The Attorney General Thinks Police Having To Follow The Constitution Leads To Violent Crime Increases

from the it's-not-just-him-unfortunately dept

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is an old-school law and order man. He wants asset forfeiture returned to its former glory — no longer questioned by all and sundry for its ability to enrich law enforcement agencies without making much of a dent in criminal activity. He wants drug sellers jailed for as long as possible, suggesting the last time he read a policy paper was sometime during the mid-1980s. And he thinks people questioning law enforcement efforts should be ashamed of themselves, what with the dangers faced occasionally by officers whose workplace can’t even crack the Top 10 Deadliest Jobs in America list.

Sessions goes where he’s wanted when he speaks, ensuring he’ll receive applause and accolades, rather than a bunch of “wtfs?” when he delivers bullshit like this:

I believe one of my highest duties is to call attention to your successes, and to encourage our fellow citizens to support you in your difficult and dangerous work.

But what has made times difficult recently for law enforcement is that—by the end of the previous administration—many of you came to believe that some of the political leadership of this country had abandoned you. Some radicals and politicians began to unfairly malign and blame police as a whole for the crimes and unacceptable deeds of a few. Amazing— their message seemed to be that the police were the problem, not the criminals. They wanted the ACLU to determine police policies, and that was enforced by a federal court order. They said police were violent while homicides in America increased by a total of 20% in 2015 and 2016, the largest jump since 1968. Law Professor Paul Cassell and economics Professor Richard Fowles established that in Chicago, homicide jumped 58% after the ACLU settlement ended proven and constitutional policing.

This was delivered to the National Association of Police Organizations — a union of police unions — so there was no one present to question the veracity of this statement, nor push back against its loaded, implicit assertions. No one would expect any more (or any less!) of an organization of organizations which are largely responsible for the general state of disrepair that passes for policing these days.

Law enforcement has never been abandoned. Even when the criticism rains down from the federal government, it’s always hedged with phrases implying the problem is a few officers, rather than the culture itself. If all it takes is an incremental increase in accountability to make officers feel “abandoned,” they’re far too sensitive to be holding positions of public power.

Second, Sessions shows he doesn’t care about police misconduct or public accountability by maligning those who demand accountability as “radicals.” This suggests Sessions is more interested in a docile nation than upholding his duties as Attorney General, which (used to) include investigating and prosecuting officers who abuse their power.

Finally, his portrayal of the rise in violence in Chicago as the direct result of a consent decree is both dishonest and ugly. The consent decree dealt with the Chicago PD’s stop-and-frisk tactics. The PD agreed to revamp its policies after a 2015 report by the ACLU found the program disproportionately targeted black residents. In other words, Sessions is claiming requiring cops to behave Constitutionally results in increased criminal activity.

That would be bad enough on its own, but there’s not one single thing Sessions can point at to back up this claim — not even the report itself. Correlation isn’t causation and there’s ample evidence a consent decree that requires Constitutional policing does not lead to increased crime. We have apples-to-apples comparisons that disprove this ridiculous theory.

The NYPD was forced to drastically alter its stop-and-frisk program for the same reasons (targeting minorities). Crime went down, despite then-mayor Michael Bloomberg’s promise of a criminal apocalypse. That’s only one example. Salvador Rizzo of the Washington Post has several more.

Philadelphia has been working under a settlement agreement on stop-and-frisk practices like Chicago’s since 2011, and its homicide rate fell for several years afterward before rising again in 2016 and 2017 (albeit at much lower rates than in Chicago).

Seattle has been under a consent decree that includes stop-and-frisk provisions since 2012, and its yearly homicide rate has been mostly steady, hovering between 19 and 27, in the following years.

In Newark, N.J., a consent decree imposing requirements for stop-and-frisk practices, among other provisions, was adopted in 2016. The city reported 72 homicides in 2017, a 25 percent drop, although nonfatal shootings increased.

“The consent decree was signed and the monitor appointed in the spring and summer of 2016, and Newark continues to have the lowest crime in 50 years since then,” said Paul J. Fishman, the former U.S. attorney for New Jersey, who implemented the consent decree.

Sessions is correct in terms of quoting the report’s findings. But the findings cannot possibly be correct. Even if the stats are right, the rationale is wrong. Fewer police stops may lead to increased crime, but connecting the two is far from a foregone conclusion. And yet, there it is, in a still-unreleased report that provides ammo for supporters of unconstitutional policing.

Even the authors of the report find it difficult to make this conclusion stick. To do so means throwing out other contradictory evidence, which is exactly what appears to have happened.

Cassell and Fowles called New York City an “anomaly” and wrote that it had a much lower rate of homicides committed with firearms than Chicago, “a small number of guns and gun crimes (relative to Chicago and many other cities),” and a police force that is about 25 percent larger than Chicago’s on a per-capita basis.

The other “anomalies” (Philadelphia, Seattle, Newark, etc.) were ignored. The DOJ itself — which Sessions heads — did not arrive at this conclusion either. Its report on increased violence suggests a few factors, none of which are the consent decree governing police stops.

“Over the year-plus since release of that video, and while we have been conducting this investigation, Chicago experienced a surge in shootings and homicides,” the DOJ report says. “The reasons for this spike are broadly debated and inarguably complex. But on two points there is little debate. First, for decades, certain neighborhoods on Chicago’s South and West Sides have been disproportionately ravaged by gun violence. Those same neighborhoods have borne the brunt of the recent surge of violence. And second, for Chicago to find solutions — short- and long-term — for making those neighborhoods safe, it is imperative that the City rebuild trust between CPD and the people it serves, particularly in these communities.”

While Chicago may be grabbing headlines with its high number of homicides, several other US cities have experienced higher spikes in the violent crime rate — Ft. Worth, Houston, Memphis, and Baltimore have seen far more significant increases than Chicago’s. But no one is claiming these spikes are due to ACLU meddling, consent decrees, or the actions of “radicals” opposed to abusive policing. Nope, it’s just AG Sessions cherry-picking a single report with anomalous “findings” — one that refers to data that doesn’t agree with its theory as “anomalous.” Speaking in front of cops makes it that much easier to peddle bullshit. But that doesn’t change the fact it’s still bullshit, no matter how much uncritical applause is offered in return.

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Comments on “The Attorney General Thinks Police Having To Follow The Constitution Leads To Violent Crime Increases”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I know right? It’s not like the Police didn’t enjoy special status under any previous administrations what so ever.

In fact all those BLM protests that started under Trump… of fuck… wait… those started under Obama?

Fuck me… sorry I will see myself out… cause my double standards don’t measure up to yours, obviously.

Get a clue Ninja, when it comes to this problem… you are only showing a significant degree of ignorance and bias to lay this problem at the feet of the cheeto.

Trump path was paved by his predecessors including the very people you vote for! Get real, get some facts, get a damn clue!

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I don’t vote and my purpose wasn’t to have any clue. It was to use the same tactics Sessions used. I have no doubts that many of the problems we are seeing with Trump admin are only possible because his predecessors either paved way or didn’t do a thing to put an end to such problems. It still doesn’t give Sessions the right to spew bullshit.

Anonymous Coward says:

Sessions is claiming requiring cops to behave Constitutionally results in increased criminal activity.

This is almost literally true though. If we repeal all the Constitutional protections that inhibit arbitrary and capricious policing, then the police can fight crime far more effectively. For example:

  • No Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search/seizure -> search anyone, any time. Contraband discovery and arrest becomes limited solely by the availability of officer time to conduct all those formerly unconstitutional searches.
  • No Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination: the accused no longer has the right to remain silent, so any conduct or lack of conduct can be used as "evidence."
    • No protection against double jeopardy. Jury returned "not guilty" on someone the Executive is certain is guilty? No problem, just try him again (and again and again …) until you get a guilty verdict.
  • No Sixth Amendment rights – fighting bogus charges will be nearly impossible, assuming the Executive deigns to grant the accused a day in court at all.
  • No Eighth Amendment rights – set bail to $1 trillion for any offence the police dislike. No arrestee ever goes on bail again.

Such a society would be absolutely horrible for everyone not specially protected by the Executive, but it would have very little crime as we know it today.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Technically correct, the best kind

Yeah, was just thinking that. If you toss out all limits and accountability for certain groups, then yeah, you could drastically cut down on crimes.

Of course you’d also absolutely decimate anything even remotely resembling privacy, personal freedoms… you know, those pesky things that keep getting in the way of the paragons in blue, but hey, it would at least be great for the police in the short-term.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Technically correct, the best kind

Know how to reduce crime to zero? Get rid of all law.

Law creates crime. Sure some of those laws are “wanted” but if someone decides you need to be a criminal for drinking too much even if you have not or even in a position to harm someone… well.

And before one of you silly knobs says it… no.

There is a point where laws stop becoming tools to deal with aggressive behaviors and nothing more than crime generators.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Technically correct, the best kind

Indeed, as a person that generally hates regulations and socialized constructs there are clearly some responsibilities that must be government only.

There is simply zero room for privatized entities to perform any function on behalf of the state especially Police, Fire, and Incarceration.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Public Functions [was Technically correct ...]

There is simply zero room for privatized entities to perform any function on behalf of the state especially … Fire …

The owner / operator of a large petro-chemical complex, maybe Chevron or BP, should be prohibited from contracting for plant fire suppression services? It’s strictly necessary to call the local fire department for a fire emergency out in the Gulf or in the North Sea? In winter?

Or you’re saying that restaurants must NOT mount fire extinguishers in their commercial kitchens?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Public Functions [was Technically correct ...]

Is there an example of a petro corp that actually has their own competent fire dept?

Seems that the resources of municipalities up to hundreds of miles away would be requested, no – demanded, when (not if) things go to hell in a hurry.

But, no – they should not be stopped from being proactive.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Public Functions [was Technically correct ...]

Is there an example of a petro corp that actually has their own competent fire dept?

Without digging up specific regulations governing specific industries in specific jurisdictions —so hand-waving here— it’s my understanding that many large industrial facilities, especially in the petroleum and chemical fields, must have on-site fire suppression teams. Or else the plant / complex will get shut down.

Now the various business arrangements providing the personnel and equipment are probably as diverse as the industrial facilities, their owners, and operating structures. Private insurance may have as much of a role to play as public regulation.

But anyhow, it’s almost the same as if the corner cafe doesn’t have adequate fire extinguishers in the kitchen. The corner cafe can get shut down for that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Much of what you describe applies to people in prison, where crime is absolutely rampant despite the lack of constitutional rights and virtually unrestricted supervision by enforcers.

You can’t defeat crime with authoritarianism. If it seems like you have, it’s because you’re confused about who the actual criminals are.

Talmyr (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

This. Because of course Communist Eastern Europe, the USSR and China are/were glorious examples of lack of crime.

Except how do you end up with so many ‘criminals’ in gulags or digging canals?

No, authoritarianism just makes it easier to lock people up on the slightest whim, not to actually make anyone safer or reduce crime. Unless reporting crime stats is a crime so not done…

EasyFix says:

Re: We can fix things fairly easily - without losing the B.o.R.

First and foremost.
Educate law enforcement on the laws they have to enforce.
Pop-quiz every 7 days, with different questions for each officer. Fail the quiz, 10 day, unpaid suspension.

All law enforcement to wear nanny-cams anytime in possession of fire-arm.

Any time camera fitzes up, any arrests are nullified.

Officer gets rough without due cause, 60 days in prison for each violent act, again, without pay.

Officer tazes a suspect for no reason, they get tazed 10 times by the person they tazed.

All guns will have P.O.V. cams, with night vision and IR/UV lighting.

Officers will be trained to maim, not kill.

This might bring things closer to an even-keel, not quite even, still tilted in favor of the officers, but closer.

Now for other crimes.

Drunk driving, 1st offense – car crushed into cube, dropped on front lawn. Driver loses license permanently, if caught driving again, life without parole.

Rapist? Capital offense.

Violate constitution (as a law enforcement officer), capital offense.
Violate constitution (as an elected official, immediate impeachment, summary execution).
Violate constitution (as a judiciary official), immediate debench, summary execution).

Elected officials, voting against their constituent’s wishes… Immediate impeachment, loss of health and wealth benefits and retirement funds, permanently banned from ever serving any political office whatsoever.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: We can fix things fairly easily - without losing the B.o.R.

Officer tazes a suspect for no reason, they get tazed 10 times by the person they tazed.

So… a victim of a crime is required to torture the perpetrator? This sounds like an attempt at "justice" designed by Milgram. "The punishment must continue."

Officers will be trained to maim, not kill.

What? Do you have any idea how motor skills degrade under stress and adrenaline? Cops are often poor marksmen to begin with; aiming for a "non-lethal" target area is just as likely to hit a lethal area as it is.

Drunk driving, 1st offense – car crushed into cube, dropped on front lawn. Driver loses license permanently, if caught driving again, life without parole.

Are we assuming that the breathalyzer is calibrated correctly, and no other factors could have increased the reading?

What about the drunk guy, sleeping in the backseat of his car, with the engine running because it is winter and cold?

Rapist? Capital offense.

For the number of times innocent people have been wrongly convicted and exonerated, I’m not convinced that our due process is sufficient for an irrevocable punishment.

As for the rest of it… holy shit you’re angry. I mean, I understand wanting to punish people for their crimes, but summary execution of anyone is something that only happens in countries that lack any kind of checks and balances (like the Philippines right now). It has no place in a justice system.

I’ll agree that aspects of the system need fixing (preferential treatment, qualified immunity, civil asset forfeiture, etc…), but summary executions are not something that I want to see in my society.

cattress (profile) says:

Re: You can't handle the truth.

The idea that there might be more violent crime if it weren’t for the near police state we live in might be obvious or commonly believed, but it’s a flawed and mistaken belief. People don’t choose not to rape and murder and assault others because they could get caught and go to prison; they don’t commit violence because they are innately good people, with no desire to hurt others. Police presence deters things like speeding, dealing drugs/ contraband, or wearing a hoodie or sagging pants, things that ordinary, non-violent people do.
Someone who wishes to harm others either doesn’t care (hasn’t considered) the repercussions, like going to prison, or thinks they can get away with the crime without getting caught. Killers gonna kill, the police only give them second thought about the how and when to kill, not whether or not to kill.
Supporting liberty should be the easy choice, but we have to stop falling for the police scare tactics.

JarHead says:

Re: Re: You can't handle the truth.

People don’t choose not to rape and murder and assault others because they could get caught and go to prison;…

Someone who wishes to harm others either doesn’t care (hasn’t considered) the repercussions, like going to prison, or thinks they can get away with the crime without getting caught.

Can you elaborate how those 2 sentences doesn’t contradict each other?

…; they don’t commit violence because they are innately good people, with no desire to hurt others.

AFAIK this is still debatable, hence the 3 schools of behavioral psychology: innately good, innately evil, or blank slate. This is a complex issue with age old debates. Does someone inhibited from acting violently because innate feature or societal / cultural pressures? Does (some) neural deficiencies lead to violence?

That aside, I do agree that police state isn’t needed to prevent / stop violent crime. In fact it can be argued that it actually instigate it. IMHO what is needed is better educational system, healthcare, and various emotional pressure release valves.

cattress (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: You can't handle the truth.

You’re right, those two sentences are contradictory, but I think you understand what I’m getting at. In general, people are good, whether it’s due to biological drive that is behind our species’ social nature and ultimately a force for survival, or is due to how we are raised and the society we live in.
And I would argue the affirmative that a police state and police that violate rights are causes of violence. I agree that access to comprehensive healthcare is part of the solution, but I think we need far less of education “systems”, and instead educational opportunities that are not controlled by the state. Systems are one size fits all and humans have complex and varied needs. Perhaps if parents and children mapped out their own educational plans, we would see a reduction in bullying, depression, suicide, along with fewer teens unprepared for life beyond school. And there would be less of a need to develop emotional release activities if we repeal victimless laws that tear families apart, along with zoning and occupational licensing laws that only reinforce poverty and racial segregation. People who have economic opportunity are empowered to find happiness and meaning in their life along with the mobility that keeps them from feeling like a caged animal.
These libertarian ideals all require that we learn to trust our fellow citizens, and relinquish much of the control we have given the government over us (for a false sense of security). I do however, temper my libertarian beliefs with an understanding that changes must be incremental and respect the present circumstances- as in I favor net neutrality because even if every single crony law was removed, the cronies already dominate the market and it would take significant investment and time for new players to have a chance to impact the market)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: You can't handle the truth.

That idea is both obvious and wrong – obviously using the death penalty for every crime would reduce the crime rate! Hey where did all of these dead cops, witnesses and robbery victims come from? Incentives breed the systems shaped by them and not their intentions. If innocence is no defense against harsh treatment by the law why be innocent? Crime is more profitable and there is nothing to lose.

I believe Orwell summarized the actual objectives of those claiming to support “security”. The object of power is power. The object of torture is torture. Never mind forget it and remember the true objective of those seeking “security” over liberty.

David says:

Stop, stop, stop.

In other words, Sessions is claiming requiring cops to behave Constitutionally results in increased criminal activity.

Uh yes? That is actually one thing that is not controversial in my book. It’s like stating that a football team not being allowed to shoot their opponents results in increased fouls against your own team.

Which is quite correct. It’s also besides the point since shooting your opponents is outside of the allowed parameters. It’s not something for which you get an in-game retribution (a penalty, or a write-up). You’ll get criminal proceedings and a life-long ban from playing.

Unless you are in the U.S., of course.

AnonCow says:

-I would prefer to live in a world without a FISA court and accept the risks that would represent.
-I would also prefer to live in a world where gun ownership is limited to a handful of long rifles and shotguns for actual hunting with semi-auto and handgun ownership being all but eliminated. I’ll take my chances with not being able to raise a militia if needed.
-I would prefer to live in a world where a cop shooting someone without a weapon puts the cop in jail and accept the risks that would represent.

Personanongrata says:

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions Law Enforcement Lickspittle

The Attorney General Thinks Police Having To Follow The Constitution Leads To Violent Crime Increases

Now that Jefferson Beauregard Sessions has full positioned himself as law enforcement’s national in-house attorney who will succeed him atop the US department of justice (HAHA)?

Anonymous Coward says:

But, showing not all cops automatic guilty as Techdirt thinks:

Bodycam Challenges Shaun King’s Claim That Texas Trooper Raped Woman

Serious charge, lots of hoopla, now lawyer ran away!!!

Hours after the footage was released, [Texas attorney and activist] Merritt issued a statement claiming the video directly contradicts the information his client provided and asked for the trooper to be cleared of any wrongdoing.

“I take full responsibility for amplifying these claims to the point of national concern,” Merritt wrote.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Guilt in the court of public opinion does not equal guilt in a court of law. We can hold an opinion about the guilt of someone accused of committing a crime, and we can change that opinion if and when evidence proves our opinion wrong. If anyone here assumes a police officer accused of a crime is guilty, we have a good reason for that belief: Police officers (and their unions) tend to protect other cops from accountability. Whatever problems you have with such assumptions, they cannot be changed by insulting those who hold them; they can only be changed by citizens and lawmakers alike demanding greater accountability for those entrusted with a badge, a gun, and a state-sponsored right to kill.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

“They wanted the ACLU to determine police policies, and that was enforced by a federal court order.”

Well considering the top law enforcement offical in the country seems to have a clear dislike of citizens having any rights it is good someone stepped up to remember that we have rights & that they are violated with enough regularity that if we had an actual Justice Department they might get actual stats, investigate, and charges those ‘few bad apples’ who have caused more dead citizens than the number of dead cops you keep hand wringing about in the media when those numbers include all deaths of officers not filtering out deaths not caused by misadventure rather than criminals targeting and executing them.

dickeyrat says:

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions started life as an abortion that should have been, only to be proudly named after two prominent Confederate heroes/traitors. He spent much of his childhood being constantly harassed due to his uncanny resemblance to a wharf rat. Now, as one of Blump’s “best”, he finally has the opportunity to work out his many frustrations through his efforts to reshape Amerika into a prime police-state, in which The Uniform demands complete, unconditional obedience and servitude by the criminal masses-that-be. This especially applies to evil, uppity black and brown people, to whom Sessions serves his deeply inbred racism. And he amazingly accomplishes all of this, while still closely resembling a growth-challenged rodent–no doubt owed to his fine Alabama heritage. Until now, we never imagined that a rat could wear a suit.

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