Boston's got a bad reputation when it comes to race. And unfortunately, much of it's deserved. Of course, there are people who are trying to fight and make a positive difference despite the segregation that's left the predominantly black neighborhoods behind in schooling and socializing. Which is why the Boston Teacher's Union planned a week-long series of events in coordination with Black Lives Matter, to help educate students on inclusion and restorative justice. After all, February is Black History Month. So that all sounds good, right?
The Boston Police Patrolmen's Association disagreed, and sent a letter to BTU President Jessica Tang condoning the events. In the letter, BPPA President Michael Leary refers to Black Lives Matter an "anti-police organization" who has endangered the lives of Boston police officers. This is demonstrably untrue. But BPPA refuses to let the facts get in the way of their feelings. The letter continues on about the "irrational hatred" of BLM, accusing them of "inaccurately demonizing police as racists who kill innocent people" before passive-aggressively warning about the potential dangers of not cooperating with Boston Police, like some kind of mob protection racket.
BPPA is also upset about an education initiative to provide more funding for guidance counselors, instead of just shoving more police officers into schools to solve behavioral problems by threat of force. Read the rest
Finally, a police union has identified a form of misconduct it will not defend: necrophilia.
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The "Straight Pride" Parade that was held in Boston in the end of August was just another example of thinly-veiled alt-right trolling. Unfortunately, it also worked. A hateful parade of a hundred-or-so people managed to divert hundreds of thousands in taxpayer dollars into overtime police coverage and shutdown streets during the busiest weekend in the city (Labor Day + college move-ins = hell).
Thanks to WBUR, we now know that that cost included 9,000 hours of overtime work for local police officers—the equivalent of 4 years of full-time policing service. And none of it was officially caught on film, despite the police aggressions caught on social media and the 3 dozen counter-protestors who were arrested during the parade.
(Coincidentally, the Massachusetts State Police Union was also embroiled in an overtime scandal in the months leading up to this parade.)
There are plenty of pros and cons to debate around the use of body cameras for police officers. In this case, it means that the public only has access to choppy, not-necessarily-reliable videos that arguably paint a picture of excessive police aggression against protestors. Read the rest
Police officers working in Baltimore have always been able to rely on the financial backing of the city when the courts demanded payouts for wrongful death or police brutality suits, but that could soon change.
According to the Forward Observer, Baltimore's police union has cautioned its members that individual officers may soon be responsible for paying damages to litigants that have won suits for police brutality, wrongful deaths or other wrongdoings they undertook in the line of duty.
It's not unusual for police departments or police officers to be named in a civil suit. In most instances, such cases end with the officers in question being freed of any liability, due to the fact that they were doing their jobs within the confines of the law, or that they were found not guilty by a jury or a residing judge. However, if an officer is found guilty, the punitive damages awarded to the victim are usually paid out from the coffers of the city or agency that the officer works for. That Baltimore will be leaving its police officers on the hook for damages awarded in civil suits where they're named is unusual, and could have some serious ramifications for how the city is policed.
Baltimore's new policy could make malicious, heavy-handed cops think twice before using force, deadly or otherwise, in the line of duty. Where ethics and humanity have failed to curb their violence, a serious hit to their wallets could do the trick. But there's a downside to this, as well: not all police officers have it in for the communities that they've sworn to protect. Read the rest
Chicago boasts one of the nation's most corrupt police forces: Chicago PD ran an off-the-books secret torture site; stole millions from innocents and used the funds to buy illegal surveillance gear; has more than 125,000 outstanding abuse complaints; conducted an illegal extortion racket and a coverup that went to the highest levels; is systemically racist and corrupt; a force that tolerates cops who cover up and celebrate murder (no surprise that the force trained the ex-Gitmo torturer who beat Dr David Dao unconscious for refusing to give up his seat on a United flight).
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Thanks the the contracts police unions get from local governments, it's not only hard to get rid of violent, corrupt cops, but investigating them in the first place is made nigh-impossible. They beat, steal and grift with impunity. The New York Times' editorial board says it's time for legislators to rip up these agreements and force the rule of law on those who represent it.
Across the country, municipal governments have signed contracts with police unions including provisions that shield officers from punishment for brutal behavior as well as from legitimate complaints by the citizens they are supposed to serve.
That may soon change, as public outrage over police killings of civilians is ratcheting up pressure on elected officials to radically revise police contracts that make it almost impossible to bring officers to justice.
The most striking case in point is Chicago, which has been roiled by a police scandal stemming from a cover-up in the case of a 17-year-old named Laquan McDonald, who was executed by a police officer nearly two years ago.
What's changed? Even old white folks are becoming scared of the cops. If it shows just how bad this problem has gotten, it's also a bitter reminder of what it takes to get something done about it. Read the rest