NYPD Sergeant Says 'Guilty Until Proven Innocent' Is Just The Price We Pay For A 'Free Society'

from the nothing's-more-'secure'-than-a-jail-cell dept

We’ve been dealing with the New York police department lately, thanks to the mayor and the police chief using the recent Boston bombing as an excuse to increase surveillance efforts and enact other policies to further encroach on New Yorkers’ civil liberties. Whenever something terrorist-related occurs, it seems as though the NYPD’s reps can’t keep their opinions to themselves, even as the department itself drifts further and further away from being a sterling example of How Things Should Be Done.

In a recent Christian Science Monitor article dealing with “teenagers, terrorism and social media” (focusing on the recent Cameron D’Ambrosio arrest for making “terrorist threats” via some improvised rap lyrics posted to Facebook), Sgt. Ed Mullins of the NYPD shows up to make some very disturbing statements about your rights and responsibilities as a (mere) citizen. It starts with the worst kind of “policy” and goes downhill fast.

Using a zero tolerance approach to track domestic terrorists online is the only reasonable way to analyze online threats these days, especially after the Boston Marathon bombing and news that the suspects had subsequently planned to target Times Square in Manhattan, Mullins says. The way law enforcement agencies approach online activity that appears sinister is this: “If you’re not a terrorist, if you’re not a threat, prove it,” he says.

Zero tolerance” is never “reasonable.” It never has been and it never will be. In fact, it’s the polar opposite. Zero tolerance policies simply absolve the enforcers of any responsibility for the outcome and grant them the privilege of ignoring mitigating factors. It allows them to bypass applying any sort of critical thinking skills (the “reason” part of “reasonable”) and view every infractions as nothing more than a binary IF THEN equation.

Mullins goes even further than this, though, asserting that the burden of proof lies with the person charged, not the person bringing the charges. This flips our judicial system on its head (along with the judicial systems in many other countries) and, if applied the way Mullins views it, puts accused citizens in the impossible position of trying to prove a negative. This is just completely wrong, and it’s a dangerously stupid thing for someone in his position to believe, much less state out loud. (Mullins also heads the Sergeants Benevolent Association, the second-largest police union in New York City.)

Believe it or not, Mullins is not done talking. What he says next doubles up on the “dangerous” and “stupid.”

This is the price you pay to live in free society right now. It’s just the way it is,” Mullins adds.

No. It isn’t.

This is the price Mullins is charging to live in the NYPD’s severely stunted version of a “free” society. The NYPD has been harassing young minorities at the rate of 500,000 impromptu stop-and-frisks per year for the better part of the last decade. For the past 10 years, the NYPD has been regularly trampling citizens’ civil liberties simply because they attend a mosque. The NYPD and Mayor Bloomberg have worked ceaselessly to make New York the most-surveilled city in the U.S.

That’s the price New Yorkers are paying. It has nothing to do with living in a free society. The NYPD takes liberties away and high-ranking cops like Mullins have the gall to suggest there’s some sort of equitable exchange occurring. Mullins doesn’t seem to understand (or just doesn’t care) that if you take away freedom you no longer have a free society.

It has been said that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, but “eternal vigilance” isn’t shorthand for oppressive surveillance and zero tolerance policies that make freedom less “free.” “Eternal vigilance” isn’t treating the Constitution like a relic too worn and tattered to serve any purpose in these “dangerous” times. And being an officer of the law isn’t an excuse to shut your intellect off and allow your brain stem and broad policies to “work” in concert in order to treat loudmouth teens on Facebook like a guy with a trailer home full of explosives.

This “vigilance” is supposed to be put to use by citizens in order to prevent authorities like Mullins from encroaching on our liberties. It’s not solely limited to a united military effort against foreign powers. There are plenty of people apparently willing to attack our freedom from the comfort of the home front.

Filed Under: , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “NYPD Sergeant Says 'Guilty Until Proven Innocent' Is Just The Price We Pay For A 'Free Society'”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
89 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: His reply

The point of the exercise, in my opinion, is to further damage the police sergeants reputation with the public. Trying to change the system at this point is useless. The only real progress to be made is getting the masses to understand whats going on.

I can see the conversation now.

“Hello NYPD? I would like to report a blasphemous individual pushing terrorist propaganda across the networks, actively working to degrade the freedoms and liberties of this fine nation and seeking to strangle the last vestiges of honor this fine country holds so dear!”

I would love to see him convince people that all this repeated grandstanding isn’t leading down some twisted plot. His persistance alone in systematically destroying the very foundations upon which the country was built should, by definition, be justifiably terrorism.

…..

I’ll be right back. I have a few phonecalls to make to various law enforcement agencies. Lets see if we can get them fighting each other!

MAC says:

Re: Re: His reply - Oh Really?

Oh really?
That’s probably what the Geistopo said in 1937.

Have you even read the United States Constitution?

If not, I suggest you do. You cannot uphold something that you don’t understand.

And don’t get me wrong, the police and vigilance against terrorism are absolutely necessary.

However, If our Freedoms are taken in the process then there really is nothing for you to defend is there?

TasMot (profile) says:

When Does Tom Cruise Step into the Picture

Wow, New York is well on the way to implementing the Pre-Crime bureau but without the 3 future readers in the pond. Authorities have become so preoccupied with stopping crime before it happens that they have become blind to the fact that they are the ones committing the crimes by stomping on the Constitution they swore to protect. If it wasn’t so pathetic it would be funny.

pompky dukeynut says:

Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on May 8th, 2013 @ 10:09am

I wholly agreed with you. Its odd to me how people talk as if we still have and rights or a democracy at all. Its enough to show the Boston incident and how easily and readily the various layers of policing authorities essentially enacted immediate marshall law barreling into people’s houses without warrants and establishing curfew. Wake up! They’ve got us locked in the cross hair of the police totalitarian state and all they have to do is pull the entire national trigger and the dissidents are off to FEMA camps..”HI ho hi ho.. its off to Fema we go”( sung to the snow white and seven dwarf tune) This by the way I’d my last political commentary on the state of the state. From hence forth I shall remain a silent observor of all that shall come to pass with the sorrow that I have to pass my final yrs on earth with this now coming…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Ok, for you and the ac below. This could be a good start. We should 1) burn down the NSA facility in Utah unless they allow U.S. citizens to monitor everything that takes place there. 2) Stop the Federal Reserve from “printing” any more currency. This isn?t all that must be done, but it will show them that we are serious.

Now, this is no small undertaking. To actually be carried out “peacefully” we will need many to sacrifice in order to get our demands met. Through video and social media (while we still have it) we will capture and show the world what we stand for. How many Americans will they kill before the outrage is too much?

I am not sure how many people it would take to do this. In terms of Utah, if large groups of people continued to advance on the facility, unarmed, save a lighter. They could arrest many, but not all. Would they bring out the guns then, probably not yet? You’d deal with gas, rubber bullets, clubs, boots and fists. But… at some point, out would come the gun. At some point, more people would wake up. They would realize that this isn’t a game.

Would they use drones? I wonder how the media would cover it. The People would need to show the truth… so it requires many to stream/record, provide logistical support and walk towards the building. How many People of These United States do you think this “government” will kill in front of the world before we are allowed to burn this symbol to the ground, or the People are allowed to take “emergency control” of this country’s affairs (all of them).

It is time to take a stand. They will likely “get” many more of us if we wait and let them do it on their terms.

I am not going to get into 2; it is much harder to do but would require a similar strategy.

p.s. this should not be taken as a plan of any kind, merely a quick, back of the envelope, example of the level of cognitive dissonance it might take to bring some type of law and order / accountability back to this country at this point.

pompky dukeynut says:

Re: Re: Re:3

I can smell your fear because you know whats what as do I I suggest for your own safety unless your really drawn to be a revolutionary and martyr because of some internal callIing or passion,it is Better to stay calm and quiet until the new order pushes through the rubble of our decimated nation state. Many will die , for what? This is just another historical paroxysism of an old power dying with blood on its hands and stains on its heart and soul while the new arises in its lean community based peer driven form taking all power away from the corporate monopoly central axis network. Easy does it. Breathe stay calm. I plan to meditate throughout the rukus of the boot and goose steppin blues we’ll be singing by the fortnight. Remember as Leonard Cohen sings, “love is the engine of survival”!:-)

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re: Already done

We’ve done that. Countless times in recent memory.

We have black people incarcerated in greater amounts and use them for slave wages in helping people get rich.

Immigration is screwed up so that we can use Mexicans for cheap labor while we can’t have higher skilled workers from other countries.

Women are not pushed into STEM sciences which stops them from taking advantage of various fields that require math and sciences in large amounts.

We don’t even pay for the next generation and load them up with debt from getting college degrees.

McCarthyism is hidden right here in the US as neo-liberalism which wants the rich to succeed while everyone else fails. And instead of a functioning government that provides for the nation, we have a ruling elite that works to keep themselves making money while the rest of the nation suffers. It’s ridiculous.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Already done

Ah yes Jay, my favorite socialist, love how you have to twist the fanatical words of the ultimate example of what happens when socialist become communist (Trust me Hugo and Stalin would love this guy…kinda suprised you dont too)

This guy is a statist just like Hugo and all the rest, bow down and serve peasant.

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Already done

Ah yes Jay, my favorite socialist, love how you have to twist the fanatical words of the ultimate example of what happens when socialist become communist (Trust me Hugo and Stalin would love this guy…kinda suprised you dont too)

Nope. I may have a more democratic view than you, but I’m not a Stalinist nor a communist. Good job on finding a new angle of attack instead of focusing on actual arguments though.

Anonymous Coward says:

‘the burden of proof lies with the person charged, not the person bringing the charges. This flips our judicial system on its head’

we can thank the USA entertainment industries for this! it was them that started this, making those accused of ‘piracy’ ‘guilty on accusation’ and having to prove innocence, if they could afford a lawyer! had there have been more (some?) backlash, maybe the NYPD and others would not be doing the same thing! guilty until proven innocent has put society back centuries and all over freakin’ movies and because those that make them cant do anything honestly themselves!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: *Correction*

I will go with mantra of the lazy.
Placing the burden of proof on the accused means the accuser don’t have to work as hard proving his claims. No hard work finding evidence, no hard work filing reports, no hard work interviewing witnesses, no hard work piecing together all the facts. Just point a finger at someone and then there is plenty of time left on the shift for surfing the internet and shoving donuts into your mouth.

Vincent Clement (profile) says:

Re: Re:

My son received a three-day suspension for voluntarily giving his Swiss Army Knife to staff before the school day started. He has neurological issues and learning disabilities and has an Educational Assistant to assist him throughout the day. According to the school, he brought a weapon on school property and they based the suspension on their version of zero tolerance and his mitigating factors.

They better not have any knives in the school cafeteria.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

When educators such as these demonstrate their lack of the ability to reason in such a manner, then they only prove that they are not qualified to be educators. How can one effectively teach others to think intellegently when they themselves apparently lack the ability?

Kevin H (profile) says:

It saddens me that we have come to this. The cornerstone of out justice system was that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. This person who is charged with enforcement of those laws seems to thing that the Cardassian justice system is better suited to getting the job done. For that simple statement he should be removed from duty as he clearly does not understand what his job actually is.

New Mexico Mark says:

Re: Re:

Removed from duty? That would just mean lateral transfer or promotion. A fair punishment (let’s call it “corrective measures”) for this kind of arrogant ignorance from a person in his position? Public flogging comes to mind, but that’s just my frustration speaking.

What about:

1) suspension (without pay of course) for a reasonable amount of time — one year?
2) satisfactory demonstration of remedial training in U.S. history including reading, reporting on, and passing tests on various key historical documents that formed the basis for the U.S. Constitution and core body of law and government
3) demonstration that he can recite the U.S. Constitution word-for-word from memory (and at any time thereafter be required to recite at least the Bill of Rights), and
4) a public, unqualified, apology for his statements including explanation of why they contradicted the most basic understanding of the tenets of liberty and law that are foundational to U.S. justice, regardless of (perceived) threats to the same.

All of the above would be required to be completed before being allowed reinstatement, even after the initial time for suspension expired. In my opinion, THAT would be fair.

If he doesn’t think he deserves these corrective measures, he is of course welcome to live by his own standard and take his case to the courts at his own expense to try to prove his innocence. Because of his presumed guilt, suspension without pay will be extended until a verdict of “innocent” has been reached or any appeals to a “guilty” verdict have been exhausted. Since he was actually guilty until proved innocent, no remuneration of pay or benefits lost prior to an “innocent” judgment would be necessary, i.e. during the time when he was guilty.

(In all fairness, he should be forewarned that any attempted court defense will only highlight his unrepentant attitude and may weigh heavily against him, necessitating further disciplinary actions. Think about it. What innocent person would he actually want to be in court?)

Eponymous Coward says:

We are all (potential) Terrorists now...

The logical fail in his point of view is that there is never a point where anyone can reach pure innocence under this system. The very nature of people being human, thus unpredictable by nature, is that we all have the potential to become a “terrorist”. We all have a breaking point where we may snap, and/or may have a future event, like a blood disease, tumor, etc. that may severly change our personality making us a threat to those around us. Couple that with the reality that the terms “Terrorism” and “Terrorist” are broadening to encompass more and more activities and events. This means that any of us could be radicalized by people looking to take advantage of our shortcomings; and by this I don’t just mean Jihadists, but also government agencies looking to make a case to justify their expanding powers. This is the trouble of such a bianary narrative of -us vs. them- becoming the dominant one of law enforcement for those who are not amongst authority could be one of them. A system where being a potential threat is criminal leaves us all guilty, and never to be proved innocent.

Thomas (profile) says:

Training manual...

Must be copied from the Gestapo manuals. Hopefully they are able to translate the German into English. Do the NYC cops now arrest Jews for simply being there?

Just shows that way too many big city police departments are no longer to be trusted. I am more afraid of the cops in Boston than of muggers or addicts. You can get arrested for simply taking a photograph of a cop arresting someone in Boston/Cambridge. Great way to scare off tourists.

DOlz (profile) says:

Why do you all hate the police?

Police work is hard, gathering evidence and thinking and all. All the police want to do is outsource this to the general public. This is how “Murder, She Wrote” worked. The police would proclaim one of Jessica Fletcher’s friends guilty of the murder and she would find the rest of the show finding who did it. Not only did she always find the guilty party, but it only took a hour.

Anonymous Coward says:

The NYPD no longer even think it is confined to the borders of the city. They’ve sent officer across the country and around the world to surveil peaceful protestors because.. terrorists. They’ve also hired so many new officers they could stage an invasion on NJ and take over their neighbor state completely. The NYPD isn’t a police force anymore, it’s become a good sized army.

Anonymous Coward says:

When did I end up in this bizarro world? Back home, “innocent until proven guilty” was the price the police paid so that we could live in a free society. It made their job harder, but it was just and fair, and the police took pride in their work.

Here everything’s topsy-turvy; “guilty until proven innocent” is the price we pay so that they can live in a free society, and anyone who complains about it gets beaten up.

Anonymous Coward says:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4MeUyUR8rE0&feature=share&list=PLaUQIC_mEru1oNuUvEicvYl5xPVX2ZK-O

It is not acceptable that anyone should not oppose murder, genocide, war crimes, crimes against peace and crimes against Humanity, even more importantly, when one is in a position of power, one must do all that is within their power to speak out and against such breaches in human rights and crimes against peace. All are responsible for their actions and must be held to account. Nuremberg Principle III states, ?The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime under international law acted as Head of State or responsible government official does not relieve him from responsibility under international law.? http://untreaty.un.org/ilc/texts/instruments/english/draft%20articles/7_1_1950.pdf

The crimes associated with waging aggressive war, laid down in the Nuremberg Principles and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rome_Statute_of_the_International_Criminal_Court are clear.
?If any person, in furtherance of a state policy, orders the use of force to attack members of a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, that person and everyone who takes part in the attack is responsible for the consequences, breaks international law and, if it results in the deaths of innocent people, commits the universal crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, aggression or conduct ancillary to such crimes?.

Nuremberg principles http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/full/390 Nuremberg Principle IV states, ?The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.?

Nuremberg Principle III states, ?The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime under international law acted as Head of State or responsible government official does not relieve him from responsibility under international law.?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWEVNGcwInE

Peoples_Assembly says:

Murder & war crimes

Sorry we forgot to fill in the details in our earlier post.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4MeUyUR8rE0&feature=share&list=PLaUQIC_mEru1oNuUvEicvYl5xPVX2ZK-O

It is not acceptable that anyone should not oppose murder, genocide, war crimes, crimes against peace and crimes against Humanity, even more importantly, when one is in a position of power, one must do all that is within their power to speak out and against such breaches in human rights and crimes against peace. In truth the Queen is not in a gilded cage, she is responsible for her actions and must be held to account. Nuremberg Principle III states, ?The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime under international law acted as Head of State or responsible government official does not relieve him from responsibility under international law.? http://untreaty.un.org/ilc/texts/instruments/english/draft%20articles/7_1_1950.pdf

The crimes associated with waging aggressive war, laid down in the Nuremberg Principles and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rome_Statute_of_the_International_Criminal_Court are clear.
?If any person, in furtherance of a state policy, orders the use of force to attack members of a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, that person and everyone who takes part in the attack is responsible for the consequences, breaks international law and, if it results in the deaths of innocent people, commits the universal crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, aggression or conduct ancillary to such crimes?.

Nuremberg principles http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/full/390 Nuremberg Principle IV states, ?The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.?

Nuremberg Principle III states, ?The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime under international law acted as Head of State or responsible government official does not relieve him from responsibility under international law.?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWEVNGcwInE

FM Hilton (profile) says:

This is surprising?

Contrary to what everyone believes, most cops view ordinary citizens as the enemy-to be dealt with as harshly as possible within the limits of the law.

The assume you’re guilty of something, and then they make sure they will remember your face next time they see you on the street.

Don’t take my word for it. Try it yourself. You’ll be surprised how much legal harassment they can get away with under the law.

Or doesn’t anyone remember Sean Bell, or perhaps Amadou Bailo Diallo? They were both victims of cop justice. They both died at the hands of cops-who in both cases were indicted, tried and acquitted. That’s cop justice for you-not your usual kind of ‘equal under the law’ stuff.

Yes, they do uphold the law-theirs. So this shouldn’t surprise anyone at all.

MAC says:

The Great Danger...

Cops have a very tough job.

When you have to look at the dark underbelly of society for years on end it changes your brain.

Many police succumb to the outlook that everyone is guilty and they, the police, are the only just ones.

Others just give up and become thugs themselves.

Only a very few can hold themselves above it and remain neutral, in both actions and words.

What a terrible job. I hope and pray that those sworn to protect us never forget that. That they are sworn to protect us.

charkee says:

proving innocence.

anybody that has not been in the court system since the 60’s are in for a rude awakening. The courts are corrupt beyond belief and nobody is safe. They can charge you with anything and suddenly you are fighting for your life. Why do they do it? For the money, courts are all about money and truth but an annoyance. When the SHTF these creeps will get their just reward.

anyone says:

he's not very bright

You cannot prove a negative. How can I prove I am not a terrorist if I have never committed an act defined as a terrorist act? The only thing I can do is show CIRCUMSTANTIAL evidence suggesting there is not connection between the act I am said to have done but in fact never happened.

What bothers me if the lack of intelligence here, if you can’t even work the basic laws of logic, how can you be expected to work the basic 10 million or so laws. Platitudes of this nature are intended to show toughness, resolve, but in fact they just show ignorance beyond all belief.

Conspiracy Smurf (user link) says:

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

Mullins needs to be fired immediately. His opinions and views are in clear contrast to the ACTUAL LAWS ON THE BOOKS. He is stating his opinion in an official capacity reflecting on the department and entire city government. He obviously cannot fulfill his responsibilities of his position when he clearly does not understand/agree with the law and therefore is not upholding that law while at the same time spreading DISINFORMATION/MISINFORMATION. It is NOT a person’s responsibility to prove their innocense. We do not have “zero tolerance” policies in effect. If I were a NY resident I would start going after these cops and city officials’ jobs…remember, he is getting paid and benefits on tax payer dollars while he spews ANTI AMERICAN BS.

LJW (profile) says:

Forget the loss of freedom and liberty, this approach is impractical. This is lazy police work. It’s essentially saying we’ll just wait to see who doesn’t prove themselves innocent, then arrest them.

In reality, this approach will make looking for a needle in a haystack, more like looking at a pile of needles on top of what used to be a haystack.

It just creates more false leads, wastes more time, and reduces the possibility of actually stopping a terrorist attack.

You can’t write a program to stop terror (yes, I’ve seen the TV show, it’s not real). It takes actual work. It can’t be handled by a simple policy, it’s got to be handled by policing!

This is why we have “intelligence” services. They are supposed to put the pieces together, not wait for the pieces to assemble themselves into a nice, easy to read picture.

bluesapphire48 (profile) says:

Wow! What a beautiful comment! Thank you for your advice.
I do try to stay calm… meditate, go for long walks, etc. etc. And, I try to stay clear of trouble. Actually, I am mostly concerned these days with Fukushima, which is far worse than any of the media are telling us.
I think what you say is really true, about the “old order” dying and all. I am just afraid that we will radiate ourselves (or rather, the nuclear mafia will radiate us) all to extinction before the old order collapses. (“Come gather round people, wherever you roam, and admit that the waters around you have grown…” etc. etc.)

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...