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Bipartisan police reform talks open in Congress after Biden speech

11 Comments
By Makini Brice

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Qualified immunity is a difficult thing.

Acting under the color of law is a gateway out of immunity, but police tactics mix consensual encounters with demands that resemble being detained, and many times those demands are not legal, e.g., to produce ID, identify yourself if you are not suspected of a crime, asking about what you are doing, where you are going, denying permission to search as a reason to search, asking to search without probable cause. There are just so many tactics that impair a persons rights, and most people are either not educated to understand their rights or are pressured to comply with demands in a consensual encounter. Seen good cops and bad cops, and bad cops do mess up people lives, assuming they live through the encounter.

Consider downloading an ACLU application that records police encounters and uploads the video to the cloud.

Don't talk to police unless you need to. "Do you know why I pulled you over?" sounds conversational, but it is a tactic to get the driver to admit to a traffic infraction, and traffic stops should only cover the reason for the stop. Giving the police more information by answering their questions could lead to further delays and investigation. The better tactic is to make them answer questions.

Don't know, there is a lot that needs to be done to improve policing.

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Qualified immunity is a difficult thing.

They need to remove the immunity of the politicians who create the laws and regulations the police have to follow that lead to so many unnecessary interactions with citizens. The “loosely” cigarette law is a good example of the stupidity of those making the laws. Put the politicians in jail too.

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viking68: but police tactics mix consensual encounters with demands that resemble being detained, and many times those demands are not legal, e.g., to produce ID, identify yourself if you are not suspected of a crime, asking about what you are doing, where you are going, denying permission to search as a reason to search, asking to search without probable cause.

Yep. YouTube is filled with videos of cops trying to exert authority in situations where they have no legal standing. Most people comply because they don't know their rights. The crazy videos are the ones where the cops keep pushing for information or making threats when the person they are talking to clearly understands their rights. Cops are just so used to people following orders their muscle memory takes over and they just can't stop themselves.

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American police in general have a training deficit. It is pretty obvious that they are often not well versed in law and civil rights, and try to use bluster and voice volume to cow people into compliance.

Another huge problem is police being used as revenue generating tools by cash strapped governments. This leads to all sorts of bad outcomes such as property seizures and overzealous enforcement of petty traffic violations.

Final problem is militarization. This is perhaps the biggest. An us vs. them mentality, the "thin blue line" psyche, the total paranoia with which they approach every interaction with the public. They have to stop trying to intimidate and start actually policing again. Get rid of the black uniforms, the khakis, the mirrored shades. Get back on the streets and into the community.

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Yes, more community policing, back on bikes kind of thing, more vetting....

It's a step in the right direction

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They need to remove the immunity of the politicians who create the laws and regulations the police have to follow that lead to so many unnecessary interactions with citizens. The “loosely” cigarette law is a good example of the stupidity of those making the laws. Put the politicians in jail too.

Members of Congress from both parties are tried, convicted and go to jail with considerable regularity. There is no immunity from prosecution for sitting members of Congress.

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Most European and Asian police forces have much longer, more comprehensive training programs than US police forces. Police training in the US can vary between 10 to 36 weeks. Norwegian police require three years of training. British, Finnish and Icelandic police training lasts two years. All of these forces have extremely low frequency of use of firearms. Killings over a decade are in single digits. French police training lasts one year and students who leave early are fined! Upon graduation officers must stay in the force four years or the are fined. Some of the French police agencies require a Bachelors degree. The police motto in Germany is "Your friend and helper". Training lasts upwards of three years for German police. Training matters. In the military we know that you fight like you train. In confusing fast moving dangerous situations the only way to avoid being overcome by fear is to rely on your training. Other nations devote a lot more time walking their new police through a wide variety of dangerous situations until the correct response is ingrained. When their cops meet the same situation in the field they rarely use firearms and you don't see the spectacle of three or four terrified cops unloading their service handguns into a suspect who then turns out to be unarmed.

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Final problem is militarization. This is perhaps the biggest. An us vs. them mentality, the "thin blue line" psyche, the total paranoia with which they approach every interaction with the public. They have to stop trying to intimidate and start actually policing again. Get rid of the black uniforms, the khakis, the mirrored shades. Get back on the streets and into the community.

Some of these private organizations that provide police training are indoctrinating the trainees as warriors rather than public servants. There is no good reason for police to wear military uniforms or drive military style vehicles. Some police agencies even have M113 armored personnel carriers. That is outside of policing and is a form of intimidation that has no place in police work.

Cops need to remember their most important duty is to protect the innocent. If they are arresting and worse yet shooting innocent people they are not doing their job. That this is such a common occurrence is due to deficient training. The worst crime imaginable is to imprison or execute the innocent. As James Madison pointed out during his defense of a suspect in trial, when actual innocence no longer protects one from being arrested and brought before the bar there is no reason for anyone to obey the law. You can get arrested either way so why bother? That is actually a problem today for the US in many cities where poorly trained police harass and arrest people who broke no laws.

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Police officers who belong to right-wing groups like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers need to be weeded out. There needs to be a national register of fired officers not just being employed by a new police authority. The carrying of military weapons should be restricted. Every officer must wear a chest cam.

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Compounding the problem for the US is that many minority groups feel effectively disenfranchised and their views not represented in legislative bodies who write the laws they will be expected to obey. The constant efforts by some whites to curtail the opportunities for Blacks, Hispanics and the poor in general is not lost on them and for some, it breeds contempt of the both the laws and the institutions that passed them.

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I should have said constant efforts to curtail the opportunities for Black, Hispanics and the poor in general to vote. Apologies for the mistake.

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