Policing For Dummies: DOJ/Baltimore PD Edition

from the things-they-know-but-choose-to-ignore dept

Apologies to everyone in America. The Department of Justice can't fix what's wrong with the nation's police departments. It's up to those departments to make the changes and stick to them. There has to be a desire to change, otherwise all we'll end up with is better documentation of police misconduct and excessive force.

A police department has to fall pretty far before the DOJ is willing to step in. Consent agreements follow reports -- all of which can be described as "scathing". These follow DOJ investigations in which it's routinely discovered the officers employed by the police department either don't know the first thing about constitutionally-compliant policing… or just don't care.

Reason's Scott Shackford has read through the DOJ's consent agreement [PDF] with the Baltimore PD -- one that follows its extensive investigation/scathing report. In amongst all the new reporting requirements are passages that indicate Baltimore might be better off firing its entire force and hiring new recruits. The rot growing from within the department has destroyed everything, starting with the Constitution and working its way down to basic communications skills.

It's completely depressing that all of this is included in the consent decree.

The agreement includes things like requiring police officers have reasonable suspicion to detain and search people, and not engage in warrantless searches; only arrest people for suspicions of crimes (no really, this is explained); stop using "boilerplate" language in reports to explain reasons behind stops and searches; not engage in racial profiling; not use information they know is not true to justify searches or arrests; attempt to de-escalate encounters before using force; not use force to punish people for resisting or attempting to flee (what the rest of us refer to as "police brutality"); don't use Tasers on elderly people, pregnant women, and small children, or just to stop people from fleeing; use seatbelts or restraining devices on people being transported (remember this is all partly due to the Freddie Gray case); respect the rights of citizens to both criticize police and observe and record public police behavior without retaliation; not retaliate against people who file complaints against police conduct; and so many, many, many other things. A read through the consent decree feels like the documentation of how most citizens expect their police to behave already.

These are the things Baltimore's police must be told to do, under the color of law and with the threat of federal sanctions backing it up. This is all stuff officers already should know -- things they should have learned on their way to earning the right to be trusted with badges, guns, and power.

And in the middle of all the constitutional instructions, there's a whole lot of common sense -- like not retaliating in response to complaints. Or not tasing pregnant women, children, or the elderly. To be told this would be a slap in the face to a good police officer. When the department's full of "bad apples," however, basic instructions and handholding are apparently a necessity. The DOJ has to remind an entire law enforcement agency that they're public servants, rather than uniformed thugs.

A consent decree will follow the investigation that just wrapped up in Chicago -- and a report that may secure the Chicago PD the "Worst Cops in America" trophy it's apparently been trying to earn for the last couple of decades, if not longer. In it will be reminders that officers aren't allowed to haul suspects off to ad hoc "black sites" or use deadly force on people who don't pose a threat to officers or other citizens.

And in another decade or two, the DOJ will roll back into town and start the process all over again. There are very few officials willing to do the difficult, unpleasant work of changing law enforcement culture by rooting out those who have either engaged actively in the rotting process or stood idly by while it happened.

Filed Under: baltimore, baltimore pd, consent decree, doj, police


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  • icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), 20 Jan 2017 @ 5:08pm

    I once had a manager who, at length, in public, for over five minutes, explained how to get a sponge wet.

    I think I have detected the proper job for him.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Wendy Cockcroft, 23 Jan 2017 @ 7:12am

      Re:

      Seriously? How much more is there to that than, "Add liquid to sponge?"

      Enquiring minds want to know.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 23 Jan 2017 @ 8:54am

        Re: Re:

        It could also be add sponge to liquid. Then, there are the modifiers based on proper (or improper) use cases. Do you want your sponge moist, wet, or dripping? Are you trying to clean something, or just wet it down? Should this object be cleaned, or is this being sanitized or even disinfected? Does what you are trying to use the sponge on require the liquid to be a certain temperature? How hot is too hot? How cold is too cold? What if you want it to just LOOK like you've wet the sponge? (Then you get into mercury, with all its caveats. This is cool, and a health hazard at the same time!)

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Jan 2017 @ 5:23pm

    WRONG!!!

    "The Department of Justice can't fix what's wrong with the nation's police departments."

    It CAN fix them! It just does not want to do so!

    The FIRST job of the Federal Government is to ensure that the States and their many law enforcement agencies adhere to the constitution. Let us observe this short snippet from the Declaration of Independence. "...That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,..."

    Here, like so many other citizens, we have all have become so used to the corruption, the apathy, the ignorance, the fetid state of affairs that we no longer know anything, understand anything, or even attempt to learn anything.

    Every Nation gets the government it deserves!
    ~Joseph De Maistre

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Jan 2017 @ 8:02pm

      Re: WRONG!!!

      The fact that it isn't fixing it means one of two things.

      1. It isn't able to fix them.

      2. It doesn't want to fix them.

      Both lead to complex ideas that essentially come to the same conclusion. The corrupt police departments are a feature, not a bug.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Jan 2017 @ 8:08am

        Re: Re: WRONG!!!

        I'll take door number one Monty.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        crandall, 21 Jan 2017 @ 8:12am

        Feature not a Bug !

        .


        >>> "The corrupt police departments are a feature, not a bug."

        Correct

        Cops are the hands-on, day to day "enforcers" of our government rulers against the general populace --- those rulers totally depend upon cops for their power & ample income. Therefore, federal/state/local police must be given very wide power to keep the populace "under control" and fearful of "the law" !

        Cops routinely operate outside-the-law ... due to the unconstitutional "immunity" concept for government employees (especially police). This immunity nonsense was deliberately created by government judges & legislators to protect their illicit power structure.

        The simple fix is for all cops to be treated exactly like any other citizen before the law. Cop assaults/homicides/kidnappings/thefts/extortions/perjuries/etc SHOULD be handled by prosecutors & courts EXACTLY the same as any average citizen would face in the American justice system.

        But that won't happen -- because the DOJ, courts, legislatures, mayors, governors, presidents (and cops) want personal insulation from the rule of law -- it's indeed a deliberate feature in government... not a bug.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Jan 2017 @ 8:53pm

      Re: WRONG!!!

      Given how quick the DOJ was to jump on Megaupload, maybe we need to change our strategies to expect actual change.

      We need to start accusing police departments of copyright infringement. It's the only way the DOJ will take notice.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Jan 2017 @ 8:09am

      Re: WRONG!!!

      Brawndo has electrolytes

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Jan 2017 @ 6:32pm

    Is it bad I read this entire article in the style of Patrick Warburton's Lemony Snicket role?

    Cause this would fit right in to a story of A Series Of Unfortunate Events.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pcdec, 20 Jan 2017 @ 6:40pm

    Wow. What a surprise...said noone. I think most people side with the cops because they fear retaliation. Some because they are stupid. And a few because they don't care.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Hugo S Cunningham (profile), 20 Jan 2017 @ 6:44pm

    Congress could intervene

    Congress could invoke its civil rights power under the Fourteenth Amendment to overrule police union contracts, State laws, and local laws that hamper investigations of possible police misconduct and removal of untrustworthy officers. But that would raise opposition from police unions that neither Congress nor the White House probably wish to face.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Alphonse Tomato (profile), 20 Jan 2017 @ 7:01pm

      Re: Congress could intervene

      @Hugo S Cunningham
      By and large, the problem isn't police unions. Unions are supposed to stick up for their members. The problem is police management, the Chiefs, the politicians who are above them, and the citizens who think police can do no wrong, who instinctively comply with "authority". Those are the ones who don't have the spine to deal with the issue, who give away management powers in negotiations with the union, who fail to hold officers personally responsible, fear to being called "anti-police".

      Unfortunately, as we have seen, some of the public likes thugs and bullies.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Jan 2017 @ 7:28pm

    murder for immune people

    all cops are collaborators in crimes against people

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Jan 2017 @ 11:09pm

    Dummies are police man

    arrest yourself your the majority of criminals

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Groaker (profile), 21 Jan 2017 @ 4:39am

    It is just going to get worse under the Apple Dumpling gang. We have a President who has no concept of the purpose of a jury trial, justice

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Jan 2017 @ 1:46pm

      Re:

      Wow, Trump has been President for all of 28 hours and this is his fault. You guys blamed Bush for 8 years and Trump is to blame the first day in office. You guys are a special kind of stoopid.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 22 Jan 2017 @ 6:50am

        Re: Re:

        Have a look in a mirror, as it was eight years ago the same thing was being said by the other side of the coin.

        But we do not want to see that do we?

        Please hide it from me so that I can be all comfy in my blanket.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        JMT (profile), 22 Jan 2017 @ 3:57pm

        Re: Re:

        "Wow, Trump has been President for all of 28 hours and this is his fault."

        Not even close to what was said.

        "You guys are a special kind of stoopid."

        Says the guy who failed to understand the comment or maybe just doesn't want to.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jan 2017 @ 5:36am

    What does it have to do with tech?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Groaker (profile), 21 Jan 2017 @ 6:24am

    What does this all have to do with tech? Perhaps you might go back and read some history. Regimes that permit free exploration of ideas are those in which tech flourishes.

    A better question is how will tech grow in a despotic regime? As an example, how long did Lysenkoism hold back Soviet genetics?

    How long did Christianity hold back the development of the sciences because they were believed to be Satanistic and based on the supernatural?

    I can truly understand not wanting to pay $1K a credit for liberal arts courses, but at least read. The library (physical or electronic) is free.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      rawcookie (profile), 21 Jan 2017 @ 10:30am

      Re:

      How long did Christianity hold back the development of the sciences because they were believed to be Satanistic and based on the supernatural?

      http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/sciencefaith.html

      but at least read.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Jan 2017 @ 11:04am

        Re: Re:

        That link does not answer the question.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Jan 2017 @ 1:48pm

        Re: Re:

        It is amazing how many people claim Christianity and science are opposites. Louis Pastuer, a Christian, disproved abiogenesis. If it were up to the atheists, we would still be drinking spoiled milk. If they choose to educate themselves, they would find that Christians and people who believed in God advanced science because they felt God was a God of order and the universe could be known. The atheists thought everything was random.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 22 Jan 2017 @ 6:59am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "If it were up to the atheists, we would still be drinking spoiled milk."

          You claim to be knowledgeable and yet type the above drivel, something does not add up.



          "If they choose to educate themselves"

          Indeed ... anyone with whom you disagree is obviously uneducated.



          ".. God of order ... The atheists thought everything was random."

          Your look of confusion is understandable given your preconceptions.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Wendy Cockcroft, 23 Jan 2017 @ 7:15am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Christians either did advance science or they didn't. That certain authoritarians are getting in the way NOW because it messes with their ability to control people doesn't negate the advances made by Christians.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Cdaragorn (profile), 23 Jan 2017 @ 9:41am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              The problem here is that both sides are trying to pretend that the other side was universally "good" or "bad". That's far too simplistic.

              There have been times when those in power in Christianity brought a near halt to all scientific advancements and claimed that science was of the devil. That's history, and it cannot be ignored.

              There have also been times when learning and study were embraced by Christianity and helped bring about important growth in knowledge and science.

              In short, blaming Christianity is ridiculous, but ignoring the bad that did happen doesn't help either.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 23 Jan 2017 @ 11:30am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              They were somewhat selective in what they would and would not support or attack. Their attacks were vicious, seemingly worse when they knew they were wrong.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Groaker (profile), 21 Jan 2017 @ 11:27am

    You can find 10 people who think that there are tiny people acting in the boxes called TVs. Or more who believe they should sell their houses and give the money to their pastor because the end of the world is nigh. So what? The religious often like to make up stories about agnostic or atheistic polymaths who "repent" at the time of death. Jefferson and Voltaire being examples.

    The battle between religion continues to deny evolution even though it has convergent proofs from a wide variety of hard sciences, not just someone saying I think that life evolved. Many states in the US attempt to deny the teaching of evolution, one of most strongly underpinned of sciences. Aside from geology, archaeology, genetics, biochemistry, paleontology, as well as that strongest of tests -- prediction of later discovered intermediate species.

    Holy books are notoriously inaccurate at predicting much of anything.

    Wikipedia is not an authority, but their entry is at least even handed:

    Relationship between religion and science
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relationship_between_religion_and_science#Influence_of_a_biblic al_world_view_on_early_modern_science

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Cdaragorn (profile), 23 Jan 2017 @ 9:47am

      Re:

      So, for this proven science that is so indisputable: could you please show me the scientific test that was used to prove that evolution could turn a creature into something completely different?

      Without a provable process that is shown to produce the theorized results and can be repeated at least 3 times by independent researchers, all you have is a theory. It's a perfectly valid theory, but still just a theory.

      Evolution is a scientific fact, but only in the sense that it can make small changes to adapt to different conditions. My issue with people arguing things like this is that when they want something to be true, it seems they too easily throw even their own scientific process out the window so that they can call it true.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 23 Jan 2017 @ 11:38am

        Re: Re:

        "evolution could turn a creature into something completely different"

        Evolution does not claim that change from one creature into another is possible. Perhaps it is the word evolve that is misunderstood, as it implies a lengthy period of time and afaik, does not suggest said change occurs instantaneously.



        "It's a perfectly valid theory, but still just a theory"

        The theory of gravity - is just a theory and is not well
        understood. Evolution is better understood than gravity.



        "Evolution is a scientific fact"

        Wait ... you just said it is just a theory and now you say it is fact. Make up your mind.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jan 2017 @ 1:14pm

    Not Gonna Change

    Q: How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?

    A: Only one, but the light bulb really has to WANT to change.

    [insert mike drop]

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    stosh, 21 Jan 2017 @ 3:19pm

    Local police problems are the issues that need to be addressed by Local politicians, and if that is not forthcoming the Local voters need to address the problem of their own Local politicians. Federal police departments are a very bad idea....

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Jan 2017 @ 7:04am

      Re:

      Legislation at the federal level is typically put in place by monied interests in opposition to movements at the state and local levels. It is the same douche bags shouting state rights that push federal regulations in order to stifle opposition.

      So yeah .. states rights - if they are my rights, otherwise screw you.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Scott (profile), 21 Jan 2017 @ 3:33pm

    What Consent Agreement

    Trumps first day...he revoked the Baltimore consent agreement. Police good...crime infested inner cities (as he likes to call them)...bad

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      freedomfan (profile), 22 Jan 2017 @ 12:21am

      Re: What Consent Agreement

      Trump "revoked" the agreement? I would appreciate a specific cite for this. All I am finding is that the Baltimore judge James Bredar granted a week extension to the hearing over the 200+ page agreement so that the new administration can come up to speed on the details. (http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-city/bs-md-ci-consent-decree-delay-20170120-sto ry.html)

      That judge has to hold the hearing and approve the agreement before it goes into effect. (Not that it matters, but the knee-jerk tribalists will want to know that the judge is an Obama appointee.)

      BTW, I am making no statement on what Trump did/didn't will/won't do, since I have no idea. But, I would be interested in seeing what current evidence supports the "revoked" statement.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        freedomfan (profile), 22 Jan 2017 @ 12:26am

        Re: Re: What Consent Agreement

        BTW, the blank space near the end of the link I posted was not added by me. Remove the space to see the Baltimore Sun article.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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