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Police Use of Force: An Examination of Modern Policing Practices [pdf] (usccr.gov)
115 points by tboyd47 on Nov 27, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 104 comments

Police serve themselves and the state, putting their lives well above those they are supposed to serve and protect. I don't think the public's opinion is likely to change until there's some radical reform.


This officer shot into a car seven times with a little girl on board, murdering a man who was cooperating.

And then he gets off without charge, despite there being video evidence. Where is the justice in that? People aren't that dumb, they aren't being treated fairly and they know it.

According to this study, less than 30% of people believe that police behave lawfully.

>Police serve themselves and the state

Just a minor nitpick about this, forgive me. Overall this post is perfectly agreeable.

Police primarily serve private property owners, with private property being different from personal property.

Private property refers to property which earns their owners accumulated wealth: think landlords, business owners and such. Personal property, such as your smartphone or house are intuitively different from this even though things like this are called private property in vernacular.

I think it's a distinction worth posting about since policing as an institution got its start in union busting and slave catching.

> I think it's a distinction worth posting about since policing as an institution got its start in union busting and slave catching.

Do you happen to have a good citation for this, I've heard it several times but am not familiar with any scholarship documenting that connection.

That Wikipedia article doesn't draw any connection between modern policing and the slave patrols, though it points out the well documented connections between militia efforts and enforcing slavery. Similar institutions date to the Romans[1], which would suggest that slave catchers and the like may not be directly linked to our idea of a municipal police department.

The second source seem to support the connection, but doesn't document any actual institutional connections. It relies on similarity, and bald assertion. The existence of overlap between the KKK and local law enforcement is evidence that policing in the US is racist. It isn't actually evidence that the institutions of policing were descended from slave patrols.

I'm not a huge expert on criminal justice, but my degree is history, and these kinds of assertions seem to ignore the parallel developments in NYC, Boston, and other Yankee cities in policing and crime solving that established our idea of a municipal police department. That such departments may have been racist isn't a surprise, virtually every institution in 1880 was, but they were in states that did not practice slavery(abolished in 1799 in NY) and as a result had no institutional history of enforcing it.

Consider that Federal Marshals were so reluctant to enforce laws on the return of escaped slaves that it took an act of congress, with severe financial penalties, to get them to actually enforce the "property claims" of southerners.

1 - http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/romans/slavery_01.shtml

I think for the assertion to be true one would have to qualify it to something like 'policing as we know it today, and especially in America'. One book I've read and can recommend is Kristian Williams' _Our Enemies in Blue: Policing and Power in America_:


Definitely longer than I've had time to read overnight, but interesting, and it looks like it may cover the claims of union busting. Though I thought that part of the reason the Pinkerton's thrived is that many police forces wouldn't engage in anti-union activities.

it’s pure ideology. law enforcing bodies have existed in every complex civilization regardless of slavery.

Ehh I totally buy the plausibility of there being a connection between the institutions of policing and enforcement of slavery, particularly in the context of the antebellum US system, and reconstruction period.

What I find striking is that GP doesn't have facts at hand.

Correct. For the strict purpose of protecting private property, something which slaves were considered to be. Thank you for agreeing with the historical facts.

Or the common good, or providing the weak a champion to resist violence had no role in the establishment of institutional policing?

David Friedman has a great summary of how a variety of societies pursue justice and the origins of our own system and comparisons of the systems.


Excuse me but, what are you talking about here?

Could you please stop posting unsubstantive comments to Hacker News?

> And then he gets off without charge, despite there being video evidence

I think you meant that he got off without conviction, not without charge. He was charged with manslaughter and a couple of felony gun charges, and was tried by a jury on those charges [1].

[1] http://live.mprnews.org/Event/The_trial_of_officer_Jeronimo_...

This a good correction in this case. But in the US it is only the most egregious cases (with the most video evidence) where grand juries/prosecutors even succeed in bringing criminal charges against police officers.

>less than 30% of people believe that police behave lawfully

If you ask someone if they think a large collection of individuals behaves lawfully, the answer should always be "no" because with a large enough group there will always be criminals in that group.

If you're instead thinking about whether police break the law in an organized and collectively deliberate fashion, that's an entirely different question.

Perhaps, but the impression is reinforced when the police organize themselves to break the law in an organized fashion. For example, consider the police of Oakland, California. Every one of their patrol motorcycles is modified with a loud, unlawful exhaust muffler, through actions that body deliberately undertook. Clearly there are numerous criminals among the ranks of that police department, but it's also true that the department itself is corrupt and makes corrupt decisions as an organized body.

Edit: which is to overlook the most glaring examples of NYPD corruption: parking placards and get-out-of-jail-free cards for friends and family (recently reduced from 30 to 20 per officer!). It is not a great exaggeration to claim that the NYPD is America's largest criminal gang.

Not sure why you're being downvoted. OPD is positively plagued with organizational problems and has been under a consent decree for over a decade.

See, now we're talking about something more specific and useful. Those are pretty interesting.

Uhm, what? Even if someone commits a crime, that does not make them any less able to recognize that the police break laws.

Yes, the police break laws. Republicans break laws. Democrats, Muslims, Trump supporters, and Python programmers break laws. Any large group of people contains law-breakers. It's not a useful statement.

The difference between police officers and the rest of those groups is that all of them but police officers are self-selected and unenforced. It is entirely feasible to have a police force that break laws only negligibly by enforcing the removal of individual police who break laws.

I think I agree with you entirely. I'm pointing out that that statement is very different than "the police break the law".

The fact that the police exist specifically to enforce the law and that they are invested with enormous powers to do so makes them fundamentally different from the other groups you mention. Please do not insult our intelligence with such specious arguments.

Looks like you're interested in this topic! There's always room to think deeper. Here's some prompts.

Why do police act this way?

Have they always acted this way or did something change?

Are police different from other people, that is do they have an innate propensity to act the way they do, or are they conditioned to act this way by their experiences?

What sort of job experiences do police have? Have the experiences of policing changed in recent times, and why?

What systemic factors contribute to the problem? What social factors contribute to the problem?

Thanks to the miracle of the internet, there are many great resources to see the kind of situations real police must routinely navigate. This youtube channel is one of my favorites: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXMYxKMh3prxnM_4kYZuB3g (NSFW, violent content)

>Are police different from other people, that is do they have an innate propensity to act the way they do, or are they conditioned to act this way by their experiences?

In discussion on the subject I've had multiple people who do not know each other say things like "everyone I knew who was a bully growing up became a cop" (and that's a near direct quote). The current state of policing where they can use force to get people to do anything they want and get off scot free even if they're in the wrong definitely attracts a certain personality type.

All excellent questions. Though it has a bit of an anti-capitalist bent, this is the best article I've ever read on the origins of modern law enforcement: https://worxintheory.wordpress.com/2014/12/07/origins-of-the...

Granted there's room for alternate interpretations, I think history speaks pretty clearly to the fact that the primary function is maintaining control of populations at scale, and that necessarily implies certain things about the outcome of any law enforcement system.

I think many posts in this thread provide valuable commentary and mine won't add as much value, but I'd like to share a viewpoint about how it's interesting that in many countries it's considered quite normal that the police/state are antagonistic to citizens, but in U.S., while the same tension exists, there's a sense of Americans being continually surprised by that fact, as if some sense of idealism partly counteracts the media and acts as a sort of mild denial.

I don't mean to be critical; I'm quite sympathetic.

I grew up in a post-Soviet Bloc country, and while things have definitely changed a lot since 1980s, the mistrust in police and state was still something you could sense. However, that sense of mistrust was dramatically different, because there was no conflicting sense of "it shouldn't be like that". There was a sense of acceptance. Maybe you could call that Soviet defeatism.

The only lesson I can draw from that is that it's easier to look at what's happening in U.S. if you don't presume that the state is your friend.

> in many countries it's considered quite normal that the police/state are antagonistic to citizens

I suppose so, if you consider all countries. But I'm not sure that's reasonable to compare The US and, for example, Mexico, like that. If you consider peer countries to The US, with similar cultures, like Australia, The UK, France, then it is not normal that the police are antagonistic to citizens. In The UK most police don't even carry guns.

Well my point was that maybe U.S. shouldn't be thought of as aligned to those countries. I'm not saying it's the polar opposite or that it should be aligned to North Korea or Belarus, but that maybe some of our ingrained presumptions are wrong.

This comes off like saying that a country is a one-dimensional object, and all countries can be adequately compared on a straight line spectrum. Just to be clear, I think it's much more complicated than that.

Well, most post-Soviet countries are also not police countries. People there are not used seeing police act much and police using weapons would be a massive news worthy story.

Yeah, I was hesitating whether to write most. The thing is though, even those non-free states are not as brutal on policing as the US.

As someone who lived in Russia first 23 years and now living in US, I can not agree.

US has one of the lowest ratios of police force per capita - 284 officers per 100k citizens [1].

Compare to Belarus - 1442 per 100k citizens and Russia’s 515 per 100k.

[1] - https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_and_depend...

I mean, I don’t know how many police New Zealand has per capita (I think regarded as the most “free” country) however isn’t it more the application of force than the quantity of police?

If they are all directing traffic it’s not a police state.

They are there to protect the state from the population. Since population doesn't have much means to harm the state, hence police are acting more "mildly", but no way they are doing traffic regulation mostly (in fact I can count on fingers of one hand seeing cops regulating traffic in Belarus)

It's interesting seeing the difference between American police and Australian police and how they deal with violent situations.

A couple of weeks ago, we had a terror incident in Melbourne, where a man set his car on fire and started trying to stab people (killing one). The police arrived on scene within seconds, and attempted to stop the attacker using non lethal methods, it was only when it was clear that he wasn't going to be stopped that one of the officers drew their firearm and shot the attacker (apparently only once too, unlike in the USA where they empty their magazine). You can view footage of the incident here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnk4su6HSHk

The officer only used lethal force when it was clear that there was no other option. I don't want to speculate, but I feel like if this was the USA, both officers would've immediately unloaded their magazines into the attacker, possibly hitting bystanders (it's happened plenty of times before).

Compare that to the USA, where an unarmed Australian woman who rang the police to report a possible assault was shot by the police from inside their car: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shooting_of_Justine_Damond

In Finland when we had a terrorist knifing people and killing some, the police just shot him in the groin and the man is still alive. Some justice I suppose :)

Look at how calmly they handle the aftermath when bystanders want their piece of the attacker https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42ktuyfsHCA

No guns drawn!

"shot the attacker (apparently only once too, unlike in the USA where they empty their magazine)." I am not sure if you have ever dealt with someone who is a lethal threat to you but it isn't like the movies. A wounded person can still shoot and kill you or stab you. You can put multiple bullets into a target and they can still kill you. Do police over react sometimes? Of course. If you have reached the point of actually firing a weapon at an individual you don't pause in between each individual shot to wait and see if you have done enough. Each shooting is different. If you think cops are leaving their houses with the intent or hopes of shooting and killing someone then you must not know any cops. They just want to make it home at the end of their shift.

I don’t disagree with you, but there have been way too many incidents where cops overreacted and shot an unarmed minority. They signed up to put themselves in danger, I didn’t sign up to be shot because the cop got nervous because of the complexion of my skin or because I “fit the description”.

How many of those incidents could have been resolved by the offender just complying or not fleeing? Here is a link to show the breakdown of all police shootings. You can filter by race, if they had a weapon, mental illness, fleeing. In all of 2017 22 individuals were killed that were reported to be unarmed and not fleeing. https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/national/police-shoo...

Because we know police statistic to be above question. Also, how does someone fleeing place the cops life in danger and require lethal force? I find this "comply in order to live..." logic dangerous.

It's more like "Given the unlikely to change current state of things, you happen to be more likely to live if you comply, and as such, complying is a very good idea".

I won't mind-read and suggest where you went wrong.

Surrounding a suspect who brought a knife to a gun fight does not put one in substantial lethal danger.

And there is a pattern that other countries don’t feel obliged to repeat.

There were ~940 people killed by police last year in the US. ~46 Police were killed (by an attacker) in the line of duty. I wonder how these numbers compare to those countries you mention. If you are constantly facing a more violent threat then it only makes sense you would be responding more violently. I don't know the break down of how many of these incidents involved arbitrary emptying of clips but I would guess the number is very small.

Unfortunately, the US is more gun happy than most countries. There is a statistically irrational fear of getting shot and most people who are killed are killed by someone they know, not a random stranger.

That means cops have to be more vigilant about guns.

They also leave out the number of incidents and the breakdown of those. I am sure there are 10s of thousands of times the police do not overreact compared to times they do.

I wish I could take credit for this, but as Chris Rock said....

I know it's hard being a cop … But some jobs can't have bad apples. Some jobs, everybody gotta be good. Like, pilots. American Airlines can't be like, 'You know, most of our pilots like to land, we just got a few bad apples that like to crash into mountains.'

A person with a knife and intent is just a lethal as someone with a gun. It only takes a second or two for someone to cover 20ft and give you a deadly wound.

That’s why they have backup, weapons, training, and get paid.

>A person with a knife and intent is just a lethal as someone with a gun

Then why do the police need guns? Shouldn't knives be sufficient?

>Then why do the police need guns? Shouldn't knives be sufficient?

Sure, if your plan is to only deal with threats that are < 20ft away and can be handled with a knife.

I never said the person with the knife would survive. They may very well get killed. Who cares if he managed to slice open your arm or neck and you bleed to death anyway.

Their point about police training seems quite valid (page 5).

While there is federal assistance for police departments to buy military surplus equipment, there's very little assistance (outside of anti-terrorist funding) for improved and lengthened general training (e.g. de-escalation of force, averting the need for force, etc).

This results in some states and cities having well trained professional police, whereas others receive minimum training and are then expected to learn "on the job." For example California police officers are now receiving better training on handling the mentally ill, something a rural police officer in another state is unlikely to receive.

This is both unfair to the public and police officers alike. Unfortunately getting people to pay for things can be challenging.

>This results in some states and cities having well trained professional police, whereas others receive minimum training and are then expected to learn "on the job." For example California police officers are now receiving better training on handling the mentally ill, something a rural police officer in another state is unlikely to receive.

Funny you mention that. I think that if anything the rural cops are less likely to have an "us vs them" mentality. I think the fact that there's so few cops means they are forced to extend their social circles beyond just other cops where city cops do not have to do that.

As you said, the money is there for weapons and not training. Not a great combination. Instead, stop spending the money on tanks and explosives and spend it on training instead.

Yes, and it becomes even more politically difficult to request more funding for police departments when activists paint all police with the same brush and sometimes want to literally abolish the police.

I don't see how? Both police and police activists want better training, police to keep themselves safe, and activists to reduce the prevalence of incidents. It is a win/win politically.

Now getting people to pay higher taxes to fund it? That's the real challenge.

I think that most activists want those things. Some activists are like the person in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vjIEZf8Skx4

It isn't reasonable to define an entire group by their biggest extremists. I've read some pretty outlandish things by upset police officers too, but just like this, I don't think it is a reflection of the majority's opinion on the topic.

There are activists that think that more resources given to the police will be used by the police (a mechanism of oppression) to oppress minorities and underprivileged groups even more. This is not a fringe belief. Many people with these beliefs vote, are very active in social movements, organize protests, and steer the conversations around viral events. If people with these beliefs are leading a movement and having an impact, it is entirely reasonable to confront these beliefs and take them seriously.


Why administrative leave? Why not "changed jobs because they were completely shunned by their colleagues after this incident". It wouldn't even cost a cent to achieve that, just personal integrity. Can't have "the blue shield" and "not all cops" at the same time, pick one and then own that decision.

A key problem is that police forces have effectively no incentive to avoid negligent use of force, in that any resulting lawsuits are paid for by the taxpayers.

I propose that police forces must be self-insured, with their pension fund backing the policy.

The problems are (1) that they get a special definition of "negligent" and "force" than the rest of us, and (2) that they and prosecutors cover up malfeasance (the blue line); not that the stakes aren't high enough if they are found guilty.

Raising the stakes for a group that already protects its own just increases its incentive to cover up malfeasance.

> (2) that they and prosecutors cover up malfeasance (the blue line);

What's needed is something more systemic: abolish prosecutorial discretion. Prosecutors will then have no choice but to pursue these cases or face prosecution themselves.

It also creates incentives to repeal old or broken laws that are used only as leverage against otherwise law abiding citizens.

It's a dramatic change, no doubt, but there's a lot to be said for it.

We simply don't have the prosecutors to litigate every case of lawbreaking; there's a reason discretion exists, and it's not to be nice. And dramatic changes don't happen overnight. We start with the system we've got and try to work towards something more fair in little steps.

> We simply don't have the prosecutors to litigate every case of lawbreaking

Exactly, and that's part of the problem isn't it? You can address this either by hiring more litigators, or reduce illegality to what's truly essential.

The point I'm trying to make is that eliminating prosecutorial discretion creates a different set of incentives whereby the law must be understandable by mere mortals, and eliminates incentives for abuse (the blue line).

I recognize that my suggestion is easier said than done, but the coverup mentality seems to be a full effect anyway so it would be shame to not explore this for that worry alone.

Re (2): I think those are separate issues. You can only cover up so much. The departments need to start seeing the bad cops as a ticking monetary time bomb. Eventually if you abuse enough people someone will get it on camera and that becomes a slam dunk lawsuit.

Re (1): This is a big problem. We need to get rid of the double standard. Whatever rules for use of force the police are playing by they should be at least as restrictive as the rules of engagement that 18yo marines in Afghanistan have to play by. A bad shoot by Joe Average should be a bad shoot when Officer Hotdead does it.

Re: separate issues, that's why I numbered them (1) and (2). I totally agree that increasing transparency in the form of body cameras that can't be disabled really helps make it harder to cover up police abuse.

I'm not sure I agree that cops shouldn't get a double standard vs regular citizens — they spend far more time in dangerous / escalating situations than your average hothead with a gun. If they had no double standard protections, it'd be impossible to hire cops (or the ones you'd find would be too stupid to do the job) due to the legal jeopardy. I agree that military discipline makes police look like sloppy amateurs, but the military has the advantage of military training and discipline. Cops by and large don't have that continuing discipline, even those who are former military.

How about department or squad insurance? If one member is negligent, the entire team pays higher premiums. Put that blue line to work.

There's already a huge problem with police protecting their own when a cop injures, rapes or kills an innocent person.

This just gives everyone involved further incentive to ensure that negligence or malfeasance get covered up.

Or the department / team concerned could, upon identifying an issue, immediately report it thereby reducing the costs associated with someone later blowing the whistle.

One can dream.

If you follow the Amber Guyger case carefully you'll notice that the Dallas Police Chief has a recruitment problem. That officer-involved shooting will be a heavy burden on the departmental budget, and it also became apparent that there is a serious discipline problem in the force. Normal people won't join for the salaries that Dallas can offer, and you can't fire the officers with a disciplinary record because they are already understaffed. There's a vicious circle in operation.

You'd have to start at the other end, impose severe discipline on the officers, and it would be a good idea to introduce proper drug testing, steroid abuse is a serious problem with police officers. In the short term that would exacerbate the recruitment problem, so no easy solutions. Maybe conscription would be viable, if the military can have conscription, why can't the country have mandatory public service. Bring back the miliz!

A form of taxation in the form of labour. How about (gasp) raise taxes and pay competitive salaries?

I worked closely with local government for a 12 years now. This is just a small rural county (15k residents maybe) in the midwest US, so not much more than cows, fields and meth.

I can't think of a single person I worked with and talked about taxes with that wasn't for increasing taxes slightly here. Not too much, but something more than what they have been.

I went to whatever meetings I could, wrote to the newspaper, and every single time I got to the board it was immediately shot down without much of a discussion. It's political suicide that none of them want to try, even the ones who are 75+ years old and have been "wanting to get away from this shit for 25 years." It's a power trip for them.

Instead of increasing taxes, they voted to spend 1 million plus to fix up downtown to get people from outside the county to come in to spend money. Now a lot of those businesses are still failing, younger people keep leaving and I still get shit on for suggesting the idea.

But change doesn't happen overnight... At least, that's what I tell myself anyway.

Anecdotally, most people I know don't go out of their way to interact with police, so when police come into the picture it's usually not for something good. Further, because it's not for something good, that makes the situation more tense and incongruous between parties involved. People try to actively avoid police and not deal with them. If most interactions are negative, this makes conflict resolution difficult if the sentiment towards one party is inherently distasteful. This might be a bad metaphor, but it's kinda like how people don't use customer service when they don't have a problem. If police want to be guardians of a community, it requires putting in time to listen to and understand the community, and it also requires the community be cognizant of their interactions with police. Like with customer service for any party involved, being shitty usually doesn't make things go smoother.

With that being said, I think police could do a better job of being helpful and approachable. In the times police are actually needed, such as a car accident or something being stolen, adding a bit more effort would go towards establishing a better impression among the public. Further, changing the structure of police incentives could also help, where they should be rewarded and recognized for the positive outcomes created in the community, and not the number of tickets written to bring $X dollars into the station.

I believe that this is the idea behind community policing. That the police officers should live and work in the same neighborhood because they will grow trust and be able to do their jobs better.

These are anecdotes from Waterloo in Canada, but my two recent voluntary interactions with law enforcement were both neutral-to-negative:

First was stopping to ask a cop idling in a parking lot if they'd considered more enforcement of the new yield-to-pedestrians law at a nearby intersection/roundabout. Cars consistently run through the pedestrian crosswalks while people are in them (I have many videos of this), which is supposed to be a $1000 fine, but I've never seen any enforcement of it, or heard of anyone getting such a ticket. She basically said that they don't have time for that and would need more funding to be able to do proactive enforcement. Although she was polite and took the time to speak to me, I was disappointed at the lack of interest in something I see as a critical issue impacting safety and walkability in the community.

Second was a case where I'd witnessed what looked like a bike theft in progress at the side of the road, and then a moment later realised there was a police car half a block behind me. I pulled over and waved vigorously to flag him down, but I believe he was looking at his console (it's not clear in the video due to windshield glare) and cruised by without stopping. Either that or he saw and ignored me, which is probably worse.

Obviously both were fine in the sense that I wasn't yelled at or shot, but neither experience gave me warm fuzzies either.

Police in cars are not just driving idly around most of the time. There's always something they are being dispatched to investigate (not always with lights/sirens). It's not that unusual that you weren't able to flag the car down.

I witnessed a hit-and-run in Chicago, tried to flag down a cop that passed by less than a minute later, he did stop for a second but said he was on another call and to call 911 to report it.

There's always something they are being dispatched to investigate

That's one of the problems right there. In America the cops' mission is to catch something, criminals, speeders or undesirables, and even their vehicles are camoflaged. In normal countries the mission of police is to keep the peace, and police vehicles and uniforms are designed to be visible.

Most police dispatches are in response to a call for help.

I specifically avoid interaction with police unless absolutely forced to because they can essentially kill me at any time fpr any reason without any repercussions (beyond a paid vacation).

Cops have repeatedly proven themselves to be state thugs without a modicum of human decency.

There are no good cops.


They need help with data collection on which minority group is subject to which type of policing / force.

Copy/paste finding statement from executive summary:


Accurate and comprehensive data regarding police uses of force is generally not available to police departments or the American public. No comprehensive national database exists that captures rates of police use of force. The best available evidence reflects high rates of use of force nationally, and increased likelihood of police use of force against people of color, people with disabilities, LGBT people, people with mental health concerns, people with low incomes, and those at the intersections of these groups.

Lack of training and lack of funding for training leave officers and the public at risk. Critical training areas include tactical training, de-escalation techniques, understanding cultural differences and anti-bias mechanisms, as well as strategies for encounters with individuals with physical and mental disabilities.

Repeated and highly publicized incidents of police use of force against persons of color and people with disabilities, combined with a lack of accurate data, lack of transparency about policies and practices in place governing use of force, and lack of accountability for noncompliance foster a perception that police use of force in communities of color and the disability community is unchecked, unlawful, and unsafe.


There should be some kind of cooling-off period between when these can hit the front page and when the comments begin, proportional to the length of the document. This one is 200 pages, so the first useful comment on this report will appear tomorrow at the earliest.

The only conclusion we can draw right now is that some software company has an exclusive contract to provide the government with PDF export applications that do not generate hyperlinked tables of contents, and that publishing such a document is in fact a crime against the people.

A very nice anecdote from the article concerning community policing:

A retired police officer described to me his actions when patrolling a neighborhood. After muster, he would drive his unit to an urban park in his district and start picking up trash. The residents got to know him from this and other actions. He would when time permitted play a game of horse with the kids on the basketball court or engage a dad who was at the park with his kids who might be having a beer. Interestingly, under “broken windows” theory of policing the dad would be cited for open container or taken to jail. However, this officer thought it was a good thing the dad was with the kids spending time in the park and not creating a problem. He also engaged the basketball kids. Over time he interacted this way with many citizens in his patrol area. As a result, he not only gained trust and respect from the citizens, he also gained great sources of information.

However, there was no department consistency in this policy. The next officer on duty may have cited the dad or ignored the kids and merely patrolled in his/her prowler.

Such a different conception of policing than most are used to.

It would be nice if the US adopted the Peelian principles/Nine principles of policing[0] written by Sir Robert Peel in 1829:

1) To deter crime and disorder, as an alternative to their repression by military force and severity of legal punishment.

2) To recognise always that the power of the police to fulfil their functions and duties is dependent on public approval of their existence, actions and behaviour, and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect.

3) To recognise always that to secure and maintain the respect and approval of the public means also the securing of the willing co-operation of the public in the task of securing observance of laws.

4) To recognise always that the extent to which the co-operation of the public can be secured diminishes proportionately the necessity of the use of physical force and compulsion for achieving police objectives.

5) To seek and preserve public favour, not by pandering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolutely impartial service to law, in complete independence of policy, and without regard to the justice or injustice of the substance of individual laws, by ready offering of individual service and friendship to all members of the public without regard to their wealth or social standing, by ready exercise of courtesy and friendly good humour, and by ready offering of individual sacrifice in protecting and preserving life.

6) To use physical force only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient to obtain public co-operation to an extent necessary to secure observance of law or to restore order, and to use only the minimum degree of physical force which is necessary on any particular occasion for achieving a police objective.

7) To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.

8) To recognise always the need for strict adherence to police-executive functions, and to refrain from even seeming to usurp the powers of the judiciary, of avenging individuals or the State, and of authoritatively judging guilt and punishing the guilty.

9) To recognise always that the test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, and not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with them.

Seems like US policing as a culture is slowly learning that these aren't optional, but required to effectively police a large diverse set of peoples.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peelian_principles

I've only taken a brief glance at this report, so I apologize if my issue I'm about to bring up is already addressed within.

It seems that this report is falling into the common trap of 'Officer deaths are down, the job must be safer'. Officer training has increased in the last 20 years, as has protective equipment, and life saving measures.

Page 38 states "Further, the data presented on Chart 5 (which includes the average number of police fatalities due to shootings, stabbings, assaults, bombings, and vehicular assaults) suggest that intentional attacks against law enforcement are at historically low levels.200"

The FBI's statistics[1] report that in 2017, 60,000 officer were 'assaulted'. 2677 were assaulted by firearm, and over 267 of them were injured.[2]

Quite simply, the most thorough and definitive source of attacks against law enforcement officers is not used to measure attacks against law enforcement officers, instead we are simply measuring deaths. Safety is a difficult thing to measure. If a pilot with 5,000 hours of flight time has crashed 4 small charter air planes with 0 deaths, is he safer than the pilot who has 2,000 hours of flight time with 0 crashes?

What we can measure is things like 'Felonious assaults' and 'Injuries per weapon type'. Which we have measured, but people keep ignoring in reports like this. Reports and reviews such as this usccr report are important, but we need to look at the situation at hand accurately if we want to address it properly

[1]https://ucr.fbi.gov/leoka/2017 [2]https://ucr.fbi.gov/leoka/2017/tables/table-85.xls

While I don't disagree with your broader point, in several states, all assaults on law enforcement officers are felonious.[1], so felonious assault isn't a meaningful statistic (or, at least not separate from lesser assault).

So, police stop you in the street for whatever reason, you brush by them, and bang, you're charged with felony assault.

1 - https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title18.2/chapter4/secti...

Even if police get extra training on deescalation, they have no incentive to apply it as there are virtually no repercussions for using force to resolve every situation. You can be arrested for no other crime than resisting arrest, police have almost godlike powers in the states and are actively protected by those meant to regulate them such as their fellow officers, prosecutors, courts and leadership. If they are caught egregiously violating civil rights, the taxpayers have to pay a fine for the officers who then return to work none the worse. Legally police officers don't even have to know the laws they are enforcing with courts having ruled that if an officer arrests you for something even if you weren't breaking the law their wrong assumption of the law trumps your 4th amendment rights.

A police officer can shoot an unarmed innocent civilian in a swoop and swat and receive zero repercussions essentially turning swat teams into assassination teams on call. In my personal opinion, every accusation of police misconduct should be fully investigated by the FBI and if laws are found to have been broken then federal charges are brought and if found guilty, the officers right to be a police officer is permanently removed in much the same way people with felony's are not allowed to serve in the FBI or own a weapon. If an officer kills someone who was "reaching for their waistband" and that person is found to not have been armed, instant manslaughter charges. If officers are found to have known about a violation and protected their fellow officer even if just through their silence, they should be charged with obstruction of justice or a similar crime. Until police officers are held at the very least to the standards of their fellow citizens, things will never improve.

I have seen officers off duty that are wasted pile into civilian cars and speed off then throw zoom past on duty officers who laugh and let them continue on their way. Luckily no one was killed. All of those officers should have had their badges trashed, especially those on active duty.

I respect the police, they have to deal with the worst humanity has to offer and they charge into places everyone else is running from. Many of them are good people. They cannot be given carte blanche to rough people up, or kill them. They also cannot be allowed to essentially run state sanctioned gangs.

The core of this report is intellectually the hardest pill to swallow to both sides: there's not enough data. Unfortunately, human beings are highly uncomfortable acknowledging that they don't know something, our thinking is not used to this. So, instead, both sides will continue to quote selective statistics and anecdotes that prove that they're right and the others are wrong, and will ignore all the evidence to the contrary.

The “black-on-black” crime narrative as an explanation for police excessive use of force disregards the structural and historical issues that formed these neighborhoods, as well as the social and economic factors that currently sustain them. Paul Butler explains that the violence in black communities is a symptom of historic discrimination, brutal policing practices, and mass incarceration. Thus, if we want to decrease “black-on-black crime” we first need to address the systemic issues that maintain it.

This passage starts by discussing an explanation for police excessive use of force and ends by discussing an explanation for crime within the black community.

It seems like the authors are saying that we can’t use crime within the black community to explain police brutality until (unless? because?) we use systemic issues to explain this crime. This seems fuzzy. It’s likely that black-on-black crime is a symptom of something; but that doesn’t prevent it from having symptoms, too.

We need a different department in each state tasked with investigating and prosecuting law enforcement officers and prosecutors suspected of crime, a department that is completely separate from the rest of the normal law enforcement departments. It's a founding principle of the United States that institutions will not keep themselves in check, they instead require another institution to keep them in check (checks and balances). It's time to start applying that to law enforcement misconduct investigations and prosecution. This means that police officers won't have to go easy on their coworkers suspected of crime (so that their other coworkers won't ostracize them) and prosecutors won't have to turn a blind eye towards police misconduct (for fear of poisoning the relationship with a police department) since it won't be their job anymore.

Edit: if you disagree, say why.

You are most likely getting down voted because your suggestion is already policy and law in most(if not all) states. Applied in different ways and at different levels. For example local police(city/county) critical incidents are investigated by the state level agency, and a state agency CI would be investigated by either the FBI or neighboring state agency.

Thanks for the info!

I think that's a fantastic idea. It doesn't even have to be so super adversarial maybe? Like companies sometimes get consultants not just because of their knowledge, but because they have a fresh perspective and might see things where veterans have a blind spot, or might even call a naked emperor out because they're not the subject of said emperor.

I'm dreaming here, but ideally, the incentive wouldn't be "nail cops for things they done wrong", but simply professionality. That department, with the same justification IMO, could also be responsible for praising officers or departments for very good conduct. And ideally, the communities would also be involved in that -- as a partner, rather than just a potential subject of police misconduct and a source of complaints.

Better tech could solve some issues having some Boston dynamics based "partner" would prob solve issue of police officers overreacting in what they perceive as dangerous situations.

Developing the technology to automatically police an area seems like a dramatically bad idea. It would make it far easier for a wealthy elite to control territory without the accountability of needing to prevent their police/soldiers from joining the side of protestors.

I’d rather live in a world where the rulers need the begrudging consent of a large number of people, for the reasons explained in The Dictator’s Handbook or in this CGP Grey video https://youtu.be/rStL7niR7gs

I am not suggesting the autonomous AI robot version more like approach stopped vehicle and take transmit info remotely to the officer at a safe distance.

An enforcement droid eh? Maybe we could call it “ed-209” for fun. I’d buy that for a dollar.

> Police officers are vitally important to the co mmunities they serve.

I thought their job was "to enforce the law?"

If this document tries to extract "modern policing practices" from American policing practices, I doubt there is anything to learn.

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