Weekends are notoriously slow news cycles so there isn’t much work involved with tending the news feed, so I figured it would be a good time to talk about some of the issues we spotted that didn’t qualify for being on the news feed lately.
Looking at ourselves in a distorted mirror
First, some might recall when I talked about how China had created a mock-up human rights report for the US in response to the US report on human rights conditions in all the nations in the world… excluding the US. I mentioned that China could have done a better job fact-checking their information, especially where they discussed police misconduct.
Well, the US, by way of Hillary Clinton’s State Department, answered the criticism by promising to write a report on the human rights situation in the US and claims that they are going across the country to talk with different rights activists and groups about the information they feel should go into that report…
Interestingly enough our site did get a hit from the US State Department computer network, but it was only a brief one and, as I’m sure you guessed, I haven’t received an invite to any of these cross-country information gathering events. However, I didn’t really expect one. Given the Clintons’ history as avid supporters of law enforcement, including a controversial pro-police campaign stop during Hillary’s bid for president, and that the current Vice President, Joe Biden, is known for his efforts as a senator to push for laws that would hide police misconduct from the public… or even current president Obama’s, at best, mixed record on civil liberties.
All things considered, it’s a sure bet that Clinton’s State Department will do it’s best to show the state of law enforcement in the US in the best possible light in their self-reporting of human rights in the US, even if other human rights concerns get fair treatment.
Yet another city questions why arbitration always favors bad cops
The Shreveport Times in Louisiana published an article today about how their arbitration system has overturned disciplinary action in over half the cases of police misconduct challenged by the police union. The article reads disturbingly similar to all the other articles I’ve read about the use of arbitrators to challenge disciplinary actions in response to police misconduct.
As we noted before, this is not a localized issue, it’s the same wherever police unions have been able to push for the use of arbitration to settle matters of police discipline. This is because of the nature of arbitration itself and how arbitrators are trained to do whatever they can to salvage the employee’s job.
There’s an inherent bias in the arbitration system that makes police officers the most difficult type of employees to discipline in the US and, conversely, the type of employee that can cause the most damage to society when they are not disciplined… and it’s a problem all over the US, not just in Shreveport Louisiana.
Does this mean we should put felons on juries too?
The lawyer for former BART police officer Johannes Mehersle, who is facing a murder trial for fatally shooting an unarmed man in the back while he was restrained on the floor of a train station, has petitioned to force the judge in the case to allow police officers to serve on the jury panel for Mehserle’s trial, claiming that police are his peers and should serve in the jury.
Police are generally excluded from jury service as they are considered biased in criminal trials since it’s their jobs to put suspects (note I don’t say criminals) in jail. In this case the bias would be reversed considering many law enforcement officers believe in the concept of professional courtesy and a culture that believes it’s wrong to rat on a fellow officer, some of which to an extent where they would never consider arresting or reporting a fellow officer for any crime.
But, what will be interesting is that if the judge granted this request based on the idea that police officers are a police officer’s only real peer, does that mean police officers are their own special class of citizens in the US with their own bill of rights and their own seperate, more lenient, justice system… or at least official recognition of this practical fact. Or will it allow defense attorneys in criminal trials to look at this trial as precedence to demand that only other people who were arrested and charged with crimes are a suspect’s true peers? Will this mean juvenile suspects can get kids to serve on juries for their trials too?
Yeah, probably none of the above, but it’s an interesting box of worms.
Good Cop v Bad Cop: Bad Cop Wins
An interesting story from the Chicago Reader this week examined what happened to two Oak Park Illinois police officers who reported corruption within their department… as you might guess, they were made into outcasts and cannot work any longer as they fear for their lives. Of course, this isn’t just an Oak Park problem, it’s systemic within the whole of America’s police culture that you just don’t rat on a fellow cop.
But you don’t have to take my word for it, this is a story that repeats itself all over the US, time and time again… in Colorado, in New York, in Minnesota, in Montana, in Oregon, in Washington, in Pennsylvania, in Alabama, in California, in Idaho, in Kentucky, etc…
The point is, retaliation against officers for reporting misconduct is rampant and occurs all across the US… and if we cannot protect police officers who report police misconduct, how can victims expect fair treatment when they report incidents of misconduct? This is why under reporting of police misconduct is such a problem in the US… we know this because even our own project gets several reports a month from individuals that we can’t report because they are afraid to come forward publicly.
That’s it for today folks, I have a lot of work to do, even on a Sunday… so, in the meantime, stay safe out there.