The (Masked) Faces of Police Militarization

The Lake County (FL) Sheriff’s Office has been receiving a lot of media attention this week regarding a public service announcement made by Sheriff Peyton Grinnell.

In the short video, Sheriff Grinnell, flanked by four masked men (presumably his deputies), glares into the camera and issues a stern warning that SWAT teams are coming for local drug dealers, and that police are going to “blow the doors off the hinges” when they arrive.

We’ve written a lot about the history of and dangers inherent in overly militarized policing.  Viewers can make up their own minds about whether the video above is what they want American policing to look and sound like.

New Paper on Americans’ Attitudes about Policing

Last week, Cato released a paper by my colleague Emily Ekins about public attitudes about policing. Some findings include:

  • There are stark racial and partisan divides in favorability toward police, but no group is “anti-cop”
  • 79 percent of respondents support outside law enforcement agencies conducting investigations of police misconduct
  • 65 percent of respondents think police officers “commonly” racially profile Americans and 63 percent of respondents oppose it

You can read more about Emily’s top-line findings here. You can check out the whole report here.

Can the Feds Fix Broken Police Departments?

From the National Interest (Online):

 It has been one year since Freddie Gray died while in the custody of the Baltimore Police Department. Gray’s death sparked peaceful protests and then calamitous riots that brought international attention and prompted the deployment of National Guard units. While local prosecutors indicted the officers involved in Gray’s arrest, the federal government promised to investigate the entire police department for a “pattern or practice” of constitutional violations. The impending outcome of that inquiry seems foreordained. The real question is whether federal monitoring can truly fix a broken police department. The conventional wisdom is that it can, but experience tells us that it can be counterproductive….

When the feds do intervene, everyone seems to be pleased. The heat is off the local officials to address police misconduct. They say they’ll have to await the outcome of the federal investigation before taking any action. Federal officials are pleased because they are seen as the cavalry coming to the rescue. Civil rights activists are satisfied because they think a federal lawsuit will bring about needed reforms. The police department and police union benefit as well. The intense media scrutiny will now fade as the months roll past.

Unfortunately, federal intervention has a counterproductive “enabling” effect: it allows local officials to evade their responsibility to fix broken police organizations. When the local politicos make a plea for federal intervention, it deflects attention away from their oversight failure and actually squanders the prospect for sweeping changes at a pivotal moment.

Happy Holidays from NPMRP!

I’d like to personally thank all of our readers for making this another great year. NPMRP is an important public information project and the more people know about what is going on in their police departments the more impetus for change there will be.

Our staff is wrapping up for the holidays to spend time with our families so our newsfeed will be dark for the remainder of 2015. That said, we’ll be back up and running again on January 4, 2016 with all of the reports over our break to start the new year.

Keep submitting tips and stories here on the website and we will get to them when we return. We wish you and yours safe and happy holidays. We’ll see you in 2016!


NewsFeed Break–Policing in America

Today, Cato is hosting an all-day conference to discuss the state of American policing. Consequently, the NPMRP NewsFeed will be on hiatus for the day but will be up and running again on Wednesday.

You can livestream the ‘Policing in America’ event here starting at 9am ET. The program is scheduled to run until 4pm. You can follow and interact with the conversation on Twitter at #PolicingUS. For those who can’t watch live, the event will be archived on the Cato website later this week.


A Housekeeping Note

The Twitter feed and Daily Recaps will be on a short break until after Labor Day. We will still be updating any major developments in big cases on the blog and the Worst of August should be posted soon.

In the meantime, please continue to send in tips and cases to our submissions page. Thanks for reading!


NewsFeed Break

Please know there will be a one-day break in the NewsFeed. We will resume tracking and posting Tuesday, April 21, 2015.

As always, we appreciate it when readers use our submissions page to send us stories they find from around the country.