This is a bit of a wormhole, so bear with me. But I think it illuminates some deeply concerning stuff about the right-wing Boomer propaganda machine.
I saw a link on Twitter with the headline, "Colorado to strip its police force of qualified immunity: Countless officers discussing resigning." Naturally, I was intrigued at the suggestion of police officers throwing public tantrums over having the slightest accountability in their supposed duties to serve and protect their communities. So I saved the link to read later. When I opened it, I found a terribly cheap right-wing propaganda website called Law Enforcement Today, with a poorly written article that linked to a Denver Post article from a few weeks back about Colorado SB-217, which is supposed to restrict the use of tear gas and projectiles on civilians and introduce criminal charges for cops who don't intervene when they witness another officer exercising excessive force. The Law Enforcement Today coverage is long and meandering and doesn't even have an author listed; at the top of the article, however, there is an editor's note saying:
Law Enforcement Today has received countless messages over the past few days from officers in Colorado. Many have asked for resources finding police jobs out of Colorado – many others have said they plan on leaving the field altogether.
This is just the beginning. Here’s why.
And that is the extent of information available at police threatening to resign over losing qualified immunity. So what was supposedly the main focus of the article — based on the headline — was just some hearsay tacked onto the top of it. Read the rest
A recent investigation from the Public Accountability Initiative, a nonprofit corporate and government accountability research institute, and its LittleSis database partners breaks down some of the ways that oil producers such as Chevron, Shell, and Wells Fargo are closely intertwined with police departments in cities like Seattle, Chicago, Washington, New Orleans and Salt Lake City. None of this is particularly surprising — whether you've been paying to environmental justice and its disproportionate impact on Black and Brown Americans, or you're just generally aware of corporations who like to bend the laws to their will and enforce a hierarchical structure on the communities around them — but it's still interesting to see spelled out so clearly:
Marathon Petroleum, the nation’s largest oil refining company, has a history of environmental pollution that disproportionately impacts the health of Black and Brown communities where their refineries are based. Sine 2000 Marathon has been fined over $1.4 billion for various environmental, consumer, and workplace violations.The company operates 16 refineries around the country, including a notorious 250-acre refinery in a Detroit, Michigan community that is 71% Black. Since 2013 Marathon’s Detroit refinery has received 15 violations from the state environmental regulator for surpassing state and federal emissions limits. In 2019 the refinery leaked a “gasoil” mixture that created a toxic vapor cloud that sent workers to the hospital.Marathon’s Security Coordinator sits on the board of the Detroit Public Safety Foundation, the city’s police foundation. Marathon is also listed as a “Commanding Sponsor” of the foundation’s fundraising event “Above & Beyond” and a “Bronze Sponsor” of their “Women in Blue” event. Read the rest
NBC News has a recent piece on, "the hidden hand that uses money to reform troubled police departments" — essentially, looking at the private industry solutions to public law enforcement problems. It's a worthwhile read if you're interested in police reform like me. While it doesn't go too in-depth, it does provide a glimpse at the ways that the existence (read: threat) of private insurers have helped to mitigate some potential police misconduct … and also how that can totally backfire and end up sapping resources away from a town — especially when the lawsuit and insurance coverage means that offending cops still keep their jobs..
Read the rest
For insurers, police reform is about money, not morality. Just as State Farm wants to prevent car crashes, a liability insurer wants to prevent lawsuits.
When the customers are police departments, "loss prevention" means teaching police departments how to reduce risk. In the first in-depth study of how insurers affect police, Rappaport surveyed the industry's carrots and sticks, from policy audits to virtual reality use-of-force simulators. Often, insurers educate departments about risky topics like vehicle pursuits and strip searches. Many do site visits and go on ride-alongs, keeping "watch lists" for departments with histories of costly lawsuits, according to the study. Rappaport's favorite example is the insurer that sends representatives incognito to hang out at "cop bars" to observe the police culture.
"Insurers are clearly affecting the behavior of police departments they insure, for better or for worse," Rappaport said. "They are capable of doing it for the better and sometimes more efficiently than governmental agencies and prosecutors."
Everyone in Minneapolis feels a lot safer, now that police there are using taxpayer-funded drones to spot people -- especially Blacks and topless women -- committing the crime of removing their clothes at an unofficial nude beach.
From Fast Company:
The devices caught images of people exposing parts of their bodies they later covered up when officers arrived on the beach. The police say the drone surveillance is legal, since the beach is a public place, but it understandably made some beachgoers uncomfortable. Some also consider the current law discriminatory—it allows men to be topless but not women—and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is considering changing it, according to the report.
People at the beach also accused police of singling out Black beachgoers, approaching them first, and pushback from the crowd ultimately made the officers leave, according to the report.
Image: Jumpstory / CC0 Read the rest
Amid mounting criticism, Gov. Charlie Baker Tuesday defended a proposal — tucked inside a larger bill to create a state certification system for law enforcement officers — to provide up to $5,000 bonuses for police to take on additional training.
“It’s for people who go above and beyond with respect to what they’re required to do under our proposal,” Baker said during a press conference. “And I don’t expect many to do it, but I think it’s important. If you want people to up their game, if you want people to perform at a higher level, if you want people to do a better job in serving the communities they represent and to be leaders with respect to the way they do that, it’s not unusual to create a modest incentive for them to do that.”
Local activists are, understandably, outraged at this proposal, which is, uhh, quite literally the opposite of the "Defund the Police" cry that many of them have been championing.
Existing anti-bias training programs for police are not particularly known for being effective, although it is certainly a profitable venture — and not just for the officers who take the governor up on that $5000 incentive. I'm also not sure why Baker thinks anyone wouldn't take him up on the offer for an easy $5K. A few weeks ago, I shared a blog post from a self-proclaimed former bastard cop, who had this to say (among other things):
Read the rest
Let me tell you what probably won’t solve the problem of bastard cops:
Increased “bias” training.