Sunday, May 3, 2015

Fixing the Relationship?

I was made aware of the “Interim Report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing” via an email in response to my post regarding recent incidents in Baltimore.  The emailer suggested a false flag operation in Baltimore.

The president established this commission several months ago, in response to similar incidents that occurred in Ferguson, Missouri.  What is found in the report are dozens of recommendations and action items to involve the US Department of Justice further into local law enforcement, further consultations and studies, significant federal funding, etc.  In other words, using events such as those in Baltimore as an opportunity for significant expansion of federal power and encroachment at the local level; and, if a false flag, even fomenting those events.

I am not in any position to make a statement regarding the false flag part of the discussion; however I found the report worthy of some interest.  It is this that I explore here.

What is the motive force behind this report?

Trust between law enforcement agencies and the people they protect and serve is essential in a democracy. It is key to the stability of our communities, the integrity of our criminal justice system, and the safe and effective delivery of policing services.

True, true and true.

In light of the recent events that have exposed rifts in the relationships between local police and the communities they protect and serve, on December 18, 2014, President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order establishing the Task Force on 21st Century Policing. 

But to the observant, “recent events” were not necessary to bring this lack of trust to light.

In establishing the task force, the President spoke of the distrust that exists between too many police departments and too many communities—the sense that in a country where our basic principle is equality under the law, too many individuals, particularly young people of color, do not feel as if they are being treated fairly.

The report offers six “Pillars” and a recommendation for implementation of the entire program.  I will briefly introduce these.  Each “pillar” is followed by several recommendations and action items – none of which will solve the underlying problems; instead all will only expand the bureaucracy behind the problems – opportunities for hundreds of millions of dollars for consulting contracts, billions of dollars in funds transferred from the federal government to local agencies, and the pretense that something is being done. 

In other words, fertile ground for a false flag event.  Or, maybe, just making lemonade out of lemons.

There is little to no mention of recommendations and action items that will most quickly and efficiently improve the situation, for example:

·        Eliminate all laws regarding victimless crimes;
·        Ensure everyone is equal under the law – having a badge confers no special privilege;
·        Eliminate minimum wage laws;
·        Eliminate federal and state programs that subsidize behavior destructive toward personal responsibility and the family as the fundamental building block of a civilized society.

Of course, each of these would reduce government power, so they won’t be found in the report (with one tepid exception).

With that, let’s begin.

Pillar One: Building Trust & Legitimacy

Procedurally just behavior is based on four central principles: 

1. Treating people with dignity and respect
2. Giving individuals ‘voice’ during encounters
3. Being neutral and transparent in decision making
4. Conveying trustworthy motives


Talk about dreamland!  While this might have been true of “peace officers” 50 or 100 years ago (think Andy Griffith or the neighborhood beat cop), very few people observant would describe interaction with today’s law enforcement officer in anything approaching these terms.

Research demonstrates that these principles lead to relationships in which the community trusts that officers are honest, unbiased, benevolent, and lawful. The community therefore feels obligated to follow the law and the dictates of legal authorities and is more willing to cooperate with and engage those authorities because it believes that it shares a common set of interests and values with the police.

Have you seen what police officers wear these days, even in the most casual setting?  Two visible firearms and a thick vest is the minimum.  Have you looked inside the vehicle?  More surveillance and communication equipment than what was available to a crackpot dictator even a couple of decades ago.  And, when they have their dander up, they make the US military look like Mary Poppins.

A most radical devolution is required to achieve the aforementioned “four central principles.”  Such a recommendation would offer an unequivocal stand against intimidation in appearance and interaction – both in the approach taken by individual officers and in the equipment available to and utilized by them.  No such recommendation is found in the report.
Pillar Two: Policy & Oversight

Paramount among the policies of law enforcement organizations are those controlling use of force. Not only should there be policies for deadly and nondeadly uses of force but a clearly stated “sanctity of life” philosophy must also be in the forefront of every officer’s mind.

Why do there need to be “policies”?  What about just relying on the law, the same one that binds the rest of us?

In any case, this pillar actually comes with two reasonable action items – buried among several useless suggestions:

2.2.2 ACTION ITEM: These policies should also mandate external and independent criminal investigations 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: The task force encourages policies that mandate the use of external and independent prosecutors in cases of police use of force resulting in death, officer-involved shootings resulting in injury or death, or in-custody deaths.

That I identify these timid actions as “reasonable” suggests the quality of the other action items.  As an example of one of the dozens of useless suggestions in this “pillar”:

2.12.1 ACTION ITEM: The Bureau of Justice Statistics should add questions concerning sexual harassment of and misconduct toward LGBTQ and gender-nonconforming people by law enforcement officers to the Police Public Contact Survey.

Because, you know, they can profile a LGBTQ by sight, just like they do people of color.  And all of the recent protests against police violence have focused on such issues.

I guess this is just an opportunity to move the ball anywhere and everywhere.

Pillar Three: Technology & Social Media

The use of technology can improve policing practices and build community trust and legitimacy, but its implementation must be built on a defined policy framework with its purposes and goals clearly delineated. Implementing new technologies can give police departments an opportunity to fully engage and educate communities in a dialogue about their expectations for transparency, accountability, and privacy.

Follow them on Twitter.  #ActingLikeWeCare

3.1.1 ACTION ITEM: The Federal Government should support the development and delivery of training to help law enforcement agencies learn, acquire, and implement technology tools and tactics that are consistent with the best practices of 21st century policing.

Spend federal money; get the federal government involved locally.

Pillar Four: Community Policing & Crime Reduction

Community policing is a philosophy that promotes organizational strategies that support the systematic use of partnerships and problem-solving techniques to proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues such as crime, social disorder, and fear of crime.

In his testimony to the task force, Camden County, New Jersey, Police Chief J. Scott Thomson noted that community policing starts on the street corner, with respectful interaction between a police officer and a local resident, a discussion that need not be related to a criminal matter.  In fact, it is important that not all interactions be based on emergency calls or crime investigations. 

Is there such a thing as having an innocent conversation with a police officer?  The discussion might not be “related to a criminal matter,” but any interaction with an officer can result in turning you into a criminal matter.

No thanks.

4.1.1 ACTION ITEM: Law enforcement agencies should consider adopting preferences for seeking “least harm” resolutions, such as diversion programs or warnings and citations in lieu of arrest for minor infractions.

How about just eliminating the “minor infractions” from the books?

4.6.4 ACTION ITEM: Law enforcement agencies should work with schools to adopt an instructional approach to discipline that uses interventions or disciplinary consequences to help students develop new behavior skills and positive strategies to avoid conflict, redirect energy, and refocus on learning.

Really?  They are going to become tutors?

Pillar Five: Training & Education

As our nation becomes more pluralistic and the scope of law enforcement’s responsibilities expands, the need for more and better training has become critical. Today’s line officers and leaders must meet a wide variety of challenges including international terrorism, evolving technologies, rising immigration, changing laws, new cultural mores, and a growing mental health crisis.

“Training” means more money; your money.

5.1.3 ACTION ITEM: The Department of Justice should build a stronger relationship with the International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement (IADLEST) in order to leverage their network with state boards and commissions of Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST). 


5.3.1 ACTION ITEM: Recognizing that strong, capable leadership is required to create cultural transformation, the U.S. Department of Justice should invest in developing learning goals and model curricula/training for each level of leadership.


5.3.3 ACTION ITEM: The U.S. Department of Justice should support and encourage cross-discipline leadership training.


5.11.1 ACTION ITEM: The Federal Government should create a [student] loan repayment and forgiveness incentive program specifically for policing. 

That’s three “U.S. Department of Justice”s, and one “Federal Government,” in all cases resulting in more money and more federal involvement in local matters.

Pillar Six: Officer Wellness & Safety

Most law enforcement officers walk into risky situations and encounter tragedy on a regular basis.

“Police officer” doesn’t even make the top ten on the list of deadliest jobs in America.

However, a large proportion of officer injuries and deaths are not the result of interaction with criminal offenders but the outcome of poor physical health due to poor nutrition, lack of exercise, sleep deprivation, and substance abuse. Yet these causes are often overlooked or given scant attention. Many other injuries and fatalities are the result of vehicular accidents.

“Poor nutrition” = donuts; “lack of exercise” = sitting around all day – in a car or behind a desk; “sleep deprivation” = working unnecessary overtime in order to boost the retirement pension; “substance abuse” = do as I say when I am arresting you, not as I do. 

Is it a surprise that “these causes are often overlooked or given scant attention.”  If you were a police officer, would you want these things well publicized?

Officer suicide is also a problem: a national study using data of the National Occupational Mortality Surveillance found that police died from suicide 2.4 times as often as from homicides.

I could say something witty, but I won’t.  Instead, I offer: just as in the military, could it be that one reason police suicides are so high is because individual officers cannot reconcile the criminality they perform while supposedly fighting criminality?

6.1.2 ACTION ITEM: The U.S. Department of Justice, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, should establish a task force to study mental health issues unique to officers and recommend tailored treatments.


6.3.1 ACTION ITEM: The U.S. Department of Justice should fund additional research into the efficacy of limiting the total number of hours an officer should work within a 24–48 hour period, including special findings on the maximum number of hours an officer should work in a high risk or high stress environment (e.g., public demonstrations or emergency situations). 


6.4.1 ACTION ITEM: Congress should authorize funding for the distribution of law enforcement individual tactical first-aid kits.

Congress funds.

6.4.2 ACTION ITEM: Congress should reauthorize and expand the Bulletproof Vest Partnership (BVP) program. 

Congress funds.

That’s two “U.S. Department of Justice”s and two “Congress should”s.  More money and more federal control over a local issue.


The members of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing are convinced that these 59 concrete recommendations for research, action, and further study will bring long-term improvements to the ways in which law enforcement agencies interact with and bring positive change to their communities.

Fifty-nine recommendations!  Virtually all of which entail more money and more federal control – and which guarantee failure.  I offered four suggestions, resulting in less money and less federal control – and I will even offer a money-back guarantee.

7.2 RECOMMENDATION: The U.S. Department of Justice should explore public-private partnership opportunities, starting by convening a meeting with local, regional, and national foundations to discuss the proposals for reform described in this report and seeking their engagement and support in advancing implementation of these recommendations.

Public-private meetings with foundations…to discuss.  Can it get any more bureaucratic than this?  In the words of Eliza:

Words, words, words!
I'm so sick of words
I get words all day through
First from him, now from you
Is that all you blighters can do?

Because the point isn’t to solve the problem, the point is to talk about solving the problem while at the same time making the problem worse and getting paid a lot of money to do so.

7.3 RECOMMENDATION: The U.S. Department of Justice should charge its Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) with assisting the law enforcement field in addressing current and future challenges.

There is that “U.S. Department of Justice” thing again.

My conclusion?  False flag?  Why not, but this isn’t so clear to me.  No real solutions; just more bureaucracy?  Of this, I am certain.


  1. There's no doubt for the Libertarian the solution is simple: disband the police force and let the people come up with solutions. What will replace the police force: a) private security firms/bounty hunters; b) local militia groups. It would be argued private firms would be more interested in trying to prevent the criminal getting access to a home or business in the first place than trying to track down offenders. Bounty hunters and local militias can try to track down offenders who won't voluntarily turn up to court however they would have no special privileges and could be legally killed in self-defence by the accused if they try to assume they had the legal immunity that cops once had.

    One more thing the final step would be enact solid Stand Your Ground laws for private homes and businesses: namely it's up the individuals in the process of a crime to defend themselves and in that moment of opportunity the criminals cedes all their rights and the burden of proof would be on the criminals and their representatives.

  2. You just wrote a fairy tale, this will never happen in our country.

  3. Article is right on target.

    People inevitably seek to work in their own interest. No surprise then, that rulers and bureaucrats can only recommend more ruling and more bureaucracy. Actually solving problems would put them out of business, and therefore is nowhere to be found in their recommendations.

    The only question is, why do any peons believe anything the ruling class advocates?

  4. The best option for municipalities, counties, states etc., imo, is to require police unions to obtain professional liabilty insurance similar to that carried by doctors and lawyers. Let the insurance company and the union figure out training routines, essential skills for de-escalation of potential violence etc and do the actuarial analysis for per officer premiums. When a few officers' are the source of all the claims, the others officers will not agree to subsidize the increased premiums for hotheads and assholes. The problem we have now is that coverage is paid for as part of the whole operations and subsidized by the tax payers. Of course the police will stick together because it costs them nothing and they have everything to lose. If they have to pay the costs of the poorly trained or incompetent officers they will have everything to lose and nothing to gain by continuing to work with the incompetent officers who cost the taxpayers the most with their lack of respect for life and property of the taxpayers.

  5. " but any interaction with an officer can result in turning you into a criminal matter."

    True, that. Just because they ain't out to get you doesn't mean that they won't.

  6. This conflates two issues; police are a uniform organization, i.e. a single homogenous organization, and the police unions are confused about representing the best of and best interests of the individual policemen. When the union defends the indefensible there is no attorney arms-length disassociation from such position. Rather, the union stamps each member with the taint of patently indefensible acts.
    Rather than involving the entire force in such individual matters, the union should hire an attorney for the accused and stand aside. Liability should attach to the individual not the entire organization. I have to agree that attaching liability to the employer for acts that violate both the law and police training insulates the culprits from accountability. Too often the matter is bought off with taxpayer dollars with no individual repercussions.

    Tom O