The devil is in the details.
According to a new federal task force on police brutality, the situation is grim. The report’s recommendations
–based on the testimonies of everyone from the ACLU to professors and police –unfortunately reflect the severity of the police state.
The “President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing” was launched by Barack Obama in December via executive order. It had the intent of improving police relations with communities. Obama chose Philadelphia Police Commissioner, Charles Ramsey, to help head the task force, proving the effort was (at least in part) smoke and mirrors. Ramsey has presided over some of the most corrupt officers in the country.
Nevertheless, in its interim report, the task force made over 80 pages of insights and recommendations. Some of them included:
- Implementing the use of body cameras (3.3.3 Action Item)
- Using independent prosecutors “…in cases of police use of force resulting in death, officer-involved shootings resulting in injury or death, or in-custody deaths.” ( 2.2.3 Action Item)
- Improving transparency and reporting (Recommendation 1.3 and 2.2.4 Action Item):
“When serious incidents occur, including those involving alleged police misconduct, agencies should communicate with citizens and the media swiftly, openly, and neutrally, respecting areas where the law requires confidentiality.”
“Policies on use of force should also require agencies to collect, maintain, and report data to the Federal Government on all officer-involved shootings, whether fatal or non fatal, as well as any in-custody death.”
- Removing quotas, or “practices requiring officers to issue a pre-determined number of tickets, citations, arrests, or summonses” (2.9 Recommendation)
- Minimizing the use of military gear and equipment at protests (2.6 Recommendation):
“Law enforcement agencies should create policies and procedures for policing mass demonstrations that employ a continuum of managed tactical resources that are designed to minimize the appearance of a military operation and avoid using provocative tactics and equipment that undermine civilian trust.”
- Learning non-lethal techniques for tense situations (Action Item 2.2.1)
- And curtailing harassment of minorities (Pillar Five)
Other recommendations included creating a better social media presence (3.5 Recommendation) to help strengthen community ties (in other words: get better propaganda) and wearing seat belts (6.6 Recommendation). Why more seat belts? Because more officers have been killed by car accidents than “bad guys” in recent years.
Unfortunately, while the vast majority of the recommendations made by the task force are well intentioned, they demonstrate how terrible the state of affairs has become. Asking police to be transparent with who they kill is seen as a step forward whereas in many societies, police rarely kill at all. In 22 years, Australian police killed 105 people. In the United States, they killed over 1,000 in 2014.
It is an apparent mark of progress to kindly ask police to stop using their positions as revenue generators for the state
–to stop being henchmen of government profiteers in a system that oppresses the poor and disenfranchised. That the court system is so decayed it cannot be trusted to deliver impartial justice speaks volumes. That police must be told to be nice to minorities and protesters is archaic.
Though the recommendations sound progressive
–and at least address serious issues –it is a different challenge to win police support. Considering the power of unions, the complicity of the bureaucratic justice system, and the thin blue line, it is unknown whether or not any recommendations will plant seeds of change –especially when they are enforced by the same federal government that enabled militarization and allowed the situation to crumble to its present state.
President Obama is considering the findings to decide what to implement and how.
As Obama himself has said, “Obviously, the devil is in the details.”
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