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Chicago Police Department shuts down its arrest API (chicagoreporter.com)
421 points by blinding-streak 29 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 249 comments



It's crazy to me that in 2020, there isn't comprehensive, mandatory Federal tracking of police-involved shootings. There's no reason that this data shouldn't be mandated to be aggregated and researched, other than to continue propagating a culture of secrecy.

From the FBI's Use-of-Force data collection site[0]:

> Is it mandatory for law enforcement agencies to contribute to this data collection?

> The FBI has no legal authority to mandate reporting of any data to the UCR Program. The FBI is working closely with the major law enforcement agency organizations and the CJIS APB, which is composed of local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement partners, to obtain broad support and forge commitments from these members to report this critical information. National support is garnered through working partnerships with national law enforcement agencies as well. The National Use-of-Force Data Collection and community participation to report data will likely continue to evolve.

All data collected at the Federal level is voluntary, that's just unacceptable.

0: https://www.fbi.gov/services/cjis/ucr/use-of-force


> It's crazy to me that in 2020, there isn't comprehensive, mandatory Federal tracking of police-involved shootings.

There is a billion dollar lobby that goes up to bat whenever law enforcement gets bad press, or legislation they don't like gets proposed.

While I'm in favor of unionization, I do not support organizations that represent the strong arm of the state's desire to operate opaquely and without oversight from the people they're policing.


It's confusing for me that so many people will complain about how the police unions prevent reform and allow for bad behavior -- but then support unions for all other public sector workers.


> It's confusing for me that so many people will complain about how the police unions prevent reform and allow for bad behavior -- but then support unions for all other public sector workers.

Policing is a unique role with incredibly perverse incentives, and it has special powers and protections granted to officers by the state that no other workers are granted. When an officer abuses their power, not only do their coworkers protect them, but the system that is supposed to provide checks and balances turns a blind eye to the abuse, and fights against justice every step of the way.

It is clear that this role, and the special status it incurs, is vastly different than other roles for government workers.

I'm not sure what is confusing about having a slightly nuanced view on unionization, especially when I gave my reasoning in both the post you're replying to and this post itself.


I recently encountered a Reddit comment that might clear your confusion, paraphrased thusly: "We never see the any teachers union consistently come out in defense of pedophiles amongst their members"


We see that all the time. You can read articles in major newspapers about the "rubber rooms" where teachers who can't be fired -- but who certainly also can't be put in front of a class -- are required to spend their workdays.


In at least one major school district, the beginning the year shuffle for matching the unfilled classrooms with the unwanted staffing is called the "Dance of the Lemons". Those that don't get an assignment are still clocking in every day at HQ & assigned useless tasks like creating lesson plans (that nobody will ever use).

Wouldn't that be great if violent cops were assigned to create Public Safety materials all day that went straight into the bin? They can't be fired so their job is to do something completely worthless until they quit.


Years ago, the police wronged me, and i raised a successful complaint. I got an apologetic phone call from an officer who, i got the impression, had the job of sitting in a police station making apologetic phone calls. He spent about forty seconds apologising, then went on an umprompted several-minute rant about how the police knew who all the criminals were, and if the government would just give them guns (this was in the UK), they could end crime tomorrow. I think it's simply connecting the dots to assume he was stuck on phone duty because he was a colossal liability to have walking around in public.


BLM protests showed the police to be quite useless in the UK.


Why can’t they be fired? AFAIK, tenure generally does not protect teachers who do grossly illegal acts, such as assaulting a student.


How do you know they've done it?

Do you have to leave them in front of kids teaching students until they're convicted?

What if that takes months? Or never actually happens? But the teacher has crossed the line inappropriately enough times that no parent wants their kid in the same room with him?

In the most positive light, a union might protect a genuinely good teacher being unfairly accused or targeted for political reasons from being put out of work. But sometimes following the processes for ensuring that can be so unreasonable to work through on a practical level that it's easier to just keep them employed but away from students until it gets resolved or they quit.

There's a famous PDF that gets shared when this comes up (although it's geared toward an incompetent teacher):

https://reason.com/wp-content/uploads/assets/db/126393089187...


US teacher salaries are abysmal. When education funding gets cut the school boards the unions successfully negotiate stronger employment protections (after all, if a job pays poorly you need to attract employees some other way, such as good PTO, benefits, or in this case: a job for life).

It’s also entirely possible that even without the unions, the school boards don’t want to get rid of bad teachers simply because they’re already, and chronically, understaffed.


US teacher salaries aren't nearly so bad as you're thinking. Median is around $60k, which compares favorably to the median household income of $59k - and teachers get better benefits, too.

Yes, it's not tech-level pay. But it's not exactly "abysmal" either.


Teacher salary is dependent on how wealthy the school district's tax constituents are, because education funding in the US comes from property taxes.

Given the amount of education, time and their own resources they're expected to put in to do their jobs, I wouldn't categorize them as "good", and would say generalizing their compensation as poor would be accurate given those points.


I’m not sure where that number comes from, but I know in my fairly high wealth state the maximum amount a teacher’s salary can be is about 45k. Benefits are about the average for that level of employment, nothing I’d call “better” than anything else. My ex is a teacher, and I make well over three times her salary. We both have Master’s degrees - that’s also required to be a teacher.


If police unions would do that to the officers who kill or beat prisoners, many people would be satisfied.


I would not be satisfied if my tax dollars paid the salary of police officers that killed and beat people, rubber room or otherwise.


I would be more satisfied with a rubber room than the scenario where they are paid to actively beat and kill people.


Clearly untrue. You've heard of the "rubber rooms" correct?


Public sector unions seem a little odd to me. The whole point of unions is to have collective bargaining power to deal with the bargaining power of corporations. That makes perfect sense... but isn't collective bargaining the point of having a democratic government?

I'm not saying having, say, a teachers' union is a bad thing. I just feel like it should be redundant.

Of course, the police are a special case even within the realm of public sector unions, because they're the ones enforcing the law anyway. It's one step removed from having a union of congresspeople, which really WOULD be completely redundant. What are they going to do? Petition themselves?


Collective bargaining evens out the power imbalances between workers and their employers. It doesn't really matter if the employer is the government or a private company. I'm not sure what point you're trying to make about collective bargaining and democracy since the two are unrelated.

There are other ways to handle public sector unions. For example, in Canada the military is not part of a union but their pay is tied to other public sector employees who are unionized. This makes sense since you don't want the military going on strike. When the union employees go on strike to get better pay and benefits the military also gets the same increases. You could do something similar in the US by tying police salaries and benefits to another public sector group like teachers or nurses. I have the feeling that this would be extremely unpopular with the police.


> Collective bargaining evens out the power imbalances between workers and their employers.

The reason it's strange is because if the government is a democracy (representative or direct), there should already be a mechanism for collective bargaining.

The fact that this is often insufficient strikes me as a pretty strong indictment of our systems of government.


I believe your argument is that in a democracy, public sector employees can vote for politicians who will represent their interests and this is equivalent to collective bargaining. Please let me know if I've misunderstood you because I don't want to argue against a straw man.

Let's consider teachers as an example. The top search result in Google tells me that 2% of the population of the US are teachers. With collective bargaining they can do work to rule, go on strike, and other job actions to pressure the government to improve working conditions. With voting they don't have a large enough voting block to push through candidates that will improve their working conditions. They would somehow need to convince over 48% of the population, assuming no gerrymandering, to also vote for the candidate that they want. That seems like a big thing to ask just to ensure an annual cost of living increase.


It's not just direct voting. There are plenty of other ways to influence culture to sway other voters.

And given the limited number of candidates and the frequency with which our elections come down to a few percent, they certainly wouldn't have to sway 48% of the population to influence how elected representatives treat them.


Can you give me an example, other than voting, of how democracy is collective bargaining?

You're not considering wedge issues? What if the candidate that would improve your working conditions also has a stance on an issue that you are strongly opposed to? For example, do you vote for the candidate who will give you a small raise but also disagrees with you on abortion? What if all of the candidates feel like siding with you would alienate more people than your voting bloc would bring?


Can you give me some examples, other than voting, of what constitutes democracy?

> You're not considering wedge issues?

Maybe our systems of government shouldn't have this weakness. This is what I was talking about when I mentioned the "strong indictment".


It appears like we've hit the max comment depth. This is really meant as a reply to your last comment in this thread.

Based on your last comment I think our disagreement is less about what makes a democracy and more about what constitutes collective bargaining. I don't see a difference between the examples you cited and a worker at a private company telling their neighbours to boycott the company until working conditions improve. Both of these are individual actions and unless they're organized at a larger scale the word "collective" doesn't really apply to either of them.


You're the one that wrote, "It's not just direct voting." I'm just asking for an example other than direct voting. I'm legitimately trying to understand your point but so far I still don't see the link between democracy and collective bargaining.


Well I need to know what your definition of "democracy" encompasses.

Examples of things other than direct voting include campaign contributions, talking to the media, going door to door. In the case of teachers, you could talk directly to parents during meetings.

There are all kinds of ways to influence elections that go well beyond simply casting your vote.


In a private company, there is also a mechanism for collective bargaining, without a union. The workers could just buy up all the outstanding stock, and replace the board.

And yet, nobody considers that to be sufficient to deny workers their right to organize.


That's generally only possible in a public company ("public" meaning "publicly traded"). Even then, I don't think the stockholders are under any obligation to sell to you, so you still may not be able to purchase a controlling interest in the company. So if the board holds a controlling interest, you're out of luck.


The politicians you elect, likewise, have no obligation to actually follow through on their campaign promises.


In the case of politicians, you can simply vote them out next election.

Board positions can be lifetime appointments.


This feels like quibbling. In both cases, the mechanism proposed as an alternative to collective bargaining is wildly unrealistic.

With a corporation, you need to buy a controlling interest of shares. With the "voting as collective bargaining" approach for public sector employees, you have a chance once in a while (depends where you live, but 4-5 years in most places) to try and convince a plurality of the overall population that the concerns of your profession outweigh the many, many other considerations people have in choosing who they vote for.

Either way, both options are not realistically achievable by nearly any union (ironically, I could see police as one exception - "tough on crime" policies, which are usually favourable to police unions, tend to be popular among voters, at least up until June 2020).


With voting, you don't actually have to convince a plurality. You only have to convince a small percentage of the population (often <5%) to sway an election.


> This makes sense since you don't want the military going on strike.

What’s unique here? Isn’t the whole point of all strikes that the employer doesn’t want the employees to go on strike?


Some services are more important than others. If teachers go on strike kids miss some school; if nurses go on strike people die. The military fits into the "people die" category in terms of likely consequences from a strike.

Edit: just to be clear, I don't mean to imply that teachers aren't important, just that the immediate consequences of them all missing work is less severe than some other occupations.


Do you really think that more people would die if the US military went on strike? Besides, the US military already has a mechanism to force people to work for the military.


My original comment was about the Canadian military and was an example of how groups like the police don't necessarily need unions so you're the one bringing the US military into this. I can't speak for the US military but the Canadian military is active domestically doing search and rescue, responding to natural disasters, counter terrorism, etc. People will die if those activities need to take place and the military is on strike. They doesn't account for other important work like embassy staff. I know the US military provides embassy security. How many people would die if no US embassies had armed people with guns protecting them?

It's also important to consider that when you're talking about the military who dies matters more than how many people die. How many civilian drone strike casualties would it take to get the same attention that Benghazi got?

What mechanism does the US military have to force people to work in the event that the whole military is on strike? Are they going to charge the entire military if they go on strike? Everybody walks down into the brig and the last man in locks the door behind them?


The US military has an active conscription program at their disposal.


Draftees won't be much help if the military is on strike. Let's take a quick look at how that would go.

A group of young adults gets drafted into the Army. They're told to show up at base Foo on some date for boot camp. They go to base Foo and cross the picket line to enter the base. All of the instructors are on strike so there is no one to teach them. They can't get uniforms and equipment because the quartermaster is also on strike. They head to the mess hall to get some food but the cooks are on strike. It's getting late and they want to sleep. The barracks for trainees is locked up and no one is around with the key because they're on strike.

Now you've got a group of tired, hungry people, who didn't want to be there in the first place, who have no training or equipment. How does this help?


Not really hard to find examples of this, isn't it?

National Guard are mobilized all the time during crisis such as Katrina or the ongoing covinavirus pandemic.

US military was the single largest contributor to the response effort to the 2010 Haiti earthquake [0]

They were also heavily involved in the relief operation in response to the 2015 Nepal earthquake [1]

[0] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Unified_Response [1] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Sahayogi_Haat


Public sector unions exist because you have two groups of people with opposing needs/desires. The state wants to minimize budget while still providing services, and public workers want to make an appropriate wage for the work they do. The government is organized, so (IMO) there should be an organization on the other side of the table bargaining for the workers.


Wages are only part of the function of a union. An arguably more important part is preventing arbitrary and capricious management decisions, including retribution against employees for expressing grievances. A big part of what unions do day-in, day-out, is dispute resolution. A unionized meat factory isn't going to pay much better wages, if at all, than a non-unionized factory; but it would be significantly safer.

The thing is, the courts often grant Due Process protections to government employees on the theory that a government employer taking actions against an employee isn't too far removed from the government taking actions against any random citizen. At a minimum, the government almost always must follow some sort of reviewable investigatory procedure. Compared to at-will employment, the burden (however de minimis in an absolute sense) is much greater. The need for checks against malicious government managers is significantly reduced.

The upshot is that unions aren't as necessary in the case of government employees. The downshot is that even if you prevented unionization, the government would still have problems firing problematic employees. The issue is never that they can't be fired (union or not), but whether it's worth the hassle, which has a cost in terms of time & money.


> A unionized meat factory isn't going to pay much better wages, if at all, than a non-unionized factory; but it would be significantly safer.

Unionized workers make more than their non-union peers, and have significantly better benefits.

You can see a huge difference in pay and benefits with union and non-union construction workers and welders. One group is paid a living wage with benefits, and has options for retirement, and the other group makes barely more than minimum wage, has poor benefits if they're even classified as employees and not contractors, and they're on their own when it comes to retirement.

Similarly, white collar unionized workers make more than their non-union counterparts, too. They have higher pay, better benefits, and more paid time off.


"The state wants to minimize budget"

This is a joke statement right? There is no state in the history of the world that attempts to do this.


What nonsense, firstly OP clearly is specifically referring to the budget outlay for education, and even if taken more broadly I can assure you throughout the world there are plenty of governments whose spending is constrained by current income and who very much do aim to minimise expenditure for a given outcome (predictably often with the effect of greatly worsening outcomes).


Maybe you'd prefer it reframed as: elected officials want to minimize spending on line-items they don't care about in order to spend on things they do care about.


What are you talking about? Education budgets are almost comically prone to budget cuts, it's one of the most contentious facets of government spending (at least in the U.S.)


Maybe not in the states you’ve lived in, but this was very much the hypothesis behind Sam Brownback’s experiment in Kansas. Beliefs in a strong version of the crowding out effect result in states trying to cut their budgets.


>Public sector unions seem a little odd to me

You're not alone. George Meany, the first president of the AFL-CIO was opposed to the very idea of public sector unions. As was FDR. And virtually all union leaders through the mid-1950s.


The elected leaders represent distinctly different interests than public employees. For instance, in March, in NY state government, public employee union contracts didn't permit working from home in general. That was tightly restricted based on past negotiation. In order to respond to the pandemic crisis, they really dragged out giving permission to work remotely where possible.

I don't understand why anyone would think that the rank and file public employees are the same entity/interests as the elected officials or upper level management. You might as well say the employees who own a little company stock or get options at any random company don't need a union because they can vote their shares. Working conditions, due process, etc. always matter, in the face of management having an incentive to find shortcuts and such.

Public sector unions are really not the government negotiating with itself any more than a private company. Any time you have management answering to different interests than the workers, a conflict of interest exists so a union has an obvious purpose. If actual unions are bad or corrupt, that's not the same as an issue in the abstract.


The point of unions is to attempt to counter the immense imbalance of power between employers and employees that often exists. That can certainly exist with public jobs just like it can with private jobs.


It's a balancing act. With no unions, employers can stomp all over their employees, and everyone is worse for it (e.g. Amazon). When the unions are too powerful, they can stomp all over their employer and everyone is worse for it (e.g. police unions).

Like all things in life, nothing is cut and dry. It's not wrong to both support unions, and call for the reduction in power of police unions.


As a point, original comments are only referring to "public sector" unions. The mal-alignment contrasts from private unions being organized by private individuals who's interests conflict against that of the private industry.

Public sector unions "bosses" are the people and politicians, so even though these are "private" unions, their alignment is to protect the political class first, cops (members) second, people third. By focusing on politic over people (bad looking cops = lost mayor, DA political race) their primary interested is not public transparency (where the money comes from, leading to lack of consumer alignment on service rendered b/c cops are serving political interests more than they should).

In a private union, the first people they are protecting are their membership (lot could be said here about how that works in practice), but their transparency problem isn't regarding factory deaths or issues at the work place because that is precisely what they are created to bring awareness to. If Ford's cars are killing people, the union actually wants to bring that up since it can hurt employment opportunities for future members.


Another comment in the thread

> Collective bargaining evens out the power imbalances between workers and their employers. It doesn't really matter if the employer is the government or a private company. I'm not sure what point you're trying to make about collective bargaining and democracy since the two are unrelated. There are other ways to handle public sector unions. For example, in Canada the military is not part of a union but their pay is tied to other public sector employees who are unionized. This makes sense since you don't want the military going on strike. When the union employees go on strike to get better pay and benefits the military also gets the same increases. You could do something similar in the US by tying police salaries and benefits to another public sector group like teachers or nurses. I have the feeling that this would be extremely unpopular with the police


The biggest problem facing Amazon workers isn't unionization. It is the not having alternatives to earning a similar wage in more humane conditions.


You're confused that people have one set of standards for the providers of trash removal and another set of standards for people authorized to commit state-sanctioned murder?

The two are kind of distinct.


The point though is that unions, wherever they are present in the public sector, tend to create uniformly sub-pair service. This is true for teachers, it's true for cops, and it's true basically wherever public sector unions are to be found.


Do you have any sources to back this up? My understanding is that non-unionized groups like charter schools do not outperform public schools. Many charter schools appear to outperform but once you account for the fact that they can choose their students, removing all of the low performers and putting them in the public system, they no longer show a benefit.


This is a super politicized issue, but my understanding is that the evidence that they're better is actually pretty good. Here's a fairly comprehensive set of studies by Stanford:

https://credo.stanford.edu/studies/charter-school-studies

You do want to read carefully, because Charter schools are often mixed by 'online' and 'brick and mortar'. When you aggregate these two, Charter schools as a group tend to match or underperform traditional public schools. But this is primarily because online charter schools do substantially worse. When you disaggregate the brick-and-mortar charters, they usually overperform traditional public schools, though not totally uniformly. And these studies do try to do matched control of students, to account for that selection effect.


Thank you for the link. I agree that this is a very politicized issue and that can make finding objective info tricky.

I checked out the first case study and it looks like you are correct that the brick and mortar charter schools significantly outperform the online ones. However, at least in that study, the brick and mortar charters slightly outperformed public schools in reading but underperformed in math. However, I don't believe these differences were statistically significant. While there probably are some states where charter schools outperform they seem to only perform the same as public schools in South Carolina. To me this doesn't add much weight to the argument that unions lead to worse teaching outcomes. I will also say that I'm not an expert, my cursory reading of one report doesn't change that fact, and I'm definitely open to changing my opinion on this in the future but I don't have the time or interest to read all of the reports in the link.


So, it's certainly not the case that charters are uniformly better in every case. There's quite a bit of variation. The basic idea behind charter schools is that they eliminate the union (that's almost literally their entire purpose). But what that does is it allows them the freedom to experiment with new styles of education, without filtering it through the bureaucracy of the union. In effect, that means there's going to be a lot more variation in outcomes amongst charters, particularly at first. Over time, as people figure out what works and what doesn't, I would expect to see them continue to widen the gap between themselves and traditional public schools.

On the surface it's not obvious that this is attributable to the union. But if you dig in a little bit to what actually differentiates charter schools, the main thing is the absence of the teacher's union. At least, to my understanding, from operating in the space a little bit, and from people I know that operate more deeply in it than I did.


> There's quite a bit of variation. The basic idea behind charter schools is that they eliminate the union (that's almost literally their entire purpose).

That's not the public position of charter schools. Charter schools are based on the idea that more flexibility will give better results, that has nothing to do with unions. The flexibility comes largely from not being pushed around by the school board and subject to testing and limits. Unions are willing to be flexible with education structure

The fact that most charter schools insist on no unions is what drives much of the opposition which sees them as a bad faith stalking horses for people who want to destroy union power. If charter schools were universally unionized there would be much less opposition!

Compare with magnet schools which are unionized. (But still have to deal with school board oversight)

> Over time, as people figure out what works and what doesn't, I would expect to see them continue to widen the gap between themselves and traditional public schools.

I don't see the evidence for this. Studies show Charter schools perform no better then regular public schools. Some places that have really crappy public schools may try to turn to more charter schools on the chance that on average they might be better but I'd say reforming the regular school system would work better (even though it might be harder)


> That's not the public position of charter schools. Charter schools are based on the idea that more flexibility will give better results, that has nothing to do with unions. The flexibility comes largely from not being pushed around by the school board and subject to testing and limits. Unions are willing to be flexible with education structure

I agree that it's not the message they transmit. And i'm basically relying on my own personal experience and relationships for guidance here, so I don't necessarily expect you to be convinced. I'm just telling you what i've heard, and what my understanding is.

> I don't see the evidence for this. Studies show Charter schools perform no better then regular public schools. Some places that have really crappy public schools may try to turn to more charter schools on the chance that on average they might be better but I'd say reforming the regular school system would work better (even though it might be harder)

Read the studies I linked earlier in the thread. They do not perform the same.


Can you point to anything specific that addresses the objection raised? Nobody contests that brick and mortar charter schools have higher performance - the issues come down to the resources they receive and the fact that they have unique abilities to shape their admission.


It's in the studies, but the gist is that they try to compare 'matched students'. So, they try to remove the selection effects by comparing comaprable pupils in each school type. I'm sure it's possible to quibble with exactly how they do this, of course.


The best k-12 schools in the US are in states that have teachers unions, so maybe go rethink your hypothesis.


That's a strange way of framing things. Anyways, here's some actual evidence:

https://credo.stanford.edu/studies/charter-school-studies

Be sure to read it carefully, and disaggregate the online charter schools from the brick and mortar.


You can't take the stats of a charter school vs its district peers and extrapolate that to the state level. It's also notable that Massachusetts doesn't have a recent report.

I also took a look at the 2019 Washington (my state) press release with the following bullet point:

o School level findings identified several charter schools with significantly positive impacts, as much as 165 and 189 more days of learning in reading and math, respectively, compared to the learning they would have realized in traditional public schools. Conversely, some charters significantly underperformed their local school options by as much as 106 and 83 fewer days of learning in reading and math, respectively

I'm not saying that charter schools aren't useful, what I am willing to say is that charter schools provide a good solution to a particular problem that has more to do school quality being tied to local tax revenue than unions.


I think it's more about options. Charter schools have the freedom to experiment with new ideas, which means their outcomes are likely to be more variable. Some will be better than traditional schools, some will be worse. But over time, that freedom to experiment should converge to an overall higher standard of education. At least, that's the theory, but the data seem consistent with that so far.


Imagine if the army was unionized, and started lobbying the government for whether we should participate in wars or not. Or more worryingly, lobbied for change to rules of engagement. Add to that, the fact that everyone in the military was in the union, from the lowest level recruits to the generals. This is as opposed to other unions where management are typically excluded.


Ah, the traditional military coup popular in Latin America. Turkey used to have the military as an unofficial brake on the islamism of the government, but they finally managed have a purge and consolidate power.


The army already has top-down centralized control, right? Much more so than most big organizations. Clearly the army can already choose whether to participate in wars or not, that's what they do. They don't even need to lobby to change rules of engagement, if they chose to change things it would happen. Of course we hope and expect them to follow the rules, but it's not like "letting" them technically unionize would somehow fundamentally change anything.


It's a question of tradeoffs between professional accountability and improved working conditions in a given field, based on factors like how bad things can get in that field without accountability, how well (or poorly) employees are currently treated and paid, how likely employees are to take advantage of unaccountability, etc.

People very much care about accountability when it comes to law enforcement, because compared to regular employees in most fields they have very direct and outsized power over society. And police aren't exactly underpaid either.


> And police aren't exactly underpaid either.

To drive this point home, the median salary before overtime and bonuses is $105,106/year for cops[1], and with overtime, cops can earn over $250,000/year[2].

The median salary for software engineers in the same state is 10% lower than the $105k police salary before overtime and bonuses.

[1] https://www.nj.com/news/2017/05/how_much_is_the_median_cop_s...

[2] https://www.nj.com/somerset/2019/11/4-cops-in-this-nj-town-e...


Side point: I think it's a bad idea to let cops work OT. I understand that preventing OT would create logistical issues, but I think they're solvable, and for the safety of everyone - including police - I think we should want officers to be as clear-headed as possible.


Why? I am agnostic with regards to public sector unions, but I'm pretty convinced that unions for people who exert force on behalf of the state are always bad.


Other public sector workers aren't issued guns. Other public sector workers don't fight against any transparency into their actions. Other public sector workers don't murder people on a regular basis and get away with it. Other public sector workers don't seize assets from people unconstitutionally under civil asset forfeiture. Other public sector workers don't regularly lie under oath to keep their buddies out of jail, or to put people they don't like in jail. Other public sector workers don't kill a dog every hour.

The entire point of unions is to empower the oppressed. But the police have over and over demonstrated that they are not the oppressed, they are the oppressors.


The issue here isn’t that police unions exist - they can exist and protect the rights of their members without influencing policymaking. The issue is that public policy can be influenced by any special interest group with deep pockets.


There’s a clear difference between police and other public sector jobs, namely that we allow them to use force in our name. I think everyone agrees that having army unions is a bad thing too, even those who support teachers unions


Well, one possible reason is that even if people support unions in general, they don't support one engaging in behavior they think is corrupt, illegal, or unethical.


What other public sector workers carry guns?


Because police are not workers. They are tools of the state to violently enforce their laws.


Unions can be both very good and very bad. That’s how power works.


Particularly in America, the police exist primarily to enforce class/racial divides (this is not hyperbole -- one of the best quick introductions I know of came out quite recently and is a very worthwhile read or listen: https://www.npr.org/2020/06/05/870227945/nprs-history-podcas... ). This is fundamentally contrary to the politics of a labor union, which is to empower those who perform labor to negotiate on equal footing with those who would claim the bulk of the productive output of that labor.

Both would fall under the aegis of "collective bargaining", but the social aims of the two couldn't be more different: the maintenance of a stratified class system vs the dismantling of same.


In the UK it’s illegal for the police to unionise for exactly that reason.


But the police federation and ACPO perform similar political functions. At least we have the IPCC which sometimes works.

(We also used to have a paramilitary organization with close ties to a police force that went around murdering dissidents, but we disbanded the Royal Ulster Constabulary. And, surprisingly, the full tanks and snipers in the streets civil war wasn't quite as deadly as 80s Detroit)


Police in the UK are prohibited from taking any form of industrial action - so the Federation does not have the ability to create disruption (to forcibly get their way) in the way Police Unions in North America can (and frequently do).

The Federation represents officers up to Chief Inspector, the Association of Police Superintendents represents more senior officers, but below Chief Officer rank.

ACPO is for Chief Police Officers and is quite different. You should not conflate that as serving the same purpose at the Federation of AsPS.


Police in the US are also legally prohibited from industrial action. The fact that they do it anyway is just more evidence that they are out of control. https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/07/01/what-is-bl...


British police officers might be prohibited from taking industrial action, but in 2004 many firearms officers protested by refusing to carry out their usual duties: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/3973261.stm


Those unions wouldn't have the power they do without the unconditional support of many American voters.

Police union endorsements have a lot of sway.


I'm late to throw my 2c in, but it's worth noting all the nordic countries have police unions that enjoy strong support.

There isn't really a specific indicator that the unions are the problem with the police, and it's quite possible our focus on them is putting the cart before the horse.


The labor movement has long opposed police having unions, as they’ve always served Capital owners whenever workers need intimidated or a strike needs broken. They’re de facto opposed to the collective action of all other workers.


But don't worry, the police only elect the best to be the leaders of their unions.

https://www.chicagotribune.com/columns/eric-zorn/ct-column-c...


A billion dollars? That's a lot larger than what I've seen before -- $15 million according to http://nomorecopmoney.com/


So are you against all government unions? What about quasi-gov orgs like SEC? Or teachers? Just trying to understand where you fall on the “unions for me but not thee” scale


When the SEC and teachers are capable of using the authority of the State to take my life with qualified immunity for civil rights violations all while abusing overtime and other overpayment techniques and their unions go to bat for them, I will call for an end to their unions.


> When the SEC and teachers are capable of using the authority of the State to take my life with qualified immunity

Teachers are covered by QI just as much as cops, and there is much less past precedent on use of force by teachers. Since QI works on the principle of “the absence of precedent covering similar actors in similar circumstances and ruling it unlawful means you can't be held liable”, they probably are more able to do that covered by QI.

OTOH, they have less practical opportunity to apply force.


Yes, in theory, teachers are covered by QI, however, in practice 2 things are different:

1 is that there are extremely few cases of QI for teachers, QI is used primarily by police officers

2 is that the unions don't back teachers that come up on QI charges. They don't run clinics on how to use QI to jutify harming someone or other clinics like Killology.


> 1 is that there are extremely few cases of QI for teachers, QI is used primarily by police officers

To the extent that's true, it's because people don't sue teachers personally as a way of getting some largely symbolic measure of justice for things that are actually crimes but where public prosecutors won't prosecute, because teachers don't benefit from the same working relationship with prosecutors that police have.

> 2 is that the unions don't back teachers that come up on QI charges

There are no such things as QI charges, and unions do, in fact, back teachers sued for discretionary acts, the space where QI applies. Which is why education groups have raised concerns about the pressure to end QI.


1. there is no reason to be pedantic about the language around QI. We are not in court, so you're not impressing anyone with your "actually" non-sense. Any reasonable person can infer that I was talking about cases in which QI would be used as a justification to absolve the officer of responsability.

2. Your first rebuttal point reinforces my point, in practice there are very few cases that result in QI being used w.r.t. teachers.

3. I think most of us can agree that QI shouldn't apply to teachers or officers or any other State actor and is legal non-sense created by junk judicial interpretation.


> Teacher are covered by QI just as much as cops, and there is much less past precedent on use of force by teachers.

Are they? I think it's hard to answer that question precisely, since qualified immunity is not a law that has been passed but a collection of judicial interpretations. Wikipedia says that it applies to 'government officials', and, even if one takes Wikipedia as definitive, it's not clear to me that that should apply to schoolteachers. The only real way to test whether qualified immunity applies to teachers would be to have it be used in a court case. Has it been?


> Are they?

The modern interpretation of QI, while all the current news coverage comes from police officers, comes from a case in which White House advisors in the Nixon Administration were being sued over their involvement in a defense contracting dispute, and applies to government employees exercising any discretionary functions, categorically.

> The only real way to test whether qualified immunity applies to teachers would be to have it be used in a court case. Has it been?

Yes. An extensive discussion relevant to public education, with some case citations, is here: https://mobile.edweek.org/c.jsp?cid=25919821&bcid=25919821&r...


It has, Safford Unified School District v. Redding is probably the canonical case here. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Safford_Unified_School_Distric...


Less opportunity to apply force but plenty to inflict lifelong damage.

Or at least massive opportunity cost and stunting or misdirection.

Teachers and police should be both way better paid and we should demand a lot more from both. These shouldn't be jobs you just get because they are easy(ish) to qualify for and have retirement and you can't ever get fired. We really need some of our best people in both.


If you think it is easy to become a teacher, boy do I have news for you.


It can't be too difficult based on many of those I had.


The difficulty to become a teacher is in no way correlated with the ability to teach.


What I was referring to was intelligence, not ability to teach.

And, factually, yes, it is pretty easy to become a teacher. Thanks for your opinion to the contrary though, I'll consider it.


These questions underly a particular argument that I don’t buy. We institute fairly hefty national standards on schools. I can go and look up the average scores for standardized tests for students for the high school I attended, and, afaik, essentially all schools in the US. Why can’t I do the same thing for police departments?

Somehow, police unions are able to avoid having similar accountability.


Teachers unions often fight standardized testing as well. They just haven't been as successful.


The reason for fighting standardized testing has nothing to do with transparency.


If you accept that a labour union represents collective bargaining of labour against capital, and you accept that government workers do not need to negotiate with capital, then you must conclude that government employees don't need to be unionised.


> and you accept that government workers do not need to negotiate with capital

Government workers negotiate with capital; they don't negotiate with private capital, but state capital is still capital.


The one whose members consist of individuals with the ability to detain, assault and murder you, often with impunity via the thin veneer of "I was in fear for my life".


What if they can support fabricate such evidence that you’re considered a criminal?


I am not op, and I don't get the sense that you are asking the question in good faith based on the snark, but will give you my thought:

Our need for accountability and oversight over jobs that involve the ability to use deadly force outweighs their need for collective bargaining power. The greater good, at least presently, is served by being able to scrutinize police conduct with less interference.

I don't think police unions created this problem, but I think they are helping perpetuate it.


Given that police officers

(a) are first-responders whose central job is public safety,

(b) are regularly sent into situations where their life and safety is on the line (6 have been shot to death in the past two months), and

(c) regularly face violent and hateful prejudice as an identity, just for putting on the uniform,

it's hard to justify that they don't deserve advocacy from a group of people with shared experiences.

It doesn't mean that unions should always get their way or that unions should be officially recognized, but police can and should exercise their rights to collectively bargain and strike if necessary.


(a) This is a fantastic argument for why they should not be able to collectively bargain and strike. They are civil servants, not labor working for capital owners.

(b) You grossly overstate the danger of being a police officer. According to the Department of Labor, being a police officer is not in the top 10 most dangerous jobs in the US. It is, in fact, slightly more dangerous than being an electrician, and significantly safer than driving a cab. (https://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/cfar0020.pdf)

(c) I think you are being hyperbolic. The intense criticism they are facing today is earned. Not because all, or even most officers are bad, but because they consistently protect the ones that are, and aggressively defend the worst among them.

They can have advocacy, but their ability to collectively bargain with us (our government is us) and constantly circle the wagons and protect their own is net harmful to our society.


My point is that this becomes an issue in every part of life when dealing with the government.

And yet, the same people arguing for abolishment of police also want to expand the government beyond anything it’s ever done. They give no thought to the unintended consequences instead crying “but think of the children”. I see I’m getting down voted heavily, so clearly my ideas aren’t valued here, but it’s kinda mind blowing that so many people here can hold these hypocritical ideas in their head at the same time.


> My point is that this becomes an issue in every part of life when dealing with the government.

What is "this" that covers universal healthcare, police, schools, environmental regulations, food safety, workplace safety etc?

Many people believe that there are parts of social life which are too important to entrust to privately-controlled, peofit-driven hands. The only alternative in our society is to entrust them to local, state or federal government. The reason why is that, unlike private entities, we the people actually have some amount of control over the government.

Now, when we see parts of government consistently escape any kind of control, like police or intelligence agencies, then we start demanding something to be done about it. If police unions are part of the problem, as it seems they are, then those also need to change, or be removed. Schools are not in any way near the same level of out-of-control as police have been shown to be.


People are downvoting you because you are clearly not arguing in good faith, using phrases like "think of the children," which is a phrase used nowhere near as often as certain groups claim it is, while they parody it to shut down opposing viewpoints in discussion.

That being said, I'd also like to point out that "abolish the police" isn't saying "remove police entirely." It is saying that police, in their current state, should not exist. It's saying that police not be the ones who handle someone having a psychotic episode, and that part of the money going towards police should fund trained healthcare professionals instead. That police shouldn't be handling the homelessness problem, and we could redirect some of their funding to create public housing instead of throwing them in jail over and over. We shouldn't have police handle truant students, and arresting them certainly shouldn't be the only option available if they continue to do so.

It comes down to the fact that police forces and unions have too much power. And of course that leads into the larger discussion of the fact that police can say "we thought this person was committing a crime" and steal everything in your car with almost no recourse to get it back. That police have incentives to make any given arrest at the end of their shift to accrue overtime, and that most police organizations have no limits on the amount they can accrue. That police forces are getting increasingly militarized even as violent crime is going down worldwide. Or that they can shoot and kill almost anyone and say "well I felt that my life was in danger" and that's the end of the discussion. And that if in the unlikely event they are fired, they still keep their pension and can be hired a precinct over with no repercussion. That there are no means for reasonable oversight of these organization to make sure they are acting in the public's best interest. That police unions actively fight to keep all of these policies in place instead of working to build trust in their organizations so that we don't have these problems in the first place.

It's not a discussion of "I only want the parts of the government that I like to have funding," it's an objective look at an arm of the government that has far more power than it should by pushing every existing law and statute to the limit while everyone looks the other way, and an objective view at what society-benefiting services we could fund (that would reduce the need for police in the first place) if we chose to fund them instead of massive police forces. If we had an education system where you had one teacher the entirety of your career, who had no oversight on the curriculum they taught, could assign grades at random based on how they liked each student, that was unable to be terminated, and if they did lost absolutely nothing, you can bet that we'd be here protesting that as well.


Just for the record, I draw the line at police unions as long as there isn't significant oversight in both policing and the union itself.

If their track record wasn't abysmal when it comes to abuse of power, I would be less likely to see a problem with police unions. However, that isn't the case, hence my opinion on the matter.


NPR's Planet Money just released a podcast titled: "Police Unions and Civilian deaths".

Some of the notable quotes include:

* Starting roughly in the late '50s, Rob says, state governments began allowing police officers to collectively bargain - in other words, to join unions. This is where we found a really remarkable and really horrible result....after officers gained access to collective bargaining rights ... there was a substantial increase in killings of civilians ...about 60 to 70 per year ... killed by the police in an era historically where there are a lot fewer police shootings. So that's a humongous increase.

* One possible reason why police unions might want more ways to protect officers from being prosecuted is the safety of the officers. If an officer is worried about being prosecuted, then that officer might hesitate to shoot in a dangerous situation. [but the number of] Officers killed in the line of duty .... doesn't change after bargaining rights are granted.

* ...someone who lives in the U.S. was almost 60x as likely to be killed by police as someone in the United Kingdom. ...A black American... is about 3x as likely to be killed by police as a white person.


Not being protected from prosecution doesn't stop cops from engaging in self defense. If you genuinely think you are in danger as a cop you are willing to break the law to survive and accept being fired as a consequence. Protection from prosecution means there is no consequence to "premature self defense". If a citizen is perceived to possess a weapon but does not draw or fire it the cop still has an alibi that can be used to justify pulling the trigger.

I have seen a video where four cops randomly shot a man with a tazer. That man had no intention of escaping. The excessive use of police force served no purpose. It didn't make the job safer.



HRDAG estimates that 1 in 3 Americans murdered by a stranger are killed by a police officer. https://granta.com/violence-in-blue/

In Chicago, the police union has attempted to destroy complaint records and uses an arbitration clause to minimize impact of discipline and to keep information about sustained misconduct complaints under wraps, including other police departments considering hiring an officer (https://projects.propublica.org/graphics/il-grievances).

(Full disclosure, I'm a co-author of the OP linked article and the article about CPD grievances.)


Well that's certainly playing with statistics.

Most people are murdered by someone they know, so we're looking at a pretty small slice of all murders.

And that stat is for homicides, not murder. So it includes people lawfully killed.


> So it includes people lawfully killed

I would imagine that's part of the point.


I completely agree with this. Our national debate would be so much better if we had better data. Of course, some people aren't going to be persuaded by data and will probably try to condemn/intimidate/impugn-the-motives-of etc anyone who tries to talk about the data, but it would at least help good-faith people have a more productive debate.


A notable example is the way that gun violence data has been continuously and specifically suppressed by those who oppose gun control in the US (e.g: the Dickey Amendment, which had an extreme chilling effect on the CDC studying gun violence).

Unfortunately, it is common for those with power to see the data as a stick they can be beaten with rather than as a tool to do better.

Of course, an example of the negative potential also comes to mind: recently we got proof of extreme gerrymandering done using racial data. Obviously that isn't to suggest that data shouldn't exist, but more to underline your last point: fundamentally it can only be beneficial if people come to it in good faith.


>is the way that gun violence data has been continuously and specifically suppressed by those who oppose gun control

Last I checked they were happily singing out about the data because legal gun owners shoot statistically nobody and military style arms kill statistically nobody compared to career criminals with boring old handguns (who mostly kill each other because they can't rely on the courts to mediate their disputes).


I don’t see how this comment relates to my post or the broader conversation at all. This seems highly off-topic.


Well, my intent was to highlight that there is a similarity: those deciding how (or if) this data should be collected wish to suppress it because they believe it would result in change when they are invested in the status-quo.

Fundamentally trying to insulate data collection from those with invested with the status-quo (in all situations) would be sensible.


I'm not against collecting data. But one problem with mixing data collection and politics is that just by selecting which data to collect and which data to not collect you are implicitly crafting a narrative. It's very subjective, and the data collected will be based on the agenda of the politics at hand. There is no such thing as pure unbiased data collection.


It can be done though, can’t it? The SEC’s mandate is largely to enforce accurate and timely disclosure of information to the public. It’s not a perfect system but it works pretty well.

Why couldn’t there be an SEC-type entity that requires periodic public filings from police departments or hospitals?


This is certainly true in the abstract (we see a lot of this in homogeneous institutions like universities and newsrooms and it’s a real problem), but I don’t see the risk in this particular case. Further this is a generic argument against empiricism—it’s hard to get unbiased data, but that doesn’t invalidate the enterprise.


> Our national debate would be so much better if we had better data.

I doubt it. People have crunched the data that we do have and found that it doesn't support the popular narrative - and been fired from their jobs just for crunching the numbers.


If you could cite a source or even what you think the popular narrative to be that would be great.


I think it's interesting that you're using the widely used cop-speak of "police involved shooting", a passivized framing very popular in the media, even when criticizing the police.


Are you suggesting that media are pro-police right now? After nearly universally coming out in support of the current protests?

What term would you prefer? One that does not presume innocence?


A bunch of passive-voice examples here:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2014/07/14/...

> The deputy’s gun fired one shot, missing the dog and hitting the child.

Or here:

https://reason.com/2020/01/28/passive-voice-deployed-in-myst...

> The suspect was struck several times by the officer's duty weapon.


Passive-voice is the most appropriate for the vast majority of news stories.


Perhaps, but how often do you hear tortured, nonsensical phrasing like "the suspect's gun shot the victim" when discussing non-police incidents?

Sometimes the voice switches mid-tweet when the subject does:

https://twitter.com/nytimes/status/1266935666274906113

> Minneapolis: A photographer was shot in the eye.

> Washington, D.C.: Protesters struck a journalist with his own microphone.

> Louisville: A reporter was hit by a pepper ball on live television by an officer who appeared to be aiming at her.

"A photographer was shot" (cop), "A reporter was hit" (cop), but "Protesters struck".


I won't disagree that journalists are crap at consistency, sticking to provable facts, and avoiding injecting biased language into reporting.


If that was the problem then you'd expect loaded phrasing to be about equally distributed, but I don't think that's the case.


Passive-voice is frequently nonfactual. Cars do not run people over (unless they are rolling, and not being driven); guns do not shoot people (unless they experience a mechanical malfunction). This phrasing is _designed_ to mislead, to divert blame from the responsible parties, and has no place in the vast majority of news stories.


I disagree many times it's often the only 100% factually correct statement. Person A was run over by a car. Person B was arrested at the scene sitting behind the wheel. The reporter often only has that information to go on. They can not know 100% for sure that Person B ran over Person A.

2 weeks later camera footage comes out showing Person C driving over Person A, getting out of the car and running, and Person B moving over to sit in the drives seat.


This would be a great point if not for the heavily skewed application of this technique towards the police, as a sibling comment gives examples for.


It's purpose is to presume innocence, a tenet which seems to be rapidly fading from society.


Indeed, it presumes innocence of the police, a standard that is rarely applied to any other group, especially not protesters. That is precisely the problem.


Just police shootings would be fine.

I don’t understand the point about presuming innocence. These are cases where it has been determined that a police officer has shot someone. Not cases where somebody was shot whilst police were nearby and we don’t know who did it, which would be “police involved shootings”.


Yeah police shootings doesn't say anything about guilt. Seems ok from that angle.

Although I don't read clearly that the police were the ones that pulled the trigger. And "police involved shootings" doesn't say anything other than there was a shooting and an officer was involved. So the media does dance around the details.

Maybe it's cop-speak, maybe it's liability protection, maybe it's to get the readers to be curious on the details or a combination of all. I don't know.

"Officer was shot" or "officer-initiated shooting" is more clear.


This is not something I just came up with. The observation that the media heavily uses the passive voice when reporting on the police, a practice that the police started using to deflect blame in their reports, which the media often cites uncritically, has been criticized for decades. I suggest you just give "passive voice police" a google and look at the overwhelming amount of studies, articles and reports on this topic.


Only a few major police departments have done it themselves, Dallas PD being the most notable as one of the first and most comprehensive I've come across.

(Full disclosure, I'm a co-author of the article linked here.)


Thanks for your hard work! Democracy dies in the darkness.


Why should everything be federalized? There is no article in the constitution which mandates (or permits) federal supervision of state powers (such as the police power). The fact that voters fail to hold their lower-level governments to account does not mean that all power (and failure) should be centralized.


The Federal government has the power to apply consent decrees to specific police departments when those departments are found to have used force excessively, per the 1994 Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Act[0]. This essentially opens police departments up to lawsuits if they exhibit a pattern of bad behavior. In fact, this law explicitly requires DOJ to issue an annual report on "the use of excessive force by law enforcement officers", although they haven’t.

> The fact that voters fail to hold their lower-level governments to account does not mean that all power (and failure) should be centralized.

0: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Violent_Crime_Control_and_La...


The legislature and the executive derive their powers from the constitution, not legislation. This is demonstrated by the abundance of unconstitutional legislation.


Just wanna to add that Trump's DOJ isn't pursuing consent decree. In fact, the consent decree in Chicago was nearly finalized when Trump took office, and Sessions dropped it.

So they have the power to do it, but they definitely have the power not to do it at all.


> Why should everything be federalized?

Generally most policies are good or bad regardless of where you live. If a policy is good it should be wnavted nationwide so to benifit all citizens.

More specifically this has to do with government oversight. When local and state government overstep and violate people's rights and act in an authoritarian fashion the federal government should step in and fix things

> There is no article in the constitution which mandates (or permits) federal supervision of state powers (such as the police power).

You're incorrect. The Supreme Court has found that federal supervision of police powers is constitutional so it is. As it should be.

> The fact that voters fail to hold their lower-level governments to account does not mean that all power (and failure) should be centralized.

The fact that voters fail hold their lower-level governments to account and in fact may be unable or don't wish to is an incredibly powerful argument for the need of a centralized solution. The same now as during the civil rights era


The federal government is responsible for enforcing citizens’ civil rights when states can’t, won’t or don’t.


You're begging the question here; you need to explain your reasoning as to how and why your beliefs are true, rather than simply asserting them.


It’s not a belief, it’s a fact. And it’s part and parcel to the basic system of checks and balances underlying the US Federal and State Governments outlined in the Constitution. I had assumed it was common knowledge but I’m happy to walk you through it:

The United States Constitution guarantees a certain minimum level of civil rights. Each state’s Constitution may set forth a higher, but not lower, bar for civil rights. (California, for example, cannot amend the state Constitution to allow slavery or to prevent people with orange hair from voting. Well they could but the Federal Government would step in to stop the amendment from being enforced...)

Who is responsible for enforcing the Constitution? The Federal and State governments. So when a State government is the entity violating the Constitution the Federal government is responsible. It happens all the time and in myriad ways.

The executive branch (President, DOJ, various Federal agencies like the EEOC, etc.) can intervene if enforcement is at issue - usually with a lawsuit (for example, when a state violates voting rights) and rarely with force (like when states refused to carry out school desegregation following Brown v. Board of Education and Brown II). Likewise when the Federal government is infringing civil rights States Attorneys General will bring suit against the Federal Government just the same.

Congress, as the legislative branch, can also pass laws under the authority of the Commerce Clause to articulate a minimum national standard for specific civil rights like housing, employment, and education. I can’t post an advertisement for a job opening with the qualification “WHITE WOMEN ONLY” and the State of New York can’t either. States must abide the same way you or I are bound to follow federal law and the consequence of non-compliance is the same: the Department of Justice will come knocking to enforce the Civil Rights Act.

Finally, the Judicial Branch has oversight of state judiciary enforcement of civil rights. If Massachusetts arrests me without cause and a Massachusetts judge sentences me to prison without a trial I can appeal to a federal court that would then order Massachusetts to charge me or release me as the Constitution requires.

Our entire system is intended to allow the Federal and State Governments and the people to seek assistance and oversight to ensure the rights we are guaranteed are not infringed.


First of all, rights aren't "enforced". They're assumed given, and sometimes enumerated in law. Enforcement against violators is largely a discretionary matter of limited resources.


Semantics. You’re right that the usual term in this context would be to “uphold” civil rights but the word enforce means to compel compliance and that is very much an accurate description of the process.

Edit: The DOJ Civil Rights Division uses the word “enforce” right on their homepage: https://www.justice.gov/crt


Federal supervision of state powers, while not explicitly outlined in the constitution, has been developing based on the commerce and supremacy clauses since the Civil War. We do not currently live in a strict constructionist country, and frankly that type of government is significantly flawed. Madison correctly pointed this out during the Constitutional Convention, and while his negative was not put in, it was later taken up by the Supreme Court as judicial review.

I would argue that the death knell for the state's rights reading of the Constitution was the Civil War. It's fairly clear that the development of the government post-war, especially illustrated by the punishments levied against the southern states, created a national government rather than a federation of allied parties.


Consent decrees are definitely an instance where the federal government is supervising the state, but the fact that they are doing something does not ipso facto mean that they should be doing it. This whole thread is about the differences between what governments are doing and what they should be doing.

I would argue that incorporation was the beginning of the death knell of states' rights, followed by the dramatic expansion of the administrative state in the early 1900s.


> Consent decrees are definitely an instance where the federal government is supervising the state, but the fact that they are doing something does not ipso facto mean that they should be doing it. This whole thread is about the differences between what governments are doing and what they should be doing.

The fact that they needed to supervise them because not enough was being done to change the cops behavior is a strong argument that the federal government should be doing it

> I would argue that incorporation was the beginning of the death knell of states' rights

People have rights. States which are government do not have rights. The idea of states rights is a ridiculous one that was frequently used to try to justify lack of federal oversight and the "right" to oppress people's rights.

As for incorporation it's one of the best actions the supreme court has taken. As a libertarian you should be happy the court said that states can no longer violate people's constitutional rights


Right. There needs to be less centralization, not more. Perhaps Chicago should be it's own state, or at least an autonomous district.


Here's an example of one of these dashboards: http://www.seattle.gov/police/information-and-data/use-of-fo...

This is run by the Seattle PD. It's quite detailed. It uses Tableau for visualizations. You can see a lot there.

And ironically, there seemed to be more protests directed against the Seattle PD than other departments. So I'm not sure that this dashboard of data actually matters to protestors.


I know this is probably asking too much, but any death or serious injury under police control should immediately go to a grand jury. With a grand jury, they have power to subpoena any and all evidence, including the stuff that the police like to hold back. And they can also compel people to testify under oath, which encourages the cops involved to turn on wrongdoers where they would normally be content with sitting back and not saying anything. Also, since grand juries do not decide on guilt, there is no 5th amendment right to abstain from self incrimination. They must tell the truth or risk being held accountable with severe consequences if caught in a lie. In other words, take those weak internal affairs investigations that are staffed by brothers in blue, and put it into the hands of a jury and give them some powerful tools to get to the actual bottom of the matter.

The best part of the idea is that cops would be forced to justify the reasonableness of their supposed reasonable use of force, and they would be held to the standard of "reasonable" that the public decides, not themselves. And it is not a trial, it is merely a screening for a trial to see if it passes the bar for criminal action.


>Also, since grand juries do not decide on guilt, there is no 5th amendment right to abstain from self incrimination.

IANAL, but I'm pretty sure that's not how the Fifth Amendment works. Wikipedia notes the Fifth Amendment right to remain silent is broad enough to apply even in civil proceedings, and mentions an example of it being used in grand jury testimony: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fifth_Amendment_to_the_United_...


Correct. If you could be forced to admit guilt in a Grand Jury, that admission could be used in the actual criminal proceedings.


Looks like I was wrong about self incrimination in a grand jury, but even given that caveat, a grand jury can be useful for breaking through the blue line. For example, a prosecutor can petition to grant immunity to a key witness, and if granted immunity, can compel them to testify about things that would normally be self-incriminating, in order to reveal testimony of criminal behavior of a partner.


It's crazy to me that in 2020 a first world city with a 2.7 million population has 80 shootings with at least 17 deaths in a single weekend. All forms of violence, including police violence, would drop if America managed to bring its gun addiction under control.


Maybe the FBI was trying to avoid getting hit with some variant of the Dickey amendment?


I am certain that the non-profit sector can organize and create a reporter-based system that logs this data if the individual states and cities won't.

There's never been more desire for this data.


It is an important concept of federalism to have that separation of authority between State and Federal. Besides given the federal government's track record of transparency do you really think if they had authority over local PDs they'd make all of that data available and open?

Update: Just to make clear I don't disagree that more data is good and that we should work to make all crime and police data available, but I don't think the FBI should be able to have absolute authority over local PDs.


The federal government acts as an oversight body. They should do their job as an oversight body.


So, I would be interested to hear more of your legal theory for this as it could be argued.

However in the United States Constitution the 10th Amendment states that all powers not explicitly delegated to the federal government are reserved to the states. Thus establishing the principle of the separation of powers between the federal and state governments as integral to American law.

Thus according to the constitution the role of the federal government is not that of an oversight body. I am anxious however to learn more on the subject if you can provide additional evidence that legally the role of the US Federal government is to act as an oversight body for the states.

EDIT: A lot of the replies have been informative, and well reasoned and there is a very compelling case from a legal perspective for the idea of the Federal government has the ability to compel local PDs in this respect. My hats off to the replies, very informative. I still don't know if the FBI would be the best appendage for doing something like this, but I do find the responses informative.


The 14th Amendment says:

> No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. [ ... ] The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

That gives ground for the US government to oversee the states, at least in matters of judicial and policing oversight.


> I am anxious however to learn more on the subject if you can provide additional evidence that legally the role of the US Federal government is to act as an oversight body for the states.

The Federal government has the power to apply consent decrees to specific police departments when those departments are found to have used force excessively, per the 1994 Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Act[0]. This essentially opens police departments up to lawsuits if they exhibit a pattern of bad behavior. In fact, this law explicitly requires DOJ to issue an annual report on "the use of excessive force by law enforcement officers", although they haven’t.

0: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Violent_Crime_Control_and_La...


Also keep in mind that a lot of these agencies receive federal funding.

Even if they don't have a legal right to do oversight, they can simply say you comply with this or you don't get federal money.


"Oversight of data" != absolute authority

And when certain states broke off from the union and for a century continued to oppress the civil liberties of a race, the feds stepped in.

There is evidence of widespread abuse of police power and lack of accountability. There could be a Constitutional argument made about equal protection regarding a federal mandate on police oversight.


The should track all deaths occuring during police encounters, including chokings, drug overdose, etc... Not only shootings.


Wait until you find out about doctors.


> It's crazy to me that in 2020, there isn't comprehensive, mandatory Federal tracking of police-involved shootings.

This may come as a surprise to you, but that would be unconstitutional. The constitution limits what the federal government can do, and thus, there is no provision for what you're proposing. Unless of course, you mean an amendment, and that ipso facto requires approval of 3/4 of the states.


I'm amazed that someone with the title of "Assistant Director of Communications" actually wrote this meaningless, word salad of gibberish:

>"We looked into this and confirmed with our IT Department that API was a tool that was previously available at one point, but has been discontinued / turned off. The API Access site is stagnant and not being monitored and should have been pulled down once the tool was no longer publicly accessible, and as a result, requests for access were not being reviewed.”

The best translation I can come up with seems to be "The API used to exist, but was turned off because it was turned off".


It sounds even worse to me. It seems to say 'we thought we had turned that off sometime ago, but we didn't actually take down the public site which gave access to it. In the past, we would have reviewed any request for data through the API, but since we thought we had stopped public access, we were accidentally giving data away without checking if we are actually on with people knowing these things'.


A lot of this reporting work came from 'bpchaps, for what it's worth; he's been doing awesome data journalism work (in part with the Low Orbit Ion Cannon of FOIA infrastructures), which he's written about and discussed on HN; for instance:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17754105

More people should be doing this stuff.


Incredibly telling that the police still pull this type of thing despite how laser-focused everyone is on their behavior right now.

It's almost as if they've been institutionalized to think they're better than everyone else.

Defund the police and use the money for mental health and human services.

Local police service data should be randomly audited by the feds and independent third parties.


Open crime data should be mandatory for every police force, let citizens do the auditing.


>"Defund the police and use the money for mental health and human services."

That doesn't address the cancer of gang violence and other violence that police need to deal with constantly.

"Mental health and human services" will not address these problems. Most people committing crime had an opportunity to go to school and participate in legal society. They choose not to.

The future of America is that of a lawless gangland like Mexico if the police are "defunded".


Even police departments don't send their paramilitary groups (eg. "SWAT") to every scene, police don't need to be at every emergency call. In fact, this is already the case -- when you call 911 for a medical emergency, an ambulance or medical fire department unit shows up (usually alone). In the same way, "defund the police" means use police more judiciously, not necessarily eliminate police.

> The future of America is that of a lawless gangland like Mexico if the police are "defunded".

Citation needed.

Gang violence in the US has been declining for more than 2 decades, even as the population grows and US police case closure rates are far below 50%. Police don't have as much effectiveness or as good of a reputation with innocent civilians in gang territory as I imagine you think. Also, a significant portion of the US already has and carries guns, so it's not like gang violence would just expand boundless even if there were no police.


The police don't address gang violence, they react to it after it happens. Gang violence has been declining in the US despite no change in policing.


If you want to drastically reduce gang violence, end the War on Drugs. That will cut off a huge portion of gangs' funding sources.


Sadly this isn't the first time this has happened in the history of open data. I remember when Kalamazoo's crimes API got shut down by the chief of police. It still has not returned.

The true test of open data is when people use its information to criticize public officials and it doesn't disappear.


Police especially don't have many excuses for hiding their actions since they are meant to enforce the law. It used to surprise me just how many pointless secrets are kept by government departments in open democracies.

But who watches the watchers?

I think police departments and government can do better. Removing data implies a lack of transparency. Transparency and being seen to be improving at "doing the right thing" should be core targets right now.

This isn’t just about police either. I should be able to look up a lot more. Open democracies, informed voters, right? Regular, yearly/monthly data dumps should be commonplace.

How else are modern democracies meant to function? Lobby groups? How 20th century!


This strikes me as remarkably similar to the "crown jewels" problem of API availability.

Simply stated, it's that it's the hardest sell in the world to expect a company to expend money and resources to act against its own interests, and applied to governmental organizations like the police, no appointed official is going to stomach spending money making themselves look bad.

More broadly stated, you can't solve accountability problems by asking people to step up and be more accountable. The only way is to impose rules from above.

And even that won't work if there's actual bad faith involved. Police depts issuing rules on body camera usage will find that the cameras just don't work when they'd make individual officers look bad.

I'm sure CPD had the best of intentions when it created its API. But as soon as a journo ran an article using it to make them look bad, regardless of how right it was, means their access was going to get revoked. Nobody forced them to put out an API, and it just became a political liability. Of course it's going to go away.


> More broadly stated, you can't solve accountability problems by asking people to step up and be more accountable. The only way is to impose rules from above.

> But as soon as a journo ran an article using it to make them look bad, regardless of how right it was, means their access was going to get revoked.

No. This is specific (but not exclusive) to their culture.

If NASA has this toxic culture, we would lose more than 50% of all rocket payloads and astronauts. Programmers who have this mentality are defensive about their code (as if any criticism of their code is an attack on their ego) never grow and quickly turn the culture around them very negative.


If we had a million NASAs all over the country, they wouldn't all be paragons of professionalism.


The is slightly OT, but I just want to throw it out there that there is no way they did this without Mayor Lightfoot's approval. Which makes me think, why?

Source: I worked closely with CPD and to some extent the mayor's office for two years.


I'm not sure why the title was revised. The story makes a strong case that the reason why the arrest API was removed was because the Chicago Reporter used said API to prove that they were lying about their original claims. Now they refuse to comment on why it was removed and are ignoring any FOIA requests to actually get the data.

In attempt to make the title more neutral it seems like it made it more biased in favor of what seems like a corrupt police department.


Professionally, I could see defense attorneys being very concerned by this.

Internally and among colleagues? They're howling with laughter at the hypocrisy of cops who love the idea of "if you're doing nothing wrong, there's nothing to hide."


The chicago PD and it's notorious lawlessness is the single biggest thing preventing me from moving to the area despite a good professional fit and available jobs. I must not be the only one. If I ran a company I wouldn't be willing to subject my employees to those hazards either. Maybe it's worth complaining to the chamber of commerce... public officials seem to have done little to fix anything, maybe involving the people pulling the strings could move the needle.


You think the Chicago PD is lawless? It's the criminals, crime and general lawlessness in Chicago that is causing over 40 people to routinely be shot each weekend in Chicago.

The rampant lies and misrepresentations about police will only cause more crime, deaths and lawlessness as police choose to retire and decent people who may have been considering becoming police will decide to not subject themselves to the constant and unjustified abuse meted out by the public and politicians which police have to endure.


Hi, Chicago resident here. The CPD is under a consent decree that they do not follow, their officers have rioted against protesters and stood by watching looting occur, and every year they incur tens (if not hundreds) of millions of dollars of debt for the city and it's taxpayers for police misconduct settlements. So yeah, I think it's fair to say CPD is lawless.

As for your assertion that "rampant lies and misrepresentations" caused the decline of the police profession, the idiom isn't "criticism of the apple barrel spoils the whole bunch." The police do damage to their own reputation by not removing the "bad apples," moreso than anybody who critices the police.



Am I reading that wrong or are the quotes from police and gov saying saying "offenders" when they mean "people accused of a crime and presumed innocent" ?


Unfortunately, "innocent until proven guilty" is rarely what cops in the US believe. In most cases, they just care about making arrests, not about finding the actual culprit.


Yeah, but most politicians at least pretend.


I believe government data should be much more openly accessible, but it's hard to blame anyone for removing a tool provided by them that's being used against them.


Article says they still have access to a less-useful access tool, can someone help set them up with a scraper?


“Obtaining structured data from this system is costly and time-consuming due to the need to tell the system you’re not a robot every few searches. It also doesn’t include some key categories of information formerly available via the API, including the primary charge, bond hearing dates, IR number, and the FBI code associated with the type of arrest.”


Actual, unmodified title as of Thu Jul 9 1609 CDT:

Chicago Police Department arrest API shutdown is its own kind of ‘cover up’


I think calls to defund the police are well over-stepping the clean-up that's obviously required, but that stance continues to soften in light of situations like this (and the increasing use of encrypted police radio comms and decreased open-ness with journalists)


Wonder if they shut down their asSOAP API as well


[flagged]


You might be reading a little too much into the article. It's possible you're bringing outside views into the discussion.


Pretty sure that the points of a comments section is bringing in outside information.


Could have used some cites though.


> It's possible you're bringing outside views into the discussion.

It's literally impossible for anybody to ever not. There's no such thing as a blank slate human who's capable of conversing.

Edit for response: To be clear, I don't think makotech222 argued their point well. But expecting people to enter a conversation without any outside ideas influencing their mindset is patently absurd.


Ideally they would have some basis in reality as demonstrated by some accompanying supporting evidence. I don’t think that’s asking too much.


Lenny Bruce on who the police serve (part of a larger bit):

https://youtu.be/CjBpbCceQjg?t=611


[flagged]


We've banned this account for trolling. Please don't create accounts to break HN's rules with.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


> A vast proportion of non-white crime is manufactured by cops and the media to scare whites into bringing back slavery in all but name. Black neighborhoods are actually the safest places in America if racist cops would stop harassing innocent citizens just because they are PoC.

These are pretty sensational claims, do you have hard statistically relevant evidence for this?


So you think that the "vast proportion" of the non-white shootings we see in inner cities are manufactured by the media and police?

Do you mean they make them up? I'm really not following here.


I'm pretty sure their comment is a parody of the parent comment that makes a lot of outrageous claims with no evidence, followed by a slogan you can chant at protests.


I thought so at first, but then I look at the comment history, and some doubt seeped in.

I'm honestly not sure if you're right or not. I often can't tell anymore.


Speaking as a former working-class person from a long lineage of working class people, this is obviously and overt nonsense. The criminal justice system and the (highly distributed) institution of policing in particular must be improved and reformed, but the idea that they "oppress working class people" in any meaningful way is severely disconnected from reality (well, communist countries notwithstanding).

EDIT: Wow, this post was downvoted the very moment I posted it (<1s). Good work HN.

EDIT 2: retracted claim that the parent was lying as opposed to the more charitable interpretation of their error.


I don't think you had to go as far as asserting that the parent is overtly lying. It's far from impossible to honestly believe the police "oppress working class people", especially if you have any personal experience to bias your view that way.


Fair enough, I should have been more charitable.


I see you edited to remove the accusation of lying, but you left in "this is obviously and overt nonsense", which is pretty hostile and low value.

Edit: You also added "as opposed to the more charitable interpretation of their error", which is very passive aggressive and elitist.


Police come from working class backgrounds. It is usually the lower class not the working class who gets oppressed.



You complain about being downvoted, but your entire post is just calling the post "obviously and overt nonsense" and claiming it is a lie, without making any attempt to explain why. Not exactly a helpful post.


Wikipedia defines the police as "a constituted body of persons empowered by a state, with the aim to enforce the law, to ensure the safety, health and possessions of citizens, and to prevent crime and civil disorder".

If you are claiming that the police are in fact, "a force which exists to terrorize working class people in order to force them to work for minimum wage" then I think the burden of proof is on you.


This is a very weird argument. No one is talking about the definition of the term, they are talking about the implementation as it exists in the US right now.

This is like saying that just because the DPRK has "democratic" in the name, it must be a democratic nation.


You're misusing the concept of "burden of proof" as a rhetorical attack. The parent is not asserting the root comment to be true with no proof - they're pointing out why the response was bad. Upon whom the burden of proof lies has no bearing on that.


For the individual to make a claim that:

"They are a force which exists to terrorize working class people in order to force them to work for minimum wage. They are an investment by the ruling class which allows them to maintain their profits on marginalized workers."

Is just over the top absurdist. It's easily debunked by asking someone making above minimal wage "are you being forced to work by the police?" Will they bust down your door and address you for failure to accept employment at minimum wage?


Well, can you sleep on the street in an American city? Can you solicit charity? Are you allowed to eat a piece of bread to avoid dying of hunger, even if you have no money?

Or will the police fine you and jail you?

I don't agree with your reading of the original argument, but if you want to take it extremely literally, the police do actually force you to work, assuming you do not have money or relations to support yourself without working. And of course, the prison system will literally force you to work if you get that far. Of course, they are doing this through their enforcement of local, state, or federal laws, not by their own mandate, but they are still the ones ultimately doing these actions.

Of course, there are much more faitfhful readings of the original argument that have more nuanced responses.


Depends on where you are, where the local law is, etc. "Allowed to eat a piece of bread to avoid dying of hunger" .. is there a law against it?

I'm not sure what you're trying to get at. Our society is based on trade. They also have charities and shelters to help those who don't have it.


> Well, can you sleep on the street in an American city? Can you solicit charity? Are you allowed to eat a piece of bread to avoid dying of hunger, even if you have no money?

In every major US city I’ve been to you can do this.


I'm not saying I agree with the argument necessarily, but your counter-argument here is obviously flawed: oppressed peoples can't speak their mind freely, and may not have the information to be able to understand their situation fully. To claim that just because you ask someone "are you being oppressed" and they say "no", that they are therefore not being oppressed seems naive at best.


> oppressed peoples can't speak their mind freely

They can't? The government is arresting these people for speaking? If so we have a 1st amendment violation.

Private corporations? That's an issue between the person and the corporation. We don't have rights protecting speech there and protecting that agreement [staying employeed]. However, the private insitution do not have the right to imprison someone over speech they do not like.

> may not have the information to be able to understand their situation fully

Are you talking about the education about this? The federal system has a minimum amount of education guaranteed per person. Typically most of the economy is run by people who have the education and skills. As an individual you do have the right to congregate with others and speak with each others about situations. Creating a union is legal. (Although that's an annoyingly controversial practice)

> To claim that just because you ask someone "are you being oppressed" and they say "no", that they are therefore not being oppressed seems naive at best.

That is your judgment and evaluation of the situation. Why should we believe this guy Latty on the internet about a third party's situation?


I've been a member of the alleged oppress class and can confirm that we are indeed not oppressed and there is no police conspiracy that has ever prevented me or my "oppressed" working class family, friends, etc from speaking up. Of course, if you're really bent on the conspiracy explanation, you might say that I'm still oppressed and I'm saying this in duress (me denying my oppression is proof of my oppression, ordeal by water, etc).


What's scary about the posts above is they're making the claim that you are not capable of identifying yourself as an oppressed class.

Step-aside and let them be your hero! /s


There’s nothing to refute; the parent didn’t support their own claim. How can I prove a negative? Anyway, it’s overt ideological propaganda; I don’t owe a substantial response.




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