Massive protests, occasional violence, media coverage and public frustration are creating an atmosphere where momentum is building for change. It is long overdue. Pres. Obama has called for millions of new federal dollars for local police training, increased use of police-community relations, body cameras, etc. This is long overdue as the feds have been giving military vehicles and weaponry to local police departments for free. Much of this equipment seems more appropriate for Iraq and Afghanistan than for America. The influx of this equipment may have only exacerbated pre-existing problems which foster excessive use of force. Body cameras are not a magic bullet, and increased “training” is the traditional, standard government response to questionable use of force by police. I applaud these efforts, but it’s going to take much more than just federal dollars for these “fixes,” to have an appreciable effect. I have taught in police academies, talked with officers, taught graduate and undergraduate courses of police corruption and “use of force.” The basic, underlying problems are deeper and more complex. In many police agencies, there is a pervasive subculture that encourages and tolerates corruption and excessive uses of force. Civil service rules, the “code of silence” and police unions make it extremely difficult to discipline and discharge bad cops. Police internal discipline is often law and inconsistent. Mayor, politicians and police executives wring their hands every time a questionable incident arises, but it’s usually only for show. We need leaders who are willing to take the political risks of fixing a system that is clearly broken. There are very few criminal prosecutions of cops. Prosecutors rely on the police and except in extreme cases, police cover-up for bad cops. Juries may be too sympathetic to police. Don’t get me wrong, policing can be extremely difficult and numerous officers die in the line of duty. The U.S. Supreme Court has, in my opinion, too generous in establishing legal doctrines make it too difficult to obtain money damages against officer (e.g., qualified immunity) and governments/agencies. There is little in the way of effective deterrence. Unfortunately, there are too many Americans who tolerate police use of excessive force. Many feel a need to come down hard on the “dangerous classes.” There are additional problems and I don’t have an answers for all of these, but if we are going to get serious, we have to go beyond what Obama is calling for. I am not calling for derogation of the constitutional rights of police officers of police unions.
We don't need more racial polarization in this country. Please call or write your federal, state and local political leaders and demand that they get moving in a serious fashion on this nationwide curse that never seems to be addressed seriously. Under the 14trh Amendment, Congress has power to legislate pursuant to the Amendment. 14th Amendment due process includes the Fourth Amendment which bans excessive use of force by police in arrest, stop and related situations. This problem needs effective federal (nationwide) action. The states and cities don't seem to really case. Let’s take advantage of the momentum.