Tales of piss-headed police officers dominated the news in the week before New Years (at least, in my social circles, if we discount everything related to Star Wars). In West Virginia, the governor has finally recommended the firing of the full Hitler Heil-ing cadet class. In Kansas, another cop was (allegedly) terminated after writing "Fucking Pig" on his own McDonald's coffee cup and trying to blame it on the hard-working, underpaid workers whom he should be theoretically serving and protecting. (Some cops in Alabama also made a mocking "homeless quilt" that the department later apologized for, though the officers weren't actually reprimanded as far as I can tell.)
On the surface, this is largely a good thing. Although these are somewhat-minor acts in the grand scheme of police behaviors, the fact that there are actually repercussions for police misconduct already represents a sea change from the way things have been. Police departments across the country have kept secret lists of criminal crops who remain in their employ; typically, when cops are caught lying about things (even as dumb and small as a McDonald's coffee cup), the rest of their testimony is still given weight. Hell, the National Center for Women and Policing found that at least 40% of police officers self-reported domestic violence in the home … and still keep their jobs.
But these guys in West Virginia and Kansas? They might actually lose their jobs over a couple of pictures.
The public outrage towards unfair and overly aggressive policing has noticeably swelled alongside the raise of the Black Lives Matter movement, and particularly in the aftermath of that obscene military occupation in Ferguson. Read the rest
I was getting on a plane in Toronto yesterday when I heard the news that a van had been intentionally driven into a crowd of people. By the time I landed a few hours later in Calgary, word was that 10 people lost their lives in the attack. Just under 20 were wounded. I assumed that if he was found by the authorities, the alleged driver of the van would be toast. He or she would have no chance to be tried by a jury of peers; no option to stand before a judge. There'd be no justice, save what a bullet, by the driver's own hand or that of a police office, could afford.
This morning when I woke, I was amazed to see that this was not the case. A single Toronto Police Service constable managed to capture a suspect alive in the murder of those ten unfortunate souls. Despite the fact that the suspect menaced the officer, his demanded to be killed, and constantly reached for a firearm – which turned out not to have been there – the suspect ended up in handcuffs instead of a body bag.
The Canadian Broadcast Corporation's got what little footage of the event there is, along with commentary on how a police service that was once known for its heavy-handed tactics identified its aggression as a problem and fought to change its ways. Through frequent deescalation courses, Toronto's Police Service is changing its officer's responses to violent situations, slowly, but with measurable success. Read the rest
Spoiler: Native Americans. Read the rest
The FBI found no criminal wrongdoing, or evidence that any other officers were involved with the KKK.
A police officer in the Northern California city of Rohnert Park was caught on video pulling his gun on a resident who was recording the cop on his cellphone. Read the rest
In a Reddit AMA, activists DeRay McKesson, Johnetta Elzie and ACLU’s Nus Choudhury talked policing and police reform in America, and surveillance of activists.