Trump's Law-Breaking Law Enforcement Commission Has Plenty Of Dystopian Ideas
from the if-only-the-public-didn't-have-so-damn-many-rights dept
Trump has made no secret of the fact he adores law enforcement. One of the first edicts he issued from his office told America in no uncertain terms that cops were to be respected, if not worshipped, for deigning to stand between millions of US peons and the forces of evil.
The Trump Administration will be a law and order administration. President Trump will honor our men and women in uniform and will support their mission of protecting the public. The dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America is wrong. The Trump Administration will end it.
The Trump Administration has yet to end the “dangerous anti-police atmosphere.” But, it’s not for a lack of bootlicking. Unfortunately, cops have spent the intervening years increasing the distance between them and the people they serve by violating rights and killing unarmed people.
The professed respect for law and order doesn’t extend to the Administration itself, which has violated the law on multiple occasions. This all dovetailed together when the Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement was found to be in violation of the law by a federal judge.
Composed solely of law enforcement representatives, the Commission ran afoul of the Federal Advisory Committee Act. It did not provide adequate transparency or public access options. And it did not include a range of stakeholders to better serve the stated goal of improving police-community relations, which also violated the law. This egregious violation was called out by the judge handling the lawsuit against the government.
The Commission’s function is to improve policing, including relations between law enforcement and the communities they protect. Yet the Commission does not include a single member who represents elements of those communities, rather than law enforcement. Thus, even employing a deferential review, the Court concludes that the Commission’s membership is not “fairly balanced in terms of the points of view represented and the functions to be performed by the advisory committee.” 5 U.S.C. app. 2 § 5(b)(2). Indeed, the Court is hard pressed to think of a starker example of non-compliance with FACA’s fair balance requirement than a commission charged with examining broad issues of policing in today’s America that is composed entirely of past and present law enforcement officials.
It gets worse. As Phillip Goff points out in his op-ed for the New York Times, the Commission was apparently assembled to help the President get his police state dystopia on.
The recommendations would… make the avenues to accountability for law enforcement so narrow that even the most egregious cases of police violence would have a harder time finding their way to just resolutions. Officers accused of wrongdoing would be granted access to body camera footage before speaking to internal investigators, allowing them to shape legally valid explanations for otherwise incriminating actions.
The Commission also offered its full support for qualified immunity, the rigged game that almost always lets badly behaving officers escape being held accountable for their actions. It also targeted so-called “progressive” prosecutors with plans to limit their ability to decline low level charges or eliminate cash bail.
In addition, more domestic surveillance is on tap. As local governments around the nation tangle with the tricky subject of facial recognition and its impact on residents, the federal commission was saying we just need more of it faster.
The commission recommends providing America’s roughly 18,000 law enforcement agencies, from small town departments to the New York Police Department, with more money for facial recognition technologies.
More facial recognition. Less security for Americans.
The commission also recommends that police departments be granted back door access to encrypted cellphones.
If we gain nothing else from this, at least we can see law enforcement’s desires laid bare. Here’s what cops want. And with no one on the Commission to push back on these bad ideas, this is what the President may get if he remains in office. Fortunately, a lot of this lies beyond the expansive powers granted to the Leader of the Free World and it’s unlikely many of these ideas will find the Congressional support needed to bring this dystopia to life fully. But this is how authoritarian governments begin: with a one-sided Commission that carefully considers both sides of the same side.