Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Police Chiefs Say No To Trump

Chiefs Say Trump's Law Enforcement Priorities Out Of Step:

“We need not use arrest, conviction and prison as the default response for every broken law,” Ronal W. Serpas, a former police chief in Nashville and New Orleans, and David O. Brown, a former Dallas chief, wrote in a report released last week by a leading law enforcement group. “For many nonviolent and first-time offenders, prison is not only unnecessary from a public safety standpoint, it also endangers our communities.”
The organization, the Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration, is made up of more than 175 police officials and prosecutors, including Charlie Beck, Los Angeles’s police chief; Cyrus R. Vance Jr., Manhattan’s district attorney; and William J. Bratton, the former police chief in New York and Los Angeles. Other leading law enforcement groups have also called for an increase in mental health and drug treatment, a focus on the small number of violent offenders who commit the most crimes, training officers on the appropriate use of force, and retooling practices to reflect a growing body of evidence that common practices, such as jailing people before trial on minor offenses, can actually lead to an increase in crime.
The group warned that “failing to direct these resources toward our most immediate and dangerous threats risks wasting taxpayer dollars,” singling out using federal money on “dragnet enforcement of lower-level offenses.”
Let me just pause here and encourage you to peruse the Law Enforcement Leader's membership list, especially those of you having a conniption over who these "soft on crime" folks might be. 

There are people on this list who literally led the charge towards the crime-control, hyper-aggressive, zero-tolerance, militarization of policing back in the 80's and 90's, and who have prosecuted some of the biggest criminals in American history...and they are now renouncing said posturing. Names such as Bill Bratton, Bob Barr, Robert Fiske, and Donald Stern, just to name a few. So "weak on crime" they ain't.
Mr. Trump has shifted the focus from civil rights to law and order, from reducing incarceration to increasing sentences, from goading the police to improve to protecting them from harm. Last week, he swore in a new attorney general, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, who has said that the government has grown “soft on crime,” and helped block a bipartisan bill to reduce sentences. Mr. Sessions said that a recent uptick in crime in some major cities is a “dangerous, permanent trend,” a view that is not supported by federal crime data, which shows crime remains near historical lows.
Right? I literally have no idea what's going on with this picture either.

But as I pointed out in my last post, while none of what the administration is saying about crime is grounded in reality or fact, that's not preventing a few outlier organizations from defending the administration, particularly those who sullied their reputations by making political endorsements during the campaign.
“I can promise that if we have a president who is speaking about protecting the lives of police officers, that the membership is going to be supportive of him,” said Chuck Canterbury, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police. “No police officer took an oath that said, ‘I agree to support and defend the Constitution and to get my butt whipped.’”
Michael A. Ramos, the president of the National District Attorneys Association and the chief prosecutor in San Bernardino County, Calif., hailed the shift in emphasis, saying the pendulum had swung “way too far” toward being “soft on crime.”
Like the picture above, I have no idea what either of those comments means, but again, beyond the few organizations who actively campaigned in 2016, the word on the street and in the Chiefs HQ's is that "gittin' tuff on crime" is a dead horse.
Some police chiefs said they are reserving judgment until there is more meat on the bones of the administration’s plans. “Hopefully, they are going to seek our practical advice,” said Edward A. Flynn, Milwaukee’s police chief, who also heads the legislative committee of the Major Cities Chiefs Association. “That to us is key. We don’t want any more policy bromides grounded in campaign promises. We want ideas grounded in practical wisdom about how to protect our cities.”
Smart of crime, Right on crime lives, for now. Let's hope organizations like Law Enforcement Leaders keep speaking out.

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