Policies Matter

Not so long ago, a not overly bright person on a community forum called me a “racist” for asking “what does Black Life Matter” actually want?”

One might wonder if BLM is “racist” for finally answering my question.

Thing is, their ideas aren’t entirely wrong:

1. End “broken windows” policing, which aggressively polices minor crimes in an attempt to stop larger ones.

Broken windows policing has always been controversial.  But it’s worked; it was a key element in turning New York from a crime-sodden wasteland in 1975 to one of the safer cities in America in 2005.

It did lean hard on “communities of color” – because some of those communities have had all sorts of problems, both “broken windows” and crime.  We can debate the reasons for that – and a lot of African-Americans disagree with BLM on that; it’s usually they who are asking for more, and more integrated, police presence in their communities.

Is it possible to get good policing in a trouble community without impacting those, in the community, who are trouble?

2. Use community oversight for misconduct rather than having the police department decide what consequences officers should face.

I don’t disagree in principle:  groups investigating themselves never works.

But community review boards, especially in Democrat-run cities where most police problems are, inevitably turn into political footballs.

Better idea?  Make police carry individual liability insurance.  It’ll have the same effect it has on drivers; it’ll show us who the “bad” ones are, and fast.

3. Make standards for reporting police use of deadly force.

Excellent idea.

4. Independently investigate and prosecute police misconduct.

This would seem to make good common sense.

5. Have the racial makeup of police departments reflect the communities they serve.

A passable-sounding idea in principle; very hard to carry out in practice; if applicants for police service reflect the larger American community – 12% Latino, 11% black, 2% Asian, 75% white – what is “the community” supposed to do?  Assign cops to precincts on the basis of race?

Is it a good idea, though?  If our idea of “justice” is “bean-counting based on skin color”, then haven’t we really lost?

6. Require officers to wear body cameras.

Fine idea in practice, and I support it in principle.

The devil is in the details.  Can we allow officers to turn off their cameras?  Do you want officers stopping at Superamerica to take a dump preserved on the public record?

I’m not asking to be funny or gross.  If you allow officers to turn off the camera for purposes of bodily functions, then you create an opportunity – several, in fact.  Unethical officers will use that facility.   Bureaucrats will create more rules and procedures around cameras, which’ll take more time away from policing.

I’m in favor, but with questions.

7. Provide more training for police officers.

Not a bad idea, provided the “training” is useful.

8. End for-profit policing practices.

We’re talking about civil forfeiture, and even if the other nine proposals had been complete hogwash, this alone would be worth it.  Using funds from “crimes” that haven’t even gone to trial should be stopped, now.

9. End the police use of military equipment.

I’ll meet ’em halfway on this.   The hero gear gets way too much of a workout.  When you have armored cars and police in full battle rattle knocking down doors to serve warrants for non-violent crimes – pot dealers, people who owe the city money, that kind of thing – that does kinda send a message about what you think about “a community”.

10. Implement police union contracts that hold officers accountable for misconduct.

Now that is going to be interesting to see out in practice.

BLM’s got a few useful ideas.  Where they go wrong is in relying on politics and politicians to do the reforming for them.

13 thoughts on “Policies Matter

  1. #1 is an old school pre-surveillance society policing methodology. Before there were cameras everywhere it was how you identified neighborhood bad actors so that you knew who to look for when something seriously bad happened. It incidentally made marginal, down-market neighborhoods more livable. With the advent of cameras everywhere surveillance a police dept/mayors office can let a record a neighborhood as it rots and only act when politically expedient. BLM won’t like the result of ending “broken windows policing”.
    #2 = modern day patronage system – always and inevitably corrupt.
    #3 & #4 agree
    #5 what happens when 12 Hmong officers apply for the 3 Hmong reserved job openings and only 5 blacks apply for the 11 black reserved job openings – this is a failed notion, always will be
    #6 agree, with your caveats, and with a requirement for a search warrant/court order for any access to the recordings on the grounds that unless any active chargeable case is present an individual’s privacy is paramount
    #7 who decides where the dividing line between political indoctrination and practical policing is drawn
    #8 & #9 agree
    #10 good luck with that – if the union is doing its job of representing the rank and file this will always be a non-starter, a BLM pipe-dream.

  2. Hey, let’s bring back the “Soul Patrol,” first tried in Boston in 1971. Just be prepared for Black officers to object to being assigned to Black neighborhoods, not because the officers are racist against Blacks, but because those are the most dangerous neighborhoods for cops of any color. Nobody wants to be assigned Permanent Latrine Orderly and especially not because you happen to share the skin color of the perps.

  3. RE: “Soul Patrol” I was living in Boston (Cambridge) back then – it made the back pages of the local news that a significant # of those officers were moving their families out of the neighborhoods they patrolled because they were treated as “Uncle Tom families”. Also word was if you’re pulled over by a black officer, it means you’re in the wrong neighborhood.

  4. So BLM is actively promoting racisim? The idea that it is REQUIRED to have a certain skin tone to be able do a certain job? Very well, I propose we call that the James Vulture system.

    As for the “dump” idea, that’s what editing and a review board are for. I’m all for collecting all that data but only releasing it under a judicial order and review. (If you want to see an organization that will then be motivated to properly implement IT security, it will be the cops if ALL their data must be stored.) Having an off button is too big a loophole.

    I’m not too sure the liability insurance order will work, especially without body cameras. Too many interactions with the criminal class result in false accusations and insurance companies react to accusations as well as actual cases of liability — watch what happens to your rates if you’re accused of something even if you’re acquitted.

  5. Kruse and Tomczak got them to list some concrete demands earlier this year and what they supplied were, as you say, not outrageous and some even reasonable.

    So their over the top antics are way out of proportion to what they say they want.

  6. Worth noting is that in Rochester alone, there are at least two different BLM movements. They are at odds, so this list is not comprehensive about what people do or do not want.

    That said, I posted on another set of BLM desires–where they rejected body cameras and were standing for LGBT (etc..) while standing against the traditional nuclear family. In other words, that particular leadership is in full SUPPORT of the biggest problems poor black communities face. Can’t go with that.

    And regarding this list, #1 is the big deal breaker for me. The “research” which purports to “debunk” the idea of broken windows policing was started after New York City had more than halved its murder rate–in other words, it effectively has no control.

    And having grown up 20 miles from Gary (many-time “winner” of “murder capitol”) and having been through the South Side of Chicago and South Central LA quite a bit, I can affirm through personal experience that what a lot of people there need is a frequent reminder that “blue is watching”. Get his fingerprints and DNA in the database for tagging, and he’s going to be a lot less likely to leave those fingerprints and DNA at the site of an armed robbery, murder, or rape.

    Put differently, #1 is evidence that this particular affiliate of BLM is in support of the problem, not the solution.

  7. Put differently, #1 is evidence that this particular affiliate of BLM is in support of the problem, not the solution.

    Sometimes I get the feeling that I’m the only one out there who thinks “you know, none of this would be an issue if black people didn’t commit so many more crimes than white people (per capita)”

    Who said it earlier? Blacks are 12% of the population, but 62% of the convictions.

    Does that mean that the conviction rate is higher by 50% because the justice system is racist? I think it means that per capita, blacks commit more crimes than whites do, so they are arrested, tried and convicted at proportionally higher rates than whites are.

    Also, a favor to ask of the commenters here: I don’t remember who it was (JD? NW? MrD?) but someone made a 6 or 7 item list of the things that will happen if Hillary is elected. Things like the 2nd amendment goes away, and Citizens United will be repealed, thereby making political speech illegal 60 days before an election (or something along those lines).

    Could whoever that was, repost that list? This time I shall save it.

  8. Can somebody please explain to me, why is it that we seem to agree on most everything laid out here, and yet BLM insists on achieving their goals through terrorist means other than an open dialogue?

  9. JPA, I think you’re confusing agreement with a number of planks with agreement with the overall document, and that’s a fallacy.

    For my part, #1, #2, and #5 really implicitly betray a tribal view of the law, more or less saying that only blacks ought to administer justice for blacks–and as Kel notes, it means that extreme pressure would be levied on black officers NOT to enforce the law against blacks. That’s what “Uncle Tom” means, really. And let’s ask the question; they’re against their own being arrested for graffiti and the like, but would they hesitate to clamor for you or I to be punished for the same?

    In other words, tribal justice, same as when the Obama administration throws the book at Dinesh D’Souza or the video guy, but declines to indict Lerner, Clinton, or Castro. Really, BLM needs to be reminded of what happens when justice becomes tribal–the post-WWII history of Africa is sad testimony to this, no?

  10. DG,

    Alas, you’ve gone back to your old habits – making snide, dismissive, condescending claims that your facts (“ironically”) can’t support, and scampering away, thereby using my comment section as a metablog.

    I told you I wouldn’t tolerate it.

    So this time, in addition to needing you to start discussing the claims you make in my comment section, I’m going to need some answers from you.

    • You recently claimed you’d been “published” in the London School of Economics’ blog. I’ve asked you repeatedly; the “publication” was actually just a link to one of your articles on “Minnesota Progressive Project”. Am I correct? If not, please provide a link, either publicly or privately to me. it appears you are trying to stretch five pounds of bag over ten pounds of reality.
    • Another: many years ago, you claimed that Salem Twin Cities was in imminent danger of being sued into receivership, because of a scam being run by one of its paid programs. You made a big show of it, in fact. You made a big show of how one of your neighbors – an expert in corporate law, but naturally nobody we could talk to, of course – backing you up on this.
      . So – whatever became of that? That was at least seven years ago; any updates?
    • In 2012, you claimed that Rep. Cornish’s “Stand your Ground” bill – which passed both chambers of the legislature with a bipartisan majority – was “crap legislation”. When asked to substantiate the claim beyond the level of opinion, you provided some stats that, in fact, proved that Stand your Ground was excellent legislation that did exactly what I said it would; you just didn’t know any better. So – please either substantiate your claim with actual facts (and be prepared to defend your defense!), or admit you were talking out your ass

    I could find a lot more, but I have a life.

    God bless ya, DG, but I’m calling BS on you.


    Finally if second hand, a source that is credible — you cite a source that cites the BBC.

    The problem here is that a plan offered by some activists in the BLM don’t necessarily represent the organization. Your observations on the other hand are a bit off the mark — NYC has themselves agreed that those broken window policing methods did NOT work.

    “In 2005, Harvard University and Suffolk University researchers worked with local police to identify 34 “crime hot spots” in Lowell, Massachusetts. In half of the spots, authorities cleared trash, fixed streetlights, enforced building codes, discouraged loiterers, made more misdemeanor arrests, and expanded mental health services and aid for the homeless. In the other half of the identified locations, there was no change to routine police service.

    The areas that received additional attention experienced a 20% reduction in calls to the police. The study concluded that cleaning up the physical environment was more effective than misdemeanor arrests and that increasing social services had no effect.”

    “According to some criminologists who speak of a broader “backlash,” the broken windows theory is not theoretically sound. They claim that the “broken windows theory” closely relates correlation with causality, a reasoning prone to fallacy. David Thacher, assistant professor of public policy and urban planning at the University of Michigan, stated in a 2004 paper:

    Social science has not been kind to the broken windows theory. A number of scholars reanalyzed the initial studies that appeared to support it…. Others pressed forward with new, more sophisticated studies of the relationship between disorder and crime. The most prominent among them concluded that the relationship between disorder and serious crime is modest, and even that relationship is largely an artifact of more fundamental social forces.

    It has also been argued that rates of major crimes also dropped in many other US cities during the 1990s, both those that had adopted zero-tolerance and those that had not.”

    Broken window policing theory goes back to the 1980s. It hasn’t been credible for a few decades since then.

    The ten point plan has a lot going for it, including reasonable expectation that it would work as outlined, based on evidence it would do so.

    Some of the other comments, notably those comparing African Americans to people in Africa……….jeeze you guys are a bunch of racist bigots sometimes. You think there might be some significant differences between events in Africa and here? Let’s not forget that it was the programs of reconciliation to move forward after horrible violence that came out of Africa too. Are you going to reference those at all? Probably not.


    Are you getting the message, DG? Because if you’re not, I can make sure you do.

    Penigma? Wanna pass the message along?

  11. I do not disagree with you on any of those points. But, to me, that’s part of the dialogue.

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  13. Pinata time! It is worth noting that part of “broken window” theory is that the broken window tells people that it’s OK to commit crimes there–so ironically, the study DG cites actually buttresses broken windows policing.

    And yes, I will use the tragedies of Africa as an example of why group-based policing is wrong, along with similar tragedies in what used to be Yugoslavia, tragedies caused in Baltimore by reluctance of police to aggressively do their job, and more. DG is apparently unable to see the difference between a tragedy that happens in a different group, and a tragedy that happens because that different group is involved.

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