Ijeoma Oluo, in a series of tweets:
Don’t play in the park with toy guns and maybe they won’t kill you.
Don’t ask for help after a car accident and maybe they won’t kill you.
Don’t wear a hoodie and maybe they won’t kill you.
Don’t cosplay with a toy sword and maybe they won’t kill you.
Don’t shop at Walmart and maybe they won’t kill you.
Don’t take the BART and maybe they won’t kill you.
Don’t ride your bike and maybe they won’t kill you.
Don’t reach for your cell phone and maybe they won’t kill you.
Don’t go to your friend’s birthday party and maybe they won’t kill you.
Don’t sit on your front stoop and maybe they won’t kill you.
Don’t “startle” them and maybe they won’t kill you.
Don’t “look around suspiciously” and maybe they won’t kill you.
Don’t walk on a bridge with your family and maybe they won’t kill you.
Don’t play “cops and robbers” with your buddiesand maybe they won’t kill you.
Don’t work in a warehouse repairing instruments and maybe they won’t kill you.
Don’t stand in your grandma’s bathroom and maybe they won’t kill you.
Don’t pray with your daughters in public and maybe they won’t kill you.
Don’t go to your bachelor party and maybe they won’t kill you.
Don’t have an ex boyfriend who might be a suspect and maybe they won’t kill you.
Don’t call for medical help for your sister and maybe they won’t kill her.
Don’t hang out in the park with your friends and maybe they won’t kill you.
Don’t get a flat tire and maybe they won’t kill you.
Don’t park in a fire lane and maybe they won’t kill you.
Don’t reach for your wallet and maybe they won’t kill you.
Don’t let your medical alert device go off and maybe they won’t kill you.
I’m done for today. My heart can’t handle any more.
This is the context. And every fucking time it happens, white people pop up to explain why it’s fine, it’s okay, none of that is important and black people have nothing to complain about.
Don’t comment if you can’t handle not being a jerk about this. You’re discussing people’s lives and deaths. Show some respect.
> Don’t pray with your daughters in public and maybe they won’t kill you.
This is so dishonest that words fail me.
My boss’s kids were about to have swimming practice when this happened, and one of them was dumb enough to come out to look.
Here are the facts as I have heard them from a first hand witness.
There was rumors about someone coming to the fields and yelling about Satan and killing and students knew about it.
He heard crash and a police siren before he got in the pool, and came out to see, he kept walking towards the gate, and this is what he believes he saw – it was dark.
The cop was already at the scene, yelling at the driver to stop and lie down. The driver was yelling something as well, walked towards the truck making the deputy move out of his way. The officer was yelling “Do not go into the car!”, “Come out!”, etc…
When the guy got into the car, Derek finally got a clue and went prone. He said that he expected the car to blow up. Instead his saw the flashes from the shots – he says that the shots were barely heard.
When he was telling me the story, he must have had told it a hundred times, so I am not sure how much is exactly true. What I am sure is that it probably does not conflict with other people’s testimony.
Here is what we know:
The driver was off his medication and had been acting strangely and violently for days.
The driver had been to this field earlier and had shouted religious stuff that had impressed students enough to talk about.
The police officer saw him speeding and followed him, to see him crash through a school gate.
The driver ignored the orders to lie down and walked away from the SUV. The officer took the kids out of the SUV, and they told him that they were scared and that their father had been acting strangely.
The driver came back and started towards the vehicle. The policeman stood between him and SUV, gun drawn, ordering him not to go in. The driver kept going and the policeman moved out of the way, allowing him to get back in.
When the driver tried to start the car, the policeman shot him.
Speaking for myself, I would not have had the courage to wait as long as the policeman did. Not with screaming kids in the possible blast radius. I am no longer in law enforcement, and my training is 30 years out of date. But if I was the commanding officer, I would have wanted to know why he waited so long.
This is a tragedy, because the driver was by all accounts a wonderful man – a great father, colleague and mentor, and because this could have been avoided if the medication regimen had been followed.
But describing the incident as “Don’t pray with your daughters in public and maybe they won’t kill you.” is INCREDIBLY DISHONEST!
And if you are wondering why many white and black people “act like jerks” here are three words for you: “Just World Fallacy”. Yes, it is absolutely a fallacy. But, yes, we are all absolutely human.
From the Catholic-ish, conservative-ish First Things blog:
I’m having a hard time reconciling Pesho’s claim:
With the report from the times that says (my bolding):
Makes me think that, perhaps, unreliable witness testimony is unreliable.
I’m beginning to believe that requests not to comment if you can’t be a jerk have no effect.
Pesho, it sounds like that line should then say, instead, “Don’t climb into your SUV after saying things a police officer doesn’t like and maybe they won’t shoot you.”
(I have no idea where your idea that the car was going to blow up came from, other than your boss’s kid’s imagination, because the police issued no statement that I can find about any explosives in the car, the officer didn’t say he thought the car was going to explode, and none of the news sources I could find mentioned any bombs.)
What seems to have happened is that the officer tried to stop a driver he thought was behaving erratically from driving away from the scene of a car accident (in which only his own car was involved). It’s certainly illegal to hit-and-run, even if the only damage is to a school gate, but it’s not justification for shooting someone.
The explanation (though not justification) for the shooting seems to be that he feared for the safety of the two children in the back seat. (No news source mentions that the children had been taken out of the car, either, by the way. The officer appears to have spoken to them from outside the car.)
But children’s lives are not in danger when their parents drive away from the scene of a car crash, are they? So the origin of the danger to the kids must have been their father’s “erratic behavior.”
And that’s where it falls down for me. Erratic behavior caused by a man not taking ADHD medication causes that much of a threat to his children that the only option is to shoot him? Really? Considering Loggins’s own family filed the wrongful death suit, they sure don’t seem to think so. Why would you shoot into a car if you feared for the lives of two of the people in that car? Why wouldn’t you, if you were trying to prevent a car from driving away, shoot out the tires instead?
I don’t see how shooting someone for attempting to drive away from you is justifiable.
You and me both, brother.
Pesho, on the Ferguson thread, you dropped in to comment on the ‘white riot’ link and said that:
Ruchama replied in the next comment, asking:
You haven’t responded. Now, as Jake points out, your claims here seem suspect as well.
I’m happy to have this discussion, but let’s make it a discussion, rather than a hit and run. You still here?
Pesho, I agree that there is more to it than praying, but what made you think that the car might explode if turned on? There is nothing about a bomb threat in the linked article.
Do I think that the grand jury in the Ferguson case did the right thing? Based on the analyses I’ve seen, yes.
But when a cop is given a report about a kid with a gun and roars up to him and shoots him dead before he’s even all the way out of the squad car, something’s fucked up. I think justice was served in the Ferguson case. That doesn’t mean I think that there’s always a good reason for a cop to shoot someone dead.
One story that John Kass in the Chicago Tribune is following in his column is that of a man waving a knife in a threatening manner who was shot dead by the Park Forest police.
Which sounds reasonable on the face of it, until you find out:
1) He was 95, obviously frail to the point that he needed a walker to move around and was in his room in the nursing home/assisted living facility when he was shot
2) with a bean-bag round out of a shot gun, from about 6 – 10 feet away, at which distance it could be fatal even to someone in good health, a fact that is included in the cops’ training,
3) by one of the 5 cops present
4) while the staff was trying to calm him and the cops down.
It took him 3 days to die.
A WW II veteran, the Nazis spent 4 years trying to kill him and failed, but the Park Forest cops got the job done in about 10 minutes (or 3 days and 10 minutes, depending on your outlook).
Charges were not immediately brought. It wasn’t until the family understandably made a huge stink and John Kass got involved that court proceedings ensued. An indictment was returned and a trial is going to be held. You haven’t heard about it if you’re not local to the Chicago area because everyone involved was white, so Rev. Sharpton wouldn’t get any TV time by showing up.
Kinda jerky, Ron. Please, please, please. I’m really asking here. Try to contain that.
Especially after a post that was so otherwise excellent.
Actually, I had heard about it (probably at Digby’s blog). But, perhaps it is receiving less attention because:
The justice system is working in this case.
This is of course the “second part” of the problem. All those things are in retrospect innocent. And unless you think that people were deliberately murdered by the police, all of them were completely and utterly misinterpreted by other people with guns.
Which leads to the “first part” of the problem: police are supposed to be BETTER than the worst among us. And they’re not, not really.
I don’t think it’s inhuman and evil to be, for example, scared of people. Or even scared of people who are not of your race/gender/size. Or scared that you might get hurt, so that you are predisposed to put the hurt onto other folks.
But if you’re in one or more of those categories PERHAPS YOU SHOULD NOT JOIN THE GODDAMN POLICE.
I cannot find the slides, my post, or the question, so I am going from memory.
The first caption referenced the Denver 2014 football riots. No such thing.
The other caption linked the riot with the surf competition, making it sound as if it was a reaction to people hating/celebrating the results. It actually was a result of police trying to stop aggravated sexual harassment while being afraid to use enough force. It did happen during the surf contest, but in the context of the others, it sounded as if it was the surfer fans doing it. The arrests are public record, and I had reason to care, so it was two out of two captions that were fishy.
As for the officer in the San Clemente shooting, his report states that he was doing paperwork in his car when he observed the SUV speeding, and decided to pursue. Once again, public records.
As for my claim being suspect? Are you actually saying that “Don’t pray with your daughters in public and maybe they won’t kill you.” is a good way to describe what happened? Or are you saying that in the place of the the police officer you would have allowed the obviously not-in-control-of-himself driver to get back on the streets, after hearing him rave about Satan? Well, I’m just going to disagree with you about this. It would have been different if you were there, just as it would have been different if it had been Sarah, who would have disabled the vehicle by shooting at it. A 400+ horse power Yukon with run flat tires, BTW.
(OK, I do not know that it had run flat tires. It depends on the year and options)
Somewhat off topic and somewhat on topic:
A lot of people are (in my mind, rightfully) concerned about the militarization of civilian police forces. Cops show up for demonstrations or the front door of someone’s home looking like they’re getting ready to storm an Al-Queda stronghold – and then act like it. The subject has come up during the Ferguson story.
So – want to know what your local cops have actually GOTTEN from the military? Go to this link. Scroll down to the bottom. There will be a box with a state name, probably New York, and then cities/counties of that state listed underneath it. Click on the state name and select your state. Then select your city, county, etc. and see what the cops have been given by the DoD. I’m trying to figure out why the Chicago cops need 532 5.56 mm rifles, 40 7.62 mm rifles and a mine-resistant armored vehicle.
O.K. Myca. Sorry about that.
Thanks, Ron. I really appreciate it.
A friend’s ex-boyfriend worked with the SWAT team in his (decent-sized Southern) city, and as far as I could tell based on his stories, the tank was used to intimidate the dealer when they went in for a particularly large drug bust. He spoke with quite a bit of glee about rolling down the residential streets in the thing.
(So I’m not really sure why they needed one, either. Just pointing out that it’s being used exactly the way you might think it is.)
Okay, this falls under the category of “jerky things to say.” If you’d like to give it another shot at joining this conversation, you’re welcome to, but I’m really trying to have a conversation here, not a point-scoring contest. If you’d like to have a point-scoring contest, especially one where you mock other posters, it might be that another thread is a better fit.
The line about the run-flat tires, BTW, is like your line about the possible bomb – possible, but not really appropriate to bring up unless there’s some kind of evidence suggesting it.
Re: The riots – it seems like in the Denver riot, they listed the wrong year, as you said. In the case of the Huntington Beach riot, there’s a lot of information online, some of it conflicting, but I cannot seem to find information that confirms your version of events. The caption is correct, in any case, in saying that the riot started during the surf competition, though I take your point about that possibly being misleading if it was not linked to the surf competition.
In any case, neither of these points argue against the central point of making the list in the first place, which is that when white people riot, even with way less provocation than there was in Ferguson, it’s not generally taken as a referendum on their race or culture, and when black people riot, there’s almost always much rending of garments and gnashing of teeth over how awful and short-sighted it is.
I don’t know, but I wonder if it links to the “because” attributes of group membership, rather than the mere numbers in the group.
So the 99%er riots (or misbehavior) was blamed on hippies rather than “white people.” Although they were mostly white, they weren’t protesting because they were white. Ferguson protesters were mostly black but more to the point they were, for fairly obvious reasons, protesting because they were black.
Thank you for printing this. This list should also be contrasted with the list of rules for women.
I do know that I am heartily sick and damned tired of being told what I should do/not do to keep from being raped and now, what I should do/not do, to keep from being shot by the police.
I’m extremely sick and tired of people (it’s primarily White men) using all of this as an opportunity to invade our safe spaces and mansplainin’ to us, yet again, what it is we’re doing wrong (there’s always something) and gaslighting us with “this isn’t the racism you’re looking for”, drivel.
I have discovered, this year, that there’s absolutely nothing more tiresome than a White man who has some information he’d like to impart to fix “those people’s” lives.
But I’m sure they’re just doing it because “they care.”
I was struck by that too, how people who don’t have to deal with ‘X’ always think they’re these amazing experts on how you ought to deal with “X.” Mansplaining. Whitesplaining. Hell, I read an article yesterday on richsplaining.
I think with that … I’m outa here.
No concerns at all about bigotry against an entire group.
I can imagine how quickly I’d be banned when pointing out the (supposed) deficits of women. Or of blacks.
Just disgusting. Yeah ban me for pointing out your bigotry. I’m going to be pointing this out on “normal” websites.
Yeah, those cracker-splaining white fucks with their cracker-splaining skinny white hoes behind their mother-fuckng gated pieces of shit.
I offer separation – ya know, just like Liberia was (puhleeeze look it up). Well, I mean a new separation. Where da wimmin’s have to do real jobs like construction and mining and fishing and thinking about reality.
Are you people on crack? LOL Do you think white men are the only one’s susceptible to criticism? OMG
Just curious. Is anyone aware of a national nongovernmental organization that tracks police abuse of power, improper investigations of use of force etc? It isn’t quite in the ACLUs area, the southern poverty law center is more focused on modern versions of the kkk, and since cops beat and kill people of all races it’s not just a job for the naacp.
I mean hell, even just a project to keep a database of this crap would be a start.
Are you kidding? I wouldn’t ban you for pointing out bigotry.
Woah. I would totally ban you for weird white-male-separatist fantasies. Because wow that’s some creepy shit that just came out of your keyboard.
Ooh! Ooh! Also I’d ban you because you’re another one of the multi-headed sockpuppet trolls! :D
at the risk of being a whitesplaining mansplaining richsplaining running dog for the bourgeoisie, self improvement and community development is a smart tactical move when facing systemic economic and legal oppression. If only as a way to strengthen the bargaining position. It worked well enough for the irish nationalist movement.
I know nothing about this other than that one of my friends from high school keeps liking their posts on facebook, but it’s at least a place to start looking for something like that. http://www.copblock.org/
gin-and-whiskey: No, it’s because it neatly fits into the racist narrative that black people are violent savages.
When largely white male groups of sports fans trash a city, people don’t flip their lids about white dudes. But you might, for example, hear complaints about that’s how fans of X sport or X team behave, so the violence wasn’t surprising because that’s how they behave.
Brian, Amnesty USA considers it one of their major goals to fight all kinds of police abuse–not just abuse of prisoners.
I don’t know if they keep a general database, though. Their general approach is to look for a few dramatic cases they can use to drum up an international campaign for exerting pressure on an oppressive government. They do collect some statistics for emphasis. “Along with [this many] pregnant women every year, [name] is kept in an unheated cell in [place]…”
while poking around, i did find this. But so far nothing similar to what I was thinking of. I will have to add it to my to do list.
Someone else who’s collecting information about police killings:
Nancy, Adrian and Ruchama thanks for the finds, I’ll have to go through them after finals are over to see if my idea would fill a need others aren’t trying for. Apparently the FBI has been supposed to track this stuff for a decade, but the executive order wasn’t binding, or it was an unfunded mandate, not sure which.
Fatal Encounters looks like a good low cost option, crowd sourcing it so people can post with proof what they know happened in their own areas.
Most of the ones in my area I was aware of that FE posted, thought the highlights would amuse some here.
6/4/2010: Brown, a former U.S. Marine, was shot to death by an off-duty Baltimore police officer outside a lounge following an argument over the officer’s girlfriend. Brown was unarmed and was shot 12 times. The officer, Gahiji Tshamba, was subsequently given a 15-year prison sentence and ordered into mental health and substance abuse assessments upon release. http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2011-08-16/news/bs-md-ci-tshamba-sentencing-20110816_1_gahiji-tshamba-city-officer-fatal-shooting
1/25/2013: Authorities said two officers who are part of a gun and drug enforcement group in that area approached a group of people. One of those men started walking in the opposite direction, and when one of the officers tried to approach him, the man turned and started shooting at the officer, police said.Investigators said the officer chased the man on foot for six blocks while the man continued to fire shots at the officer. Officials said the officer eventually returned fire and shot the man, who later died at a hospital. http://www.abc2news.com/dpp/news/crime_checker/baltimore_city_crime/city-officer-involved-in-shooting
4/22/2013: Two officers on foot patrol heard and saw shots coming from a car with several people inside. People inside the car were firing in a direction away from the officers. The officers then “engaged” the suspects and shot three of them. Hooker died. http://citypaper.com/news/murder-ink-1.1481789
Zoom in! Get Directions
7/18/2013: Along with a passenger West was pulled over on a traffic stop by two plainclothes officers in an unmarked car. On a pat-down officers discovered a small amount of cocaine. This caused West to react, and started an extended physical struggle among the three in which the officers accidentally pepper-sprayed themselves. Other police arrived and the beating of West continued after he’d been subdued and handcuffed. He died at the scene. http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2014-01-23/news/bs-md-ci-tyrone-west-witness-20140122_1_tyrone-west-jorge-bernardez-ruiz-kitmore-road
3/21/2014: McCray allegedly burglarized a Target, and when police arrived to investigate, he rammed a patrol car, injuring the officer, then preceded to lead police and the state patrol on a high-speed freeway chase. Police and state troopers cornered him at a rest stop. When they got out of their cars to arrest McCray, he attempted to run them over and four officers shot and killed him. McCray was unarmed. http://www.myeasternshoremd.com/news/queen_annes_county/article_43def559-3c33-58d2-83aa-f690df5cb7c8.html?mode=jqm
Thanks coming from the one whose city experienced the “flat tire” one and it did change our city forever hopefully mostly for the good. It was a hell of a lot of hard work and a lot of heartache so I hope it did some good.
I’d like to add, don’t be homeless and put all your belongings in a shopping cart (RIP Margaret Mitchell, LAPD, 1999)
I knew of her. My family did and I talked with her. My stepfather who’s very Republican called me in tears when he heard she was killed and the area surrounding 4th and La Brea was pissed that this could even happen. It woke quite a few people up and that’s never a bad thing.
Mental health crisis intervention, let’s see and that applied with Mitchell and some of these cases. I know that from having LAPD including their mental health team deal with my step brother, even had the bomb squad in my parents’ house at 4am when he called 911 about one of his paranoid delusions. The night that the LAPD team 51/50ed him, I was hearing testimony in my own city by officers in Memphis, TN who pioneered what’s called the CIT (crisis intervention team) method of policing mentally ill. I pushed for that in my city and we wound up getting a hybrid form of it. I audited the 30 hour training for officers and I spoke with officers who’d dealt with the mentally ill including one who shot and killed more than one mentally ill person in just a few months. He actually was very instrumental in keeping me informed when the city wasn’t quite as committed with this program as it should be. Maybe he just wanted an alternative to what he’d been trained to do.
The NYPD’s policy on choke holds baffles me. They have it in there that it’s banned unless it’s the least lethal method to deal with an officer in “imminent danger” yet they haven’t taught it in 10 years to their officers. My city’s department has almost identical language with what’s called the carotid restraint and choke holds are banned. Why? The language in the UOF policy says they escalate the situation and have little benefit as a less lethal option. That’s kind of what happened in the Garner case in NY.
What confuses me too is how the media uses “choke hold” (meaning “bar arm”) and carotid restraint interchangeably. They are NOT the same thing. CR is crook of the arm below the upper jaw aimed at carotid arteries to cause a person to faint. It’s NOT nonlethal and people who’ve had it done and are in jail are watched carefully as if they would be if tased.
“Choke hold” is using the forearm in a “bar arm” method across the pharynx and trachea to cause oxygen deprivation. It can cause serious injuries to trachea and even dislocate or break cervical vertebrae. It’s pretty much banned by LE agencies including LAPD b/c since it impacts airway, it’s going to escalate the situation b/c most people when struggling to breath will fight back.
There’s two types of “chokeholds”, those intended to be choke holds (meaning bar arm over trachea) and carotid restraints that become choke holds b/c of struggling.
Just to add this Yahoo article on Black police officers
I thought this is an interesting part of the equation but I’ll say this, it’s a whole separate discussion thread. This is really such a complicated and thorny issue. If you only knew…
Exactly I was listening to a blow by blow “riot” by Xsport people in an OC city and they were predominantly white, trashing a strip of businesses, causing damage and leaving business owners fearing for safety. And yet they just weren’t treated the same as rioters in L.A. in 1992 and more recently in Ferguson. Having been through the former and having a mom with dents in her car from driving through streets with rioters jumping on her car, I found it interesting.
Actually the ACLU runs something in CA called The Police Project and I have to say that lawyers in the SC area (Los Angeles County) and even some people from the NYC office sent to my city have been very helpful. But the ACLU is strapped and inundated with cases it can get overwhelmed and my area, the IE in So. Calif didn’t have an office of its own until last April.
I don’t know much about Southern Poverty Law Center in policing regionally here. ADL sent someone to train local city and county PD on diversity issues. The county deputies were so disrespectful I filed a complaint against them and wrote the sheriff and he took it seriously enough to do a probe. I didn’t want to pick on some individuals, I wanted more systemic diversity training, so I and my boss at the time went a bit hard core during the IA interview and we worked out getting them the training. The next time they did that ADL training, some deputies acted up but other deputies told them to STFU b/c they wanted to hear the training. Can’t ask for a much better response on a very small scale than that.
ADL=Anti-Defamation League by the way. They’ve got some great data bases on hate organizations and hate crimes.
I might be a minority but I think the DA/GJ process is a waste of precious time. They rarely file charges/indict and when they do, trust me juries are less willing to convict than these agencies are to indict. The federal DOJ? Please, the federal statutes for civil rights violations even harder to indict on than state murder laws. I KNOW this b/c I’ve personally sat in interviews with US attorneys encharged with this duty.
The best thing to do is to push for addressing issues with the involved LE agency. Push for a pattern/practice investigation through the feds (through powers granted by the Safe Streets and Police Accountability laws) or the State AG (my state, CA has similar laws enacted in 2001). That’s what is happening in Ferguson right now through the feds. The city/county and feds/state will settle into what’s called a consent decree. If the city/county governments don’t agree, the feds/state AG will sue them in court over it and they’ll win.
Feguson will never get a state indictment or a federal one. Neither will the NYPD over Garner but Ferguson WILL get a consent decree. Hopefully if the community puts their feet to the fire, something positive will come out of it but I’d warn them now, they have to really be consistent about pushing it even after the decree expires as most of them last about five years.
Here’s an interesting article on the NYPD and what are called fraternal officer-involved shootings. Meaning officers who shoot fellow officers because they don’t know they’re officers. Most common are off duty or undercover black officers beings shot by most often white officers.
One thing that came to mind upon reading this article was an old test that they gave officers as diversity training.
They showed the officers two photos. One of a black man pulling a gun on a white man both in plain clothes. The other was a white man pulling a gun on a black man. Both devoid of back story or context.
Overwhelmingly the officer viewed the black on white as a criminal robbing a person. The white on black was viewed as a plain clothed officer apprehending a criminal.
So no somehow it doesn’t surprise me that often black officers especially undercover ones are sometimes more afraid of what’s going on inside the head of their fellow officers as they are with criminals.
Time, and money. I very much agree.
From time to time, someone walks through a neighborhood in my jurisdiction, pulling car door handles. If the car is unlocked, they duck inside for about a minute and go through it for money and other small valuables. We find out about these mini crime sprees when three or five or seven people call in to report them, and we draw a line on the map. Usually there is no evidence to identify the thief, or thieves. There is never a theft from a locked car.
Mapp v. Ohio is the seminal case in US jurisprudence which established the Exclusionary Rule, which evidence obtained illegally cannot be presented at trial. I’ve heard that the Exclusionary Rule is considered bizarre by people in many other countries we would consider comparable to our own in matters of criminal justice. It is not a penalty, but a removal of incentive. Name a penalty, and I will find you an officer who will happily pay it in order to be permitted to do something illegal to bring the right person to justice (consider stopping a serial child rapist, for instance; if it were necessary, plenty of officers would happily pay a penalty to put one behind bars). But a disincentive is much more powerful than a penalty, because it makes it impossible to benefit from the illegal activity.
Mapp v. Ohio was decided circa 1960. I have no cite for this, but I recall learning many years ago in the academy that NYPD, in the year before the Exclusionary Rule came into being, applied for zero search warrants. The year after the establishment of the Exclusionary Rule, they applied for over nine hundred, and the number went up swiftly every year thereafter.
Were the officers of the NYPD not searching, prior to 1960? Of course they were. There was no practical reason not to, a few pesky words in the Constitution notwithstanding. And afterward, they continued to search — but their searches were subject to scrutiny and legal standards. Which, over time, changed how officers did searches, until the modern day, when at least some training says, “When in doubt, get a warrant. When you have time, even if you can justify the search under one of the legal exceptions, get a warrant.” Why? Because it makes the case stronger in court. Absent a warrant, a search is per se illegal, and the state has to justify it in court. WITH a warrant, a search has been approved in advance by a judge, and is presumed valid until and unless the defense can prove that it should not have been granted.
I have to get a lot of warrants, both arrest warrants and search warrants. I cannot recall ever having a search warrant denied. In my 20+ year career, I have only had two arrest warrants denied (once by a judge and once by a justice, and in both cases others judges and justices disagreed, when presented with the fact pattern in conversation).
So, my search warrant rate is 100% and my arrest warrant rate is 99%. Should we, then, do away with the warrant requirement?
Certainly not. The warrant requirement sets a standard, which the police, not being fans of wasting their time, work hard to meet and exceed. And, for those officers whose sense of ethics is flexible enough to be worrisome, the warrant requirement keeps them honest in the same way that a locked door helps prevent theft.
The grand jury process is the warrant process writ large, for serious crimes. Get rid of it entirely? Some officers, some prosecutors, will charge felonies just because they can, and see if they can get a guilty plea before the case ever sees scrutiny by a judge or a jury, or just to cost the defendant the money to get legal representation.
From an outside perspective it’s not the GJ process that’s the problem. Even though the way things are handled in other common law countries makes the GJ process look a little archaic, I don’t think it’s the problem.
The problem is the vast number of very small police forces spread across the country. Ferguson has a population of just over 21,000. There’s no way that a police force with a jurisdiction of that size could have the capacity to conduct an independant investigation into itself. It would also likely struggle to develop any sort of quality institutional culture that might be expected of a modern police force.
Most of the other countries I know of operate police forces at either that state or national level. I don’t think the cultural problem is one of police impunity, but rather a cultural of leaving small communities to fend for themselves when it comes to law and order.
This plays into the issues that Grace commented on. A justice system based on small jurisdictions will be far more likely to have local politics drawn into it and thus necessitate the sorts of protections that the GJ process provides.
I’m sold, let’s switch the “National Police” model. The Mounties aren’t perfect but they are better than the average fat racist Southern Sheriff. And that’s from a guy that can pass for a fat racist Southern Sheriff!