. Cops brandishing firearms are barely less of a danger to the public than anyone else doing so.

The bot can't always already be at the scene...

It's true that many locations, at least at first, will not have these robots installed. However, those places that have them, will have enough of them to control extreme numbers of armed humans. Capital costs might be higher than human security, but robots don't need doughnut breaks. So "arriving at the scene and figuring it out" is also scope creep, and incidentally not something humans are good at either. The robots will always be on the scene already, so they'll always be ready to take action.


By false positives I meant non-firearm objects which the robot recognises to be firearms, and incapaciting brought tasers to mind.

I am probably looking at this problem through smaller-and-safer-country specs, Here police shootings are really rare, but so are other kinds of shootings. I thought of bots with high mobility due to the recent advancements in that sector, which would in my opinion make much more sense here than installing dozens or hundreds of stationary devices in every public space.


Congratulations on not living in a nation that has caught the mass-murder-mania. b^)

It might not make economic sense yet, but the trend only goes one direction. Electronic devices get cheaper and more capable over time. Robocop might not ever make sense, because that is a very complicated use case. However, a constellation of devices charged with enforcing a single rule, "no human hands may hold a firearm in this set of rooms", is already nearly within reach of current technology.


Woah, comments like these are why I read hackernews. Sounds potentially dangerous from a hacking perspective but almost certainly this will be the future.


Step 1 there probably breaks down to several billion subtasks.


A lot of which we can automate.

These are the hard problems we should be solving, not $social_network_flavor_of_the_week.


I don't disagree in the slightest, but phrasing it as a three-step problem is a bit disingenuous.


> What do we do about the legions of victims?

Financial compensation and putting those that caused the injustice in prison equaling the total of all of the terms served by all of those affected. That is as close to justice as could be had.

As for preventing corruption- there's no way to do this as long as there are people that can be corrupted. You can add oversight. You could replace the entire force with minorities. But if there are people that are corruptible, these efforts will fail. The best that you can do is to (1) promote ethics education in schools and flag students that reject it/scoff at it as they may need much more help and (2) don't divorce government and schools from religion which is an additional force for peer-pressure and community support against corruption.


Which religion? Which denomination of that religion? What if that religion has reprehensible beliefs?


Do you disagree that religion in any form can be used as a force against corruption?

If you work to exclude religion as a whole because some religions or those practicing them have certain beliefs you may find reprehensible, you also exclude other moral and ethical beliefs, peer pressure, and community support that would combat corruption.


I have to invert your first statement to make sense: do you (I) agree that religion in any form can be used as a force to encourage corruption?

To which I would reply yes, religion in any form can be (and is) used to support and encourage corruption.

All (communal, as opposed to internal) religions look good on the surface, promising wealth (prosperity gospel Christianity), eternal life (various abrahamic religions), removal of body thetans (scientology), etc.

They all share the attribute of not being provable, and all will fight (often quite literally) for their own survival based on no evidence at all.

And they all require the existence of THE OTHER, a threat, sometimes existential, sometimes racial but in some way unacceptably different.

Actions against THE OTHER are seen as noble, even when they otherwise seem to go against the letter and spirit of the communal creed.

Religion cannot be used as a tool of inclusion because for someone to be considered "good", there has to also be an identifiable "evil". Strangely, nobody ever claims this latter title for themselves.

Finally, I'm sure we (you and I) will never know for sure, but I'm willing to bet the majority of the authorities involved here were all part of their community churches.


Which religion is devoid of reprehensible beliefs?


Agree with the idea of ethics education in school but strongly disagree with it having anything to do with religion!


Do you dismiss that much of the moral and ethics we have today in our society evolved in parallel with religious teachings?

I feel strongly that it is foolish to remove the freedom to practice religion if it promotes moral and ethical behavior. Freedom to believe and have faith in something that helps society shouldn't be dissolved.

That said, I'm all for having additional secular classes in ethics and morality for those that don't want to practice a religion. Freedom goes both ways as long as it doesn't promote values that hurt others.

We need to work together to solve corruption and other problems. Religion is not the enemy of morality, and neither is secular education of morality.


> Do you dismiss that much of the moral and ethics we have today in our society evolved in parallel with religious teachings?

Yes.

Much of our morality and ethics are innate and stem from our nature and evolution as a social species. Religion just took credit for it.

Even social groups of monkeys and rodents tend to avoid killing eachother and do what is in the best interests of the group.


> Much of our morality and ethics are innate and stem from our nature and evolution as a social species.

Where is your evidence for this? It would seem more evident to me that the source I am aware of through my education in history and life experience for teaching of morals and ethics has been religion.

Although many here may not be old enough to realize it, countries that are mostly secular not long ago historically speaking had much moral and ethical teaching from their religions.

Attributing this to monkeys and innate behavior may account for part, but from what I understand, you could just as easily bring up monkeys in a ruthless environment where it is every monkey for him/herself. Having an established organization or organizations that teach morals and ethics is important.


Like your ruthless monkeys, someone could point to countless proclaimed adherents in jail or advocating bloodthirsty war or abusing children or embezzling community funds.

Are there any important religious teachings that wouldn't be taught in a secular ethics class?


No, I think it goes without saying that ethics classes would find common ground with major religions. But I think we have everything we need to have learnt from a history with religion and can do without the ridiculous bits in 2015+.

Not saying that people can't practice freely, but that it has no place in state education and government. No need for it in ethics classes either.

FWIW, I come from a country where religion doesn't play a big part in life and can think of two friends out of 50-100 that would be considered at all religious. Religion might seem more relevant to people in other countries obviously.




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